By Chow Wen Hing
I recently commented on Andy’s blog about the band leader of a local band – the Dukes; Daniel Abidin, as follows:
“Sounds like an amazing guy, wonder what he thinks about the music and original Singapore songs of recent year? Would be interesting to hear his thoughts 🙂. I was watching a documentary about local musicians and a name cropped up a few times - Jimmy Wee. He took a chance on local acts when he was told again and again that there’s no profit in it!
I think the cost of such endeavors have gone way down, as technology has closed the gap on the process. What is needed is a “moral-boosting” Jimmy Wee, no deep pockets needed but a deep appreciation of the Singapore music scene is crucial. Of course, good contacts and entrepreneurial spirit is a big plus!
Many musicians are turning to home studios - affordable and accessible gear, technology and know-how (YouTube) has sprouted tons of “artiste”. So we would need a modern day Jimmy Wee to sieve out those who have potential and put resources behind them to support them as far as they can go.”
This prompted Andy to suggest that I share further thoughts on the local music situation – seeing how I am now a self-proclaimed “song-writer”. Thanks for the vote of confidence Andy! I am really just a novice – a late starter, and not a historian like you who is well-informed about the music scene over the last 40 years or so. But in the spirit of our shared love for music, I will put down some of my personal thoughts. A caveat here – these are just my own observations based on anecdotal evidence, so don’t take my word for it.
With that, let me make a call to everyone who is reading this to:
Let’s Make Music – Singapore Style!Juice - Whatever It Takes - Wen Hing - An original composition. YouTube by Music MAN.
I think one of the main reasons why Singapore music – that is local compositions in English, did not really take off is probably due to a lack of a cultural identify. We Singaporeans do not know who we are, euphemistically speaking. Our social diversification and multiculturalism have been so successful that, we; as the Beatles said, “are here, there and everywhere” – in a word: nowhere. We can’t really identify ourselves with Western cultures. It just doesn’t sit right with our Asian sensibilities; but neither do we clique well with the Eastern cultures; we fall short of the richness that these cultures can offer and represent.
As such, musically we are torn, struggling artistically to find our voice, our sound, our unique genre that we can be proud of. The closest to a culture is the “beng” culture - the slightly rebellious, mostly callous and care-less attitude that supposedly at its core lie the soul of the sons and daughters of Singapore. But this is giving in to a self-perpetuated myth that a “Beng-titude” is in all Singaporeans. It neglects to embrace the more wholesome, the serious, the studious, the avant grade and the “converted” amongst us.
So although deprived of a deep history, we Singaporeans nonetheless feel that we have a special identity that has been forged over our short 50-year history, that we are a melting pot of culture, practices, behaviour and abilities. But despite this, and perhaps as it is the progenitor of the “beng” culture; we sprouted something that clearly make us stand out amongst our Asian brothers and sisters. For at the very moment we speak, we are identified straightaway as being a Singaporean! It is in our style, our accent, our mannerism and our composure. Singlish has given us an identify which make us highly recognizable.
It is my personal big-beautiful-audacious goal, but it is getting rather lonely just two years into this endeavour. But I am pressing on, with encouragement and the occasional jousting from friends like Andy, and reading about past successes and glories in our musical heritage. Matched with how music making has progressed in the 21st Century, I am discovering opportunities and uncovering new sounds. Come my friends, join this journey wherever you are and whatever you are doing.
Let’s make music – Singapore style!
An original song done by Shirley Nair and the Silver Strings in the 1960s. Sung by Rene. Video from YouTube by Rene.
Siva Choy's Original Singlish hit, 'Why You So Like That -https://singapore60smusic.blogspot.com/2012/07/why-you-so-like-that-uh.html