Tuesday, September 5, 2017

An ode to my notebooks

Paper is fragile. It blows away in the wind. 
Crumples, tears and rips at the edges. 
Ink washes away. 
As mighty as the pen might be, water is its kryptonite. 
Yet, is is in these pages that I choose to pour my heart into. 
Paper is fragile, 
but so am I. 


I have been writing songs for nine years. 
It feels strange to say that because nine years is a long time and sometimes I still feel like I don't know what I'm doing. 
It changes with every song. There's always a new way to say something, and always a different way to write a song. When I first started writing, I did it for myself. No one else heard the songs I wrote. It was my little secret. 
Now things are pretty different. And I'm grateful that I get to play them to people. Sometimes they listen and it's the best feeling in the world. I don't know, I guess we all just want to be understood, and you listening to my songs makes me feel like I'm not alone. 
Since I was little, everything I thought about, everything I was feeling, and everything that happened to me, I've written down. Thank you for being a friend, a therapist, a shoulder to cry on. 
And thank you for listening to my music, and for reading my silly little posts like these. 

Friday, June 9, 2017

May


Hi.
Its been over a month since I stopped working at one of my jobs. I'm missing it already, and a part of me can't wait to come back. Since then, I've spent a lot more time at home and with my family and doing the things I love. Its the little things I've missed about being home; like hearing my brother laugh and having dinner with my mom. I've been so focused on just getting through the days before that I hadn't realised the things I was missing.  Its been a while since I had written songs and there were times I thought I'd never be able to write another song again. The songs come in fragments of choruses and verses these days, and I'm trying to piece the puzzles together. Its different, but maybe its not a bad thing.
I've received an overwhelming response of positive messages from my previous posts, and I just wanted to thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your support, encouragement and kindness. Sorry if I haven't replied you yet. There's some light coming through what happened, and I'm a mess of both excitement and nerves thinking about whats going to happen next at the same time not wanting to jinx the possibility of a good thing before it has happened. Will write more soon! 

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Starting Over.

Before I start, I’ve got to thank the people who came forward to help me with their professional advice and everyone who sent me such kind words of encouragement. Without you guys I don’t know where I’ll be <3

When people ask me what I've been up to lately, I tell them that I'm working on recording my next single. I say that its almost done, and that I'm really excited about it. 

The only problem is, I've been saying that for the past year. 

So what's really been going on? I'm not sure where to start, because it all became quite a mess quite quickly. I don't normally write things like these but I feel I needed to tell you what I went through, so you won't make the same mistakes I did. 

I wrote a song just before I launched my first EP. It was a song I was proud of, and that I was sure would be on my next album. When it came to recording it, I was told it wouldn't take more that a few months. I met with a producer to see if we could work together. He was nice and had the same goals and ideas I had. He was very excited to record my song, and maybe even an album. I was excited too, because it had been two years since 'Clues'. I was eighteen then, and I felt that my music had grown since. There was so much that I had lived, seen and felt put to music and I couldn't wait to share it with you.


The demo track was done pretty quickly. There was hope and excitement because this song was finally coming to life. There were a few things still that I wanted to change, but we were in the early stages of production and we could fix things along the way. We recorded many takes of vocals but I didn't get to hear what we had recorded, even after a couple of months. The whole song was recorded over a demo instrumental and it took a while to get the instruments to replace the programmed tracks. 

We moved studios a couple of times, each time a different reason to why we left was given. As a few more months went by, things started to slow down. I didn't go back to the studio, and I hadn't heard much from my producer. Then he'd call me and we'd go back to work as if all the time that went by was just a blink of an eye. He didn't tell me why, and I was afraid to ask. I don't know why, but in those months going to the studio, I felt so alone. I held back my tears as I stood in front of the mic, my producer on the other side of the glass. There was an ache in my chest I couldn't describe. I felt as if it was all a mistake and I wanted so badly to give up. 

We eventually finished what we had set out to do after 11 months. But this was not how I had envisioned this whole process to be like. I thought that because he was more experienced and had achieved more success, he knew better. It was my fault too for letting it drag on so long without my voice being heard. By the time I realised it, it was too late. If your'e a singer/songwriter too, or just put in a situation like this, I hope your experience wouldn't be like this. You don't have to go through with something you're not comfortable with. If the terms are against you, don't just accept it. Ask questions. Don't put yourself down because of what someone else says. They may know better, but then again they might not. What you want, and what you believe in is worth something too. I thought I knew all that, and that I'd be able to stand up for myself if the situation arises but I didn't. 

I believe everything happens for a reason. Although I want so badly to drown in an ocean of my regret right now, this had taught me a very valuable lesson.  As much as it hurt, it is forcing me to fight. If this didn't happen, I wouldn't have learnt to stand up for myself and my music. And I wouldn't have learnt to ask for help. I realised I don't have to do this alone, and neither do you. 

Thank you for supporting me all this years, and through this music silence. And thank you for reading what I wanted to say. I am looking forward to start working on my music again! I'm not quite sure how, or where yet but I have a clearer picture of who I am and who I want to be now. 

I'm starting over, and its exciting. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Its 2017.

 

I'm writing this at 2:19 in the morning. I had wanted to write something at the beginning of this new year, but I didn't end up having much to say. I think it could have been the opposite too- I had a lot of things I wanted to say, I just didn't know where to start.

The fact that its 2017 and a new year seems like a good place to start. Optimism levels are reset, changes to this blog have been made, and I've got a plan to upload videos more regularly and learn new chords;
I'm looking up.

I found a second family in the people I spent my time with the most. We are so different but we support one another and they really have been such an amazing group of people to be around with. These pictures were taken after they surprised me at a show I was performing at. I didn't think many people were going to come because I invited people to come but no one really said they would be coming. It ended up being a room full of many familiar faces that I really didn't expect to see. It was a lovely night. 

Last year I performed at places where I could hear the conversations around me, and at places where I could feel the audience taking in every word I had to say. I finally learned how to drive. I gave a talk. I also am finally proud of the music I made, two years after I made it. I cut my hair. I flew to another continent by myself. My brother and sister grew up even more than I thought they would've in a year, and did some really amazing things.

