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)

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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maybe i’m just not cut out


i need somebody to help redefine the meaning of passion, because i’ve been stripped from it.

up until now, i have always known what i wanted to do. it has always been music. anything behind the scenes, some kind of support to push the industry….if you call me asking me to help i will not have second doubts. i’m beginning to think that the act of putting other people first has been compromising my vision – what i want for myself – and now i just don’t know what to do. it doesn’t help that it’s the first hour of shark week, i’m feeling a little bit all emotional, so maybe i’m just being dramatic.

sure, everybody has one of those days. a bad gig, maybe. i’ve never run away deliberately from something until just awhile ago. i feel like a coward. a loser. anything to be away from total embarrassment. i hate being adult sometimes. i hate to put up this “i know what i’m doing” face even though at times i have zero clue on what i’m doing, but as long as i carry my confidence badge and going through my list of “this will not get you in trouble” i am usual okay. tonight i was not. and it had to be two days after i was told that a rental company wouldn’t hire me because one of the bosses doesn’t like me.

don’t get me started on that one. ranted about it on twitter, so i’m not gonna start talking about it here.

maybe i’m just not cut out you know, to be a sound engineer. i tried. i’ve been learning. i’ve been teaching myself to work under pressure, to have things in control, but tonight, obviously i was not in control, else i wouldn’t be asked to step aside and give my job for the night so somebody better could take over. i could think of a million reasons why things went wrong tonight but it’s just not worth it. i couldn’t stay anymore. i’ve lost my place. i had to leave. i can’t even begin to describe how embarrassed i felt when i was stripped of what i was putting so much effort into, but it’s just not enough.

you can’t compare someone with less than two years of field experience to someone who brags about having 6-10 years of experience. i was given a chance, and i proved to them that i could do it during sound check, minus one percussion player. don’t get me started on that one. she’s a picky person when it comes to the sound of her cajon. the one person i worried the most was the one who couldn’t make it for sound check. anyway, turns out, the biggest feedback tonight wasn’t from the usual culprit – vocal effects – but rather, the overhead mic. and the feedback came from the house, which never got me to think that it would feed from the monitor since i didn’t send any.

excuse my train of thoughts.

i don’t think being fired is the big problem here. this whole emotional, self-doubt journey started when i mixed my first big show, at the same venue, by the same company. things just snowballed from there. which got me thinking – maybe i should just take a break. quit sound engineering for awhile and focus more on PR, marketing, and managing work. engage with my surrounding more and teach myself to be more attentive. one thing about diagnosing yourself with having ADHD, you find yourself always being trapped in your own world, juggling between fantasy and reality. my mind’s not focused on live sound, at least not in the mixing department. i can run, think, and manage well on behalf of and for everybody, but i just can’t mix.

no, i haven’t gotten better at all. so i’m going to take a break. not entirely; i still need to earn some income. but i’m gonna focus more on the administrative and public relations side of things.

this is me simply hoping that it’s just the period cramps talking, because i feel done. i’m done.

 

(this blog is written purely from my frame of thoughts with zero editing. excuse the mistakes.)

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.

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!

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 12.55.36 AM

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.

DSC09674_DxO_gn

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

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. 🙂

preparing for a show: the technical guide for musicians


by Albert Ng of glaringnotebook.com
by Albert Ng of glaringnotebook.com

1:35am and my brain decides to argue with a lot of things, particularly with reality. anyways, these little points are just off the top of my head (and feelings) in no particular order. if you know me well enough you’ll know that i would take a lot of detour just to make a point. i’ll try to simplify this.

1. technical rider
if you’re performing for a show particularly under an organizing committee, please do us crew a favour and take a minute to write the list of things that your band needs. the number of mics, DIs, backlines needed….all of these are important information to help you with your own show. obviously, if it was your own show, you would want everybody to take note of everything from wardrobe to song list to lights etc. if you are going to play alongside other acts/bands, doesn’t matter if your setup is small or meh, preparing a technical rider goes a long way.

here’s what happen when you don’t give me a tech rider: i stalk your facebook profile and/or fan page. it’s worse if you’re a band and you don’t even bother including your band members on your fan page. what gives?! now i have to search the entire internet for a picture of your performance somewhere -oh never mind you don’t even have a decent picture of you performing on your own fan page. it’s okay. now i have to message you.

if you don’t reply me then well, i’m sorry if we are not able to provide what you need and if that’s the case i sure hope you bring your own stuff with zero assumptions that we have “them”, whatever they are.

