It pains me to say this but I think I’ve finally lost any connection whatsoever to new music. Recently, I’ve been looking at the new movies coming out in 2015 and getting rather excited about the prospect but new albums? Not any more. That saddens me a great deal but the harsh reality for me is that the last great rock decade was the 90s and nothing since can match up to what came before anymore.
One big step is that I will not be writing music reviews anymore in the format that I have been accustomed to for over 20 years. I mean, what’s the point of describing new music when one can simply listening to the music at Youtube or Spotify? Sure I will still feature deserving new music but it’s got to be more than a standard review to justify inclusion. In addition, more attention will be given to the Singapore music scene cuz at least that provides me with emotional resonance and aligns with my personal goals.
So from 2015, Power of Pop will be focusing more on film in general, ‘old’ music and of course, #sgindie music. I will try my best to highlight worthy comics and books as well but the priority will be given to film.
“Monophobia” is the fear of being alone. It is an anxiety that I am all too familiar with. Coupled with a slight case of agoraphobia (fear of crowds), it can make going out particularly challenging. Especially when I go for music events, there is always the acute fear that I will be on my own, looking awkward, with my mind screaming for me to get out of there immediately. Add that to the low self-esteem that I have and it is a constant obstacle to overcome. A internal battle that takes place every time I leave home for an event. It’s amazing I haven’t completely lost my marbles yet!
So if you see looking decidedly uncomfortable at an event, please be a kind soul, come up and re-assure me that I am welcome and accepted in that company. Of course, nobody is really thinking that I do not belong but that is certainly what is going on in my head. In that environment, alcohol definitely helps in silencing all those negative voices. So I usually will try to get two bottles of whatever into me to settle down those nerves. So if I suddenly transform into this gregarious character and have too much to say then you know it’s the alcohol successfully calming me down to something closer to normal. Although, over-compensation might be the next issue on the horizon. But that’s another story …
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On Saturday, I was asked the vexed question about whether a person in Singapore could make a living from music making. Lately, it has been an issue that has been occupying my thoughts and I think I have arrived at a conclusion. Fact is, it’s the WRONG question. Music making should never ever be about the money. That’s putting the cart in front of the horse, so to speak. Money is just one factor towards making the best music possible along with developing your talents i.e. songwriting, performance, marketing etc.
If you want to make a whole lot of money – be a banker, lawyer, doctor, politician – please don’t make music cuz you are in the WRONG place. Once you are in music for the money, your priorities get all fucked up and you begin to compromise your artistic principles and your soul will die, bit by bit until your creativity has been completely drained from you.
So get your head straight about this issue! Don’t beat yourself up about how difficult it is to make a living out of your music – that’s not what music making is about. Making music is about the act of creation, connection, sharing and the touching of the hearts, mind and souls of the people who are exposed to your art. Nothing more, nothing less. Everything else is a bonus.
THE INFINITE SADNESS OF BEING
Every now and then, I get depressed. It just happens. Often there could be a simple, trivial trigger that sets it off. Today, it was about only getting two classes for RP next semester. I know it’s not a big deal but I can’t shake the feeling that it’s a criticism of my work at RP and it’s difficult to convince myself otherwise. And that starts a avalanche of self-loathing and I begin to list out the different ways I suck as a musician, as a songwriter, as a writer and as a human being. I look for clues to justify this negativity and usually social media is fertile ground for this very bad exercise. Haha yeah. Every time somebody does well, I feel like a loser and failure in comparison, especially in music circles. Which is silly, of course, but the emotions are there nonetheless. I am sad about ending my North American adventure and returning home partly due to the fact that I have to face so much disappointment. Again, this is illogical but in my mind, 2014 has been an abject failure. None of my plans for writing and music have actually moved forwards and in fact, I really feel that I have gone backwards. How much of this is my depressive mood and how much is honest reflection is a bit hard to tell. Writing it all out like this does help and I am hoping that things will get better in the final quarter of the year.
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Meritocracy is bullshit. There is no such thing. Success is often the confluence of race, family and nationality. If every human being was truly equal at the starting point of life then maybe just maybe, there would be true meritocracy. The only people that push this idea of meritocracy are the wealthy, so that they can insist that their wealth is deserved and also to keep the poor down. But this is probably something you are aware of but also something that you know is almost impossible to do anything about.
In this cruel world, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. But there is a silver lining to all this. In the final analysis, being wealthy does not make you a better person. Wealth is transient and you can’t take it with you when you die, and if you can’t use your wealth to improve the lives of others, then what is the fucking point? Amassing wealth and possessions for the sake of it is ultimately meaningless.