Even though age is just a number, 20 taught me a lot. When it comes to these 'reflection' posts where I think about what I learned the past year and things I've experienced, I always say that "I'm happier now. I'm learning to be myself." But I think this year I really did. 
When I was little my teachers and parents often commented on my maturity. I grew up before I had a chance to be a kid, I took pride in pretending to be grown up. I thought being mature meant acting like a grown up, not showing my emotions, not needing anyone's help. Music and time taught me to be more childlike in the way I saw the world. I learned to listen to my heart more- something I had always struggled with.

But in the recent months or so I had fallen in line with the quiet rules of society. Slowly, but persistently the words and judgement of others began breaking into my world. Because it all happened so gradually, I didn't realise it until recently. I stopped writing on my blog, I stopped writing songs. Even casual posts on social media had to be thought about thoroughly. When I've been let down, I stopped trusting people. When I made a mistake, I stopped trying. I stopped trusting myself. I kept myself busy with three part-time jobs (including music, which I hope to make full time) so that I didn't have to feel anything. It felt as if the time raced by me while I just stood still, let everyone and everything around me pass through and move on, and I didn't say a word. 

But allowing yourself to feel is crucial. It gives you more words to express yourself. You'll understand yourself better and learn to get through the difficult things. You have to allow yourself to feel happy without worrying about the happiness slipping away, because its bound to slip away. Sadness is there so that you can feel happy again. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Twenty.



Can't believe I'm almost 21 and I've just found this post I didn't upload from a year ago.
Things are different now. I've started living a lot more in reality and I suppose that's not all a bad thing. My inspiration is drawn from a new perspective now too; and as much as I am frustrated that I don't write the way I used to, I know it will be okay and that I just have to get used to it. A few years ago I would write 100% for myself- I had all the time and freedom to do so too. And I could only dream of putting out my music for people to listen to and take home. Flash forward three years and I have done what I had set out to do when I was seventeen. It has been quite a rush of emotions and excitement. With more people (not a lot, but more than my family and four walls of my room) listening to my music, I became more aware of what they liked and what they didn't, and I tried to please them. Slowly, I've become afraid to write what I want to write because I was thinking too much about how others might think. I know that it's out of my control, and I'll try let to go a little.

I guess it't time to turn over a new leaf...

Make new plans, 

and dream new dreams. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

November and Northern Music Festival


Today I get to do nothing. Its been a while since I sat in my room and wrote to you. November was so busy with shows and activities and I'm having the best time sharing my music with people every other night. Ever since I started performing, this was what I wanted to do; perform and write and share my songs with people who'd listen. Right now I know this kind of schedule won't happen all the time, so I'm just enjoying this and trying to find a way I could do this more.
Penang and Northern Music Festival was a wonderful experience, and it taught me a lot. I went with friends and made many new friends there too, and also many fond memories. We were in the car for hours with the music playing loud, I could actually feel it going through my skin. At night we stayed up playing card games and singing songs. In the day we sang some more.
It was such an exciting feeling, being in the lineup for a music festival. And it was the first music festival I was scheduled to perform at. Not everything went the way it was supposed to, and I was a little disappointed at first, but the support from everyone who came to the festival and all the shows I played at made it magical, and I won't forget it.
Thank you so much for 2,000 'likes' on my facebook page, and for all your continuous support. To the people came the shows, and those who came to more than one show this month even though you've heard my entire set already,
Thank you.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

NOVEMBER SHOWS

2nd: Prime Vibes, charity concert
@ W_Are_House USJ 19, 6:30pm onwards
(Tickets at the door)

10th: Thursday Night Live: Amrita Soon
@ Merdekarya PJ, 9pm

12th: Northern Music Festival
@ Botanical Gardens, Penang.
Tickets: http://northernmusicfestival.asia

12th: Kim Haus
https://www.facebook.com/events/1825028821088906/

13th: Canteen at Chinahouse, Penang
https://www.facebook.com/events/997407010405679/

15th: Shopee Spree Carnival Edition
https://www.facebook.com/events/1281148488582323/

17th: The Barlai Indie Galore (BIG)
@ Barlai KL, 9:30pm

19th: 24 Hour Race Kuala Lumpur Music Festival
https://www.facebook.com/events/203309943445991/

26th: Treehouse Open Mic
**More details to be announced


I'll be selling physical copies of my EP at the shows, as well as giving out some hand-drawn stickers (eep!). Andddd I'm very excited to see you guys too! 

How is it already November?

I'm sorry that no updates came after telling you that more posts would be coming soon. When I posted that I was fairly free, and I hate when I am free with nothing much to do. And then a wave of craziness came. Speaking at TEDx, singing in KL Performing Arts Centre, work, rehearsals, shows being cancelled, more shows being scheduled, etc etc I lost track of time. It has come to a point where I can only look at things a week at a time so I don't get overwhelmed. I feel the need to tell you EVERYTHING but its almost 7 and I have to go to work in a bit. Some exciting shows coming up and I'll tell you more in the next update! Thanks for being here all this while. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015


Hello, December :)

12th: Busking at Otherwise Cafe, 6pm.

12th & 13th: Busking at Big Bad Wolf Book Sale, 11am.

Free Admission. 
Bookings: 03 4260-2288
or info@alexis.com.my

24th: Laundry Bar 
27th: Aurora Entertainment concert
Tickets: RM 25 http://goo.gl/7iasyp

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

My oh my, what a wonderful day




Currently listening to random music on Spotify and stumbled upon this awesome song. It's 2 am and I've just uploaded a new video on youtube. 
Hi.
How have you been? 
I've been rather busy with work and dance and trying to get back to performing more again. Staying up late and waking up early ensues that no time is wasted in a day. It also means being able to sneak an episode or two of Grey's Anatomy into my schedule. Things have been pretty alright. I suppose things are good even, but I don't want to jinx anything by saying it. I recently bought a new camera online and its the biggest non-musical instrument I have made. Clearly what happens after I buy camera is me shoving it in everyone's faces. I've taken a lot of pictures and videos and I can't wait to start video blogging again! I'll also post some of those pictures here maybe. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Tinfoil Boats


It rained this evening.
We made little boats out of tin foil and set them off to sail down the sidewalk.
Sorry I haven't been posting much lately. I haven't been feeling well and have been pretty busy with work, skating and singing rehearsals + performances these past few weeks (or was it days? I can't even remember) I hadn't had time to heal myself or let it all sink in.

