Sunday, January 31, 2010

音響論壇短評 [taiwan's audio art preview]

check out taiwan's premier hifi magazine audio art's short preview of love's tapestry here.

the writer emphasizes on the "naturalness" and "realness" of love's tapestry sound, sans hifi effects so prevalent with many hong kong's and taiwan's audiophile recordings.... we are not sure if that's a compliment because that's the pop pop music's signature sound and it is often misunderstood as being "not exciting".

we strive hard to get a natural sound with the best balance in the entire spectrum, so that it will shine in systems that are well-tuned. systems which have skewed sound may not benefit fully but once the owner hears the full potential of the recording, we hope that he will appreciate it and improve his system to that level.

anyway, any form of publicity is good for us ;-)

酒廊音樂 [lounge music and muzak]

elevator music, literally

a particular record shop in kl has been bringing many pop-disguised-as-audiophile albums to the market for the past 2-3 years. most of these albums come from philippines, some from thailand. some sell well and some don't.

a close friend of mine told me that in these countries, competition is fierce. they are plenty of this kind of pseudo-audiophile albums selling for as low as RM15-19 in their homeland. many labels put up a very glamorous name for the singer; some don't even bother to show the singer's face. often the printing and packaging are economical. you can't blame them, nation like the philippines and thailand are huge music-loving nation with plenty of talents. unless you are charice (the petite singer promoted by david foster), chances are you will be submerged under a sea of wannabees.

today we took a good listen to some of these cds. disappointingly, we have to say many are just your ordinary lounge music or muzak, as we call it. while the vocalist's vocal ability is decent but never distinguishable from one another, the musicians and the arrangement are just so ordinary. one album even uses electronic instruments throughout. the choice of songs, nevertheless, is always good, which explains the viability of such albums in the malaysian market.

lest you think that we look down on lounge singers/bands, no, we don't. music is a tough business. all musicians, whatever level they are playing, need to "cari makan" in their own ways and for that they gain our utmost respect. we just need to state that there's a lot of difference between eric li's trio or tay cher siang's trio in NBT and your typical 3-star hotel philipino band.

different horses for different courses. we just wish we could elevate music appreciation level of our readers.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

學友都發燒[jacky is an audiophile]

jacky holding a glass CD

call that foresight, a desperate measure or looking into the future, jacky cheung's "private corner" is a major step taken by major label to tap into the audiophile music market.

first, the music genre: jazz. very few have attempted jazz in the bold manner that jacky is doing. big band and swing are mutually exclusive with mainstream cantopop.

second, it is the first time universal music releases an album in limited edition glass CD format.

third, audiophile cable TARALAB is being used in the recording. (yeah, they definitely can't beat stage III concepts, hehe)

fourth, mastering is done by bernie grundman.

whatever it is, we see it as a good sign that jacky is tapping into the audiophile market. pop market is long dead and buried.

however, major labels should consult a professional audiophile music label if they really want to make sure the quality is up to the standards and being able to satisfy audiophiles. we have seen too many major labels in the past doing the same thing (i.e leo ku, hacken lee): their approach is at best half-hearted. marketing is just not enough; implementation and execution is key.

we foresee more and more major artistes following the footsteps of jacky cheung.

Friday, January 29, 2010

好的開始 [marvellous first session]

it is not far off to say that for the first session recording of 2v1g chapter 2, roger wang stole the show. i seldom see roger work so hard for his music. he seems inspired to bring 2v1g to a different level.

we completed 6 songs in 4 days in a rather relaxed pace which allows roger to fine-tune his guitar playing and arrangement.

in between free time, we fed roger so much food but our man is on diet, preferring less pork and fat this time. a good sign, indicating that roger wang is conscious about his health as he wants to give us many more years of good music.

this new 2v1g is mature, polished and very classy, a large part thanks to roger's playing and the maturing of the 2v1g format.

the two voices are already very good so they just need to keep up the normal standards.

eventho' we miss regine tai's warmth and femininity, the new "V" proves to us that we get back something equally precious: that's a sincere voice that's full of emotions and sensitivity. even roger is pleased with the new "V", and we know roger is not one that can be easily pleased when it comes to vocalist as he has worked with many stunning vocalist including mia palencia. the new "V" is indeed very good.

even winnie ho is looking bubbly and confident. is she glad to have a new partner or is she glad to see an inspired roger wang?
our producer, chow, is also very inspired. he starts to chronicle the making of this album in his blog and shares his thoughts in facebook. i have never seen chow like that.

i will let you in on a secret: we are going to cover a original composition by roger wang with lyrics penned by winnie ho.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

好熱鬧! [happening!]

my musictoxin partner, chow kam leong, has revived the blog musictoxin. he writes fantastically in mandarin about jz8, 2v1g and other common projects with pop pop music. please support us!

meanwhile, jacky cheung has released his jazz album, private corner. you can sample the songs here. jacky took double take's song "love's scale" and translated into cantonese 【十二個音】. roger played the guitar in this song! congrats to roger wang for if this song gets famous, his would be getting a handsome royalty!

to make malaysians proud, the recording of the album was done in the ark studio in taman tun dr. ismail last year. the sessionists include lewis pragasam, andy peterson and roger wang.

from initial listening, jacky is very bold in using a lot of big band and swing for the music, definitely a refreshing break from those run-of-the-mill cantopop. victoria music staff told me that they have listened to the album and they find it boring..... c'mon, let's give jacky a chance la, guys!

