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    Friday, March 28, 2008

    I am unofficially releasing Romeo + Juliet online. I completed this track over a month ago and the label hasn't done anything about it. Maybe they are busy. I got crap from them when I leaked the acoustic preview. I wonder how they will react to this! (Oh well! Screw it. I am retiring anyway.)

    Speaking of getting crap, I have decided to include a FAQ (Frequently Asked Question) with this song because judging from the comments and feedback I'm getting, I'd hate having to repeat myself.

    Q: Why Ebi and Nikki?
    A: Why not? It's not my call anyway. Ask the music labels.

    Q: Why such a song for them?
    A: They'd expect a fast song from me. A happy duet like "Saling Terpesona". But how many times can I write the same song over again? But it was a challenge because Ebi and Nikki do not have much in common musically. He is a little bit rock. She is a little bit urban. Instead of finding that common ground, I decided for them to go to a totally different place. (For a moment, it felt like Hell. Other times, it felt like Batu Pahat.) And also, personally for me, I wanted to do a Malay song with the kind of class that Azlan Abu Hassan has with his ballads.

    Q: Why does the string part sound familiar? I think I heard it in the Sims game.
    A: The string line is an interpolation of a section from an opera by Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky in 1869 titled "Romeo & Juliet". (What a coincidence!) That section of the opera is popularly known as the love theme and it has been used many times to support visuals of love and romance.

    Q: Why is the song so complicated?
    A: I do realise it's complicated for a pop song. Perhaps it is more complex than complicated. I do think it's good to sometimes have something that is complex with a lot of layers to peel. I hope people can listen to this song many many times for many years to come without getting bored and still discover new things about the song.

    Q: Do you think Ebi and Nikki will be able to sing this song live?
    A: Yes. They might sing it differently but yes then can sing it live.

    Q: How did you begin writing a song like this?
    A: I consider this song a work of God because there is nothing from my music background that makes me capable of such things on my own. It did start with me wanting to do a different kind of ballad because I hate the current state of ballads. I wanted to do this Beatles sounding thing with interesting chord progressions. Then I got the melody. Then I realised how classically European it sounded. One thing lead to another and the concept for Romeo and Juliet came up. But the best part was, I could overlay the chord progression for Tchaikovsky's "Romeo & Juliet" over my chorus and it worked! (OK, so I had to make some adjustments here and there but it was close.) It was one of those moments for me. Friday night. About midnite.

    Q: Why Romeo and Juliet?
    A: Lyrically, I wanted a story. I sold the idea to Vernon Kedit and I think he reluctantly bought it. He must have thought I was insane and I was just making things complicated for myself. He has generally been very supportive of my career and sometimes he gives me way too much rope to hang myself. And because I have this thing for having a male writer write lyrics for a male singer and a female writer for a female singer, I wanted to have Ad Samad and Nurfatima to write the lyrics. So it was their first time working together.

    Q: The title is "Romeo + Juliet". Why isn't the title lyric sung?
    A: The thing here is Ebi is Romeo and Nikki is Juliet. They are singing their story. The only time Romeo and Juliet are mentioned is at the end of the bridge by the male choir in the perspective of a third person to describe their deaths.

    Q: I have no idea what Ebi and Nikki are singing about. I am more focused on the music. Why?
    A: That is normal. You do not need to seek professional help for that. There is nothing wrong with you. The reason for this is because the music is huge and it's easier to get lost in the music with so much going on. And the music, especially the last chorus instrumental is one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written (I am referring to Tchaikovsky's parts!) Truth be told, my melody pales in comparison. But eventually, your focus will be on the vocals and lyrics.

    Q: Are you happy with the outcome?
    A: Yes. I am very proud of this song. Although I wish I could have recorded a live cannon fire at the end like in Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture. (OK. Not really. I just want to fire a cannon!)

    Q: Other comments?
    A: I hope that this song can be performed in a context of musical and tell the story of Romeo + Juliet. I would also love to see Ramli Sarip duet with Anita Sarawak, or Faizal Tahir with Farah Asyikin. And all of them in spandex.

    Q: Production credits?
    A: Lyrics by Ad Samad and Nurfatima. Guitars by Jamie Wilson. Bass by Kelly. Male choir parts by Hazami's guys. Violins, viola and cello by these people contracted by Genervie Kam. Mastered by Nick Lee. Faizal Tahir and Jenny Chin gave emotional support and encouragement. Michael Ang hates the song. I produced, wrote and arranged the music and vocals, recorded, mixed, played the piano, harpsichord, and drum parts.

    Q: Were you able to spell "Tchaikovsky" before this?
    A: No. I still can't without double-checking.

    Tuesday, March 25, 2008

    romeo + juliet...

    has landed.

    Tuesday, March 11, 2008

    Suddenly everyone is a political analyst.

    First off...I did not vote. I've never voted because it is just one of those things for me. Being between a rock and a hard place. The devil and the deep blue sea. It's also largely because I never thought voting would really make a difference. (No need for you to go on a rant here telling me how just one vote can make the difference.)

    Anyway, from my political-simpleton view, I think I figured out why the opposition made so much headway in the elections.

    Most Chinese people, have this thing for wanting to vote for the opposition to keep the government in check. We are an unassuming lot and we'd vote to quietly protest, or to give the opposition some hope in order to have a checks-and-balance system in government. We know the opposition will not win, so we might as well vote for them. But this time, enough people actually thought that way and then BLAM! They won.

