07 9th, 2012

“Rai, need to ask u favor man. Can u sub me this Saturday at Swing?”

“Paul, are you shittin’ me? How in heaven’s name am I supposed to sub YOU, man!?!”


“Can la, just come and do your thing man. Really need some help ‘cos the regular subs all can’t make it.”

“Okay man, Paul. I’ll try my best, man. *gulp*”

That was, what I remember as, my first full telephone conversation with the late, great Paul Ponnudorai, who passed away late last week. When I first saw him at Swing, a little watering hole at Cuppage, probably a good 11 to 12 years ago, I was convinced I would never be able to play like him. I still can’t, by the way. And to a young solo singer-guitarist, who was used to watching VCDs and VHS tapes of SRV and Jimi Hendrix, Paul was the live-in-person version of a guitar hero; the one I could see and experience with my own eyes, and not through the lens of a camera. And there I was, about to sub him for a full 2 sets at Swing… what made the order taller was that I was playing at Barcelona at Robertson Quay on the same night. That meant that I shuttled between Barcelona and Swing, alternating between 3 sets at the former and 2 sets at the latter. God bless the cab driver friend who agreed to wait for me at each venue at the appropriate time.

On first impressions, Paul had my eyes hooked on how good a guitarslinger he was. In true no holds barred, cowboy fashion, his fingers ran all over the fretboard, thumb-picking, fingerpicking, flamenco-style strumming and that ability to play bass, rhythm and lead simultaneously could hold anyone in awe. Not to mention the soulful vocals, that made u wonder if the singing or the playing was the highlight. Damn, it was both. It left me wishing all the time, that I could play like him; could be him; that my thumb could be as dexterious as his.

Funny enough, after a while of watching and knowing Paul, be it at Swing or Harry’s, and I did sub him a few more times after that by the way, it hit me that it really wasn’t how technically good he was that made him the Paul Ponnudorai he was… it was the pure joy and elation that he derived from being at one with his instrument and vocals; the satisfaction he gained from entertaining and letting his soul loose while on stage, that was truly inspiring. And it was that obvious. And that is what I remember him most for. I stopped trying to be Paul after that, it’s best done by he himself. And in one of those stages of my development as an artiste and live musician, he showed me how to enjoy myself.

On occasion, Jack & I used to bump into Paul at Wala Wala on a Sunday night, with Annie, his wife and drinking buddy, whose laughter is instantaneously recognizable. In perfect Tamil pronunciation, he always called me by my first name, in full, (Sivadorai) when he saw me. We’d clink glasses, chat and laugh. The weirdest part about my relationship with Paul was that I really never knew anything about his history as an artiste, of how reputed he was in Malaysia, who he played for, or the big names he had jammed with. I never cared to ask him, or google it either. Heck, I didn’t even know he was in Time Magazine till recently. And Paul, being Paul, he never brought any of those things up. (I DID know he released a solo album! Which I bought specially for my mum ‘cos she was a fan too). It was enough for me to know that he was an artiste that I held in the highest regard, to the point that knowing those additional details would probably rank lower than watching him go at it live. We spoke, about guitars, philosophies, music, artistes, food, love, marriage and everything, EXCEPT name-drop or what we had done and achieved previously. That was secondary to exchanging ideas, thoughts and of course, a glass of scotch. Even on a half-drunk invite to jam on stage at Wala, Paul never turned us down, and always, after a stellar 1 or 2 songs, ALWAYS acknowledged Jack & I after he finished, never failing to tell the crowd to give it up for us too. Something else that I learnt from him until today, and that I practice when I jam with fellow musicians elsewhere.

After he moved from Singapore, because of a few overseas stints and trips I didn’t see him as often, but his presence in my formative years as a musician will always be appreciated. To his friends and family, who knew him longer and better than I ever did, we do offer our most sincere condolences. To the musicians who had jammed with him extensively over the years, damn we are jealous of you. And especially to Annie, we hope you will be okay and that you know that Paul will always be remembered as an inspiration, and above that, a mentor and friend. Long time back, I used to bug Paul for a guitar lesson. While I do hope I get that lesson if I meet him beyond the Pearly Gates, more than that, I’d love to sit and jam with the man over a glass of scotch. RIP Paul Ponnudurai. Unforgettable musician.

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Let the Dolphins Go

Author: rai
07 11th, 2011

Dolphins are cute, aren’t they? I mean, I can’t imagine what would have happened if ‘Jaws’ was filmed using a dolphin instead of a Great White. That’s why they had ‘Flipper’. Naturally, media portrayals of this marine mammal have made it so popular that people flock to the many theme parks worldwide to watch a range of displays, tricks and entertainment that these intelligent creatures have to offer. Some have even gone as far as to relate dolphins with the existence of extra-terrestrial life. Imagine that fateful day on the Mayan calendar, 21/12/2012, when the world supposedly ends… the skies open up to gargantuan spaceships which beam all the dolphins up, before engaging hyperdrive into deep space, in search of a new environment to populate.