we are proud that roger wang's song is being picked by jacky cheung! yay!

another great news is - love's tapestry has entered thailand and is going to enter indonesia, a huge untapped market for us! now you understand why we cut an english album...

double yay!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

美聲與吉他神 [2 victories and 1 guitar god]

we have been waiting for this moment for 18 months: the commencement of 2v1g's sophomore album. the wait seems like an eternity.

after 18 months of rest, what have changed and what have been retained?

changes include roger wang's understanding of chinese pop music and his playing style, which is getting more and more sensitive and heartfelt, making roger a N.A.M, a new-age sensitive man... just joking ;-)

what remains is the same passion and belief we had when we started the project in 2007: to deliver all these beautiful chinese ballads in the most heartfelt, touching and stripped down manner.

and the two voices. wow wee. we can say we have with us two of the best chinese vocalists in malaysia. they are supremely talented singers and they sing so effortlessly. even roger wang is so inspired this time by their performance and vocal ability.

the tall specky guy at the back is kk chin, our biggest supporter who came to pay us a visit

let's us reveal a secret. roger wang was so excited on the first night that he could not sleep but to wake up in the middle of the night practising sandy lam's "the girl who walks down the street" 【走在大街的女子】. this is the first time we see roger wang being so intensely motivated. we guess roger knows his mission on hand, that's to deliver a 2v1g so much better than the first one.

what started as an experimental acoustic trio has now become a cult. there are a lot of expectations on them to deliver a performance comparable to their debut, if not surpassing.

we believe the new 2v1g can.

we believe there will be a second wave coming in may 2010.

Monday, January 25, 2010

菲靡靡之音 [the decadent sound of faye]

15 years and still remains one of our all-time-fave albums, and all-time-best cover version albums. we even have a few versions of this album.

15 years and it is still as relevant as before. in fact, it shows how today's chinese pop music has gone backward.

15 years and it still can't be surpassed in terms of musicianship, arrangement and creativity.

15 years and it is still definitive.

of course, we are talking about faye wong's definitive cover of teresa teng classics.

listening to it now brings back memories of the great diva in her heyday and the strong production team she worked with, which included malaysia's alex san, who surprisingly didn't make much an impact since his return to malaysia many years ago.

avantgarde arrangement, creative direction, top-notch and stylistic vocals from faye, all these made "the decadent sound of faye" a modern pop classic. we could still feel our goose bumps raised every time we pop in the cd in the player.

we will use it as a gold reference for our teresa teng album. we would buy a copy each for tay cher siang and roger wang.

市場的動力 [market forces]

the sun shining brightly on pop pop music

at this infant stage of our growth, we realize pop pop music can't afford to do "shiok-sendiri" (self-gratifying) projects but instead, we need to cater to what the mass market wants and can accept easily. hence we have decided to put aside the tribute to sandy lam and tribute to sheila majid project and concentrate more on chinese albums.

after we watched the solianos for the 3rd time last friday, we are still so much in awe of their performance so even if it is a malay album we have every confidence that it will shake the market.

in summary, our major releases for 2010 would be:

1) jz8 (march 2010)
2) 2v1g's 2nd album (june 2010)
3) my bossa nova princess (august 2010)
4) the solianos "timeless" (september 2010)
5) the decadent sound of teresa teng (november 2010)

each of this release is a strong album on itself with strong branding, positioning and artistic direction. we think these 5 major projects would propel us to the forefront of audiophile label and put us in a very good position to compete at the international level with other audiophile labels in the world.

there's enough on our plate - we would stop conceiving new projects now, unless we have clients who commission us to do specific projects.

it is gonna be one helluva year with these 5 releases hitting the market!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

尋找歌手 [female vocalist wanted]

we received a commisioning from a client, who is a hardcore fan of teresa teng, to do a cover album of his idol. his is tired of the china singers doing all forms of permutations to teresa's music, he wants something fresh and slightly more westernized. he believe we can do a good job. he specifically wanted tay cher siang and roger wang in it.

we do find it challenging to redefine what's is already done to death by hundreds of singers. the problem with doing teresa teng's covers is always the singer, who is the one who's going to be compared with hundred of wannabes before her. the pressure is tremendous on this singer.

so we are looking for this singer who has the mettle to interpret these songs confidently and convincingly without the fear of being compared with.

here's our requirements of the female singer we are looking for:

1) aged below 40
2) above average looks. errr.....good looks preferred, actually ;-)
3) a sweet voice with good pitching, good emotions more than good techniques
4) good mandarin diction
5) familiar with teresa teng's works

the songs that our client wanted are:

1) 我怎能離開你
6) 淚的小雨
9) 君心我心
10) 月亮代表我的心 (this one we will sure turn the table around!)

if you think you fit the above and is keen to take up the challenge, shoot an email or submit a demo to

or if you think you have friends who fit the bill, please recommend this once-in-a-lifetime (ok la, we exaggerate) opportunity to her . singers from regional countries are welcome.

we would produce an album for you that our client and your parents would be proud of.

we are going to call this project 靡靡之音[the decadent sound of teresa teng]. our mission is to challenge and better faye wong's classic 菲靡靡之音!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

大師說 [the master says]

instead of writing a long article about mr. ye yun chuan of rhymoi, i will give you snippets of his wise sayings, which are beneficial to newbies like us and illuminating to music lovers like you.

