10 April 2014 @ 05:51 am

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So last year on my birthday, when everyone was going crazy about this crazy fox video and sharing it all over the world and playing it on every sound-emitting device known to mankind - WHY DIDN'T ANYONE MENTION THAT:


Now before you say - goddamnit, didn't you watch those interviews or read stuff online??? I will tell you that nope, I did not. I'm a hipster - I hate jumping on the bandwagon when something on the internet explodes, especially when people only tell you - 'omg there's is this stupid song on youtube IT'S THE NEW FRIDAY SONG'. So that was essentially my impression of it - a really bad pop song written by idiots who are serious about it.

By the time I caved in to watch the whole video, it was only because my sister wanted to let my mum and dad listen to it in the car - and thus encased in an iron prison I watched it. And yeah we laughed. I remember thinking to myself - 'but why?! He has a really good voice. And sort of cute...but why?!!?'

It didn't really help that in December last year, 4 months after the song was released (on my birthday. Yes I know I mentioned that already.) I bought a fox-print pullover which was a sort of rip-off Kituné Maison's fox print stuff which are really cute but expensive. My pullover was however, much more affordable, and I proudly wore it everywhere BUT AS YOU MIGHT HAVE ALREADY GUESSED, ALL I GOT WAS - 'OMG YOUR SHIRT! WHAT DOES THE FOX SAY!'


I also painted a fox wearing a top hat and suit with an empty speech bubble on a canvas tote bag earlier in the year when I had a sleepover with friends and we decorated tote bags. That bag also drew similar comments. I also had found this really cute photo of a fox smiling which I used it as my twitter dp, which also drew similar comments. I just really like foxes okay?!

So as with a huge majority of people, I was sick of that song. Until last week.

It's actually final submissions next week, so I'm not sure why i'm actually wasting my time typing this. (coughprocrastinatingcough) but last week while trying to get through work, I found myself watching a bunch of Jimmy Fallon videos on youtube, namely those where parents made their kids cry like brats. Then, for some reason, I clicked on the video of Ylvis performing on the show.

My first reaction was - 'well ok he's cute though'. Then two of them appeared on the same screen and I was like - WAIT, THERE'S TWO OF THEM? If this is any sort of valid excuse for being so utterly ignorant, I had only watched the video 1 or 2 times before ok. plz.

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Well that was reason enough to stop watching, but no one - NO ONE - watches only one video on youtube. So I ended up finding out that:

1. Ylvis has a freaking television show where they pull pranks on people and do the MOST HILARIOUS things. The only other time I laugh hysterically while watching something would be SMAP (interestingly, also another talented bunch of singer/comedian/pretty).


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(third guy in gif is Calle, who is tremendously funny as well with those two)

3. IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A JOKE AND NOT A SERIOUS SONG. That changes everything. Because my first reaction of it when I watched it in the car with my sister was that it was funny. But because they did mean it as a joke anyway, those people who were saying 'omg what is this world coming to, I have lost faith in humanity and their ability to music' just...sound silly. (Those people = me?)

I mean, how can people go crazy about this one song, but not go crazy about their existing 10 years worth of comedy? Even when they were invited on american tv shows, not a single clip from I Kveld Med Ylvis, the tv show the song was made for, was shown.

And then now, after it has all died down, I recently shared a video on le dreaded Facebook (this is a topic for another time for how much posting to Facebook irks me these days) of Ylvis prank calling a hotel. NADA. Not one person was interested. It made me quite sad because I replayed that video 3-4 times and it made me laugh every time. I'm pretty sure some people don't even know who Ylvis is, but when you say 'erm the fox guys?' they'll be like 'OOOOOHHH HAHA THEM'.

And this makes my hipster-tendencies react strangely. I mean, firstly, if they were obscure, I'd be like - ok whatevs, you don't know what you're missing out on. But they're aren't obscure. At least their ONE SONG isn't. Therefore I feel like - hey! now I have an interest in something coinciding with everyone else in the world for once and i'm standing here, with my arms wide open, ready to receive the throng of mutual agreement, but i'm left hanging. Alone. Well, except for the pleasant Ylvis fandom on tumblr and youtube who put up really good subtitles and make excellent gifs that made me lol throughout my commute to school on monday.


also Bård Yylvisåker's face is like - I don't even. HIS FENCE. I MEANT FACE.

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Thank you. I will now step off the soapbox and stop listening to the fox vocal track only on repeat. for now. (Bård's voice breaking while shouting WA-PA-PA-PA-PA-PA-POW and Vegard's maniacal CHA-CHA-CHA-CHA-CHA-CHA-CHOW ALWAYS cracks me up.)

Bye. Back to work. ;_;
10 March 2014 @ 05:34 am

I should really be trying to finish up work for studio later since it's 5am and i'm nowhere near finishing; but my head's been swimming with the brilliance that is Olafur Arnalds' music since his concert a bunch of hours ago. And I thought this was a concert i'd really want to look back at my blog and read what I felt after watching it.

A few weeks ago, I woke up crying from a particularly vivid dream. It was one of those rare ones that stayed with me for the rest of the day. When I decided to start on work, I opened the youtube page to look for something to listen to, and there embedded in the suggested videos was Olafur Arnald's living room songs. I possibly cried enough tears to fill a bottle that day, listening to his music.

At the risk of sounding like I have borderline personality disorder, I feel that happiness doesn’t come without a bit of sadness. It is bittersweet - like knowing a loved one might leave any moment, but the happiness is all the more stronger in moments shared and never taking them for granted. Or that day after harrowing exams. Or finally getting the timing for your poached eggs just right. Happiness alone is like a saturated fairground of cheerful song and lights. Happiness with that tinge of sadness is being immersed in a warm outdoor thermal spring bath in the dead of winter, surrounded by snow capped mountains with the frost against your face but not feeling cold. Which is exactly how I feel about Olafur Arnalds' music.