Wild fantasies aside, while people marvel at dolphins, these trained performers, at theme parks and such… sometimes we do fail to recognize the detriments of captivity… whether dolphins or any other wild animals. I’ll be the first to admit that I had no idea of some of the consequences involved, but I’m making the effort to be educated and in doing so, hopefully pass the flame on to more people, who will recognize the effort to conserve the wildlife of Earth.

Some Dol-phacts:
1) Dolphins are mammals, they actually do have to remember to come out of water and ‘breathe’, if not, like us, they drown.

(Plus, they’re cute).

2) They are carnivores, predators who prey on mainly fish… with some having preferences for squid, or shrimp. Yes they can be picky too.

(Did I mention that they’re rather cute?)

3) Dolphins can make 2 sounds; they click… which can be used a form of sonar… and they squeal which is apparently, an expression of emotion. They can also hear frequencies up to ten times higher than the human ear.

(I’m sure you find them cute)

4) Dolphins have also been used by the military sometimes, for example, to find mines in the water by using their ‘clicks’. Rumor has it that in the 2000s, there were dolphins trained by the Soviets for military operations. The US has also had a history of using dolphins in marine warfare. These ops supposedly included laying of mines, or even destroying submarines by kamikaze methods. Thus far, no report has confirmed the truth behind these rumors.

HEY! What’s that over there!?! (*whisper* And they’re cute).

5) Dolphins are known to display aggressive behavior (Oh the horror!). Like men, they fight over the ladies… fights can be so intense that a losing dolphin may actually go into exile. Male bottlenose dolphins have been found to sometimes kill their young.

And yes, last but not least, they’re cute. So let’s keep a few so that people from all over can enjoy the joy they bring, looking at these magnificent sea creatures. Wait a minute… not without consequence though.

In a study by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), they noted that 53% of dolphins die within 3 months of confinement… and this percentage is out of the ones that actually survive the trauma of being captured in the first place.

Like human beings, dolphins are intelligent creatures, who need constant stimulation, lack of which causes them stress and boredom… much like how you see wild animals in the zoo pace back and forth when they are in cages, dolphins literally swim round in circles in their tanks. These are sea animals who are used to swimming up to 50miles a day. They also get sunburn because sometimes these tanks are too shallow. Sometimes when captive, they enter a state where they are fully asleep, and do not respond to any mild external stimuli… only a tail-kick reflex keeps them alive by enabling them to come to the surface for air.

Even being fed dead fish contributes to their boredom, as the act of being a predator and stalking their prey is a stimuli to them. The boredom and stress overall can eventually lead to insanity or suicidal tendencies, as far-fetched as it may sound. FYI, one of the dolphins on the set of Flipper, named Cathy, was a victim of suicide as witnessed by her trainer then, Richard O’Barry. Excerpt of the interview HERE.

Our friends from ACRES have started a campaign to raise awareness about the ill effects of captivity, directed at Resorts World who are bringing in dolphins for their entertainment value. Out of 27 dolphins captured in the wild, 2 have already died. To find out more about this campaign, and show your support if u wish to, click HERE. We covered the main song of this campaign in a bid to spread the word about the ills of captive dolphins. We may not be able to save all the captive animals in the world, but we do hope with the rising awareness on this issue, that more can be done to help conserve our wildlife in the most constructive way possible. After all, if we were facing extinction, or situations where death can occur, I have no doubt that we’d extend a hand to a fellow human being, so why not also to another citizen of this planet?

Thanks guys, do enjoy our version of the song, and don’t forget to visit the website, www.saddestdolphins.com

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Music Matters!

Author: rai
05 25th, 2011

Somethin pretty exciting brewing this weekend… from the 26th – 28th of May. Who doesn’t love a networking opportunity… or a chance to rub shoulders with some of the leading authorities in the music scene? From artistes, to producers, A&R reps, ‘Music Matters’, promises to be an entertaining, and educational time for all music-lovers. The writeup from the website as follows (www.musicmatters.asia):

Music Matters is the pioneer music industry event in the Asia Pacific region and is a gathering of key players in the global music industry.

Going from strength to strength, 2011 is a hallmark year with a new look, new location and new expanded programme. Leading online entertainment and music companies discuss what’s next for the digital music industry from the boardroom to the beat on the street. From industry heavyweights to the world’s Youngest Professional Guitar Player, Music Matters 2011 is the place to discuss the business of music in Asia.

