The Journey to Finding Myself


Not another blog post about an entitled millennial!

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash | Created on canva.com

Alright, bear with me on this one. It’s not every day you’d wake up to find yourself being a quarter-century old and realizing that you have yet to feel proud about something you’ve done with your bare hands. For the first time in my life, I am able to differentiate between “bear” and “bare”. That has got to count for something! ….right?

Ah, well. I shan’t be one of those millennial always seeking to be validated.

In all seriousness though, I do wanna talk the things I’ve learned in my 2018 so far, while at the same time launching my [latest] weekly blogging series called: Not Another: Millennia(L) Session. Your Monday Muse by moi. (I’m just giving myself more option to show up more on social media, tbh)

Now, story time! Best paired with freshly brewed coffee. (mine wasn’t fresh anymore when I took this pic)

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Hello hello! . I've been super quiet lately and and now I'm back hehe! 😎 . I was on an amazing break from work for the past three weeks. (Thanks Ramadhan!) 😴 . Sadly, I did not get a chance to enjoy getting food coma from all the open houses and glorious Raya food huhu 😢 . But I did rest up and evaluate on a lot of things in my life. 💡 . I've also been working on getting my head back into that work space. 👓 . [Basically: Trello, Emails, Production Documents] 💻 . My calendar is looking full with events, and honestly I'm anxious HAHA 😫 . I also scored my old VA job back (yay!). 😍 . Can you believe that it's almost July soon???? 👀 . Time sure flies!! Can't wait to drive the rest of my 2018 to full speed!! 💥 . [also, pls don't judge my coffee – I waited too long to take this picture in public lololol]

A post shared by Melinya Sarah 🇲🇾 (@melinya) on

I used to like calling myself Mel Of All Trades to make myself feel better when I just couldn’t decide on what I like to do best. I have lots of interest in many things other than audio and music, and this sort of dilemma has put me into a state of bipolar-type (using it lightly here you don’t have to yell ok) self-mental abuse on many occasions. I would either be super semangat or super depressed (again, light).

This year I started approaching life in a different way – allowing myself to just riding the wave. I had one simple reason: to have more time to create, discovering myself, and learning to love myself more. So my goals became more oriented towards improving on my available skills while at the same time learning how to leverage them for lucrative reasons.

*hehehehehe evil laugh

Has it been working out for me? You bet. My PR skills have improved, I’ve learned to expand my services within my niche and treat it more like a business, got myself some extra work to do outside of residency… etc etc. I’m doing things that I never thought I could ever do. And I definitely feel like I’m living the best life so far!!

Not my dream life. Just the best version of my life (so far) – good balance of optimal stress, good food, and lotsa rest. 😎

Now, over time, I will be uncovering more areas of my life. But here’s my top lesson for the week: the journey to self-discovery takes time. I don’t even think I’m ever going to be done. At least, not in the near future. Not now. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how I’m going to continue doing life – by accepting that change will always be constant and I will have to be okay with it. Baby steps!

Till next week!!

Not Another: Millennia(L) Session is inspired by the more “judgy” type of baby boomers who would just not give us any slack. Also, fun fact, when Crown The Empire’s lead vocalist Andy Leo announced their next song “Millenia” of their set during the KL leg of their tour in May, it sounded like “Melinya”. (that was unnecessarily mouthful!)

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Hello November


Since my last post, I’ve been keeping things low-key. I took 3 days off social media, kept (most of) my opinions away from twitter, spent a lot of my time off at home, and rethink just about every plans that I had made for my future, be it days, weeks, months, years away. And I’m kinda glad that I did all of those things. In a way, they kept me focused on the “now” – current projects and bigger (than usual) events. I also get to spend more time with the family, because my dad got a letter to transfer back to Sarawak. And I’ve decided to not go with them.

Work wise, so far one of my favourite projects to date was editing a short film produced by Observers’ Playground, a production “playground” that I’ve been a part of since The Lovesical. There had been multiple miscommunications and technical difficulties that almost cost us the deadline. We were doing count downs with series of pictures and two trailers so there was no way for us to miss it due to “technical difficulties”. As the (self-titled) manager for the count down, I wasn’t going to let this slip.

So, I went on and downloaded Adobe Premiere Pro and edited the entire thing myself.

