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    Sunday, November 08, 2009

    I almost feel bad for not blogging.

    Just so you know, it's not that I've been sitting here on my thumb.  I am actually quite in a bit of a stress zone working on two whole albums; one for Faizal Tahir and one for Ning Baizura.  Two very different kinds of albums and two very different singers.  I am insanely grateful that they are both fantastic vocalists!

    Also, I am working on three songs for the Siti Nurhaliza and Krisdayanti duet album.  This one, I am almost afraid because I've never worked with Krisdayanti before and the fact that she is a huge star makes me nervous to the point that I want to pee in my pants.

    All in all, I am excited and amazed that I get to do this.  Praise God!  Alhamdullilah.  Hallelujah.

    Saturday, October 17, 2009

    The good news is that the studio address isn't blacklisted by McDonald's for delivery.

    The not-so-good news is Faizal was hungry during our recording session today and I caved in out of desperation and ordered McDonald's. Just so you know, I just had one nugget. It will never happen again.

    The McDonald's embargo is still on.

    Thursday, October 08, 2009

    I was recording Shila last night on October 7. She was hungry and needed food.

    So we ordered McDonald's at the studio. We placed the order around 11 pm. After 45 mins, we made calls and finally, the order arrives at 12.30 am!

    To cut a long story short, I told the delivery guy that I was going to take the food and I was not going to pay for it. If they wanted payment, I told him to get his manager to come see me at the studio the next day.

    This is NOT an anti-McDonald's movement. I love McDonald's! I just want a delivery time commitment.

    Do they seriously expect me to pay for the food after such poor service?

    And what was their excuse? Understaffed. Why is that my problem? The least they could have done was to call me to tell me that the order will be late.

    I am sure I am not the only one who gets this bad service. No matter how late our order arrives, we quietly pay for it and then complain about to the person next to us who doesn't really want to listen to it.

    So, today, I am making a stand for the little people.

    McDonald's! Make a delivery time commitment. If Domino's can do it, so can you!

    Until then, I am not going to order from, or eat at McDonald's anymore. (Cheers of joy from my mother, wife, and doctor!) And worse for you, I am going to spread the word. Ask anyone who knows me, when I am on a mission....

    A delivery time commitment! How about it? It will only make you a better company!

    And while I am on it, I would also like to fight for ventilation of the french fries. No one like soggy fries!

    Saturday, September 19, 2009

    By the way, in case you're wondering why the sudden interest in vegetable gardening? It's because of this.In my efforts to compost, this papaya plant grew out of the papaya seeds I was trying to compost. How cool is that?
    It begins now. I am all set for my vegetable garden. As it turns out, I have to get a whole load of stuff before I can even start plant. It's not just throwing the seeds onto dirt and watching it grow. I've spent over RM100 so far. And I am thinking, I can actually buy a lot of broccoli with RM100. So we will see. I will report future developments.

    Thursday, September 17, 2009

    All of a sudden, last night, I felt a panic attack. I realised that it was already the middle of September. And I have less than 2 months to produce two very important albums on top of the several other singles I have to do as well. I am grateful and tru....


    I am not sure but I think I know what a heart attack feels like.

    Wednesday, September 16, 2009

    I mentioned that one can tell something about the philosophy of the company based on how they managed their car park. Let me explain.

    Way back when...about ten years ago when I was still in the book business, I visited many of our clients in the Bayan Lepas Free Trade Zone in Penang. They range from huge multinationals from the US, Europe, Japan, and Malaysia.

    There are differences in building design, work flow, protocol, and simple things like how efficient or capable the receptionist is. But one thing that struck me was the parking.

    For most European companies, the parking bays closest to the lobby entrance was usually reserved for visiting guests. Yes! Reserved for the visiting guests and customers! What a concept.

    For most Asian companies, those lots are usually reserved for the CEO or VIP. Even when you go drive into multi-storey parking lots, the more accessible floors are reserved for their employees. Customers or visitors usually have to go way up or way down for parking.

    I was reminded of this today when I visited the Digi offices. They get your car number before the meeting and my number car is registered with their security. I drive up and they know who I am and I park up front near the lobby entrance. It was so efficient that I almost wanted to cry.

    So impresses me that such companies actually mean it when they say that their customers come first.

    Monday, September 07, 2009

    This is the new song for Siti I was telling you about. It's freaking me out because it's a last minute decision for it to be the first single. I am not completely totally comfortable with it because I did not spend as much time as I normally would with a song AFTER I record the vocals. I am very happy and proud of this song but somehow, deep deep deep deep deeeeeeeeeeeeeep down inside, I know that if I had had more time, it would sound different. Not necessarily better, just different.

    I am very surprised and glad that Siti recorded this song because I didn't think her camp would record it, let alone make it a single. It's the same kind of surprise that a rock-ish song could be a patriotic song. But life is like that.

    So I hope this song works for Siti and it becomes a big hit for her. Otherwise, she might hate me and never ask me for songs ever again.

    Kupercaya Ada Cinta - Siti Nurhaliza

    Whatever it is, I will never do a song like this again. It's just technically way too much trouble.

    Sunday, August 30, 2009

    Isn't this ironic? BERNAMA. On top of things.
    I have this test to see whether the song will likely become a hit or not. When it comes to my own music, the more I like the song, the less likely it will become a hit. That's why this new song I did for Siti freaks me out a little. Because I really like it. And I like it because it's borderline weird. I challenge classification besides "free pop".

