Friday, December 25, 2009

So who are these blokes above? Unless you're working in the US film and music industries, chances are you haven't a clue. Answers below.

How about this lady? Yes, that's right, Celine Dion. Canadian songstress who has numerous hits under her erm belt, including the theme song of Titanic, My Heart Will Go On.

Where am I going with this? Well, recently I was watching MTV (yeah, right) and its 100 Greatest Hits of the 90s and got pretty annoyed about how much credit people were giving to Dion for My Heart Will Go On.

C'mon! Why should Dion get ALL the credit? Did she write the song? No! That particular kudos belong to James Horner (noted Academy Award-winning writer of the film scores of Beautiful Mind and Titanic) and Will Jennings (Grammy Award winning writer for songs like Clapton's Tears in Heaven). So yes that's Jennings on the left and Horner on the right.

Credit where credit's due. That's all I'm saying...

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Yes, I am surprised as you are. Probably. A few months ago, Chloe (from Esplanade) asked me to give a 2-hour talk on songwriting and I thought - "why not?"

Why not, indeed?

I basically took all the ideas and concepts I'd been sharing with my Noise apprentices these last two years and set them out into a talk. Also, I did a little more analysis about what it means to write songs, not only for myself personally but songwriting as an art and craft.

So, expect the first half of the talk to focus on a little "theory" but in actuality, we'll been listening to loads of great music and songwriters and understanding what makes them (both song and writer) tick. The second half will be personal... how I started writing songs and how it has evolved to the present day.

And so, if you're interested, the talk will be held at the Esplanade Rehearsal Studio on Saturday, 6th Feb 2010 at 2pm. Tickets are priced at $15 and available now at SISTIC.

It will be fun...
Eric Khoo's 1st two full-length features viz. Mee Pok Man and 12 Storeys were also significant for their soundtracks, which featured many S-ROCK bands. The two soundtrack CDs are, of course, now out-of-print and rare commodities. In the light of the new +65 Indie Underground release, it should be interesting to re-look at these two soundtracks.

The Mee Pok Man soundtrack contains mainly score written by John Kompa (with one contribution from yours truly). The rest features great tracks from the top S-ROCK bands of the day e.g. OP (Lonely Realm), The Oddfellows (Over Again/Foggy Daylight), Padres (Radio Station/Teenage Story), Stoned Revivals (Teenage Queen), Livonia (Venus Flytrap), Sugarflies (Be My Baby) and (ahem) The Crowd (I Love Singapore). Also included are a few oddities viz. a version of Corporate Toil's Hope and Requiem by June & CU 1359 (basically John Kompa and Joe Ng) and Little Girl Lost by yours truly. Not to mention a freakout version called Little Girlust from ETC.

Ah, nostalgia!

Two years later, many of the same bands also end up on the 12 Storeys soundtrack, a bit of a glossier affair than Mee Pok Man. Apart from a few piano pieces from yours truly and a new version of My One & Only from actress May Yee (which made the Top Ten Radio Charts again), the following S-ROCK bands were also highlighted - Humpback Oak (If I Am Weak/Stressed Out/Bridge), The Lilac Saints (Wasting Time), Stoned Revivals (Goodil), The Oddfellows (Breach) and Sugarflies (Wrong Again).

One regret about this album was the lost opportunity of My Life, the main theme of the soundtrack. Originally, I had conceived it as a moody atmospheric piece which Jacinta could really get her magnificent pipes around. Sadly, producer Martin Tang saw fit to turn it into a dance track much to my chagrin. I remember first hearing this version on a TV variety show and was aghast to see Jacinta (looking uncomfortable, it must be said) belt the song out surrounded by dancers. One day, I must record the song probably, maybe with Rachael...

With the promise of many S-movies coming out in 2010 and beyond, surely its time for S-ROCK film soundtracks to make their delayed appearance once again... I would loved to be involved in putting that together.

C'mon all you 90s scenesters, any comments about these soundtracks... memories!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Have you got +65 Indie Underground yet?

