Thoughts about Sixx, Singfest and making a stand

I was watching this video report by Razor TV about local hip hop band Sixx, and the unfortunate cancellation of their performance at Singfest last week. What happened was that the band was suddenly dropped as the second day’s opening act, apparently because the sound checks earlier took too long. You can also read more about it here.

Honestly, I hadn’t heard of Sixx until the incident – ironically, they did get some publicity out of it! But that’s besides the point. I really was quite impressed with how well they took the disappointing news. Yes, Singfest was a big deal, and I would feel devastated, had I been in that position. Instead, they are taking it in their stride and looking forward to other gigs and their upcoming EP launch. Kudos guys! Hope to catch you live soon!

Anyway, this incident, of course, led to some online buzz about how, just like that, the poor band was kicked off the show. I’ve experienced disappointments myself, from cancelled events to places that expect you to play for free “for exposure”, so I felt really bad for Sixx.

A few days later, Today music writer Chris Toh wrote an interesting post on the Poparazzi blog, urging bands to say “NO” to free gigs. I must say I agree with him, and I just wanted to weigh in on this topic of local bands and how they are treated as “second class citizens”, as Chris so aptly wrote.

I think the crux of the matter lies in the fact that local musicians are pretty much powerless when it comes to negotiating with the people or companies that hire them. Let’s talk about, say, a talented Top 40s band made up of a few friends, which is trying to make a living playing cover music, and hopefully write some original tunes in the near future. They will probably start off playing for free, and then if their passion for music is strong enough, press on and find some gigs that actually pay.

Yes, there’s always the argument that unknown bands have to start small, and perform anywhere that will have them. That’s fair enough. But at what point do you start asking for money? When you’re good enough? When you have been playing long enough?

The point is that the ball is always in the court of the people hiring the bands. To my knowledge, there isn’t some kind of association or union of Singapore bands that says that unless we are paid such-and-such a minimum fee, we will not perform. Trouble is, local bands are independent entities doing their own thing, and there’s always going to be a band who will be willing to play for free.

In the case of Sixx, wouldn’t it be great if there was some kind of musicians’ body to press the organisers for compensation for the band? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure that the international acts in Singfest were protected by contracts, so if something screwed up, there was recourse for them. I’m not so sure if Sixx signed some kind of contract, though. Even though they are not yet as big as say, Kanye West, don’t our local acts have rights too?

The thing is, who’s going to step forward and get Singapore bands together to talk about these issues – and make a stand? Probably nobody. So, I believe it’s really up to bands to fight for their own rights. If you think you’re worth your salt, and deserve to be paid for performing, then demand for it. If you’ve worked hard for your music, why let yourself be exploited?

For my own band Raised On Radio, we do ask for a minimum fee, based on the “market rate” for cover bands, which is really based on how much other bands we know get paid for playing at a similar place – which is basically hearsay. Yes, we do lose some gigs because of that, but I’m proud to say that for the majority of the performances we have done, we were paid at that “market rate”.

Well, these are just my own observations on this issue, so please feel free to disagree with me. Comments are welcome!

Week 14 – Making Memories

Today, I celebrate my first wedding anniversary with my wife Carol. It’s been a wonderful year, and we’ve been blessed with so much. There’s nothing more I could ask for, really. Carol, I love you, and I thank God you’re in my life. This song is for you, and I hope we’ll make a million more memories in the years to come.

Making Memories
© Music and Lyrics by Marcel Lee Pereira, 6 Aug, 2010

If there’s something I cling to, it’s times with me and you
Moments tucked away under the trappings of everyday
You know how precious they are to me, the diamonds that brighten my way

They are all I need
You are the face I see

Chorus
We’re building, building a home
And we’re making memories, memories
To have, to have and to hold
I want more of these
Memories, memories

My heart takes a picture of us, every date and every kiss
Making plans, the glances I take at you, there’s nothing I want to miss
They don’t gather dust, the world falls away as we reminisce

Wash away the sands of pain
You’ll see the gold remains

Chorus

Bridge
A year has gone by so fast
And today I say to you, my love
Remember us and smile
I know we’ll last, more than a lifetime

Chorus
We’re building, building a home
And we’re making memories, memories
To have, to have and to hold
Here’s to more of these
Memories, memories

***

It was a really busy Saturday for me, which is why I’m posting this at 4am!

