“Time Waits For No One”, as the old blues song goes and time had certainly raced past. It seemed like only a couple of months ago that we ushered in 2014 and I was looking forward to the cool gigging, recording, and teaching projects.
As December 2014 got underway, I had a very strong feeling that 2015 would turn out to be a year where I would achieve alot more in my chosen career. I had the hunch that important new business connections would be made and it was time to up my game in terms of my drumming and the way I conducted myself professionally. Looking back, I had indeed both rose to the occassion and been thrown some curveballs which were invaluable lessons….and of which I’m grateful to have come out sane and even happier than before.
One notable challenge presented to me early this year was working on the Ninth Order debut album project with a seasoned producer and a highly respected sound engineer. When you’re asked to do more than three takes per song, either for having more creative/musical options or simply to play a more perfect take, the stamina required both physically and mentally was nothing short of that required on a 3 hour gig of high energy music.
From that album project, I came away with a much better understanding of recording for an all out commercial pop album at the international standard. I say that because the producer and engineer I worked with were the first two from Singapore to receive a grammy-nomination for their past work with a world music artiste, Arun Sheroy, so they definitely have what it takes to produce something or help a band produce something worthy to be heard on the international stage.
Playing 6 nights in a nightclub which I did for about 6 months was another great challenge that tested my willpower, discipline, and consistency as a live performer. It’s pretty much akin to being on tour, playing the same songs night after night and having to deliver your best. How I managed to remain passionate about music is most likely a testament to the fact that this is truly my calling. The fun part was working with different singers, with different genres, and having to transcribe as exact as possible the original drum parts of the songs in a short amount of time.
2015 was not without some difficult times too. Home Ground Studio where I worked from Nov 2012 to June 2015 had decided to pull out of it’s space at Lew Building. The intervening months between moving out of Lew Building and suffering a setback where the new studio at Goldhill Centre I was supposed to move to did not happen because the original tenant decided to continue with the space, left me stranded.
Update: I’m now at King George’s Avenue with some great people and it’s a joy to teach there. Still accepting new students!!
Without a regular gig, surviving through those months was hard to imagine. I fought on. It was obviously a blessing that I could still function during this period, but it was also solid proof that in order to survive in the music industry, you’d have to wear many hats and draw your income from different areas of the industry: teaching and performing being the basic areas of the industry a musician can comfortably eke out a decent living, but also even doing live sound for events.
With my recording studio experience, having tinkered with audio mixers, and being pretty good at rigging up a live audio system, I was able to venture into another area of the business thanks to the opportunity given by an events company who urgently needed help. Through this experience, and a back-breaking one I must say, I learned so much more about not just the equipment, but also the acoustics of different venues, and how to achieve good sound with the limitations of the equipment I’m given. I’m also learning how to handle the demands of both the hiring clients and the musicians, and to do my best in giving them what they need to put on a good performance where they feel comfortable with the audio The real treat is to hear good musicians perform from a sound engineer’s perspective. This allows me to develop a much more balanced approach on the drumset which is a work in lifelong progress. I’m acquiring an improved understanding of accompanying different musicians through different musical styles via learning the nuances that each performer brings to his/her craft on stage as I witness them.
So there you have it, my 2015 in music, which is also my 7th year in the scene. Thank you 2015 for these wonderful opportunities of growth. I’m ready for what 2016 brings and I can’t wait. Life only gets better when you’re willing to step out of your comfort zone and discover your true potential.
In closing, I wish you, dear reader, compliments of the season and a fantastic new year. Thank you all for your generous support: my family, my close friends, my dear students, and my peers in the music industry whom I enjoy working with.