Monday, January 01, 2007

This sampan made out of one piece of log
which is very rare in Riau Archipelago.

The maker are said to be a hermit who live in
the mangroove of Mengkilu River, Bintan.

What amaze me is the same thickness through
out the body. It is said that its rather easy to
shape a form externally but not internally.

If only we can dig ourself as one piece of
being we will be usefull and functional.

Wish you all a happy new year.

This is my last post.

Have a great time ahead of you.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

“All of you have been walking on your head,
since the day your feet touch the ground”
Ricky Lee Jones

The amazing rain pour endlessly swallow all my, guilt, sin and prayers since the day haze chocking me near death. The poor farmer who burn the forest for peanut had no idea what it had insulted and I remember months ago people were praying and hoping for rain to clear the sky. Rain is the last hope while all the politician took far to much time talking about it.

Now the Rain Is here with anger mercilessly created havoc which remind me of a line ‘be care full for what you wish’.

Yesterday when the rain pour nonstop I look at the window and I felt many of us will be hurt. Now since many are in a great spirit for holiday and partying many prayed ‘please don’t rain”. I wonder if we ever learn anything at all.

I turn on the dvd player and a male choreographer say “ I am 40 now and I’m going to start a revolution against myself”. This statement remind me of Khalil Gibran

“The man who does not feel friendship towards himself is a public enemy, and he who finds no confidant within himself will die of despair.’

So a ‘40 years old man who has celebrated his birthday alone by himself invites his four lovers to a dance class that he teaches in order to search for the roots of his own loneliness and by reminiscing the memories of how each of his love affair were evolved and diminished, he realizes that the more contemporary world become sexually oriented the farther it has moved away from love.’

I was delighted to read above sypnopsis and could not stop myself remembering how many lover I had since past 15 years. But as I remember each one of them I think they will cook me alive instead of me choreographing them. By the way that’s exactly how I felt about spore art scene ‘the more it become sexually oriented the farther it has moved away from love.”

The film called ‘sex and philosophy’ by Mohsen Makhalbaf but in less then 10 minit im continuosly disappointed on how the whole film was painfully dramatize which does not do any justice towards the statement. From one scene to another it keep collapse and betrayed the yearn and long for some answer why at all we fail to understand the essence of lonelynees and dispair while the director fail for any answer indulging in stylization and dramatization of a simple scene which need to be treated effortlessly.

Man and Women can clearly understand the true meaning of love but what mislead their understanding is their own very desire, lust, jeolousy, envy and fear.
Sometime when people were talking about artist as a prostitute I also think about ‘them’ as public masturbator more then anything else. This make me wonder perhaps as much we need to understand the ‘nature’ of prostitution we also need to understand the necessity of masturbation. And what does it really mean and represent?

When I am treated for a spa and massage sometime ago, not surprisingly the Chinese masseur (ladies in her mid 40s) ask me ‘do you want hand job?’ then I quickly ask is it free ? “Aiyo nolah its 50$’ she quickly replied. then she go on explaining that it is a traditional massage and not to masturbate me. Meaning its not a vulgar service but for a better health down there. she say it will take about 10 minit to ‘adjust’ my ‘system’ and it will arrive in ‘explosion’ and clear the canal. I wish I could tell her she may need 30 min to bring an explosion for my case but I could not say it incase she think its vulgar. She is not emberrest at all by my rejection and I am convince that her service (if I took it) are ‘genuinely’ massage not masturbation. When I look at her eyes I cant help but imagine what she think to herself ‘ah what does man really know anyway?’

Where am I? Oh to be succesfull and powerfull means you have to be a parasite. Dracula. A blood sucking beast who keep you alive for his life is an amazing methaphore similar to how artist are public masturbator more then a prostitute. We always need grant, support from friends, lover, family and the more we get the danger began. We may turn to monster and the lesser we get another danger begin, we become bitter and suicidal.

