Sunday, February 28, 2010


Man, I am still pooped from yesterday's marathon Baybeats Auditions. This year, the auditions was held at an industrial park in Ubi Avenue 1, hosted by Stage 57 Productions. All the judges viz. Amanda Ling, Daniel Sassoon, Jon Chan and yours truly, were a little put off by the venue on two levels.

First, our own comfort and secondly, the sound of the performances. In actual fact, it was not too uncomfortable (although it was rather humid) but how much effect did the venue have on the performances of the bands? Hard to say.

What I can say is that it was not too easy to select the 16 bands to progress into the next round. The Baybeats Festival is a platform to showcase upcoming S-ROCK talent that has never graced the Baybeats stage. With that in mind, we were not looking for polish or perfection but a spark that suggested that with encouragement and cajoling, the final selection of bands could entertain and inspire the Baybeats audiences come August 2010.

As always, there was a pinch of drama, leading up to and during the auditions. Bands pulling out at the very last minute, bands without lead singers, bands with bizarre approaches and bands which really need to go back to the drawing board.

Of course, there were also bands that impressed (not too many, mind you) and bands that got the judges discussing in depth on their respective merits. Sometimes the opinions swayed and changed in mid-argument and sometimes, the decision was unanimous - one way or another.

In any case, we made our final selection at 11pm plus and I'm certain that there will be controversy over some of the bands chosen. At the end of the day, we agreed on certain guiding principles that determined the final 16. Much work needs to be done for the bands to be ready for the next round, which will be held at the Esplanade Outdoor Theatre in a month's time.

As usual, I enjoyed the company of my fellow judges - I wonder what the bands made of us - always seemed like we were giggling about something. But all in good fun and when it comes to the music, I can tell you that we become deadly serious.

Personally, along the course of the long day, I was disappointed, offended, entertained, tickled, embarrassed and impressed (not all at once of course) by the 29 bands. I applaud the effort but was reminded about how much guidance and direction our young bands need. I hope that I can play my part somehow.

Stay tuned for the results soon...

... still there's more ...

Pix courtesy of The Esplanade Co Ltd

Friday, February 26, 2010


As it turned out, yesterday was a very musical day. I met up with a teenager with ambition and passion for her life in terms of music. Frankly, I wasn't too sure about how I could help her but when she sang to me (acapella) across the table at Starbucks, I was entranced by her voice, her gutsy attitude and the way her face lit up as she sang. So, yeah, let's do this!

Later that day I got myself involved with the Noise 2010 Media Preview as seeing as I was the music mentor in attendance, I did my little song and dance blather about the apprentice program etc.

But seriously, folks, working in TAP, with the NAC people (Tse Wei, Linda, Han Juan) and my fabulous apprentices has been a life-changing experience. Of course, I'm much obliged to Pat Chng (as always) for bringing me into Noise, in the first place. Thank you all!

Most of all, it was great fun to chat with cool music people like Narisa, Celina, Weiwen, Chris Toh, Danny Loong and Julian... which is something I must really do more.

The Noise Festival Showcase happens from today, 26 March to 10 March at Level 3, Raffles City Shopping Centre. Be there!

Monday, February 22, 2010


How do you determine the merit or value of songwriting? Is success measured in purely commercial terms? For example, if a song is downloaded by a million people. Maybe. Or can such worth be judged by experts or critics? For instance, if a song is reviewed favourably. Likely.

Or is it a bit of both?

Of course, there is a third method of determination - voting. Ever since American Idol, this seems to be the only way to perceive the quality of "creative product".

Assuming that the votes are not "rigged" in some way (perish the thought!), there could be a variety of reasons why a person votes in a certain way.

Take the current songwriting competition for the Youth Olympic Games, do the voters choose on the basis of merit (they believe that the song is "good"), bias (the songwriter is a friend or relative) or popularity (the songwriter is famous). Who really knows?

Well, with regards to the YOG song, I understand that votes make up 15% of the "score" (how do you even score a song?) with the remainder being decided by celebrity judges. And the obvious question being, what qualifies these judges to decide? And so on...

It's a dilemma, for sure. And this is not limited to songwriting competitions. There is also a voting contest going on now to decide who will open for Paramore. Caveat being that Paramore will have final approval. So why have the vote at all? It just may be possible that Paramore may like the band with the lowest votes... see what I mean?

... and please do not draw analogies with political contests in any of my comments ...