I performed at a Raya Open House where I work; which was really nerve-wrecking because they don't know I exist, let alone sing. I also played two sets at Popmarket 4, and four at Laundry: two with sam, and two accompanied by Daniel, Christian and Jonathan. That was really fun because I had never performed with a band before, and it was nice that the first time was with friends. Last weekend, I got up early to do a video shoot, I sang at a birthday party and skated in the Merdekaraya on ice shows. It was quite a lot, and I'm kind of glad its all over. So now I can write more and hopefully upload more videos on youtube. And sleep! I haven't slept so much in a long time. I blame the medicine for making me so sleepy, but maybe, just maybe, I really am tired. I can hear my mom saying "I told you so" at the back of my mind as I admit this. Anyway, I'm writing all I did down so I won't forget, I guess it serves as my blog post as well- I haven't been writing on here much lately either... Goodnight, and thanks for reading!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Spring Cleaning

Saturday, February 1st 2014
"Happiness is not a priority. You have to spend years and years of your life studying and then get a job you don't want to have. To make money the way you don't want to make it, and go through life wondering "what if I hadn't done this?" or "what if i took a chance?"
You have to be practical. Get a job that enables you to support a family as well as be there for them. It cannot be too time-consuming or your family will never see you. A doctor is a good choice. But if you can't do that, be a teacher. God forbid you actually follow your dreams! There's no way you'd be someone, there's no way you's be somebody somewhere if you do that. You're turning 18, you're no longer a child! This is the real world. This is real life!
You cannot do what you loved doing as a kid for a living. Have you decided what you want to study? You are going to college, right? I mean, you have to go. Otherwise, what are you going to do? You've got good results, do something that utilises your intelligence, not something you enjoy. Hobbies are hobbies for a reason. It is something you do when you're not busy with your real job. It seems you're not mature enough to decide your future. You've got to take responsibility for your own actions, make sure you make the right decisions.
Sit there in silence as my words enter one ear and leave the other. If you don't hear me out then neither will I.
But know that I only want whats best for you."

I'm currently sitting in my room, staring at the mess I've made; books everywhere, pens and pencils, guitar picks, eraser dust. I'm listening to Christian Palencia's EP (I swear, his music is going to be big someday.) and reading past journal entries before I put my past in a box and leave it to disintegrate in time, and have my memory distort the truth.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

April is over. Hello, May.

“Well, let it pass; April is over, April is over. There are all kinds of love in the world, but never the same love twice.”
— F. Scott Fitzgerald, “The Sensible Thing”



Someday I'm going to look back on these few months with a happy heart and a smile on my face. Although sadness will still come in flashes, they are all still chances taken and lessons learnt. I'm learning to be okay with not being okay all the time, and trying to take life a day at a time; not trying to look too far ahead because it will only make time go faster. And I don't want that to happen.
I joined my first ice skating competition last month. It was an 'Ice Dance' competition and I joined the group category, and we only had less than a week to choreograph and practice our dance. We dealt with last-minute change in partners, intimidating, yet awesome skaters as competitors, and a lot of stress. Not to mention being incredibly nervous. I chose and edited the song to fit the allocated 2 minutes and choreographed 3/4 of the dance with Sam even though she doesn't really skate. Rehearsals were chaotic. Then, all of a sudden three of my students decided to join the competition as well and I had to choreograph another 3 dances as well as edit another 3 songs. I was freaking out because I have never choreographed dances before this. Luckily, the other coaches (who are way more experienced) taught me how to choreograph the dances and also took over the responsibility of choreographing their routines because I don't know what I would do if I had to do all that myself. I also had to edit songs for the ballet concert coming up. A lot was going on. We rehearsed almost everyday the week of the competition. We have to thank our parents for taking us back and forth and waiting for us to finish! We still needed more time, but there wasn't any. We didn't even have costumes, so we borrowed the costumes from the christmas show last year. 
On the day of the competition, everything happened so fast. I could've done better, but what's done is done. What a rush it was too. It was nice to see everyone was cheering each other on. We ended up 2nd place, which was way more than what we expected. Tomorrow, we get to perform our dance again for Mother's Day. 


I also got to perform at a school last month. This little boy, who's family and our family have been friends for a few years now was responsible for booking me this gig. He told his music teacher about me and he realised that he actually knows me from another from a show we were at a while ago. The school has regular music concerts and I was so thrilled to be a part of it. The last time I performed at a primary school alone I was about 11 and it was for the school signing competition. I forgot the words and it was traumatising. Walking through the doors, everything felt familiar even though I hadn't been there before. Everyone was very welcoming and supportive towards my music and it was a lot of fun. I would love to perform at more schools in the future if I got the chance. 

I'd just really, really like to write songs and sing them to people who would listen for the rest of my life. 


This dream- or career path scares me, excites me and keeps me going all at the same time. I had a long talk with my grandmother the other day. She always finds a time to talk to me privately when she comes to visit and it would always leave me questioning my existence at the end of it. She wants me to do something better with my life. She thinks I can do better.

She says "the music business changes too much. What if people don't like your style of music anymore?"

Maybe I am part of the change. Maybe I'll get stuck in the past as everything around me changes. Maybe I'll find a way to embrace the change. Maybe it won't be so bad. "I fear that even more than you". But I didn't say that. The thing is, my music is still changing. I'm still trying to figure out what my style is. A lot has already changed. I haven't been performing at many open mics lately. I'm not aware of, or not able to attend a lot of things that are going on. The past few stages I played on were a lot different from the ones I was used to. Sometimes its a good different. But I don't meet the same people at shows anymore, and I haven't seen a lot of people I used to see very often. I long for some clarity in this fog I'm in, but I know that in order to get out of it I have to just get up and do something. 

"You've got to aim high."

Those are her words to live by. And so they will be mine. 
Maybe she means that I should be more than an songwriter. I know she meant that she'd much rather have me do something that contributes to the society in a more obvious way, something that I can do it for the rest of my life. Music plays a bigger part in our daily lives than we give it credit for. My version of aiming high and hers are totally different but its okay, she has given me some good advice.