    And then Siti likes it. And it's the first single. That's just too much pressure for me. Because then she might finally realise I am a fluke and I don't really know what I am doing.

    I need to gnaw on something now.

    Saturday, August 29, 2009

    I am admiring my newly cleaned teeth. I visited the dentist for the first time in almost 18 years. Thankfully, everything is intact since I am rather fond of my teeth. All I needed was scaling and polishing. Now I am going to bite into something teeth-friendly, like a book.

    Sunday, August 09, 2009

    This week has been insane. My Mac died on me. I had one week to finish three songs for three very different singers. The real thrill was doing this patriotic song, which I am sure will be what I will do full-time in the twilight years of my short career in music. Then there's my recording session with Siti Nurhaliza. Which, even at my third song for her, I am still nervous and star-struck whenever I see her. I think she must think I am a total dork because whenever I behave all normal, I usually come out looking like I need to pee. Nervous energy, I think. But it was fun. That woman is amazingly good.

    Sunday, August 02, 2009

    Wow. Not one blog entry in July. What is this world coming to....

    Friday, June 26, 2009

    I've ripped of Michael Jackson's music so many times for my music.

    1. "Dikau"- for Ning Baizura's "Awan Yang Terpilu" album in 1996. The chords for the song was based on "Rock With You".

    2. "Mama Said" - for Kaer's English track in his "Menjelma" album in 1997 which is an interpolation of "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'."

    3. "Pasti Berbeza" for Sarah Raisuddin for the "One In A Million" finale song in 1998 which is based on "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough".

    4. I also used the opening melody for "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough" for Hazami's opening line in "Bukan Igauan" in 1998.

    5. And again "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough" left its vibe in Reefa's "Weekender" in 2003.

    My only living influence now is Prince and we will reveal how many times "Purple Rain" has made its way into my music.

    Also, like Michael Jackson, I used to be black and he made it OK for me to also say "Hey! I can grab my crotch in public if I want!"

    Saturday, June 20, 2009

    Saturday, June 13, 2009

    In another totally unrelated story, I must tell you that I am really enjoying my Acer Aspire netbook even more now that I have WiMax connection all thanks to P1 WiMax. I had a defective modem which gave me connection problems at first but it was replaced today. I had it connected to a few computers at the studio and it worked beautifully. I am now a believer.

    But when I hook it up to the Aspire, that's when I get a little aroused by the combination. I say this in all sincerity because I just met with the P1 people two days ago who got me the Acer Aspire. And not because I am taking a stab at Dell. I have nothing to do with Acer. I am not endorsing their brand.

    It would be my wet dream if the Aspire ran Mac OS X instead of Windows XP.

    Friday, June 12, 2009

    A day after I posted the blog entry bitching Dell out, I get a call from Dell's "Escalation team" informing me that Dell will fix the DVD drive on the XPS notebook. I thought I'd wait until it is actually fixed before I do my "victory for the little people" dance.

    For today, two days after that call, I get numerous calls from Dell Logistics and Dell Technical Support and Dell Customer Service all telling me that they will coming to my office at 2.30pm. It seemed like at least ten people were involved in coordinating this exercise.

    At 2.30pm, a Dell-appointed technician comes to the office. We now wait for the optical drive to be delivered by another party which arrives an hour late. The very nice technician pain-stakingly opens up the XPS notebook. Discovers that the drive is faulty. He doesn't know why. Fair enough. So the drive is screwed. Not as simple as "sticking a paperclip in a pinhole" type of situation. But I certainly wasn't going to pay RM400 to find that out.

    In any case, calls were made by the technician. And then he informs me, that he cannot replace the drive because it is no longer under warranty and gives me the same goddamn motherfucking customer-friendly Dell policy. If another Dell-related person calls me to tell me this policy again, I swear to God, I will lose my fucking mind and may have to kill someone.

    But I digress.

    So, I ask the technician how much to replace the drive, and he puts me on the phone with the guy he was talking to using MY office phone! I asked "how much?" and he puts me on hold for five minutes before getting back to me with "our sales guys are busy now and I don't have the information for you. I will have to call you back." To which I tell him to not bother.

    I see from the look of the technician's face, he is shocked. Not at me, but at how things are unfolding....which he later tells me. (He is not from Dell but from CSC which is appointed by Dell to handle repairs.)

    The technician puts the XPS together and leaves.

    At that point, I am thinking, Dell Malaysia is an amazingly, unbelievably stupid company.

    With the drive already there, tech guy already have everything ready to install the new drive, they choose to follow policy after this matter has already been blown to this proportion. Great, they saved RM200 on the drive! I am sure it will make up for the thousands they have already spent on human resources dealing with this one simple matter. A great approach to trying to salvage me as a customer.

    Of course, I am not sure as to why they even bothered sending the replacement DVD drive there in the first place.

    Now this is just amusing. I feel like I am in one of those case studies on bad customer relationship management. And each step Dell makes is comical.

    Let's see how funny it can get. I am sending a copy of the original email and my blog entries to Michael Dell, as suggested by blog reader and fellow producer, Azlan Abu Hassan. I will report as the situation unfolds. I am now after more than just a DVD drive because Dell wasted my time.