It was then on twitter, after tweeting about how emo I was and how nice his songs were, that I was informed he was coming to perform in Singapore a few weeks later. The best thing was, it was sold out. I went back on twitter to rage about how even more emo I was about the entire situation. Thankfully, there was a waiting list, and I was contacted the week after that I've got a ticket!

My fellow awkward chum Evelyn was going as well (but she bo jio from the start. tsk. XD), so I wasn't alone! It's also thanks to her that we got to sit in the front row because she came a little earlier. woohoo!

The 1 hour set felt like a lifetime. Not because it was boring, but I expected the hour to fly by, like other shorter gigs i've been to. But every nuance and moment in each song spoke of a thousand images, feelings, and other, such inexplicable things that it felt like time had stopped. I remember vaguely thinking to myself if his music was magical enough to stop time - as cliche as it sounds.

If I was alone, I would have cried at some parts. But social propriety states that crying is not allowed in public and within sight of performers. and I didn't want to move. I had my hands held together in a rested-clap position, nails digging into other hand. I uncrossed my legs so that they wouldn't get numb, and thus I didn't need to fidget every 5 minutes. I felt like if I moved I would spoil the moment. That was how intense I felt as an audience member - but clearly some people couldn't stifle their coughs, chair creaks, or fight the urge of gravity by letting their stuff fall to the ground at inappropriate moments.

The lighting and video projections were done really well - minimal but very evocative, and weaved together seamlessly. When I wasn't looking at Olafur's stripey socks under the piano, I was watching the projections, wondering if that was a shadow of the singer Arnor, or a video.

I don't think any other concert i've been to have made me feel moved, inspired, and humbled by the music all at once. I was so in awe of the music I just heard, that I said to myself while in the autograph queue not to say anything stupid to Olafur or Arnor - in fact just don't say anything other than thank you and not spoil the image of Teh Musical God Olafur by saying something embarrassing which would have been met by awkward silence. (clearly I speak from experience.) I also feel so inspired to create new things myself, in various mediums of music, video and writing.

Apart from those omg-such-beauty-much-goosebumps moments, Olafur is so funny without even trying. I watched a few videos of his live performances on youtube, and he always makes people laugh - and he really just does. No one has expressed their opinions on the damn marina bay sands building so pointedly succinct. 'There is a boat...on top of three...buildings. And at night I got really scared when it started shooting lasers. I don't understand...fucking- is this normal? Do you people think this is normal?'

And then he complains about how hot it is in Singapore (it is bloody hot these days, sadly. Dry season and all.) and how he misses home where there's a snow storm...and how he 'can't be alive' in a place like this. I feel you bro. I feel like I need a creative sabbatical to some far off chilly place with landscapes and tiny cabins to create things from my head.

And then I come home, and start tweeting again, only to realise, that he wrote the music for Broadchurch. And then I start putting two and two together; no wonder there was that suggested video on youtube - because months ago I vaguely remember searching for the soundtrack for Broadchurch...And I feel like an idiot for being slow on the uptake.

Now, I have to return to work - though I might just kip off to sleep soon because sleep > work.

p.s.: give him a listen.

I've been watching a lot of Derren Brown lately. In fact, I think i've made it through all his major television shows in recent years, live theatre shows, and i'm just left with a few episodes from the earlier series. I'm quite an obsessive person. When something intrigues me, I pursue it without abandon. I have to know every single fact about the subject; how he did it, what other suits he has and where he lives. I'm joking. (No i'm not.)

I'd like to think that I have a major takeaway from everything I obsess about. From obsessing over Muse, I've educated myself in layman's physics, string theory, conspiracy theories and reciting the alphabet backwards. From obsessing over Mika, I took an interest in French, experimented with my wardrobe that led to much ostracising in my first year at uni, and thought - well if his brother is studying Architecture, it must be a cool thing to study.

Clearly sometimes the takeaways are a little...less positive. However it led me think - have I based my personality and my moral values on the admiration of prominent figures, whether celebrated or non-celebrated; resulting in a thought process like: 'he's OCD. Therefore it must be cool to be OCD. I shall now display OCD-like tendencies.'

Or, is it merely a case of already having such OCD-like tendencies, but having identified with an admired prominent figure who has the same OCD-like tendencies, my own are then amplified?

Which brings to mind the question: is it just a case of subject validation? Subject validation is the belief that two unrelated events are related due to an expectation that demands that relationship. While subject validation is mostly used to describe the phenomena of people's belief in horoscopes and tarot card readings, it does sort of apply here as well. Admired-person says 'I'm OCD'. I then, wanting to be associated with, and be similar to admired-person, look within myself and find existing OCD-like tendencies, like being neat. I then consciously or unconsciously amplify such characteristics to being overly-neat, just so that I can say 'I'm OCD' too.

A related phenomena, is the Barnum Effect. This was kindly supplied to me by Shaun over twitter, when I attempted to communicate my ponderings similar to above, in 140 characters. After reading it, and then going back obsessively to watch more Derren Brown, I found that it was also mentioned several times by the Brown himself, most prominently in a programme where he carried out the Barnum Effect experiment on three different groups of people from three different countries. He gave everyone the same personality test results, telling them that they were unique readings. They were told to rate the accuracy of the test. Most of them gave very high ratings.

Here's a sample of the personality reading from Forer's demonstration (which i nicked off wikipedia.)

You have a great need for other people to like and admire you. You have a tendency to be critical of yourself. You have a great deal of unused capacity which you have not turned to your advantage. While you have some personality weaknesses, you are generally able to compensate for them. Your sexual adjustment has presented problems for you. Disciplined and self-controlled outside, you tend to be worrisome and insecure inside. At times you have serious doubts as to whether you have made the right decision or done the right thing. You prefer a certain amount of change and variety and become dissatisfied when hemmed in by restrictions and limitations. You pride yourself as an independent thinker and do not accept others' statements without satisfactory proof. You have found it unwise to be too frank in revealing yourself to others. At times you are extroverted, affable, sociable, while at other times you are introverted, wary, reserved. Some of your aspirations tend to be pretty unrealistic. Security is one of your major goals in life.

