To 53A, with love.

I was just telling one of our regulars (who is now a dear friend of ours) June that I still have the note she wrote us when she first watched us at Acid Bar more than 2 years ago, and she was pleasantly surprised that I actually kept it. I admit, I’m quite a hoarder. Not cause I have a problem with throwing stuff away, but cause I’m too damn sentimental. (No I don’t have a cluttered room, my room is really quite neat and clear thank you very much.)

I’ve actually been keeping notes and requests since Alvin and I started gigging 7 years ago, but I don’t know where my old file’s gone to. What a waste. =( It’s not that we wanna boost our egos by keeping requests that say “oh we love your songs/we think you’re great” blah blah blah (though it really does help looking through them when we’re feeling really jaded about our jobs), but every single one of the requests I keep, I remember. I remember the venue, the people, the moment and how I felt reading the request. Most of them are personal messages, some are just random notes, others are sketches and drawings people doodle on napkins. Love ’em all.

See if you can spot yours here. =)

From Sam the birthday girl at Timbre Art House this week, she was a real sport and came up to sing with us.

From Andy. The “enlightenment” was Bryan Adams – Andy had no idea who Bryan Adams was and had never heard of him till we played “Heaven” that night. LOL

One of the many requests from the awesome INSEAD group who were with us a whole year in SG, they followed us from Wala Wala to St James to Timbre.

Kickass drawing of me at Timbre @ Old School, done by the amazing Gobbs.

Request for a 53A original on a polaroid, from our lovely friend Maya.

Got this from a lovely couple, Denise and Han Wei, when we were playing at St James Lobby Bar. They followed us all the way to St James from Timbre and we played them “Sway” by Bic Runga.

In case you can’t read it, “The reasons why we’re here – because of you, 53A!!” From a bunch of crazy peeps at Timbre Substation.

The marker ink’s kinda rubbed off, but it says “No request, just $$ for being awesome.” Uh, actually it’s illegal to write on our SGD right?

This is one of my faves, drawn by Hana, made me laugh out loud onstage. HAHAHA Malay guy – Bani, Chinese always wear red shirt guy – Alvin.

Another one from the INSEAD gang, written by Kimberley. The guys got me off work on Monday for my birthday, so this was a week after.

Another request from Maya at Acid Bar!

The message from June that sparked off this blog post. =)

From a bunch of Filipino visitors at Timbre Substation. We’re 538. LOL They wanted to draw us another one with the right name but we said it’s okay.

Drawn at Wala Wala by Kimberley.

Another one from Hana.

I’m gonna keep collecting all these special requests, so keep sending them in yeah?

peace.

saleeloo.

We Should Be Together, no?

A lot of people have been asking us to post up our song lyrics for the album, and I’m a bit hesitant to do this because I’d rather save everything for the album. Then again, the album sleeve will just have the words and not the story behind the song right?

The Process.

The general favourite from the album right now is “We Should Be Together”, and I love that song too. The selling point I guess is the fact that it’s a duet between Bani and I, even though we’re not in love (Wan might get jealous), plus the string quartet just makes people wanna cry. I’ve always wanted to write a song that has Bani and I singing an octave apart on the whole song and eventually progress into him doing a screamo thing while I just sing, and WSBT kinda started off as that, then I don’t know how but I think I got a little sappy (and a tad sleepy) and it suddenly started becoming a love song. That’s when I decided that this song needed an extra bit of oomph, so I got the amazing Bang Wenfu to arrange the string parts for us, and Artsylum String Quartet awesome-ly (is that even a term?) agreed to play for us.

We actually did a whole bunch of demo recordings at Alvin’s place before we even did the concert at the Esplanade, and if you listen to the version we recorded it sounds kinda different.

*click here to listen to demo version*

Firstly cause it’s just 2 of me singing the parts (this was when Bani was still learning the song), secondly it’s a whole key down. I was supposed to sing all the higher parts and Bani the lower parts, but because our vocal ranges were rather weird at certain parts of the songs, we decided to swap around here and there. That led to the YouTube video of us in the jamming studio singing WSBT, we spent a good 90mins trying to rearrange the song. I think it was the only song that made all four of us really sit down, tear it apart and put it back together, I think that’s why I love it even more. And I’m sure Alvin wishes he had his camera on him when we rehearsed it for the first time with Artsylum, cause I started crying like an idiot when they joined in just before the first chorus.

The Meaning.

