Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Still at home, but kind of loving it.

I like watching the sunrise and the birds start singing. The quiet calm in the air. Today I woke up at 4am to attend a songwriting workshop. I've been trying to learn as much as I can, because right now we have the luxury of time and it's so exciting to get to really dive into the things I didn't get to do before. Obviously, there will be some projects that won't be completed like the scarf I've been knitting since January and still haven't completed. The other day I started a digital drawing for beginners course, and started trying to learn more about music editing and business. I also attended a coaching seminar on Zoom with coaches from all over the world, and it made me miss the ice and teaching.
It still blows my mind how the internet has connected us, especially now when we can't really connect in real life. My laptop is full of notes and random song ideas, projects I've been working on, collaborations, old pictures from my phone, etc etc. There's so much to do, its exciting and sometimes paralysing. During the weekend I was unmotivated and pretty uninspired, so I turned to listening to music and binging on Netflix tv shows. My siblings and I have been doing this a lot lately. We'd lock ourselves in our rooms a long time to work on music, dance, art, writing, schoolwork (in Arian's case) and then we'd do the opposite and watch entire seasons of tv at a go. Today I am sorting through all the files and replying to the texts and emails I have unintentionally ignored lately. There's quite a lot to do today, so this is just a quick post to say hello. Will write more soon.
I hope you are all doing well, and healthy, and safe. I'm learning to trust my process of creativity and coping with all the things that are happening right now, and I hope you know that no matter how you feel right now, it is temporary. And that it is okay <3

Monday, April 20, 2020

I was just thinking

I was just thinking
Casually wondering 

And then I kept thinking 
Now I'm thinking too much 

How I love staying home
Writing and making music
For people, but not many people
to listen to

I can't go to work right now
But I realise I miss it less and less
With every passing day
What if it wasn't even for me at all?
How am I going to go back now?

What am I doing with my life?
I thought I knew, but I maybe I don't

Uncertainty creeps up on you when you are most certain

Then it eats you from the inside out
Slowly, it takes over 
When a minute ago you were happy with everything
A minute ago you were so sure

I had a plan that I thought would work
It has been a long while
Should it have worked by now,
Or am I just not good enough?

Now its a downward spiral
Of thoughts that had been locked behind a door
Never to be opened again

Its open.
Flooding through everything
I can't do this

But maybe its just the fear of loosing what you have
Or the fear of a change you don't know
The future is right in front of us
but there's a sheet covering everything and we can't see

I don't understand this
Making art while trying to make money
Making sure either one isn't compromised

Now I have all this "art"
But I'm not making much money
Its okay
I'm happy making it, and happy with what I have written

I'm living off of the money I made 
Back when I worked too much
When I was kind of happy
Doing a job I thought I enjoyed

What do I do when that runs out?
The bills will still come though, won't they?
Next time when I live on my own
Will I have to drop everything I have now?

Taking deep breaths
Staying in the moment
What I can control, and what I can't 
Work on things, keep busy

False confidence
and temporary clarity kicks in

Everything's fine again.

Friday, April 10, 2020

uh oh, I found another blog I didn't post.

December 9th 2019

I’ve been running on adrenaline and a coffee lately, playing 1-3 shows a week for the past 5 weeks or so. And because its the holidays, I’ve been putting in extra hours at work for the kids’ Christmas show rehearsals and additional classes. Somehow I managed to complete my dance exams and see my students off for their exams one last time before leaving in between the chaotic schedule. (Thank you google calendar)

Write all of this down because you’re going to forget what you want to remember. These last two months of the decade have been insanely busy. So many adventures it’s been hard to keep track. I bought a journal again, realising that I have failed miserably at keeping a digital journal even though its more convenient and a cloud storage space is less likely to get ruined by a water bottle leak in your backpack.

November started with a dance exam I half-regretted signing up for. It has been years since I sat for any exam, and with my busy schedule + lack of commitment I felt I could’ve done way better. I hope I pass, but if I don’t, it would be a lesson learned the hard way and I will try to put 110% into the things I commit to, and I should also know my limit.
With the holidays around the corner, I’ve been putting in extra hours at work for additional classes and show rehearsals. This past week I’ve been waking up at 6am every day, running on caffeine and adrenaline. It has been exhausting and so much fun. 

I start with “what a rush” a lot; but it seems like it always is. Through some stroke of luck, the people at Google Malaysia found me and I got invited to perform at YouTube Festival. I met with the organisers a couple of weeks before the event, and they explained the run-through of it all to me. 
Somehow I envisioned a small room with press and a few invited guests, but when I got there in the morning for sound check, I realised I was so incredibly wrong. It was the opposite of a small room. More like a convention centre huge room sectioned into many parts. There was a pop up speakeasy for the press event, and a huge hall where I’d be performing. It was everything an influencer event in my head looked like. I felt grateful to be a part of something like this, but at the same time I was feeling like an impersonator because I wasn’t anyone famous or anything. I spent a lot of time awkwardly trying to dodge all the video bloggers filming the event. I'm always too shy to do that even though most of the time I regret not doing it because I have no videos or photos to keep as memories. Here the camera saw everything first. Smiling for a selfie before talking to a person. It's networking in a way that I didn’t know how to network in. But then again, I’m not very network-y. It was like the first day of school after a summer vacation and I was the new kid. I got to perform at the main stage, and then again with Josh during the press event at the speakeasy with Lost Spaces and Cassidy. The whole day was so surreal, and I'm so grateful for the opportunity.