    In response to a comment from my previous entry about Dell batteries dying, I am sorry to say that battery life depends on use. It's true for all rechargable batteries. Unless if it happens to a particular batch of batteries from a particular production batch. Then you can blame it on manufacturing defect. But I appreciate the support.

    Errr wait...damn you Dell.

    Tuesday, June 09, 2009

    I want to relate a recent experience I have had with Dell Computers. I have a DVD stuck in a Dell XPS notebook bought about year and half ago for RM6000+!! The DVD drive itself still works. I can access the DVD but I just can't eject the disc out. And it doesn't have a pinhole that I can stick a paper clip into to force the disc out.

    I call Dell. They said they'd call me back but didn't. So I email with strong words. Then I get a call. I am given two options: Pay RM400+ for a one-time fix, or extend the warranty for RM1100+.

    Now, who would want to pay RM400 to get a DVD out?

    I get upset. I call Dell again and for two hours, I get tossed around between their customer service and technical department both tell me the same thing: "Your warranty has expired. You have two options. This is our policy."

    And I am saying: "I have bought, through my various companies, easily over RM100,000 worth of Dell products over the past three years. I paid RM6000+ for your notebook. Your product fails and I am unable to resolve a situation that can usually be resolved by the end-user. (re: pinhole) Can't you offer me some customer service and keep me happy as a future customer?"

    Deep down I am wishing: "I should have bought another Mac instead."

    After that evening, I was able to bring this matter to someone senior at Dell. Evidently, the matter gets pushed to another department from which I get a phone call from this afternoon.

    This is where the situation becomes a case study for customer service and business failure.

    I get a call from Dell's "Escalation" team. I am honoured.

    Their solution? Pay RM400+ for a one-time fix, or extend the warranty for RM1100+.

    After all the drama, I get a call from their "escalation team" to rehash the same policy that does nothing to help me or their reputation.

    Instead of just fixing the damned notebook drive which would have cost them less than RM100, they engaged human resources worth probably ten times more and cost them future business from me.

    That cooked my goose!

    I do not blame the people I spoke with who are not able to resolve my issue. This is the failure of management and their lack of understanding customers. Their customer service staff are robots following rules without a mind of their own to solve and understand customer problems with logic.

    By the way Dell, the problem is not a defective optical drive. The problem is that you have a unhappy valuable customer. My request is not unreasonable given the price of the notebook.

    Needless to say, I have written off Dell. I do not buy Dell nor recommend Dell as I have before.

    Bottom line: Don't buy Dell.

    Monday, June 01, 2009

    I am legally married. Can you believe that? Does this mean I have to grow up? Although I do feel like doing grown-up things like doing my taxes or mowing the lawn or playing mahjOH LOOK! A COOKIE.

    Thursday, May 21, 2009

    There are two comments that should never be used when giving positive feedback to a vocal performance.

    1. "He could sing the phone book and it will still sound good."

    2. "She was hitting notes that I didn't know exist."


    Because it's 2009.

    Although, the second comment could be used when giving negative feedback to a vocal performance.

    Saturday, May 16, 2009

    In this absolutely thrilling update, I would like to state that as a supposedly music producer and composer (hah!), I manage myself. Occassionally, Azlin Abas, my girlfriend and my sister tell me what to do but mostly related to my bad habits such as my nose picking in public.

    When it comes to music, no one, and I mean NO ONE manages me or my time or make any decisions for me or on my behalf.

    I will never ask for money upfront for a song demo. No matter how busy, I will never say no to anyone without meeting the person first. And I usually have good A&R reasons if I can't take on a project.

    In other words, if you want to get in touch with me, get in touch with ME directly. Send me a message on Facebook or leave a message here. Don't trust anyone who asks for money just for a song demo.

    And remember, you can pick your friends and you can pick your nose. But don't pick your friend's nose.

    Sunday, May 10, 2009

    I never could figure this out.

    Is it "tidbits" or "titbits". I hear "titbits" being used verbally.
    "Tidbits" would be more obvious to me since "tidbits" are bits of tid.
    Whereas "titbits" are bits of...well, you know.

    Thursday, May 07, 2009

    My first mobile post. Exciting.

    Friday, April 24, 2009

    I'm excited because I am going back to Melaka this weekend. So if you want to rob my place, this weekend would be a good time. Just try not to break anything and feed the dog before you leave.

    Sunday, April 19, 2009

    I had an interesting early day yesterday (Saturday). I was at Stadium Bukit Jalil and I got down to the track and field. It was quite a perspective.
    I was there as a volunteer for Maya Karin's "Maya Loves Nature" event. It's something Maya came up with as a way to get her environmental messages across. And she is starting with schools. She had three schools to get their students to collect plastic bags. That's how these huge plastic balls came about.

    Then for the photo op, we had Maya sit on the balls.

    Anyway, it was a very good reminder for me. I am no fanatic but I have always been more sensitive to the environment and my impact on the planet. But in the past year, I notice myself pushing and challenging myself to do more. I try to fart less now.

    And now I have this thing against plastic bottles. I try to not buy bottled drinking water. Did you know it takes more water to recycle or manufacture the plastic bottle than the drinking water itself? And more of the time, we just throw the empty bottle away. That bugs me now. And what bugs me even more is that my favourite Gatorade comes in plastic bottles and that's the only way I can get it. Sigh.

    I am now getting a rash from all this hippie talk.