It is shockingly, very accurate don't you think? But while these statements are specially crafted to be general and applicable to a wide range of people, it led me to think - aren't we all just really similar even though we think we're different and unique? Don't we all worry about the same things to different degrees, and hide embarrassing details of ourselves from other people, only to realise during an unexpected heart to heart talk with someone, that everyone finds it particularly satisfying to pick a huge booger from their nose?

Especially after watching Derren Brown display extraordinary cold readings (a technique of reading details of a person using statements similar to the Barnum Effect) of people from different audiences in different shows, we must be so plain and similar to the master conjuror on stage, like sheep waiting to be sheared bare.

Our similarities seem to lie in what we worry about, what we care about and what we want out of life. But what makes our actions so different? Why do we react so differently to such similar goals? If we're all so similar, why do we fuss over who do we choose as a life partner, or what race we are, or what accent we speak?

Is it because we just don't realise how similar we are, that we start to throw up all these differences between us, or are they actually real differences?

Maybe we're just so slightly similar in some ways that we can be manipulated by general statements and a man on stage in coat-tails, herding us around, making us believe that he can read our minds, and making me believe that we're all the same when we're actually not so?

After having typed all of the above and left the house quite perturbed that I couldn't draw a reasonable enough conclusion to the blogpost, I was left thinking about the subject on a train full of regular folk that make up the nation as we know it. What utter rubbish was I thinking? I thought. I'm surely hugely dissimilar to the woman sat opposite me with her arms propped up on her purple pvc tote bag, phone held in landscape position, mindlessly swiping her finger across the screen from left to right. How can I have the same thoughts as the guy sat next to me watching a korean drama on his laptop while deceptively wearing manly-clothes that say 'i-don't-watch-korean-dramas'?

But having come home, read a bit of the book I went out to purchase (and unavoidably spent my money on many other useless objects like a cat plush that was irresistibly cute.) and deciding to put an end to this naggingly self-absorbed, rambling, and pseudo-perspicacious effort at externalising the stream of consciousness that came to me quite readily while brushing my teeth when I woke up today, I lamely proclaim that we're all similar, but different.

This painfully reminds me of the incident in my first year of architecture where I, as a twinkly-eyed, innocent and overly-confident first year student, was nominated and accepted to be the presenter for the first group project we did. I thought it would be superly cool to start the presentation with the line - 'Expect the unexpected.'. Clearly that didn't go down too well with the very experienced tutors who have seen a lot of smoke and codswallop that students spew out at them over the years.

But we are. We are similar, but different. No this isn't a barnum statement (or is it? I'm planted a couple in the first part of this blogpost actually.). While we we have the same unconscious instincts in certain tense situations that make us susceptible to the illusionist on stage, or to the knowing psychologist/psychiatrist who jots down large, unreadable words in his official looking pad while you try to hold back your tears while looking his holiday photos behind him, we are different. We are definitely different. But in trying to fit in with the playground kids, the cool hipsters in school, the office lunch gang, the unnerving relatives you see once a year, we mould ourselves into predictable behaviour. We fall into giving predictable responses to our common fears and motivations. 'I want to be promoted' therefore 'I shall do more work'. 'I don't want to come off as a loser in front of this really clever person' therefore 'I shall throw at said person all the knowledge I have about quantum physics'.

The barnum statements, though seemingly fraudulent after being exposed as such, are not untruths. We're all introverts - to different extents. We're all confident - to different extents. I think the difference we can make in ourselves, and therefore in being different, is being aware of ourselves. To risk sounding like a loony or a terribly mis-informed person, and share our streams of consciousness - not on facebook statuses that irks everyone else except the author and their admirers, but on acceptable platforms such as blogs or a dogeared diary then shelved and left never to be read by anyone else. We should be aware of our strengths and weaknesses. I myself, like to think that i'm 70% introvert, 30% extrovert. While introversion is commonly misconstrued as a weakness, it is in fact a strength that I could, for example, harness and lend to developing more confidence as an extrovert. I'm not entirely sure how this works out, but in general, I hope you can follow my train of thought that being aware of our traits and that we are inherently similar beings, the way we approach life and react due this knowledge, is what makes us different. Then, charging ourselves with an outlook of positivity, and believe that we're able to be extraordinary, that we can take the step towards being different.

Which then now leads to another question of...'why is it so important to be different?'. A classic question of the modern day hipster. This will be left to be dealt with in another blog post, on another day when I have the luxury to casually ruminate on such things rather than worry about the important tasks of the day.
31 December 2013 @ 10:27 pm

I've got a feeling i've reflected much more about this year than any other year in my life so far. Mainly because of my year out, which I feel like i've been continually talking about in this blog, as well as to friends. So you could say 2013 for me was a year of reflection for me.

I may not have had much life experiences so far as a 22 year old - at least not as much as a wise old lady living in a remote mountain growing a 100 foot beard. But I think it's good to sit back and reflect on what has happened in your life from time to time - it sort of puts you in check.

Rather than reiterating the series of events that has led up to this moment - where i am sitting on a slightly damp wooden chair up on the rooftop, typing away like a pseudo-bohemian on a laptop, pausing every few sentences or so to get a bite of a slice of pear and check if I'm making any sense in my previous sentences - I will hazard to construct a cheesy sort-of personal self reflection that may or may not be read as self-gratuitous.

Which blogger never seems self-gratuitous to the reader anyway? Hmm. The smell of the neighbour's barbecue is really nice though.