I will try to write more about this later. Because during a heavy pour yesterday I remember a professor Mr Ito who live in Nagano mountain.( a friend of my good friend Tetsu Saitoh ) invited me for dinner because he is very curious about what I think about life. It’s a very honest confrontational conversation. Mr Ito had gradually convince himself that he is a parasite who handsomely paid by the university and his problem is ; with his knowledge and wealth he could not offer much to the society while he got richer every month.

I ask how many student he had? “sometime just one”. He say. Then he ask me about suicide if its acceptable? I obviously say no and he ask is there any life after death? I say yes but nobody have been there and come back to teach us and lets not talk about religion. After a long night I told him ‘many years ago I meet a proffesor who look very stressed up and so I went to him and ask “ Whats your problem?” - “ My problem is I have no problem”. His job is to solved methametical problems which he create himself.

And Mr Ito ask me “ So your conclusion is I created a problem which can be solve only through suicide?’

“Now you sound like a monkey grabbing peanut in a hole the size of his palm. If you could not offer some goodness to yourself why bother thinking about others?”

* A young boy meet an older artits and tell him

“I want to be a great artist’ and his reply
“that’s good and are you ready to suck cock?”

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Recently i read this long note for the Asia discover Asia Symposium. Gallery Hotel. Singapore. 6-9 december.

What I am about to read are not exactly meant for this symposium. It is supposed to be an open letter to the arts community here. But I changed it and hopefully it is relevant for this symposium.

My artistic practice have always been multi-disciplinary from dance, installation art, drawings, writing, video art, documentary film, music and lying. My main interest has always been what is forgotten, completely disregarded, misunderstood, suppressed, discriminated, mystified, raped and thrown away so it is not controversial to say that what I deal with for the past 25 years are basically rubbish.

Since April this year I have been thinking a little too much about the future of The Substation, an independent art center built even before the National Arts Council was established, and a curiosity towards how a fast changing landscape can change, ridicule, brain wash, re-direct, dominate, insult, interrogate, politicize people in the art scene here.

But despite being multi-disciplinary,one thing I cannot do and don’t have is the academic language. So please try to imagine that you are in a theatre production watching a monologue work in progress .

Working tittle :

Recently I went to substation for a concert which took place in the theatre. When I got out from the bus I noticed the tunnel is completed Then I remembered the national library its a hole now and in less than a minute later, I looked at the top of the tunnel. I remembered the old drama centre. I don’t know how much feeling I have for it and I don’t know if that should worry me.

Have I become numb about missing buildings? I don’t know because I am usually very detached with objects except for bodily things.

As usual I will end up at coffe shop opposite The Substation. I looked at the former Asian Civilization Museum which is under construction and I looked at The Substation again. Somehow I felt it seems to have less reason to be there as to compare with ACM. But many will agree that culturally and historically that the substation is one of the most outstanding space which has contributed a great deal to many artists and the development of the arts here since the day it opened its door. It is the only independent art space founded and initiated by the people and for the people.

Then I put together the Tunnel, Singapore Management University, History Museum, Art House, Esplanade, Singapore Art Museum, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Sculpture Square, Asian Civilisation Museum, CHIMES, Ministry of Information Communication and Arts while La Salle and School Of The Arts buildings and city hall are on their way …kind of mapping it as one landscape. or image. The Renaissance city or the bohemian zone some call it.

With this map I have in my head I can’t help thinking that there must be some people who think that as a building, The Substation is an eye sore.

The History Museum has re-opened its door this month with a shocking total of 16.5 billion dollars make-over. I don’t know when the former Asian Civilisation Museum will be completed and I don’t know what it will be though I heard rumours say that it is going to be the BABA museum. But even before it completed I can’t help it but asking myself

“Are they going to bring down substation?”

