Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Eighteen: Penang Island Jazz Festival

It was a lovely trip to Ipoh and Penang. It was an amazing experience performing at the Penang Island Jazz Festival.I am currently (well, not so currently because it is taking me a week to finish this blog. Sorry) reuniting with my computer, whom I haven't seen in days. Internet was widely available in Penang, much to my surprise so I did not experience much withdrawal symptoms. Ha. We started our journey to Ipoh before heading to Penang. After a lot of scrambling and last-minute packing, we left the house behind schedule. As usual. With music blasting through my headphones, I fell asleep and woke up in Ipoh. I wondered how much longer I could just fall asleep and arrive at my destination magically... We had dinner at that vegetarian sushi place that we always go to with my grand aunt and grandmother and then watched TV. Ipoh is either two things: eating, or watching TV. Our grandmother thinks we are deprived of them both.

On Friday, we headed to Penang. Sam, Arian and I sat with our faces glued to the window, excited to see the sand, rocks and the ocean. You'd think we lived in the city all our lives and have never been to the beach, but we have.
I got to stay in a lovely hotel room with my siblings and have meals at the hotel, (which were in unbelievable large portions) and also attend the festival events. I have never had a festival tag with my name on it and the word “Artist” printed at the bottom of it. It was awesome.
I'm not a jazz artist, so I was scheduled to perform at the fringe stages Bayview Beach Resort during the day. I was quite nervous because 1) I have never performed in Penang and 2) I have never performed at a festival like this. But as I spent more time there, I realised everyone was really supportive and people came up to me and told me they really liked my music. Me, the girl with the cowboy boots singing about life and love. I was genuinely surprised, and I really appreciated it that people listened. After my performance, it was a blur. I took pictures with people, posed with my guitar and talked to a few more people. I was really nervous. This had never happened before. What a rush.

On Saturday, I had a performance at Tropical Spice Garden. It was the sunrise show so you guessed it, it happened at sunrise. The people I told about this performance were shocked at the time of the event and my sister chose sleep than to attend but I have not been more excited to wake up at 5am and sing at 7. I was the first performer, and the sun had just risen over the horizon. We were set amongst the trees and there were fairy lights all around. It was magical! And right in the middle of the little tent-area was a tree. I felt like I was in a treehouse. And I love tree houses. I was worried no one would come for my set because it was so early in the morning, but it seemed that Penang people are morning people. 

I had never performed with a giant picture of my face behind me before. I have also never performed this early. I also had never performed on the same stage as one of my heroes, Liyana Fizi before. I mean, even to be mentioned in the same sentence. Wow. It blew my mind that that morning happened. I got to meet her afterwards and took a picture with her and her guitarist and also with the saxophone player. She said “here hold this." She said, handing me a packet of sandwiches. "It would be like we're going to have breakfast!"And that was how we ended up taking pictures with our food. 

Bihzhu, who performed at the main stage asked me how I was. I said “Okay”And she was like “Only okay?” Well, that is my standard answer for how I’m doing, but she meant how was the experience, the setting, the ambience. Definitely more than an “Okay”. It was a dream.

I attended a workshop by Martin Taylor and Alison Burns with Bihzhu. Mum, dad and Arian left me alone for a while. I enjoyed my time by myself without them and talked to a few people, which was nice. I am rather quiet and not very sociable and you could blame the homeschooling, but I think it's just me because I've met homeschoolers as sociable as anyone else. Alison talked about vocal warm-ups and singing while Martin talked about guitar playing.

After the workshop, I took the shuttle van back to Bayview. It was like a school bus. This whole thing was like an adventure for me. I got back to our hotel room and ate my breakfast/lunch. Then we went swimming! I've been wanting to go swimming since we got here, but I was performing while Sam and Arian went. We swam for a while until it was too freezing cold for us to continue. We watched TV- or more accurately, stared blankly at the screen for a couple of hours before I decided to go downstairs and listen to some of the bands performing today. The getting up at 5 am finally hit me and I was feeling sleepy, so I went back to the room. 