New for 2011, the Music Matters programme includes:

* Opening keynote interview by Luke Wood, President & COO, Beats By Dr. Dre
* Beijing and Indonesia music industry spotlights
* An intimate one-on-one interview with Steve Lillywhite, renowned producer of U2, Jason Mraz, the Rolling Stones and more
* Grammy award winning artist, Imogen Heap, will be the keynote performing artist
* Interview and performance by Indonesian artist, Sandhy Sondoro

Music Matters is proudly supported by Singapore Tourism Board and Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA).

Music Matters is co-located with Digital Matters, bringing the digital entertainment ecosystem under one roof.

On top of that, various bars in Clarke Quay will play host to a number of indie bands, from Singapore and overseas in ‘Music Matters Live with HP’.

From www.musicmatters.asia
Music Matters Live with HP is a FREE, live international music festival, which brings together a dynamic line-up of over 40 bands from 18 countries over three nights of live performances taking place in a number of leading live music venues around Clarke Quay Singapore.

Following the recent earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan, Music Matters is taking action to support Japanese people to rebuild their lives. Whilst in town, our festival artists will be challenged to re-record Coldplay’s “Fix You” in only 36 hours before being released worldwide in aid of a number of Japanese charities as the grand finale to the event. The track will be unveiled as the Music Matters 2011 conference finale, and will be released globally in aid of a number of charities.

Music Matters Live with HP is the culmination of a mega week of entertainment business events in Singapore. All our speakers and delegates get VIP access to Music Matters Live with HP Showcase Party at Central Fountain Square, Clarke Quay (Thursday 26th) and free access to all venues.

We did some interviews with the good folk from HP, as an insight into what goes on in the minds of full-time music makers like us, in the lead-up to Music Matters 2011. Check em out!

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So, those interested, do make a date with Music Matters 2011… for more info go to www.musicmatters.asia

Leavin’ you with a lil’ clip of us performing at the Music Matters 2011 press conference.
See ya there!!!

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I can’t help it… I’m a musician. Exactly like us to break out into song whenever significant events remind us of that particular song… whether by direct relation, or random affiliation, this idea sprung up from a little amusing discussion we had with music journo Christopher Toh, of Today paper, during a press conference for HP Music Matters, a music industry conference scheduled for May 27-28. It promises to be pretty exciting, more details on it soon. Now, back to the point at hand… Songs of the Singapore General Election 2011! It is the last day of rallies before cooling off on May 6th… so these would be the songs I’d love to put in a special commemorative compilation album in no particular order… but all with particular reason.

The car driving analogy began with quotes talking about getting the best driver for a car, and evolved later into how good a co-driver for the long haul drive should be, slapping and all… into pilots and plane crashes. The song represents what the people would tell the driver they find best for the job… Baby you can drive my car… cos’ baby I love u!

1. Drive My Car – The Beatles

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Someone at Wala Wala did request the next song in the light of elections… cos there are quite a number of Singaporeans, apparently, who have never got the chance to vote before… usually because of non-contests… so here’s something from the Script, dedicated to all the virgin voters out there!

2. For The First Time – The Script

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The Script seems to have possibly a past-life or ancestral link to Singapore, since they seem to be able to assess the political situation in the country. Once again, Tanjong Pagar GRC had a no-contest… deservedly so, it is, after all, the stronghold of a man considered the most steadfast political figure of Singapore since independence. MM Lee, despite his age, still without opposition in his ward.

3. The Man who can’t be moved – The Script

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Rally speeches are the main sources of inspiration for the next few tracks… public speaking brings out the best, the worst, the funny, and even funnier in people… Sometimes for the right reasons and sometimes for wrong.

Sometimes speaking does get confused with shouting… perhaps the excitement of speaking in front of an often enthusiastic crowd does inspire some interesting impromptu actions on the speaker’s side… like the PAP’s Teo Ser Luck’s triple-threat-name-cheer, almost like a wrestling finisher move… or SDP’s Dr Ang Yong Guan’s over-enthusiastic decibel-distorting-disses (He’s like a riled-up teddy bear, so cute), these guys sure shout out of pure, unbridled passion.

4. Shout – Tears for Fears

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Minister for InfoComm and Arts, Mr Lui Tuck Yew, conjured up some very pretty images of nature… with his analogy of a village, its people, tall trees and colorful, cute lil’ wild mushrooms sprouting everywhere. We’ll forget about the poison part ‘cos that just spoils the pretty picture. One might say that we have Singapore’s very own ‘LUI Armstrong’, maybe minus the gruffy, low voice of the original.

