Song for Siggy

Here’s the bandcamp link to this new song we lovingly named Song for Siggy.

Siggy is short for Sigurdsson (full name Jon Baldur Sigurdsson) who passed away recently.

A zoologist and former lecturer in NUS, Dr. Sigurdsson was from Iceland and taught us Malacology – the study of Molluscs. My NUS batch had the privilege of having him teach us the wonderful world of animal development especially in Molluscs. I remember in class how he told us the snail had evolved a twisted body with its behind above its head. We had a good time debating the usefulness of torsion in Gastropods – such an evolutionary curiosity! I knew him to be a gentle giant and nurturing person and I remember his gentle voice; my seniors knew him better and they enjoyed the company of this jovial and and gentle nature.

So close friends of mine mourned the loss of a good friend and mentor. As I played around with my guitar one day, I heard news of his passing from Cynthia on my chat group and started to play a rift, thinking of the spirit of a gentle giant with a smile in heaven in the skies above Iceland.

I fired up GarageBand and recorded the rift thinking how nice it sounded… When I sent it to Ivan Chew, he liked what he heard but when he worked on it we both realised that I hadn’t recorded for such a long time that technically I had sent him such a beat up recording. Thanks to his magic, he renovated much of the song and preserved that feeling and sound of the rift, improving the timing, tempo changes and adding interesting parts.

Long story short, what will we do without our maestro? I think I-Ling will agree.

So this song is about that moment we hope for our loved ones as they pass on, that they rise to the heavens and are received into the heavens and look upon us and something tells us that they are at peace and in spiritual freedom.

Rest in Peace, Siggy. This song is for you and your kakis.

~ Adrian Loo

Track image cover credit: “Iceland” by Moyan Brenn, , licensed under CC-BY.

2012 AGM #2

I thought the last time we held our Starfish Stories :: The Band AGM (Annual Group Meetup, aka Annual Group Makan) was in 2011. Apparently it was in March this year.

At first I thought I made a mistake with the blog post date. But now I remembered it was at the March Meetup that I had just completed a major project at work and asked Adrian to contribute to it. Which he did.

We must be the only band to have two AGMs in a year!

The year certainly flashed past, as I-Ling put it.

We decided to meet up this evening at 313@Somerset. Nice choice, as there was a nice Orchard Road light up. I remarked to I-Ling and Adrian that it felt – to me – like I was on holiday in another country. Mainly because I had not visited Orchard Road for a long, long time. Certainly not during Christmas season light up.
Christmas light up at 313@Somerset, Orchard Road

Kenny Rogers Roasters. Because they serve fish too.
Starfish Stories :: The Band 2012 AGM

Minimalist layout for the food. Looked kinda odd without the side dishes on the plate.
Starfish Stories :: The Band 2012 AGM

Ivan: “The Mangrove Tree album is now just waiting for your vocals.”
I-Ling: (looked like she’s sheepishly drinking her tea in denial, lol)
Starfish Stories :: The Band 2012 AGM

I-Ling tweeted this instance as Adrian going: “Headache la. Can’t meet Ivan’s KPI this year.” (Adrian shared his tale about the cardboard cave; we shall leave it at that)
Starfish Stories :: The Band 2012 AGM

Adrian and I-Ling thoughtfully presented gifts (or should it be “to gift us presents”?) I copped out and bought dinner instead.

We adjourned to Cold Stone Creamery for ice cream. Guess who had the mineral water?
Starfish Stories :: The Band 2012 AGM

All in all, over food and ice cream (well, ice cream is a kind of food but it deserves its own place haha) we updated each other on what stressed us in the past year, and laughed about how we survived.

The Mangrove Tree album will be released without requiring I-Ling’s vocals. As something different from our last concept album, we shall try for a “mainstream” album in 2013. Yes, the “hook” and “Crescendo” and all. But as I-Ling reminded us all, let’s not forget that we make music to enjoy the process rather than try to “create a popular song”.

So, the action items (I couldn’t resist blogging it!)