One really huge thing i've learnt this year is that we should make opportunities happen rather than wait for opportunities to come. I remember getting really disillusioned about making my year out a 'success' by getting as much internships as possible, because nothing seemed to be working out. Jobs seemed to be presented to me, then taken away again. But on reflection, by reaching out to all those people and attempting to break out of my social-awkwardness and making my intentions known, I made an impression and was later called up for other jobs later in the year, some of which I had to painfully reject as it was during the uni semester. If I hadn't reached out to people and stayed in a rut, then nobody would have known I was keen to do work in production design/art department. If I hadn't tried, then nothing would have happened. Of course, I'm so grateful to everyone who has helped me and gave me those opportunities this year, despite the fact that I was entirely new to the profession.

Then there was that moment where I unintentionally expressed my interest to do publicity for the choir i'm in. (I'm sure everyone knows what choir that is and tbh i'm not typing the name here because I know all too well that my blog will appear on google when people search for the choir. publicity does her job yo. XD) I was nominated to be part of the executive committee, and was asked to be the treasurer and I was like 'OH NO I CAN'T' because I'm just horrible with numbers and will probably screw up the accounts. So I said 'umm I don't mind doing publicity, if you want me in the exco...'. My thought-process was: I didn't even expect to be nominated to be in the exco, not that I wanna be in it, but I don't mind helping y'know, if you want me to be in the exco then alright, but i can probably help best in publicity.

...Basically it was just me being neutral about being in an important position, as usual. I was never the leader or in any kind of committee in my life - well except for being a pseudo-publicity head for art club in secondary school, I say pseudo because I was always attending choir practices rather than art club activities. 8| Perhaps I do desire playing a larger role in things I care about, but I'm also inhibited by my own sense of not-wanting-to-say-the-wrong-things and not-wanting-to-be-an-embarrassment-to-myself-and-the-other-party and prefer being nominated for things rather than bursting through the door with dramatic arms singing - 'YES I'M AWESOME! PICK MEEEEEEE~!'

But of course my mindset always led to people misunderstanding me as 'quiet' and 'shy' - the pet peeve of all introverts. And so I was never offered any important positions, but mainly because I never made my intentions known.

Going back to the choir exco example, it was only later this year while chatting with my lovely choirmates that I realised I HAD given people the impression that I WANTED to do publicity. I was initially charged with a huge sense of oh-shit-i-am-an-embarrassment-to-myself-and-the-other-party but on reflection, I think it was good in a way, that I had inadvertently expressed my interest to do publicity. It's something that I enjoyed doing immensely this year. While I procrastinated on schoolwork, intern work, I would immediately jump straight into publicity work for the choir. I'm not sure if it's because it's an entirely new thing and it would get old eventually, or that I just really like refreshing social media pages and seeing the likes and views increase exponentially more than my own other internet-y things (like this blog.) - but I really enjoyed designing and creating publicity material for the online presence of the choir and the concert.

Just before I went for dinner with my family earlier, I chanced upon Derren Brown's Apocalypse, which is a high budget hidden camera programme focusing on a 22 year old guy who isn't motivated in life and is suddenly put in a constructed reality where the world has ended and there are zombies out there. After going through the experience and being made to make important decisions that displayed his courage, leadership and compassion, he emerges a better person. Sounds amazingly cheesy, and suspiciously hoax-y, but I could totally relate to the guy when I watched it. Most of my generation tend to take our parents and our cushy lifestyle for granted. We put things off, and don't find an aim in life. When things don't go our way, we blame others rather than reflecting on ourselves.

Taking a year out and reflecting on what I really want to do in the future, was refreshing for me. I feel like I understand myself better and know what I want out of life. I know never to take what I have for granted - though this has always been with me since many years ago, it's good to be reminded of this every now and then.

And now, a few last phrases that will mean more to me than you, dear reader. But perhaps they'll resonate with you as well.

Be less judging, more feeling. Be brave, and take those chances. Have faith in myself, and persevere. Treasure moments, and remember.

Happy new year! :)
17 December 2013 @ 01:44 pm

雨 / / y u , was created out of my love for the rain, especially the monsoon season that comes around every november-january in Singapore. It is probably our only semblance of a seasonable change to something colder in the festive season! The rain around this season also reminds me studying for finals at the end of the year, cooped up in my room, with only the steady pelting of rain falling as company.

The piano piece in this video was improvised one rainy midnight when the rain was falling outside. I recorded it with my phone, having no prior plans of using it for a video. A few weeks later when I was clearing my phone, I listened to it again, and thought it would be perfect for a video, and so I dug out clips I have of rain from my ext hard drive - which I had a lot of - and started piecing them together to the music.

There's a reddish pebble in the clip, which was actually a test video for another idea I had to make a short animated film about this traveling pebble. Unfortunately...that idea has to wait. The pebble is from the Loch Ness in Scotland. One lovely summer's day last August, I stood on the banks of Loch Ness, and watched people skipping stones across the water. I looked down at the glistening pebbles, mostly grey and green, but this copper red pebble with a little groove caught my eye. The groove looks very much like an eye itself. So I took it home.

This is probably more of the human tendency to draw links to things where it is only pure coincidence, but When I put the pebble on the windowsill, it will start to rain. The day I decided to take my pebble out in the car to film it, it rained. So I now affectionally call it my rain stone. It might make another appearance if the short film idea eventually emerges.

There are other clips that aren't specifically rain, but glittering, light effects that I had gathered over the past year or so from shoots that I was involved in, or just moments that I caught on the go with my phone. Putting the clips and music together, I wanted to create a visual and aural moment in time that captures that special feeling when you're indoors on a quiet night, and the rain starts to fall.

