WOOT! Just barely after they have cooled their heels after their sell-out concert, my fav SG rock trio, Lunarin, announced that The Sky (Algiers) from Duae (2010), is available for remixing under a BY-NC-SA license.
From their post:
Even before Duae was released, our friend Ivan suggested that we make one of the songs available for free download for remixing. We thought this was an excellent idea. The only question then was which song to make available for remixing.
Shortly after the album was released, we conducted a poll to ask people which was their favourite track off “Duae”. Interestingly enough, there was an overwhelming response in favour of The Sky (Algiers). We therefore decided to make The Sky (Algiers) available for free download for some of you peeps to take a shot at remixing it.
The file is available in Garage Band format and released under a Creative Commons License:
We would love for you to spend some time with this little song of ours and give it your own interpretation. Feel free to spread the link to your friends and disseminate it on your websites and blogs. Last but not least, we would love to hear the end product of what you’ve done. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org .We would love to hear from you!
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.
2010 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).
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
No one you can trust, no hand to hold
But deep inside
Something’s alive within you
That’s called hope
Just open the door
Step into the light
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
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
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.
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.
2010 Crystal Tears and the Dream Nebula 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.
A year or so ago, I told my colleague that I would learn from my mum how to make chap chye and pass some over to her. Busy as we all are, I procrastinated until I felt it could not pass into 2010 (how to make someone wait for 2 years for chap chye? So, I decided to make a trip to the Mayflower wet market with my mum so I could learn which ingredients needed to be bought and from where… Its difficult to get this all from any supermarket so a visit to the wet market is a must.
My mum, sis and I chillaxing out at the wet market over laksa, chai tao kueh and fish ball noodles.
Learning the recipe involved more than just the cooking. It meant having breakfast at the market with my mum and sis (who loves to tag along) and spending a lovely morning chatting away. Its something to savour… and somehow if you are mindful, it helps in the cooking process as well. No rushing.
The finished product, a culinary treasure from the Peranakan heritage. It tastes good too.
All the ingredients should be in and none left out but I think the essential ingredients are the prawn head stock and the black fungus. The fungus imparts a nice woody and slightly pungent aroma to the dish.
Here’s a podcast of the recipe as narrated by my mum, I have taken the liberty of adding some music from the starfishstories.wordpress.com. I chose the song Ivan and I wrote for our friends Siva and Airani entitled “The mangrove tree”. I think the song goes well with the dish.
Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Singapore. Download at ARCHIVE.ORG.
Heat up oil, fry garlic 2 table spoons
Dou chio (ground) – 10 tablespoons
Fry dou chio until wangi
Belly pork cut into small, fry until cooked
Pour in water (half) or stock (prawn head that is fried and boiled in water for 20 mins to make stock)
Put in white cabbage (kobis) cut big pieces
Giam tou kee (dried and long pressed bean curd) rendam for 15 mins or until softer
Sweet tou kee (cut into squares) rinse
Dried Lily buds tie 2 (cut off stalk) rendam (soak in water) for half hour and remove dirt.
Soft black fungus – bok zhee (50 cts worth; its soft). Soak until kembang (pluck out the stem)
Until comes to a boil.
Let it simmer for another hour or so until all is soft and mushy.
This is a picture of the fermented bean paste that I used.
I’m documenting how the album name, and the title track, came about. For my benefit, if nothing else.
The album title was conceived in Sept ’08, when Adrian and I were conversing over IM, about the song sequence for our 2nd album, One World One Moment (OWOM). Near the end of our chat, Adrian said he still had one more song to write. He called it “Crystal Tears and the Dream Nebula”.
“wah, sounds interesting… like aural-scape,” I wrote back.
Nine months later (I checked my email archive!), Adrian sent me an MP3 demo file titled “Crystal Tears and the Dream Nebula”. By then, it was obviously too late for the OWOM album. So it was definitely for the next unnamed album.
In his email, Adrian explained: “… this is half done.. need you to add bass, smoothen the sound. I was […] playing this in the dark! Anyway I think I could refine the tune. It’s about space and the beautiful stars I saw before Leea was born. I thought it would fit well into the new album about beginnings… since nebulae are where stars are born.”
Here’s what Adrian’s first demo track, which I’ll call Version Zero-One, sounds like:
I immediately liked the chord progressions and transitions in Adrian’s demo track. The backing guitar sounded good to me. When the chord progression shifts at around the 1min mark, I thought I heard a winner in there. Plus, Adrian had just given our third album its name.
