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Here's a list of questions Aubrey often gets asked after a show or via e-mail

(hopefully he doesn't have to answer them any more! J)

 

Are you Malaysian? Are you Chinese? How come you've got such a name?

How long have you been playing the piano?

Did you study music? Where?

When did you pick up jazz?

How did you get started in this music business?

What kind of music do you listen to?

Who are your favorite piano/keyboard players?

Do you teach?

What is your typical day like?

What do you do when you want to take a break from music?

Do you still practice?

What is your favorite piece of gear?

Do you play any other instruments?

Where did your nickname 'bigbash' come from?

'Joshua 24:15' appears after your name in your e-mails. What is it?

What advice would you have for someone wanting to make music his/her career?

Are you 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?

How long 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!

Did you 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... everything.

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 question.

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 maturing.

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, "Who me?!"

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 Lord".

What advice 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!!

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