Week 40 – Dancing In The Storm

Somehow, amidst the festivities of the Lunar New Year week, I managed to write something… (Frankly, it was one of those weeks where I thought I wasn’t going to make it – so a big sigh of relief!)

This song was inspired by the spell of intense rain over Singapore just before Chinese New Year. For something like three days in a row, heavy rains and winds swept down upon us without any signs of stopping. Driving home one night, the roads were so wet that I couldn’t tell if I was in the right lane or not. All I could see were the reflections of street lamps on the waterlogged road.

“I’m driving on a road of mirrors”, I thought to myself – and that line was how I began the song.

You’ll notice that there isn’t really a chorus, just four stanzas telling a story, which I’ll leave you to listen to right now…

Dancing In The Storm
© Music and Lyrics by Marcel Lee Pereira, 4 Feb 2011

Walking on a road of mirrors, we shiver as the rain pours down
We slip, we slide, we try to hide somewhere safe and warm
But the sky is like a waterfall, I’m glad I’m not alone
The crumblin’ world that scares us all don’t matter anymore

We are soaked right through the skin, and chilled to the bone
Yeah we don’t care, won’t care at all, no we won’t
Cradled by the heat of love, we wait till dawn
I take your hand and we begin dancing in the storm
Dancing in the storm

Arm in arm we watch the sun breaking through the mist
Gentle rays of gold and yellow touch us as we kiss
All is bold and new and true as the darkness retreats
Our love it stays as strong as the ground beneath our feet

Today we laugh at the rain, we laugh at the rain
We walk in the sun, we run with the wind
If the nights are long and things go wrong
That’s when I’ll take your hand and we’ll begin dancing in the storm
Dancing in the storm

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Week 39 – All Grown Up

As you can probably tell from the title, this is a song about growing up… or growing pains if you will.

It’s something we all have to do at some point. Part of it involves getting older, which none of us can help, and the other part involves learning to face up to the realities of life. (I’m sure you know of some people who, as they get older, refuse to “grow up”.)

As a guy who’s just gotten married, and who’s begun the thirtieth decade of his life, the feeling that I need to grow up has never been stronger. And yet, at this very moment, I’m writing a song about it. A walking contradiction perhaps?

Yes, some people might think I’m crazy, refusing to get real and focus on a career.

But I don’t think I have my head in the clouds at all, and both my feet are firmly on the ground. I’m living my dream, pushing myself as a songwriter, and as determined as I was when I first started this project, to launch my album.

I feel that in some ways, growing up involves knowing what you want in your life, and then going ahead and doing it. This is what I want to do, and boy, am I doing it.

Well, enough of that. I’ll leave you to form your own conclusions.

About the song itself… I stuck to really simple chords for this one. The intro is C Am Em (Capo 3), and I did a little riff on the Em chord, which I like. Also, I used a basic verse-chorus-verse-chorus structure – three verses, three choruses, no fancy bridges or anything. I just felt the need for simplicity I guess.

And on a separate note, notice the black background? I’ve received some feedback about my earlier videos that the room in the background was too messy, so I decided to hang some black cloth I got from Ikea across a bamboo pole to create a backdrop of sorts. I think it worked pretty well! No more messy clothes (if you’ve seen my other videos) hehe…

All Grown Up
© Music and Lyrics by Marcel Lee Pereira, 26 Jan, 2011

All grown up, and wishing I could turn back the clock
To a time when I could do anything
When the road ahead was wide and free
And twists and turns weren’t that big a deal

CHORUS
The clouds roll by too fast
Sunshine never seems to last
My head doesn’t fit my heart
When I’m all grown up, all grown up

All grown up, gone are the days of learning to walk
Now life is real and bittersweet
I let go of the dreams that I once dreamed
To be the man that I must be

CHORUS
The clouds roll by too fast
Sunshine never seems to last
My head doesn’t fit my heart
When I’m all grown up, all grown up

Forever young, I cry each time I hear it sung
Thinking about where I came from
Does happiness grow, when will it show
And how can I learn to let go

CHORUS
The clouds roll by too fast
Sunshine never seems to last
My head doesn’t fit my heart
When I’m all grown up, all grown up

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.

