My Brother

I met Dave* when I was 9, and he was 7. Life revolved around church, both of us at an age when we had to follow our parents every weekend for mass or retreats. It was the only form of social life I had as a kid. Dave was always the “naughty one”, he was bold and always got into scraps or skinned his knees.

We spent a lot of our time playing together, or getting into trouble together.

Fast forward years later – as teenagers, Dave and I drifted apart. I was a few years ahead of him in school and I didn’t see him in church often. I wasn’t going regularly myself. I wondered if he was able to cope with his studies.

I was 17 when Dave died. My dad broke the awful news to us the moment he came back from work. This was before the Internet and social media. No one really knew what happened. But from what I gathered, Dave was found hanging in his bedroom.

Losing someone is unbearable. When it happens suddenly, without warning, it shatters our lives, the very ground we walk on. Although we were not close friends at that point, it was like someone hit my chest with a bag of sand. At Dave’s wake, everyone from church was there. I cried, though I tried not to. We all were crying. Someone handed me a tissue. At his funeral, I watched as they lowered him into ground. A woman collapsed, sobbing, by the side of his grave.

I was moody for a while in school and I remember a friend in writing me a note to cheer me up. She told me to remember the good times I had with Dave. I do remember them. We might have been great friends, he might have been one of my groomsmen, been there to celebrate my daughter’s full month party or an awesome beer buddy for Fridays, who knows? I’ll never get to know him as the man he could have been.

It’s been nearly 20 years. From time to time, I think of Dave, remembering him as a young boy and wondered how he would look as an adult. One day, I tried looking up his name on Google, just to see if anything had been written about him over the years. I uncovered an obituary by his family, published five or six years after his death. There is not a day that they do not think of him.

There are no words I could say to his family, even now, that could offer any comfort. Writing this post is painful. But through this song, I want to acknowledge Dave for the friend that he was and could have been.

He did what he did, for whatever reasons he had, and it left a gaping hole in many of us. A sense of loss, frustration and constant pining for someone you will never meet again.

Whatever happened, I’ll always remember you, Dave. I’ll always remember the good times we had.

For me, this is closure. This song is for you, Dave.

*I’ve changed his real name and age because this happened a long time ago and I don’t want to draw unnecessary attention to his family.

Advertisements

Happy Children’s Day!

MP-29

— Photo by Marvin Lowe

Today is Children’s Day in Singapore.

I can’t say I’ve paid much attention to Children’s Day, ever since I graduated from primary school and it stopped being a school holiday. Yup, kids older than 12 don’t get the day off. So, this day meant pretty much nothing to me until September 7, 2014, when my daughter Natalie was born.

That changes today. Today, I celebrate being a dad. And from now on I’ll actually pay attention to Children’s Day, along with other significant events such as Father’s and Mother’s Day, which will have new meaning for Carol and I.

I’m still reeling from the newness of it all. The endless cycle of crying, feeding, burping, diaper changes… But I must say the first few weeks with Natalie have been amazing. She’s captured my heart, as I knew she would the first time I saw her as a blip on an ultrasound machine.

That was when I wrote this song, The Yellow Room.

As our close friends and family know, we set aside a room in our home for our child(ren) ever since we moved in two years ago. Its walls are painted bright yellow. When I wrote this song back in March, I knew it would become something special and personal to me. It captured that sense of anticipation that only a soon-to-be father would know. It was as if everything that we had worked so hard for was for this baby, this little soul that was growing day by day in Carol’s womb.

And so, on Children’s Day, I present to you The Yellow Room. Enjoy the song, and the video, which is a glimpse into our home and lives. And if you so wish, you may buy the song on iTunes. That would mean a lot to me.

More pictures of baby Natalie and me, thanks to Marvin Lowe Photography.

On becoming a dad

In about a month’s time, I will welcome my little daughter into the world.

A child is something Carol and I have wanted for a long time, and now it’s really about to happen… We are so grateful for God’s precious blessing, and for the smooth pregnancy so far. After months of scrambling to doctor’s appointments, scans, tests, childbirth classes, scouring baby shops for furniture and clothes, we are ready as any first-time parents can be. Which means we’ve done all we humanly can, and now we wait with bated breath for nature to take its course.

After that, it’s uncharted territory.

Our little miracle, you have been growing so well from the first time we saw you as a little blue grape on a screen. Now, you move with so much energy you take your mother’s breath away – quite literally. When I rest my hand on mummy’s belly, you press back as if to tell me how strong you’ve become. When I sing to you my favourite songs from Mary Poppins, you pause for a while to listen, then you kick my mouth.

I can’t wait to meet you, carry you against my chest so you can fall asleep to the sound of my heart beating; to look into your eyes and know that – for now – we are all you need; to hear you cry, laugh and one day, speak; to have you run and hug me below my knees when I get home; to watch you grow up…

There’s a room in our home we’ve set aside for you from the first day we moved in. It’s painted bright yellow. It will be all yours when you arrive. Here it is… it’s pretty much ready. We’ve worked so hard on it and we’re so happy you’ll be here soon.

theyellowroom

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? 😉

photo 2

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

What are The Glad Stones up to? Recording an album in a month!

It all started with a crazy idea – Given exactly four weeks to complete a project, what would you choose to accomplish? It was part of a life development course that Jaye attended last month. and as an act of courage, he must take action and complete a project successfully within the given time-frame. So I said to him, let’s think big and do something nearly impossible, something that we’ve been talking about for so long but haven’t even come close to finishing… What if we recorded an entire album in a four weeks?

And that was how it started.

So far, we have picked 8 songs for the album, found a producer who’s going to help us arrange, mix and master the tracks in two weeks. One of the 8 songs is going to be a new one, which we are halfway through writing. We’ve got t-shirts designed and they are being made as we speak. We’re also designing the album artwork, and did I mention we’re going to shoot an MTV for our new song?

*Takes a deep breath* Wow, that was a mouthful.

And when is this all coming together?

APRIL 25

Oh, and we’ve emailed everyone about it too.

Watch this space.