"you must believe in your music. it is good to listen to customers but there are 10,000 customers with 10,000 different opinions. you need to know how to filter them"

"we are the lucky bunch. because we can make music that makes people happy and emotional. in turn, we make ourselves happy. ask yourself: what career gives you this kind of satisfaction?"

"make music that touches your heart first then it will touch other people's hearts"

"the worst of times is the best of times. if not because of the bad times in the music industry and music labels dying one by one, small audiophile labels like us won't stand out so easily. look at it: less competition means we don't have to fight and compete so hard"

"the number of awards rhymoi won in china in the past are more than the number of albums in our catalogue!"

"china audiophile labels creating their own mastering technology is more business-initiated more than anything else. i have no time for this. we believe mastering should be done by the experts like stockfisch and doug sax: we just concentrate on making good music"

"rhymoi's motto is: make music with a heart"

"my biggest musician team is 90 people. mind you, that's a huge team needing a huge recording studio. "big" doesn't mean it will be easy to touch people's heart. your 2 voices 1 guitar can also touch people's heart if the music is good. so size doesn't matter"

"china is a lawless country as far as copyrights control are concerned. now we get pirated cds selling at the same price as the originals with almost-authentic and even better packaging. how do you fight that?"

"the only way to counter piracy is to tell the music lovers to buy from authorized dealers/outlets, then you can ensure genuine stuff"

"you can't be successful with every title you released. the important thing is, analyze every album carefully. why this album sells well; why this album doesn't sell well. rhymoi has many best sellers, equally it has many duds. it is important to know the reasons why certain albums don't do so well"

"you should be grateful to your customers and supporters. why must they fork out their hard-earned money to buy your cds when there are dozens means to obtain it free? be grateful and reward them with good music and good recording"

"i always tell people i am not an audiophile; i am a music lover"

Friday, January 22, 2010

越來越近了 [counting down]

4 more songs to go and we will be wrapping up the recording of jz8 and ready for post-production.

if we take 8.8.2008 (that is where the '8' in jz8 comes from) as the project initiation date, jz8 has taken more than 15 months to complete.

so if there is no untoward circumstances, jz8 will see you in march 2010.

again, we would seek the expertise of doug sax for mastering because he is so good.

the recording this time will surpass love's tapestry... it is more nuanced, emotive and even more analogue. you will be amazed by the bass quality of the drums from one of the best drummers in malaysia, charles wong. our engineer vong has his own unique ways in recording guitar and drums; he gets it right all the times.

no more oversized irregular packaging, we may perhaps use the more expensive jewel case. tentative retail price is RM48.90.

this will be a joint production between pop pop music and musictoxin.

we are very excited ;-)

與大師見面 [meeting with the master]

Ye Yunchuan is a Producer, composer, arranger, graphic designer and the founder of the famous Chinese Hi-fi Brand, Rhymoi Music. He is, without any question, one of the rising stars in China’s growing music industry. Prior to his current activities, Ye established an international reputation, as a composer and producer, being awarded several Chinese Golden Album Awards, numerous rave reviews in CD Bible (China) in addition to being included on China City Radio Association’s “Ten Hottest Albums” roundup. Years of cooperation with international music production and publication circles has provided him with a truly global perspective. As founder of his own recording label, Rhymoi Music, he is committed to establishing new standards of excellence for recorded music in China. Rhymoi Music recordings are immediately identifiable - with their innovative approaches to programming, world-class musical and artistic standards, beauty of presentation and packaging, cultural relevance, and their conscious desire to introduce the treasures of Chinese music to an international audience - Rhymoi Music is without peer. With his deep commitment to the traditions and national music of his homeland, Ye Yunchuan is committed to building new and ever more creative and beautiful bridges between the musical heritage of China and the musical traditions of the world. We believe that Ye Yunchuan’s vision is being accomplished with each new recording.

after last night's meeting with china rhymoi's head honcho, mr. ye yun chuan 【葉云川】 , i become a wiser man. this is the man who single-handedly brought global fame to chinese audiophile music. even western audiophiles are looking up to rhymoi now.

looking barely older than 30 year-old, the learned looking ye is actually 41 this year. he has so much wisdom in him that you won't be surprised by his success in china in barely 6 years in involvement in rhymoi.

i will report on this fateful meeting in my next blog post.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

權威推動 [the great push]

we remembered when oasis (the greatest britpop band in the 90s) released the sensational sophomore album "what the story morning glory?" in UK, the response was lukewarm. then it went to the big apple USA, suddenly oasis was the overnight sensation and everyone back home suddenly realized what a gem they have in oasis and started buying the album.

sometimes, it takes some overseas recognition to gain the respect of the locals. all you need is some foreign authoritative opinion leaders to say some good words about your album then you can fly. it is the same reason why every aspiring chinese singer in malaysia wants to go taiwan to get the "certification".

we are dreaming of pop pop music being mentioned in TAS (the absolute sound) and stereophile, the two most respectable english-language hifi magazines on earth. we are already connecting with some distributors in USA. we believe we will reach there given enough perseverance and determination.

but we are already doing our homework regionally. love's tapestry would soon appear in taiwan's audio art 【音響論壇】 and hong kong's audiophile 【發燒音響】 review column. let's keep our fingers crossed that the golden ears there would take a liking to our album and promote it.