Crystal Tears and the Dream Nebula.
The name conjured up images that could be translated into instrumental tracks, I felt. Also, it seemed to tie in nicely with some tracks we were considering for the next album.
That very evening, I did a very rough edit of Adrian’s Version Zero-One and emailed to him. Just to give him an idea for how the track could be extended.
Next day, Adrian replied:
“… I am getting an idea of what you mean.
Anyway, I think I am adding another stanza as it seems missing in that part. I will email you the other stuff soon when I am done with the tune…
After I add that stanza, you can do your magic on it. Can you leave in some of the guitar bits that come up before I start each melody. Gives it that raw feel. Do keep the percussions the same before the 1 min mark and after that you can add some others. Keep the percussions clean and no ethnic beats for this. Lets keep it raw. Dont want to drown out the backing guitar cos I think that gives the music its mood.
Thanks, will try to add that stanza tonight.”
It was clear to me that Adrian put his heart and soul into the track. Very seldom would he work on a song immediately, LOL (for good reasons, given his teaching schedule and his three kids to boot). In any case, I had a very good feeling about the upcoming track.
Adrian managed to record his part and emailed to me:
“I have put in a lead, 22 takes! And this is not counting the previous chord progression I tried but I felt that was lame so deleted it over this one. Basically worked with a basic rift and then improvised for 22 times. Its got the atmosphere that I had in my head.
I added tambourines at 46 secs… Its quite fitting I feel.
I could think of some things that you could add
1. Bassline – a melodic one.
2. Some intro of sort before 1min 46 as a prelude to the lead.
3. The ending
4. Smoothen the lead tracks. (no chorus please) I like the leads sounds as it is but they are a bit sharp.”
At that stage, the arrangement was still a rough one, but the idea was shaping up nicely over our email exchanges. I looked forward to working on the track after work. Adrian exported his individual tracks — guitars, beats — as MP3 (128 kbps, VBR) and sent them over via email.
Basically, we repeated the process of sending MP3 files over, commenting via emails. Each time our comments would be quite detailed on which parts worked, and which ones needed changes. If necessary, I would let Adrian know why I cut away some of his original guitar leads. And Adrian would let me know if my guitar leads (which I thought sounded good at first) didn’t quite make the cut.
One exchange went like this (from Adrian):
57s the kranging of the guitars are beautifully included. that really lifts the song quite a bit.
1min 9 s, nice beat added and the guitars sound great. The accompanying guitar is nice. A bass line here is needed.
1min 44 – 1min 51. The bend on the guitar sounds a bit off. Could be a better progression… The song shouldn’t have bends or anything pentatonic.
1m 53s to 2min – The clean guitar here has a nice melody, I like it. The increasing tempo is nice here with a new beat coming into the foreground… Sounding groovy so far.
Too much jamming I feel from 2 mins 27s till 3 m 26s. Basically I feel the beginning part was great. From 2 m 27s its just sounds a bit too improvised. Although the rhythm and the drums are well organised.
3m 25s the sudden entry of this part is nice.. great stuff here. Again, a bass would have made an impact here.
The accompanying lead you did from 4mins on, sounded nice.
What happened to the 3rd guitar solo? (1min 46 onwards in the one I did) Can bring some parts of it in?
I like the looping ending, that’s a nice touch. Your lead there is inspirational. It is uplifting man. I kinda of like this for the song.
I think the generally what I felt was that you brought the song to a new level and that’s really amazing. The only thing I feel it that the song lost some of that traveling through space kind of feeling… not sure it I am putting it through well though. There should be a lull somewhere in the middle – gives the perception of being lost in space, in a nice kind of way, a kind of abandoning/ liberating.
Lastly, it definitely needs a bass man… maybe a soft intro at 33s and then a full on one at 1min 9s.
The “Crystal Tears and the Dream Nebula” track was our most intensive effort to date.
As I post excerpts of our email exchanges, I’m wondering if you’d read this and think that this is the work of two middle-aged guys stroking each other’s ego. That’s for you to judge.
What I’m certain was that we were pretty focused on how to make the music work for us, first. We were mindful to be tactful in giving feedback, but we said it like it was.
No egos were involved, and therefore no egos were hurt in the process.
The final version of the “Crystal Tears and the Dream Nebula” will be available with the rest of the uploads. So far, the preliminary reviews by our friends have been positive.
The fun part for us has been in the learning and creativity. Positive comments are a bonus.