December 31st 2019

I'm not sure which event came in what order. Played at Urbanscapes (!!) which was so sunny and so much fun, two days at Citta Fest, KL Journal, hosted my first 'Familiar Strangers and Other Stories' show with Gwendoline Esther Hay, Lofrine and MAYABAYU. It was a really wonderful and intimate show at Gerakbudaya, poetry and music in a bookstore :) Then played Rantai Art Fest, watched over my students Christmas Show performance, and THEN I went to Penang with my family and I just finished playing a few shows here too.
It was all so much fun, and honestly quite a lot of rushing from work to venues (and looking for parking). I'm so happy to have gotten to play my music to people who listened. And I'm so grateful for all your support. The past few days have been so chill, especially after everything that happened this past month and a half. We have been spending time at the beach and hanging out together. It's nice to spend time with family :) We watched the fireworks from a roundabout near the sea, and saw it from a distance. It was two very small and quiet firework displays. Sorry there aren't that many pictures of my adventures. I didn't take many, and my phone can't blog + my laptop doesn't have the pictures so its been quite a hassle (I will figure out a better way to do this soon, promise!)

Happy New Year!!

Monday, March 9, 2020

1 year (and 3 month) anniversary of Familiar Strangers :)

It has been a little more than a year since the Familiar Strangers album launch. What an adventure it has been so far! Going to radio stations and seeing ‘Familiar Strangers’ on not one, but several (!!) radio charts, including at a Chinese station for my song “安东尼” made my heart full with excitement. We launched my album at The Bee, and it was such a big place and people actually came. Back then, I couldn’t enjoy any of those moments fully because it was also terribly terrifying. When you’re dreaming for something to happen, and then seeing it really happening is a mixture of pure happiness and anxiety. I was ecstatic, and I was also afraid.

Now looking back on it all I can feel happy, and I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

I’ve come to realise that there’s so much more that isn’t about the music at all. Trying to figure out where I belong feels like a never ending search and I’m running in circles. I guess I only knew how to navigate through the process of writing a song, writing the lyrics the way I want a feeling to sound, trying to turn an idea into something. But navigating my way in the industry, and existing in a society of social media are skills I don’t have. I’m learning a little more about it with every adventure though.
I started writing the album Familiar Strangers a couple of years ago. I recorded little demos in my room nobody listened to. It was like a collection of feelings over the years. I recorded two songs with a producer and never released them. We made big plans that were probably too big for us to handle anyway. It hit me hard that that it didn’t work out, and maybe I became more skeptical about these things after that. 
Then, Abraham contacted me and we met with Ian and Daniel and all of a sudden I signed a contract to work with them. I am so grateful to pH Music for giving me the chance to express myself creatively, and for turning my songs into something more than what I thought they could be. I think I’ve said it before, but it really has been so surreal to make the album, experience my first mini tour, and travel to different places with them.
They listened to all my songs and we chose the ones that stood out. We recorded the songs, released a few singles while we continued to work on the rest of the album. We didn’t have an album title until just before we recorded the last song: Patterson Street. After that came deciding on the track list, working with Adam and Noah for the design and photos, and printing the album. Everything was pretty much “okay so this is done, now on to the next part” and the next, and the next. It made it less daunting looking at things one step at a time. After all that was done came some of the most challenging parts: (that are still a challenge now, to be honest)
Promoting the album,
Trying to stand out in an ocean of people all doing the same thing,
Writing to companies and venues and not getting a response,
Remembering to post on social media even when you feel like you don’t know how to exist,
Attending events when social situations are scary,
Feeling grateful for an audience who listen,
Worrying I may never write another good song,
Talking to media in mandarin and English,
Trying to be in the moment and enjoy the good things when they come,
Planning and executing plans despite all of the above,

And on top of that trying to create from the same honest place I started. It feels like I have done so much, and at the same time it always feels like I haven’t done enough. So many things that I want to do but I don’t know how. And its so easy to get caught up with that, without realising all the wonderful things that have already happened. 

Sorry I haven't really been performing much lately. I've been writing though. Maybe it will turn into a new project, maybe it wouldn't, but I'm still figuring things out. Writing this was supposed to be a 1-year anniversary post for the album, but I took too long to write it (and it is also now too long for an instagram post) but it has become a reminder that all the little steps actually got me somewhere, and I just hadn’t really noticed. Thank you so much for listening to my music. I hope the songs I wrote when I felt alone made you feel less alone somehow. It sure made me feel that way when I sang them. Thank you for reading this, for supporting my music, for writing comments, and for being there.