23 January 2009
Happy Chinese New Year 2009
Behold a sexy image for CNY I did in Photoshop with two images I stole online. Why? Just because CNY imagery can sometimes get a bit too dim...

Yes... I am half Chinese, which is why I celebrate Chinese New Year. My mum is Hakka and dad was Sino Kadazan, making me actually 3/4 Chinese, with the Kadazan side making up the rest of it.

Still, I don't look very Chinese... in fact, when in KL most people think I'm Malay.

When I was studying in Australia or other countries overseas, people have mistaken me for Thai, Filipino, Vietnamese, Japanese, Singaporean (?) and even Sydney-ite... but never Malaysian. LOL...

Sadly, with 3/4 Chinky lineage... I never learnt neither my mother nor father tongue. I can say a few words in Hakka, with a horrible accent... I can understand the general drift of Cantonese because I used to watch HK TVB soaps with my mum. But no Kadazan... sad... it's rather embarassing when I meet other Sabahans and they ask me something in Kadazan and I'm like "Par lez vous Anglais?"

To make things worse, I'm not a very Chinese or Asian kind of person. Neither am I very Western (I'm a "failed banana", a friend once commented)... but I eat almost everything and I can take cili padi (LOL). My outlook on life is just kinda bohemian, I guess, though lacking the pretentiousness that would've made it a bit more classy in that bourgeois fashion. When I'm on my own, I don't really think much of race. And since I grew up in a very urban environment, the culture that I relate to is popular culture, though this doesn't exclude the allure of myth and folklore.

I guess I am Malaysian in that sense... a kind of amalgamated identity... a postcolonial creation.

Still, Chinese New Year is the one time I set aside for family. I've only ever missed the reunion dinner twice in my 33 years. And I don't intend to miss anymore.

What was the point of this post?

Oh yea... Happy Chinese New Year!
Gigs in February, March & April
Hurray! I got a few gigs lined up in the next three months! Got the dates here just in case you're too poor to afford Coldplay tickets...

13 + 14 Feb - Torch Song Massacre @ The Annexe Gallery
A whole lot of musicians, singers, actors will come together for two nights of torch and unrequited love songs at The Annexe Gallery. (PS: Valentine's Day gifts most welcome...) More details to be announced very soon.

20 Feb - TAS Finale Gig @ The Actors Studio Bangsar
Yes, TAS is closing down... sigh. To celebrate all the great memories that have transpired there, there will be three nights of music and reading performances by some of the best singer songwriters in KL. I'll be playing a 15-min set on the first night's bill. More details later...

9 Mar - Acoustic Monday @ No Black Tie
I'll be doing a double bill with Sherry & Nizam - I love these guys! - at NBT. I'll be doing two 35-minute acoustic sets of originals and covers. Admission free.

29 Apr to 9 May - Bali Spirit Festival 2009 @ Ubud, Bali
Woo-ha! I'll be letting my hair down (I'll buy a wig) in Bali for a whole week. Bali Spirit Fest is a five-day celebration of yoga, dance and music - perfect for a hedonist bohemian like me. (PS: Spacecake most welcome!)
More details later...

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22 January 2009
Meandering thoughts on the next album...
There's a reason why there's a taboo against talking about projects at their infancy stage. But since I'm an imbecile...

... I'm going to wax meanderingly about the second album, which so far is only a figment of my imagination.

The working title for the project is "City Of Mud" taken from the title of one of the songs that I've written for the album.

The image that you see here is not really the real deal... LOL... just a photoshop oddity I got up to one night while bored and restless. I must say however I do look sullenly sultry... vomit... "Here's looking at you, muddy boy!"

Basically I've written more than 25 songs for the second album and I've chosen from the lot (which also includes leftover songs written for the first album) about a dozen which I like very much to work on. The songs I've picked also kind of describes some of my life experiences in KL.

That may make it sound kinda autobiographical. It is to a certain extent. But it would've been excruciatingly bumdrum if it was 100% drawn from life. There's no real narrative concept to it. Just impressions. The real challenge would be the recording of it, how to string the different songs together to make an interesting listening experience.

I've been making home recordings of the new songs and using those as demos for my producer. I don't know if Hardesh likes them... ha ha ha... he hasn't said anything about them so far... but it's because he's busy with other projects (he just flew off to Rotterdam on Sunday to stage a sound installation there for the film fest - All the best, Hardesh!).