First thing – OMG PREMIERE! I mean, it’s so much lighter than Final Cut Pro X and iMovie. They’re both rubbish to me now LOL. I have never used any Adobe softwares until the day I started editing the movie. In fact, I did everything in under 12 hours – edit, colour, music, and upload. Passable, but there is still so much to learn. I wish I have more projects to work on so I could keep Premiere, even if they are personal projects. Which brings me to a throwback – Letter to November. I really do miss doing these kind of videos.

I’m still doing events at Laundry Bar and The Bee. I took my braces off and now annoyingly wearing a retainer. Every first week upon receiving my paycheck I spend a portion of them on food, like really good, brunch food. I am currently on a Buzzfeed craze – Facebook videos, recipe lists, you name it. I am collecting recipes, doing budgeting, and making a list of things that I will need to buy after my family move out, because you know, the house will be empty and quiet. Wireless printer, check! I also sang at my friend’s wedding, in front of 300++ people.

Here’s my glass for the remaining two months of the year, where I will fill my off days with wishlists, making and saving more money, and planning next year with DIY projects, experiencing kitchen conundrums, and hopefully being able to blog more about my life. I’m particularly excited about home organizing and design ideas, since I will have the entire apartment to play around with!

signing out,
mel x

here is the latest picture of my face, taken earlier this morning on the way to church.
here is the latest picture of my face, taken earlier this morning on the way to church.

 

In the Silence of June


Dear June
If you were a person
I’d ask you why the silence
Why my skin doesn’t remember
What used to by my heart’s lover

No touch is every familiar anymore
No voice is recognizable through the creeks of the wall

Too many affairs, none worth recollecting
Every encounter is a brief memory
Gone, as soon as the new one comes along

Quiet month, June is. I don’t know what to do with the free time that I have. Part of it is because Laundry has taken out 2nd and 3rd resident live Thursday shows of the month. All these spaces, is making me lose focus from one matter to the other. When I have nothing solid to think about or to prioritize, I don’t know what to do with my illegal notions.

Illegal, because they’ve done nothing but harm to my soul. My negative thoughts need to go away. 

I’m taking up a little part-time job at Drum Asia until my calendar is filled up again. I’m mostly the studio assistant while the main facility coördinator is away. So far familiar faces find it odd that I’m there. I mean, I do to. Ha. I’ve carried the live sound tag around me longer than I every worked in a studio / office space. It’s a no brainer job, but I’m looking forward to future collaborations.

Speaking of collaboration, I’m working on one with a fellow composer from the US! Basic idea is that he writes, I mix. But it’s really not that easy (on my side) as I have not been mixing on a DAW in a while. He recently gave me one of his songs to mix. I mixed it 5 times before getting the hang of it. You cannot understand an orchestra like pop music. It’s a different world altogether!

I sent the mix back after working on it in a day. One of the things that I couldn’t achieve was the “proper balance” and fullness of the orchestra. Don’t get me wrong, if it was a pop music, my balance would’ve been perfect. But I completely missed the dynamic power & relations between the instruments that the wrong parts are coming out in the mix. He explains,

An orchestra is split into 4 sections, Woodwinds, Brass, Percussion, and Strings. Each of those have not only different timbres, but they also all sound at different volume levels. It’s kind of like rock paper scissors.

Percussion>Brass>Woodwinds>Strings>Harp.

So in this song for example, when the orchestra swells, the brass and percussion usually over power. To compensate, composers will write different dynamics to balance out the orchestra. As a rule of thumb You write brass two dynamic levels lower than strings, and woodwinds one dynamic level lower. (Which I try to do.)

These kind of things, they don’t teach you in a 18-month certificate in audio production course. No, they teach you the technical side of audio engineering, like how to EQ, compress, pan, and add effects. Music and technology go hand-in-hand, but sometimes people tend to overlook the creative side of music production. Audio engineering is just there to bring the musical experience to a whole new level. Pair a good writer or composer with an engineer who understands the idea behind the written song, and the music will transport you to a different universe.

Anyway, that was exactly what I was looking for. How do I mimic a live orchestral music? I couldn’t understand my friend’s piece at all.

And then he asked me if I read music. BINGO.