I guess this song applies to anyone in any type of situation where the love between two people is “forbidden” for whatever reason, and you can’t seem to get past it. My personal account of this song is quite a sensitive one, and I hope that I will not be judged for saying what I’m about to say. My boyfriend is the most amazing person I have ever been with, and I’ve never been happier. Yet, we may not be able to be together because he’s Muslim, I’m Christian. Trust me, I’ve been through this over and over in my head a million times – “what’re we going to do?” We’re all Singaporean (well mostly), so I don’t really need to go into details about why this is an issue. I’ve even had someone send me a Facebook message asking for advice because she’s in the same situation, and I didn’t really reply not cause I was trying to be rude, but I really had no idea what to tell her. So basically, WSBT is my outlet to say that even though we’re having our own personal struggles with this, everyone else’s opinions don’t really help and we shouldn’t let them get to us. At the end of the day, Athif and I have an amazing connection going on between us, and it just really sucks that something like religion is standing between us. What is even worse is that religion is very important for the both of us, so in the words of Russel Peters, “WE GOT STUCK.”

I know the lyrics are cheesy, but I’m cheesy (HAHA), and they’re supposed to be like a conversation between Bani and I. Some people get confused by the lead in to the chorus, cause they think that “but if everyone says hold on we should be together” is a whole phrase, but it’s not. It’s like I’m saying “but if everyone says…” and I get cut off with “hold on, we should be together”. It’s just my way of playing with phrasing and confusing people so that the meaning isn’t so in-your-face clear cut.

Well, hope all that makes you understand the song a little better and hear it with different ears the next time you play it on your computer.

“WE SHOULD BE TOGETHER” by 53A.

I don’t ever want to let you go
I don’t ever want you hurt
I don’t ever want another guy
Baby don’t even try

Maybe if I stay
Why would you wanna leave
Will we ever agree?
Will we ever agree.
But if everyone says

Hold on we should be together
If that’s wrong I don’t wanna be right
If you love me then stay on
Just tell me to be strong
Cause no one else
Will understand

Why I have a smile when you’re around
Y’know it’s hard to see that
Lately I have been in a daze
Baby everything stays

Maybe if I stay
Why would you wanna leave
Will we ever agree?
Will we ever agree.
But if everyone says

Hold on we should be together
If that’s wrong I don’t wanna be right
If you love me then stay on
Just tell me to be strong
Cause no one else
Will understand

That we’re in love
That we’re in love.

peace.

saleeloo.

Back From The Dead.

Sooo… It’s been 3 months since we’ve blogged. Hurhurhur.

So much has happened since our last entry, but I shan’t go into full detail. (As Alv always likes to remind me, I’m damn naggy.) But what I would like ya’ll to check out is our brand new band Fan Page on Facebook!

*CLICK HERE*

The previous 53A group page on Facebook won’t be deleted, but we’ll be doing all our updates via the new Facebook page, so go check that one out and be a fan if you haven’t already done so!

I’ve developed a slightly unhealthy obsession with Katy Perry in the past year (but no where near as unhealthy as my obsession with Paramore), and hearing that she’s coming for Singfest 2010 has sent a nice little tingle down my spine. Is anyone else going for Singfest this year?

The album cover shot for her new record "Teenage Dream"

*nosebleed* But you know what’s the sad thing? Katy Perry is a kickass songwriter, live performer and all-round musician. Yet, a lot of people don’t recognise her for her talent because all they see is the image that is Katy Perry – cute, sexy, crazy outfits, couple of hit songs. I’ve been spending a lot time searching for her live acoustic shows on Youtube, and about 90% of the comments say stuff like “Wow, didn’t know she can actually play the guitar!”, or “that’s cool, she sings n plays live, always thought she just sang” and a lot of “new found respect for Katy Perry, thought she was just another pretty face who can’t play anything”.

In case you guys need some proof that she really can sing.

All that brings me to this “debate” – in the music industry, does sex sell, or can we rely purely on talent to make it big?

It’s the same thing with Lady Gaga, she has super hit songs, wears practically nothing in her raunchy, controversial MTVs, and people are thoroughly surprised when they see her do live shows on the piano. Why? Does it mean that when a girl is pretty and cares to dress up, she isn’t capable of playing an instrument or being a real musician? Yet, if they don’t go all out to attract/shock people, their success isn’t as evident. For example on Youtube, one of the most influential female singers (and one of my faves) Alanis Morissette has about 2 million hits on her video “Ironic”, a song that almost everyone knows. Lady Gaga? Her video “Bad Romance” has 250 million hits. Holy crap.

