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

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

SoundOut Against Sex Trafficking music CD launch, 22 June 2011

Congrats to SoundOut.sg for organising the music CD launch yesterday evening.

SoundOut Against Sex Trafficking music CD launch

None of us from Starfish Stories could attend, unfortunately. But still very, very tickled that we three amateurs could actually produce a song (“Open the Door, Smile Again”) that was deemed good enough to be on a compilation with other more established Singapore bands.

The selected song is the first track, from this SFS album produced for the SoundOut campaign.

Thanks for including us in the project.

~ Ivan

Starfish Stories has a new band member

Starfish Stories :: The Band is now a trio.

If you’ve heard our latest album, or read the credits or the bio for SoundOut, you would know Adrian and I had help from this lady. Who has a unique spelling for her name: I-Ling (pronounced ‘Ee Ling’, and not ‘Eye Ling’).

The other day, Adrian asked how I got to know I-Ling. I wish it was because I-Ling came upon our music by chance, was so moved by it, and decided she had to be a part of it. Reality was more mundane.

I-Ling and I met in mid 2009, when we were both speaking at an event as part of our respective work. She worked for National Arts Council then. We chatted after the session. I was curious to learn more about how NAC worked, its programmes and the funding. In her talk, I-Ling mentioned Noise Singapore. I jokingly complained that the cut-off age for participating in Noise Singapore was too low (in that, given my age I didn’t qualify, heh).

As we talked, we discovered a shared interest in creating music. She sings (and if I-Ling is willing, she should share what she used to do before she joined NAC) and was interested in knowing more about DIY recording. I told her how we do things at Starfish Stories. The basic equipment needed. We ended our conversation with a promise to keep in touch. I-Ling said she would seriously give the DIY recording stuff a try. I hoped she would also email her vocal tracks for a remix.

Ah, the “Keep In Touch” is an oft-abused term and given much lip-service than actual practice (I’m guilty of that too). BUT luckily in this case, we did keep our conversation going. On the rare occasions that we bumped into each other on Gmail chat, we would exchange pleasantries. I’d tell her about ccMixter. And I’d cajole her to record her stuff. Would send her some tracks and ask if she would feel inspired to do something.

She eventually did a recording, which I remixed and decided to include as part of the 3rd Starfish Stories digital album.

[Incidentally, I-Ling also posted her vocal stems to ccMixter too (under her own profile). I remember telling her, in jest, that I was jealous how her very first stem had more remixes than what I had in two years, heh.]

While I-Ling serendipitously became involved with Starfish Stories with “Good-night Not Good-bye”, it wasn’t until the SoundOut album that she wrote original lyrics and recorded vocals for the band.

A few weeks before the end of 2010, we informally sealed our partnership over pizza. And exchanges of gifts of dried mangoes, jasmine flower tea and Lunarin CDs that aren’t shown in the picture.
An Exchange

After our makan session, I also made another ‘gift’. That’s a story for another time.
Pass it On

I stress the word ‘informal’, ‘cos I sort of just said to Adrian, “So, I-Ling will be our vocalist, ok?” and Adrian said something like “Yah, finally we have a better looking band member”. 🙂

So now Starfish Stories :: The Band comprise of a Biologist, a Librarian, and a… Officer Worker (yo, I-Ling please come up with a better label than that lah!)

All three of us are married. We’re in our 30s (I don’t know I-Ling’s exact age but for Adrian and I, we’re more than tilting towards 40).

We have our day jobs.

We’ll continue to be a band that doesn’t perform ‘live’, who doesn’t meet to jam.

We cherish the music that we create, for sure.

But we’re friends first, and the music really is an outcome of the camaraderie.

Cheers to a new year.

~ Ivan

My Lunarin Remix #1: “No Sun Under The Sky”

When I posted this, I had already started working on the remix.

Took me about 5 evenings to complete it.

I give the world “No Sun Under The Sky” — an obvious reference to Lunarin’s original title: Creative Commons License“No Sun Under The Sky” by Ivan Chew is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Singapore License.


The remixed track has been uploaded at my ccMixter page. Some ccMixter reviews/ comments that made my day:

  • (Linda is) a lovely soaring singer and the song has a pretty lyricAdmiral Bob
  • Slowly seething beauty with the piano keeping time…Fireproof_Babies
  • [This one is my favourite!] i think a lot of people miss the musical fusion magic happening in Singapore (and Budapest, too). for me the best new music comes from those two areas.panu moon

Linda was the first to respond to the remix.
Facebook | Linda Ong

She saw it fit to post about it via her FB profile:
Facebook | Linda Ong comments on my remix of Lunarin's The Sky

And that was probably how SG music “heavy weights” like Willy Tan and Patrick Chng dropped by:
Facebook | Remixing Lunarin: “No Sun Under The Sky”

It’s obvious to me that all this CC remixing stuff gives as much exposure to the band and the remixers. This is just a bonus though. The real fun is in the musical process.