In the evening, mom and I went to watch Bihzhu perform. It was on the main stage, kind of like the LP field at CMA Fest, but on a smaller scale. I wasn’t sure if we could enter, so I asked the person at the entrance and showed him my “artist” tag. That was when I realised the magical power of that little tag- It could get me free food at the hotel AND entrance into the concerts. Free food was a waste for me, because I forgot to eat breakfast, and dinner was huge, so I kept it for lunch the next day. 
I had one last performance the next day at Bayview Beach Resort. I thanked the people who let me perform there, and the organiser himself; uncle Paul. They were all so nice and welcoming even though they have been doing this for 10 years. 
My grandmother made a surprise visit to our home. And mom could not contain her shock. We were not prepared because normally when she visits, we'd spend the week intensively cleaning the house but this time we were away and the house was a mess. She first came in and asked why our grass wasn't cut. There was no way she would believe us if we tell her it was intentionally left that way. As usual, she tried to talk me into becoming a doctor or a teacher. There's a lot more pressure on me because she knows I can study if I wanted to. In primary 4, I got first in class and she was delighted but she would be happy if my sister became a hairdresser.
I had a gig at Merdekarya and we brought my grandma along. She has never watched me perform ever. I'm so glad she came. Well, she didn't really have a choice but still. 

I also got to sing with the amazingly talented Devon C, who organised this and gave me the honour of opening the show. He has the most amazing voice and we sang "Let Her Go" by Passenger together.
So after the show, my grandmother was like "well, it's alright.." 

The next day, we took grandma to the recording studio to see what I actually do with my time. When she asks, I normally don't know what to tell her. I've played the "I don't know" card far too many times when she asked me what I wanted to do with my life so now I'm just showing her. My song for the Rock for Ronan album was almost ready and we could go to the studio to listen. I was really happy with the way it turned out and grandma liking the song was an added bonus. I've already performed the song a few times here and there, and I can't wait for you to hear it!

While I was in Penang, I found out that my song 'Red' is nominated for 'Best Pop Song' at the VIMA Awards!! It is going to be pretty tough as I'm up against so many talented artists, but I am just thrilled to be nominated. Voting has begun, and it took me quite a while to realise that it had already started: If you're not quite sure how to vote, you can find out more here: It is now almost 1 am and I really should be going to bed, but I have to finish this blog before I leave for camp. Now that I'm done... goodnight, and see you in a couple of days! Thanks for all your love and support. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Seventeen: Rocking for Ronan

As some of you may already know, a song that I wrote will be included in the Rock for Ronan compilation album. All sales will benefit the Ronan Thompson Foundation to try and help fight childhood cancer. 

Rock for Ronan is a musical compilation currently being compiled to benefit the Ronan Thompson Cancer Foundation. All sales from the cd and online downloads will go directly to the foundation to continue research and support of childhood cancers.

To be honest, I didn't know much about paediatric cancer much before hearing Taylor Swift's song 'Ronan'. That song made me want to find out more and it made me want to help too. I was quite oblivious to all of this but as I researched further, I was devastated by what I was reading. These children suffer so much, fight so hard and sometimes they win, but a lot of the time they loose their lives. Neuroblastoma, which is the cancer of the specialised nerve cells are usually diagnosed in children under the age of 5. Can you imagine being so young and having to face something so terrible? I have never cried so much for people I have never even met.

I really wanted to help as much as I could, but I'm just a teenager. I don't have a job, I still live with my parents. What can I do? Maybe it’s because I have yet to experience the brutality of the real world that I still believe that I can make a tiny difference in this giant, immensely populated world. My parents taught me that you don't need to have a lot to be able to help someone. So as I was scrolling down Tumblr, I came across this project. Rock for Ronan was looking for songs to put in their compilation album. I was very excited and got to work immediately. I had many half-written songs but I wasn't happy with what I wrote because I felt like it wasn't sincere enough. It worried me that I wouldn't be able to tell their story accurately enough. It took me a a lot of writing and rewriting before I finally finished the song. 

The next challenge was finding a producer and a studio who would want to work on this with me. I had met Abraham at an open mic a couple of months ago and he had invited me to his studio once. It was quite last minute when I asked him, but he was willing to help me record the song and I am so, so grateful for his help.

We set up a meeting face-to-face and discussed the direction of the song. I have never done anything like this before, so this was very exciting to me. Soon, we were recording guitars and vocals. A few other instruments were tracked and now we're almost done!

My grandmother (mom's mom) told me that music can't help people. She says I should do something with my life that will actually benifit someone. Like a typical Asian parent/grandparent, she told me that I should be a doctor or a teacher. I know that trying to live up to her expectations is a useless pursuit so I might as well take as much of her advice as I can and do what I feel is right because what she doesn't understand is that music does and can indeed help people. It helped me. Writing songs helped me get out of my own head and let me say what I wanted to say. This project is allowing me to go beyond my own feelings and stories and letting me extend it out to hopefully help. Even if it’s just a little. 