…Let me quote someone familiar here

If building can speak-
If building can speak, they will be able to tell us a lot about consultants, developers, workmen, financier and government officer. They will be able to tell us more about ourselves than we are prepared to admit. If building can speak they will tell us many horror stories about how they are being maltreated as a result of developers’ greed, authorities obstruction, professional incompetence, contractors dishonesty, poor workmanship and users abuse.

If building can speak, they will tell the consultants how little they know about concrete, its inherent qualities, its potential as well as its limitations.

Fortunately, building cannot speak”

William Lim 1978.
If concrete can speak

This reminds me of late Kuo Pao Kun play titled Silly little Girl and the Funny old Tree. And I think it’s a good idea to make building speak but the only way is to write “Silly little boy and this funny old building” maybe I should proposed this to Alfian. Since we cried enough for the kampung the last few drops of tears we have left should be for some bloody stupid ugly building we love.

Just to make it clear I am not here to argue if the substation artistic direction and its vision towards the development of the arts here need interrogation-

But I am questioning myself as a ghost in this city:
How important are space like substation to the independent artists and intellectuals as to compare with esplanade, art house and the rest of the emerging insitutions? What is the role of independent artists and the intellectuals here in spore?

I have to ask myself and the rest of the arts community here because unlike many other art institutions, The Substation is initiated by the people and for the people and I don’t know if the Government has any feeling for buildings considering how many it has shamelessly (as William put it) bring it down

And I also ask myself :

Will the fast changing landscape and millions of new immigrants or foreign talents they call it, put us into a situation or environment where we, the locals, gradually feel alienated by our brand new Renaissance city?

Let me quote Edward W Said here ‘ Exile is one of the saddest fates. On pre-modern times banishment was a particularly dreadful punishment since it not only meant years of aimless wandering away from family and familiar places, but also meant being sort of permanent outcast, someone who never felt at home, and always at odds with the environment, inconsolable about the past, bitter about the present and the future”

What bugs me in Edward Said note is not the word exile but the effect of exile “Permanent outcast, someone who never felt at home, and always at odds with the environment, inconsolable about the past, bitter about the present and the future”

I personally went through such period confronting the hallucination of being/feeling alienated by my surrounding here in Singapore. It is an internal war fighting for your sense of ownership towards this city spiritually, emotionally, psychologically, intellectually and perhaps sexually too. I know I am not alone and I think I can only speak for those who is below the middle class people because that’s where I come from.

I don’t know if I have become very skeptical on how the authority here preserves buildings and nature which have strong history and deserve to be standing. We have to continuously struggle with and tolerate new ugly buildings and a sudden rise of ‘new greedy, loud and arrogant immigrants’ who can be completely ignorant about our history and how the locals here breed the roots of these big words ‘multi-racial and multi-culturalism’; Who is going to educate all the new foreign talents here ?
Should we leave it to the Government ?

Let me quote William Lim again

“ cities take decades or even centuries to evolve and developed. Their physical structures may be new or old as well as ugly or beautifull. Cities are alive because people live, work and die there”

I like that, but looking at how fast our landscape transform I don’t know if I want to die in this city or I will die because of this city.


Substation as building does not appear as grandeous as former Asian Civilisation Museum and knowing how much the substation is struggling to find sufficient financial support it is no exaggeration that the appetite to change that whole stretch towards the Renaissance city will threaten the existence and question the importance of the substation. The demolition of buildings in Singapore is like eating, its either you eat the best part first and the worse part last. As you know most of the time people eat the best part first and the worse is for dog and pig.

I felt Substation is like an exotic creature in a Chinese Sea food restaurant, as long it moves they will eat it.


About 4 years ago when esplanade was completed and later art house emerged, some people told me that the substation will face stiff competition. Of course and to begin with the substation will get less money. And with that little money they have to compete with all the big players like a poor little boy in middle east fighting against bloody American soldiers with stones and sticks.