Okay, here’s another thing about being a part of the 18-month program that you spent RM40k on, you only get one semester of music theory, and it’s so basic anyone could score an A like a no brainer. And I mean it. Sure, my classmates struggled, but the music theory subject 3 semesters after my intake was a lot harder. They had a bit of ear training, a bit of contemporary harmony maybe, more than what I had learned in my first semester. -_-

Back to the reading music part. My friend explained, in the past when I recorded with live orchestra, the engineer wanted a copy of the score to mix with. That why you’d know what’s going on, and what to bring out, what dynamics to use in what parts etc. And he’s absolutely right. Even Studio 21:05 owner JD reads the score when mixing live. LIVE. What more there is when recording and mixing in the studio with the help of a music score!

You know what time it is? Time to study back my Italian terminologies & practice my sight-reading.

Check out some of his work here! Until I’m satisfied with my mix, I won’t be posting that one up. Haha.

Anyways, I’m 3 songs & 14 books behind. I have bits and pieces of ideas for my April song, and a brief quote for my May song, and last night I wrote some lyrics for my June song. Nothing is solid. A bit uninspired at the moment but that’s fairly normal. I’ve also only read 1 book this year, and I’m struggling to pick up another book to read. There is still time!

Meanwhile, KL/PJ is currently scorching HOT! This is where I’m gonna end my blog for today. I’m looking at travel options this time around next year. Backpacking and all that glory. Until next time! x

I miss Singapore and its colourful lights at night.
I miss Singapore and its colourful lights at night.

where to next?


creativity is maximized when you are living in the moment.

of all the goals that i have written out for myself this year, i was really fixated on a particular one  –  to travel to a neighbouring country. and i have only one country in mind.

Singapore. The land of kiasu-ness.

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i went in for work. we were supposed to fly on the 21st, but i made it a point to fly in a day earlier so i could take my time walking around before work. i made a great deal about it.

you see, both my parents are protective. my dad especially. and our whole family is so close that that we almost never travel by ourselves. i flew in with my pastor & 2 other church members once after my finals for a church camp, and another by myself for a workshop on sound. i also flew to Miri with a band for work some time last year. i had to always keep them updated for all 3 accounts to keep them at peace.

now with that picture painted in your mind, when i got the idea to fly in a day earlier, mom was adamant that dad wouldn’t agree to the idea. i was stubborn. i thought, well i’ll only know if i ask him straight up. and i did. we discussed. i shared my ideas. i gave him my virtual itinerary and he said, “i’m glad we have this discussion. you can go.” i was over the moon!

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i stayed in Boat Quay, at the 5footway.inn hostel for a night, and then crashed at Michelle’s cousin place in Upper Seranggon for the rest of the trip (i think). but, i do however recommend 5footway if you ever plan to visit Singapore. it’s reasonable, clean, and the staff is very friendly. i love their pantry/lounge area as well; they have a coffee machine, hot water dispenser, fridge, water dispenser, sofa area with a TV and a DVD player, indoor and outdoor (facing the Singapore river) dining area.

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i spent the evening in doing my share of sightseeing. you can find more pictures here. then after dinner i went to clarke quay to catch a bit of Music Matters Live festival, and with discipline headed back to the hostel by 11.30pm because my legs were sore so it felt like a trip. i washed up, replied some emails, did some planning, catching up on social media, and ready mentally for work the next day.

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the next day the band arrived from KL. i spent the day pacing around waiting for them. then they played a show at night. the day after i took the time to visit Esplanade, see the Marina Bay Sands, Merlion and Singapore Flyer, and even made a trip down to Bugis area and bought 2 tank tops for myself, 2 blouses for mom and t-shirts for the siblings. i spent the rest of the day with the band tackling 2 interviews.

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i woke up extra early on my last day of Singapore as Michelle brought me out for some good ol’ Ya Kun breakfast at the Nexx Mall. and then we walked around the mall (albeit 9am and most of the stores weren’t openend yet lol) and she bought me some pastries to bring home to the family! by 10am we headed back to the apartment so i could finish packing and made my way down to the airport via the MRT.

the train delayed at the final interchange to the airport by 15 minutes. my flight was delayed by 20 minutes. my bus was delayed by 10 minutes. but i made it back in time for Jumero’s Lot 10 set up & sound check at The Bee.

and so now i’m asking myself –  where to next?

i just want to be immersed in their culture. their lifestyle.
i just want to be immersed in their culture. their lifestyle. everywhere i go, i just fall in love more and more.
what a sight.
what a sight.
Twin Lakes from Australia.
Twin Lakes from Australia.

i’ll come back for you, Singapore. ❤

post production blues + top 10 lessons


photo by Joshua Chay.