Had a great time at the Maestro Acoustic Lounge @ *Scape Mall in the afternoon. It was quite an experience playing a full 45 minute set of original music in a shopping mall, but it sure felt good having people stop by and listen, even if it was for a little while. I really enjoyed myself, and I’m looking forward to performing a lot more in time to come. Thanks to everyone who came by, I really appreciate the support! Here’s a picture of me with my friend Adrian on the cajon.

Singer-songwriter Marcel Lee Pereira performing at the Maestro Acoustic Lounge @ *Scape Mall. Accompanying him on the cajon is drummer Adrian Loo.

My sis, Gemma, managed to get tickets to the rehearsal for the Youth Olympics opening ceremony (the actual thing is on Aug 14), so straight after the show, we headed to the Marina Bay floating platform. Here’s the view from the grandstand, just before the show started:

I must say, though, while the ceremony was snazzy with its choreographed performances, fireworks, giant walking characters and even water displays, I felt there were just too many bells and whistles – and not enough heart. It just didn’t speak to me, and I couldn’t see the connection of some of the performances to the Youth Olympics. Well, maybe the ending was better – but we left early.

Ok, I’m off to bed now. Long day ahead! Champagne brunch with Carol and then we’re checking in at the Pan Pacific for the long weekend… 😉 Cheers! Oh, and Happy National Day.

Save the date! Aug 7 and Aug 15

Hi there, this is just a quick post to remind everyone of my two upcoming shows!

The first is happening tomorrow (Aug 7), 3.30pm, at the Maestro Acoustic Lounge located at the new *Scape Mall in Orchard Road, near Orchard Cineleisure.

And next Sunday (Aug 15), also at 3.30pm, I’ll be playing at the Library@Esplanade. More details here and in the poster below, courtesy of the National Library Board.

Singer-songwriter Marcel Lee Pereira performs at the Library@Esplanade on Aug 15, 2010, in his first-ever solo showcase.

Upcoming gigs

I’m quite excited about my two performances coming up this month:

Saturday, Aug 7, 3.30pm, *SCAPE Mall (Beside Orchard Cineleisure)
My first gig will be this coming Saturday (Aug 7) at the new *SCAPE Mall in Orchard Road. This gig is organized by the great people from Maestro Guitars. You’ll be able to catch a few singer-songwriters and local groups performing that day too. So head down to the Maestro outlet on Level 2 for an afternoon of great acoustic music!

Sunday, Aug 15, 3.30pm, Library@Esplanade
Next up is my first ever solo showcase, which I’m really, really looking forward to. It’ll be at the Esplanade Library, located on the 3rd floor of the Esplanade. I love the place; it’s perfect for an intimate, acoustic performance. I’ve played there several times, but not as a solo artist. Many thanks to the National Library for this opportunity!

So there, two dates to catch me!

Week 3 – Coffee Love

I seem to be writing happy songs these few weeks 🙂 Maybe it’s because I’m finally doing what I love?

Anyway, this week’s song is another laid back track. It is an ode to coffee – dedicated to all coffee lovers out there. I had fun with the lyrics this time.

Coffee Love
© Music and Lyrics by Marcel Lee Pereira, 20 May, 2010

Go easy on the whipped cream honey I’ve got too much in my veins
The doctor said my pressure’s hit the roof, and I’m to blame
Toffee nut latte that’s my favourite but I can’t have any now
I’ve sought my 25th opinion and I say how now brown cow

But I love, love, love how good your lips taste after a lemon zest
And I could eat a tub of honey dripping down your
Oh, and the smell of your fresh cookies makes my tongue do a jig
They tell me stop before its too late, but I can’t help taking a swig

My coffee love, you’re my coffee love
Coffee, toffee, coffee love
My turtledove

You warm my cup, Heat me up
Frothy love

Storm my senses with your hot and spicy
You’ve got me nicely lost in paradise

Go easy on the whipped cream honey, I’ve got too much in my head
The shrink said I’ve got nothing to do but jump into bed
Oh but the sheets are cold and empty and I’m feeling a little sick
I need a little stimulation cos that’s what makes me tick

***

On a separate note, I’ll be performing a couple of songs at the “Originals Only Open Mike (OOOM)” tonight at the Singapore Art Museum in Bras Basah. It starts at 7pm.

As it’s a first-come-first-served event, I’m not exactly sure what time I’ll be playing, but if you’re in town do come and check it out! You’ll get to see a whole bunch of talented singer-songwriters take the stage.