Even in Singapore, it’s quite an unknown fact, but quite a number of venues we’ve played at (not referring to our current gigs now) will always request for female singers within the band as a “draw factor”. I’ve had managements actually tell me that if I need to sub out for a gig, “the other singer must be a girl and must be as pretty as you, or prettier”. Really makes you wanna punch them in the face right? But it can’t be helped, it’s not like they don’t recognise you for your talent and ability to sing/perform, it’s just that they think it’s the best way to bring in a good crowd. There was one venue in particular that actually told me to put on more makeup (I used to go to gigs with a bare face/minimal makeup) cause I looked a little too plain. I guess it is necessary for me to dress up a tad more when I’m onstage, cause at the end of the day, we’re there to entertain aren’t we? And when I DO dress up, people say “WAH. You wearing skirt/dress today. How come ah? Why you wear so nice all of a sudden? Not used to seeing you like this.” Omg. Is there no pleasing anyone?!

All I’m saying is, don’t be too quick to judge. Just cause a girl is cute and bothers to dress up, it doesn’t mean she isn’t capable of being a kickass musician. Alicia Pan is HOT AS HELL, has a great voice AND plays mean keys. Same goes for Michaela Therese, I’ve idolized her since my Lasalle days. Tay Kewei’s really cute, sings backup for David Tao, plays the guitar AND er hu ( a Chinese string instrument).

Okay, that’s just me speaking my mind.

Peace.

saleeloo.

Getting high at 3pm on a weekday.

Totally band-unrelated, but photos galore!

You know how most people spend their 1st of Aprils (aka April Fools’ Day) planning how best to play a prank on their friend/colleague? Well this year I spent mine drinking awesome cocktails with two of my best buds and a really hot French mixologist.

Rozz, Dina and I were invited to attend an event held by Grey Goose, which turned out to be a lesson in the art of making cocktails with Global Grey Goose Brand Ambassador Dimitri Lezinska. Set up a “secret location”, we walked in to find a long white table and a whole stash of Grey Goose Vodka bottles and jugs of mixers all nicely laid out on top.

Grey Goose Vodka, Grey Goose Orange Vodka, and Grey Goose Brand cocktail mixers and utensils.

Strawberry syrup for one of the recipes.

The juice mixers – lemon, lime, orange and wheatgrass (?!) (side note: I’ve never understood wheatgrass, it tastes like.. grass!!!)

Anyway it felt so paparazzi-ish having this photographer guy just snapping away all around us, especially when Rozz was beside us. LOL

The three of us chatting with Bernard Yeo from Barcardi.

Rozz taking photos of our individual cocktail setups.

Camwhore moment.

So our teacher for the day, Dimitri Lezinska (who kept insisting we just call him Dimi), is a world famous mixologist and is also the presenter of the Discovery Channel’s programme “Cocktail Kings”. He spent a great deal of time explaining what each utensil is used for, how to do measurements, and you can tell this guy really has a passion for mixing cocktails. Here’s the irony, I am not a big fan of cocktails. I don’t like sweet alcohol for some reason, and when you mix vodka/martini with lychee juice and stuff, it’s just too nauseatingly sweet for me, I’d much rather a cold hard beer. BUT, when Dimi whipped up the first cocktail we were supposed to try and mix, I was thoroughly impressed. It was so smooth and easy to drink, but after 5 sips I really felt the kick, if you know what I mean. hurhur

Dimi starting the class (Rozz had to leave soon after cause she had to go do her radio show).

The handsome mixologist doing what he does best (sorry ladies, he’s very married).

Shaking away.

Soon after his demonstration, it was our turn to give it a try. Here’re the recipes if you guys wanna try them out too.

Cocktail 2: City of Angels

Ingredients
2 part GREY GOOSE® Original
½ part pear liqueur
⅓ part maraschino
⅓ part lemon juice
⅕ sugar syrup

Recipe
Shake vigorously and strain into small flute
Garnish with lemongrass

Cocktail 3: Starstruck Goose

Ingredients
1½ part GREY GOOSE® L’Orange
½ part ginger liqueur
1 part freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice
½ part strawberry syrup
1 spray absinthe

Recipe
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice, and shake vigorously
Finely strain into a chilled flute and garnish with a spray of absinthe

I love that last line, “garnish with a spray of absinthe”. You’re supposed to spray the absinthe (which is in a perfume bottle) onto the surface of the cocktail and it’s supposed to enhance the aromas of the drink, but I just wanted to spray the damn thing into my mouth. HAHAHA

Dimi was standing behind me shouting “shake harder, you gotta shake it harder” and all I could think of was “THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID! THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID!”

My first cocktail (refer to cocktail 2). The colour’s the same as Dimi’s, but the similarities end there.

The hottest teacher in Singapore.

It’s not easy man!

Second cocktail (refer to cocktail 3). At least this one had a bit of taste. lol

With Dimi.