I cannot quite play like Lunarin, nor get their sound. Remixing them gives me that little taste of being with my fav band, or dare I say “In” it. If just for a little while 🙂

Lunarin | Home

You can listen to the original version of “The Sky (Algiers)” in this YouTube vid from Lunarin’s live concert on 1 Oct 2010.
[UPDATE: Lunarin has uploaded the original track, here]

In my remix, I’ve used Linda’s vocals and sampled a bit of the track’s piano, bass and clean guitar. A very long “How It Was Done” post, over at MyRightBrain.

And of course boys and girls, let’s not forget that the very cool Lunarin (Linda, Kah Wye, Eng Teck) made this remix possible.

Thanks for “Sharing Today. Shaping Tomorrow”.

Get your own Lunarin remix going. Do remember to license your remix as CC-BY-NC-SA.

~ Ivan
p.s. For the more astute readers, yeah there is a #2 coming up!

Band bio for the “2010 Sound Out Singapore” album

The nice folks at SoundOut.sg asked for our band bio (we produced this album in support of their campaign) and posted it here.

Starfish Stories: The Band comprise of two Singaporeans, Adrian Loo (lekowala.wordpress.com) and Ivan Chew (ramblinglibrarian.blogspot.com).

They attended the same Secondary school more than 20 years ago. But didn’t keep in touch after that. In 2007, one of them recognised a familiar name in an email that he was about to discard unread. After reconnecting, they discovered a shared interest in music and mucking around on their Macs (GarageBand, to be specific). Four months later, they released their first Creative Commons licensed online album.

No rehearsals or jam practices. Nor studio time (unless you consider a home computer as a studio). Thanks to email and the Internet, they didn’t have to quit their day-jobs in order to work on their music (their wives would be very, very upset if they did). Then they figured they might as well give themselves a band name: “Starfish Stories :: The Band” (cos all other cool names were taken).

For the SoundOutSG music project, they are grateful to have I-Ling (myvanillaworld.wordpress.com) on vocals. I-Ling considers herself a regular office worker, resuscitating her college dream of writing and singing original songs. She says she does not play any musical instrument (though Adrian and Ivan think her voice beats their guitar work any time). I-Ling talks a lot. It’s to do with her work; not because she’s female. She reckons she has found another purpose for her vocal chords — in music.

Adrian is a teacher with a PhD. Ivan is a librarian with an MSc.

They have no formal training in music.

That has never stopped them from making noise.

Adrian and Ivan would be extremely pleased if you use or share their music. All their works are released under a Creative Commons ATTRIBUTION license (creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/sg).

They believe in changing the world, one Tune at a Time.

Sex trafficking is a worldwide problem. The three of us — I-Ling, Adrian and Ivan — know that merely contributing songs to a cause won’t make the problem go away. Coming from middle-class backgrounds, we are also pretty much insulated from the issue. We may have read about it but we (thankfully) don’t have first-hand knowledge of it. That said, I think we’re doing what we can do for now. And that’s why we’re taking part.

SoundOut - band bio

Music album: 2010 Sound Out Singapore

Creative Commons License2010 Sound Out Singapore by Starfish Stories : The Band is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Singapore License. As long as you ATTRIBUTE the music by stating this: “Starfish Stories :: The Band – StarfishStories.wordpress.com”* in your audio, video, website, printed materials etc., you are FREE to USE, COPY, SHARE, MODIFY, or SELL (yes sell!) any of the songs from this album.

In case we weren’t quite clear on the above, try this!

For Track 01 “Open the Door (Smile Again)”, please credit as:

This is the 4th self-produced Creative Commons music album from two Singaporean guys who have non-musical day jobs, but with a passion for producing their own brand of music. Recorded, mixed and engineered exclusively with GarageBand (and everything else done via email).

Album cover - Sound Out Singapore 2010



1. OPEN THE DOOR (SMILE AGAIN) – featuring I-Ling on vocals

2. STOLEN DREAMS (Instrumental)

3. PETALS IN A CRYSTAL STREAM (instrumental)

4. SMILE AGAIN II (rock instrumental)

5. DRIFTING RUST (instrumental)

We welcome comments on how to improve our music. Feel free to share what you liked or disliked at the band blog StarfishStories.wordpress.com or email us at starfishstories@gmail.com.

The story behind the album at this blog post.

There are other contributors to Sound Out at soundout.sg/?p=heard. Do give them a listen. Or submit your own songs!
Support our anti-trafficking music | Sound Out Singapore

Starfish Stories :: The Band is a Singaporean duo – Adrian Loo & Ivan Chew. They are self-taught musicians who prefer to produce their music this way. Feel free to contact them at their band blog or email StarfishStories@gmail.com.