have i mentioned that i love doing productions? like “i don’t care if i have to sacrifice sleep and food as long as there are results” kind of love? ok lah that’s not love already. it’s almost like addiction lol.

i have been incredibly lucky enough to be a part of a recent album launch. it is even better when i’ve been a fan of the artist’s music since my college days. she defines her sound as indie, but our ears get to enjoy so much more beyond the loose term. it is great music. take it from me 😉

i’ll never fail to be in the deep slump of post production blues….aka back to no life, when it’s all over. i’ll forever be grateful for my involvements in the tribute concerts that my college used to produce semesterly. yes, i still love the idea of months of hardwork putting into one amazing night, working with an amazing team of people of all areas, from organizers to musicians.

SO. since i don’t want to leave this event buried deep in my heart so here are the top 10 lessons that i want to share!

  1. communication is key! emails, whatsapps, calls, sms-es….BLACK AND WHITES keeps everybody OUT of the grey area!
  2. precise roles are crucial. not everybody is capable of doing everything by themselves….get someone to help! have somebody to help you focus on one thing while you focus on the other.
  3. being considerate is mandatory. we’re all in this together. we all have our own bumps and if you can’t understand your teammate’s problems, talk it out and solve it.
  4. prioritizing is important. this one gets even more important as the launch date grows near. avoid giving yourself unnecessary stress. help yourself by completing tasks that takes like 1 minute to finish while working on the bigger tasks. make a list! have a schedule with you by your side all the time.
  5. give yourself a deadline for everything. this should be after making your list, but is especially helpful when deadlines are already set for you by other people. their deadline(s) is/are NOT your deadline(s). if you need to present something always have it done days before so you’ll have time to screen it and make amendments if necessary.
  6. being able to move on fast is necessary. there will always be frictions! dwelling too long on one or more will only be in the way of your progress. get over it and move on!!
  7. learn how to differentiate between personal and work relationships. this one is a bit tricky. when you’re checked in for work always try to keep up a professional relationship, keeping work in check at all times, and then check out at the end of the day when work is done. i have a bit of a problem with this one as my mind is constantly working and i also tend to mix personal and work relationships interchangeably when i don’t realize it. it’s not the best kind of mix when i take things personally sometimes.
  8. learn to lend a hand whenever you can, even if it’s not your job. a bit of help doesn’t hurt! we all need it sometimes!
  9. words of encouragements are magical words even when we think we don’t need them. good morning! great job guys! you guys sounded great!
  10. last but not least, love what you’re doing. this will make everything else in this list a lot easier to do when you love what you’re doing!

thank you Michelle and team for the amazing opportunity. always a pleasure working with a team of talented and skilled human beings. I MISS YOU PEOPLE ALREADY *cries* 😥

iTunes link: https://itunes.apple.com/my/album/panic-bird/id972746634
iTunes link: https://itunes.apple.com/my/album/panic-bird/id972746634

now GUYS. go gift yourself with one of the best creations of 2015! i just got mine on iTunes 😀

things that i’ve learned so far.


counting down: 1 day before GST.

so, i had an episode with life. nothing major, just some quarter-life crises. *cue laughter*

these kind of things, it’s nothing new to me as there will always be some days where i’m just not feeling ’em. i would doubt myself, be really unforgiving, cursing over my little mistakes… i’d feel so low in life that at times i’d believe there is no way that i could come back up again. and then i just let it be, not wanting to do anything about it.

but that’s when i forget that, while we live in a world that doesn’t practice forgiveness, i am surrounded with patient teachers, supportive friends, and very loving family.

they are never falling short of love, patience, and most importantly, forgiveness. whatever that i have done wrong, they would sternly correct me, but never forgets to let me know that it’s not the end of the world. whatever that i have done right, they won’t just tell me that i’ve done a good job, but to continue doing so until it becomes a part of who i am.

and these lessons were something that i had forgotten to remind myself when i was my lowest.

i had a chance to impart what i learned into my new friends last thursday when they came to visit my work at Laundry. my favourite part about the experience is that when i was teaching the students some tips and tricks, they (the tips) became lightbulb moments to me as i had forgotten about them myself, until i had to talk about them!