I rub off on people very easily. hahaha

Dude, I SUCK at making cocktails. But it was a fun experience, at least now I know I’ll never have a career as a bartender.

saleeloo.

I *heart* LOCAL BANDS.

*DISCLAIMER* I wrote this post at least a month ago, but I kept trying to decide whether or not to post it cause it’s a very opinionated and a rather sensitive topic, but what the heck right? I’m just here to say what I think, not intentionally dissing anyone in particular. So if you read this and you think “what the hell, are you talking about me??”, I’m probably not. Or maybe I am. I don’t know.

All around the world, bands are trying to make it big everyday, be it locally or globally. Some bands struggle for years, some have instant success, but I believe that every band has its core group of supporters and followers no matter what. Here in Singapore, we have tons and tons of bands in our music industry, and for some reason we Singaporeans ALWAYS have something to say about each band, be it good or bad. I’m super guilty of this sometimes.

Our music circle is basically broken down into two core groups – the indie bands and the cover bands. Indie bands are those who play only original music (meaning songs they’ve written themselves) and cover bands are those who play songs that are already popular on music charts or on radio. More often than not, music followers in Singapore will choose to follow either group, sometimes sparking heated debates on music forums and blogs about which is better. But the funny thing is, there is hardly any animosity amongst the bands from either side of the spectrum. And quite often, indie bands sometimes try to do covers while cover bands try to make original music as well.

There’re so many indie bands I love like – (click on their names to view their sites)

WEST GRAND BOULEVARD (the sweetest guys ever)

SIXX

THE GREAT SPY EXPERIMENT

ALLURA (big up to Inch for her solo album too)

THE FIREFIGHT (Josh is also the guitarist for A Vacant Affair)

TIRAMISU (that’s my baby in the green scarf on the right btw lol)

FORCE VOMIT

ELECTRICO

CARACAL (whom I still think should’ve opened for Paramore)

and of course B-QUARTET (Bani’s the drummer in case you didn’t know)

There’re still so many bands to list down but if I did the list would go on forever.

Then there’re the cover bands like – (click on their names to view their sites)

EIC (aka Jack and Rai/Alvin’s life partners)

THE GOODFELLAS (I’m unbiased okay, I think they’re bloody amazing)

JIVE TALKING

REVERIE

SHIRLYN & The UnXpected

Tabula

Timmy (aka Ngak and Clement)

BLUEJADE

and well, us. =)

Dictionary.com defines the term “Music” as –

mu·sic   [myoo-zik] Show IPA
–noun
1. an art of sound in time that expresses ideas and emotions in significant forms through the elements of rhythm, melody, harmony, and color.
2. the tones or sounds employed, occurring in single line (melody) or multiple lines (harmony), and sounded or to be sounded by one or more voices or instruments, or both.
3. musical work or compositions for singing or playing.
4. the written or printed score of a musical composition.
5. such scores collectively.
6. any sweet, pleasing, or harmonious sounds or sound: the music of the waves.
7. appreciation of or responsiveness to musical sounds or harmonies: Music was in his very soul.
8. Fox Hunting . the cry of the hounds.

As much as I believe and agree that music is all about creativity and individualism, who’s to say we can’t achieve that by interpreting someone else’s composition? The one thing I love about Jack & Rai is that every song they do sounds like the original song, yet it doesn’t. You get what I mean? It’s entirely their own take on how the song sounds and how they want it to move and flow. It’s funny how people give us shit for not doing our own thing at our gigs, but when we do do our own original songs, 90% the crowd just doesn’t pay attention cause it’s something “foreign”. Sometimes we even get blasted for not being able to play certain songs, like songs that are not in the band’s repertoire. As much as we try to accommodate EEEEVERY single one of your requests, there are certain songs that some bands play while others do not, so don’t hate on us just cause we can’t play your request.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about our jobs or that nobody appreciates what we do blahblahblah, but this is the general idea in people’s heads right? Like with the Channel 5 programme Live N Loaded, they were trying their best to promote local music to a much bigger national audience, but people were still bitching about bands and the programme all over the net. Why can’t we just shut up and appreciate the talent we have? If Singaporeans don’t even support their fellow men, who will?

Like during Timbre’s & Power 98’s joint anniversaries at Timbre Mobile at ECP, where cover and indie bands were asked to play side by side. I wanted to go up to every one of the patrons and shake them till their teeth rattled cause none of them were paying attention to the indie bands. But the bands still played on with so much heart, and finally people starting noticing and responding. If only they’d take the time to listen, they’d realise how freaking awesome our local bands are. And during concerts when organisers get local bands to open for the headlining act, if you’re a concert-goer, you’d notice that some bands get boo-ed by their fellow Singaporeans WHILE THEY’RE ONSTAGE. Seriously, even if you’re really excited for the main act to come on or you don’t really like the opening act, there’s no reason to boo is there?? We all go to the gig knowing and expecting that there will be an opening act, so just tahan for that short 30min set, appreciate that it’s our own bands up there instead of some other country’s band and applaud when they’re done. If you really don’t like them, then just don’t applaud or respond, why do you have to boo?