    Saturday, April 18, 2009

    I say this with the highest respect and love to female-kind. I believe I speak on behalf of most men when I say to women: Please have your parking card and money ready BEFORE you get to the Auto-Pay machine because we do not need to witness the illusion of space within a small physical object when you go digging in your handbag looking for the parking card. But remember, we are patient in many other ways.

    Next week, we discuss what men really think when you say at a restaurant, "I'm not really hungry but you order for yourself and I will just nibble a bit of your plate."
    How many of you have had the soles your Nikes ripped off from under your feet due to poor manufacturing.

    I officially now do not wear or support Nike. Great shoes if you are a rapper or a pimp but total crap if you want something for the gym.

    Tuesday, April 14, 2009

    It is rather sad that it has come to this. I see billboards and full-page ads for this.

    "There are things that are never certain. But when you choose to take the risky way and work illegally in the UK, the result is certain.

    The British Government has implemented a new stringent system for working visa application and has stepped up on its border patrol....You fork out a ridiculous amount of money as fees, only to be denied entry or arrested and deported back to Malaysia."

    I particularly like the menacing border patrol guys waiting to open a can of whoop-ass when your oriental Malaysian ass crosses into British territory.

    We should have placed ads like these in the English newspapers way back when to warn the Brits to not come to Malaya to screw us over.

    Sunday, April 12, 2009

    Recently, I've been looking into compost. And I am talking about my new found interest in composting, rather than buying or looking at compost. (Although, I am looking to be a composer who composts.)

    I think this is a good thing because we throw out so much stuff when we prepare our food. So in my never ending efforts to reduce waste and my carbon footprint, I am starting my own compost bin where instead of throwing out fruit peels, bits of vegetables, moldy bread, eggshells, tea bags, and my hair into the trash can, I put them in this container. I am supposed to "heat" it up to start the decomposition process. And one of the more effective ways, apparently, is that I pee into this compost bin. I just haven't pulled myself together to do that just yet. What if I miss?

    Then after a few months of rotting in my urine, I get this dirt which I can use to plant stuff. It's probably just a matter of time before I start taking pooping into a plastic container to contribute to my compost bin. How great is that?

    I am going to start my own herb garden in my balcony. And by "herb" I mean basil, thyme, parsley....that sort of thing, and not marijuana. I feel a renaissance coming from within.

    Friday, April 10, 2009

    The nice people at P1 WiMax hooked me up with an Intel Centrino 2 notebook from Fujitsu and some major WiMax action. All that high-spec on the notebook is really cool but it wasn't really enough to get me excited to want to blog about it. But I'll tell you what got my juices going. The Acer Aspire One.
    This Acer isn't really the highlight. But for me, this little thing takes the cake. It is surprisingly fun. You can't under estimate the joy of surfing the web on a small little notebook. I can actually surf in bed holding it with one hand. And here's the best part: I had the thing on and running with the P1 WiMax connected via USB for over EIGHT HOURS! I imagine I'd get more hours if I connected via wi-fi since I won't have that USB modem sucking off power from the battery.

    I didn't really think it would make much of a difference but surfing with a wireless modem is somehow more a more natural way to stay online. It's the difference between using a cordless phone and using a cellular phone. Right now, WiMax with P1 is fast! Nevermind what it states on the brochure, in practical use, it's at least five times faster than when using my Streamyx connection.

    I downloaded AVG AntiVirus, a 60MB file with Streamyx at 5KB/s. I was getting between 35KB to 50kB with P1. Then I downloaded this album via torrent. 80MB zip file. Eight freakin' minutes! Let's hope this lasts. The only peeve is that the connection is unstable. I am not sure why. And it doesn't work on the Mac.

    I feel like a total nerd now.

    Believe it or not, I am not getting paid for saying all this. But I love this Aspire One. It does not feel like a toy at all! I find myself turning this silly little thing on for no reason but just to play with it. Wait a minute...I used to do that a lot with another personal thing until my mom told me to stop.

    OK. Now I am over it.

    Thursday, April 09, 2009

    Here's a tip for the recording artist.

    There is no need to show that you are versatile as a singer. That's not the point of an album. When a person listens to an album, they are looking to be entertained. The listener wants to feel happy. Wants to feel sad. Wants to get up and dance. Wants to be the singer. Your album is there for the listener. You are serving the listener while maintaining some artistic integrity and your personality. That's what an album is about. It's your personality or A personality in songs.

    Be yourself. Tell your producer, your composer, your manager who you are and what you are about. Then make it work without being syok-sendiri-ing yourself. If your manager or label tells you to sing polka because it sells but you feel the life being sucked out of you when you sing it, tell your manager or label to go to hell or find another line of work. You will be better off in the long run.

    Wednesday, April 08, 2009

    I had an exciting episode today with the police at a road block (of the entrapment variety). These guys are so cool and yet so stupid all at the same time. To cut a long story short, he asked for a bribe and I said no. When he wanted to issue the ticket, I took his picture with my camera phone. And that freaked him out. The idiot.

    What we need is a phone number we can call to report this sort of random corruption.

    Other than that, it has been a pleasant day.

    Tuesday, April 07, 2009

    It's happening again!

