Musicity’s comin’ right at ‘cha folks! – Fab freebie at the end ;)

I’m so excited to be part of the 2014 Musicity project launching in Singapore this Friday, right in the heart of hip Tiong Bahru, bursting at the seams with nostalgia, style and Singaporean flavours all at once.

So what’s Musicity about? It’s an international project that has already been rolled out in major cities like Oslo, Tokyo and London and this is the second time it’s coming to Singapore. It’s a new way to experience a place, and be re-introduced to it with either song or poetry. 

What you need to do it to is to download the web app first, and when you get to the location you can stream the music as you take in the surroundings – certainly a new way to re-experience the historically rich Tiong Bahru that we know and love so well.

I’m honoured to be one of the 8 artists invited to be part of this project. I’ve written a song specially for Musicity and the past few months have been exciting – creating the song, fine-tuning, getting it recorded and produced by the talented guys from Beep Studios, and the pre-event photoshoots and media interviews that have been rolling in.

I will be performing this coming Saturday, 26 April 2014, 7:30pm at The French Bookshop, presenting the song I wrote, The Place Where We Met, alongside my other originals, and I look forward to your support! Tickets are available for sale at only $20 and if you click on the button that says “show details”, you can see some special promos The French Bookshop is offering just for you who come to the show.

Something interesting has also surfaced as the project progressed – it connected me and a distant relative! Jennifer Champion, an emerging face in the local spoken word scene, wrote a poem about the day my grandfather Kelly died during WWII, and how my aunty Marie was born the following day in the Tiong Bahru air raid shelter. It was when the artists were trading personal stories with the organisers that they made the link, and hooked us up!

As a special treat for everyone, Jennifer and I will also be performing together on another day, Saturday 9 May 2014 at Bincho, and we will be collaborating on a piece. Again, please do buy tics to support!

As promised in the beginning of this entry, I will be giving away a pair of tickets to 2 lucky winners (4 tics in all, which means the winner gets to bring a guest – great date opportunity people) to my shows on 26th April and 9th May. It’s simple to win – just drop me a mail at marcel (at) marcelleepereira.com with the subject title “Musicity Rawks” and provide me your full name, email address and contact number. Winners will be chosen in no particular order and will be announced here in a few days so check back!

Meanwhile, do check out the other brilliant acts lined up for Musicity too – Marc Nair, The Sam Willows, The Fab Lab, Seyra, Gideon + Allee, Nabilah Husna and MONSTER CAT. Support your local acts, download the free app that launches this Friday and see you in Tiong Bahru!

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A birthday affair

I’ve performed at a handful of private parties before – weddings, corporate events, New Year countdowns – but always with a band and most of the time singing covers.

Now, I can proudly say I’ve done it solo.

It started after one of The Glad Stones’ Starbucks shows last month. An audience member approached us to perform at her birthday party which was to be in a few week’s time. Since Jaye wasn’t going to be in town, I told her TGS wouldn’t be able to do it, but if she didn’t mind I’d be happy to sing a few of my songs for her. I didn’t expect her to say yes, but she did 🙂

The party was at a condo near Bukit Timah, at an open-air function area which had a pavilion and barbecue pit. It was a pretty cool way to celebrate a birthday – having great friends who’d plan everything for you, a friend who’s a chef to whip up a barbecue fiesta, and another one to emcee at the party.

For gigs like these, busking gear always comes in handy. The Stagg battery-powered amps, which TGS used for busking and for our entire Starbucks tour, do reasonably well in outdoor performances, but the vocals sometimes get a little distorted at loud volumes.

I played a 45-minute set with a mix of my originals and a few covers. It felt good connecting with people who don’t already know you, and observing how they react to your music. While it’s natural that people will continue with their conversations while you perform, especially in a bar, I was heartened to see a handful of guests just sitting, watching and listening. Seeing that made my evening.

So yeah, thanks Sabrina for having me! I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Anyone looking for a birthday singer? 😉

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With Sabrina, the coolest birthday gal ever, and emcee Suffian.

Japan!

Japan – two words: simply wonderful. I fell in love with the people, the food and the culture. It was a short trip – just a week – but it was a good mix of sightseeing, shopping, and of course performing with The Glad Stones.

