Lots of people have been asking me when the album is coming out. LOL. While I usually set myself a deadline to get it all done, I think it's part of the good and bad of going "indie" that deadlines develop a sort of flexibility syndrome.
So, it's with cheekiness that I make this announcement. The album's release has been pushed back a month to March. Sorry for all the unnecessary excitement that I've been encouraging over the past few weeks. :-p
Not that there's anything wrong with the songs. In fact, I went with Hardesh to the mastering studio on Tuesday and Friday to have a listen to the mastered versions of the songs, and yep I'm quite happy with the way it's sounding. I also got to meet mastering guru CL Toh, which was nice. (It's always nice to meet new people.) Basically, there's just a few small glitches left to clean up and it'll be done sometime after Chinese New Year.
Here's a shot of Toh hard at work.
Good news on the art front! The artwork for the CD cover is all done--kudos to Shahril Nizam for staying up til 2am on Saturday night to help me finalise it! And he did a wonderful job too. Here's to hoping people will buy the CD because of the cover... heh heh heh...
While waiting for Toh to finish up in the mastering studio, I'll be going back to Kota Kinabalu for a week to celebrate Chinese New Year with my family.
So, March it is.
In other news, I finally got to meet up with the two friendly guys from Transient Vortex: Sam and Sugs. They played me their remix of "A Shadow" which has a very nice dubstep vibe. :-) They're going to push it to be played on radio sometime soon so I'm looking forward to hear how people will respond to it... Afterwards we hung out and talked shop in Bangsar. It's nice to work with and get to know local musicians and share stories about doing it independently. There's no better way to really get a gauge for how the local music scene is like than comparing notes with one's contemporaries.
Distribution of local music is definitely an issue. Most local musos who have CDs to sell, especially those from the "indie" scene, are not too happy with getting a raw deal from distributors. I think "indie" writers know about the situation too. Basically, big distributors to the music stores take a huge cut of the profits, sometimes up to 60% or 70% per cent of the sticker price. I'm not crying foul. It's standard practice with a lot of the merchandise you find in shops. The store owners take a cut too. Everyone has to earn a living. Still, when you have no dough to afford a spiffy nationwide marketing campaign, putting the CD in stores is a bit of a waste of time. It's nice if local radio play your stuff and people know about your work enough to get motivated to hop along down to the local CD shop and then decide if they really like it enough to fork over the cash. But that ain't the case, unfortunately. Then again, radio's not to blame either. Most people tune to commercial stations because they play all those hits from the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s (and all the mainstream chart stuff) that everyone loves (to death) and popularity is what advertisers like to hear. It's rare to hear radio listeners demanding to listen to local music (Malay pop excluded), much less obscure indie singer songwriter stuff. LOL. I think the only radio station that's friendly to local content is Fly FM. Though I'd be lying if I said I really know what the score is since I'm not so much of a radio listener. I prefer my little mp3 player cause it has all my favourite songs on it! (And no static or DJ chatter!)
Anyhoo... concerning distribution...
I like Ad Lib Records' approach. I'm sure if you've spent some time hanging out in the mamak restaurants in Bangsar or Hartamas, you've been approached by table-to-table salespeople hawking CDs by The Hypercubes, or the latest Ad Lib CD, Technology
, a compilation of electronic music tracks by various artistes. It's quite an aggressive sales technique but I think it's quite effective. Why put your CD in a shop somewhere and wait? Take it straight to them! It's such an obvious thing to do. But I guess that famous Malaysian shyness really gets in the way.
... pondering if I should approach Ad Lib. LOL.
Anyway, being realistic about the marketability of my music sometimes get me down. Over several years of gigging (intermittently), sometimes I'm not sure if the music I make gets through to Malaysian audiences. Being a solo act sometimes excludes what I do from the more vibrant band scene. Sitting on the borders of various genres definitely makes it a tough proposition for most ears. Some people say it's all about presentation. But that's marketing talk.
I had a conversation with someone at the Soundscape Labradors gig at KLPAC who asked me about the music life. I must admit it's not an easy thing to sustain, especially when you don't fit the "package". One has to be willing to play a game, selling not only the music, but a "concept" to go with it. I used the word "calculative" which is a bit cynical. But "calculative" doesn't always have to be considered in a negative light. It can range from taking care of who you choose to collaborate with to deciding how the CD cover should look like. As an independent musician, I'm quite chuffed with being able to call the shots. If I had been linked to a label, I definitely wouldn't have been able to get away with the "artsy" CD cover or the "adventurous" music arrangements. It's nice to have the control. But I have to be careful too, I guess, not to overdo it. When I have to make choices for the songs on the album, I have to consider how I would perceive it if I were on the receiving end. And I have to be frank with myself about such things. Since I'm the sort of person who can relate easier to something that's different, interesting, arty, thought-provoking, or earnest even, rather than your run-of-the-mill tryhard soundalike stuff, I have to stay true to that. And if that makes the music not so commercial, then so be it.
Which makes me feel really good when people come up to me and say "I like what you do because it's different." LOL. I think that's a wonderful compliment to get.
But, you know, I'm optimistic that my music will find a place somewhere in the Malaysian sonic landscape. What matters at the end of the day, when it's just me and the music, and all the time and energy (and money) that I've invested into doing this thing that I love, is that I actually like it.
And so ends my little babble...
Oh and yep, I put up a few poems on my Imaginary Poem blog
... the ones that didn't make it to final version of the Imaginary Poems
manuscript, which has more or less reached its final final draft... I think...
Labels: Ad Lib Records, album, Hardesh, indie, shahril nizam, Songs For A Shadow, transient vortex, update