As I wrote this a close friend reminded me about the National Theatre which is demolished sometime ago. National Theatre is a landmark for performing arts from 1960 to 1980s. It is a building - By the people, for the people and for that reason the theatre was dubbed 'the people's theatre' because Singaporeans from all walks of life had contributed to its construction. Even school children break their piggy bank for that building.

I heard rumour saying that the reason the National Theatre was demolished because LKY hated the building because opposition party used it in the past.. He doesn’t want the building as an evidence of such memory. How true is this I don’t know. Some also say maybe because there was no aircon.

And I also heard that people were complaining about the building because it’s too old and hard to maintain. If a building made in 1960 is considered old then I cannot understand why building like Singapore Art Museum or City Hall are still here.
Its an evident of fetishism towards our colonial past?

If such an important building like National Theatre can turned to ashes I don’t think its an exaggeration to say substation may face demolition. I kept thinking that it is a joke if the arts community at large think or believe that this building can stay in that hot location for as long as it deserves..

Early this year in April I wrote a very long note titled I WANT MY GARDEN BACK criticizing Timber management, The Substation’s new tenant, who turned the whole garden into a pub. They don’t do business in the day and because they plunge their heavy sound system in the garden, they decided to lock the garden... It is the first time in the 16 years of The Substation history that the garden, which I personally think is the heart of the substation, is locked. I am very disappointed and in fact insulted because I am associated with the substation since the day it opened its door. I work, sleep, fight, dream, play and found my soul right there in the substation specifically in that garden.

I personally think the Garden is the symbol of the arts community (not only Kuo Pao Kun) Idealism, hope and the spirit of questioning the habituality of art making and the mundane routine playing Hamlet. I wish I can keep my mouth shut about this but that’s only mean suicide

So I post my unhappy note in the artscom. Artscom is a forum space where the arts community here debate anything under their throat. Many people replied to me personally or publicly and many agreed that it is a pity what has happened to the garden. I understand later from the artistic director and the manager that the rental fee helped them to pay at least 5 person salary while they have 12 staff.

And the reason the substation ex-manager agreed with Timber proposal to take the whole garden and transform it as a horrible pub are due to

1st there isn’t any other people who can proposed a better idea about using the space.

2nd the arts community doesn’t see the need to use it..

When I asked several people, many think that substation should be the one organizing event in the garden and they as artists will support. That’s exactly how ping pong and tennis are invented, isn’t it?

But it does make me wonder how true it is that the artist don’t see the need to use it and why ?

The emerging of several art institutions here since past 15 years can be said as the emerging of power where it ‘capitalize’ on art, craft, culture, music, and dance.. And most importantly, they seduce our individuality and intellectuality. When I say power it simply means they have more money. That is alarming knowing that Sporean problem is not their fear towards the Govt. but their weakness towards money.

This emerging of power will continuously question the role of the independent artist and the intellectuals as to how we communicate and negotiate with power.

Today’s situation is where the same group of artists shows their work almost in any institution here like esplanade, art house, sculpture square, La Salle Gallery, NAFA, National Library, MICA Building, Victoria theatre, Asian civilization museum, Singapore History Museum etc. Most of these institutions are basically fighting for the same small number of artists, sponsors and audience ship. And when it comes to curatorial ship or programming it can be said generic - the only difference is who has more money, better quality paper for their posters and flyers.

Could it be due to the fact that there are more art institution and opportunity to showcased artist work that the independent artist and intellectual had gradually lost interest in the substation?

I think it is a great situation that artists have more opportunities to show their work, but we have to deal with the fact is most of the institution are heavily funded by the Government. Even though Substation is also funded by the NAC ( but not as much as the rest which I am not going to argue about it) the difference is I am repeating myself here, it’s a building initiated by people and for the people. Therefore I think its special and it deserved our attention.


We are living in a ridiculous city where buildings disappear with the same rate at which people are dying and building erected faster than birth rate.The locals can be easily misunderstood as foreign workers especially if you look like me or have a much darker skin than me.

