Ian Tai on Campbell Street

Playing Kim Haus last weekend was good fun, albeit a chaotic in the sense that it felt like a musical free-for-all. Sunday was a double-billed evening with Gerard Anthony, a guy who’s a great pub mainstay in the Klang Valley. I also was helped on the stage by Peter G and Chris; Peter G is an old-timer who’s freewheeling around Southeast Asia with his wife, while Chris is living in Kim Haus for the next few weeks, and handling sound and coordination.

This is Chris (Christoph Joerg), the friendliest German you could ever meet.

This is Peter G, the chummiest silver-foxed Aussie you could ever meet.

This is Gerard Anthony – if you ever see him playing at a bar in KL/PJ, tell him I said hi.

Aside from my own featured gigs, I had a short set at Kim Haus on Sunday afternoon for Northern Rock, which is the start of a little something that Shaneil Devaser has in mind for, well, Penang and the north. I connected with Zee Ng, a young man who DIY’d his first EP, and finally caught Volatile in action, aside from catching Temjin and The Endleaves.

I’ve been invited back to play in Penang by Jaime from Volatile on September 9 for an intimate acoustic gig – like I’ve said, any excuse is a good excuse to go to Penang.

I’m looking forward to it.

The Great Penang Adventure

1607 - Kim Haus

I’ve been to Georgetown on multiple occasions as an annoying non-Hokkien speaking tourist, but never as a performer — until now. I’ll be making my debut in Penang this weekend at Kim Haus, which serves as a hostel/cafe/bistro.

It should be exciting, because I really don’t know what to expect. I’m not entirely sure if there’ll be anyone I know there (the Syok Rock tour is taking place at the same time, so there might be some familiar faces in the crowd).

Let’s go, eh?

We Can ALL Be Heroes.

You don’t always get the chance to emulate your heroes, but I tried doing that with Heroes. Like someone my age, I’d first come across the song (where else?) from Godzilla’s soundtrack. Since ’98, my Bowie vocabulary has grown, but my musicianship hasn’t – which makes Heroes a nice, slow burn of a song that isn’t too hard to cover.

Get Your Java And Juice.

1607 - CoffeeChords 1050x1050 v2

Grind 22 has been pretty good to me. I met one of its owners, Zool, while busking in Publika in October. He wanted me to feature for the venue, and I brought some of the regular Barlai performers along. Since then, we’ve worked out a strange, symbiotic working relationship (it’s not technically “working” because I don’t get paid to coordinate it – I’m not complaining – okay, maybe a bit), and the humble little busking/singer-songwriter thing has grown.

My plan now is to scale it down to manageable levels (the most performers we’ve had has been ten or eleven, which equates to around 5 or so hours of hanging around). It’s soul-sapping, and I reckon that capping it at 6 to 8 performers is more than adequate. The only issue is ensuring that everyone gets heard, so hopefully I can find it within myself to commit to make it more consistent, as opposed to the current idea of doing it when I’m free.

The next instalment features Dani, Brendan de Cruz, Reening Lau, Sounds of Kites, Nicholas Sia, Hilmy Amim and myself. It’ll be good.

The Dark Side Cover.

I’m not a big fan of contests, especially when musicians are involved.

It’s very hard to attach a value to music, and when voting is involved, it gets even messier. The recent Tiger Jams competition pitted some trailblazing Malaysian bands against each other, with the initial entries shortlisted to 10 acts, which were further culled down to a top three based on voting. Painful, really. At least the winning acts get a chance to collaborate with some of the region’s best aural and visual artists for a little something extra.

And here’s a more personal-skewing one other good thing that came out of it: I was supporting Rozella in the competition, and jigged up a cover of her song, ‘Dark Side‘. I had to strip it down, because I wanted to use my whole “5 chords or less because I’m an inept guitarist” approach to things – and I think it turned out pretty well.

Have a listen.

The Catch-Up Game.

A lot – and I do mean a lot – has happened in the last two years. The Malaysian indie scene has grown by leaps and bounds, with more and more acts popping up all over the country’s enclaves. I’ve grown by leaps and bounds as well (literally), and I’ve been relentlessly open micing and gigging around town. I’ve found myself willing to play almost anywhere, to anyone who’d have me — and it’s been fun.

Since then, the music side of things has been more of a solo escapade than a group outing. But I’ll be backed up by a triumphant threesome for my next featured show at Merdekarya, which coincidentally falls on my birthday.

(It’s not that coincidental.)

For the time being, please enjoy this piece of video.