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Rich In Love At Timbre (Part 3)

This post has been lying on our WordPress draft section since Oct 7. Completely forgot about it. Last month was pretty tight with lots of gigs and activities. So here goes…

…continued from Rich In Love At Timbre (Part 2)

Our Final Set at The Substation

Right after chilling out for a bit at Timbre @ Old School we headed straight to The Substation for the usual soundcheck. A few minutes before our set a queue was forming outside. We played to what seemed like a full house bar for that evening. Many guests who came to see us the previous night were also present to witness our last gig in SG.

We were far more relaxed, like we’re in a familiar place. It felt like home.

All black and white photos by Deo Virtucio of Requiem Rising Singapore. To see more, click HERE>>>

Canto De Maria Clara – The Camerawalls (Live at Timbre @ The Substation)

My Life’s Arithmetic Means – The Camerawalls (Live at Timbre @ The Substation)

Bread and Circuses – The Camerawalls (Live at Timbre @ The Substation)

Rich In Love At Timbre (Part 1)

If you’re an indie band playing indie music, what are the chances of getting on the commercial train in the current climate of our music industry? Not very high, of course. Rejecting what artists are force-fed, and the decision that we can do better ourselves is the fundamental premise behind the existence of indie labels, especially in the case of Lilystars Records.

When opportunity knocks

A few years ago, when I ceased to distress myself over the things that is crippling the health of indie and commercial pop music, I get relieved when once in a while, we receive a knock of opportunity that recharges our battery of hope to thrive and continue. The opportunity to gig abroad was one of them.

Last year, we had a very memorable experience at Baybeats in Esplanade, Singapore. Our first festival gig in a foreign country. A year after, we found ourselves back in the streets of this marvelous city, this time to perform intimate shows in a bar setting. We aren’t so good at finding gigs, much less having an ear and awareness for these types of engagements. Luckily, they find us.

As early as July, we received a generous invite from Timbre Group, a company with a diversified portfolio of a holistic and synergistic range of music, lifestyle, entertainment and education brands, to perform on September 13 and 14 in one of their live music bars – Timbre @ The Substation.

The experience was equally memorable as the last one. We got to play more songs (an hour each per night), meet and greet more people, sell more records and more drunken nights with just the four of us getting plastered in a back alley where Spicy Thai Thai Restaurant is located, helping ourselves with large bottles of Carlsberg (600+ml) and extra spicy Thai and Indochinese food till 3Am.

Day 1 in Singapore

We arrived at Changi International Airport a day earlier after boarding the first flight via Tiger Airways. Ben and Sy of Timbre welcomed us and took us to our hotel along Dickson Road. Along the way, i brought up the topic about the Old Changi Hospital, asking if the way it was documented in that horror flick is accurate. He shook his head and discouraged us from visiting that place, considered as one of the scariest places in Singapore. Try watching Haunted Changi to see what it looks like inside out.

We rested for a while and did a short tour of Little India complete with authentic Indian cuisine for lunch. Early evening we decided to visit Marina Bay Sands. Along the way, we kept admiring their ultra convenient bus and train system, so far in comparison with what Manila has to offer.

At Marina Bay Sands mall.

We were able to catch Wonder Full, the free spectacular light and water show, the largest in Southeast Asia. The show employed the mediums of giant water screens, vibrant multicolored high-powered Lasers, search lights, spot lights, fountains, surround sound, strobes, LED lighting, video projection and other special effects. The sights and sounds were astounding and breathtaking. A goosebumps galore moment for all of us.

Wonder Full is definitely a cheap thrill of world-class architecture and musical direction everyone visiting Singapore must see.

It was the best nightcap ever. The weariness from lack of sleep and travel blues was instantly swept away.

Waiting for the bus.

At the Substation – Sept 13

Well rested the following day, we headed early at The Substation where the Timbre branch is located to do a sound check. It was a sizable open-air venue which can hold around 250 people or more. Pretty big actually. We were expecting a closed, intimate space but the ambiance kind of feels like home.

Early sound check at Timbre @ The Substation

A view of one side of the venue from the stage.

Getting the hang of it.

When we finally got the feel of the sound and the stage, we killed the next hour with pizza and bottles of Heineken. Surprisingly, there were a number of Filipino employees working at the bar. And did I mention the front desk lady at our hotel is also a Filipina? One can expect great service on such occasions.

Pizza and beer with our roadie Antonette.

Danny Loong, Timbre's co-founder and creative director, introducing us to the crowd during our first night.

It began to rain the moment we climb the stage to begin the show. We had the pleasure of being introduced by the creative director and one of the founders of Timbre Group – Mr. Danny Loong (who also happens to be an excellent blues guitarist). I was able to chat with him earlier about the music scene in the country and a possible collaboration with Lilystars to bring in great Singapore acts to Manila and vice-versa. Something worth considering especially with the kind of hospitality, promotion and exposure they are giving The Camerawalls.

We also met some folks from Requiem Rising Singapore. An events production group consisting of Filipino young professionals and artists and indie/new wave music enthusiasts. One of their members Deo Virtucio, was kind enough to share some black and white pictures he took during the event. See them below:

Clementine

Law Santiago

Not minding the rain.

Joseph "Bachie" Rudica

Our new guitarist - George Carillo.

All warmed-up and spaced out.

 For more photos by Deo Virtucio, click Here

We were able to capture “The Emperor, The Concubine & The Commoner”, our last song, on video recorded by Antonette.