Right now I'm sitting in the corner of my parent's bedroom listening to a mix of Americana music and John Mayer on spotify, and writing this blog. I'm a little lost, a little tired, and slightly optimistic. A year goes by so quickly and a part of me is wishing I was back in Nashville or exploring the streets of a city I haven't been in. Part of me wonders if I should ever leave the comfort of my routine and the comfort of home at all. I'm trying not to loose sight of what I had set out to do with my life. I'm not sure if I even knew what I set out to do in the first place. I'm also trying not to think to much, but that's not working is it? I haven't picked up my guitar in a while, and I didn't even miss it. Was I too busy to practice, or was I too lazy to? I felt bad that I didn't feel like playing it or singing. Questioning the purpose of your life and trying to predict the future takes a lot from you emotionally. When there are so many words to write, its hard for me to put them all into song. When a lot has happened and I know I want to write about it, I have to let the emotions settle before being able to anything. And that's what the past few days were; letting the dust settle. Today I sat down at my table again and wrote. I didn't care what I wrote, I just went with whatever that came to mind and it was satisfying. 
This took me a few days to finish; longer than what I had anticipated. I know this is rather long, but I haven't posted in some time. Thank you for all the support you've been sending my way by the way, 'Dandelion Days' was played on the radio recently! :) 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Learning how to blog from my phone. I've been neglecting this page for quite a while... Today was one of the rare days where I had nothing planned. It doesn't happen a lot, and I have no complaints about being busy because I love it. I've recently started working two part-time jobs, and I'm enjoying it so far. Most of the days it's only one to two hours each day so it doesn't feel like a lot. I'm enjoying it so far and learning a lot. The only day I don't work at all, which is Saturday, is reserved for performances and stuff. Since the show scheduled for today had been postponed, I slept in and didn't do much. It felt weird not doing anything, so I proceeded to clean my room (which I should've done long ago) and tried to write a happy song. I find happy songs are the hardest to write simply because it's simple, and I tend to complicate things. I gave up on that and wrote a sad song instead, which made me happy because I hadn't written much in a while.
Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Heyyy
Its been a while since my last blog post. I hope to write a lot more in the next few days. I have a lot to tell you about. Thanks for being so supportive :) See you soon! 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Clues EP


Here are some photos of the process of working on 'Clues'. This whole adventure scared me quite a bit, to be honest. I was stepping into the unknown and I had no idea how it was going to be like. I've learnt so much about recording music, and I've learnt so much about myself too. These are the songs I wrote when I was 15 to 17. And even though I've been writing more and my newest songs always seem to be my favourite, these songs are still special to me and I felt a proud of them. I can't believe I got a chance to work with such amazing producers and musicians who were so kind and encouraging. And to all of you, who commented on my videos, listened to my songs and have just been awesome in general, thank you. 

-Amrita

EP details, pictures and more

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Clues album launch!

Today was a dream, and I couldn't be more grateful <3 Thank you so much for all your support.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Where do I even begin?

What month it's been so far. I'm sitting here still not able to believe it actually happened. I'm so tired. But good tired. And I'm so happy.
I set very high, unattainable goals for myself. The 'impossible' kind of goals because I wanted to look back and know that I tried. "Shoot for the moon and land in the clouds" is what my dad always says. He claims he came up with it, but according to Goodreads, Norman Vincent Peale said it.
I also made a list of more 'realistic' goals (I think too much about things and make lists). Some of the things I wanted to do were: 1) release an album 2) play two shows in one day 3) perform at a festival
And I can't believe I got to do all of the above this month. Today I'm not really doing anything, so I decided to write all about it because I don't want to forget it. Also because I haven't updated this blog since it officially became my 'website'.
I've been rehearsing for a christmas show on ice, so on saturday I was out of the house before 8am. aI think the only thing that kept me awake was the coffee I had in the afternoon. Uh oh. After rehearsals, I went to Jaya One for Popmarket #2 at Jaya One. It was so much fun I performed twice. They set up the stage in the middle of a bazaar and put bean bags all round the stage for people to sit on. I played to grown ups as well as little children who weren't afraid to sit right in front of me and dance. Came home, changed, and then went out again to perform at a school prom. I was really nervous for that because I don't really get to play to a group of people my age (Last time I did that, I was 10 and it was for my school talent show which I messed up so bad). But they were really nice and it was the nicest prom I've been to. (I've actually only been to two proms including this one)


I also launched my album! I was freaking out more about what I was going to say than the actual performing itself. So happy its finally out! I had nightmares prior to the launch day. In one dream I dreamt that no one came and I played to an empty room. That actually happened before in real life which made that dream scarier. In another dream, I dreamt people came, bought the album and then hated me and my music after they heard it. MY HEART WAS POUNDING FROM ALL THE IRRATIONAL FEARS. But in the end quite a lot of people, and it turned out to be pretty great. I can't believe that my friends came. I don't know, some of my friends like the posts and social media stuff and that's about it. But the fact that they actually came made me so happy.


The next weekend consisted of more skating, rehearsals, a radio interview, soundcheck and then Ohhsome Fest!! After skating class, I went to Hitz Fm's studio to do a short interview with them about the festival. I was so nervous and so excited. Nervous and excited basically sums up the week. They asked me about my songwriting (which I have never been asked about before) and boys (also hadn't been asked before) and of course how I felt about the event. It was so cool. I only regret not speaking loud enough. I'm not very loud in general so I have to work on that. After the interview I rushed back to the rink for rehearsals. The interview aired while I was on the ice, so it was like I was in two different places at once.
It all went pretty well the next morning during rehearsals at the rink (yup back there again). I was supposed to leave early so that I could make it for soundcheck in time. I left my guitar at home and told my dad to take it for me because I was going to rehearsals with a friend and didn't want to leave my guitar in the car for so long. Then, my dad was late and I took a cab all by myself to the venue. I jokingly asked if the guitar was with him when he called. It wasn't. So I was late for soundcheck (I hate being late) and with a pair of ice skates but without a guitar. *PANIC* At least I could still check my vocals..
When I got there, I saw the stage and it was huge! There was an actual backstage and barricades and artificial grass and everything. You could see the twin towers from the stage. Wow. David Choi, WongFu Productions, Elizabeth Tan, Narmi, Dash and so, SO many more in the lineup. And then there's me. Standing there a little lost, a little scared, not knowing how in the world I was lucky enough to get to do this.
They handed me a set of rules and the schedule to read through and tags to get me backstage. There were two security guards to open the door for you to enter the backstage tents and two more on the inside. They were a little scary to be honest. I said hi to the people I know and to the people I didn't know and then met up with my dad. We went to the quiet corner of a cafe until it was time for me to report backstage. The rest of the family and my friend, Xin Hui came later with my guitar and we went up to the rooftop of Avenue K.
I saw some of the announcers from hitz fm and some of the other acts backstage. It was almost my turn to perform. Then, it started to rain. People were rushing into the shelter, some came back with ponchos. There were cameramen and gigantic speakers hanging from the stage. Someone carried an umbrella for me and another person plugged my guitar in for me. It was all very, very strange.
When I went up to the stage and saw people in ponchos, still standing out in the rain. I couldn't believe they stayed! Maybe they were reserving a good spot for later, maybe they actually wanted to listen. I don't know. But they were there and I'm happy that they were. They cheered and clapped after each song and I could see my grandfather taking pictures with his phone. It was such a cool experience. I came down and enjoyed the rest of the concert with my friends. I even took some pictures with people (how surreal and strange).