    Ahmad Izham Omar and Faizal Tahir hard at work. You'd think we are going at it in the thick of creativity. Creative juices overflowing. Ideas and melodies bouncing off the walls....or more accurately, being absorbed in the acoustic treatment on the walls. Wailing guitar solos and blazing synthesiser leads. Yes, this is what hit records are made of!

    But the truth is, we were playing "Name That Tune" and I called it on Izham's "Gilligan Island Theme."

    To borrow that phrase: It's a game where the points don't matter.

    Thursday, April 02, 2009

    "America's Best Dog"!

    This is why the world hates America.

    Thursday, March 26, 2009

    I thought this was peculiar. The Star, both dated 25 March 2009. Same front page. Back sports page, same photo, same everything else but different stories.

    Monday, March 23, 2009

    This post (like many of mine) may be totally irrelevant. I am quite disturbed. I've not been this disturbed since "Lambada" back in 1990. It's the new Chris Cornell album.

    I saw Chris Cornell perform one of the songs on Jay Leno and he rocked it out. But on the album, it's this Justin Timberlake-Timbaland dance funk thing. Interesting. But it's Chris Cornell! Mr Soundgarden. Mr Audioslave. It's Chris ferkin' Cornell.

    Shazzy doesn't like it.

    I, not sure.

    To me, the only thing scarier than an album produced entirely by Timbaland is an album produced entirely by P. Diddy.

    The concept of "bringing out the best OF the artist" is foreign to them. Listen to the recent Timbaland-produced albums of Duran Duran and Bjork and you will hear what I mean.

    But this is the thing with this Chris Cornell album. It makes me want to listen to it again. Either because I am totally in shock at the crime he has committed, or I just need to make sense of this. So I listen and listen. The more I listen, the more I realise it sounds like Justin Timberlake (even though Justin has no production credit on this album) and shades of OneRepublic.

    I have to reset my thoughts and expectations and forget it's Chris Cornell. Then it's a fantastic album! I like it. It's urban dance rock. You have to appreciate and give him credit for taking a huge risk in going in this direction. Personally, I appreciate and respect that.

    Suddenly it makes my music sound old. Now I have to rethink somethings. Damn you Chris Cornell! You made me think! Damn you!

    Sunday, March 22, 2009

    Dear RTM

    On a slow Sunday, I watched a rerun of your "Hiburan Minggu Ini" featuring Sarah Raisuddin. This is her show. She sings Malay-language songs. I appreciate that concept.

    Now, while I do not speak for all Malaysian Chinese but I believe many would agree with me, I want to let you know that it's OK if you did not have Priscilla Chan come out of the blue in the middle of the show to sing an old Chinese song. (The Indian guy singing an old Indian song before Priscilla didn't work either but I will leave it to someone else to comment on that.)

    In any case, its OK if we didn't have the Indian and Chinese song. We will not think that it's not muhibbah. We will not think RTM is racist or not being considerate to the needs of your Chinese viewers. Really. We understand the concept of format and consistency.

    But thanks for the thought anyway. Just don't do it again.

    Friday, March 20, 2009

    We knew from the start that it's not going to be easy to follow his debut album. Everyone would expect probably another "Sampai Syurga" or "Cuba". If we did that, they'd say we have run out of ideas. If we did something different, they'd say "Sampai Syurga" was better. Then there would be the haters who just love to hate Faizal Tahir just because.

    Faizal and I wrote "Bencinta" as a performance song. We were very influenced by the music of Muse and U2. Neither one of us really listen to any Indonesian or local bands. But Muse? U2? Keane? We like.

    The chorus is not as melodic as you'd expect it to be. It's not something you'd be humming immediately after hearing it once. But that wasn't my objective with this song. The challenge for me was to make the listener want to listen to the song again and again. It's one of those melodies where you'd want to learn it and once you get it, you will feel cool. Like that "I'm Slim Shady, yes I'm the Slim Shady...." chorus.

    And my thrill is that I get to play with my synth and make rude sounds. This album is going to be more personal. We are probably going to play all the instruments and write all the song together in the room at the same time. We got a Marshall stack in the studio which means I will be deaf by May or June.

    So this is where we are going. I am a little nervous and excited. I hope it works.

    I am glad for the positive and nice feedback we've been getting. Thank you.

    Wednesday, March 18, 2009

    Lila kata....So there!
    And trivia for ya: Nikki came up with the title!

    Monday, March 16, 2009

    I thought I'd spend my Sunday watching movies. It's a rarity for me. When I do get a chance to watch a movie, I usually doze off or get restless because I feel it is such a waste of time and that I should be doing something more productive like downloading more movies.

    Anyway, I watched this movie which turned out really good. I won't talk about the movie although it made me think and ponder on what i'd do if I were in a situation where I had to choose between my life or the life of a loved one. Some will say its the ultimate sacrifice. For me, the ulimate sacrifice is throwing out the skin when you eat KFC.

    I hate it when movies make me think.

    Having said that, watch "Seven Pounds". It stars Will Smith. Have no expectations and do not read any reviews.

    Thursday, March 05, 2009

    Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and I thank God for all the blessings I have received. I still cannot get over the fact that I actually make music for a living. To this day, I still write "I.T. Manager" when the form asks for my occupation. (although I got lazy recently and upgraded myself to just "Manager")

    More importantly, some people actually want to listen to what I do. And the best part of it all, I actually get free gym membership at Celebrity Fitness.