Tokyo
Spent three days in Tokyo with Carol and her colleagues who were there on a company trip. We were fortunate to be put up at the luxurious Hilton Shinjuku for most of our stay. I enjoyed just soaking it all in, walking around the streets at night with the temperature below 10 degrees:

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It’s colder than it looks.

We also had time to squeeze in short trips to the Harajuku fashion district and the famed pedestrian crossing at Shibuya. Carol took this shot of Shibuya from the Starbucks outlet there:

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View from the Starbucks – Shi-booya!

One of the highlights of Tokyo was an amazing dinner the bunch of us had at an upscale Japanese restaurant. We sampled everything from sea urchin to tuna belly sushi. It was the first time I actually enjoyed sake (Japanese rice wine), it was warm and fuzzy and the cold made it taste heavenly.

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Sushi with a dual topping of Sea urchin – the yellowish stuff on the right – and salmon roe (the orange balls).

Kobe
We travelled to Kobe via the Shinkansen (bullet train), a journey of about three hours. Shinkansen tickets are pricey (about 14,000 yen, or S$180, one way), but thanks to the Japan Rail Pass (available only for tourists), we had an unlimited number of rides on the high-speed train – and other trains run by the Japan Rail company – for 7 days, all for about S$360 per person! It was a sweet deal.

From the Shinkansen, we changed to a local line bound for Sannomiya, the biggest downtown area in Kobe, where two of our live gigs would be. This is me on the regular train, acting emo:

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On the road again…

In Kobe, our hotel of choice was the B Kobe. I was glad that we picked it, despite having to lug our suitcases and my guitar up god knows how many steps at the station. It turned out to be an extremely central location in the heart of Sannomiya. The room was bigger than the ones you usually get in Tokyo.

Like the true food connoisseurs we are, and having heard so much about Kobe beef, we decided we just had to try it the moment we arrived 🙂 Just across from our hotel was a decent looking restaurant, and it was open even after 10pm. So we popped in and got a set for about S$80 each. Here’s Carol’s medium steak:

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Kobe beef: Succulent and tender, and the meat seemed to melt in your mouth. Worth the price.

We spent the rest of our first evening in Kobe just walking around Sannomiya, which had a multitude of bars, shops, eateries, and interesting architecture such as this:

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The next day would be TGS’ first gig at a live music house called Varit. It’s a good-sized venue, with a large, spacious stage and two dressing rooms backstage.

How live music houses usually work in Japan is that bands pay to perform. Yes, they pay the venue in order to have a slot. It’s a strange practice that I don’t entirely agree with, but that’s how it is there. What I gathered about Varit was that bands from Kobe have to pay a certain amount, but bands from out-of-town don’t. Generally, foreign acts are exempt from this.

We arrived at the place at around 4pm for the sound check, then returned in the evening for our 30-minute set. It was nice to see this at the entrance:

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And this backstage:

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The somewhat-dynamic duo. Lights always add a touch of grandeur.

Varit is well-run, and boasts professional gear and lighting. It was certainly a pleasure performing there. There were three acts that night, a solo singer-songwriter and a young funk band played first, and when it was our turn a modest crowd had gathered.

You might wonder how it feels to sing to a non English-speaking audience, and I must say, apart from Jaye having to (with great effort) translate everything I said in between songs into Japanese, I noticed that people were grooving and getting into our music, proof that music does indeed transcend boundaries and languages.

We hit Andy’s Imagine the following night. It’s a cosy bar owned by a nice British man named (you guessed it) Andy. He’s been running the place for nearly 13 years, imagine that! The bar is located in the Rokkomichi area of Kobe, a place with high-rise apartments that look just like the HDB flats of Singapore!

Anyway, at Andy’s, everyone knows everyone, and it’s a great place for intimate performances. It’s got a corner that’s been carved out as a stage and we played two sets there. Andy himself got into the action by urging his customers to buy our album (he got one himself :)). After the gig we spent the rest of the evening mingling with the people.

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TGS and Andy!

Sometime before leaving Kobe, Carol and I managed to see the last of the famed sakura (cherry blossom) at a shrine near our hotel. It was lovely. We were lucky because we arrived just after the end of the season but there were a few trees still in bloom. And we did the touristy thing by snapping pictures and buying some good luck charms from a souvenir store there.