btw, the normal edition of love's tapestry will soon be released! it is priced at Rm42.90.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

愛上 olivia [l-o-v-e olivia]

if not because of "my bossa nova princess" project, we would not have bought this album (as a reference) and develop a liking for olivia ong. not that we are not aware of her existence, it is just that they are just too many albums to buy la.

as a package, olivia is a gem: good looks with angelic voice. you practically can do no wrong with this kind of singer, what with the male-dominant, testosterone-packed audiophile music scene. if even lily chen 【陳潔麗】 can pull the chinese crowd, then olivia ong should make audiophiles go ga-ga. we really think olivia is gorgeous looking. in fact, olivia can be a successful pop singer if she wants to.

mentor ken suzuki started audiophile label s2s after he sold avex trax, one of the most successful indie labels in japan. he groomed olivia from a little girl with talent to a full-fledged beauty with a big following, this is serious talent-grooming in every sense.

what's so special about olivia? first, the voice. it is sweet but not the damsel-in-distress kind of sweetness. it is a sophisticated sweetness that will attract even uncle-grade audiophiles like yours truly. in fact, olivia's voice is very close to janice vidal [衛蘭], only with better highs and more polished presentation. in song like "making it mutual", we could swear that we would easily mistake her as janice vidal.

looks and voice that can sail a million ships

olivia is also a very steady singer as witnessed from her live performances in taiwan's knock-out reality singing show. she doesn't awe the audience with power or vocals acrobatics but with a steady and sweet voice full of emotions.

the musicians here are all competent; the arrangement also good; the production is tight. the whole album is half pop, half bossa nova but therein lies its appeal - even pop lovers can consume and access to it. indeed, accessibility is olivia's biggest asset.

perhaps, we would like a bit more soul to olivia's renditions of all these jobim's classics but that's not fair and too much to ask from this still early-twenties young singer who has so much going for her in the next 20 years.

in all, olivia is a producer's dream. no wonder she got snatched by some other audiophile label. olivia's departure is a big loss to s2s.

i seldom hear a more lovely rendition of l-o-v-e than olivia's version. this song and "making it mutual" alone are strong reasons for you to get this album, if you haven't already bought it or have too many jobim interpretations.

music seldom tastes sweeter than this.

Monday, January 18, 2010

不朽馬來名曲 [choosing songs for timeless album]

we would tentatively call the solianos album "timeless". it is a name suggested by laurence, (malaysian finance blogger), he who first introduced me to the great musical family.

tinoi came visiting yesterday and we discussed about song selections. tinoi wants variery in the repertoire, which means there has to be different tempos and styles among the songs. and most importantly, the songs must allow room for harmonizing.

we told tinoi that we want to include some modern malay pop songs like KRU's "belaian jiwa", which is a bit R&B like. and at least 2 ballads, which should include sheila majid's "mengasih kasih". the solianos would have their favourite songs as well so we need to combine the two lists, which would come out to more than 20 songs. tinoi also suggested we allocate two english numbers for the international audience, which we think is a great idea.

to us, the hard part about this project is the marketing: how to penetrate into taiwan, hk, singapore, thailand.... the musical and recording aspects and logistics aspects are actually not that difficult and we would leave them to the family to coordinate. of course, we need to come out with a superb story to get corporate sponsorship. since our PM is now talking about 1 malaysia, so why not include the song "setia" which was also done by the solianos some years ago? (the version we heard on tv is done by francisca peters) but the copyrights of "setia" belong to that's a headache...

so this is not an "ordinary" project in every sense. there is so much mileage in it that if we dont' manage it well, we may lose it.

our heart palpitate as we think of how great those songs would sound with the harmonization. but before that, there is so much ground work to be done!

btw, the solianos will be performing in NBT again this coming friday night. we will be there.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

解開母帶處理的謎 [demystifying mastering]

bernie grundman

some of our friends have begun asking us: what exactly did doug sax do in making love's tapestry so natural and rich sounding? what exactly is mastering?

while we are still not qualified to answer these questions, we try to offer some analogies.

mastering is a technique akin to applying make-up on a beautiful woman without making it appearing like a make-up. it accentuates her eyes, make her lips more luscious, hide the pimples and other imperfections, smoothens the complexion, creates shading and texture.... you get the idea. of course, if the woman is already a beautiful woman (ie. if the final mix is already good), then mastering is very easy, which is the case with love's tapestry.

since we have the final mix CDR (the CDR submitted to doug for mastering) and the output, i.e. doug sax's master, we would like to make the following observations:

1) the final mix has uneven gain among tracks (so mastering evens it out)
2) the final mix is thinner sounding (so mastering makes it fuller and richer)
3) the final mix is not as dimensional and palpable
4) the final mix is not as organic

all we can say is: mastering is very critical and the skills of the engineer can make or break the final output. which is why in the hall of fame of audiophile mastering, two names keep being mentioned: bernie grundman and doug sax.

some audiophile labels, especailly those in china, have begun inventing their own mastering techniques in order to save costs and create differentiation and branding. often the results are still far from what we are used to with doug and bernie. i am not saying that chinese are inferior to westerners but they still have a long way to go, after all it was doug and bernie who champion mastering for the last 40 years.

so the next time you pick up an album, it does not matter whether it is audiophile or not, take a note at the mastering engineer in the credit. often it tells you a lot about how the recording would sound.