If not then, I strongly suggest that you do, as soon as possible. It is a veritable treasure trove of S-ROCK goodies, which you're NOT going to find anywhere else. Out of the 3 CDs, my personal favourite is the third disc. Not only because Watchmen is featured (though that doesn't hurt) but it brings together some of the truly classic S-ROCK of the 80s and early 90s.

Not only that but the sheer range of the music is impressive. From the folk-rock of Humpback Oak's, the shoegaze of the Pagans, the metal growl of S.U.D.S., the synth-pop of Convent Garden to the psychedelic blues of Nunsex.

But I would like to highlight a couple of standouts from a magnificient list. Radio Station is the first S-ROCK anthem as Joe Ng went from sensitive electro to flag-waving rocker. The lyrics still resonate - "We're so young/Have we got time?" - the song is worth the entire price of admission.

Listening to Zircon Lounge's Guide These Hands, it's amazing to consider that Chris Ho and gang recorded the song in 1984, when post-punk/new wave was not mainstream fare at all in Singapore. That said, I want to clear up that misconception that Zircon Lounge was the first alt-rock band in Singapore - that honour rightfully belongs to Transformer, right, Chris?

Disc 3 also features a couple of nostalgic nuggets like Oddfellows' Unity Song (although I'd argue that Lost My Head would have been the better choice), Nonames' My Mama, Twang Bar Kings' Daddy in the Lift (with Leslie on helium) and Daze's Sexy Little Boy (a #1 hit!)

Ah, memories... more to come on discs 1 & 2 soon...

Did I nag you about getting +65 Indie Underground yet? Go NOW!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Ah, nostalgia! The +65 Indie Underground 3-CD set dropped into stores this week and it really is a good purchase for anyone remotely interested in Singapore rock. I guess I will be asked why the original recording isn't on this set but the 15th anniversary version instead.

Well, basically I don't own the rights to the recording and the company that does - Odyssey Music - doesn't exist anymore. And... I've always felt that the original recording was too shiny, clean and robotic so that is why I recorded the more organic version with James, Brian, HQ and Esther last year. When Universal got wind of the track, they requested for it to be in the comp and so...

Well, what do you think? Do you prefer '93 or '08 edition?

Anyways - go get +65 Indie Underground now... more about the comp to come...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

"You are the only gift I want for Christmas"

Here's the download link for my rough demo of "4Christmas"

Comments, please!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A S-ROCK compilation? Who'd thunk it, eh? In this day and age of falling CD sales and lukewarm mainstream interest in S-ROCK, you just have to hand it to the folks at Universal (especially Kheng) for having the kahunas to release this labour of love.

Compiling some of the best S-ROCK tracks from the mid-80s (Zircon Lounge) to the new generation (B-Quartet), with a major focus on the 90s S-ROCK revival (Oddfellows, Padres, Humpback Oak, Pagans et al), +65 Indie Underground is a timely collection of the finest Singaporean music of the last twenty years or so.

All well & good. My hope for this compilation is not only that it sells in phenomenal numbers and justifies a second edition but that Universal will be able to distribute into the region as well e.g. into Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines and even Japan as a showcase of Singapore music. I think it is a excellent opportunity for the "powers-that-be" to get behind this compilation to promote Singapore music overseas.

Of course, I must qualify that I am - as Watchmen - featured on this compilation so take my comments with a pinch of salt. If you wish...

Sunday, December 06, 2009

We had our last Recidivists jam for 2009 this afternoon and it was done at a leisurely pace. We did however, work through another new song, which in my humble opinion is gonna be another cool and fun addition to the Recidivists' repertoire.

The song is called "Barbarians at the Gate" and it's something I had written quite recently, with the Recidivists firmly in mind. To be honest, though I liked the song, I wasn't quite certain how it would pan out with the band BUT that's the beauty of working with Daniel, Keith and Jocelyn, their ideas and contributions add so much to the dynamic of the song that it took on a life of its own and I can't wait to debut it live soon.

Not only that but I managed to record a Garageband demo of In Your Eyes, the musical-type ballad that I mentioned a few weeks ago. I have posted at my personal MySpace page. Check it out. I would appreciate your comments.