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i don’t know if they managed to absorb anything at all but i really hope they did. ha

you see the thing is, everybody is destined to do great things, only if they allow themselves to do so. teaching is a powerful method to raise anybody up; it goes both ends of the spectrum. it is only when you decide to not do anything at all that you stay stagnant. and that’s exactly what happened to me.

i was uninspired. demotivated. sluggish. and i didn’t do anything about it. so i went back to teaching myself and allow myself to soak up new information wherever i go. i push myself to be willing to learn even especially if it is something that is out of my comfort zone and area of expertise. i mean, that’s the whole point, duh!

another thing that i stopped doing was to love everything that i was doing. i forgot why i was doing things. also mostly because i was doing them so much that i got sick and tired of doing it, almost too literally. i could use some break. but was break necessary? not really. maybe. if you really need one.

i just took a step back, remembering why and how i got “this far” in life. i will give credit where it’s due but i mainly just want to remind myself that most if not all of my decisions have lead to my position in life right now, starting from the day when i was really adamant about doing music for a living, without knowing specifically what i could do to contribute to the music scene. i went with my heart.

and while we’re on the topic, i really do want to continue serving the music / entertainment industry. like trying to make life better, i want to provide my time and energy for the greater good of music and its potential. i want to instil passion while still maintain the business sides of things. we are all coexisting, and there is no reason why we should work without the other. sharing is caring, and being selfish does not get you anywhere in life. fact.

there is still a lot to learn. i think that is the challenging part of living when you’re so busy working, that you forget to take time to learn. not being able to make time for me will always be an excuse. easier said than done, but when it is done, it automatically becomes a fulfilment. so off to learning i will!

meanwhile…

i did a quick/rough recording and mixing with some of my friends from ICOM the other day. not a bad mix after being away from “studio mixing” for almost a year. though i was actually mixing it on a M50x XD

also, my singing has gotten a lot better! yay me! but i still need to work on my crowd interaction and facial expressions. HELP

this beautiful picture was shot and edited by the ever so talented and wonderful, Albert Ng of glaringnotebook.com! he so awesome.

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as you can see i took some editing into my own hands….(scroll back up. ha)

i’ve been getting a lot of incredible work opportunities lately and i’m just super happy that in these opportunities i get to work on my strengths and weaknesses a lot. hopefully i can keep up with this little fire in me even when the GST comes. 2 more weeks until i give myself a week’s worth of rest, and then i’m back on my roller-coaster life!

xx

workspace: the BULB Coffee


what a day! let me tell you about it.

if i can afford to rent an office space for me to do my work, i would, okay? fast wifi, nicely treated acoustic, comfortable furnitures, unlimited supply of food……. yeah well, i can’t have it all now can i ? *sad face*

so i thought, you know, why not embrace the freelance life to the fullest? working from a hipster cafe and all…..ha okay anyway, i asked on twitter and facebook what’s the best place with fast wifi and great working environment besides Starbucks? not hating on starbucks, but i basically just wanted to not leave my spot for 8 hours straight.

i was recommended 2 places, and decided to go with Bulb Coffee, because it was the closest to my place and parking was slightly more accessible.

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i sat relatively near to the entrance. i spotted their power extension decided to settle down here almost right away. heeeeee

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they have a good variety of food and beverages. drinks are not more than rm12 (unless you ask for add-ons), the most expensive food on the menu is the big breakfast – rm17.90.

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the decor is very homey. makes me feel very comfortable! music is from spotify, and i suspect they’re playing it from the coffee-house playlist because it’s soooo familiar hehe.

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this is my dinner! i had aglio olio for breakfast and pasta with basic tomato-based sauce for lunch. their portion isn’t big, but just enough to fill my tummy for 3-5 hours each time. i’ve had 2 cups of latte, 1 glass of orange juice and a cup of honey lemon throughout the day. the total amount comes to about rm70 (ahmagah). but i got 90% of my work done just from sitting here so i have no complaints!

coffee is great. environment is perfect; not too crowded. food is decent.

ears are tired, back is hurting, shaking and dizzy from coffee withdrawals HAHAH.

heading over to No Black Tie right after this to catch Zalila Lee and friends!! YAAAASSSS

work hard. play hard. 😉

news and shoes | production management


ANNOUNCEMENT: News and Shoes production services is available for booking beginning February 2015!