 

Some of the good people we met, bought our records and chatted with during our first night at Timbre:

With folks from Requiem Rising Singapore.


 

…continued at Rich In Love At Timbre (Part 2)

The Significance of Four

Every number has a certain power which is expressed both by its symbol to denote its representation and by its connection to universal principles. Numbers have relationships with all things in nature, thus making them supremely powerful symbolic expressions.

This is based on Numerology – the study of numbers and their influence in our lives. While I do not practice or subscribe to this, it’s fascinating to sometimes look up on spiritual meanings behind numbers and explore how it applies to us for our own personal coherence on the subject. For instance, it’s significance to the anniversary of our band. We recently celebrated our fourth year as a group on September 9 at Gweilo Bar in Makati to welcome what we considered The Camerawalls’ founding date, which falls on September 10.

The symbolic meaning of number Four deals with stability and invokes the grounded nature of all things. Consider the four seasons, four directions, four elements all these amazingly powerful essences wrapped up in the nice square package of Four. Fours represent solidity, calmness, and home. A recurrence of Four in your life may signify the need to get back to your roots, center yourself, or even “plant” yourself. Fours also indicate a need for persistence and endurance.

Stable, grounded, solid. — Perhaps those four years of struggle and trying out new things on our own has made us experience enough to consider such. Humbling episodes year after year. I had the pleasure of working with great people, some of them good friends, to be able to come through with the challenges of getting back to my roots and be an indie band.

Looking back at the year that has passed, here’s a modest list of interesting events that happened to The Camerawalls since our last anniversary celebration:

1. Recruited a new drummer, Joseph Rudica, who’s also from Bulacan and drummer of twee pop band The Gentle Isolation. Related story…

2. Went back to Sonic State studio with producers Jonathan Ong and Robert Javier to record a new EP. Related story…

3. Released “Bread & Circuses” EP under Lilystars Records. The EP was launched on December 11, 2010 at Ayala Museum. Related story…

4. Fronted for the China Crisis during one of their shows in Manila. Related blog…

5. Shot two music videos in one day. A Gentle Persuasion and Bread and Circuses courtesy of our generous friend G-nie Arambulo of Adphoto.

6. Our single Bread and Circuses, was named semifinalist in the 2010 International Songwriting Competition in the Folk/Singer/Songwriter Category. Related story…

6. Recently recruited George Carillo, our new electric guitarist,  finally completing our sound during live performances.

7. Visited Singapore for the second time for a two-night show at Timbre @ The Substation. Related story…

The crowd at Gweilo that night were an odd mix of young students eager to see the band, young professionals, a number of foreigners, and some stray folks in their late 30s and early 40s. The rest are close friends of ours. The younger audiences did came as a surprise. Our music crossing over to high school and college students, without the benefit of radio and tv, is something of value.

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Photos courtesy of Cristina Roig (http://gig.ph)

To make it worth their while, we played two sets alternating originals with choice covers. Below is our take on a classic Ocean Blue song.

 

We closed the bar as usual and parted ways around 4AM. I love the intimate vibe our gigs in a small watering hole produces. Strangers meet strangers and like minded people, all infected with the music and camaraderie. We are thankful to all who came, bought the records at 40% off, and partied with us. Many of which have to travel far just to get there. Cheers and on to the fifth! – Clementine

Food and Yenning in Iloilo (Part 2)

continuation of Food and Yenning in Iloilo (Part 1)…

While enjoying the afternoon coffee at Madge, I mentioned to Chito my particular interest to visit Museo Iloilo and Janiuay Cemetery.  Got the following description at Asiatravel.com about the two places of interest:

Museo Iloilo
An impressive collection of Iloilo’s cultural heritage which includes stone age native pottery; fossils; jewelry; burial sites; trade pottery from China, Annam and Siam; era photos. Mementos and war relics; a British sunken ship; Spanish-era Filipino sculpture; and modern art done by Ilonggo artists and craftsmen.

Janiuay Cemetery
Built in 1875, this famous Spanish-Filipino cemetery is made of cut stone and fossil rocks and features three imposing stairways and two Gothic doors. Its is 32 kms. from the city.

He told me it’ll take a long while to reach the cemetery but he’ll gladly accompany us to the museum. So I guess the tombstones and idea of grave rubbing will have to wait for another visit back in Iloilo.

For non-travelers like us who aren’t used to the grandeur of famous museums, Museo Iloilo was indeed already impressive. It wasn’t that big and one can tour it for a short 15 to 30 minutes.

As a souvenir, I bought a couple of era photos while Bachie bought a number of Iloilo tote bags. Displyed in the next room across the entrance are several paintings by local artists. I particularly like the works of a certain Alex P. Ordoyo in watercolor. Below are samples of this work on exhibit.

But the best art I saw and probably the photo of the day is a mixed media composed of art on canvas and my two band mates fooling around.

… and this amazing monument of Benjamin Button.

After the half -hour museum tour we headed back to Highway 21 hotel to rest for a couple of hours while we wait for Ian Zafra, our session guitarist, who flew from Cebu. It’s been so long since he last joined us on stage and we’re quite excited to see him again.

In our hotel room, reunited with Ian.

He arrived at the hotel just in time for dinner accompanied by two friends based in the city named Patrick and Roy. They brought us to a place called Ramboy’s Lechonan and Restaurant, ordered Sinigang, Lechon and Sizzling Seafoods and had a few beers while catching up. We continued drinking and singing the night away back in our hotel room. A great day, it was.

to be continued…

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)