After being spotted at Thunder Band Slam 2012, Josh Wei made his way into the local scene by joining local acts on stage. Making the smooth transition from classical to indie, Josh is now a familiar face in Singapore's music scene. Besides playing with Gentle Bones as the band leader, Josh also appeared on Channel News Asia's Talking Point recently, to give his two cents on our arts scene.
You play for acts such as The Sam Willows, Gentle Bones, Sarah Cheng De Winne, Alarice and Esther Lowless. How is the experience like, and what have you learned through these shows?
When you do something like this, you wake up everyday feeling genuinely content. Just being able to do what I love and work with great people is something that I feel blessed to have.
It’s interesting being a session musician as I find myself working with different people in different musical genres all the time. It’s important to be easy to work with and to be able to adapt to different characteristics and situations.
This industry is based largely on trust, and you have to earn that by doing the right things in order to get the calls. Be on time, learn the charts and in general, be a good person.
For me, the most important thing is to love your instrument more than the job. In this industry, work is seasonal and varies in magnitude. You can be playing a sold-out show to 3000 people on one night and a pub with 10 people who aren’t even listening the next. It can really pull you down if you let the nature of this line of work get to you. As much as I can, I always try to keep myself focused on the music and the violin.
You've recently appeared on Channel News Asia's talking point, as a representative of the music scene. Tell us more about your thoughts on the local music scene.
I think that we have what it takes.
We have acts that can compare to commercial international ones (Charlie Lim, The Sam Willows, Gentle Bones etc.)
We have the grants and platforms and we’ve seen them help many artists start out (NAC, MDA etc.)
We have education options for those who want to pursue a career in music (Singapore Polytechnic’s DMAT, Republic Polytechnic’s Sonic Arts, Thunder Rock School etc.)
I think what the local music industry needs the most is support from our own people. What we need the most is a culture of appreciating and consuming local art. It’s sad to see solely the music industry attending and consuming our own product. I feel what we need the most is open mindedness about local art and that starts with education in our public schools.
What projects are you currently working on?
I’m currently working closely with Gentle Bones as his Violinist and Band Leader.
With the success of ‘Until We Die’, which recently crossed 100,000 views on YouTube, it’s been insane at the shows with so many fans coming down and knowing the words to the songs. This is something rare in local independent industry, so it’s definitely new for me.
We’re working really hard being the scenes rehearsing and finishing up the debut EP, which we hope to launch somewhere in August, along with a string of shows to support the launch.
Some other projects also include arranging/recording strings for Pleasantry & In Each Hand A Cutlass’ upcoming albums. Playing my own arrangements on record is definitely something that allows me to explore music in many different aspects.
Being an instructor at Thunder Rock School, how are your lessons offered different from a conventional classical approach?
I can offer a different perspective on what music is and what it can be.
Classical technique and repertoire are of vital importance to me as it is the foundation of any violinist and is essential to achieve tone. There will be no shortage of this in my lessons.
However, I feel to truly find your voice for an instrument, once needs to be exposed to as much as possible.
In lessons, we will explore different styles and genres of music, sight-reading, contemporary music theory and improvisation techniques.
With this I truly hope to not only develop someone who can play an instrument, but a musician who has passion and love for the craft.
Photo by: Jensen Ching
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