Do you need a live sound engineer? A stage manager? Or simply dying to hire a production manager for your show? LOOK NO FURTHER, because this girl loves drawing energy from the people that she works with! 10714117_10204361738020228_7781639408335932983_o No stranger to the audio world and a music lover herself, Mell is not one to joke about when it comes to her mission in assisting a band tastefully showcasing their talent or watch a show growing to its full potential, blooming like the flowers in the Garden of Eden. Oh, it’s almost sinful that you can taste it, but the guilty pleasure is real; Mell is a workaholic and she loves every bit of energy that she can draw from everyone around her.

That’s right folks, you just read it first hand – Mell is going back to the freelance world. Give her the warmest welcome ever by filling up her calendar with your job offers!!

List of major services provided:

  1. Production Manager
  2. Live Sound Engineer
  3. Stage Manager

List of minor services provided:

  1. Stage Crew / Band Tech
  2. Roadie
  3. Studio/Live Recording Engineer
  4. Social Media Manager (hek eleh)
  5. Instructor (Conducting Series of Training Services / Workshops)
  6. Driver (lololol)

Tweet her at @melinyasarah or email her at newsandshoesproduction@gmail.com to reach her!


Now back to regular updates….. I am leaving my current job at Laundry Bar, The Curve and my last day will be on the 30th of January. I’m hoping to get back to work as soon as 1st February but it’s gonna be entirely up to you guys. I’m going to start from zero, leaving a comfortable job, to start-up a little dream of mine – a production company.

I love the idea of being a part of and working on one show for two whole months, and then watching it bloom…even if it’s gonna be for one night only.

I love experimenting, exploring different possibilities and not being limited to pre-written, foolproof instructions.

I love teaching, breaking things down and laying them out so my students could chew easily and digest better.

I love travelling, so touring is definitely in my bucket list.

This box that I’m now in…I’ve been asking myself a lot of what ifs while I’m in it. I’ve decided that I want to break that curiosity and replace it with indefinite possibilities. This blog is to share with you on how you can help me.

I will have a page of all my rates up by the end of the month. If you’ve worked with me while I was still with Laundry, you will soon realize that my new rates are a little bit more on the competitive side, because I need to be able to earn a living, and not just saving up a bit of pocket-money while having a stable income. This is the real deal, guys.

My main area of ability is in the live sound field, especially stage. But I’m willing to expand my wings and fly. Please share the word around to anyone and everyone that needs an extra pair of hands! Your support means a lot and I will forever be grateful. 🙂

2015 goals!


i don’t believe new resolutions should be made every year. it should be done every day. 😉

hello loves! i have been away, hiding, away from mostly reality but we all know that’s impossible. ha. but in all serious, if you’ve read my last post, i was really just trying to get my shit together in my absence.

mell is pondering about life. mostly what to have but dinner. same difference.
mell is pondering about life. mostly what to have for dinner. meh. same difference.

i have done a lot of thinking lately, and one of it was trying to figure out why i am not too fond of my current job even though at the beginning of it i was just thrilled to be a part of an organization and was looking forward to a series of challenges. but that’s the thing – i’m not challenged.

i’m not saying i hate the job or anything; i just feel like i could do so much more but my potentials and/or talents are wasted. doing the same routine every week has made me feeling a little too comfortable (it’d be too obnoxious for me to say that i got too good at my job LOL). it’s a lot more satisfying for me when i freelance with and for other people. you’ll never know what to expect and so i’m always rising up above my own levels “just in case”, which is, naturally always good and helpful.

anyways, that is top on my list for this year’s goals for sure. i’m prepping mentally to go back to freelancing. i don’t know what to expect, but i am opening myself up for a range of service soon with rates and all that so it’ll be easier for anyone who’s asking.

i’m not gonna stop here either. i’m going to seek jobs, accepting whatever opportunities that i know i can perform very well on, and hopefully at the same time, able to add-on to my ever-growing list of skills.

i hope everyone’s 2014 has been great so far. the bright side of everything is that you’re always learning new things, whether you realize them at first. the key to life is to always love, because “love is an open door!” HA.

all right then, cheeseballz out. here are my top 15 goals of 2015. hope yours aren’t as lame as mine. :3

  1. to quit my current job.
  2. to grow back my long hair.
  3. to read at least 15 books.
  4. to travel to at least 1 neighbouring country.
  5. (at least) 1 photography gig.
  6. (at least) 1 music video gig.
  7. new fashion style. (ahahahahaha who am i even kidding)
  8. to blog a minimum of once a week!!!
  9. to complete 15 free online courses!
  10. to release my compilation of originals! oh my :3
  11. to be a part of 1 album production.
  12. to write 15 short stories!
  13. to publish at least 5 newspaper articles / contribute a section in the opinions column.
  14. to release video letters every month.
  15. to write 1 song every month! pressureeeeee!