All this is easier said than done, of course. But there is no use in lamenting your lack of wealth – if you can learn to be contented with your lot in life, then your financial position will have no impact on your emotional state and you can be happy in any and every circumstance. Surely, that must be the objective of every human being and thus, I have resolved to find the good in every situation and to live every day as if it were my last….
Power of Pop is at a bit of crossroads. It must be said. If you know me then you will realize that I have no grand plan for this website, I just make it up as I go along. Well, it’s been over 15 years now and I really need something new, something fresh to keep my interest in keeping this website alive. Nowadays, we have in Singapore other websites who already do a good job with covering the local indie music scene, so part of me wants to retire totally from that and move on to something completely different. Part of the motivation in the past was to score review CDs and review concert tickets. The former has now been superseded somewhat by streaming services and the latter, well, is fulfilled by my commitments as a freelance writer. Music reviews – as a concept – seems to me rather irrelevant in 2014, considering that readers can easily listen to music and thus, there is less need for a writer to describe the fucking music anymore! As far as recorded music is concerned, the writer acts more as a tastemaker of sorts, helping music lovers to sort the wheat from the chaff and point the way.
And considering the sheer amount of music out there, it’s impossible for the writer to listen to everything and to write long-winded reviews about new records. Upon reflection, it’s become clear to me that Power of Pop is simply a promotional tool now, and mostly in relation to upcoming gigs in Singapore. That’s important, of course, but it does seem that other publications are doing the same thing – and have bigger audiences than I do – so, what is the point then of Power of Pop? Perhaps this website must become my personal platform for my opinions instead of social media. Does not make sense for me to divert hits and visitors the way of the usual culprits when I should be doing so for my own website, does it? So, that’s the new direction then and I will use my upcoming trip to Seattle and Vancouver as a test run of this new direction. Stay tuned, boys and girls.
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Regular visitors will be aware of my extremely low tolerance for trolls. My attitude is simple – if you have nothing good to say – SHUT THE FUCK UP! Is that so difficult to achieve? Seriously, sometimes the attention one gets from trolls seems totally incomprehensible – what did I ever do to you? – always seems to be the recurring protest that springs fully formed in head. I mean, the world is in bad enough shape without having these illogical trolls contribute absolute nothing to make things a little better.
Bottom line is clear – I must always be in a position to control what the comments I receive on social media. Which means blocking trolls essentially and avoiding being part of groups that tolerate trolls. Recently, I left a comic book group that seemed innocent enough when it started but of late has reminded me why I stay clear from these groups as a general rule.
Much safer to make my own opinion public via my own website where I can easily control the outcome of unwelcome trolls. Now you know why it’s always good to be king.
Back to normal programming….
If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. (Phil 2: 4, The Message)
This passage of scripture drives and informs my life. It’s a difficult one to follow as it involves self-sacrifice, a quality frowned upon in our world. In April 2007, somewhere in New York City, I resolved that my area of influence was in music and I needed to use this influence to help musicians in Singapore. How exactly, I wasn’t quite sure of at the time but I knew that that had to be my purpose in this life.
Over the course of the last seven years, in the pursuit of this ‘calling’ I have faced tumultuous events in my personal life designed to test my resolve and to lead to new ways and means by which I could invest in and bear fruit from my gifts. It has not been easy, believe me. Often times, my eagerness to help someone else has led to misunderstandings and my fragile low self esteem has taken a lot of battering along the way.
At the end of last year, I rather fancifully imagined that I could venture into a totally new creative area but the last six months have proven how foolish my thinking had been. But through the disappointment, I have learnt to bring the focus back to music and to music people. It was appealing to my ego that new ‘friends’ had turned up to bring me into new pastures where I could prosper but that was my vanity speaking to me and I am thankful to have been put right and properly brought down back to earth.
In the last few weeks, this scope has expanded beyond our shores and has led me to make connections with various foreign bands and the joy I experienced in these encounters has made it clear to me that this was the path all along and all I needed to do was to stick with the program. I will be in Seattle and Vancouver in late September/early October and will take the opportunity to build on and strengthen these new ties as I push myself further into my beloved world of music.
None of these pursuits involve monetary gain or have been conceived to further business interests – I truly believe that that will take care of itself as long as my heart is in the right place. All I want to do is to help as many musicians as I possibly can in whatever shape or form. These are exciting times to be involved in music!
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