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Entries in Creative Fridays (13)


[Creative Fridays] #8: Pete Teo 

Photo taken at Tokyo Bay by Kato Masaya.Today we have epic singer-songwriter/actor/producer Pete Teo. He's responsible for Songwriter's Round, a series promoting local Malaysian talent, award-winning albums & most recently - Undilah, a a pro-bono, non-partisan music video promoting the right to vote. [You can watch the video here]

The first time I met Pete was the very first time I played the open mic stage for Songwriter's Round at the old No Black Tie. Pete was very supportive and later on was one of the main people who encouraged me to record my debut album 'Acoustic Gestures' in 2004. He continues to be an inspiration to my work and is the embodiment of a hard working creative individual. 

Let's find out what he's been up to! 

1. What's your latest project? 

I have just finished recording 2 songs commissioned by a Korean cultural foundation and 5 short films for Microsoft Malaysia. I am readying myself to write a few new songs for a regional Mandarin pop star and then make an ambitious music / film project in March or April. I want to work towards making a feature film this year also - but that depends on whether I'll find funding for it. Right now, I am just enjoying doing nothing for a few weeks. It's my first proper break for about 4 years.

2. What inspires your music? 

Stories. Life. Experiences. They don't have to be extraordinary stories. The trick is to make something sublime out of the ordinary and unremarkable. It is not an easy thing to do, especially if one were interested to tell stories honestly.

3. What's your 5 Desert Island Albums?

Too many to choose from - but just on top of my head:

Van Morrison - Astral Weeks
Bruce Springsteen - Born To Run
The Band - Music From Big Pink
Astor Piazzolla - La Camorra
Leonard Cohen - The Essential Leonard Cohen

4. Who's one artist/musician that you love but most people probably don't know of? 

Kim Doo Soo - Bohemian. Mr Kim is a cult Korean folk singer and 'Bohemian' is his ode to death. The song fuses both the eastern and western folk traditions into a simple whole - and it possesses the sort of organic complexity that all my favorite songs have. I read somewhere that when it was released in Korea, it caused several suicides. It certainly stunned me when I first heard it a few years ago. I must have put it on repeat for days afterwards. It made me glad to be a musician.

5. What's an advice you wish someone told you when you started in the arts? 

I love music but have mixed feelings about the music business. I wish someone had told me when I first started that the music industry these days is no longer really about music. Still, a music industry veteran in Hong Kong did tell me years ago that music in itself is a musician's reward - so I guess being able to make music makes up for having to deal with the vagaries of a broken industry.

6. How do we reach you?


And before we go, here's a video from Pete's last album, Television.

This is 'Lost in America' - 2007 AIM Award winning video from Pete Teo's 'Television' album. Directed by Tony Pietra [live action] and Studio Voxel [animation].

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[Creative Fridays] #7: Candelaria

In today's installment of [Creative Fridays], we have Daniel Yockey from Candelaria, a Cumbia-Dub-Reggae band based in Oakland, California.

When I was living in California, I had the awesome opportunity to perform as part of Candelaria for a number of gigs. Playing with them is something I still miss after relocating back to Malaysia. Hopefully, we'll get to play together again sometime in the future!

Let's learn more about Candelaria... 

1. What's your latest project? 
Right now Candelaria just finished our debut CD. You can find it on iTunes. We're playing around CA promoting it and hope to do some traveling this summer. 

2. What inspires your music? 
Our inspiration comes from many different sources. Speaking for myself, I am most inspired when I'm playing with the band. Listening to what they create pushes me in directions I never would have though of without them. We try to keep things as positive as we can. We want our music to be an escape from the problems someone may be experiencing in real life. 

3. What's your 5 Desert Island Albums?
1. Toto la Momposina-Carmelita - Colombian roots music at its finest
2. King Tubby-Dangerous Dub Really any King Tubby album. The guy who created dub music and still the best dub producer ever.
3. Toots and the Maytalls- 54-46 was my number
4. Mad Professor/Frente Cumbiero - The best living dub artist(Mad Professor) and one of the most cutting edge cumbia groups out there. 
5. Greensleeves box set - One of the original roots reggae record labels. 

4. Who's one artist/musician that you love but most people probably don't know of? 
Ras Zacharri. He's a relatively new modern roots reggae singer. He does a good job of combining modern style with roots sensibilities especially with the lyrics. Lots of modern roots has just too many cliches in the lyrics. Ras Zacharri keeps it righteous without being preachy and has some really catchy hooks. Check out his songs "Free up Time" and "Gather your Strength."

5. What's an advice you wish someone told you when you started in the arts?
I wish someone had told me to focus on a few number of gigs instead of playing every week. Your band doesn't get burned out and each show takes on more of an event feel. 

6. How do we reach you?
Buy CD/Album/MP3 Link:

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[Creative Fridays] #6: TragiComedy

Welcome back to [Creative Fridays] where we have TragiComedy today!

TragiComedy is the songwriting vehicle for Amitabh Chandra. Originally the frontman for the alternative rock band AmIgone back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, Tabh decided to take the solo route after the band became inactive.

Exploring singer/songwriter type of songs led to the release of the album “Songs That Won’t Sell” in 2005. The singles “Never Lonely” and “Great New Life” received significant airplay on local radio stations at the time. A second TragiComedy album entitled, “The Jester, The Clown and a Fool” is due to be released in the first quarter of 2012. 

Let's learn more about what inspires this creative songwriter!

1) What's your latest project? 