DO mention specifically if you are playing electric guitar or acoustic guitar. Just mentioning guitar requires an extra skill on my side that i do not have – being psychic.

DON’T tell me that you only need four mics when your band consists of 5 vocalists and you are using your own mic. list them as 5 vocals anyway; i don’t really care if you are using your own mic or not – it’s the least of my worries.

tip: i don’t mind your setlist! i would usually try to watch or listen to your past performances when i have the time.

2. soundcheck
now i know that the world isn’t all that fair and not everyone can afford to be a full time musician. soundchecks are usually done during office hour or rush hour. it’s probably unfortunate enough that you have to spend most of your weeknights practicing, right? right.

now, soundcheck isn’t all that bad (at least for me) if you’ve given me your tech rider. i can almost not forgive you if you were to make last minute changes (like “oh we’ve decided to add a djembe and a tambourine i’m sorry i forgot to tell you”) but all is well once i brainstorm within a second as to which mic ends up miking which instrument. i mean, change is inevitable right? right.

bear in mind that when you do come for soundcheck – you are able to complete two important things:

  1. achieve optimum stage level for your monitoring
  2. give the engineer to work with your balance and your tone, possibly improving them as well

so if you are not given the chance to do soundcheck:

  1. DO cooperate with the crew and sound engineer during your setup so we wouldn’t spend 10-15 minutes just figuring out who stands where.
  2. DO a 30-second soundcheck with your loudest song to crosscheck your stage level with the engineer. the engineer can only do as much as guessing.
  3. DON’T yell “i need more *whatever* in this monitor!!” in the middle of your song. at least wait until your song is over.
  4. Vocalist: DON’T point your mic down towards the monitors as it may cause feedback. if you’re more of a holding kind of person, please be watchful of the direction that you’re pointing it to.
  5. DO practice, practice, practice. i cannot stress this point enough but front-of-house engineers are not there to fix your mistakes. if you don’t know how to trust FOH engineer in charge, at least trust your own bandmates; learn listen to each other.

tip: guitarists are more than welcome to bring their own trusty ol’ amp (better with presets from practices)! the band could do the same with their own sound/tech person!

3. “spokesperson”
if all the above fails, get the person that the whole band trusts (or yourself) and walk through the details with the crew before the show. i am opened to any changes up to 5 minutes before the show. if you don’t even have a spokesperson then well, suffer the consequencesssss!!!! muahahaha

xxx

random bits of thoughts:
when i started college, i realized that the only way to survive this industry is to know how to talk and build my network. i’m, no doubt, in a “people industry”. one cannot survive without another to support and vice versa. a band may be the best of their generation but without a good sound engineer, manager or even producer the band maybe can go as far as only being the resident band of a local bar.

these days, a lot of artists are going independent. a band is sometimes their own manager, producer and even techie. i have nothing against that but how far can you go if only you and your band believe in your own product? i don’t mean to sell to make money but rather to have people to buy into your music, without having to actually buy them first.

just remember that without your listeners, you have zero support in terms of income. i wouldn’t make income my main goal, but if you understand the importance of “serving” your listeners with good (these days that means sellable) music without having to sell yourself out (AKA MUSIC IS YO LIFE YOU WOULD DO ANYTHING TO DO MUSIC YOUR WHOLE LIFE), you will do fine.

  1. point 1: if you want to be your everything, at least learn how to manage your facebook/twitter page. don’t post once every few months unless if you need to, provide the audience with a legit explanation and a timeline of when to expect your new music/show/to simply hear from you next. talk to your audience like how you would talk to a friend. anyone would appreciate that kind of “special artist-fan” connection.
  2. point 2: be humble. don’t expect a respect that you have not earned. make friends, share your music (free demos/ep/mixtapes etc), find shows to support other acts… you won’t go anywhere without other people doing the same for you.

2:32am and i’m not making sense anymore. time for me to hit the sack.

kind soul + high level of work ethic + responsibility = a good package.