5. What a Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong

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Animals, for some reason, seem to be a popular analogy these elections… WP’s Pritam Singh had references to an elephant in HDB, a leopard that couldn’t change its spots and in addition, had a mosquito (which he joked was sent by the PAP, hilarious), attack him during a speech. SDP’s Dr Vincent Wijeysingha had an analogy which brought a snake in the picture, and rumor has it that other forms of fauna have been brought to mind as well. Tall trees and mushrooms also give a slight jungle-like feel to the whole thing… I swore I almost felt like one of them animals… prowling in my natural habitat… adapting to nature’s hierarchy and the cycle of life. *roar*

6. The Animal Song – Savage Garden

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The contest heats up in Aljunied GRC, where an all-star WP team goes up against the PAP’s savvy George Yeo, who has had an active FB account way before the elections began, and his team. Perhaps one of the most direct comments made on this contest, was by none other than MM Lee. The quote, from thestraitstimes.com as follows:
“If they choose (the opposition), then I say, good luck to them. They have five years to ruminate and to regret what they did. And I have no doubts they will regret it.”
‘Regret’ is a big word… and was also a pretty big song for New Order at one point in time.

7. Regret – New Order

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We should pause for a moment, to acknowledge and admire beauty. Beauty lies in many things, forms of art accounting for some of the most eye-catching wonders the world has to offer. A good speech, is somewhat like a pretty painting… engaging, thought-provoking, and sometimes, amusing. On occasion you get drawn into the painting till you can see or hear and think beyond what the artist tries to convey. With no bias intended, SDP’s Dr Vincent Wijeysingha, in my opinion, has been one of the most eloquent and confident speakers during this election. Whether or not he becomes an MP, I hope he does give lessons in public speaking. Some people NEED it. Artistry.

8. Vincent – Don McLean

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There is this buzz going around, that the votes aren’t secret… that civil servants feel compelled to vote for the ruling party. Seems that the secrecy of voting in Singapore is a topic of debate… though noone can concretely prove that votes aren’t secret, we are constantly assured that your vote remains confidential. If it wasn’t secret, trust me, all stalwarts of democracy worldwide would have something to say about it… and it would be in the open by now, as the subject of much condemnation. So trust your judgement everyone, vote for the person/team that you trust, and deem most suitable to be in Parliament, without fear. Your vote is secret. =) But please don’t announce to the whole world who you voted for! Then it really is not secret, courtesy of your own mouth.

9. Secrets – One Republic

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Who can forget, one of the highlights of this election… the epic comparisons between 2 young candidates for Parliament ie PAP’s Tin Pei Ling and NSP’s Nicole Seah. It almost feels like that situation where you are dating one person, but someone else comes along and you have to make that all important choice… You have to be sure that if you gave your heart to one, that the person you choose will love you more than the other. No better expressed in a song of dilemma, in the guise of a sweet melody by the Fab Four… but pay attention to the lyrics. =)

9. If I fell – The Beatles

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You know, last but not least, if u are casting a vote this Saturday, at the end of it all, you are still, and always will be, (unless you migrate) a Singaporean. Why? Because you just made a choice in the future of our country; for what you feel is better for it; that you like to choose what goes in your rojak and mee siam. I leave you with a quote that resonates, no matter who you support this election:
“I am not a brave man… but I love Singapore and and I love Singaporeans” – Chiam See Tong (SPP)
And here’s a song by a good friend, a Singaporean and an avid blogger/songwriter/movie critic (powerofpop.com).

10. I Love Singapore – Kevin Mathews

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So that’s it! A compilation of songs, that might summarise this pre-polling day period, in my opinion. Understand that there’s a lot of residual anger around… those angry at the PAP, those who are angry at those who are angry at the PAP, and those who are angry at those who are angry at those who are angry at the PAP. Maybe sometimes, it’s nice to look at the light-hearted side of things, laugh at ourselves a little during critical times, just so that the disdain doesn’t permeate through the levels of the people of the country… after all, Singapore would just be a barren plot of land if not for its people.

Have a great poll day everyone!



05 3rd, 2011

Election fever is running rampant around our little island… as evident by the PAP truck that i just heard, broadcasting pre-recorded messages audible from my apartment 12 floors above ground level. Somehow it’s a discussion that is near unavoidable… a lot of voters in my age group are voting for the first time ever, and are naturally excited about their stake in the future of the country. Taxi drivers, have always been, and still are, a great source of information about what is happening in and around town. My conversations with people of previous generations mostly center around the possible results of the May 7 General Election. While at one point in time, a cross on a piece of paper for me meant I did something wrong… this time round, a similar cross will indicate what I think is right for my country.

