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Posts from the ‘Artists’ Category

Our First Day In Singapore (Part 4)

continuation of Our First Day In Singapore (Part 3) – November 14

Procrastination is probably one of the most common problem people have in their day to day life. Including myself, that is. After having experience with procrastination, I realized procrastination itself causes more pain than actually doing what I suppose to do. Everytime I check on our blog pages and see posts that are meant to be continued without ever reaching a conclusion, it gives me a pang of remorse. So today I’m making a deal with myself to JUST DO IT.

FIRST NIGHT AT THE ESPLANADE

We had a great day since we landed in the city. Walking the streets of Singapore and doing some food tripping and sight-seeing. By the time we got back at the hotel we hardly had time to rest and wash up to catch Techy Romantics’ set. We missed it! By the time we reached the Concourse, Carlos Castano was already setting up.

At the entrance.

We met other artists from the Philippines and some friends who are already based and working in Singapore. I also had the chance to meet Rebecca Lincoln, a freelance music journalist, who was the first one to write about The Camerawalls and recommend us in a music blog called Power of Pop.

with Rebecca Lincoln.

We roam around the area feeling the vibe and checked out the Arena where we are suppose to perform the next day. In our hearts, we felt extremely lucky to be chosen to perform on the best and biggest stage, with a good time slot. We secured good seats and watched a Singapore superband called Typewriter. Pretty good. But the hightlight of our night was when Jon Auer went onstage and jammed with Typewriter and sang songs from his band The Posies like “Flavour of the Month”. Now that’s in your face POP!

Jon Auer of The Posies jamming with Singapore's Typewriter at the Arena.

POST GIG FEASTING

When the music ended, excitement of the evening still floats in our heads. The night was young so we decided to indulge ourselves with their local beer and delicacies. Chili Crabs and dimsums in a 24-hour open food court near the Grand Pacific Hotel. Tiger Beer simply contributed to a perfect nightcap.

Delicious Chili Crabs

Tiger Beer and assorted Dimsums

“An oppressive government is more to be feared than a tiger, or a beer.”  – Confucius

Our First Day In Singapore (Part 2)

continuation of Our First Day In Singapore (Part 1) – August 20

The Camerawalls along one of the streets of Singapore.

Arab Street

Singapore has a diverse population made up of Chinese, Malays, Indians, Caucasians and Asians (of various descent). It isn’t a wonder to find shopping and ethnic districts like Arab Street, Little India, Chinatown, Orchard Road and Marina Bay. We were able to do a walking tour of two of them before the day ends.

Our food trip in Bugis Street was preceded with a walkabout around the vicinity of Arab Street  just a few blocks away. Arab Street interestingly illustrates the Arabian culture. You can easily find conservatively dressed Muslims, beautiful old shop houses lined up on the streets and marvel at the largest mosque in the country – the Sultan Mosque – easily identified by its golden domes.

 

The grand Sultan Mosque.

Some of the many old shophouses common in the district.

Right across the Sultan Mosque is the famous Zam-Zam, one of Singapore’s best know restaurant for all sorts of Muslim-Malay food, which serves their legendary Murtabak (a type of stuffed pancake eaten with curry). Too bad we’re still full from our last meal.

One of Singapore's best known restaurant famous for their Murtabak.

Along Kandahar Street was a long line of street food vendors selling items quite unfamiliar to my eyes. I spotted a table that sells mini Otah-Otah. I asked what it is to which the vendor replied, “Fish cake made of mackarel”. I have never tasted fish cake so to my curiosity I bought some and shared it with the others. It’s spicy and is an acquired taste. I can do for one more hadn’t we moved along.

Later on I found out that Otah-Otah is also sometimes called Otak-Otak. Otak means brains in Indonesia and Malay. (Very close to the Filipino word “Utak” with the same meaning)  and the name of the dish is derived from the idea that the dish some what resembles brains, being grey, soft and almost squishy. Otah-otah is made by mixing fish paste (usually mackerel) with a mixture of spices. The mixture is then wrapped in a banana leaf that has been softened by steaming, then grilled or steamed.

 

Otah-otah - a cake made of fish meat.

At Bian’s  Cafe

We chanced upon a cozy looking coffee shop along the same street and decided it’s about time for some caffeine in our system. We took our seats and was greeted by the very nice Chinese owner named Bian Huibin. While we wait for our order he offered us a book to browse: “The Sidewalk Beauty – The Stray Cats Of Singapore” – a photographic journal that pays tribute to Singapore’s street cats. Over 200 pages of beautiful cat photos with humoring captions. We notice most of the cats’ left ear in the photos are snipped. His website mentioned that in an attempt to curb the proliferation of stray cats, most of the strays have been sterilized. The snipped left tip on their ear is the mark of their surgery.