Saturday, February 20, 2010


This afternoon I had my first singer-songwriter come in under my new program. I enjoyed myself - as usual - getting to know him, his influences, methods and approaches. We also set goals for the coming weeks which I'm certain we will achieve. We spent some time listening to music which may prove significant in the weeks to come.

Overall, I think it went well and am looking forward to witnessing the growth and development that is sure to happen. Stay tuned for more news on this collaboration as hopefully, some great music as well.

... still there's more ...

You might say that it took me over 30 years to reach this point.

In that time, I have written many many songs - some of which have been played on radio, TV and in cinema halls in Singapore, Malaysia and overseas, recorded/released seven EPs/albums and performed at a variety of venues.

Above all, I am a songwriter and that skill, in a sense, defines me and gives me identity. To me, the song is everything, for the song makes us think, feel and move. Over the years, I come to appreciate how and why songs are put together - inspirations and mechanics.

So I believe that it is time for me to share this appreciation with those of you who are interested in songwriting. In that respect, I am working with several like-minded groups to advance the cause of songwriting in the Singapore music scene.

On a more personal level, I am keen on "mentoring" Singapore singer-songwriters to improve their craft - with a view to prepping their songs for recording. Much like I've been doing with my fantastic Noise apprentices in the last two years.

Its a 10-hour program that will cover the various aspects of songwriting, performing, arranging and recording that will bring the singer-songwriter into another level. Since I am more or less starting out with this new venture, for the next three months, I am offering this program for only S$500.

So please get in touch with me - info (at) powerofpop (dot) com - if you're interested in this program.

... and there's more ...

Friday, February 19, 2010


Last night I performed a proper set (two in actual fact) with Rachael for the first time. Sure, we did Love and Water, once or twice in 2008 whilst she was my apprentice. But this time, it was a proper gig.

And it was great fun to spend half the day (so to speak) with Rach - capping it off with a fine performance. Basically, we did share originals and covers between us over the course of seven songs, rehearsed the songs three times and we were sorted.

Was also a welcome change for me to focus completely on the piano which required re-arrangements of some of the songs - another plus!

Set list - Always On Your Side (Sheryl Crow/Sting), Here, Love and Water, I Love Singapore, Falling Slowly (Swell Season), Heart Conversations, My One & Only.

Thanks to Celina and Carrie for coming down.... and Marcus. I've posted highlights of the gig at Myspace.

... still there's more ...

Thursday, February 18, 2010


So Nick Tan and I are working on prepping his debut EP - Arranged Accidents - for release. It's gonna be pretty small scale and cottage industry-styled but good learning experience for the both of us. Should be fun too.

The music is the main thing and there are killer songs on this EP which are worth the time and effort, certainly. Soon I promise.

Stay tuned for more info.

This post is probably late in the day (we take the stage in under seven hours' time!) but better late than never. Anyhoo, Rach and I will be playing at the Esplanade Concourse tonight at 7.15pm and 8.15pm (same set) and we hope that you could find the time on a Thursday evening to spend some musical time with us.

This is the first time I am collaborating with Rach on a proper gig and it was been so much fun preparing and putting the songs together. I will be focusing solely on the piano for this one & various re-arrangements of familiar songs has been the happy result.

So come on down if you're free and say hi and we'll chat afterwards.

... still there's more ...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


For many new & fledging S-ROCK bands, playing at the annual Baybeats Festival may just be the highlight of their "careers". Well, hopefully, its the stepping stone to something more. At worst, its an experience to remember.

Well, its that time of the year, where bands assemble before the Baybeat judges (Amanda Ling, Daniel Sassoon, Jon Chan & yours truly) to vie for a place on the Baybeats 2010 roster.

And so, the names of the bands shortlisted have been announced. Of the lot, the likes of Tacit Aria, Trella and Waiting for nothing are having a second go. Good for them - if at first you don't succeed... Few familiar names (to me anyway) e.g. Echo Oh Oh Oh (featuring current S-ROCK indie poster girl Inch Chua), Blind meets mute, Duxton Plains, MeltngSnow, Sixology, The zozi, We Gang (featuring Adrian Bestium of 90s band Rocket Scientist) and Closeapart (featuring Harold Seah of 90s band the Dongs!)

It's gonna be an interesting day, come 21st February - day of the auditions...

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

As promised, photos from the Introduction to Songwriting Workshop. Courtesy of the Esplanade Co. Pte Ltd.


Just realized that I haven't blogged about Saturday's Introduction to Songwriting workshop. So here goes...