誠意推薦 [rare touching moments]

i really don't know since when i started feeling cold every time i pick up a mainstream chinese pop album.

this withdrawal symptom started some years back, i really lost count, and it is getting very severe now. the moment i "touch" a chinese pop album, there is something in me that repels it immediately.

so it comes as a real "high" i discover something as pure as wu jia hui 【伍家輝】, which to me, is the best chinese male singer-songwriter in malaysia, discounting the already famous and established percy pheng [彭學斌】. i wanted to add "arguably" to this qualification but i don't need i need that.

i don't know why, now that i am in the music industry, i am even more particular in my seeking for pure and sincere music that touches me and tugs my heartstrings. no formulaic ballads, no karaoke-friendliness, no corny lyrics, no sing-along choruses.... too many no-no for me. not to sound haughty, the average time i spend on checking out a chinese pop album is less than 2 minutes. most of the times, it ends up in the reject bin.

i discovered debbie hsiao [蕭賀碩】 3-4 years ago and fell instantly in love with her sincerity and her craftiness. what a coincidence, wu jia hui's album is partly produced by debbie. i think they are good friends too. the other key producer is singapore's eric ng [黃韻仁】, who plays a mean guitar in this album.

in fact, wu comes across as a male version of debbie hsiao as they share a lot of things in common: a perfect balance between commercialism/pop sensibility VS originality/ freshness/purity. there is a fine line between these two contrasting camp of elements. both are smart tunesmiths with great craftiness and a love of catchy hook. in fact, one english-educated music friend of mine describes debbie's melody as "epic-like", which is quite spot-on. like debbie, wu's music doesn't fall into that derogatory category we call "formulaic ballads" [芭樂】, which has a negative connotation in the chinese music industry.

wu's compositions don't sound like any other but his own. it makes me wonder where he draws his influences from. granted there are a couple of tracks which dangerously fall into the "pedestrian" category but close to 7 tracks in the album are great tracks.

this album was first released in 2008 in malaysia and singapore ( just a guess) but garnered little attention. now it is being re-released under rock records taiwan, with a couple of new songs added. kudos for sam duan (rock's boss) for "investing" in wu jia hui.

in today's downtrodden state of the music industry, it is indeed heartening to see singer-songwriters like wu who makes music with a pure heart and wholesome sincerity, and producer like eric ng who spots a budding talent when he sees one.

making an album is already widely acknowledged as a loss-making venture. many have quit or are quitting the industry in search of greener pastures. the surviving ones are really those who are determined to make a difference and we know the chances are getting slimmer and slimmer.

while "oldhand" like cheer chen is busy touring and making money, it is the new generation singer-songwriters like debbie hsiao and wu jia hui that restore my faith back into chinese pop music. without them, this chinese music scene is largely forgettable.

we wish the team at funkie monkies (eric's label which is based in sg) all the succees in launching wu's career in taiwan.

we wish wu can win the best newcomer in this year's golden melody award!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

心靈音樂 [music for the soul]

this is confirmed - norwegian duo, king of convenience (koc), is coming to perform in bentley auditorium in march/april!

incidentally, is promoting koc's trilogy (3 albums together) for an unbeatable price of Rm140 or thereabout. you can only get the latest album in malaysia. all three albums are consistently great, we can assure you.

incidentally also, we inspected bentley auditorium in mutiara damansara last week in consideration for 2v1g+jz8 double bill concert. all we can say is it is just a decent banquet-style hall with flat seating, which is not what we prefer. anyway, for koc, we certainly won't mind!

those interested, we suggest you call bently music or axcess tickets.

我夢想的三重唱 [my dream of 3-part harmony]

the big brother of the solianos - valentino

sometimes, persistence is the key to success.

we have been pursuing the solianos, rather calmly, ever since we decided to cut an album for them. we weren't really in a hurry. we gave them time to study our background and intention.

finally, we get to meet the big brother of the solianos, valentino, or affectionately known in the music circle as tinoi.

rather than sounding like a novice in anything related to audiophile, tinoi understands everything that we wanted to do with the solianos. yes, we wanted to capture the solianos in the most high-fidelity manner. yes, we wanted to do a malaysian pop album worthy of being passed down for generations. yes, we wanted to do a classic audiophile album that can sell for many, many years. like the harry belafonte live at carnegie, like the peter, paul and mary. with the solianos, you have to be ambitious.

what pleases us most is that tinoi doesn't want a live recording either; he wants a studio album with proper recording. that suits our plan perfectly, for we want to capture that fabulous 3-part harmony in the most faithful manner.

tinoi asked us what songs we want to cover, to which we answered "too many!" but we would stick to what solianos have been doing for years - "tudung periuk", "gadis idaman", "tanah pusaka". others must include "widuri" and some modern malay pop like KRU's "belaian jiwa" and sheila majid's "mengasih kasih". they are just too many to choose.

so tinoi and we will be working out a budget paper, followed by a contract agreement, before we start to select songs. we expect to go into the studio in late march.

this is going to be a monstrous project, one that even tun dr. mahathir will appreciate (tun is a fan of the solianos). we am not worried that a malay audiophile album can't break into the international market. all you need is to give them a listen with an open mind, and understand why music has no language barrier. if audiophiles can listen to ana caram and sabrina (of meet me in london, the famous naim album) without understanding a single word that they sing, why can't they appreciate the gorgeous melodies that is malay pop music?