Listening to various parties this election has kind of aroused some sentiments and feelings, considerations that I would not have half been worried with previously… which gave rise to what this entry is about. With no intended bias…it’s simply about what I would like to see in the Singapore I live in, and the one I’d like to see my children and their children grow up in.

Maybe it would give you guys a better idea of where I’m coming from, if I put forward some details about my background.

I was born in Singapore… and spent my past 33 years here. My background is modest; I grew up in a 4-room HDB flat, lived in West Coast for 14 years before moving to a 5-rm flat in Toa Payoh, and have been here for the past 19 years. I attended 2 neighbourhood primary schools, and at home grew up under the vigilant eyes of my parents who played a big part in my early education. Moving on to attend what is reputed as one of the top schools in Singapore, my academic education ended in NTU/NIE where i pursued a long-time dream of being a teacher, taught in a secondary school for almost a year before returning to my alma mater. O and of course, 2 years and 4 months of National Service before university. Then came the move to pursue music, a risk in itself. I can’t say for sure that it has paid-off by now… but we sure do work our butts off for what we have… and having to plan out your own future in a career that is stereotypically played down in our country is not the easiest thing. All this has culminated in me being in a demographic which is almost lose-lose, an unfortunate price I pay for the pleasure of waking up in the morning with the knowledge that I’m doing what I love; the demographic of the single (under 35) & a freelance worker (No CPF contribution, except my own top-ups). But I have no regrets… as an ex-teacher and now, a musician, I’ve interacted with such a wide variety of people, from children, to teens; janitors to entrepreneurs; poor to rich; obnoxious to kind. It is these interactions that have opened my eyes and ears and formulated my life’s philosophies… and I’m still learning. It is based on these philosophies… and my limited knowledge of what happens in parliament that I’d just like to share what I would like to see in my Singapore, in the long term… regardless of who emerges victorious in these elections or the ones down the road. My views are based on my personal experiences and interactions with the people I’ve mentioned above.

Transparency

I’m not entirely sure on how sensitive this topic is, but it brings back memories of the days where I used to watch a program called ‘Today in Parliament’, which had a very memorable piano jingle that started the show. Though I was young enough then to not really be bothered with it, right now I do kind of miss the show. I miss it because it seemed to be the closest thing to feeling like issues were transparent, and that members of Parliament, despite being in the same party, had differing opinions about certain matters did give the assurance that several points of view are considered before a policy is executed. At present, there are also many questions and arguments about Singapore’s reserves… what goes in and what goes out. As a citizen, it does seem a bit worrying that noone (ruling party or opposition) seems to have a concrete idea of what constitutes our reserves. They probably would spend far less time arguing about using our reserves if anyone had an idea. I understand that it may be something that is hard to calculate (which is also worrying)… and that maybe revealing the figure might lead to numerous questions as to why the reserves are not being drawn out if there are ‘enough’. Let’s be realistic… it’ll never be enough… because who would ever complain about more money? I can’t propose any solutions but I guess I would like to know, just as reassurance, that the portion of my income that is given back to Singapore (Income tax, GST, road tax, admin fees etc) goes to areas that benefit me or a fellow Singaporean that needs it. Cos I have no worries, right now, that the money i donate to the Singapore Heart Foundation on a monthly basis, or the money I give to World Vision, as a child sponsor, is being used for someone’s benefit. So I do hope, our future government can find a way of being more transparent, especially with dollars, because it matters alot to those who need the dollars for their day-to-day lives.

A House is Not a Home

I admit that I may have, in the past, lost myself in the pursuit of a place to call my own. And I mean, literally lost my soul. I’ve spent possibly the past 2 years or so looking for a house… the search being a natural progression from graduating, working a few years and saving enough money for a place to stay. My singlehood, by law, prevents me from buying a resale HDB flat until after 2013… it’s unfortunate that my singlehood is something that is out of my locus of control, because it constitutes the feelings of another, so that led me to look for a private place. Drastic property price increases in the past few years have also put that out of reach… so I have resigned myself to the idea that I’ll buy either after I’m 35 or wait till I’m married, by then prices probably would have increased further… and also it means that if I marry a successful career woman, and her income is similar to mine… we will encounter some difficulty as first time HDB buyers, because of the income ceiling related to first-time buyers. Now I’m not complaining about these policies, they were probably put in place with some constructive intent related to asset value, quality etc. That’s alot of factors to worry about, and I will admit that my search for a house became a search to acquire an asset… not a home.