The demos are also very helpful in helping me imagine what direction to take the songs... I've been listening to them a lot... not only because I'm narcissistic... but also because I'm trying to figure out the drumbeats, bass parts, other instruments... and backing vocals... and how the songs should be produced... This is the difficult part about being an independent musician I guess. But I'm pretty good at it... that's why I like working with collaborators... not just because I'm not really technical with the actual playing of the instruments, but also it's nice to go "blonde" once in a while... "So how should the drumbeats for this song go?" "Don't know."

Imbecile.

I don't know when the recording process is going to start. Definitely don't want it to stretch over one and a half years like the first one. But these things follow their own schedule...

Also, I need to look for money first... I reckon I'll need about RM8K to RM10K to produce this next album... why such a high price tag? Strings! I want a string quartet on at least half the songs!!! :-P

I was listening to Judee Sill last night before I went off to bed... and I was thinking, "Shit that bitch was amazing!" She had these amazing transitions...

Anyway... got to go listen to the demos again...

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19 January 2009
Now I Know How It Feels
Those of you who bought the CD would already know that after "The Little Cat Song" there's a hidden track. It's called "Now I Know How It Feels". For a while it was up on MySpace. But I took it down to make way for other songs.

I've always liked hidden tracks. They're often quite fun and very different from the rest of the album (but not necessarily so). I knew I wanted a hidden track on Songs For A Shadow and I thought yeah, why not put in something that's fully electronic and MIDI-fied. But I didn't really know what was supposed to be the hidden track...

... anyway, I started writing the song sometime in early- or mid-2007, using a MIDI loop I salvaged from an earlier MIDI composition I had composed in Cakewalk. (FYI: I've been writing MIDI compositions in Cakewalk since 2000. Using Windows MIDI patches no less... ha ha ha. It all sounds very 8-bit.) I started building the song bit by bit, over a few months, while noodling and recording on the side. Finally around June or July, after more or less finalising the MIDI arrangement for the song, I got around to writing the lyrics for it and what came out was basically a kind of a song about realisations or a mini enlightenment.

Many times in the past I've heard people talk about this or that... describing what they're going through... and I'd be like "Oh OK." Which is my stock reply for "Yeah... I don't really know what you mean but I'm going to go along with it anyway." But I've grown a bit older now (in 2007, that is -- I know even more now... LOL). The lyrics themselves are not thoroughly revealing. It's a sketch of a feeling, or a moment. It's not really saying anything much beyond its own simple vagueness... but one can project into the lyrics any number of moods or feelings or thoughts.

Looking back almost a year since I've finished recording the album, I feel the whole of the Songs For A Shadow is really just a sketch of what I think an album should be about. The vagueness of the words was necessary (Jeez how glib is that?), because it describes exactly the state of mind I was in at the time (I'm such a blondie yaar). In a way, I think I was still looking for a way to tell a story in song form... with all the constraints that come with the verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus form... looking for the magic words, I guess...

Recording Now I Know was a very quick affair. It was one of the last songs to be recorded. I had thought that maybe it needed a bit more mixing or use different patches... but Hardesh thought it sounded just fine. So I just brought my old Acer laptop and plugged it straight into Hardesh's mixer. He recorded it as is, added a bit of reverb or delay... can't remember... and then we did two or three vocal takes with a few punch-ins... I asked Hardesh to add a bit of fuzz on my vocals just to "roughen" it up a bit... LOL...

And that was that...

*
NOW I KNOW HOW IT FEELS

Every time the rain washes away the city streets
And the pavements turn to sheets of silver glass
Every surface is absorbing light like little seeds
Seeds of memory, or someone’s history

Now I know how it feels
Now I know how each and everything’s connected
From the leaf to the grass to the sky to the clouds
From the end of her hair to the start of his smile

Now I know how it feels
Now I know how it feels

And every time a sound of gunshot echoes inside my brain
There’s a face of loveliness comes to explain
Every act has a consequence for enemies and friends
Acts of love, acts of hate where there’s only pain

Now I know how it feels
Now I know how each and everything’s connected
From the leaf to the grass to the sky to the clouds
From the end of her hair to the start of his smile

Now I know how it feels
Now I know how it feels

From the trees to the sun to the mouth to the stars
From the touch of his hand to the shiver in her thighs
From the force to surrender to the heart and the lies
From the tip of his nose to the shine in her eyes

Now I know how it feels
Now I know how it feels

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