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Osaka

Osaka is a 40-minute train ride from Kobe. Our plan for the last day of our tour was to busk at the Osaka train station, which is about as crowded as Tokyo’s Shinjuku, and a very popular spot for “street music”, as it is known there.

But before leaving for Osaka, I had to get a portable battery-powered amp for the performance. The good thing about Japan is that music stores are large and well-stocked. I found a decent Roland at the Ishibashi store in Kobe. That’s me trying out the guitar and mic functions. Cost: about S$200.

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Armed with gear, Carol and I boarded the train and arrived in Osaka in the afternoon. We spent some time walking around Shinsaibashi, a popular shopping street, and she went crazy at the Sanrio store.

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Busking night, and there were performers literally at every corner outside Osaka station. So we decided our first spot would be on a link bridge above the bustling traffic. It was freezing out there in the open, but we gave it our all. At the end of our set, Jaye’s friend Marina – who’s a trained opera singer – jammed with us. The moment when acoustic folk music met classical opera, was awesome.

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TGS & Marina

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The second spot we picked was at a large pedestrian crossing at one of the station entrances. It was a strategic location because we could get the attention of the crowds waiting to cross the street.

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The night ended with both Jaye and I playing our solo creations. I did a few songs with Carol harmonising with me.

To all the good folks who bought our CD as we busked on the streets of Osaka, a big thank you! To the fellow-musician who came up to us as we played and got our CD, keep the tunes alive mate. It was a fantastic feeling connecting with an audience from a different country, and seeing them enjoying our music.

I respect musicians in Japan. They take their art very seriously – even on the streets. They give their all, as if they were holding a performance for a 50,000 strong crowd. We saw so many bands, all dressed up and with their gear, taking a long train ride somewhere just to perform. Watching them inspired me to work even harder.

Thank you, Japan. I have a feeling I’ll see you soon.

What’s next for TGS? We’ll reunite in June for some shows in Singapore, so stay tuned!

The Glad Stones in Japan!

That’s right, I’m heading to the Land of the Rising Sun with Carol tomorrow for a week! It’s our first time there and I’m sooo looking forward to it. Will spend a few days in Tokyo before taking a bullet train to Kobe, where Jaye is based. There, we have shows lined up at three of Japan’s quintessential live music houses. Here’s what the schedule looks like right now:

11th April at Varit
6.30pm

12th April at Andy’s Imagine
8pm

13th April at Center Street Live
8pm

Gonna attempt to update this blog while I’m there, or I’ll just post random stuff on TGS’ Facebook page. Oh, and if you missed our recent Starbucks Singapore tour, you can catch up on on what happened on our Facebook page as well.

Oh, and here’s a recent shot of us, courtesy of Ivan Joshua Loh of Pigs Can Fly photography:

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Upcoming gig – The Glad Stones @ Scape 30 April 2011

We’ve entertained you on YouTube. Now, you can watch us live.

The Glad Stones and rapper BBS will be performing this Saturday @ Scape Mall in Orchard Road, as part of the Maestro Guitars Be Heard Project. We’ll be playing some of our best original songs and our favourite covers. One set only. If you’ve been following us on YouTube and like our style, please come! We’d love to meet you 🙂

The show starts at 4pm with a couple of other great acts, so do come early for an entire afternoon of good music!

When: Saturday, 30 April 2011, 4pm onwards
Where: Maestro Acoustic Lounge @ Scape Mall, Orchard Road

And the audience clapped along…

Last night, the most amazing thing happened to me…

It was my turn to perform at the Songwriters’ Showcase @ TAB Singapore, so I went onstage with Anthony to do three of my songs. I wasn’t expecting anything because there really wasn’t much of a crowd on a Tuesday night, and only a few tables were occupied. (The place is huge, like I mentioned in my previous post.)

So, I started with “I Lose Control”, followed by “Bad Stuff Got You Good”, which I thought were pretty well-received. The last song I did was “27” – one of my older songs which I wrote when I turned 27. What surprised me was that towards the end of the piece, people started clapping along to the beat!

Now that’s never happened to me before, I thought to myself. It was a great feeling, I can tell you. Little things like this can make your day 🙂

I thoroughly enjoyed myself there, not just performing but also listening to music by other songwriters. It was truly a night of originality.

Here’s a nice shot Carol took of the performance:

Performing at the Songwriter Showcase @ TAB Singapore, accompanied by guitarist Anthony Kok.