Songwriter Showcase @ TAB, 25 Jan

Hey everyone,

I’ll be playing a few of my songs at a Songwriters’ Showcase tomorrow @ TAB, a live-music place at Orchard Hotel. (If you’re driving from Tanglin Road towards Orchard Road in the evening, you can’t miss the big bright yellow sign on the facade.)

I’m so psyched about tomorrow’s gig because I’ve heard a lot about the place – and it’ll be my first time setting foot into the venue.

From their website and the pictures I’ve seen, it’s quite a massive establishment which can seat up to 250 people, split into two levels – easily one of the biggest places I’ll be playing at.

And the best part is that they are dedicated to showcasing original music from all over the world! If you’re into this, TAB is definitely worth checking out.

There’ll be several talented songwriters taking to the stage tomorrow, and I’m honoured to be part of this showcase. A big thank you to Dezz Moey for organising this 🙂

ORIGINALITY! Songwriter Showcase @ TAB
When: Tomorrow (25 Jan), 7-9pm
Where: TAB Singapore
442 Orchard Road
#02-29 Orchard Hotel
Singapore 238879
(Entrance on street-level)

More details about this event can be found here. Can’t wait to see you there!

Week 38 – Rainbows And Butterflies

This song is our second collaborative effort called “Rainbows And Butterflies”. It’s about how we all need to be careful when we take things at face value.

We decided to try something new this time. Jaye’s into rap and hip-hop, so I asked him if he could write a rap verse for this song, and he came up with two! I think this gives an added dimension to the song, a blending of two different styles… something I’d like to call “acoustic-rap” 😉

Like our previous video, we recorded at the Maestro Acoustic Lounge. The song’s structure is slightly complicated, and after maybe 10 takes we got tired and started messing up more and more haha… but that’s the nature of a live recording, isn’t it?

In the end, we went with a much earlier take, which we thought was okay, but could be a lot better 😉 Anyway, here goes. Let us know if you like it!

Rainbows And Butterflies

Pretty, pretty little things walking down the street
Sweet perfume and big wide eyes meet
And you tingle from your head to your feet
You wanna be in their perfect lil lives

Cause rainbows and butterflies
Are there to catch your eyes
Cause rainbows and butterflies
Don’t be fooled by their disguise

It’s the way you be looking at me like (My oh my)
Mystical Magical hips swaying (Side to side)
Thinking about the jazz from our past (It didn’t last)
Better forget about it (It’s all turned to dust)

Pretty, pretty little things walking down the street
Sweet perfume and big wide eyes meet
And you tingle from your head to your feet
You wanna be in their perfect lil lives

Cause rainbows and butterflies
Are there to catch your eyes
Cause rainbows and butterflies
Don’t be fooled by their disguise

Cause they’ll getcha
You better watcha

Hey life ain’t supposed to be all (Glitter and glam)
Falling in love and losing your mind go (Hand in hand)
But is she for real (I don’t know)
Maybe just another high heeled girl (Oh I don’t know)

Pretty, pretty little things walking down the street
Sweet perfume and big wide eyes meet
And you tingle from your head to your feet
You wanna be in their perfect lil lives

Cause rainbows and butterflies
Are there to catch your eyes
Cause rainbows and butterflies
Don’t be fooled by their disguise

Cause they’ll getcha
You better watcha

The Noise-Timbre Singer-Songwriter Programme

I’m sure many of you have heard about Noise Singapore and Timbre. The former is an initiative led by the National Arts Council which supports creativity among the youth here, and the latter is a chain of live-music restaurants/bars featuring local musicians.

Both entities are strong supporters of the growing music scene in Singapore and I was really excited when they joined hands to hold a competition for singer-songwriters.