we will call this the pop pop music's project of the year.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

2v1g 的選曲 [2v1g's song selections】

we have heard more arrangement from roger wang and wow wee, they are incredible! roger wang has fully grasped the intricacies of mandarin pop!

just to whet your appetite, here's the prelim song selections from the production team:

1) Cai Qin 【蔡琴】
2) Qi Qin 【齊秦】
3) Sandy Lam (2 songs!) 【林憶蓮】
4) Faye Wong 【王菲】
5) Koji Tamaki 【玉置浩二】
6) Tracy Huang 【黃鶯鶯】
7) Wan Fang 【萬芳】
8) Eason Chan 【陳奕迅】
9) Bobby Chen 【陳升】

"cheh...reveal the songs la!", you might say in disappointment. of course, we can't reveal the songs at this stage!

sibling rivalry is brewing at musictoxin and pop pop music: who is gonna be better? jz8 or 2v1g's 2nd album?

we say: let them compete with each other!

2v1g HQCD 限量版 [remix and remaster]

in view of the superb run of 2v1g's debut album in taiwan and singapore, we are now toying with the idea of coming out with a special limited edition HQCD pressing.

we would ask our engineer to remix and doug sax to remaster the album, to bring it closer to the master tape and bridge the gap between the master and the commercial copy. in fact, HQCD technology itself closes the gap by a fair bit, according to keith yip, the boss and mastering engineer from rock in music, hk.

thanks for participating in the poll for the tribute to sheila majid album and we are glad to know that more than 80% likes to see the birth of the tribute album! however, we would not start so soon as our hands are full till june.

one supporter commented that we are moving too fast with too many projects. we appreciate his feedback. we have sunken in a lot of money in the hardware, naturally we need to utilize them to the max hence the continuous production line. moreover, to build up a label's catalog, you need many albums of different genres and themes which allow the buyers (and our international distributors) to choose and pick. we don't believe anyone would like and buy every album we produce. for example, love's tapestry aims to break into thailand, indonesia, europe and USA, markets which don't appreciate chinese music. we don't want to give you the feeling that we are losing focus and try to overwhelm you but truth is, we need to build up the catalog. but surely, we would ensure the quality and consistency in all our albums.

so, we would like to conduct another poll on whether you would like to see the birth of a limited edition HQCD for 2v1g's debut album. if this happens, we would coincide the launch with this year's KLIAV show.

this special limited edition is strictly for hardcore audiophiles and supporters of 2v1g, so non-audiophiles and non-supporters need not participate in the poll, lest it dilutes the results ;-)

thanks guys!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

留意伍家輝 [watch out for wu jia hui]

widely regarded as the best male singer-songwriter in malaysia, wu jia hui has just released his new album in taiwan under rock records.

produced by famed singaporean producer, eric huang yun ren, this is worth checking out for i greatly appreciate wu's compositions as they are very original and fresh and far away from the bore-me-to-death formulaic ballads that are killing the mandarin pop.

here's wishing wu jia hui all the success he deserves!

熱情 [warm reception]

swee and uncle bob on my flanks

i met two fabulous singaporeans over the weekend: uncle bob of sg car audio forum and swee of x audio. they make me feel so at home that i feel pressured if i ever return the favor and become a host to them when they come visit to kl.

last weekend's trip to sg marks the happiest trip i have ever made to sg!

swee, the x audio boss, has always been a supporter of 2v1g since day 1. we have been keeping in touch eventho' we haven't even met in person. the real swee in person is warm, bubbly and wears a big sunny smile. i could feel that his business is booming because of his personality and salesmanship. he is such an easy person to warm up too. swee managed to rope in more than 20 of his customers to attend the listening party, despite the short notice i gave him.

bob, on the other hand, is the charismatic moderator of sg car audio forum. bob is a retiree who leads such an interesting life, dabbling full-time in car audio and nurturing the young car audio enthusiasts. i am amazed to hear about the regular meetings of his car audio forum members, the camaraderie among the group and how cohesive the group is. hifi forum group without politics and fights is a rare thing in malaysia! i believe the success of sg car audio forum has a lot to do with bob's leadership and strict code of conduct.

very enthusiastic crowd

we were treated like a king by bob and his wife, much good food to fill our stomach!

by any measure, the listening party was a success. i could feel the appreciation from the crowd. they listened attentively as i played song after song. from their faces, i know they like what they hear. and i must thank swee for setting up such as wonderful hifi system to play the master cd from doug sax. love's tapestry sounded darn good in his system!

we vouch to come back to organize more of such parties in sg in the near future. somehow, i could feel that singapore audiophiles have a high appreciation of our brand of music. this is a key market for us and we want to develop its potential fully.

already, we are talking with gramophone to bring roger and gina to sg for a live promo and autograph signing event....

thanks, swee and uncle bob, once again. you guys are simply fabulous.

Monday, January 11, 2010

新網站 [new pop pop music website]

we believe online channel is the main way to go to promote our music to global audience. you will be surprised how big the international market is for our kind of music.

as this blog is getting congested and as we are coming out with more albums, we have decided to have our own pop pop music website, which is interlinked with this blog.

the pop pop music website will mainly sell our albums and other albums (of the same easy listening and lifestyle genre) that we like and would like to recommend to you. that include solo albums by our artistes like roger wang and tay cher siang.

in particular, we want to support local indie artistes who share the same musical ambitions as we do. first off, we would recommend rachel guerzo's debut album to you, which will soon be available on our website. rachel is part of the famous soliano family and her debut album is really great! review will come shortly.

there won't be shopping cart or e-commerce facility cos we can't afford the or ebay kind of payment gateway. all you do is choose the album(s) and shoot us an email. there will be many payment methods available.

here's some initial design layout of our website. we love it very much!

the new website will be ready next month!