    While I ponder on whether I should go to the gym tomorrow, I want to thank those who have posted kind words of support and encouragement. And I also would like to remind those who haven't bought a copy of Nikki's CD "Hawa", that they can do so by emailing for details.

    Bet you didn't see that one coming.

    Wednesday, March 04, 2009

    Tuesday, February 17, 2009

    One of my major pet peeves is this awful sight we frequently see after at fast food restaurants. It's the mess we leave behind. Personally, I think it's shameful to walk away from your table with your mess left behind at a self-serve restaurant. It's right up there with not flushing after you take a crap.

    Let me introduce civic conscious through something I call "trash compacting." This is important so that the trash takes less space in the garbage bin.

    Start by laying out all paper or plastic food wrappers, napkins etc. Crushed trash takes up more space.

    Place trash that cannot be laid out flat (such as the empty bag of potato chips in the example below), in the middle of the laid out paper trash.

    While holding the inner trash (empty chips bag), fold the bottom of the paper inward. See example below.
    Now fold in the left and right sides of the paper. See example below.

    After you have folded the sides, start folding the "core" of the trash forward while making sure it's compact and as tightly-spaced as possible.

    If you do it right, you will find an opening at the end where you can neatly insert the flap. See example below.
    Take pleasure in tucking in the flap. See example below.

    And if the people at the other tables haven't beaten you up yet, you should have a neat little package. See example below.

    If you have an empty cup, you may insert your handy work into the cup before you throw it away in the trash.
    Please take care of your own trash since we are not animals.

    Thursday, February 12, 2009

    It's easy and fun to assume that Nikki's "Hawa" is a "labour of love." Yes it is a labour of love. So was Faizal Tahir's "Aku. Muzik. Kamu." In fact, most of the music I do, is usually a labour of love. Otherwise, what's the point? (oh yea...the money!)

    While not the most romantic reason, "Hawa" is special to me because I have two personal selfish reasons for doing this album. One, it is for me to re-establish myself as a producer of pop music. For some reason, people think I am a rock music producer. And two, to show that this is Malaysian pop. It's not Indonesian! It's Malaysian. (You will have to trust me when I say that I am waving the Malaysian flag as I type this.)

    It's a rare opportunity when you get the right capable singer and a recording label that either trusts you too much or they don't really care enough to question beyond that one song they think it's going to be the single.

    But in this case and most when it comes to dealing with Vernon Kedit and Artistes United Records, he gives me a lot of rope which I sometimes hang myself with or I do something really cool. And I personally, this time, I did cool.

    With "Hawa", we explored different genres of music and styles. Musically, I went hog wild but the thing that holds it together is Nikki's vocals. It's all her style. Whether it's rock or tango or classical, we kept her style instead of having her growl in a rock-ish track or give in an accent and a twang on a country-ish track.

    Despite the various styles of music, "Hawa" is still a pop album with rock, country, and classical music influences.

    Another interesting point: No cymbals. Why?

    This is the Malay version of "Pretty Like Me" which is almost an afterthought. I didn't want to do a Malay version because the arrangement for the English version does not work well in Malay. But I like this version more because of the horn section and bass. Embrace the funk.

    Faizal Tahir and I wrote this one shortly after we finished his album for fun. We didn't have Nikki in mind when we wrote it. But hot damn sweet child o mine...I love this song. I wanted this to be the single after "Relakan" but the jury thought otherwise.

    Pam Yuen wrote this. I heard the demo and it just clicked. While most make references to Rihanna's "Unfaithful", I was excited because it sounded like a theme song to a James Bond movie. And it's something that I've wanted to do. You can hear me showing off the French horns at the chorus for that James Bond flavour. Also interesting is that this song has no bass.

    Nurfatima demo-ed this song in Malay with a R&B arrangement. It sounded kinda old in Malay but I liked the melody. So we did it in English because you don't really hear a lot of English songs with "old Malay" melodies. And that country slide guitar thing? That's just me and Jamie Wilson being bored.

    I love this song. This is a deceptively simple song. It's a challenge for me given my gift of overdoing things. I am excited with this song because of the "Purple Rain" references, which no one else seems to care about.

    This is another song that was in storage forever. Wrote this in 2004. It was an urban thing but it was Nikki's idea to go old school with it. And I was keen because I just bought this analog-type synth.

    It was tough to keep this song sounding new because it would have so easy to rely on wah-wah guitar and congas to give it that sound. But I was inspired by the theme song of "Three's Company" to arrange the horns as it is and make it a song within a song. Some say it's too busy but it works for me.

    This is not likely to be a radio song but it is really to show what Nikki can do. The brilliant lyrics by Ad Samad made it my personal favourite. This song turned out way better than I expected.

    OH! MY
    I wanted to do a tango track in 2006 because I stumbled on this cool accordian sound. I started "Oh! My" but I never finished it because I wondered who was going to sing it. So in 2008, Vernon and Jovian show me this video of Vitas doing this song where he just wails in the chorus. And I thought, what a cool idea. And then, "Oh! My" was born and dogs every where now live in fear.

    I modernised this Italian opera for Jovian Mandagie for his fashion shows and Nikki did the vocals in Italian. I thought it would be interesting to do it in Malay for the CD. Nikki did the operatic vocal section in one pass. We did three or four takes and I chose the best phrases. There's no pitch tuning at all.