Six aspiring artists stand a chance to be showcased at Timbre @ The Substation, as well as get a few music lessons thrown in. To take part, they will need to upload two video performances on YouTube, one of an original song and the other of a song of their choice.

I decided to take part, of course :), and I wanted to do a proper audio recording for this. So I got together with my friend Anthony Kok (who’s an extremely talented guitarist) and went down to Backbeat Studios in Jalan Besar last week. I booked a two-hour slot and we played two songs in a  “live” performance style. Adrian Ng, who owns the studio, did some some basic mixing for us, and Carol helped to record the video. All in, I was pretty pleased with the result!

The original song I submitted was “Bad Stuff Got You Good”, which I wrote for Carol to encourage her not to let the bad things in life get her down. Here’s the video:

You can check out the original home-recorded video of this song here.

The second song I sent in was a cover of “Proud Mary” by Creedence Clearwater Revival. I love this song and to me it speaks of the happiness and freedom found in doing what you love. Have a listen here:

Yup, those were my two videos. Wish me luck! Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you think 🙂

If you’d like to take part as well, visit this link, and send in your videos! The contest closes on 6 Feb, 2011.

Week 37 – Epiphany

This song is my first collaboration with a fellow singer-songwriter. His name is Jaye Foo, a Singaporean as well. His style of music reminds me a lot of Jason Mraz, very rhythmic and catchy. He’s quite into rap and hip-hop too. (You can check out Jaye’s site here.)

We met at the Maestro open mic at Scape Mall last August. His slot was just after mine and we said hi and all that. Then, we bumped into each other again when I was working at Scape, and got to talking about our music… and we thought yeah, let’s jam together and see what we come up with.

Both of us have quite different styles (Jaye says my style is very “flowing”), and I think interesting things are bound to happen when two different musical styles get together.

Do check out our song “Epiphany” – all about finding one’s destiny in life. More to come! 🙂

Epiphany
Music and Lyrics by Jaye Foo and Marcel Lee Pereira, 13 Jan, 2011

I wander like a kite
Tossed by the careless wind
No string to tie me down
No hands to pull me in
I kissed the galaxy
And wished a star for me
A light upon my way
That I will find my destiny

You asked for me
Now I’m ready to be singing
To the universe
And beyond
And beyond
So wouldcha come with me
And getcha Epiphany

Look at how I fly
A bird who’s found it’s wings
I follow my own path
I do not fear a thing
I kissed the galaxy
And wished a star for me
A light upon my way
To take me to my destiny

Week 36 – Gone To The Dogs

I was inspired to write this song by an article that appeared on the Yahoo! Singapore portal a few days ago. You can read it here.

The piece says Singaporeans are becoming more “liberal” in strange and head-scratching ways, such as walking about stark naked – in public, mind you.

I’m not kidding. The article says: “The trend of indecent exposure has been rising since 2007. Today an average of one case is reported every other day… According to published figures, there were 105 cases in the first six months of 2010, compared with 166 for 2009, 146 in 2008 and 136 in 2007.” That’s quite astounding, I must say.

A famous example took place in 2009, when a couple (a Singaporean woman and her Swedish friend) paraded themselves naked in Holland Village, a popular expat haunt. A few other nudists have followed suit, spotted at various locations such as McDonald’s, and on a public bus.

So, are repressed and straight-laced Singaporeans becoming more liberal and playing “catch up” with other cities, the article asks.

Perhaps.

In the news recently, a 12-year-old girl revealed that she had slept with a string of men. Did I mention she’s 12??

And a few days ago, a cab driver pleaded guilty to using a pen-shaped camera to secretly film up the skirts of his passengers. Seriously… what was he thinking?

Hey, I’m no prude myself, but someone’s gotta ask: Has this town gone to the dogs?

(This song was inspired by real events, and is meant to be a tongue-in-cheek commentary. Nothing more.)

