Kickstarting Mosaic Music Festival's In The House series, Ling Kai and Jonathan Chan share their full-time and part-time musical careers respectively as local musicians and at the same time, promote imagine concert.
Moderated by: Sinclair
(image credit: Nicholas Tan and lingmusic.com.sg
So Ling, how does it feel to be back in this Mosaic festival?
Ling Kai: It’s great. The Esplanade is one of the most enjoyable venues for musicians. So this time we are performing in the concert hall, and this time round, everything has been really great so far and I get to work with fantastic musicians like Jon.
Jon, have you played here solo before? Or with Plainsunset?
Jonathan Chong: In the Mosaic festival, I have played solo. I think this is the first time I have done a collaboration with other artists. I’m not here with Plainsunset.
I thought you guys played here before?
Jonathan: We have played at The Esplanade, but not part of the Mosaic Music Festival.
So how does it feel to be a part of the local powerhouse like Art Fazil and international stars like Paula and Stacy Kent?
Jonathan: For me, it’s quite cool to see guys like Stacy Kent and Russian Red, people and all that coming. For me, there was a little bit of a moment during the rehearsal when I walked in and I saw one guy who looked like Art Fazil. Because if you were in the music scene, the local music scene when everyone knew who he was, and everyone still knows him, everyone still sees guys like him around so when I saw him, it was a moment of ‘kk… kkk….’ (sign of nervousness)
Ling Kai: Starstruck.
Jonathan: (with a very high-pitched voice) ‘Oh man it’s him!’ (resumes to normal voice) that kind of thing. My band members were like (whispering into mike) ‘eh get autograph for me’
Ling Kai: Take photo. Take photo.
Jonathan: Got video already, done already.
Ling Kai: Oh awesome.
And what about Ling? How do you feel?
Ling Kai: I’m actually sharing a dressing room with Kat Ong, so we get to hang out quite a bit. And she’s a really really nice person and she’s a great great vocalist as well, so she’s been giving me tips on singing and everything, so it’s been great. She’s a really experienced local music veteran as well so it’s been to actually get to know them and get to interact with them and talk about music.
Did you guys know them before? Prior? Any of the artists?
Jonathan: I knew Kat from before, I’ve done a couple of small appearances and we did a couple of things together previously. Joshua Wan, the music director, he’s actually someone whom I’ve seen quite around. I’ve met his wife, we have a lot friends in common, but this is actually the first time we are working together no a project.
I understand you guys have a duet at the concert. What will you guys be singing?
Jonathan: We’re doing a song from John Mayer. It’s called ‘Waiting For The World To Change’. I don’t usually do duets, so this will be quite cool.
Ling Kai: Yeah. But he’s playing electric guitar as well, so that’s something to look forward to. And yeah it’d be fun! I think John Mayer is kind of interesting because the meaning of the lyrics are kind of ironic? I think the meaning of the song kinda change for us after we started singing and then looking at the kind of lineup and suddenly it took on a whole new meaning.
You guys are both full-time musicians?
Ling Kai: I’m full-time. I actually was in advertising after I graudated from university but then, I worked for 6 months and then I realised, this isn’t for me. I’d rather do music and so, I decided to do music full-time and how I make a living is play in pubs and stuff in the evenings. And then I write music in the day.
What’s that like for your family? It can’t be easy. Full-time musician in Singapore, doing original music.
Ling Kai: (Haha) Well I guess parents are the same everywhere. I think, if you tell them, ‘Hey mom. Hey dad. I’m going to quit my job and gonna be a musician full-time.’ Everyone’s going to wonder, you know, how are you going to feed yourself? How are you gonna pay your bills? But I think it can be done. You just have to be creative with the ways with people to hire you? I’ve played in like birthday parties, company events and stuff like that, so.
So it is possible, if there is any aspiring singer-songwriter out there. You can come to speak to Ling for some advice. What about you Jon?
Jonathan: I don’t really do this full-time. This is something I’ve been doing for fun since the mid-nineties. I’m actually teaching part-time in LASALLE. I teach drawing to fashion students, talk about completely different connections so that’s actually what I spend a lot of time doing nowadays but music is still something to me that is a lot more, still a lot more fun and the fun is in the travelling. That part still makes me want to get up every morning.
Do you think that keeps it fresh, by not doing it as a job? The music?
Jonathan: I think that there is a certain edge to it because you end up trying to balance your life and at the same time, I felt that with my personality type, I’m both audio and visual so one acts as a balance and relief for the other. So in that sense, it’s never completely lost its appeal even though I get distracted with my work sometimes.
And what about you Ling? Doing it full-time and you have to play song that you don’t really want to play to bring home the bills? Does that dampen the edge a bit?
Ling Kai: Well honestly speaking, sometimes you get requests for songs that people like but you’ve get like a million times probably, but you know you just have to find ways to make it fresh again for yourself? For example ‘I’m Yours’ by Jason Mraz, it’s so happy and people always ask for it when they’re in a pub drinking and sometimes I do a really dark and depressing version so that kinda surprises people, but it’s fun - for ME (hahaha).
I think that’s important.
Ling Kai: Yeah. I guess when a musician’s happy, you tend to perform better as well.