    I've always had this thing for classical music. And I love using it in pop music. Why? Because I do not need to get rights from dead composers. Muahahaha. For "Cinta", I use Bach and it was a huge mistake to think it would make my job easier. The problem was I couldn't use the entire Bach piece because it didn't really have a pop song format. It just didn't have the lift you'd need for a chorus. So I had to write a chorus. Can you imagine how tremendously difficult it is to follow Bach.

    The verse based on Bach's music is timelessly beautiful. My chorus had to live up to that! Right. I had six or seven versions of my pop chorus before I got it right. Hands down, the most difficult chorus to right. In fact, I'd say that this is the most time I've spent on a song!

    There is a story to these two songs. It's about love in contrast. "Betara Sukma" is about the negative view on love. Lyrics by Ad Samad in classical Malay. Didn't understand half the words he used but I thought it was brilliant.

    And "Cinta" is about the positive. By Azalea. It's based on verses from one of my favourite letters on love, Corinthians 1. Only Azalea has the genius to come up with this. And Jamie Wilson on the acoustic guitar recorded with three microphones.

    There are some songs that do not get recorded for years for whatever reason. Usually it is because it sounds to risky. "Pretty Like Me" is one of those songs. I wrote this track back in 2005 based on Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger". No label wanted the song. Oh well.

    Nikki came up with the concept of a battle song and wrote the English lyrics. For once, English lyrics that are not cheesy.

    See? I can also do England songs.

    Kieren Kuek produced and wrote "Hawa" and "BelasMu". I have no idea what went through his mind when he worked on it. But I am glad to share the stage with him because we both share very similar production values. You can hear it! It sounds great. This is one seamless album.

    Buy the album! Buatan Malaysia.

    Tuesday, February 10, 2009

    Nikki has a new CD, "Hawa". Unfortunately, I've been getting a lot of calls and messages from friends and fans saying that they have trouble finding the CD in stores.

    Unfortunately, this is true and it's a challenge faced by the music industry when it comes to retailing.

    I am going to oversimplify the issue but still get the point across. You see, the recording label will only print a limited quantity of CDs because there are only so many copies that will be sold. There is an industry ratio for each product category. For instance, in the book retail business, an area which I am painfully familiar with, only 2 out of 10 books will be sold. In other words, on average, 20% of the books in stock at the bookstore will be sold. And the rest will be returned to the publisher.

    There is no return policy in the music retail business. It's either firm sales or on consignment where the record label will place the CDs in the store and the unsold copies will be returned to the label. With firm sales, unless it's a proven artist, most stores are reluctant to buy too many copies for fear that they will not be able to sell the CDs. (There are questionable practices that major labels use to "force sell" CDs and get CDs into the retail system but that's another story.)

    As a business, the trick here is to balance between making the CD available and not having a store room full of unsold CDs in six months.

    The other thing that is "killing" music retail is the lack of stores itself. Former retail chains such as Tower Records, Salem Power Station, and Music Valley are gone. There are more Starbucks and Coffee Bean outlets than there are music stores. Why? Because the concept of the music retailer today is outdated and it's inefficient. Add the piracy issue, the music retail store is not a viable business model anymore.

    This is why digital download is conceptually very suitable for music retail and distribution.

    The reason why I am explaining this is because Satu is co-releasing Nikki's CD with Artistes United Records, and we are responsible for the distribution. And we are faring no better or worse than when Nikki's first album was distributed by two other labels. Unless we print 10,000 copies of the CD and offer the CD on consignment, the issue of not being able to find the CD will always be there.

    So, let's try this. Get in touch with me if you want a copy of Nikki's "Hawa". You may also have the CD personally defaced by Nikki with her autograph. The CD is RM25.90 and an additional RM3 delivery charge to any address in Malaysia.

    That's RM28.90 for each CD delivered to your doorstep! Or if you prefer, you may save the RM3 and pick up the CD at our office in Jalan Utara, Petaling Jaya. (And no, you will not meet any famous people at our office.)

    Email me at buy(at) for payment and delivery details.

    Do it! Do it now. Free Willy!

    Sunday, February 01, 2009

    I am happy to report that I no longer have a gum situation. Everything is back to normal. Sigh.

    Friday, January 30, 2009

    Oh yes I was mortified but at the same time, I felt great relief that I could let it out. So yes, it's all true. Nikki and I are engaged. Thank you for all your kind and supportive comments. I will give more details later.

    Moving on.

    I really want to talk about the new track you hear on the playlist. It's called "Sudah".

    I've been working on this concept for ballads for a few years now but somehow, it has not been a hit. I first tried it with Vince and Nur on Vince's debut album back in 2004. Then again with "Romeo + Juliet" with Ebi and Nikki. And a few other times in between.

    I prefer conversational duets rather than two singers exchanging lines. For me, a duet has to work when two people sing it and it won't work when you only have one singer. It's like two people doing a monologue. It doesn't make sense for me.

    This is another attempt.

    This is yet another try to use the erhu as the leading instrument. I've used it twice before; for Vince and Farah Asyikin. But the songs were not released as singles. Because I enjoy the challenge by shocking people more, I added the guzheng as well.

    Whatever the outcome, I am really proud of this song and I consider this one of my best songs.

    Diddy and Nur performs superbly. They also wrote the lyrics together. It was an easy session. Everyone just got what I was going for. Recording the erhu and guzheng was a challenge because of the language but man....those instruments are beautiful. Instant class and elegance.