The break from the search, and the resignation, combined with some wise words from a fellow Singaporean, took me back a step to realise that a home is so much more than an asset… and I was guilty of forgetting that. I forgot about growing up in a space that I knew all nooks and crannies I could fit into… about being able to navigate through the house with a blindfold on… about the friends I made playing at the playground in front of my house.. about the neighbours next door, who had kids that were exactly the same age as my brother and i… or the old electrician man downstairs, who was the go-to guy for quick fixes in the house… about the Malay auntie upstairs who had some fantastic Hari Raya cooking… and still keeps in close contact with my mum till today. For a person who has always appreciated and preached the intrinsic rewards in life, I crossed my own boundary and got swept up in property acquisition fever… scanning prices each day, with the hope that I could secure a good deal, and that if it appreciated i could make money out of it… or anticipating when property prices would drop… the works. I literally forgot why I wanted a house… and that was to eventually make a home out of it. Looking back, I am not proud to say that I saw myself as a hollow shell. Eeeeesh. *grimace*

I share this because i wonder if others have been in my position… where your view of a home becomes four concrete walls with living spaces that cost a certain amount of money. The flyers in my mail everyday remind me of that, and I aptly dispose of them, as I would of any further feelings that my humble home is merely an asset. I’ve left my heart in it. There is a big difference in a house one buys for investment purposes… and a home that one builds his family in… my wish is that Singaporeans, if they see my perspective, recognise that a home, no matter how big, small or where it is located, is far more than a house.

Healthcare

I am well insured, insurance bought out of my own earnings… that cover me for life, disability etc, and also for hospitalisation. Another unfortunate shortcoming of being a freelancer… During my tenure as a teacher, when i didn’t have my own personal insurance, I had to undergo a sinus operation for which the bill came up to about $16k. Luckily, I was a direct staff of the institution I was in, and the group insurance coverage managed to cover about 2/3rds of my medical bill. As a singer, my sinuses are quite vital, so I had to seek competent medical care under a private consultant. That led me to get my own personal insurance coverage after I left the teaching profession which I partly pay in cash and partly from my Medisave. (Get your own if u haven’t yet!!!) I dread to think of the costs of good healthcare if I wasn’t insured… I do know of some older people who didn’t foresee that hospitalisation insurance would be that important, so didn’t get any when they were younger. The government does have subsidised healthcare via polyclinic referrals etc, but I have noticed that appointment dates seem to be quite a while later as compared to private patients (correct me if I’m wrong pls). In short, I do hope that in future, Singaporeans, especially older folk, will have better access to timely healthcare, that is affordable without insurance, in the cases of those that don’t have any coverage.

I do know that the dollars are big worry on everyone’s mind… I don’t blame anyone. The successful want to be more successful… and on the other end of the spectrum, there are also people who are scraping the barrel. As a young adult, worrying about my future financially is a big concern… and whether I can support my family’s costs in future is of major concern as well. But I don’t want to lose my soul to the chase as well, and I do not want to forget my values and morals in the process. I think the above mentioned wishes of mine are the same concerns shared by many, and I would like to see those wishes fulfilled, down the road. Perhaps then, we can move to being a kinder, more compassionate society… a little more chilled out because we are all not facing excessive worry about our futures. No bias intended in this entry, once again, and all the best to those who are voting. Hope you do consider your candidates’ calibre and potential carefully and make an informed choice. Anyone is free to comment, but comments deemed mudslinging will be filtered out. Cheers!



Follow-up to Friday!

Author: rai
04 3rd, 2011

Just a quick follow-up from the previous entry… came across this hilarious version of Rebecca Black’s ‘Friday’, done by Stephen Colbert, with special guests Jimmy Fallon, The Roots and… get this… Taylor Hicks of American Idol fame!

Enjoy!



03 29th, 2011

It is odd, that I’m writing this entry on a Tuesday… well mostly ‘cos we’re off on Mondays and Tuesdays… best days to kick back and reflect on the little things in life that make u laugh and cry. Speaking of which, I have no idea whether to burst into laughter or tears, when i realized what spawned the idea of this entry about Friday. Seems that the biggest hype about our dear last day of the work week, most recently, has been in the form of a young girl known to most as Rebecca Black, teen girl shot to fame or notoriety thanks to her song ‘Friday’, garnering, to date, about 63,000,000 hits on youtube. (That’s right, 6 zeroes, no mistake). Kinda odd though that there are a 100,000 likes, and over 1 million dislikes, hmmm? Goes a little like this.

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Ok just for kicks, here’s a parody version done by a chap, making it sound like Bob Dylan sang it. Hilarious.

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While Rebecca Black’s ‘Friday’ might or might not go down in the annals of history as an anthem that unites the world in the spirit of the weekend, I’d just like to share with you some Friday songs, that I’ve come across as a music listener, that are just that. Some good songs that are deserving of all the accolades Friday can give, starting with a super fave.

