Malaysian? Are you Chinese? How come you've got such a name? (Yup this is the
single most asked question I get about myself!) I
am Malaysian-Chinese. Dad is Indonesian-Chinese, mom is Singaporean 'Baba'
Chinese... I was born in Malacca, and by some immigration law that makes
me a proud Malaysian. See?
have you been playing the piano? I was sent
for music lessons at the age of 6, but I guess I wouldn't call that playing. Not
at that time, anyways. But I think I started making a little sense by the
time I was ten. Or so I hope!
study music? Where? Well like I said, I
had music lessons... right through my A.B.R.S.M. Grade 8 Exams. Then
in Fall '91 I enrolled in the Berklee College of Music in Boston. That
changed my entire outlook in music. I literally had to 'unlearn'
everything I thought I knew. Voicings, scales, the way I hear stuff...
|When did you
pick up jazz? Started listening to it
seriously only after I got to Berklee... late '91. Sometimes I wish I
picked it up earlier, but I guess everything has its own timing. Actually I
would like to think that I am
still 'picking it up'.
|How did you get started in this
music business? I believe I was really
blessed with all the right breaks. (Who says there is no God?!) I was
actually doing a business studies A-Level course when I was 'offered' an opportunity
to "come and check out" a professional recording studio. I
eventually got a job there and as they say, the rest is history. But it
did show me two things... 1, that if you work hard with the talent that
you already have you can probably make it in this business, and 2, you
don't 'choose' music as a career, it chooses you.
What kind of music do you listen to?
I love almost anything melodic. That includes
anything from jazz, pop, gospel music, R&B, country... I don't really
like 'trash' or 'metal' stuff... otherwise I listen to almost everything.
Who are your favorite
piano/keyboard players? Herbie Hancock,
Michel Camilo, Chick Corea & Greg Phillinganes.
Do you teach? Not
on a regular basis. But I do love teaching when I find young musicians who
are keen to learn and of course serious about getting somewhere with their
craft. Nothing irks me more than lazy people who call themselves musicians
who expect everything to be 'given' to them without having to work for
it... these are the people who give musicians a bad name!
|What is your typical day like?
Seriously, my days are never the same. Some
days I work all day, some days I just spend with my wife and kid... mostly
it's a combination of both... interspersed with the answers to the next
|What do you do when you want to take a break
from music? Let me see... family, church,
computer, shopping, TV, and Arsenal FC... not exactly in that order,
though! But I really love the quiet times I spend with my family. I
realize that my private life (life away from music) is so essential for a
well-balanced outlook in life. We're not just musicians, we're people who
need to relate to other people. And these experiences channel back into
our music to (hopefully) make our music content more sincere and forever
Do you still practice?
As often as I can, not as often as I would
like to... but I guess the answer is a definite 'YES'. Can't afford not
to... it really shows when I stop practicing. Especially when I have to
keep up with some of the 'monsters' I play with... and then there are my
students too... haha... it's really not funny when I'm in a real-life
playing situation, and my heart & brain says to my fingers,
"execute this, execute that"... and my fingers yell back,
|What is your favorite
piece of gear? I guess the answer has to to
be a nice acoustic grand piano, but at the moment I don't own one myself.
So of the stuff I have, I would say it's a toss up between the Roland
RD-500 Digital Piano & their JV2080 module, Korg's TR-Rack & of
course my own acoustic piano at home!
|Do you play any other instruments?
Hmmm... tough question. At what level of
proficiency are we talking about?
|Where did your nickname
'bigbash' come from?
It is just a cute song title taken from one
(jazz group) 'Flim and the BBs' album. My wife thought of it (yes, it's
one of her favorite groups) when we had to think up a nickname for
our internet access. It kinda stuck since then.
|'Joshua 24:15' appears after your name in your
e-mails. What is it? That's a verse taken
from the bible to remind me of my spiritual convictions (especially during
the times I have to make difficult decisions) and also to let others know
where I stand, what I believe in... almost like a 'creed' for my own life.
BTW, the verse reads, "as for me and my household, we will serve the
would you have for someone wanting to make music his/her career? Realize
your true ability (don't think you are bad if you aren't and vice-versa).
Be confident in your approach and aim for the stars. Go out and get to
know the people in your industry. Oh ya... and don't stop practicing!!