This letter has taken about week to be finished...better late than never.
Started this part a week ago and stopped halfway when I had to go off, but didn't want to end it abruptly...this is going to be a bunch of random but important updates.
This part of my life now is - quietly contented with everything...and the road ahead - the sense of purpose is grounding me on my feet, solid.
The last letter was dated October 2nd, last year. I had quite a roller coaster ride...of the heart and head. Was drying myself earlier after a shower and looked over the big scars on my right leg, left by Thursday late last year and thought - yup, this is the souvenir and a (possibly) semi-permenant reminder of the lowest point of my life...the road so far. The cat turning feral inside of my home was both a wake-up call for my depression-prone cycle last year and a trigger for my reinforced efforts in getting a grip of my life: take care of myself.
I was having a lovely supper by myself, next to strangers, at the mamak downstairs earlier - and thinking of you. I imagine I was you, alone, late at night after work. I shared the table with a stranger who was on the phone most of the time, he only had drinks. I sat there because there were no other empty table for me. I switched table once to avoid secondhand smoke.
Anyway I imagine how you would sit down and eat a meal and how you would enjoy every bite of the food on your plate. It was a good supper - roti ghee with dahl and a milo ais.
Wrote a long letter to Cher Siang
in December to spill what goes in my head, all things related to our music work together. There were loads of pent up emotions and insecurities on my part that were eating me from inside out - the whole of last year. Though I took the long painful way to realise how easily I could have solved my problem...am glad I finally cross a hurdle of my own demons by sitting down to write that letter and came clean with my thoughts and questions, to him. I just have to remember that with 001/Cher Siang, going straight to the point and being honest is the best policy.
We managed to schedule a breakfast meeting in early February, with his baby boy in tow. I had plans to make studio recordings for one or two original works that we have been performing, to gain some exposure for the material. Nowhere was I close to planning recording a full album this year itself...but by the end of the meeting we were already discussing rough timeline to record a full album for me, a first album. "If you don't let go and put down the pen, you'll never be ready to make that album. It's time to stop worrying about the material and start working on making the actual album."
I started talking about making the album and telling everyone who asked about my work about it - hoping that the fact that many people hear of this from me will hold me down, and lock in the determination I need to make the album a reality.
Then in early March...one dinner with Seeming and one question later, "So what's up with the album planning?" ....I don't how and where to start with the work...I replied her.
"WHY do you need to make this album? Why do you want to make this album?" I went home with a list of homework from Seeming. "You need to write a mission statement, telling people why making this album is important, and who are the critical team members on this album, and get a budget out, and a timeline. Show me in one week."
Filled with motivation and momentum. I finished writing a short `declaration' as my mission statement for the album in less than a day. You can see that this is a thing I need to do, for me...and in living out your spirit.
This is what I wrote:
I would have lived just as another pretty face in the crowd. But one day years ago - through the medium of music - I was picked out of the crowd, by him. He who looked deep into the soul of me, made me special...no longer just another pretty face in the crowd.These eyes of mine see the world through his lens, they colored my world with the paint of no-pretension, compassion and lots of passion. I wish to live out his legacy through my music and singing.Too much has been poured on this journey to not put it down in a tangible form, to represent all the priceless intangibles that have been blessed in my life - music and my friends.I have to make this album:Because the music and stories need to be sharedBecause of the people who gave me my voice and musicBecause I need to look at my music in the eye and tell it -"I know you are here, and I'm here with you, for you."Because my music is me, Janet Lee.I have to make this album:Because a little girl years ago wrote in her school homework titled:"My Ambition - when I grow up"...That she dreamed of being a writer, a singer, an actress and a dancerBecause years later she had lived to be all of that,and more than that...Because she was loved by a good soul.
the 'Critical Team Members':
Music director & producer – Tay Cher Siang
Producer - Janet Lee
Composers - Tay Cher Siang, Saidah Rastam, Nick Choo
Studio & engineer - Starmount Studio & Alex Tan
Vocal coaches – Zalina Lee & Cecilia Yap
Backup vocals – Zalina Lee, Elvira Arul
Tay Cher Siang, piano
AJ Popshuvit, bass
KJ Wong, drums
Julian Chan, sax
Photographer - Wong Horng Yih
Album launch concert director - Nell Ng
Fairy god mother & best friend :) - Chong See Ming
Things got busy, my phone line went busy with calls from client. I signed up for a part time dance course in Aswara and would start to collect bruises from dancing and rolling on the hard floor of Aswara studios.