1. Friday I’m In Love – The Cure (1992)
Perhaps one of the most requested songs we ever had as a club band, especially after 9 years of jamming on Friday nites.
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2. Black Friday – Steely Dan (1975)
Legendary band, awesome musicians. Killer guitar solo. And the version below is LIVE by the way… absolutely flawless.

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3. Livin’ It Up (Friday Night) – Bell & James (1978)
Let’s go disco! Yow! This duo burned the dance floor in the late ’70s with this tune to get booties shakin’ everywhere.

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4. Friday on My mind – The Easybeats (1966)
The Easybeats were an Aussie group in the ’60s, with a lead singer that I kinda thought looked like Matthew Broderick!

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The song was covered several times over… like this version by David Bowie.

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And then again, reincarnated in 80s rock, by the late, legendary guitar hero, Gary Moore.

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5. Friday Night – Lily Allen (2006)
This quirky songwriter sure knows how to tell a funny story… Enjoyable in a Lily Allen-ish way.

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6. Friday – Joe Jackson (1979)

An English musician, most well known for his song ‘Is She Really Going Out With Him’, had some measure of success with this song about Friday.

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7. Thank God It’s Friday – R Kelly (1996)
I was a fan of this Doctor of Smooth, and someone finally used the phrase in a song. Nice hook, pops in my mind every now and then. He even takes a moment literally thanking God that He made Friday. Props to the man upstairs.

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8. This is How we Do it – Montell Jordan (1995)
Okay, this is not a song with the word ‘Friday’ in the title… but it’s got a ‘Friday’ in the 2nd line! =P Had to put it in the list, it’s such a great song to get ready to head out and party till wee hours on a Friday nite. Anthem! Tip up your cup, throw your hands up, and let me hear the party say…!

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Well in conclusion, after a quick poll, it seems like The Cure has the most memorable Friday party nite song thus far. So, why not drop by on a Friday nite one of these days… Beer Market is where we’re at… grab some drinks, make a request for this song and go dance like noone’s watching. =)



03 22nd, 2011

It’s been pretty much a normal day for me, a follow-up ENT appointment in the late morning… lunch with my folks, also working on music for a new trailer for the Disney Channel for June. And i get this call from an unfamiliar number… which is a common occurrence since people like to call us for bookings and such from land lines. Heard a sprightly male voice on the other end… and my conversation ended up as what I’d like to brand ‘The Most Efficient Phone Survey Ever’.

Man: Good afternoon sir. I’m calling from (insert jibberish here). May I take a moment of your time to ask you to complete a bank survey. It’ll only be less than a minute.

Me: Sure.

Man:Sir, may I have your name? Just a first or last name will do.


Me: Rai, spelt R-A-I.

Man: Do you have credit cards… or how many credit cards do you own?

Me: I have 3.


Man: Sir, are u a Singaporean (pause), Malay or…?

Me: I’m Indian.

Man: Oh… you’re… okay, that’s okay. Thank you. (hangs up)

He sure was right. Less than a minute? The fellow took all of 15 seconds of my time! If only all surveys were like this. Now I’m not one to insinuate anything of controversy… but 2 things one can learn from this.

1) I love short surveys.

2) Must be a dire need in Singapore to find out which demographic has credit cards.

Musings on a Tuesday.



One for Japan

Author: rai
03 17th, 2011

Several thousand bodies found in the Miyagi prefecture… 10,000 people still reported missing in just the Minamisanriku area… and millions affected by loss of electricity, water and heating in the northeastern coast of Japan. On top of that, a potential nuclear meltdown also looms as a threat to the safety of the Japanese people. All triggered by a quake measuring 9.0 on the Richter scale, which not only caused damage by itself, but also gave rise to a devastating tsunami.

We don’t need to be educated on the immense devastation a tsunami can cause, having been witness to the 2004 Indian Ocean quake and tsunami, which killed approximately 230,000 people in 14 different countries. The waves triggered by the quake off Japan, rendered 10m high seawalls, built as protection, useless. Video footage of dark, murky water enveloping developed areas was numbing to watch. I had just complained to some friends, a little over a month ago, that I had a recurring nightmare about being trapped by a huge tsunami… not that I’m trying to profess any sort of psychic ability, but I would never want to live the fear that I had within the dream. And it is very unfortunate that when disasters like these strike, such a large number of people have to live that fear as a result.