I didn't realise until after I performed that there was a gigantic screen projecting the performances on stage. OMG.


This hobby I'm hoping to make into my career is unpredictable and scary and I hope I'm approaching it in the right direction. I can't exactly tell where I'll be or what I'll be doing in a year or so, but there's so much to learn about business, marketing, design, videos, and everything not related to the music. Sometimes its really overwhelming. I listen to interviews of songwriters about how they handle all this stuff and yet continue to write songs. Because there's not really a class or course to tell you what to do, those interviews sort of act like the lectures I guess. Anyway, I found this and thought it was helpful: 

"As a songwriter its important not to put too many filters on what you put out emotionally. Because if you factor in what every single person in the world is going to think of the song, is anyone going to be offended by the song, and what everyone is going to think about me, and how am I going to play this 10 years from now, oh my god, you'll just sit there with a piece of paper and just doodle clouds and hearts and not write anything."

"You're working both right and left sides of your brain at different times and you have to know which time to turn one side off and the other side on. It's actually really, really fun. Um, and sometimes you're not in the mood to have a conference call. And you're sitting there going "why can't I just make everyone else do this, and I just write the songs?" and then you realise I have to make to make these decisions and take ownership of everything that happens in my career, or else I will get bitter. And I will be like "why did you make me do this?" and it's like "well, you weren't in the conference call, so you couldn't say that that was against your vision for this album." So you've got to show up I guess. " -- Taylor Swift


So yeah. This pretty much sums December so far. Only 4 skating shows and one or two more performances for the year. After all this excitement, I'm going to be getting back to my normal life again. I'm going to miss being this busy... Maybe I'll finally learn how to drive. Or maybe, I'd get to be this busy next year too. I sure hope so. I took a little break from writing songs just to let this all sink in. I've been trying to stop and focus on 'Clues' and promoting it, but I also have been writing a lot hopefully for the next album and at this point, I'm happy with how it's going.
This year has been amazing. I've learnt so much, seen so many places and met so many wonderful people. I can't believe I'm chasing my dreams. And I can't believe people have been so supportive. I can't believe you have been so supportive. I'm so, so grateful. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Oh hello, November.

So these past few months I've been wondering if there was ever going to be a life after Nashville. I have to say it took me quite a while to be fully present here because I'm still looking at the wrong side of the street before crossing, which is terrifying and some of my stuff are still in suitcases. I spent my time dancing, skating, recording, teaching (I find that very random) and working on the EP. I've been writing a lot, and am pretty sure I know what I want to do for my next album (there I go, over-planning things again). Which brings me to this: I'LL BE RELEASING MY FIRST ALBUM VERY, VERY SOON. Right now there's the album design (almost done), website design (also almost done) and we've just confirmed the venue of the launch. Basically, there's just a lot of 'almost done's. Hey, maybe 'almost done' could be our always. Okay. Back to the topic: This is both an exciting and nerve-wrecking experience and I find myself on the verge of jumping up and down or crying hysterically at any point of the day because I'm so sad and I'm so happy and so scared. I have to constantly remind myself that this is the best that I can do right now. Sometimes I feel like I'm not good enough and that I want to re-do something because I feel like I might be able to do it a little better next time. But I know that if I keep thinking this way, I'll never put anything out. I guess I'll have to try to be brave and pretend to be confident. 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

62 Days in Nashville

"Travel not to find yourselfbut to remember who you've been all along."
- Megan Gilger.

It was actually 65 days including all the travelling through changing timezones. I've been home in Malaysia for a month and have yet to write about my recent adventuring. "You need to tell people what happened. You have to write your report and tell people what happened" my mom tells me. Ahh, the life of a homeschooler.. consists of a lot of report writing. But honestly, after being home for so long, I'm still thinking about Nashville. I'm still reminiscing, and I'm still wishing I was there. It's like the feeling you get after reading an awesome book, and its so awesome that you don't want to read another book because you feel it wouldn't even come close. I actually did read a very good book and am currently not really reading anything else but that's beside the point. So where do I start, where do I start? The past few months could very well have been the best two months of my life so far and this is my "report". 


I started my adventure saving up for the actual adventure. Because life isn't just about the destination, it's also about the journey. And what a journey it was-- I raised funds on GoFundMe, did a couple of recitals and sang on the street. I'm so grateful to everyone who helped me chase my dreams


Why Nashville? Because I wanted to attend the annual country music festival (CMA Fest) and two workshops there: Pitch To Publishers workshop, and NSAI's Song Camp. I wanted to learn more about songwriting, and to see how my songs would be received. 
While in Nashville, my mom and I volunteered at a hostel. I walked from midtown (where we were staying, and where my mom volunteered) to downtown (where I did most of my volunteering) everyday. It took me 30 minutes to walk there, and 30 back. I walked until there were holes in my shoes and tan lines where I wore my watch but the time I spent walking gave me a lot of time to think and write songs, which I did. I must've looked like a crazy person, singing into my phone and all, but I must say; I have come up with songs while walking back and cleaning rooms that I'm very proud of. 