Hopefully my sentiments were translated to you as you watched the video!
17 December 2013 @ 02:29 am

Hey there, faithful reader. A blogpost is due for all the things that has happened to me since my last major update where I unfolded the story of my exciting year out in the middle of university.

To continue where I left off - I started my first semester back in archi school as a third year, and survived! Phew. I had a really unique semester - after being away for a year, many things were different.

Firstly, this is what I presented for my final critique this semester in November:

It is a scheme for a food court integrated with a vegetable farm on the same plot of land. Our studio explored the ways we could shorten food chains and make food sources more transparent to the consumer via architectural and urban design.

Here's a morning shot of my model after I completed it overnight and finished it just in time as the sun rose; so I took it out to photograph it.

These are my lovely studiomates during mid-autumn festival! We brought lanterns and mooncakes to studio to chase away those studio blues. Coming back to uni and joining an entirely new cohort of people I don't know at all was quite scary, but I'm glad to have met such a cool bunch of people from my studio who made me feel less awkward as the weeks went by!

One of my required modules to take was Organisational Behaviour (OB) from the business school, where I had never taken any classes at because I have absolutely no interest in that subject. However I'm really glad I took this module, as I've learnt so much from it - not only in the organisational, professional sense, but also in self-reflexivity - being more aware of myself and interacting with others. It was somewhat a lesson in social constructs and behaviours, which I find really useful in professional and literary pursuits.

with my groupmates from OB and our tutor!

I also decided to take the Chamber Singers module from yong siew toh school of music, which was super fun! I always have a little skip in my step walking into the music school because I was partly fulfilling my dashed dreams of being a music student.

a photo from 2010 after my sister's convocation, I was sitting on the floor outside yst for some reason
...yup they finally let me in - well sort of. XD

The choir operated in a pretty different way from the choirs I've been in JC and secondary school; the first few sessions the entire choir plunged into the songs immediately by sight-singing the pieces, which was scarily awesome because I was used to having sectionals and being told how to sing each page. Being in Chamber made me learn how to be a more independent and responsible choral singer, and also it was my first time trying to blend with vibrato singers beside me o.o

When I was 16, I was completely taken in by the pursuit of music. I aspired to get a grade 8 in piano, and last year I finally completed that long awaited goal, passing the exam with distinctions! woooo~! And so rather than piano on weekends, this semester I was juggling archi and choir practices on weekends.

Actually, I wouldn't use the word 'juggling' to describe how I saw choir practices and uni work this semester. Instead of practices being a hinderance, I looked forward to practices every week where I could just forget the woes of design studio and be with a crazy bunch of people that made uni less stressful.

Together with this bunch of really amazing, dedicated and sweet people I met for the first time last september, our concert was sold out and we put up a really good performance. But more than that, when I stepped on stage with the choir I could only genuinely smile, because I was truly happy and excited to be part of this group of people, who have been working hard towards the concert for 10 months. By the second last song, I felt like I didn't want the concert to end. I feel really thankful to be able to be part of something like this.

Last Saturday we came back together to perform our concert pieces at the esplanade concourse, and I was sabotaged to be the emcee o.o so I dug out ye olde presentation skills acquired from my internship four years ago as a multimedia journalist. It's actually quite fun. heh!

I was also the publicity and welfare officer for the choir this year, which was a great opportunity. I have to thank the Jacob and Michelle for helping with the publicity work along the way, especially when uni started!

So far, my holidays now have been spread out between helping out a production designer with the technical drawings for a set build - which incidentally is the first thing i've drawn in autocad which will actually be built in real life which is pretty cool; carolling practices, carolling with the gang at various homes and hospitals, and planning out my personal art projects. (aka procrastinating)

For the last leg of 2013, it'll be more carolling and hopefully more creating (less procrastination). I've had a really blessed year. To all the new people i've met who have made my year meaningful - even in the smallest, unconscious ways - thank you for making my 2013 a year to remember.
04 September 2013 @ 02:02 am

Ravel's Piano Concerto In G, Adagio Assai.

When I listened to this piece in 2007 when I was 16, my impression of the piece was of a slow walk down a tree-lined forest path, magical and ethereal, with yellow and red leaves falling in slow motion. Pretty cliched. It is sandwiched between the first and third movements which are quick and mischievous pieces. As a 16 year old, I thought the second movement was beautiful, but I always wanted to dive right into the third movement, slightly impatient.

After my chamber singers class today, some of the piano majors were faffing about with the piano (a beautiful steinway full grand that I need to play on before the semester ends) playing a part from this movement of the concerto. I realised that I haven't heard it in the longest time, so when I was on my way home, I listened to it. An hour ago while washing my fish bowl, I listened to it again. And just very unexpectedly, a thought sailed into my mind. 'Why does it sound so...melancholic?'. For 6 years, i've listened to the piece with the impression of it being a 'relaxing' and 'beautiful' portrayal of a rural landscape. But even now, as I'm listening to it while writing this, the sadness jumps out at me very clearly.

So I listen to it again, concentrating on that thought. It opens with the piano, alone. A 3/4 time (imagine a slow waltz) in the left hand, a simple straight singing line on the right. The melody starts with a step forward, then recesses into the back, almost pensive, retrospective. It dips down into something darker, a shade of green-blue. Then traces it's way up in a thin wavering line. It travels alone, into different waters of different shades. It seems to understand something, traces, pieces.

Slowly, it builds up and breaks into a trill (a line of two notes played in quick succession), and then the orchestra comes in slowly growing, led by the high voice of the flute. The sweetness of the oboe takes over, then the mellow clarinet. Joined by the voices of different timbres from the orchestra, they form a slow procession, advancing in tones, creating a kaleidoscope of colours that change ever so slightly - green, blue, flashes of yellow, but mostly darker and murkier tones with the lighter colours sitting on top, like a watercolour painting.