  1. Adrian will send some guitar stems within the next two weeks (he gave the excuse that he will be away for a week on holiday, bah!)
  2. Starfish Stories :: The Band should have one proper jam session. The sort that involves musical instruments and an attempt to work out a song 🙂

I-Ling tweeted: Just when I thot AGM was over @lekowala gave me my homework – fill a notebook with lyrics by end-2013. @ramblinglib
Starfish Stories :: The Band AGM

And they say I’m the slave driver! :p

Oh yeah, this post serves as our AGM minutes (I-Ling can tell her hubby that someone did take minutes, heh)

~ Ivan

Proposed (2012) album cover designs & updates

Finally, an update on the 2012 album we have been working on (earlier post, here).

Came up with these designs over two evenings. For our to-be-released-in-a-few-day’s-time, kinda-hard-to-label-a-genre digital album.

1. “deca”

2. “TEN”

3. “DEKA”

A few hours ago, the band — along with our guest collaborator, urmymuse, who is from halfway around the globe — have reached on a majority vote for design No. 3, “DEKA”.

We started working on the tracks around Jan this year Dec 2011. Fast-forward to Sept, when it sunk in that 2012 would be the 10th global birthday celebrations for Creative Commons, we wanted our album to be a gift to the movement.

The album has 10 tracks, for CC’s 10th birthday this year, slated for October.

A 10-10-10 combo.

My first design looked like this:
My amateur attempt at a #CreativeCommons 10th Birthday logo

It was passable as a symbol or logo. But somehow it didn’t quite cut it as an album cover. Looked too cold; too detached. The opposite of what our music represented.

So I wondered about the etymology for “decade”. That led to my discovering the term “deca”, which was Latin for “the combining form for ‘Ten'”: “decapod”, “decasyllabic”, “decathlon”, “decametre”…

Multiples of ten.


But I wondered if it might be too subtle or indirect for people to catch on.

No harm in posting the question in Facebook. Kind of expecting zero comments, so I was really surprised to get plenty of good ideas and useful comments from my Facebook contacts. Thanks folks!

All things considered, “deca” was quite appropriate.

I used Keynote on my iPad to piece together a few ideas. Ended up using Keynote as my “photoshop”!

Within hours of the Facebook comments and doodling in the iPad, I managed to churn out design No. 1.

Emailed that off to Adrian, I-Ling and urmymuse. Explained the concept to them. And hoped they would agree. Or at least, no violent objections from them.

Adrian was first to give “deca” his approval. Next was urmymuse, who added that the Greek spelling (deka) was preferred but it wouldn’t be something to “die in a ditch” for (LOL).

By that time, I also preferred DEKA over DECA. Particularly after considering the Facebook comments. For one, “deca” might lead to some people subconsciously associating it with “decay” or “decadence” — unrelated words, no doubt but still might prove distracting rather than adding to the album’s intrigued.

I churned out designs no.s 2 and 3, and emailed to the band. Promised this would be the last iteration (any more options and it would be counterproductive).

Our vocalist, I-Ling, liked DEKA too.

So that’s that.

All ten tracks have been mastered, bounced; the uncompressed files sitting in my hard disk (backed up, for sure) waiting to be prepped with metadata (I use iTunes for that).

It’s a public holiday this Friday, so i’ll be publishing the album this weekend.

The album will be pretty niche.

It’s perhaps best described as “almost progressive meditative pop post-rock”.

Whatever it might be called, it’s our labour of love.

Remix – “Into Thy Heart”

I was thinking “Enya” as I worked on I-Ling’s ccMixter stems. I wasn’t able to do something with her main vocals. So I toyed with her backing pells instead. I imported the track into my iPad (converted to AIFF) and then mucked around with the iPad’s GarageBand. Experimented with piano, orchestra strings and clean electric guitar layers. Utilised the automatic chords in the GB iPad app (I couldn’t have played them so precisely). Finally exported to my iMac and tweaked the mix with Logic Express.

Here’s the remix titled “Into Thy Heart”:

The instrumental track uploaded here, under a CC-BY license.