The last few weeks in Nashville flew by. I didn't want to leave, but I missed home at the same time. Oh, the irony. But before we left, I had one last scheduled performance and a couple more writer nights and open mics to attend. And of course I had to go to The Bluebird Cafe one last time to sing and to say hello and goodbye to the wonderful people I've met there. Till next time at least. 
I performed at Jack Scott's Writer's Night at Renaissance Hotel. Two years ago, I played there for the first time when it used to be held at Hotel Indigo. It's funny how so much has changed, yet so much is still the same. I met the most amazing people there that night, and had so much fun performing. 
I also attended NSAI's Song Camp. There were so many people of all ages and all genres attending. I met someone writing songs for Broadway, and someone who writes the most amazing dance music. The first day of the workshop felt like the first day of school; there were mums reluctantly saying goodbye to their kids (my mom was one of them) and people getting to know each other. I sat way at the back of the conference room (of course) and talked to people. Okay, okay I tried to talk to people. I didn't feel as awkward there somehow. Maybe its because we were all crazy about songwriting and so we have so much to talk about, I don't know. The workshop was 3 full days of insanely awesome lectures, song sharing sessions, song critiques, and networking. We explored deeper into lyrics, melodies, songwriting methods, hooks and co-writing. We each got a song critique and got to listen to hit songwriters tell their stories behind their songs each day. 
I loved hearing about how the songwriters wrote their songs. Anything could be an inspiration; it could be a colour, or a word, or a movie. Sometimes it started off with a guitar, sometimes a piano, and sometimes they'd write to programable tracks. During one of the sessions, we got to hear the entire process because they recorded it all. It started from beats, then moved on to a couple of words and a lot of mumbling, then the demo and finally the radio version. It was so fascinating! Hearing them share their experiences was both inspiring and reassuring. 
I was especially nervous about my song critiques. Each time I passed my lyric sheets around, I could hear my heart pounding, and I hoped no one else could hear it. During the breakout sessions there weren't many people because we were broken into smaller groups. I never had my songs critiqued before, and after attending the workshops, I realised my songs weren't exactly following that "rules". I don't always follow the general song structure or write to radio-friendly song lengths. One of my songs; 'Dreaming' didn't even rhyme. I was SO surprised that for all the 3 song critiques, I got very good feedback for my songs. It's not that I doubt myself that much (I do, a little. But only a little. Okay, maybe a little more than a little.) but these were professional songwriters. Some of them had won or had been nominated for many awards including Grammys. I couldn't comprehend it. I still can't. 


I made new friends, and got asked to do some co-writing. I had never co-written before, so all this was so exciting and new to me. I managed to squeeze co-writing sessions with Olivia and Diana on my last 3 days in Nashville. It's a very interesting process; learning how other people write their songs and how to write a song together. 
It was too soon to be packing my bags all over again. We had a lovely southern breakfast with our friends at the hostel and went to the airport. The journey home felt so much longer than the journey there. The constant change in timezones resulted in me giving my family the wrong arrival date, but by the time I realised my mistake, we were thousands of feet in the air above Chicago and there was no way to let them know. 
I had learnt so much and I feel like I've grown more in my songwriting. I read an article recently about why people like to travel. It's not just the being-in-a-new-place kind of rush, but it is the energies you get from being in a place where everyone is excited to be there. How everyone travelled to the same place you're travelling to for almost the same reason. It also talked about how after you've come home, you'll always get the urge to travel again. The buzz will disappear, and it said that no matter how much you think had changed, it will all be the same again as you go back to your ordinary life. I don't want to go back to who I was before all this adventuring. I don't want to stay completely unchanged. After many, many flights and long naps on the plane, Nashville didn't feel real. But there were photos, and souvenirs. I even packed dandelions in my suitcase. Not the small ones like we have in Malaysia, but the big ones the size of your fist. So it had to be real. 
I don't know how to express how thankful I am to have been able to experience all of this. And to have experienced it with my mom. I thought I could do it on my own, but I don't think I could. She likes to rub it in my face all the time- the fact that I did actually need her there, and really enjoyed her company.
I'm so grateful to everyone who had supported me. Thank you so, so much for believing in me. I can't wait to share some exciting news with you! 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

38 Days in Nashville

“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late to be whoever you want to be. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you find you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start over again.” 
-- F. Scott Fitzgerald

The weather here has been hot and cold like the Katy Perry song. It's been freezing in the morning and scorching hot in the afternoon. It's confusing. I heard the weather back in Malaysia has been pretty bad, so I hope you've all got your masks and are staying hydrated.

I feel like I'm in a dream, and going to sleep is actually waking up.

I got scheduled to play in the round at Debi Champion's Songwriter's Night. The way it works here is that you have to sign up and be an open mic-er a few times before you can get scheduled, and I'm so happy that it was on a day like this. It was so much fun, I think I'll play there again.


We went to Cafe Coco again for the open mic but we were late and sign ups were full. They only allow 12 people each time and we were late because I was baking cupcakes with Amanda, one of the guests at the hostel. Since we were already there, we decided to stay for the show anyway. It's always fun at Cafe Coco, because you'll never know what to expect. I love the flute/beat-boxing act. Towards the end of the open mic, Cody who runs the open mic here asked if I wanted to play. Of course I said yes. And I ended up being the 13th performer that night.


Then on Thursday, I played at Ella Mae Bowen's 'Unplugged at Atmalogy'. That was the highlight of my week life. It was surreal.

The next day was America's independence day. We saw the most and mesmerising fireworks display. It was also the longest we've ever seen. It was magical and mesmerising. We stood on the roof right in front of riverfront and it was awesome. My mom and I had never experienced 4th of July in before. We hardly ever go to the parades during Merdeka either, so being right in the middle of one of the biggest celebrations in the US was pretty crazy. Best fireworks ever.


We did some touristy things like visiting the mall, walking around downtown, eating gigantic pizza and taking lots of photos so this week, we decided to stay in more. We've been going out a lot and I hardly had anytime to write, so that's what I did. There's a little space in the garden of the hostel where people can hang out and mainly smoke, but when no one is there, that's where I'll be. I'm that girl walking around humming to herself, thoughts filled with words, scrambling for a piece of paper. I realised that most of my ideas come when I am busy. There's also a piano at the hostel downtown and I'd play a little there too whenever I can. Or when there aren't too many people around.