Then the clouds break apart and the palette is washed with a slash of water. The piano is still tracing it's fragile line across the landscape, blotches of washed-out colours dabble below it. I don't know where it's going, or where it's headed, but the way is clear, and it is filled with intricate beauties, leading to a quiet resolution that speaks optimistically.

I guess that's one of the reasons why I love classical music. I can listen to a piece as a 16 year old and enjoy it, and then listening to it again as a 22 year old, finding new meaning in music that was composed 82 years ago - or 200 hundred years ago (mozart died 222 years ago - nifty fact) knowing that millions of others have listened to it, interpreted it, and performed it in a myriad of different ways. Knowing that I can listen to it again when i'm 70, 80, and weep at the profound beauty and wisdom in the music that I wouldn't have known at 22.

What I had a glimpse of for the briefest instant, is the comprehension of what was to come. I can't explain it exactly - it wasn't so much of an image, but a feeling. Perhaps it is a feeling of the complexity of growing up. Year by year, we advance in age, toward a definite point where we will all have to go. Along the way we meet friends, love, experience beauty and ugliness, we say goodbye to some and carry on, and one day we'll look back on this path and see all the different facets from life that we unknowingly passed by, and only in retrospect we learn from them.

And it is with these thoughts in mind, and music in my ears, that I thank every single one of you who sent me birthday wishes, whether it be through text, speech, song, or just in your thoughts. I'm so grateful and thankful to have friends and family that spared a thought for my growth into another year.

Thank you, mum, dad and sis for always being there for me <3 - thank you for the presents and cake on sunday!

Thank you, chamber singers, who sang the best birthday song ever - not only it was the best tuned birthday song, it was in four-parts! (checking that off on the bucket list...) Thank you keane, brenda and matthew for the really good cake and worst tuned birthday song after that! XD

Friends who sent me messages through whatsapp, message, facebook wall, facebook message, twitter, twitter direct message, - HAHA WELL - whether I just met you, or whether we've known each other for 9 years, or 5 years - I thank you alllllllll for sparing a thought and taking the time to send me a message today :'D

It truly makes me happy that all of you chipped in to make my day feel extra special. And so I bequeath upon everyone the gift of Ravel's Piano Concerto. If you don't like classical music, just give it a try - put aside all your preconceptions, and listen to it as we were meant to - simply feel it.

That's all that classical music is - feels. No exclusiveness - it's just feels.
11 August 2013 @ 03:35 pm

“The best thing you can do is the right thing; the next best thing you can do is the wrong thing; the worst thing you can do is nothing.” - Theodore Roosevelt

Taking a year out in the middle of uni was best decision i've made as an adult. I didn't do it because the education system needed me to, or my parents wanted me to. I did it knowing what's best for myself, and not what others think is best for me. And with that mindset, I will set forth continuing my time in university with a fresh start, knowing that this is my life that i'm leading and making my own decisions for.

So at the end of the year out, in retrospect, I will now muse over the various experiences I've had.

In August last year, My mum and I brought my weary soul to the most beautiful place i've ever seen. The Isle of Skye, or also known in gaelic as Eilean a' Cheò, which means 'island of the mist'. My stay there seemed like it was hung in time, a period of limbo. I didn't feel particularly happy, nor particularly sad. I did feel an overwhelming sense of both, but when mixed together it became something other, that made my soul less weary.

In Edinburgh, we caught a few shows from the Fringe, which were joyous, and just pure celebration of the arts. Streets were lined with artists of all callings, and the town buzzed with a glow at night. I also spotted a geeky merch store with windows filled with Doctor Who stuff. I literally stopped in the street and said OH MY GAWD and prodded the glass excitedly. We went in and while cashing our stuff, the storekeeper told us he thought Matt Smith looks like a knee (obviously he supported David Tennant - SCOTTISH PRIDE. LOL. I wonder what he thinks of Peter Capaldi right now.)

When we returned to Singapore, I started looking for internships in production design. While sending out emails everyday, I also volunteered for various architecture events, such as the World Architecture Festival(WAF) and ArchiFest.

Here are a few OmgISawAnArkiTek! photos.

I got to meet a few new friends at WAF, and new friends are always nice. One of them is now studying architecture in Australia, and a bunch of them were architecture students from London. I think they would have graduated by now! :)

I was also an architour tour guide for ArchiFest, bringing a bunch of grown ups around various places of architectural significance in Singapore. It was scary at first, but it was fun in the end!

Volunteering for these events made me see architecture with new eyes, especially at WAF, where I could go to different rooms to hear different architects from all over the world talk about their projects.

After a long period of applying, I finally got a place at Artison Asia, which specialises in art direction.

They were having their anniversary in the week I joined and I was roped into the picture as well XD It's a pretty snazzy photo. ;D Just out of frame in this photo are two people that I met at my internship. Farhana, who was interning in the production side for her final year in poly, and Chris from Germany who was interning in the photography side. They were throwing confetti into frame. HAHAHA.

I had a lot of fun working at Artison, and it was my first furrow into the world of film and art direction. I was particularly fascinated with the filming process, and it was pretty exciting to be on sets of television commercials. Here's one of the commercials I was involved in:

I was pretty lucky to have been involved in this as this was a set build (did you notice? ;D) I helped to conceptualise the space using sketchup, and did a bit of set dressing too (mainly the shelves) Here are a few photos of the set:

I drew this bar in sketchup, but it was entirely made by two brilliant (and very funny) carpenters that are also in the confetti photo above. Amaziiiiing

funnily enough, those same LED lights in the bar shelves will appear again in another shoot, in another company...

I loved watching how the crew all work together

I'm indebted to the art department people, Louisa, Wendy and Michelle, for teaching me so many things during my stay at Artison. It was such an insight into the world i was considering to go into, and I only emerged a better person after working there :D

After Artison, I did some more volunteering, this time as a exhibition guide for Grimshaw Architects' exhibition at the URA building.

