Growing up, my taste in music was largely influenced by my dad, who played hits from the 60s all the way to the 90s. Toto, Guns n’ Roses, Queen, Bee Gees, David Bowie, Steely Dan, and the Beatles barely began to scratch the surface. However, that posed a problem – nobody else my age listened to those bands and artists.
The next and only person I found who shared the same taste as me for the next 10 years was my drum teacher, and he began to introduce me to even more artists like Sting, Chick Corea, Gino Vannelli, Tina Turner, Deep Purple, Dream Theatre, and that only deepened my interest in the musicians who are said to have gone past their golden age.
Forming and playing in a band once I reached university was easy – but the novelty of it quickly died off once the songs began revolving around what singers could sing, around the newer pop rock bands like Paramore and Green Day, and generally not being able to play the songs that I really liked.
That’s not to put down any of these bands or any of the music tastes that my peers have, but having only had my dad and drum teacher with whom I could resonate with musically, it only added to the loneliness and distance I felt in my music journey and I began to understand and see how bands split up due to differences in musical direction and interests.
Aside from the band I played with and the songs I listened to on my own, majority of my music exposure was with my drum teacher during our weekly lessons. I would ask him for songs that he loved, and he would humour me and grant me one song from his repertoire if I focused well enough that day. Many people listen to music as it plays in the background or while they’re doing something else, but when my teacher introduces me to a song, we sit and do nothing else but listen to it and enjoy the song together. It is a treasured experience to me that I haven’t had with anyone else in my life.
Tony Ng, pianist, keyboardist, has been a music maker for many years. Thank you Tony for taking some time to participate in this interview by tertiary students, Megan and Eunice.
Guns n Roses, Queen and Gino Vannelli - Favourites of writer MEGAN LYE, who enjoys their music.
It was only when I met Andy and his friend, Tony, for a university final-year project I was working on with Eunice, did I realise that perhaps I had simply been looking to the wrong group of people all this while. As we sat down at the Coffee Bean at Novena and introduced ourselves, I was absolutely delighted to find that we had a common interest in many of these bands that I loved.
Tony, a veteran in the music scene himself, regaled me with tales of his experiences playing in bars, various events, with various other accomplished musicians for a good hour of the time we were at the café. I couldn’t help but feel that I had made another friend in Tony and Andy. It’s not that there weren’t people who liked the same music as I did – I had just been looking in the wrong places.
It’s only natural for the music scene to evolve as time passes, and I’m not begrudging anyone for their tastes, but I suppose it was silly of me not to look for the very people who would have experienced that golden era of music when it was at its prime. There’s something magical about witnessing how common interests can eliminate the age gaps between people. There’s got to be about 50 years difference between Andy and Tony, and Eunice and I, but we were able to sit together for over two hours just talking about music non-stop. I suppose that this is a lesson that age is just a number – put two people with common interests together, and that’s already one thread of human connection that transcends any age gap.
When we part ways, Tony tells me that he’s happy to support me and my band in getting venues to play and perform at – and I’m deeply grateful just for the kind offer. He is a veteran, and he’s made a name for himself over the years. He hasn’t seen me play, I haven’t shown or proven my worth in any way beyond what I said in the past two and a half hours, but he’s offered his support nonetheless.
If there’s something that music has given me, it would be the ability to connect to another person despite all our differences. We could be two people from the opposite ends of the world. We could be two people with 50 years between us. We could be two people with absolutely nothing in common but a love for music, and we’d still be able to come together for a brief moment and connect.
Even though I originally sought out Andy with Eunice for our project, we ended up talking about things way beyond our project scope. There’s also another lesson I learnt – not to judge and assume things about people based on their outer appearances, or I might be closing all the windows of connection that are opening up for me.
Thank you, Andy and Tony, for spending those two hours with us.
Written by MEGAN LYE.
[When Megan and Eunice requested that I ask along a senior music maker to join us for our second interview, I spoke to Tony Ng, an experienced, cheerful and positive-thinking friend to come along; he kindly agreed. The two tertiary students, from the journalism and business studies faculties, got to like him immediately and for two hours we connected well as the chat benefitted all four. Tony exclaimed, ''Intelligent and far-sighted; they are so young too.''
Thanks to Megan and Eunice for the interview. We learnt much from both of you.]
Images - Megan Lye, Eunice Chua, Google.