I've been dreaming about home a lot lately, which is weird. I had not anticipated this strange mix of happiness and sadness to hit me os hard. Sometimes I don't know if it's my gut feeling I'm going with, or if it's the fear of things not working out that is clouding my judgement. Following your heart is good advice; but sometimes it's hard to tell if you're following your heart, or conveniently running from your fears. I guess what spewed all this was when I got asked if I wanted to stay here longer than I had initially planned to. I spent a long time contemplating it, but eventually I decided not to stay on. I love this place and someday I'd like to live here but being so far away from family is hard. It's even harder if something happens and you can't just be there in the next few hours.


I'm off to help out at the hostel now. Folding sheets and cleaning rooms. It's still enjoyable and I'm still optimistic about it, so it's all good :) I'll write more later! 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

28 Days in Music City

I've been here in Nashville with my mom for almost a month. Has it really been that long? I'm missing ice skating and ballet and all of you guys back in Malaysia a lot, but the internet makes the distance seem smaller. A few of you asked me how I'm doing here and I always say "good". Not because there's nothing much to tell you, but there's just so much to say that I'm not sure where to start. I'm also not much of a talker.
I've been spending very little time on the internet since I got here. There seems to be a lot of things going on outside of this computer screen and by the time I get back, I'm either too tired or too hungry. Or both.
I've been pretty busy these few weeks. I haven't been writing much and I'm feeling like I'm going crazy. I can only go so many days without writing anything down. It has been about a week and my mind is racing with words, lines, lyrics, rhymes... So I'm just here trying to pick up little fragments of songs here and there.
The public transportation is not exactly the most reliable here so my mom and I have been walking a lot. 10,000 steps a day is a lot further than I thought it would be. Most people here drive and don't take the bus, and there isn't a train here. That makes me appreciate the LRT more I guess. It's also been really hot. Probably not as hot as it is in Malaysia, but the weather makes it feel like we're not too far away when actually we are.



I attended a Pitch To Publisher's workshop at the Bluebird Cafe last week. It was the most amazing experience I've had being in a room full of songwriters around my age. I did not get selected to pitch my songs to the publishers, but I was allowed to audit the workshop and learn the process of pitching songs and what it takes to be a commercial country songwriter. We are constantly reminded of how difficult it is to succeed in this industry, and I think that probably brings me back to reality a little more. It's a good thing though. It makes me want to work a lot harder.
I don't quite think I have what it takes to be a "commercial country songwriter" although I do love country music. Waylon Jennings did say: "country music isn't a guitar, it isn't a banjo, it isn't a melody, it isn't a lyric. It is a feeling." so I'll just write about my thoughts and feelings and try not to think to much about the genre.
During the workshop, I met so many wonderful people whom I have so much in common with. And the fact that we all scribble lyrics on everything and can use "we should write a song about that" in a regular sentence is so cool. I love how in Nashville people want to hear original music and they really pay attention to the lyrics. We also love pizza and salad, but who doesn't?
On the last day of the workshop, the auditors of the workshop got to play their songs for the participants to critique and comment. We had to prepare 35 lyric sheets, but I didn't want to pay 25 cents per sheet because that is a lot of money to spend so I wrote them out. Mum helped me of course. I played them my song 'Here'. I got comments on it being a little too vague for country music and it also had too many rhetorical questions. But overall everyone enjoyed it and suggested I try to get it to TV placements. The most memorable comment I got was when someone said they could imagine it played in the background of Finding Nemo.
There was also a little party at the end of the workshop. We talked about boys and music and food. Well, I mainly listened but I was not as quiet as usual. We also sat in a circle and passed a guitar around, each taking turns to play our songs. It was like a giant songwriter's round. It was so inspiring, and amazing. I got to play my song 'Dandelion Days' and have everyone sing along at the chorus. I have never felt like I really belonged anywhere until that night.


It was back to reality after that weekend. We were free on Monday, so we went to The Bluebird cafe again to try to play at the open mic. The line was so long by the time we got there, we were in the third line. I saw some friends I met at the workshop and made some new friends while we were in line. I thought I wouldn't get a chance to play because we were so far behind, but I got to play! We didn't get to go in, but I got to play. I wasn't as nervous as I was the last time, but I was still nervous. It was so much fun. Because we didn't get a seat in the cafe, after my performance we had to leave. I took mum to Whole Foods, my new favourite place to eat. It's not easy to find vegetables and fruit, but in this area there were plenty. And one of the best parts about eating at Whole Foods is that we could take the amount we wanted to eat and not worry about bringing a box so we could pack the leftovers.


We ate in quite often but we did eat out too. When we ate in, mom would try to re-create chinese dishes with american ingredients. She managed to make herbal eggs, which tasted awesome. When we eat out, we normally order for one person and share. Food is usually served in such huge portions here. I had pancakes the other day at the Pancake Pantry (where Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Taylor Swift and many other celebrities go to eat) and that one plate of pancakes I ordered was enough for about 2 meals for me. Nashville has quite a lot of barbecue places to eat, but I don't eat barbecue. I don't even know how to spell barbecue, but autocorrect helped me out with that.


We were quite free the other day and decided to bake something with the ingredients we found at the hostel. We made a vegan chocolate cake to share with everyone.
We haven't done much touristy things, so the other day we explored downtown a little. We went full on tourist mode taking pictures of everything. Most of these pictures were taken by my mom.
As I'm writing this I'm Skyping with Sam and Arian. We've been chatting for about 3 hours about almost nothing significant. So yeah, that's how/what I've been doing lately. Time seems to be moving so fast, yet so slow at the same time. I want to go home, yet this feels like home at the same time. I'm going to need more time to process everything.
Thanks for reading until the end of my current ramblings by the way.


Friday, June 20, 2014

19 days in this wonderful unknown

"Here we go, dancing on our own
Into this dark and wonderful unknown. 
Let us go, let us go" 

-Ingrid Michaelson, Wonderful Unknown.