Gone To The Dogs
© Music and Lyrics by Marcel Lee Pereira, 7 Jan 2011

Albert drove a taxicab from dusk till dawn
Waited for a pretty girl to come along
With a hidden cam, a cheeky plan and a mind stuck in the dirt
He got his kicks shooting video clips up their skirts

John and Jill went out to chill one ordinary night
They decided to walk around in the nude oh, they were quite a sight
Hand in hand the two of them strolled into a cafe
It takes all kinds but I guess I find it a little insane

CHORUS
People scratch their heads and ask
Has this town gone to the dogs at last?

Nicole was a 12-year-old who had a taste for men
She liked to see them after school, every now and then
One by one, their had fun, and it felt nice
Now they’re locked up, what rotten luck, they paid the price

CHORUS
People scratch their heads and ask
Has this town gone to the dogs at last?

BRIDGE
This town lost its head, I think it has
Is this just a passing craze, or one big bloody mess

CHORUS
People scratch their heads and ask
Has this town gone to the dogs at last?

Upcoming performance, Sat 8 Jan

Hey everyone,

It’s been a while since I’ve played my songs in public, so I’m really excited about a small gig I’m doing this Saturday.

It’s part of a guitar workshop for kids and teenagers held at the Jurong Regional Library, and I will be playing a half-hour set at the end 🙂

Do drop by with your family. It’ll be fun!

When: Saturday, 8 Jan, 4pm
Where:  Jurong Regional Library, 21 Jurong East Central 1, Singapore 609732

More details about the event can be found here.

Week 35 – Made With Love

A song can be inspired by pretty much anything. A book, a poem, a life-changing experience, all of them can trigger emotions that can be expressed in music. 

If you’re lucky like Paul McCartney was, a song could even come to you in a dream. That was how the melody for “Yesterday” came about, by the way.

Sometimes, an idea is born just by observing someone. And that’s the story behind this week’s song.

I was at a Starbucks one evening (it’s where I usually go to write), and beside me there was a girl who was busy making something. On the chair next to her was a bag full of coloured and patterned paper. On her table were about a dozen polaroid pictures of her and her boyfriend (I’m assuming).

Opened in front of her was a scrapbook with thick black pages, and on the corner of one page she had stuck little pink hearts.

Then, she cut out a pattern from the decorative paper, and attempted to create a border for one of the pictures, which she planned on pasting next to the hearts.

It looked like she had been at it for some time, and she was putting in a great deal of thought and effort into that scrapbook.

I thought to myself: “Wow, she really must love that guy a lot.”

As I packed up to leave, I caught sight of the words “Made With Love” printed on a paper bag. Apparently that’s the name of a scrapbooking store, probably where she bought all her materials.

Well, that’s how this song was born. I added a few touches, of course. A grandmother’s hand-made scarf, and a husband’s foray into the kitchen to surprise his wife… It’s the effort that counts, right?

I decided to just do an audio recording this week. The guitar and vocals were mixed with Cubase LE4, and the video was done in iMovie. Made with love… Enjoy!

Made With Love
©Music and Lyrics by Marcel Lee Pereira, 31 Dec 2010

She’s 79 and her sight is failing
Her fingers bent, wrinkled and shaking
Still by lamplight she knits
All through the night
Weaving warm and coloured presents
For her grandchild, her joy and pride

A young girl sits at a corner cafe
She’s been there an entire Saturday
Precious pictures of her and her man
One by one, stuck in a book
Filled with pink hearts cut out by hand

CHORUS
It’s for you, she said, I know it’s not much
And I hope it’s enough ’cause
It’s made with love, made with love
With all my love

He’s home early, his arms filled with bags
A cookbook he got right off the rack
He fumbles like a child learning to walk
Fixing a three-course meal for two
Before his wife gets back at six o’clock

CHORUS
It’s for you, he said, I know it’s not much
And I hope it’s enough ’cause
It’s made with love, made with love
With all my love

It’s something I’d do for you
Only for you
With all my love
With all my love

And I hope it’s enough ’cause
It’s made with love, made with love
With all my love