This is just a small cry to everyone to please, start paying attention to what the youth of this country have to say. I honestly believe that local bands CAN make it big, but they need everyone’s help to get up there.

(totally didn’t get the last definition about Fox Hunting btw.)

Okay, I’m done ranting.

saleeloo.

We settled the kettle, so now it’s back to our regular programming.

I know this is majorly overdue, but I finally got my grubby hands on a copy of Lily’s photos taken at our concert on March 4th. Thank you so much Lily!!! In the midst of adding the photos to our “Photos” page, so please be patient.

We’re in the midst of recording the album now, and I have to say it’s been super fun so far! Wan just finished doing all the drum tracks and now we’re just waiting for them to be done before we start laying everything else on top of them, which will be soon, hopefully.

I was just having a conversation with someone on FB (Facebook, in case you haven’t already heard of it) one rare afternoon I was at home and after saying “Hi” in reply to her “Hello are you free?”, her immediate response was “WAH YOU SO LUCKY, can wake up anytime you want and just bum around till night time!!!”. She’s not the first, TONS of people come to me and always say “dude, you have the best life, only have to gig at night”. If you’re one of those people who’ve said it to us or have thought it or are thinking it right now, this blog post is for you. I fully understand why people assume that we don’t really do much other than play music at night, because you only see us after 9pm. It’s like how the world assumes that vampires sleep throughout the day, only to come out of their coffins at 12am to feed on damsels in distress. And just like how Twilight has made the world realise that vampires actually do have a life in the daytime, I’m here to explain that most musicians actually have day jobs.

Some night musicians have 9am-5pm day jobs, like most of the guys from Reverie. They literally sit at a desk and slave away in office wear, then when the clock strikes 9 they magically appear on a stage in front of you in rockstar garbs. Then there are musicians actually do music related stuff in the day, like Goodfellas, EIC, Wan, Alvin and I, that’s why we’re known as full-time musicians. What do I do?

I’m a teacher, otherwise known as Ms Sara or “cher”.

I teach a lot, and I really do mean a lot. I do vocal coaching for primary school musicals, music direct for musical productions, conduct a few school choirs, vocal instruct at Timbre Music Academy and SoMA and I also teach privately (my place or student’s place). So most of my days start before or around 12pm, and I go aaalllllll the way till my gig at night. It’s especially tiring when you have to control and educate 50 screaming kids for 4 hrs, and that’s why I have a newfound respect for ALL teachers, it’s the world’s most highly stressful job. Wan is a drum teacher with Academy of Rock, the same music school 3 of the Goodfellas teach at. He works 6 days and does 4 night gigs every week, I dare any of you to give that a go. hahaha Alvin is a private guitar teacher and he also sidelines as a tennis coach, two of his greatest loves. But I can tell you this, we all love it and we wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Wanna see some of my kids?

This is one of the boys getting his makeup done for his role as the “ugly sister” in Cinderella.

One of the cellar mice stoning onstage during rehearsal.

Cinderella’s “ugly sisters” all made up and ready to go.

The final bow.

HOW CUTE ARE THEY?! My little munchkins.

Wan has it the best, he has students that are 5 yrs old who need him to help them wipe their little bums if they go poop during the lesson. Preparing him for fatherhood, that’s what I say. Alv refuses to teach kids younger than 12 or 13, he’s not really a kid-lovin kinda guy, think the only kid he dotes on is his godbrother’s son Jules (he’s the ultimate wingman btw).

Anyway I’m rambling, it’s now 5.13am and I really need to sleep.

Sleeping late you say? Now that is a true musician trait.

saleeloo.

Cat Society Catalog Magazine Contest

Hi Guys!!

Catalog magazine is having a contest for the benefit of the Singapore Cat Welfare Society.

I need help in voting for a picture of my kitty Charlotte on catalog magazine’s facebook page as well as storm Lion’s facebook page. This is the picture

Please follow the link below for catalog’s facebook page, the storm lion page hasn’t posted my picture yet! All u have to do is like the picture! THANK YOU THANK YOU!

In case the link doesn’t work, please click like for Charlotte by Alvin Khoo on the catalog facebook page, the pic’s shown above:)

AlfV