There is more than 1 million new immigrant or foreign talent here and more are coming. Unsurprisingly mostly are Chinese from china.

Who is going to educate them about who and what we are ?

Can we leave that to history museum ?

When I write my sketchy idea what I want to do for Singapore Biennale this year, I asked myself if all the international curator who is selected to work for us (as if we don’t have any) know anything about the local history? Of course by that I don’t mean Singaporeans are well inform about their history either.

My proposal for the biennale touches on history and local memories and I want to tap it from people whom I think are the best on the topic of culture, humanity, politic, landscape development, empowerment and good wine. I thought about William Lim, T K Sabapathy, Chua Beng Huat, Catherine Lim and Tay Keng Soon. These are the living spirits of this city who have contributed dearly in developing and explaining this city. They are not a statue - they have mouth and they are vocal. That name alone to begin with already make some servent sweaty and smelly

And when I pulled out from the Biennale without explanation some people tell me “what a waste Zai, how can you pull out from being in something very important”

One of my reply is this:

“ let me tell you what is important . 14 000$ is too cheap for me to insult myself and people like William Lim, Tay Keng Soon, T.K Sabapathy, Chua Beng Huat and Catherine Lim. What is important I protect my right and their rights to say anything and whatever and however they want about this country.”

Roughly my idea is to talk and ask the 5 persons to look at the camera and imagine that they are talking to Lee Kuan Yew. There will be 1 tape which means 1 hour for each speaker and there will be no editing (which means no censorship). And audience is not allowed to listen only part of it. So they need 5 hour to look and listen at the ‘work’. Fumio Nanjo calculated with me that theres only about 380 people can view the work through out the Binalle which is about 2 month. Which attracted 900, 000 audiences. I think you can imagine how this musical is interrupted by sheer paranoid servant.

What make me felt very insulted about the whole thing is not only I have to deal with obvious paranoia but - what make ‘them’ think we can’t be elegant about their view and opinion?


let me quote Edward Said to end my rumbling

“there is something fundamentally unsettling about intellectuals who have neither offices to protect nor territory to consolidate and guard: self-irony is therefore more frequent than pomposity, directness more than hemming and hawing.

But there is no dodging the inescapable reality that such representations by intellectuals will neither make them friends in high places nor win them official honors. It is a lonely condition, yes, but it is always a better one than a gregarious tolerance for the way things are”

After many months pondering over the future of substation while im jobless and completely broke, my conclusion is that, when the people especially the arts community itself have forgotten about the existence and purpose of the substation and especially if they don’t see the need to use it and could not be bother about it -,ALL will go down the drain. The Substation, together with its idealism, dreams and hopes and a wonderful history, will disappear completely.

And I’m afraid that someone we love will cry tearlessly.

I do hope our society especially the young ones will not be haunted by the trauma of fast changing landscape where their existence and history are constantly erased, misunderstood and being a sort of permanent outcast, and as someone who never felt at home, and always at odds with the environment, inconsolable about the past, bitter about the present and the future


At the age of 43 having no bank account someone ask me what happen if you die?
and I told him “ well im already dead about 23 years ago and for the past 20 years I live as a ghost and the only problem I have is I get hungry, I eat, I shit and I love women.

I do hope (since I still have some hope) it is all just my worry, restlessness, imagination as a result of my vertigo syndrome and if I can die once again I think maybe I should be buried in the substation garden though I know this country not only shamelessly bring down a wrong building but also digging you out of your grave.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

WARNING: There is no editing for this post so take care of your nose cos sometime my singlish can make it bleed.

It has been hectic this 2 week. The plan for this season is to film the punk (nov and dec) but my vcam is down, broke and im also down. I don't understand why almost every year i am alway broke from Oct till Dec. Maybe i should take financial planning with Santa Claus cos it is during this season you want to really spend. All this make you feel having so much to do but you just can't move on.

