One of Singapore's premier guitarists, Simon Yong, will be bringing his brand of music to Japan for a tour mid-October 2014! With a band of accomplished musicians in tow, the Alien Stole My Whiskey Tour promises to be one of Singapore's brightest projects of the year. Read what Simon has to say before stealing the headlines with his music!
1. We've heard that you will be gracing Japan's shores with your music. Tell us more about this tour you are doing.
First of all, Japan is one of my favorite countries to travel to. Their people, culture, and music are astonishing. Many friends have encouraged me to bring my music to the Japanese audience. This country produces legendary progressive instrumental fusion artist and composers such as Casiopea, T Square, Hiromi, Joe Hisaishi, Ryuichi Sakamoto, and many more. There is a market for instrumental music in Japan, and its big. The National Arts Council (NAC) approved my proposal when I told them about the idea and they generously supported us for this tour.
2. Who are the band members you're bringing with you? What are your band dynamics and how does this affect your music creation process?
On this tour, I have my lovely wife Joanna Lim playing keyboards, Brandon Khoo on drums, and Yazeid Rahman on bass. I also have with me the amazing Mark Jason handling the soundboard.
I've worked with Joanna and Brandon for more than 7 years, and Yazeid for almost 4 years. Although this "Alien" lineup is only less than 2 years old, we already have a very strong chemistry and understanding between the band. We know each others strengths and weakness and we work around them, then we'll be able to bring out the best of each other.
3. What gear will you be bringing on this tour and how do they help you achieve musical freedom?
The good people at Audio-Technica have kindly supported and endorsed us their latest System 10 Wireless Stompbox for this tour. We don't have to worry about tripping over cables and Yazeid can stage dive all he wants now. Davis Guitar takes care of all my guitars and pedalboard. The latest addition to my Alienboard is the Carl Martin Octa-Switch MK-II. It enables me to get to my sound presets changed quickly without performing any unnecessary tap-dancing! I'll also be bring my trusty red ESP Kyra-II.
4. Describe your new music and what we can expect at your live shows?
Progressive Rock is already part of my sound. I'll focus more in melodic writing and perhaps a little more fusion on my next record.
Solo improvisation is a big part in all my live shows. Everybody in the band must be able to improvise. You can practice your songs note for note with the band at rehearsals - You go out there and you play exactly the same thing like how you've rehearsed every single night. That's safe.
The biggest challenge about solo improvisation is to have a good balance of both:
1) ideas you've worked out at home and you're trying to string them together to fit into a particular groove, and
2) to play something that you hear in your head at that moment (something you never planned).
If you're having a bad night and you're hearing nothing in your head, then that's too bad. Your show may just turn out nasty. But when you're having a good night where the drums are not too loud, and you're able to hear each instruments clearly, plus you're comfortable with your own sound and it inspires you, with everybody in the band are feeding off positive vibes, add a good amount of beer to help you feel more relax, that night will become magic. It's a more fulfilling experience for me because I'm actually creating music on the spot in front of a live audience.
5. What are your future plans for the "Alien" band?
I'm currently working on my second full length album. I'll love to tour Japan/Korea next, and then the rest of Asia. Hopefully all these can happen at the end of 2015. The NAC has been very encouraging towards our homegrown artists. This tour has made so much more comfortable with the support from NAC; I'm actually hopeful for greater projects to come.
Find out more about Simon here:
Thunder Rock School
227A Upper Thomson Road, S574359
T: 6456 8722
43 East Coast Road, 2nd Floor, S428764
T: 6348 7203