    If you like me, get the ringback tone.

    Maxis: Enter *131*120540# and press CALL/SEND

    Digi: sms CT BUY 57705 JB and send to 2000

    Celcom: sms CMT 60592 and send to 22990

    Friday, January 23, 2009

    Gum update!

    There is a high probability that the loose piece of gum hanging off the side of my teeth may now be dead. I am not absolutely sure. Should I just let it be OR should I yank it off and get rid of it? If I am wrong about it being dead, it could be a whole new level of pain for me to experience. (And no, I am not going to chew and swallow it. Although why not right? After all, it's still me. Or would it then make me a cannibal?)

    Thursday, January 22, 2009

    I am rather fond of my teeth. But the other day, I think I may have over-flossed and I broke some gum at the back teeth. I may have wedged the floss a little to hard and it started bleeding. Using my tongue, I could feel some loose gum skin hanging off on the side. This was fun for my tongue to play with until it started bleeding. You know, that taste of blood... It makes me crave for carbs.

    Anyway, I figured that loose hanging gum would just go away but as it has turned out, it has melded and filled in to space between my last two teeth. I can't tell for sure but I think I have gum covering my back tooth now. I can't feel the separation between the last two teeth.

    Feel free to ask if you see me, and depending on how I feel and what I ate on that day, I just might give you a peek. Maybe even let you touch it.

    Just thought you'd like to know.

    Wednesday, January 21, 2009

    "Thank you" to those of you who sent congratulatory SMS messages. I truly appreciate the thoughts even if I did not reply to all of them.

    After the show, those on stage were taken away by TV3 people into a room for a press conference. And after the press conference, my co-writer, Izham said that it was the most I've ever said to the media, which is the opposite of what I am usually like when the spotlight is on me.

    Why? Because "Lagu Untukmu" won the Best Song award!

    Nevermind that I have a history with, and an interest in Meet Uncle Hussain.

    But this is what I told the press when they wanted a comment from me.

    Yes, I did think that "Sampai Syurga" was going to win given the momentum Faizal Tahir had generated from his Best Performance and Best Vocals wins. But when the results were announced, I was indifferent.

    But why I wanted "Lagu Untukmu" to win was because it's a really good song. It's one of the very very few songs out there which I can proudly say it's the sound of Malaysian music today. More importantly, it's a fast song. Not a ballad.

    Estranged's "Itu Kamu" won last year. While I love Estranged's music, I thought "Itu Kamu" was Indonesian-influenced. I remember the producer asking in jest during a rough mix preview: "Which Indonesian band do you think this is?"

    But "Lagu Untukmu" is one option for the Malaysian sound. And for me, it's already making the "Indonesian sound" sound old.

    If "Sampai Syurga" had won, I'd be happy to take the money, but I feel that I would have lost more on a larger scale. It would have sent the horrible message that ballads are still the way to go. And I'd get calls to do more ballads. Then eventually I'd kill myself out of boredom.

    Now, "Lagu Untukmu" has given me hope that change is happening. These are indeed wonderful times.

    Thursday, January 15, 2009

    This is not false modesty but the song that should win Anugerah Juara Lagu is Meet Uncle Hussain's "Lagu Untukmu."

    Saturday, January 10, 2009

    You can tell the person on the other end of the line that you are in your office, or in your living room, or in your kitchen, and they'd believe you because they can't tell. However, within the first two seconds, they'd know if you were taking a crap in the toilet. Yes, actually taking a crap. Because any other situation, whether we are washing are our hands, or on the way out, we'd rather wait until we get out of the toilet before we answer the phone. Must be the reverb.

    Sunday, January 04, 2009

    I guess this is where I say, "Happy New Year".

    Happy New Year.

    This time around, I did not make any resolutions for the new year except to blog more. Yeah right.

    Actually, I did make a few resolutions with the perpetual "lose weight" and "be better looking" being two of them. But more importantly, I am going to speak my mind more this year and get more involved. I have come to the point in my life where I am re-evaluating my priorities and I now know...or at least have a better idea, of what is important to me.

    Against popular sentiments, I am so excited for 2009.

    I am so excited for the things I am will be doing with my music production and label, Satu. I look forward to working with my good friends, Farah Asyikin, Maya Karin, and Faizal Tahir on their new albums. I am also highly excited to work with new songwriters, Shazzy, Pam Yuen, Omar K, Zain, and of course, Nur and Ad Samad, and I hope to break our writers out of Malaysia and show that there is more than one way to write slow songs.

    Then there's stuff that's happening very soon that I am excited about. Nikki's album and a new single from Diddy and Nur. Wait till you hear Nikki's album (which is available for pre-orders, by the way) and the duet. I am confident enough to say that it is something that you've never heard before on Malaysian radio. (I am not sure if that's a good thing because whenever I say that, the songs end up being duds.)

    Anyway, I will leave it in the hands of God.

    And finally, if you know me, you'd know I am not one for attention but I gotta tell you this because I am so excited about this. Are you ready? I have my own Wikipedia page (albeit in Malay instead of English). This is more exciting than winning an AIM award or getting to the finals of Juara Lagu. If it were in English, I'd probably cream in my pants. I swear I didn't write the page myself. Someone out there with a lot of time on their hands, actually cared enough to do it. Thank you bored-but-caring guy/gal!