Malaysia is on the map!
Right now, it's the last few days of the campaign. We are trying to raise $5,000. We are really grateful for all the support so far, but unfortunately we're not even halfway to our goal yet. Everyone part of the project is trying our best to promote this, but we really need your help. Donating $5 or RM 16, can get you the digital download of the album. $25 or more gets you the digital download as well as the physical copy of the album. 

If you are not able to donate money, it would really mean so much if you would be able to help spread the word about this project. We are spending a lot of time on the internet, and things we say are seen by more people these days. It is easier to say something on Twitter and Facebook and have a people listen so I hope you can help us in any way you can. 

Rock for Ronan:

Thank you for reading this. And thank you SO much for all your support, even if it was just sending a little prayer or reading about paediatric cancer. It really means a lot. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Sixteen: I always used to love November, but now it always floods with rain.

I've been in a very happy mood lately. I don't know, I feel happy and comfortable being myself and I'm looking at life from the 'glass is half full' perspective. I realises that these moments are to be appreciated because I don't know when it will go away. With saying that, I spent almost the whole week trying to make myself sad. To the point of tears-streaming-down-my-face kind of induced sadness for a new song I'm almost done recording. I wanted to mean every word, and to do that I had to be mentally in that kind of place I'd normally try to escape. I'm still trying and learning to portray that emotion in my singing because I'm not very expressive. Except when I write. We just finished the vocals today at the studio and I am very happy with the way it is coming together.  I can't wait for you to hear it. I know I keep saying that and yet nothing is released, and I'm so sorry about that. I'm hoping to release something before my 18th birthday. Fingers crossed that all goes as planned!
I'm going to perform at the Penang Island Jazz Festival next week (December 6th-8th) and I'm so excited (I really should use more words other than "exited") because I have never performed outside of Kuala Lumpur before. I mean I have sang in Nashville and California, but within Malaysia I've only performed in KL so this will be my first gig in another state. Also, I'm performing before Liyana Fizi at the Sunrise Stage. Asdfghjkl!!! Check out the festival schedule here if you will be in town then :)
November has been CRAZY and so much fun. I never thought I'd say this, but I'm looking forward to doing nothing.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Fifteen: I really don't know life at all.


I've been neglecting this blog again, haven't I? Sorry about that...
Anyway, it's the 6th 16th of November (it took me 10 days to finish writing this) and I'm very happy that this is going to be a busy month and I CAN'T WAIT.

Tuesday was my second day of being back at work. I took a two month break before and now I've decided (with much convincing from my sister) that I work two days a week. It's not too bad, except that today was a holiday and there were a lot of customers. Made. so. much. juice. cut. so. many. oranges... It is fun and both really nerve-wrecking at the same time because you are excited, but then also trying not to mess anything up. It is definitely more fun working with other people rather than just by yourself though. 
After work, I went to an appreciation dinner organised by Winnie Ho and her group to sort of get to know all the other open mic-ers from the previous rounds. Her open mic is a chinese open mic, 脱口唱 and it is very different from other open mics I have attended. Her and her team are really passionate about music and you can just feel their enthusiasm when you walk into the room. They're so nice and supportive too. They organised this meet-up with us performers so that we could share our ideas and network and  get to know each other. It was amazing being amongst these really established artists and hearing their stories and also meeting people like me who are just starting out. 

I've also got exciting news. Treehouse Open Mic is back! I took a really long break from organising it the past couple of months. It will be at Zest Cafe this time, and you can now sign up online here.

This month's open mic will be featuring Juno & Hanna. I met them last month at the Shout Awards' Cafe Session in Subang. I thought they were really amazing and asked if I could feature them and they said yes! 

The other day, I performed at Christian Palencia's ( Alter:Native KL. He invites a couple of people to come perform and it's a little like an open mic and a mini recital at the same time. I got to be one of the headliners that night (which was AWESOME) and also meet so many people my age doing the same thing I do. I hardly ever get to perform for a room full of people who are actually intently listening me sing and I'm so grateful to him for putting something like this together. And after that night, my facebook page went from like 740 likes to nearly 800 in less than a day. I didn't even know where all those people came from, and if you're one of them, I am very grateful.

I've been performing quite a bit lately, and writing a little here and there. Getting ready to get back in the studio really soon! I'm really excited for this next project ;) 

Monday, September 30, 2013

Fourteen: I woke up, and September has ended.