It took awhile before we found out he’s the author/photographer of the pictures in the book. Very entertaining for cat lovers like us. (I have one at home name Doro, Law has one named Bassline, both Ian Zafra and Antonette has one too and Bachie has a dozen!) Quite interesting is the author’s biography:

Bian Huibin graduated from the Faculty of Music at the National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts in 1985, having majored in Percussion and minored in French Horn. In 1991, he graduated from the Beijing Film Academy Photography faculty, having majored in Feature Film Photography. He has been in Singapore since 1995 upon invitation to work in television production here. Since then, he has produced numerous advertisements and documentaries. He is currently the Artistic Director of Hetian Film Productions.

It’s very humbling that a man of his stature is serving coffee and drinks to his customers. I admired him for that. For more photos and info about his book visit straycatsofsingapore.com and singopera.com.sg. I went inside his shop and found a lot pictures on the wall of chinese opera singers in costume. He told me his wife is a Chinese Opera singer and instructor.  Chinese Opera is an old form of drama and musical theater in China with roots going back to the third century. Upstairs is Singapore Chinese Opera Museum (SCOM) in which Bian is also the museum director.

Relaxing at Bian's Cafe below the Singapore Chinese Opera Museum along Kandahar Street.

The Sidewalk Beauty - The Stray Cats of Singapore

Clementine with Bian Huibin (Photographer/Author of The Stray Cats of Singapore)

Some merchandise items from The Sidewalk Beauty.

A chinese opera doll at the entrance of Bian's Cafe and Singapore Chinese Opera Museum.

A wall full of opera singers' photos.

Bian and I had a difficult time conversing since he is not well-versed with the English language. But graciously tried to explain the things he do, showed me around a bit and opened his website for me to browse. He also showed me a sample clip of an actual chinese opera he produced. He asked about my music and I showed him our site and in no time at all the whole coffee shop was blasting “Canto De Maria Clara“, one of our songs from the debut album. And when it was time to say goodbye we took pics and exchanged cards for future correspondence.

A photo in one of the alleys of Arab Street district with the Sultan Mosque at the background.

Children’s Little Museum

There’s wonderful pedestrian area on Bussorah Street located right behind the Sultan Mosque. There are shops and cafes there. Many of the restaurants have sheeshas or water pipes, which you can smoke. We also checked out a vintage shop called Children’s Little Museum. It has items from 1950s to 1970s. A very nostalgic and enjoyable find!

Many of the restaurants have sheeshas or water pipes, which you can smoke.

Children's Little Museum - Singapore

A Wurlitzer Jukebox

Bruce Lee and vintage Tellies.

Orange everywhere?

Miniature Vespas!

The Beatles, classic radio and ashtrays.

Old Timepieces.

A place to drool and marvel.

Continued at Our First Day in Singapore (Part 3)

Funny Little Frogs

We had this opportunity to cover songs from one of our fave indie bands out there. None other than Belle & Sebastian. They’re from Glasgow and has been making music for more than a decade with seven studio albums under their belt. From the bitterness of missing the opportunity to watch them perform during their recent Asian tour (Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore), Lilystars Records and The POP Shoppe! decided to hold a B&S cover night, the closest thing to this musical fix.

It was held at Cafe Saguijo, a small watering hole in Makati last August 5 with The Gentle Isolation, Your Imaginary Friends and Kate Torralba. Over a dozen B&S covers were dished that night and the place was packed with a crowd young and old. It’s rare to see teens familiar with this kind of music. But that’s a good thing, isn’t it?

We tried our very best to cover the following songs: Another Sunny Day, Piazza New York Catcher, I Fought In A War and Funny Little Frog. I must say, although the songs seemed quite simple to the ear, playing/singing it live  and memorizing all those words with only a couple of weeks lead time proved to be challenging.

Stewart Murdoch (the band’s songwriter/vocalist) has a knack for storytelling. Imagine an average of 300 words per song seldom repeating choruses and lines. Below are a couple of videos taken from the gig. Please excuse the lyrical/chord blunders as the songs are like funny little frogs in my throat.

Piazza, New York Catcher

Funny Little Frog

Belle & Sebastian is gearing up for the release of their new studio album entitled Write About Love on October 11. You can read more about this exciting news Here. A glimpse of the new album art below and a short clip on the TV show they are filming with the new song “I Want The World To Stop” to further anticipate.

I Want The World To Stop – Write About Love