Here's a derpy photo of myself at the exhibition XD

I then had the arduous task of yet again finding another job. After some hits and misses, lots of emailing, and even a consideration to go into a pastry chef internship - which I had to decline because then another job came up in June. (I still wonder what that internship would have gone like...)

The major thing I realised was how difficult it was to apply for a job. Rejection after rejection, and furthermore the industry in Singapore was so small...but in retrospect I applaud myself for actively seeking out what I wanted and making a way for myself. I also realised that production design - the design of physical sets - was pretty much non-existent in Singapore, except on occasion. It was mostly art depts that did everything under the sun pertaining to art - props sourcing, set dressing. I really do admire how hard they work to bring the sets to live.

In a way I had failed my original plan of doing production design work in my year out, because truthfully I did more art department than production design. But I'm glad to even have the opportunity to work in film, which is why I have to thank Li Lin for giving me my next job after Artison, as an art dept assistant in a toggle telemovie she was directing.

Here are some photos from the two weeks or so of shooting:

an artistic shot of some lights and stuff from the first day of shooting. (subsequently there wasn't time for anymore artistic shots. XD)

on a different location

I'm now the expert in chinese new year decorations after all the houses we dressed...

my proudly arranged steamboat spread HAHA

high-end bite-sized bee hoon, rolled by yours truly

I met new people again, like my fellow art dept assistant, Allysa, and the art directors Grace and Wyna. I had a lot of fun on this shoot as well, and I was thankful for the prior experience I had at Artison that made sure I didn't do anything embarrassing like standing in frame, or toppling c-stands over. Also because one of the locations was very near my grandma's house, I slept over in her house for the first time and was woken up by my grandpa whistling to the birds in the morning. It was quite surreal, i'm not sure if it actually happened.

As this was my first time being involved in a drama shoot, it was also very intriguing to watch how the film crew and cast operated. Being something of an autodidact, I hoped to absorb some of those skills while never know! but hay i've never been to film school ^^

It was an amazing experience and i'm glad to have been involved in the shoot. Oh and the LED lights I mentioned before? Well we bought the lights from Artison and used it to backlight a huge cutout of the main character, half naked. It's quite funny how those LED lights share the same experiences as me....HAHA! I have the photo somewhere on my phone, but I don't feel like spoiling the humour of that scene when it appears. So you'll have to wait until the telemovie airs in February next year!

Well, those are the major things that highlighted my year out, as they were what I was setting out to achieve. I also did a bunch of fun and non-consequential stuff like:

meeting Prince William and Kate, and shaking William's hand with him saying 'Hello, nice to meet you' to my face - if only for 3 seconds;

catching two door cinema club live for the second time, getting amazing photos of them and had Alex sign my photo with him that I took the last time they came;

catching The xx live for the first time!

I also had time to produce videos, time to produce art. Time to explore other interests like baking and taking baking classes, having time to meet friends and having them over for a sleepover, realising the addictiveness of kpop, watching every single Studio Ghibli film and marvelling at their art, storytelling and compelling characters, and most importantly, having time for myself.

My family moved to a new house in December last year, and I spent a good amount of time doing it up myself - painting my wall a nice shade of sandy beige, then painting birch trees that reminded me of scotland.

Making more videos for my youtube channel, which is very much a hobby, though the channel has always dreamed of becoming famous. XD check it out here and subscribe! HAHA.

Doing some graphic design work and art:

see more here

Joining Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir 4

I also had time to go back to music. After completing my grade 8 in piano last year, I didn't have time to go back to music, and music is after all the place I find refuge in. With my year out, I finally had time to join EVOKX, which i unofficially joined in 2010 when it was first established. It is a community choir that gives back to charity, and we're having a concert this year on the 27th of October to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Foundation.

When I first joined last year in September, I walked into the room knowing absolutely no one, feeling so nervous I felt like vomiting on the train. (I have social anxiety issues, clearly.) but now I feel thankful to have met such amazing people who come together every week to sing. I carolled with them in December, was voted in to be the publicity and welfare manager for 2013, and thus my days were filled with singing and designing publicity material for the upcoming concert (like the one above!).

I also picked up the violin again in February this year, having had only four lessons before in 2010 before uni dictated my life and I had to stop. After 7 months, I'm playing grade 3 level pieces (or so my kind teacher tells me) which makes me think of the phrase - If given a year, what can we achieve? But yet again uni beckons, and knowing how crazy archi is, I have to stop my lessons again for now...

I feel like I've grown a lot from my year out. Not just in terms of art direction, music, or making things, but handling the bumps in life, dealing with people, and understanding myself.

It brings to mind Vita Merlini - the latin poem of Merlin in his period of madness, finding insight into himself. Here's an extract:

'And [Merlin] mourns the men, nor ceasing to pour out tears, he sprinkled his hair with dust and ripped off his clothes and lying flat on the ground he rolls now this way now that. Peredur comforts him, as do the nobles and dukes, but he desires neither solace nor to endure their supplicatory words. By now he had lamented for three days entire and had refused food, such great grief had consumed him. From that time on, after he had filled the air with so many and such great laments, he suffered a new madness and stealthily withdrew and fled to the woods, nor does he wish to be seen while fleeing, and he enters the forest and rejoices to skulk beneath the ash trees and marvels at the beasts grazing on the grass of the glade; now he follows them, now he passes by them at a run. He consumes the roots of plants, he consumes the plants, he consumes the fruit of the trees and the blackberries from the bramble bush; he becomes a man of the woods as though devoted to the woods. From then on during the whole summer he was discovered by no one and forgetful of himself and of his own kindred he hid himself in the woods, clothed in the manner of a wild beast.' [source]

And so, when tomorrow comes I return to being a university student - an architecture student, bound by the never-ending workload and stress that comes with it. However, embracing it all, I look forward to whatever comes my way, and I'll look back on my 12 months 'clothed in the manner of a wild beast' as a guiding light.
11 August 2013 @ 12:15 am

I finally got round to making this latest video of mine. It's such a joy to be able to control every part of making a video, even though my attempt 'spretty shabby compared to high-end short films that indie peeps like to make these days.