Yes, it is a very dreamy morning listening to Benjamin Francis Leftwich and Nina Nesbitt. September seemed to go by so quickly. I'll try to write as much as I can about this month, because a lot has happened. A lot of first-time experiences this month...
I got an x-ray scan for the first time. It is probably nothing too serious. My initial thought after seeing the scans were "so this is how my spine looks like". I can't dance or skate as often and it has been quite frustrating at times. I am trying to remain positive and optimistic though, so I used my free time to write and draw:

It was also my first time ever being in not one, but TWO magazines. Asdfghjkljaskldhskkfs I'm so excited! The magazine issues are for the month of October. It was so much fun! For Seventeen magazine, it was literally a full-day thing. I submitted the story of my journey so far to them as part of their "real life, real inspiring" contest and much to my surprise, actually won.
In the morning, loads of make up was piled onto my face and after about an hour doing hair and makeup, I didn't look at myself at all. And that scared me a little. This whole 'girly' thing really bored my dad and the fact that there was glitter everywhere including the couches (which was pretty awesome to me) probably made him feel out of place. Some of the glitter also got stuck on his clothes.
Then in the afternoon, we headed to a cafe take the photographs. I was really nervous because I had never done a photo shoot before but everyone were so nice and encouraging. They taught me how to 'smize' which means to smile with my eyes. And with me being the stiff, non-expressive self that I am, I clearly did not grasp the concept. It ended up being like trying to get a baby to smile for the camera. Haha! 

I had so much fun and learnt a lot from this experience. I learnt a lot about makeup and clothes and how to pose... Also before this I thought that the behind the scenes pictures were really 'behind the scenes'. It was actually just us posing. If it really was 'behind the scenes', the makeup artist's hand would be blur because she applying makeup and I would be hunching (because I have terrible posture) and it wouldn't look as good. It all makes sense now...

This is the magazine all glossy and displayed at every bookstore and news stand. They gave me the whole page! The whole entire page with my picture on it. I don't think I have ever had a picture of mine printed out so huge before. And on the other page, was my story. There were three other stories after mine and everyone had achieved something and had written inspiring stories. I'm so thankful to everyone at Seventeen for giving me this opportunity and for making my first photo shoot memorable and fun. 

Not long after that wonderful day, I got an email from Timeout KL asking me if I wanted to be in their magazine for their music issue coming out in October. They said I would be in their 'artist people should know about' list. How exciting! So of course I said 'yes'. 

I was still working part time then and after work, my dad and I headed off to the photography studio. This time I did my own makeup in the car (I know, it is such a huge achievement for me) and the photo shoot took about 15 minutes. It was a lot more chill; the atmosphere as well as the temperature. I tried to take the advice from the previous photo shoot to 'smize', but I don't know how well I did.
Then I fell asleep in the car on the way home. 

My whole family and I were so excited when the magazines came out in stores. I never thought this would ever happen. Not even in my wildest dreams did I think this was possible. My friends ask me how it feels like, and all I can tell them is that it doesn't feel real at all. I'm not sure if it feels like a dream either. I might need to step back and let all this sink in. But I still feel the same though, and I don't want that to change. 

This month was quite relaxed and laid-back. My mom would argue "how is this laid-back?!". But I had time to watch the entire season 1 of the original 1990 version of Law and Order so compared to last month, I'd say I was pretty free.  In the midst of all the music stuff, my family and I went to Ipoh for a few days. We visited a cave there and my brother imagined that there were Pokémon inside.

When we came back I performed at a Chinese open mic called '
and it was organised by Winnie Ho at Good Friends Cafe. I have never been to a Chinese open mic before.  I had never seen an open mic with so many people! Everyone there actually came for the music and were very supportive to the performers who had never performed before this. There was a lot of talking. I was told that they talk a lot but it wasn't boring at all. In fact, I found it rather entertaining listening to their stories and reasons behind the songs that they have written along with advice and comments from the more established artists. I definitely have to learn how to talk like them a little. I was a little worried no one would listen because I sang in English but they did. Reza Salleh was there too so I wasn't the only English-speaking singer/songwriter.

Anna Chong was the featured act of that open mic session and she was really amazing! I actually sat next to her the entire time but I didn't say anything. She didn't seem like she talked much either so we both just sat there. When she sang everyone was quiet and I could even hear the sound of the fan blowing. 

I performed at Tres Fest the next week. It was this really cool music art and food festival at Publika. The entire day was filled with music and my grandma came along too. 

And then after that, I performed at the Coffee Art and Fringe Festival Asia (CAFFA) which was also at Publika. They gave me a lot of free tea for that performance and I am very happy. 

I was also very happy because even in the hot afternoon heat, people came and listened so I sang them a new song that I wrote. 