We all aren’t martyrs, heroes or highly influential members of society, but the best help given is by the common folk.
No one can turn back the clock, or predict a disaster from happening… but what one CAN do, is help in a capacity that he/she can. If you wish to donate, do find legitimate avenues to send your cash to. Because of our regular work and contact with the World Vision crew, we do know that they have a team up there offering aid. Donations can be made via www.worldvision.org.sg. If not, there are many other channels available to offer aid, via the Red Cross, UNICEF, Salvation Army and many others which are officially recognised. Just a quick note, to be cautious of scams… there are some a**holes out there to make a quick buck.

If money is in any way a problem, then a simple gesture by spreading the word will help. No dire need to galvanize efforts and organize multiple fundraisers and such. The avenues to donate are existent, people just need to be directed there.

I eat Japanese food, am an avid lover of Japanese anime and am a fan of Japanese artistes like Chage & Aska, Utada Hikaru, Tsuneo Imahori, Toshinobu Kubota, Ken Ishii and Casiopea. The Japanese culture has added perspectives and ideas to my life’s philosophies, both as a musician and a human being, so we’re just giving back in the best way we know how… with cash donations and simply, spreading the word. Below, is a song we roughly recorded, which is a cover of an old Chage & Aska fave called ‘Otoko To Onna’, meaning ‘Man & Woman’. It may not have the most relevant of meanings, but its just a small tribute to Japan, on our part. Thanks Andrea, for helpin’ a not-so-tech-savvy musicman, get the song embed-dable!

Otoko To Onna

It does not stop at Japan, but it is indeed heartening to see Singaporeans come forward to help when disaster strikes in other parts of the world eg Indonesia, Haiti.

Pass it on.



For the March 2011 issue of Shape Magazine (SG), a good friend I like to call ‘Iron Maiden’, approached me to write a lil’ piece on what I love about women. That sparked a whole bunch of thoughts, as common knowledge is that women are both the boon and bane of man’s existence. I decided to take it from the perspective of a songwriter first, and after that, as an adult male. Naturally, i wrote abit too much, so it was slightly edited to fit the format of the magazine I suppose. But here is a sneak peek, exclusively right here, at the full unedited piece that I sent out to Shape Magazine. Thanks also to the guys from Shape for including me in this discussion, and also to Iron Maiden.

“Let’s not pretend, or beat around the bush about this. The admiration of the female form is an appreciation that has been around since men opened their eyes and beheld the first females that roamed the planet. A subtle difference in chromosomes and hormone levels have been many a man’s uplift or downfall, mostly the latter.

Through the centuries, various artists have found inspiration based on the female form; for the cultured, references can be made to Manet’s ‘Olympia’ or Titian’s ‘Venus of Urbino’, on which the artists have painted visions of their ideal female form on canvas.

As a songwriter, I do share many of my fellow songwriter’s expression in appreciating the female form… and for the ladies out there who think that men always look for the perfect, svelte figure, you might be proven wrong. After all, Sir Mixalot
“likes big butts and he cannot lie”. Sisqo’s ‘Thong Song’ made many a ‘booty go da da da da’. And one songwriter that i admire for his lyrical genius, John Mayer, in his Grammy award winning tune ‘Your Body is a Wonderland’, has a verse that I find a perfect visual. “There’s something bout the way your hair falls in your face, I love the shape you take when you’re crawling towards the pillowcase…”

In my own experience, which led to this writeup, I was on a Silkair flight the other day, to Phuket and found one particular attendant to be a welcome distraction on the flight. What got my attention? Her neatly, bunned-up hair, subtle makeup, which didn’t make it seem like she was trying to perform plastic surgery on herself, pouty lips and a sweet, yet sophisticated voice. I never said a word to her aside from ‘Chicken, please.” But it just made the 2 hours a little more pleasant, for a single, lone traveller in his early 30s at least. While my description sounds generic, something about her just stood out. Might not do it for other guys, but for me it was the total package that was appealing to the eye.

So before i’m judged as one who just likes looking at girls… what is it that i truly love so much about the female form? It is the potential that the physique offers… the comfort i gain when I bury my head in the contours of her neck after a bad day; the way she fits snugly in my torso when i feel i need to give or get support; the manner in which i subtly tell her that she’s mine when i place my hand on the curves of her lower back or hips; how her voice is the one thing i look forward to in a midday phone call, and lastly, how a passionate liplock makes me feel like we were made for each other. Initial physical attraction is one thing, but a woman’s physical form can extend far more little pleasures than just visual.

To conclude, it’s not about perfection… or discrimination against those who might not have the most ‘commercially’ desired form… Like many other men, I have my own individual preferences, and i believe there’s always someone out there for everyone, me included. And as many problems as the Mars and Venus relationship seems to produce, I love women for the beings that they are.”

Hope you enjoyed the read! Do check out Shape Magazine’s March 2011 issue for another 53 reasons why women rock!