About a month or two ago my friends came over for a sleepover, and I told them they had to see this amazing 'untouched' beach a short walk from my house. I checked the tide level, and we went down to the beach and the tide was stretched way out. I had been down to the beach two times before that, but never at sunset. And it was so pretty that day. The thing is, I only had my iphone with me. D:

So I went back on another day, determined to catch another sunset at low-tide. The one I caught, which you'll see in the video, isn't as pretty as the day my friends came over for a sleepover. But still it was magnificent. I also got attacked by a lot of mosquitos.

Initially I just wanted to make a silly video about walking down to the beach. But when I got home, I thought about making it into a video about the sea, with a narration of some sorts over it. The narration didn't have to make sense, it could just be words, and just the sound of words being said. Unfortunately I'm not the best narrator in the world, but I did try my best. If only I could get stephen fry to do it....

I actually have another video-series idea that's been slow-cooking in my head for awhile, involving small insignificant characters that shine in their own way. I intend for them to be narrated over in the same style, a sort of mini-story with an accompanying illustration, or animation.

However sadly I don't know how to animate, and i'm entirely without filming resources (cast and crew etc.) so that idea has to cook a little longer.

ANYHOO as we were talking about this video, it's a sort of testing bed for the narrative story video idea. After a few weeks of procrastination I found the perfect poem - The Dry Salvages by T.S. Eliot. Here's the part I narrated in the video:

The river is within us, the sea is all about us;
The sea is the land's edge also, the granite
Into which it reaches, the beaches where it tosses
Its hints of earlier and other creation:
The starfish, the horseshoe crab, the whale's backbone;
The pools where it offers to our curiosity
The more delicate algae and the sea anemone.
It tosses up our losses, the torn seine,
The shattered lobsterpot, the broken oar
And the gear of foreign dead men. The sea has many voices,
Many gods and many voices.

The salt is on the briar rose,
The fog is in the fir trees.
The sea howl
And the sea yelp, are different voices
Often together heard: the whine in the rigging,
The menace and caress of wave that breaks on water,
The distant rote in the granite teeth,
And the wailing warning from the approaching headland
Are all sea voices, and the heaving groaner
Rounded homewards, and the seagull:
And under the oppression of the silent fog
The tolling bell
Measures time not our time, rung by the unhurried
Ground swell, a time
Older than the time of chronometers, older
Than time counted by anxious worried women
Lying awake, calculating the future,
Trying to unweave, unwind, unravel
And piece together the past and the future,
Between midnight and dawn, when the past is all deception,
The future futureless, before the morning watch
When time stops and time is never ending;
And the ground swell, that is and was from the beginning,
The bell.

'The salt is on the briar rose' is my favourite line because it immediately evokes such a strong image and even the smell of the sea.

I also attempt to sing in the video, to words and music I wrote. The words were actually for an online writing competition that called for a story in less than 250 words or something like that. Here's how it goes:

We're a speck in a sea of dust. Yet looking closer,
that speck becomes a seed which becomes a map upon which millions tread.
So look to your skies and cast your thoughts far - as a beachcomber finds what washed up upon shore,
The other side might find
We're not so small after all.

Including this in the video didn't occur to me until probably after a few weeks of procrastination - after finding the poem above. It was entirely coincidental that I used sea imagery, and it was perfect for the video. I contemplated narrating this bit as well, but while I was recording the music, I thought, ah why not - and just sang off the top of my head. I did want to do it in a more spooky-whispery-witch voice, but I thought I was already going to scare alot people with my singing. XD

The music was pretty enjoyable to record, as it was the first time I was using my new Blue Snowball microphone. It captures the guitar beautifully, and incidentally, the piano too - which means no more fuzzy piano recordings in the future! (if, i don't procrastinate.) I took a bit of time figuring out the chords I was going to use. As i'm completely unversed in guitar chord terminology, I just played around until I found a chord I liked.

I then narrated the poem over the music in the same track, then did the singing last. I then had the tedious task of editing my clips together. Clips that I had filmed without having a prior storyboard.

Oh the failings of a one-woman video-production crew.

I used some clips from prior vacations to Switzerland and Scotland in 2011 and 2012. In the end, knowing that my editing was pretty crap, I had hoped at least to achieve sense of the video following the narrative storyline, with the video being vignettes, like looking through a view-master of moving photography. If you follow my photography from Switzerland and Scotland, you might recognise some of the places.

Of course being a lit student (minor, but still) I could talk about the effect of interspersing the travel clips with the sunset beach clips: memories of distant lands evoked by the sea, about how all seas are connected and tralala therefore connecting to my sung words on how we're not so small after all...

But i'll spare you. Just enjoy the video, and it'll help a lot if you subscribe to my youtube channel (i mean i won't spam your subscription box - procrastination and all) I love crafting these little videos, and it'll be great if I had people to share them with! :)

p.s. Those dogs in the video? They're strays in the area. They were pretty apprehensive when I approached them, so I kept a distance. But it's so cute that they were enjoying the sea and the sunset. :3
05 August 2013 @ 12:29 am

The xx came to Singapore last week and gave a fantastic concert at the new Star Vista concert hall. I caught the one on Friday with Fatmah and Madelyn! Our seats were rather good - second level circle seats - with access to the end of the balcony - which of course I ran down to a rather perfect photographer's spot. I was looking forward to Sunset, and they didn't disappoint. If I wasn't torn between getting good photos and properly listening to the gig, I might have teared a little :'D Here are my photos!

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