~ Ivan

Stems – I-Ling’s “Heart of Steel (a cappella)”

A preview/ vocal stems uploaded by I-Ling:

The full set of stems can be found at this page. Which has been remixed several times already. Nice.

I-Ling shared more of her thoughts on this set of stems, here.

SgSc: Soundcloud Global Meetup (Singapore) 2012

I learned of this event (from a friend’s tweet; can’t remember who now) which pointed me to this post. After which a FB event page was created:

“Hey folks, just so you know who’s behind this meetup – I’m pulling this together with itinerant muso-artist-writer Fernando Gros (with special thanks to Brian Leery and the Pigeonhole, of course). We’re not a formal organisation, we’re just a couple of guys who have never even met face-to-face! …”

Folks could upload their tracks to this page.

So came 17 May evening. Nice cozy setting at the Pigeonhole.

Saw familiar faces. And plenty of very new (and younger) ones. I went with one of my colleague, Isaac Teo (he used to perform, btw). Met Chinmay and Carrie. Nice short catch-up session that evening.

Before the session started, I had a chance to look at the gear that was set up for the evening’s performances.
Soundcloud Global Meetup Day Singapore 2012

Then it kicked off with Jerry Chen ( and Marcus Wong ( doing a short intro.
Soundcloud Global Meetup Day Singapore 2012

First up was Shaun Khiu ( Seems to me he’s a seasoned ‘live’ performer, being at ease in front of an audience.
Soundcloud Global Meetup Day Singapore 2012 Soundcloud Global Meetup Day Singapore 2012

Then he and Kevin Lester (SIXX) gave a collaborative performance (improvised, I think).
Soundcloud Global Meetup Day Singapore 2012

The third set was Shaun and Lyndsey Long.
Soundcloud Global Meetup Day Singapore 2012

A short panel discussion with (L-R) co-organiser Fernando Gros (, Graham Perkins, and Esmond Wee. They talked about (as I remembered) their hopes for Singapore musicians to set differences aside and form a coherent group, the new Singapore Music Society, and an [then upcoming] Music Matters conference.
Soundcloud Global Meetup Day Singapore 2012

Jowell Tan performing three ambient new-age pieces.
Soundcloud Global Meetup Day Singapore 2012 Soundcloud Global Meetup Day Singapore 2012

Finale was Marcus Wong ( and one of his band mate (sorry, didn’t catch the name).
Soundcloud Global Meetup Day Singapore 2012

Soundcloud Global Meetup Day Singapore 2012

After the meetup, the Soundcloud Singapore FB group was created.

Looked like a win for Soundcloud, since the event got quite a few people to create accounts with them.

~ Ivan (here’s my Soundcloud page:; I’ve been thinking if I should create a Soundcloud page for the band…)

Update: Soundcloud Global Meetup review

AGM 2012

For the three of us, AGM stands for “Annual Group Meetup”.

Bishan Community Club

Involving dinner, coffee, and philosophy.

Starfish Stories :: The Band AGM

Or for me it was “Another Grumble (about the lack of) Music” from Adrian and I-Ling 🙂

[Hmm… realised I didn’t record our last face-to-face meetup. Ponderosa at Toa Payoh Hub.]

We talked about I-Ling’s blog post on how she picked up making music again (how touching *sniff*), and at the same breath I poked fun at how she owed a few vocal pieces.

At one point, it led to Adrian quipping: “Our music is a form of expression. If people like it, it’s because they can identify with it. We don’t really write songs with a ‘hook’ deliberately. I think that allows us to be really creative.”

Though, I cautioned, that could sound like an excuse for not improving our musical craft.

I-Ling suggested we were “Starfish Stories :: The Excuses”.

Maybe. 🙂

Maybe we’re using our music as an excuse.

So that we can indulge in philosophical musings over dinner and coffee.

~ Ivan

Works-in-progress: 2012 post-rock inspired album

Having discovered a whole new perspective on post-rock, I asked Adrian and I-Ling if we could try experimenting with that particular genre.

They were game.