上報 [featured in sunday people]

click to enlarge

the new sunday times (sunday edition of NST) featured me and pop pop music on its "sunday people" column yesterday!

i was flattered that NST splashed so many photos of our artistes.. and i think both lydia chew and gina panizales looked good on it!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

邁進香港 [love's tapestry goes hong kong]

our partner in hk, rock in music, has agreed to distribute love's tapestry in hk!

rock in's boss, keith yip, is also the mastering engineer for 2v1g debut album.

any hong kong supporters here?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

神奇 [some kind of magic]

singapore has just ordered another 50 copies of 2v1g. this whole 2v1g thingy is becoming unbelievable, truly magical.

long time coming, indeed. 2v1g is starting its recording on 25th january! it has been more than 18 months since the trio entered the studio as a team. so many turbulences, setbacks, changes, hurdles along the way. finally. i shall offer some prayers for the smooth progress of the project.

another good news to singapore audiophiles/fans is, we are going down to singapore this weekend to promote love's tapestry.

here's the details of the listening party:

venue: x audio

day: saturday 9th jan 2010

time: 3pm- 4pm

1 Jalan Anak Bukit
#01-01s Bukit Timah Plaza, Singapore, 588996, Singapore
tel: 6466 2642

contact: swee dong 02-64662642

please make your reservation!

in additional to getting to listen to the master tape of love's tapestry, you are going to get a taste of our next sensational act, jz8, which promises to entice your aural palette!

love's tapestry albums will be on sale at x audio too.

singapore, see you this saturday!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

還有牛奶的牛 [the cow still has milk]

gem of a compilation albums from universal music

if i use the phrase "the cow hasn't been milked dry" in the music industry, what do you think i am referring to?

the back catologue business, of course.

in trying times like these, one thing that music label can fall back to over and over again is their vast back catalogues. and it always works since there is hardly any money involved except for printing and duplication of discs.

i not not quite a buyer of compilation or greatest hits albums. i remember what cheer chen (my idol singer-songwriter) said when she bought eric clapton's best-of compilation, she kinda feel guilty because it is a disrespect to the singer. only non-fans buy greatest hits albums. a true fan would collect his entire discography. like me, i have the entire discography of faye wong, stefanie sun and cheer chen. but there are times when all you want is a single, just one song from the singer/band, and it happens that the singer/band is a one-hit wonder based on this song! take for example songs like the buggle's "video killed the radio star", jim diamond's "i should have known better", van mccoy "the hustle" and oleta adams' "get here" (incidentally covered in love's tapestry).

so it comes as a big surprise when i find all these songs in the latest compilations from universal music. this series of compilations come with tried and tested themes such as "music for the 70s", "music for the lovers', "music for grooving" etc etc. i tell you, they are great! granted there are a few duds that i can do without but overall, this series is a gem. to top it all, it is only selling at RM26.90!

back catologue brings tons of money to music labels. music legends like elvis presley, bruce springsteen, the beatles and more recently MJ are some of the biggest money spinners in the global music industry. generations after generations of music lovers would still dig their legacy long after they are gone.

somehow, you don't see such phenomenon in the chinese pop music industry. chinese albums don't have such collectible value. you hardly see music lovers hunting the back catalogue of lo tayou, jonathan lee or qi qin.

can you name me some music cows that have been milked dry? ;-)

Monday, January 4, 2010

咦, 有動靜?[hmm...something brewing?]

KLPAC Pentas 1


I am Leslie, the A&R director for pop pop music, an indie audiophile music label.

We wish to hold a concert at your prestigious venue in June 2010. It will be a double-bill concert featuring our two acts, 2V1G (2 voices, 1 Guitar) and JZ8. We would also like to sell our new albums at the concert venue.

2V1G features guitarist Roger Wang (and two other voices) and JZ8 features pianist Tay Cher Siang and a female vocalist. We play Chinese pop classics in a stripped down, minimalist manner.

We would be grateful if you could indicate the availability of the slots for June 2010.

Thanks so much!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

怎麼去欣賞 love's tapestry [appreciating love's tapestry]

we are happy to announce that 400+ copies (online 300+, retail 100+) love's tapestry have been snapped up within just two weeks!

in a soft market like this, this results is certainly commendable. we wouldn't expect it to be as impactful as 2v1g for many reasons. first, it is an english album and the market is smaller. second, gina panizales is not as well known as either winnie ho or regina tai, who both have their own camp of supporters.

we do receive many constructive feedback. let us moderate them here.