Frankly, I wasn't sure what to expect. I was told a week before that only 15 tickets had been sold so maybe a small, intimate audience was the best I could hope for. In the end, it was double that. Which was very cool.

Initially I was also concerned whether I could fill up two hours properly and in the end I had to rush the talk to finish on time! Also, very cool.

The audience was made up of a interesting cross-section of folk of different ages and backgrounds. From young adults to senior citizens, I think at best I personally knew about five? Joyce, Des, Stella, Sam and Julian. Yeah, five! Mostly strangers then.

I was glad to have second son Zachary along to assist me, he did as he supposed to and I hope he enjoyed himself (and maybe learned something) as well.

So, this works! And folk will pay to watch someone (whom they don't know) ramble for two hours about songwriting. A future? Who knows but its certainly a direction I'm going to pursue...

... and there's more ...

Proper pix when I get hold of some.

Thanks to all that attended and of course, to Chloe, Gen, Angel and the rest of the Esplanade crew for an enjoyable day. You rock!!!

Monday, February 08, 2010

The Band Episode 6. 8pm Wednesday, 10 Feb.

My "acting" debut on television. Mixed feelings about this.

You have been warned...

Friday, February 05, 2010


An exciting weekend awaits.

On Saturday, I am presenting my seminar/workshop "Introduction to Songwriting" at the Esplanade Rehearsal Studio, which starts at 2pm. Tickets are still available at SISTIC.

On Sunday, its the xx/Florence + the Machine live at the Esplanade Theatre (tickets) and Monday, the dream gig of 2010 - Echo & the Bunnymen, also at the Esplanade Theatre (tickets).

In between, there will be meetings with music people as well, which is always fun. So I hope to see you on this special weekend.

Come up and say "hi!"

... still there's more ...

Thursday, February 04, 2010


This is the logo of the spanking new Timbre Music Academy (TMA). This is the place where aspiring bands/artists can learn their craft - relating to mastery over particular instruments - OR how to strum and sing. What gives TMA the edge over most music schools is that its not only about theory, as TMA students will also apply what they learn on the stage - at any one of Timbre's outlets! In addition, the trainers at the TMA walk the talk - folks like Jack & Rai (of erm Jack & Rai) and Sara (of 53A) for instance.

Yes, I will be involved in TMA with respect to songwriting. (Details to come...) That's right, another step in my grand plan to advance the cause of Singapore songwriting. Why songwriting? That's the topic of another post, I'm afraid.

In the meantime, check out TMA here and sign up for one of the interesting courses and stay tuned for more information on the songwriting courses I will conduct very soon.

... still there's more ...


As you, faithful readers, are probably aware, I write mostly reviews at the Power of Pop. But, I've always dreamed of being a story writer. Y'know, novels, screenplays, comic book scripts etc. The closest I've come is actually write a screenplay, which I believe might be in the Zhaowei database somewhere. Lost for all eternity, thankfully.

No, actually, I've written a couple of comic book scripts of superhero & fantasy characters. Never found a suitable (or willing) artist to flesh out those scripts though. There have been a few strips written by yours truly and drawn by Ric - Condom Boy, Ric & Roach and Debaser (all published in good old BigO).

And that's all...

Recently I came across a call for submissions for Singapore crime short stories. And I thought - why not? 2,000 words doesn't sound like a bridge too far. The deadline is in April 2010 and so I might actually take a stab at this. Maybe that will get the creative juices going. Will keep you folks posted on this.

In the meantime, let it be known that I am on the lookout for freelance writing assignments and if you're interested in engaging yours truly, please get in touch. info (at) powerofpop (dot) com.

I'll be waiting for you...

... and there's more ...

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Let's get serious, shall we?

Are you an aspiring singer-songwriter? Do you have songs you want to record and release as an EP or album? Well, if that's you and you're not quite sure about how to go about writing and recording your songs, I have a couple of ideas for you.

First, attend my Introduction to Songwriting seminar/workshop this Saturday, 6th February 2010 at 2pm to be held at the Esplanade Rehearsal Studio. Tickets are at $15 (plus booking fee) and are on sale at SISTIC.

Secondly, if after the seminar/workshop, you are convinced that I can assist you to achieve your songwriting and recording goals, then you can then engage yours truly to do so. What can I offer you is 30 years of songwriting experience and production expertise, all for a reasonable and affordable price.

Even if you are not able to attend the seminar/workshop on Saturday, get in touch with me - info (at) powerofpop (dot) com - and we can discuss how we can meet your musical objectives.

... still there's more ...