Friends of SabahSongs

2012 year in review

(This is republished from my other blog

Jade feature pic

The Year 2012 began with some features of local girls – JADEsisters and Beverley Rachel – as the EP Janji was out, and Beverley Rachel wowed us out with her pretty song Honeydew, which Stephen Lim and Chris Pereira were so determined to have out by Valentine’s Day.

Element Tree Music House

The busy Element Tree Music House had plenty to offer us in 2012. Mar, Sasqia and Devreney, and the first guy I’ve heard from them – Sumarli Loli. I had the pleasure of physically meeting Silas Lin and Mok Kidz this year, but I haven’t managed to work out who works for Element Tree Music House and who works for Kidz Production, sorry guys. Give me a bit more time.

Dayang Noraini opened her heart to SabahSongs to recount the different kinds of obstacles which can face a woman wanting to sing, while Chris Pereira stepped up to the invitation to make a guest post to SabahSongs, which was his take on the state of music in Sabah.

Chef Leo Velazquez, Sonny Bahari, Bella, Jesselton Hotel, Gaya Street, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Sabah Property Magazine, SabahSongs

My good friend Chef Leo cooked burgers on the street corner while the peerless duo Jiaja played indoors for Bella’s Earth Hour. My mate in publishing Leslie Chin gave me five pages to shout about Leo and music in his beautiful magazine Sabah Property.

Kermit the Frog joins Double Take

In April, Kota Kinabalu was a hub for big names in music. Mia Palencia returned to Sabah from Tasmania to hook up with Roger Wang for a Double Take reunion, and a bunch of international musicians, Keith Duffy (bassist for The Corrs), Steve Barney (grammy award-winning drummer with Jeff Beck, and Annie Lennox), and Calum MacColl passed through Sabah. I had a lovely chat with Belalang, which opened the Ronan Keating gig at Bunga Raya Resort.

KKJF 2011. Everyone on Stage. By Nasier Lee

The Kota Kinabalu Jazz Festival 2012 brought us great music from near and far. From our own doorstep, Rimba weaved the sounds of Sabah into new compositions, the Johnny Rodgers Band packed suitcases in New York and got on that plane to be with us again, and next door neighbours Juwita Suwito and Rio Sidik from Indonesia took us way up into the jazz stratosphere. Young new talent from UMS and SIA got on stage, as did many more performers from Malaysia too.

Back stage guys are important, and a few turned up in SabahSongs in 2012. We learned about how Richard Heng got into Stage Lighting with Mega Boogie, while both he and Stephen Lim told us what the considerations are for sound and lighting at the KK Jazz Festival.

Peter Lau’s first interview with SabahSongs was so good – we had him twice, and aside from the big interview with the JRB, drummer Danny Mallon said something on the sidelines of KKJF which I really liked, about the need to find your true voice. That hits the right buttons for me.

As Blood Runs Black in Kota Kinabalu Sabah

SabahSongs had a feast of metal music and all the passion which goes with that, thanks to the Chee brothers bringing in As Blood Runs Black, a U.S. deathcore band. We had our own deathcore too, KK’s own Befalls The Argosy; they spooked me out with their beautiful, doom-laden sounds.

We had a couple of behind-the-scenes stories too, learning about Carlos from Afraid Clothing, a business partner and friend of Nuk and Amos, who also loves metal. I liked that, young people trying to incorporate their love for music with business opportunities. The Chee brothers had vision too, and brought in Andy of DeeBee Studios to document the whole event on video. Good luck to them in 2013.

Sophie Van Aerde. Photo by Glory Yew

By the latter part of the year, I realised I would be moving to Australia. It was time to write about my beloved girlfriend Sophie. Although we have been friends and music partners since 2008, I didn’t write about her because I originally defined SabahSongs as a blog about Sabahans. Of course this changed, and it was a good time to dedicate a post to her.

From Western classical music we moved to Chinese classical, as Yap Keng Vui took my hand and dragged me to Tshung Tsing Secondary School to meet Teo Seng Chong, the man who brought Chinese Orchestra into Sabah. It was a new world for me… From one educational institution to another, speaking with soft-spoken Resot Iggau, Head of Music at Universiti Malaysia Sabah, was like music itself.

Gordon with Hilary Ang

One of the most pleasant surprises for me was meeting Gordon Pan. I had met him before, but we never talked. This time we were sitting at the same table at a baby’s full moon party. I turned on my voice recorder and asked him about his playing. He said, “Actually, I like to make guitars.” Really? It was a personal and unique story in terms of his friendships with musicians, his understanding of their instruments, and his interpretation of the intangible qualities which make up the relationship between a person and his or her guitar.

book stack

October to December was a race against time to publish the SabahSongs book, and launch it before we were due to fly on December 22. After a meeting with Datuk CL Chan of Natural History Publications (Borneo), I had to choose the stories from the blog which I wanted in our book, edit all the copy and in some cases rewrite it. Once this was delivered, along with the corresponding photographs from willing contributors, graphic designer Chan Hin Ching began laying out the work. Because SabahSongs has so much speech (and therefore speechmarks) in every story, the publisher decided to ask an Australian editor Kay Lyons to sub the whole book. Luckily she finished everything in four days without questioning me about anything. Phew. Hin Ching took over the layout, while I began to market the book, looking for sponsors to raise money to pay the printer.

In the meanwhile, Yap, Chris and Roger brainstormed with me about the book cover. I had not given this much thought, but Roger pinned me down on it: “What does SabahSongs mean to you? What do you want the cover to represent? A book IS judged by it’s cover, don’t throw away the opportunity to tell people what you believe this book is about.” How did he know so much? Because he has to do this every time he thinks about his album covers.

Yap and Chris are night owls. They like to email their ideas to me around 3.00 am. Ting! Ting! went my phone with each incoming email. Were those bags under my eyes? God forbid.

Anyway, the first books were couriered to KK on December 18. The Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun launched SabahSongs the book on December 20. Miles and I flew to Brisbane on December 22.

So what’s in store for SabahSongs in 2013? I know you will continue to make music and hold great events. I hope friends of SabahSongs will find ways to contribute. Maybe the blog will take on a new shape, and a new voice. I hope to still make posts myself, when I find stories which fit.

Thank you Sabah, for your music, for this blog, for our book. Happy New Year from SabahSongs.


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