here’s my last original of 2014. enjoy! x

Havoc on Harmony Lane


this production got me to fall in love with productions all over again! like

so i got a whatsapp text from the ever-so-awesome min, gave him my email, got an email from another mel (LOL), gave my rates, HIRED. the end.

lol y’all don’t even know what i was hired for and by who.

anyways, yes. so. rewind back to the day when i went to SMK BU3 (after all that confirmation) to have a meeting on equipment. or so i thought. i’m sure it was just “equipment” in their minds but productions to me is a lot bigger than that. i immediately realized i won’t be able to have the manpower, knowledge and understanding mindset privileges from a secondary school that has never done a production this scale before.

right.

here’s a list of my lids:

  • they are just kids. SCHOOL KIDS. that doesn’t have an extensive level of knowledge on audio and stuff. ._.
  • they don’t exactly have a stage manager, stage crews or even a production manager. (this is when i started to get reaaallllyyyyyyy worried). they can’t tell apart the differences between a stage manager and a production manager.
  • budget. or more like no budget.
  • only hired as their FOH engineer but it seemed to me i was going to have a lot of work to do to make that they are able to produce this show at a higher standard than what a typical secondary school can produce!

so the first and most heavy weight that i could think of getting rid of off my chest is getting someone who can think of the entire show, from the set up to the tear down, unloading and loading. i personally am not capable of doing it for two reasons: 1) i was only hired as their sound engineer. 2) i cannot commit to attending their rehearsals and understanding their musical from the inside and out (mostly due to “extra labour” and petrol that is not covered in my pay) and so it has to be done by someone from the school itself, someone who can make as much time as they can afford to learn the show by heart and be able to visualize it just like their director but on a more technical side.

that person has to be organized, very committed, positively high in spirit, constantly anticipating, knows how to think & plan backwards, and has very good communication skills & PR. again, i was asking too much from these kids.

okay scrapping all of these problems aside, i’ve decided to list out my to-do list so i could work towards the show on a much productive level.

  1. channel list.
  2. stage layout: with sets and band on risers.
  3. signal diagram
  4. train highly committed students on the basics of audio equipment and laying them out on stage effectively.
  5. technical rider.
  6. technical meetings – BU3, DPAC, and BU3 again.
  7. technical rundowns.
  8. production schedule @ DPAC.

after this list, things are starting to fall into their rightful places but things are beyond done.

we started out by recceing DPAC on a lovely Tuesday afternoon.

  1. they have 22 1m*1m*1ft of platforms. we planned to use 10 just for the band itself.
  2. i find that the theatre has weird acoustics but i figured i’m just gonna have to work around it.
  3. they have a nice space for a centre video camera. although i’m sure it’s just a piece of space for people to go to the other side since they only have  one entrance.
  4. their FOH area is bloody messy. i will clean that up once i get my station down and settled. ha OCD much
  5. i like their dressing rooms. they are providing three, one of which i requested immediately for technical productions & possible office.
  6. i can almost imagine having my meals at the green room omg i was really excited on the inside by the end of the recce. :DD

anyways, i met up with 4 out of 7 of my tech crews on a Wednesday, jan 29th. understandably, 2 went back for chinese new year while one was down with a viral fever. i brought Amanda with me for extra translations (and moral support!!) since they’re all mostly chinese. i prepared some rule of thumb and a to-do list for them but left the hardcopy version at ICOM -_-.

one of the link that i used to introduce and brief them about the things that they have committed themselves into is shure’s mic techniques for live sound. i found this article when i was still in college and i thought it would be a good studying material for beginners! not only do they talk about a mic’s characteristics and how sound waves work, but they have also included details on how to mic up instruments WITH PICTURES! i’ve asked them to go home and do more research anyway, but this article is a great start. [x]

i then made some arrangements with Puan Ngau to bring my seven crew to ICOM on a Wednesday and Friday to expose to them what’s it like for a show fully run by a group of students every week for the Friday performances. when we finally decided which week to bring them, i could only make it on the 11th of Feb because I had other plans that Friday. Anyways, I had some objectives listed out but i tried not to expect much because over time i realized it was already too much for them to take in, in terms of practicality and having the mindset that i was hoping for. by the end of the Wednesday, they went home looking exhausted, brain-fried. hahah oh dear

over the time, Valerie made a whatsapp chat group, we met again at least twice more to brief on the production schedule, getting a list of things confirmed to fit everybody’s needs and space, got an inventory list going, went for a tech meeting with DPAC, and watch a full rehearsal at BU3’s hall. we’re all excited and nervous at the same time; it’s our first musical. yes, mine too as FOH!!