Just now as i walk for the bloody cheap Thai tobacco i thought its similar with the Orang Laut because they also broke during monsoon. Ah perhap im just fuck when come to money. and you know what i like the design of this rolling paper it say COCK and FOOTBALL but the only problem is it smell like news paper

Anyway I have been preparing NIGHTCLUB

NIGHTCLUB.the legend of AWKWAH live in WET HOLE SHOULD BE TREATED AND POUNDED, nightclub. Bangkok. is a collaboration with Shark Fung and Wei Nan. Its a really funky collection of noice but not forgetting sexyness. Releseased by Beautifullengineeredblood



We suppose to have gig in Bangkok but when we arrive in the notorious red light district of Bangkok, Patpong we could not find our manager. After few hours of waiting we suspect the manager have run away with all our equipment. We are stranded, broke and conned. But we got lucky when we meet Surinoi a mamasan who run PINKPUSSY NIGHCLUB. She gave us odd jobs in the pub for 2 week so that we can get our ticket back to spore.

So we like to thank Surinoi for her loving and lust for young boy like us.
The jeolous body guardwho always have to restrained from pointing their gun on our head. and of cos all the girl whose on bikinis during the farewell party where we recorded this gig.

We love all you girls, your smile, big teeth, wet tounge. cheeky finger, bouncy ass and boobs, pointy tits and sure all the boom boom and Terence for bringing the fattest women we ever seen for us to vent our frustation during the recording session. it is very bouncy , meaty and addictive that we want to take it home but to heavy. and last all the girls who strip naked during 8 Every hole should be tested and pounded.. Its awesome and the most unforgetable becausae when we woke up the next day

everybody is naked!.

Tonight is Shark call me we going to send all materials for pressing. So in 1 week time you can make your order.


Saturday, November 11, 2006


It rained today. And I'm happy. Everytime it rains not only the construction workers stop banging the metal, I also think about the orang laut. Their boat is fragile. Do they have rice? Enough fish to eat? It is not easy to catch fish during raining season. They usually go deeper in the water. And it is during this monsoon season they don’t usually have enough food to eat and I always wanted to look for them with rice. But these two months I will be completely broke and it is the most difficult time to look for them. Then I try to recall why when it rains I think of the orang laut? And I remembered.

The first time I meet the community is in Mengkilu River, Bintan. It was mind opening for me. After they agreed with me to park my boat on the river mouth near them. I found my corner and planned for the night. It was a small boat for two persons to sleep (me and the boatman mas yanto) and as the sun gradually disappeared rain started pouring. It was so heavy that it got into the boat, unstoppable. When I realized that Yanto did not cover the boat properly I got abit angry with him because I did tell him before that our boat was not well covered. So that night we could not sleep the floor was full with water and we took turn to scope them out. It only stop at about 10am and we were already very sick. So when Pak Musa (the leader of the community) saw us he laughed at us. I ask him 'Are you o.k?' because the rain was really pouring last night. He say oh usually when it rains it’s the best time to sleep and if the women are cold it gets even better he laughed.

Abang Yan (Yanto)

A happy cactus

If you want to practise meditation while sitting naked , this is a perfect chair for you.


After i edited the film RIAU in 2003 i have been wondering what can I document in Spore. One of the result was"Even dogs have choices" a funky documentation of X'O tatooing his dick. The film got banned.

Can you see how much fun i had? I think the most poetic statement X'O made is the most painful on the dick. I wonder if its on the head (the malay call kepala butoh) how one will explode! Yabedabe aaaaaaaaaaaaaa!


Then later I meet Marc, Shaun, Seelan and Shaiful who are active in the punk scene (but it look like Marc and Shaun are running away from the scene now). It's been about 2 1/2 year already and recently i decided to make a short film about the punk here. Featuring some of them who are rather close to me. Secently I went to document CBU gig and somebody asked me why am i interested with punk culture. I am still wondering how to tell them 1983 when i first play Sex Pistol in a wedding we were told to stop immediately by my brother who think its rubbish. But in that era Rock rules and there was no punk scene at all to my knowledge.