So far, I've got nothing planned for October so I am looking forward to going back into the studio to work on more songs. I've finished with recording the first song already and we'll see how it goes with the next. I've said this before and probably too many times, but this is so exciting.
If you have listened to my songs, read this blog, or followed me online, thank you so much for doing so. It really means a lot to me :) 

Monday, September 9, 2013

10 things to do without the internet

The other day, the internet at our house went off. It was only for a little more than a day, but if we didn't do anything to pass the time it would have felt like forever. So I came up with a list of stuff we did without the internet. It was so much fun that we didn't even jump straight to our computers when the internet came back on. 

10 things to do without the internet:

1. Go to the park.

The real blue skies are bluer than the blue on Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter! 

My brother finally managed to ride a bike and he loved it so much that he just kept cycling round and round the basketball court. 

2. Listen to music.

We played hours and hours of music from Bai Ann, to John Lennon and Emmylou Harris in our little CD player with the sound of pouring rain in the background. 

3. Make mooncakes.

September means mooncake making time! We made the 'Bing Pei' or snow skin mooncakes that don't require any baking. 

It is basically Glutinous rice flour, sugar, shortening and water for the dough that is rolled into a thin layer and then used to wrap up the filling. We got lotus paste and green tea fillings this year. Yum. 

It is then placed into a mould and then it comes out in different shapes. 


4. Bake.

Making mooncakes didn't take very long, so I decided to make some banana muffins. 

5. Take the train anywhere.

My mom and I were both free, which was surprising because we are normally busy on weekends so we took the train to KLCC. When the both of us go shopping together, there are only two placed we would go to: the record store, and the book store. 

6. Read a book.

I have been reading facebook more often lately because I now have a phone that is seemingly 'smart'. So I deleted the app off my phone and read real books with real pages and paper in them instead. What I'm reading now is Quiet by Susan Cain and I'm really enjoying it. 

7. Clean the house.

We have conveniently forgot to clean the house so when we had nothing else to do, we cleaned the entire house. 

8. Do nothing. 

Doing nothing often leads to something more productive for me. Sometimes its nice to just lie on the floor and watch the ceiling fan spin. 

9. Take photographs of the garden.

These are the photos I took with my Sony TX9 and edited on iPhoto and Aviary. 

 10. Build a cardboard game.

The internet is amazing and like any other teenager, I live most of my life online. But a break from social networks once in a while is rather refreshing :)

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Thirteen: I chased you round in memories. Through the breeze and the trees, and you tease me but HEY

I recently rediscovered my love for the The Click Five's music when I was at a record store yesterday and their music was playing through the speakers. I was so excited and asked the sales lady about the album. 
"Ini last one." She said.
And walked away but came back later to buy that last album in the entire mall. Yessss.
It's been a pretty great month so far. Not because of The Click Five's album (well maybe a little) but I got to record a song at the studio! I can't believe it is almost done! And I can't wait for you to hear it! (It's a lot of exclamation points but I'm not shouting.) Anyway...

(If you don't live in Malaysia or couldn't come see me perform live before, you can do so on the 24th of August on livestream!)

This week is going to be crazy. I'm working tomorrow (sigh..), performing for Digi at their Raya event on Tuesday (yay!), a 20-minute set in Jaya One on Wednesday, rehearsals for the grand finals of My Challenge AND performing at Bihzhu's Crib Concert livestream on Saturday and then finally, the grand finals on Sunday. Try saying that three times fast. Thank you so much for all your support and making me so busy though, because I'm doing what I love to do. And thanks for reading about my ramblings on my musical adventures, the next blog post will not be related to music at all. Promise!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

On saturday, I tripped over an old mop (don't ask..) and there was a lot of blood and I missed an entire week of dance class and ended up having to get a tetanus injection. Yeah........
The week (thankfully) got better as I was one of the featured acts for Feedback open mic at Publika which was really fun. I also started my first day of work. It was fun at first, but on the second day the excitement was starting to fade. Tomorrow would be my third day of work. I don't know how long I can last, so I'm really hoping this music thing works out. 
When I got home, I got a call from 17 magazine! I will be going for my first ever photo shoot on tuesday and I'm not very photogenic (thats an understatement) so I'm hoping it would turn out alright. 
Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A short July update.

I'm loving July so far. There are hundreds of pink and white flowers on all the trees and the weather is absolutely beautiful. Just a short post while I write a longer one, but I just want to thank you for all the kind words and messages you've left on facebook, twitter and youtube. They never fail to put a smile on my face. I also have some exciting news to share with you. I can't really tell you all the details right now, but I will be recording my first single very soon! I'm so excited! Thanks for all your support!