Consider making a donation!

Related posts:

Sound Out Singapore album cover – by Stefano Virgilli

Big thanks to Stefano Virgilli! For contributing to our music project.

Album cover - Sound Out Singapore 2010

Image is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Singapore License. Please credit: Stefano Virgilli (vox.sg).

Image sources:

Stefano responded to my Facebook status post, where I asked if anyone was interested in contributing a CC-licensed music album cover design, for our Sound Out Singapore music project.

I gave him the following specifications:

The cover image should:
1) Be square-shaped (480×480, JPEG)
2) Have the words “Starfish Stories :: The Band”, and also the URL StarfishStories.wordpress.com
2) Show a CC “some rights reserved” logo (which you can download from http://creativecommons.org/about/downloads/
3) Display the album name “Sound Out Singapore”…. See more
4) Some graphical connection to http://soundout.sg/

I think he took maybe a day or two. Emailed me the image, asking if it was OK.

You bet! It’s way better than this any day.

~ Ivan

Lyrics: Open the Door (Smile Again) – soundout.sg

Here are the lyrics to the title track, for our CC project for SoundOut.sg, as mentioned here.

The song is titled “OPEN THE DOOR (SMILE AGAIN)”.
Music by Ivan Chew – MyRightBrain.wordpress.com
Words by I-Ling – MyVanillaWorld.wordpress.com
Music and words are licensed under a CREATIVE COMMONS ATTRIBUTION 3.0. Singapore 2010.
See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/sg/

Released by “Starfish Stories :: The Band” (StarfishStories.wordpress.com) for SoundOut.sg
The nights are long and endless
When you’re miles away from home
The truth is so much darker than
Any story ever told

Shut away
No one you can trust, no hand to hold
But deep inside
Something’s alive within you
That’s called hope

* Chorus
Just open the door
Step into the light
Reach out
And you will find your way again

Take off those chains
Leave the past behind
The night is over
So smile again

Open your eyes
It’s a brand new start
Look up
And there’s a blue sky over your head

Don’t be afraid
Listen to your heart
You have every reason
To smile again

A dream without an ending
Taken away before you said no
Locked behind those dirty walls
You’re just a ragged, broken doll

A living dead
You think the scars are all you have
But deep inside
Your heart beats so strong and fast
So believe in yourself

* Chorus

* Chorus (repeat)

Coming soon – another Starfish Stories Creative Commons music project: SoundOutSG

A friend of mine, Kestrel, asked if I would like to contribute a song, or two, for a public cause: Sound Out Against Sex Trafficking – SoundOut.sg.
Sound Out Against Sex Trafficking

It’s a meaningful campaign (supported by UNIFEM, Singapore).

And I think I should care:

As an integral part of human trafficking – the third largest crime in the world, sex trafficking of women and children is on the rise as a major problem in the world today. It’s time for us to take a stand on behalf of the millions of women and children who are at risk.

The requirement was that the songs “should either incorporate the bell as an audio element, or be along the lines of liberation and emancipation for women currently suffering from sex trafficking in Singapore.

I said yes.

Naturally, I roped in Adrian. I didn’t insist he take part, since I’m mindful that he’s busy with work and his kids. I also emailed another friend, I-Ling, if she’d like to be part of the project (she’s no stranger to Starfish Stories).

Both of them emailed me back with a positive reply. They also felt the cause was a meaningful one.

I received the invitation to contribute on Apr 18. The request was one song in three weeks’ time, or two tracks in six weeks.

Within three weeks, we’ve wrangled out five tracks.
Coming Soon - 2010 SoundOutSG album

It started with my sending them a rock instrumental track. I-Ling expanded on that and came up with original lyrics and recorded the vocals as well. Then I sent them another instrumental track, to which Adrian emailed me a set of his electric leads. We worked pretty fast, even though we didn’t push each other.

I-Ling and Adrian liked all the tracks so far. I certainly do. Especially the process of working with like-minded pals. I guess when you enjoy doing something, plus for a meaningful cause, good stuff happens. At least I think the songs are good stuff. I’ll leave it to whoever’s listening to make their own evaluation.

The tracks feature Asian instrumentation a lot, in line with the given theme.

Of course, the issue of sex trafficking is a worldwide problem. It’s not limited to Asia. And I’m sure I speak for I-Ling and Adrian in that we’re also realistic that contributing songs to a cause won’t make the problem go away. I’d even go as far as saying that we three, being more or less middle-class folks, are pretty much detached from the issue.

We read about it. But we (thankfully) don’t have first-hand knowledge of it.

That said, I think we’re doing what we can do for now.

Sound out.

~ Ivan

[p.s. If you wish to have a preview of the songs, feel free to email me/ us. As with all our music projects, we’ll release it under a Creative Commons ATTRIBUTION license].