while many agree on the good quality of recording (even some hardcore audiophiles), the excellent song selections and roger wang's sensitive playing, gina panizales's voice seems to polarize opinions. those who liker her voice like it very much, those who don't like it, reject it outright. let me on the outset clarify that - I PURPOSELY DON'T WANT A SWEET AND DAINTY VOICE, for it can't possibly carry "big" and "heavy" songs like "just once" and "still", those with plenty of emotional intensity, climax and depth. one of my friends, who is a staunch support of chinese audiophile queen lily chen 【陳潔麗】 rejects it outright by saying that gina's voice is not "sweet" enough. please, can you imagine a dainty voice like lily chen singing "just once" and "still"? ;-)

gina's voice is one full of character 【有性格】, much like her idols or those who influenced her like aretha franklin, selena jones, dianne schurr and dionne warwick. if you get any of these singers to sing "love's tapestry", you will also get polarized opinions like gina does. fact is, these singers are one of its kind, very diva-ish and full of character. if you do get a chance to listen to originals like oleta adam's "get here" and dionne warwick's "i will never love this way again", you would agree that gina actually sounds a lot like them but with her own unique character. i can never imagine popular and angelic-sounding audiophile female voices like olivia ong and aiza seguerra being able to carry these big songs the way gina does.

having said that, female voices are very subjective and it just turns out that gina panizales is like a cup of kopi kau (concentrated coffee) : you either love it or dislike it.

for those who dislike it upon first listen, i urge you to give it more time to sink in, and let it grows on you. many have commented that love's tapestry sounds very good after a few spins.

love's tapestry is sequenced like telling a story story: falling in love, missing each other, longing, problems and confrontations, cold wars, separation and finally, hope. you need a peaceful and romantic mind (and a good hifi system helps :-)) to appreciate the beauty of the songs. the first part is pretty sweet and lively, and the 2nd part heavy, pensive and heartbreaking.

please accept our apology for the design of the cd sleeve/holder (not the whole packaging), which received the most complaints from our supporters. it is our oversight not to scrutinize the practicality of such design. we feel terrible that you don't like it. we assure you that it won't happen again in our next major release, jz8. oh, jz8 is a monster, a big monster!

overall, we are pretty proud of love's tapestry. it won't sell like hotcakes the way 2v1g does. it will be a slow-burner, much like emi fujita. it will have a long shelf life, that much we are confident.

i must thank victoria music of atria and amcorp mall for pushing it aggressively for us - bruce (ah wai), andy and jamie, thank you so much, you guys are simply great!

to our supporters, thanks for the support, you are the greatest!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

千呼萬喚 [by popular demand]

fabulous cover and packaging of karen mok album

as if hearing my plea, universal hk has released karen mok's "reminisce" [回蔚], my personal best cover version album of 2009!

to make it even sweeter, it is also serialized. my number is 01349.

karen mok has formed her own production company, cutely named Mok-A-Bye baby music limited, with an equally cute mascot of a kitty, and this album is merely marketed and distributed by universal hk.

karen gives her personal account on every song in the album - why she did it and how she did it. one-time faye wong's favorite producer, zhang ya dong, also gives his commentary on each song.

fabulous andy warhol-inspired pop art poster which i am gonna frame up!

in possibly the best song in the album, a cover of qi qin's "the outside world" 【外面的世界】, karen actually met up with qi qin and played the song to him. qi qin was so impressed and commented that it sounds like how koji tamaki [玉置浩二] would cover the song, especially the emotional delivery of the song. naturally, karen was ecstatic to hear this comment from qi qin!

karen also said after doing zhou xuan's 【月圓花好】 "the moon is round and the flower is beautiful" she would now consider releasing a chinese jazz album. karen, you better not be joking because i would hold you responsible for your words!

the bummer is victoria music is selling this imported version at RM80 (since when pop albums is selling the same price as audiophile albums?) and universal malaysia is still undecided on whether they want to release a local pressing.

this is the kind of singer i respect: bold, unconventional and fully in control of her destiny.

Friday, January 1, 2010

肥水不流別人田 [mind your own business]

you know what's the trend now with record shops in malaysia? they produce their own compilation albums! everyone is doing that, from rock corner, to victoria music, to cd rama, to speedy. everyone sees commercial reasons to follow the bandwagon.

the business rationale is simple: instead of promoting and giving airplay to other people's music, why not compile/license our own and promote it aggressively in all our shops? the modus operandi is really simple: approach one or more labels, buy the rights for the songs (which are inexpensive) you want to compile and voila! you have your inhouse compilation exclusively made for you, that you can play to ad nauseum in all your retail shops! worse still, some record shops impose unreasonable sales quota on their staff so the staff have no choice but to blast them 24 hours non-stop! i am sure you know what i am talking about if you are observant.

i guess the first one who started this is rock corner, always the most enterprising (and cunning) of the lot. they have already done a few very "smartly assembled" inhouse compilations and not surprisingly, these albums always sell very well. cd rama did similar new age music compilation which was licensed from interglobal (our distributor) with great success. more recently, cd rama worked with their MIC (made in china) partners to come out with a compilation of china audiophile jazz singer, kelly. victoria joined in 2 weeks ago with their "hollywood east" (a defunct discotheque located at jalan kia peng in the 80s/90s) disco remix of the 80s dance songs. i was shaking my head in disgust when i heard them blasting all these "feng tau" (shake head) music non-stop even during the sacred christmas season. then the friendly counter staff told me that their boss imposed a quota of 200 copies at each shop! poor chap, that's the reason he has to bombard the shoppers with disco music of the 80s!

music retail business is getting tough. as i have said pop is dead and cd sales are spiraling downwards. there are just not enough michael jackson or susan boyle to resuscitate the business.

my prediction is that you will see many more of these exclusively-branded compilation albums from all the record shops in the next few years.