Now here is how i might look like if art did not change my life (or look)


Dont talk about photoshop skill i will kill you. Enjoy mother fucker!
next post i will talk more about the film project.

Monday, November 06, 2006

i am angry. ultimately this is how i want to look like. rob some money go to cuba and be a pimp and smoke cigar (instead of that phethetic tiny Thai tobacco 2.90 for 20 gram pui!) because life here is cruel. haha this is just testing to see if i can send this post myself.

i cant get that kind of moustache but my dad have it. so it's very cruel why i dont have such hair. but i am also told if i have such moustache it will be just to 'attractive' and everywhere i go someone will just whack me for no reason. that even much more cruel isn't it

Last time im in seoul this is how i look like. My brother bring me to his favourite pub and i ordered glass of whiskey (neat). when the waiter put my glass, i felt the whiskey look like somebody just took a sip. then i call the waiter and told him 'Why are you so stingy?" then my brother translate. the poor boy look shock then took the glass and talk to the bartender. we look at each other then he bow to me and i got half glass of whiskey hehe very funny. so every pub we go people thought im a Japanese 'chimpira' (chimpira is a lower class to Yakuza). Chimpira don't fight they just make noice and occasionally got beaten up by Yakuza hahaha

testing testing

Monday, October 30, 2006


About two week ago, I got Leslie Low’s solo album WORMS from his promotional gig at art house. It’s great stuff and I really enjoyed the intimacy each of the song and how Les was basically there not to talk but play and sing though its hard for me to understand from word to word that he sung. It could be due to the fact that I only have 65% ability to hear and also standing for 1 hour.

Anyway, live is always ‘better’ because imperfection is the key thing that makes things really alive and that’s what it mean to me by - live. When I reached home later and played the CD to my surprise each song now meant different from when it was played live. I am wondering over this line

‘Recorded materials remain as a memory of something living’.

And it also make me wonder, “so how if you are not there to listen to him playing live?” Because you have no memory of it, does it mean it’s less ‘lively’? This is not to say the CD is not as good as the live set, but when we play to audiences each song breathes differently. We should also question our experience in buying CD or collecting them as part of our life since most of our favourite artistes (studio recording?) seem to be mainly coming from the CD itself and mostly ‘dead’.

Don’t misunderstand me but I have a strong feeling that WORM will be very different if it recorded live with an audiences.

Studio recording has been my enemy for more than 15 years and that is the reason I don’t have any CD after all these years of banging and crooning (haha crooning my style). All those years I believe in playing live and if I want to release any CD it has to be recorded live in front of an audiences and for such a long time I constantly fail because I’m not happy with most of my live-set except those in Bangkok 2002 and I did sell some of them (100) home made, recorded with video camera.

Marketing 1000 CDs is another animal I never know what to do with.

This also questions the culture here - how do people understand such a thing concerning the culture of taking the trouble to listen live music and mainly originals? Especially solo or duet. When a Korean friend of mine came here last year he kept asking me to bring him to a bar where there’s musician playing live and originals. I was embarrassed to tell him there isn’t any that I know off or that I like the atmosphere. Since we were near substation we walk around Clarke quay and end up at Crazy Elephant where there was blues and rock and roll. So I ask him ‘you wanna go in?” he say ‘no no no lets sit outside”. I do wish we can just hang out at TIMBER but that does not solve the problem really.

Recently after watching phichet and Jerome bel ‘dance performance’ I hung out with Donna, Chee Wai, Evan and Shiyun. Donna told me that I should have recorded my stuff and I did say

To record is easy and its not very very expensive but what to do with 1000 cd is a headache. Look at Leslie, he got good stuff but how many can he sell?’ I asked.

Evan replied ‘if he can sell 500 its already considered lucky’.