The first single from the next TragiComedy album will be released soon. The new album is a little more left-field than the last one, which was more straight ahead pop/rock and singer/songwriter oriented . I spent more time being adventurous on the guitar this time around and it sounds more like a band, although it’s still just me going the solo route again. It was a fun experience. 

2) What inspires your music? 

I just love playing the guitar. The more I play, the more inspired I am to turn whatever musical ideas I have into a song. 

3) What's your 5 Desert Island Albums? 

1) White Album (The Beatles)
2) Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (The Beatles)
3) Either/Or (Elliot Smith) 
4) Superunknown (Soundgarden)
5) Wasting Light (Foo Fighters)

4) Who's one artist/musician that you love but most people probably don't know of?

Nick Drake, although in recent years he has found renewed appreciation from a whole new generation of singer/songwriters.

5) What advice do you wish someone gave you when you started in the arts?

There is no right or wrong, good or bad when it comes to music. It’s all just taste. There are a lot of elitists out there who try to dictate what’s good and what’s not. Play the type of music you love and trust your own musical instincts. Trust your own melodies and hooks. No one can take that away from you. 

6) How do we reach you? 

Facebook: TragiComedy on facebook.


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[Creative Fridays] #5: Gustavo Assis-Brasil


In today's [Creative Fridays] interview, we geek out on guitar & have an exclusive interview with Jazz Guitarist Gustavo Assis-Brasil. He's most known for his awesome series of books on Hybrid Picking - explaining and dissecting this guitar technique.

I first met Gustavo when I taught at Berklee College of Music's Summer Guitar Sessions back in 2007. We had a mutual friend in common, Jazz Guitarist John Stowell who I remember talked fondly about Gustavo's playing and teaching. Eventually, I got to sit for a song in one of their duo gigs at Cambridge, MA's LilyPad, a cool intimate performance space. 

Since then, we've kept in touch and I've been following his musical adventures (which are super cool!). Gustavo has been a real inspiration to me in both his music and work in music education - so I'm really happy to have him to be a part of this series. I hope you'll be inspired too, and check out some of the cool music he's into!

And now... presenting Gustavo Assis-Brasil! =)

1. What's your latest project? 
My newest project is my new book about hybrid picking. The book is called ‘Hybrid Picking Lines & Licks (foreword by Guthrie Govan). This is my third book on the subject and it is a collection of 284 modern phrases exclusively written for the pick and fingers combined. Chapters include: Triads, Arpeggios, Pentatonics, Scales and Modes, Atonal, Intervallic, and Octave Displacement Lines and Licks.

2. What inspires your music?
It changes from time to time. I remember writing songs inspired by some paintings at some point. Lately I’ve been inspired by exercises based on permutations of notes and fingers, and also by some new chords I learn.

3. What's your 5 Desert Island Albums? 
This is a hard one. I like so many different styles, so I guess I could pick 5 from each style. The ones that come to mind writing now are: 

- “Epiphany” (Vince Mendoza), 
- "Princess Sita" (Dominique DiPiazza)
- “The 6 Unaccompanied Cello Suites Complete” by Yo-Yo Ma
- “Aerial Boundaries” (Michael Hedges)
- “Solo Guitar” by Ted Greene. 

Again, there are many many other ones, but if right now I had to pick five, I’d pick these ones. 

4. Who's one artist/musician that you love but most people probably don't know of?
Nelson Veras

5. What's an advice you wish someone told you when you started in the arts?
My grandfather used to tell me to choose something that I would love to do for the rest of my life as a profession/major, since I was a little kid. I thought I wanted to be a dentist, but 6 months before I went to college, my mom convinced me to go for a music major. 

6. How do we reach you?
Twitter: gabguitar
Facebook: (personal) (hybrid picking) (my music page)


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[Creative Fridays] #4: Azmyl Yunor

For today's [Creative Fridays], I have the cool singer-songwriter/college professor Azmyl Yunor! I first met Azmyl many years ago in a underground music hub called Paul's Place. At that time, it was located in Damansara Uptown.

In fact, I have a blog post from 2004 documenting that very encounter here: [First time I met Azmyl Yunor]

Let's check out what inspires Azmyl and what he's up to now....


1. What's your latest project? 
New album "Wilayah" by Azmyl Yunor & the Sigarettes! Full on folk rockin' with my touring band! Launch on Monday 5th March 2012 @ No Black Tie! Mari-mari!

2. What inspires your music? 
Walking or wandering around a new town; idling while looking at nature; talking to strangers; traveling or driving somewhere; getting lost; feeling sorry for myself; empathy; the kindness of strangers; history; local food & beverages (Malaysian and anywhere I travel to); 

3. What's your 5 Desert Island Albums? [ the five albums that you could listen on repeat forever]

- "Pujaan Pop" (Best of...series)  - A. Romzi & the Hooks
- "Pujaan Pop"  (Best of...series) - Kassim Selamat & the Swallows  
- "Return of the Repressed: The Anthology" - John Fahey
- "Murmur" - R.E.M.
- "Album Best Seller Selection" (Best of...) - Iwan Fals

4. Who's one artist/musician that you love but most people probably don't know of? [you can include specific album or songs if you'd like and why you like his/her/the group's music.]
Datuk David Arumugam of Alleycats - his plaintive rough-around-the-edges voice in songs like "Hingga Akhir Nanti" and "Andainya Aku Pergi Dulu" made me wanna a sing as a kid. 

5. What's an advice you wish someone told you when you started in the arts? 
Do it for yourself first, everything else second. 

6. How do we reach you?

Website: [currently under renovation!]

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