Then last month I started weight-training with a personal trainer, I nick name him as Sargent Naim. I've done 11 sessions so far and am decidedly a pain junkie now. I have desired for a more beautiful body for two years and have done nothing about it until now. I see Sargent twice a week, one hour each session. The dumbbells were killer, the results on my body is coming very slowly but the mental satisfaction I reap is immediate - food tastes so much better, meal time is always a heightened experience of `bonding with my food'...I remember when you were training for your half marathon, you were so motivated and happy with your running schedule and eating.
I also started going to the morning wet market down the road - finally found it after Seeming told me about it years ago. It's become something I really enjoy doing once a week, a delightful routine I look forward to weekly. Fresh foods are cheaper there, I am saving money on my groceries and I have been cooking more and eating regularly. I love taking my breakfast at the market, and watch the market goes next to me, or read a book while I eat freshly made hot foods. This feels good because I have learned to overcome fear of shopping next to housewives and people who know what they are doing - I overcame the shame of not knowing what am doing and ask the vendors to help me choose the vegetables and fruits.
Am obsessed with my stomach due to a prolonged bout of indigestion and bloating. I started on some probiotics in March but it didn't seem to make any significant improvement on my condition. I continued my conversations with many people on this and have settled for a formula/lifestyle of eating regular meals everyday and on time, be watchful of my portions at every meal, increase intake of fermented foods and good fats, increase variety of foods, keeping up the routine of weekly yoga and weight training and try to make myself go toilet every morning/everyday. The results are really not too bad, the bloating has reduced...not gone totally, I still take a long time to digest the food but the day-long bloating has certainly reduced.
roped me in last month to perform in Melaka for a charity online (my first live-stream performance!!) concert for Hospis Melaka and Cancer Society Melaka, on Unesco International Jazz Day - April 30th. It was my first working experience with Alex, the boss at Star Mount Studios, who will be the engineer for my album. Alex and his assistant QE recently recorded Cher Siang's new album and they are all happy with the works and the new `family ties' -- Alex said their relationship is akin to family, as they have spent a lot of time together, working with passion.
I had to sing without stage monitors in the living hall of an old Colonial Melaccan house. Alex explained to me how having monitors would not be the ideal setting for the line-up and acoustics of the location, "Yes, it would be a bit challenging but it's great training for you to...just sing out and trust, don't hold back." The natural acoustics in the house was wonderful..I did it - with some nerves (want to impress Alex and the team) but mostly with a lot of loving feelings - the vibes from the boys and the audience that night was magical, unforgettable for me...plus I have done more practice on my own at home before the trip. The reception was wild, everybody was in love that night. We had a great evening of music and party. The gang piled into one hotel room late that night and recorded an episode of WVC TRiO+1 podcast
The following day was spent with the boys in town, braving the Labour Day traffic and crowd. Spending time with the likes of HY and Choo Harn was mostly fun and inspiring. On the drive home I initiated a holiday plan to Japan in 2015, and recruited HY and Cher Siang on the project. It would be a special reward for myself after giving birth to the album. April 2015, a trip to experience Hanami
and to begin a new chapter of travelling with new buddies.
I think this is almost a perfect point of my life...isn't it. I feel that I have come out of the pits that I was in barely months ago and now am living it out the best I can, living for the two of us.
It's mostly because I have the right stuff occupying my head since the beginning of this year - the album project is a proclamation, a coming-off age kind of life project. HY said it is necessary because it's my way of saying "I'm here, am alive, hear my songs."
I miss you, but am feeling much better now...living for the two of us and making a life for you and I.
Labels: arty breakthroughs, diary n happenings, Justin, lifestyle, music events, reflections n thoughts