Time seems to go by so fast here. The days are longer because the sun sets at 8pm or later and rises so early in the morning. This week, we've been pretty busy at the hostel. I'd fall asleep and I wouldn't even hear the noise coming from next door. It's getting hotter and hotter here; and it probably is in Malaysia too, but I wouldn't normally walk 30 minutes in the hot sun back home. Over here, I've been doing it almost everyday. I counted that takes me 3700 steps to get to the hostel. This week, I did quite a lot of room cleaning. I'm enjoying it as much as I can possibly enjoy cleaning rooms. I don't make my bed everyday back home, so I think this is a lesson because I'm making so many beds and folding so many blankets here that I'm pretty sure it has become automatic.
On Sunday, I played at Debi Champion's songwriter's night again. My mom and I ordered a giant brownie. It tastes so good, but it is gigantic. This time, the writer's rounds weren't as long. It was Father's Day and there were a lot of families out celebrating so the restaurant was pretty full. Then these two guys came up on stage to perform. They seemed to be really good friends, and they played really great songs. They were Guy Gilchrist, the artist for the Nancy comics and Eddie Kilgallon, an amazing songwriter, who wrote songs for George Strait and for many charity organisations. Mum and I went to get their autographs. Guy even drew me a cartoon on my notebook. They are such accomplished artists and they still play songwriter nights and are so humble too. That's so cool.


When it came to my turn to play, it was the last round of the open mic segment. There are scheduled songwriters at the beginning and when everyone scheduled has played, the open mic starts. I sang a song of mine called 'Box Full Of Memories'. I only play that live sometimes because I am very sure that I want that song on my next album (here I go thinking too much again. My first album isn't even done yet). The response from my song was pretty good, and people came up to me said they liked my song. I felt really happy. Debi told me that next time I could get scheduled, and I'm going to be playing as a scheduled performer at the end of this month! I'm so excited.
On monday, after I was done with my shift at the hostel, mum and I went to watch The Song Suffragettes at The Listening Room Cafe. Brittany, whom I met at The Martin Guitar Booth two years ago as well as this year was playing with Maddie Kozak, Kalie Shorr, Lena Stein, Daisy Mallory (!!!) and Brittany Kennel. Song Suffragettes is a songwriter's round just for girls to play. All their voices are so amazing. The whole setting of it reminded me a lot of The Bee back home in Publika.
Tuessday: Cleaned rooms again today. Found a whole bunch of pennies, or one cent coins. I heard that is is good luck if you find one, but I found so many. I was worried that it might have the opposite effect. On my way back, I stopped by the grocery store to buy some fruits and food. If you're going to walk for 30 minutes in the hot sun, don't buy bananas. They weigh a lot. I was really hungry by the time I got back because I didn't eat lunch, so I cooked noodles with salted vegetables. We bought those from an Asian market. After lunch/dinner, we walked to Cafe Coco. They have open mics every tuesdays and thursdays. "You have to go to Cafe Coco" is basically what I've heard from people here. The cafe is a quirky little cafe in a house. They serve cookies the size of your face and cakes the size of bricks. Well, almost the size of a brick. We had a 'fountain drink' (sprite) and a new York Cheesecake. Everything has to be shared with my mom here because of their abnormally large food portions.
The open mic itself is located at the back of the cafe. It was a very artsy kind of vibe, not like the typical Nashville country kind of style. I met a few of the girls who were staying at the hostel and a girl named Jackie and her mom. We were the only two who came with our moms, and turns out we have a lot in common. We both love Ed Sheeran's music. All the open mic-ers sat behind and jammed out before the show started. It was so amazing getting to be a part of that even though I didn't know the songs they were singing, but I just sat and listened. The first open mic, Taylor sang the most amazing song that he wrote. Everyone was so amazing actually. Jackie sang before me, and her voice is just so amazing and unique. I feel like I'm a fan of almost everyone in this town so far. I hardly use my iPod when I'm here because there's so much good music to listen to everywhere.
I got to sing two songs that night, and the response was nothing like I've ever gotten before. It really surprised me. I'm so happy that my songs are being accepted here and people like it enough to ask for my sound cloud links. A lot of hugs were given, which was nice and everyone in this room were in a state of "I can't even" because there was just so much amazing talent in the room including a girl who played the flute and beatboxed at the same time. I mean, how amazing is that? Most of us weren't from Nashville, and we were all so, so, so excited. Walking back was like walking on clouds. Only I have never walked on clouds. It was like what I thought it would be like walking on clouds. I would've skipped all the way home if I wasn't carrying my guitar with me.
On wednesday, It was super hot outside, but freezing inside. I cleaned rooms at the hostel again. It wasn't too busy, so we could relax a little. I traded lists of my favourite music to listen to on Spotify with Tracee. We have similar tastes in music and she introduced me to a lot of artists I didn't know about before.
Thursday (today: I got up really early this morning and took the bus this morning to the Bluebird Cafe to attend a 'Pitch For Publishers' workshop. It is a workshop to teach you about songwriting, commercial country music, and how to pitch songs to publishers. I didn't get selected to pitch to the publishers, so I just went to audit. I saw Jackie, and Rachel there too and it was nice to see some familiar faces.
We went really in-depth of hit songs and analysed their meanings, song structure, and themes. We all got to pick a song to discuss and brainstorm about. I was most afraid of speaking to the group of people about how I felt about the songs. That's why I write songs; to avoid the whole 'speaking your mind' thing because songs will say it for me. I'm glad I had to do it though, because I definitely need to learn how to speak up more.
The workshop ran from 9am to 4pm. After that, we were supposed to head to this place called Ri'chard's Cafe for an open mic. All the participants get to play. I met my mom at Bluebird Cafe and then got a taxi there because it was too far to walk. We shared the taxi with two other people who were heading downtown. To get to Ri'chards, we'd pass downtown so we decided to go together because taxis are really hard to find here. Then the taxi driver forgot about sending the two other people to downtown and we got lost on the way to the cafe. We drove past houses and shops that started to get further and further apart from each other and we were definitely out of the city. We took a really long way there and it costed us a lot. This was when every participant got to play their songs and network. I got to sing two songs. I'll post a video of it up in the next few days. Promise. I had so much fun. There were so many amazing songwriters, it is so inspiring. Everything is changing so quickly in the music industry. Sometimes it can be very scary not knowing what's going to happen next. But if anything changes, I just want to remain optimistic and remain who I was when I started this journey into the wonderful unknown.