    I am sure the morning after, once they are sober and wake up to the news that Selangor and Penang are under the opposition, the first thought could have been, "Oh crap! They actually won. What have I done?"

    Or maybe people are just sick and tired of the present government and really want a change.

    For me, it's almost comical because now I am just curious to see what happens next. I am glad for the change. Also, watching Samy Vellu in all his shamelessness is just too entertaining for me.

    I can't wait to see how the opposition are going to bring now petrol prices. (If they can do this without subsidising and without putting the country's finances in the hole, I am sure Anwar Ibrahim can become the president of the U.S. too.) I also want to see the business-friendly implementation of the RM1500-per-month minimum wage for the lower income groups.

    Tell you what. Just bring down petrol prices, and let me address God as "Allah" in church and we will call it even.

    All in all, I am glad for the outcome. As Captain Obvious would say, "Now we wait and see..."

    Monday, March 10, 2008

    The words "political tsunami" should never ever ever be used again.

    Especially in a conversation with me. NEVER.


    Friday, March 07, 2008

    I was at Nick Lee's place. If it were up to me, I'd send ALL my mixes to Nick for mastering. And I encourage others to do the same. I met him through Sharon Paul two/three years ago and I like his tastes and preferences. It's the difference between sounding like an international record versus sounding like well... a local record. And I can give you examples but that would offend the other local "mastering engineers". I have enough people in the music industry hating me as it is.

    Anyway, this is Nick's new place. He was on the second floor and he recently took over the ground floor of this shoplot. (Nick took over @19 Records office/studio after they "moved out.") He kept most of the physical design of the place and now he has this really nice room for a 6' grand piano.

    It's quite a lively room and very warm sounding. The last room I heard with this much reverb was the studio in Synchrosound. But if you're looking for a drier sound which is good for pop, you can't go wrong with Babyboss Studios.

    When I heard the piano, I wish I had recorded a real piano for "Romeo + Juliet". Then I remembered how badly I sucked at piano and the thought went away.

    I desperately tried to let out a fart in that room just to hear what kind of acoustic wonderment I'd be responded with. Sadly, none to be let out. Nick was pleased with that conclusion.

    Next to it is this very nice vocal room. It is very very very quiet. One of the very few "room - within - a - room" recording rooms in town. It is essentially a floating room which means, a bomb could go off outside and you wouldn't hear anything until the roof collapses on your ass. Well, at least this is what Nick tells me. He could be just lying to make be jealous because the room I work in isn't really even a real room.

    I must now try to convince Fuse to put some furniture in our vocal booth now. I always thought it would be cool for the singer to leave their butt print on the couch while they wait for me to Melodyne enhance their vocals.

    And then there's the mastering suite where nice things happen to my otherwise, average good mix. "Romeo + Juliet" was mastered here. As you can see, Nick is taller than I am. Must be difficult for him to buy pants.

    Thus concludes my visit. It is a very nice studio. Very warm and fits well in an issue of MIX magazine. Very much like Fuse, the studio I record and work at. And it's no smoking too.

    If you need a recording studio, a mix engineer, and/or a mastering engineer, I highly recommend Nick Lee. He is also quite a capable producer but most importantly, he will get the job done right. And he also likes turning knobs.

    Tuesday, March 04, 2008

    Chris wanted me to inform you readers that he does not always hog the claws of crab; evident by exhibit A below of Chris lovingly feeding me crab claw through my nose...just the way I like it.

    Ning, Chris, Maple, Federico, and I had an artery-clogging session at Fatty Crab.

    You can tell by the pictures below that we are one classy sophisticated bunch.



    Nick Lee is mastering Romeo + Juliet today and I will listening to the final master in about 8 hours at Nick's studio. After which, I shall deliver the final master recording to the creative hub and Akademi Fantasia mothership that is Maestro Records.

    I might have some lunch. And while I lunch, I will contemplate on whether I should put the song online without Maestro's knowledge or approval.

    "It's better to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission."

    I am listening to the new Janet Jackson album "Discipline" and I quite like it. I am happy whenever I hear house tracks in pop albums because I've been trying to do house music with Malay pop and the songs have not had mainstream success. I feel people here need to hear the Americans do it before they can accept a Malaysian doing it in pop. Pity.

    "Somethings are just not worth going to jail for."

    Janet still does that whole sex thing with her songs but this time, it sounds freaky because she sounds like Michael Jackson. All a little bit too troubling for me.

    Anyway, back to the mastering. Nick and I are doing something different again at the mastering process. Instead of mastering the final stereo mix like 99.9% of the music made in Malaysia, we will be sending groups of stereo tracks to be mastered individually.

    Maestro Records, start your lawyers' engines.

    And then we will regroup those mastered tracks and rebuild the final track. We are going to break it down into a few groups: Drums, the bass, the guitars, the strings, and the supporting vocals, and the lead vocals.

    I am not sure if this is necessary. It's a lot of work and might be overkill. But it might also sound great. Whatever it is, I am quite sure only three people actually care what I am talking about.

    I hear it is really nice at the Maldives this time of the year.

    Sunday, March 02, 2008

    Please request for ROMEO + JULIET on radio.

    1. Call ERA at 03-9543 3355 between 6pm to midnight and ask for the song.
    2. Then call HOT FM at 03-7710 8822 and ask for the song.
    3. Repeat 1 and 2 in 24 hours.

    Thank you. I love you.