anyways.

we bumped in on Thursday. while waiting for the lights to be rigged and focused, we labelled the mics and cables and DIs just so we could get a head of time when we start to set up. i also taught them how to roll cables. the wireless headsets came at about 4pm and we couldn’t do much till the set contractor came so I got my wireless tech to set up while the rest of us lay the cables and setup the drum set.

the day ended without a soundcheck (even though it was planned) because the set contractors were late and we had to leave by 10.45pm. so I had to re-plan the next day adding in soundcheck slots for every lead and supporting actors, chorus & the band, hoping that we could start the technical rundown by 11am sharp. yeah that didn’t really happen because the makeup artist can only come in the morning so all the plans for tech rundown kinda went down the drain BUT since hair and makeup was done much earlier everything kinda fall into place as we used the remaining hours to work on our sound, get used to the wireless mic, stage markings, and the possible chaos that the crew has to endure.

the biggest problem that we faced was the wireless headsets. this was the first musical that I had to mix incorporating a lot of cues and dialogues and thus a lot of riding the faders. i learned that i had to apply quite a lot of expander and compressor, besides dealing with their dinosaur breathing and the fact that we kept running out of battery throughout our rundowns! I became better at riding after 3 rundowns (by 3 i mean, including the first matinee show -_-), we realized that the batteries needed are the alkaline types, and we moved the mic 2 fingers away from the mouth to avoid the sound of heavy breathing.

i was on intercom during the rundowns and the first matinee show, and listening to the chaos backstage was amusing yet worrisome at the same time since i can’t be at two places at once. one of our biggest incident happened just after the first song of the second act, during, dare I say it, the Saturday matinee show. the conversation went down something like this:

Jason: Melinya, Melinya!! Melanie’s guitar string broke!!
Me: Okay, so?
Jason: She said that she cannot play the next song!!
Me: No, she can. It’s just one string right?
Jason: Okay.

5 minutes of silence.

Jason: Melinya!! Melanie asks is it possible to not let her play?
Me: No. She has to continue playing. We don’t have a spare guitar.
Jason: But she said-
Me: Okay which string broke?
Jason: The first E string.
Me: So, she can play. It’s just one string and it’s almost the least important for the rest of the songs that she needs to play. It’s fine. She’s fine. We can have it restring later.
Jason: Okay.

i’m assuming from just this one afternoon show itself, they have learned to anticipate all possible problems instead of reacting to them because i didn’t get anymore intercoms right after that, hahah!

the night (and most important) show went incredible well, except for a minor low rumble and a 6K feedback towards the end. the next day’s matinee also went well and everybody helped with the tear down. the performers helped with the props while my crew and i handled band side. we actually finished an hour earlier from the scheduled bump out time which gave everyone some time to catch their breath, like myself.

overall, it was an amazing experience working with awesome people!! i learned mostly how to deal with changes that don’t go according to plan. when you have the ability to control your frustrations and look at all possible outcomes, nothing is impossible. if you can’t do it on your own, guess what, you have ten, twenty, and hundred other brains to help you work out your problems! one thing about a production is that, you’re not alone. it’s so easy to be in your own world working on your own thing but a production cannot run without everybody’s input in various sections.

i love my crew to death. i’m thankful for min for hooking me up. i appreciate melissa’s patience dealing with everyone and myself. i praise God for this wonderful opportunity. kudos to Puan Ngau for giving all of us an opportunity to create wonderful memories and mind-blowing experiences. I HOPE TO DO THIS AGAIN SOON!!

my original seven crew and i. | top left: jason, nicholas, ashraff, elton | bottom left: me, yueh qi, valerie, eileen
my name tag!!
my view.
eileen, jo ann, yee shyen, valerie, me, yueh qi, hazman, darmes, ashraff, elton, jason, nicholas. | missing: en seng & stephanie.

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