That’s really precisely the situation here in Singapore. I won’t be surprised when you go to sungei road you can find BLUEMONKISH book by Zai Kuning for 50 cent.

To release a CD for me is to document something that I may not want to play for the next many years and search for new materials. New materials have been difficult for me the past two years and I suspect the reason could be that I have to record my old stuff: like clearing the house and moving on. (and you can always say that’s the most dishonest way of releasing a CD)

Here in Singapore we can’t have a gig every month once we have new materials. It’s too small and there no such culture or movement where you can go from one ‘community centre’ to another like a tour, if that happens we will be really busy, and broke.

I remember when I first touring with Tetsu Saitoh from Tokyo, Yokohama, Nagano, Osaka, Kobe, Fukuoka etc. the system works that way in Japan that if your contact is good and when you have new materials (or old thing played differently) and if you have energy you can arrange advance tour which can last about a month. And this allowed the musician to be ‘full time’ artist. But even then Tetsu and some other friends were complaining that they can’t survive with tour alone.

Yes I did imagine some years ago what if we do a road tour to Johor, Mellacca, Terrenganu, K.L, Seremban, Batu Pahat, Hat Yai, Phuket, Bangkok, Chiang Mai and all the way to Saigon. But what kind of music can fit all those places? Cha Cha? Acapella? It remain a utopian dream

Tetsu has not been happy with how Tokyo has evolved where many good musicians basically have to struggle against Jpop and all that jazz in music industry there. You have to remain truthful to your sense of music can never escape playing in small, smelly and cramp bar at least twice a month and the audiences range from 5, 10, 15 and if lucky 25 audiences and what more is that a lot of them are nerd. And all the artist fee go to gasoline, carpark fee, beer, tobacco and food.

Anyway speaking of WORM (in fact Les sensibility and sense of being - existence) people will always think about Nick Drake. I think its two different world with some similarity which is something like “The unbearable lightness of being’ (Milan Kundera). But Les’s sadness, lonesomeness, curiosity and unhappiness, I must say is admirably forgiving (toward others and the world he seem gently try to understand it). At the same time listening to all the tracks I am convinced that there is something hidden and unspoken and I think if there’s any similarity between him and Nick Drake it’s not the open tuning nor the way they pick the string or between talking/whisper and singing, but something belong to the ghost of darkness who adore the light of life.

If you are lonely, WORM will be the greatest candles coming from this tiny silly island. Borrow Les emotion and I don’t think we will go wrong.

Back to Singapore how do we deal with and strategize our artistic life as a full-time musician? The answer is impossible unless you play in SSO, SCO or playing covers in night club. Now I’m not going to argue too much that the NAC should pay attention to this because I truly believe art evolve from the people itself not government and with such environment here I do sometime felt it is hopeless and looking at Leslie (who has a job and I don’t) finding his way protecting himself and his work from this vicious industry and scene/environment here I can only say


Buy the CD and go to live concert. Mine is coming. But anyway Les’s free gig at art house have broken the law haha - they put too many people in a small space kudos to Art House and Vivian who had no heart to turn people down.

Last but not least, if you are suicidal listen to WORM you will understand that there is another way wecan feel about life and be elegant about it. Perhaps this is one last mystery how Leslie Low and Nick Drake find the elegance of whisper, silence, nonchalant,melancholy and a pregnant pause. If you think they don’t scream you may want to listen it again and again until you ‘see’ the primal screaming in all those ‘shyness’. If there is anything I have to learn from both of them this will be it and this light is clear during the gig. You not only feel relaxed but also at home in your own skin, stomach and time.

Here I give you one of my favourite 'The people’ and hopefully the next time Les do a live set he play this song alittle slower. Personally I think it will bring it even deeper.

What is the need to express oneself knowing the nature of ‘self’ is nothing but emptiness?

WORM is available islandwide from 12 October 2006 onward.