Happened to read your article “The mainstream media still sucks” when a recent issue of Think magazine was sent to my office. I must say I am pretty impressed by your candour. Most editorial pieces (of some local fluff magazines) lack insights, opinions, sincerity and balls – so I must say it is refreshing to read an article that comes from the heart.
Yeah, your article may seem incendiary to some but hey, someone’s gotta question the status quo of the mainstream media. I understand your frustration when your words were removed by your ex-editor because he thought that “Singaporeans are dumb and they won’t get it.” I think your editor needs a CAT scan because I do know many fellow Singaporeans who are eloquent, intelligent and witty; with a keen interest in subcultures and alternative movements.
I used to have a zine here in Singapore and it was hard to get an approval to sell it officially so I ended writing for foreign zines like Maximum Rock and Roll and Punk Planet instead…
Someone has to raise the bar and why not do it since you are running your own magazine now? It would be nice to read articles about alternative living, about the underground and less explored realms of journalism – stuff that made people think, like your editorial piece…
I have read the article written by Sujin Thomas in The Straits Times. I guess the piece killed off any potential of the event (Sembawang Music Festival) being a success. Music lovers who might want to attend the event are conditioned to think that they are being ripped off. I mean, most people accepts whatever that shoved down their throat without questioning. And if Punk ethics have taught me something, it would be to “Question everything.”
About the pricing of the event, 75 bucks might be too steep for certain music fans, some of them whom are still schooling with limited pocket money. To be honest, a few eyebrows will be raised over the pricing, especially those who had caught Fugazi in Singapore eons ago and who paid the bare minimum for the entry price.
But ultimately, it is up to the individual to decide if they want to attend this event and it is really unfair for the writer to slam the bands that are performing. A true music lover and fan of alternative movement wouldn’t do that as that would hammer down the final nails on the coffin of the indie arts. – Regards, Cheelip
Thanks for the kind words, as a writer, you must know what its like saying it as it is here… but minds are opening and people are getting more self-educated, which means more are thinking for themselves nowadays. I’ve heard that Malcolm is offering a lower priced ticket option, so hopefully the stars will align and that bad article will be long forgotten about.
I’ve read your editorial in Think Magazine and think that you are right that ST is capable of bullying its way through its media strength. The Rolling Stones are definitely not over-the-hill, while I understand from associates that the Esplanade forks a huge sum of money to finance Baybeats. I agree with your stand that paying $75 for a 2-day outdoor concert is fine. It’s great to see a publication support a rock festival and putting the money where its mouth is.
That was till I saw the full-page advt on Sembawang Fest. Then it seemed to me that Mr Malcolm Davies has used Think Magazine as his personal soapbox because he took out a full-page advt. Then the whole editorial that you wrote seemed to be overtly biased in support of your advertising client. Especially, in light of your accusation of the ST journalist’s report to be “the most ignorant and biased piece of writing seen outside a George Bush press release”. So much for journalistic integrity. – Cheers, Willy
PS: In addition, writing from a point of a Singaporean and music fan, I agree with Mr Davies’ stance that Singaporeans should start paying to watch their own homegrown bands. However, festival organisers like him should actually start paying bands more other than the measley $150 per act for the festival.
Thanks for the letter, nothing I’ve written in the Singapore edition so far has been as controversial. As for editorial coverage, the contract for the ad and the payment was received LONG before I went to print… those words are what I would have written either way. Think Singapore #15 is the 79th Think edition I have made, and I’ve never pulled punches one way or another in all that time. Sure, I’ve lost advertisers and gained advertisers from what I’ve written, but I’ve always said what I thought. Malcolm hasn’t made Think his soapbox, or written a thing in Think, and in fact, the first time he saw the article was after it was delivered to his hostel. I think the big paper bullies it’s way around, and to have slagged the festival when it should have maybe put out some positive energy, might just be because Malcolm didn’t buy an ad with them… That’s what pissed me off.
I read with disgust your issue #15 Humanifesto writeup where you pissed on ST Life journalist Sujin Thomas for his apparent “most ignorant and biased piece of writing seen outside a George Bush press release”. Brilliant use of wit and humour there, but your intentions read like an open book. Just look at page 2 with that one-page ad placed by Sembawang Festival organiser Malcolm Davies and one comes to realisation.
You seem to be the only one who is ignorant and biased in your writing. I wouldn’t even dare liken YOUR article to any standards close enough to being passed off as a George Bush press release.