We’ve been quite productive in the last 3 or 4 weeks, trading tracks and ideas via email. Me mixing the demos and emailing back for comments.

2012 Post-rock album in the works: StarfishStories :: The Band

And we’ve a musical collaborator from the other side of the globe (will be revealed in time).

Of course, it’s not as if we’ll be launching the album in the next few weeks. Our day jobs will soon demand more of our time, and it’s also into the more technical and repetitive phase of mixing and mastering. With my limited skills and know-how.

But we have 12 tracks in the works, and that’s not bad.

Not bad at all.

~ Ivan

Starfish Stories on Red Maps

Back in the tail end of 2011, I received an email from a company called Red Maps. They found our ‘Surfing on Solar Winds’ track at That track had reached its download limit, so they asked if I could send them the file.

Actually I had overlooked their email. When I realised my oversight, I quickly replied to them and pointed them to our 2009 digital album, One World One Moment, where the same track could be downloaded.

Here’s how our music was featured. So cool that we have another music video!

I thought this was a very nice business model they got there. Its about creative opportunities, collaboration and reciprocal publicity. I also appreciate how they gave full credits to the collaborators (which is a lot more detailed that many videos where our CC music has been featured).

Thanks Red Maps.

For helping put this little band on your map.

From the YouTube video description:

“Los Angeles” is from Red Maps Independent Filmmakers City Series.

Our Series asks creative individuals to make a short film that captures the life, style and vibe of a city…using a Red Map.

The Filmmaker: Cristi Silva of ThatSoRad Productions
Santa Barbara, CA
We met Cristi via seeing her photography work in California. She captures people and scenes that result in incredibly fresh stories.
So, it was a no-brainer to ask her to make a film, and to see how she might visualize one of our favorite cities. Cristi Silva’s LA makes one feel as though they’ve never seen the city before.

The Music: “Surfing on Solar Winds” by Starfish Stories :: The Band
Ivan, Adrian and I-Ling are three Singaporeans who have up and gone pursued their dreams of creating music for the world under the Creative Commons program. Their music is available for all to hear, enjoy and download. We met them via under the name ramblinglibrarian. The music was the perfect match to give the film its soulful tour of LA.

Red Maps is a small, NYC-based company, making unique city maps that are smart, beautiful and easy-to-use. But our interest is not only maps, on our blog we highlight design in all its forms, including autos, furniture, architecture and more…we don’t see a reason to limit ourselves. These short films are a way for us to collaborate with some very talented people. And if they help inform everyone about Red Maps…that’s cool too. It’s about having fun.

Filmmakers Wanted
If you’re a filmmaker and would like to work with Red Maps,
please contact us at:

Song for friends: “Christmas Bells”

Instead of sending Christmas or New Year Cards, we thought to send a song to friends and acquaintances. Here’s “Christmas Bells – Classical Version“:
2011 – Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial (3.0). Click here for how to give credit and other conditions.

0912-1094 Moonlight over the forest
Originally uploaded by Leo-Avalon

Here’s the adapted lyrics:


There are sounds in the sky when the year grows old,
And the winds of the winter blow—
When night and the moon are clear and cold,
And the stars shine on the snow,
Or wild is the blast and the bitter sleet
That beats on the window-pane;
But blest on the frosty hills are the feet
Of the Christmas time again!
Chiming sweet when the night wind swells,
Christmas Bells!

The owl that sits in the ivy’s shade,
Remote from the tower,
Shall start from his drowsy watch afraid
When the clock shall strike the hour;
And over the fields in their frosty rhyme
The cheery sounds shall go,
And chime shall answer unto chime
Across the moonlit snow!
How sweet the lingering music dwells,—
Christmas Bells.

And the glorified ones from that holy hill
Are reaching their helping hands.
These be the words our music tells
Of solemn joy, O Christmas Bells!

Hope this song brings you cheer at the close of 2011, and the start of 2012.

Best wishes,
Starfish Stories :: The Band
I-Ling, Adrian & Ivan.

p.s. If you enjoyed the music, you can “pay” us by sharing the music. Thanks!