Why am i writing to you and not to Sujin Thomas and his editors to raise hell? Because I am one of the Singapore musicians that pulled out of the festival. I applaud Mr Thomas for his efforts at continuously promoting the local music scene and protecting local musicians like myself from red neck colonial-minded folk like Mr Davies. Perhaps placing a one page ad in your magazine immediately summons you to kiss his feet through your commentary, but i find that most distasteful.
You mentioned in your article that Mr Thomas “goes on to assault some of the bands as over-the-hill…”
Let’s be honest here. All the acts, except maybe the newly added Regurgitator, had one or two hits in the 1980s or early 1990s. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that those acts probably came cheap to easily fill the open time slots. You know it, so do all of us musicians. Perhaps you aren’t aware of this, but this is Singapore, not some backward shanty town in some desolate region of Cambodia. People here know their music and take it as an insult when people like you and Mr Davies still continue to talk as if his acts are the next big thing to hit the music industry.
Of course everyone knows Baybeats isn’t free. You sound like a fool. The Esplanade funds that and we, the musicians applaud them for spearheading ground for us to perform. For regular gigs there, we are paid an average of about $300 a band, which is very reasonable. Mr Davies on the other hand has offered a pittance sum of $150 a band to play at his festival. Bear in mind, that amount is split between 4-5 band members.
One ticket is priced at $75. Two tickets sold, would cover the payment fee for one band. Not to mention, that Mr Davies is hoping to pull in an unrealistic crowd number of 3,000. I hardly think he needs THAT much money to bring in the Australian acts who are nowhere near the status of The Rolling Stones. You do the math, Jeffree.
(huge internet forum posting slagging Malcolm with hearsay has been removed, write the author if you want him to email it to you.)
How can he say such a thing like this? Who is he to change the mentality of Singaporeans? We don’t go around saying the Australians are ignorant for not knowing Dick Lee or Electrico or Taufik, do we? And I totally despised his statement “local bands begging me for a slot”. Yes, the music scene here is small, but we still have something call “pride” and “respect”. For that, Zero Sequence has pulled out from the festival along with If, Camra, and Lunarin. The $100 payment is never an issue for us. In fact I still think the festival is a kick ass festival. But to play for him, even if he is paying us $1000, I’ll say fuck off!”
If YOU truly support local music (and it is evident that you are merely a masquerade artist), you would know at least half the truth. Do you or Mr Davies attend local indie gigs? No. Do you or Mr Davies extensively know the history of local music and who the major players are in the scene here now? No.
Even if Mr Davies pretends to, he needs to realise that the bands that have played at his dingy pub are only a handful. He often talks as if he’s the godfather of the scene and that is highly laughable. It makes a great coffee table joke topic though.
In any case, I have sent that article of yours around to other musicians and the general sentiment it is raising is “rage” . Maybe you’re thinking its a good thing that your article has made an impact by getting local musicians reading it. Maybe so for issue #15, but I can only guess when I say that local musicians are going to trash it in the bin the next time they see an issue.
I urge you to take caution in your words not just for your sake as a writer, but for the reputation of your magazine, which I’m afraid holds no weight in my books. In Mr Davies case, I suspect business at Prince Of Wales is going to go down the drain. – Mark Lee
As I said before, I don’t pull no punches in my writing, or hold them back, I say what I feel. There was no quid pro quo for me writing my opinions, and the only ass kissing being offered here is mine to yours. And what’s up with that attitude calling Malcolm a redneck? He’s a decent hardworking guy who I know for a fact does happen to love good music. In a city with a visible lack of venues (which results in a visible lack of talent) you would think 10 or 20 POWs would be warranted.
And for you’re information, I don’t care about “the local scene” at all. What I like is good music, and I don’t care if its from Iran, my hometown of San Francisco or Singapore. As for going to local indie gigs, I’ve been to a few, some exceptional events by the Stick and Run crew, and some real crap who I won’t embarrass by mentioning here.
You ask “Who is he to change the mentality of Singaporeans?” and yet you seem to forget that indie music as a genre is a TOTAL import here in Singapore. Are we aware of the local indie scene “extensively” as you say? Just a few bands come to mind, Lunarin (who by the way pulled out only because of other commitments that week) The Embryo, and My Squared Circle. They rock!
As you say, its not about the money, it’s about supporting the music, and not just some narrow-visioned xenophobic “redneck go home” perspective of it. Nuff said.