After a year-long search for a replacement for Regine Tai and 6 months of recording for the sophomore album, the new and improved 2V1G made it’s debut performance at the JB Arts Festival 2010.
Jeffery Lim, the new “V”, did an excellent job not only in blending into 2V1G, but also bringing with him a new dimension to the group.
The new album will be out mid-August and I personally feel it will be a better one.
Jacky Cheung only shot 2 music video’s for his Private Corner. I have was so glad to find out that “Love Scale” was one of it.
So … what am I doing talking about Jacky Cheung? What does a Cantopop superstar have anything to do with me?
Well … On 29 January 2010, Jacky Cheung, one of the biggest names in Chinese pop music, released “Private Corner”, his 57th album and first ever Jazz album. Track 4 on that album is a song called “十二個音”, which is a Cantonese version of “Love Scale”, a song I wrote and originally featured in the first Double Take album. And to top that off, I got to play guitar on that track too!!
It all started a year ago when Stephen Lim, Jacky Cheung’s recording engineer, came back home to Kota Kinabalu for his Chinese New Year break. I met up with him to talk about bands we could bring in from Hong Kong for the 2009 KK Jazz Festival. Later he told me that his “boss” will be starting work on his next album and this time it will be a Jazz album. They were still going through the song selection process, so he invited me to send over some of my songs. I sent over 2 songs but didn’t put too much hope into it. Later I got an email from Stephen saying that they like what they heard and would like to hear more. That’s when I began thinking that maybe they are serious about this and it might just be heading somewhere. So I sent 2 more songs.
By May, I was told that they have gone through their first round of selection and they have selected 2 of my songs to be considered for the next round. The songs were “Love Scale” and a song I wrote but was never released called “Cinta Kasih Sayang”. It was getting exciting, but still too soon to celebrate. I am sure they are filtering through 100s of songs and being one of the best selling Chinese singers in the world; he would have some really high criteria to live up to.
I received the good news in June. Jacky Cheung has selected “Love Scale” for the album. It was wonderful news, but still too soon to celebrate. Songs can still be thrown out till the very last minute of production.
Frankly speaking, even though I was very excited, I did feel a bit apprehensive about how it was going to turn out. I couldn’t imagine “Love Scale” sung in Cantonese and I didn’t know how they were going to interpret the song and music arrangement.
They were going to start production in July and will be doing most of the recording for the music tracks in Arks Studio, Kuala Lumpur. I was scheduled to record on 15 July. All I got from them was a chord chart, which didn’t show much in terms of how the music will be arranged. When I showed up for the session, I found out that it would be a “live” recording with some of the best sessionists in town. This means that the whole band will be performing and recording together, a production method common in Jazz but rarely attempted in Cantopop music. I guess they where really serious about making this Jazz album as authentic as possible.
I was also relieved to find out that they have kept the instrumentation very basic, with just me on the acoustic guitar, Andy Peterson on bass, Lewis Pragasam on drums and Steve Thornton on percussion. This gave me a lot of artistic freedom to do my “thing” on the guitar. It also meant that my guitar would be prominently featured on this song, second only to the vocals.
I ran through the song with the producer, Andrew Tuason, and ironed out some details in the arrangement. After that we ran though the song with the whole band. We recorded a few takes and wrapped up the whole session for this song in about 2 hours. I was happy with the result. All that’s missing now is Jacky Cheung’s vocals.
After that recording session, I kept in touch with Stephen regarding the status of the album and was later told that the original December release date has been pushed back due to some production delay. Apparently, some songs from the initial recording session had to be taken out of the album so they were still short of songs. I was just glad that “Love Scale” was still in. Which just shows that it was still too soon to celebrate.
Just before Christmas I got a call from Stephen, saying that Jacky Cheung wanted to record “Love Scale” 1 tone higher than what was recorded. They could keep the drums and percussion tracks, but the guitar and bass had to be re-recorded in the new key. We were not able to get Andy Peterson to redo his bass part, so I called my regular bassist, Simon Lau, who flew in from Labuan to record in my studio in Kota Kinabalu. Stephen sent the audio tracks over for us to use as a guide to record to. It had Jacky Cheung’s vocals in it. It was the first time I heard him singing “Love Scale”. I didn’t know what to expect. It was strange and amazing at the same time. After hearing the whole take, I was convinced that he had nailed it.
The Cantonese lyrics kept the meaning of the original English version. It didn’t sound awkward. In fact it sounded great. He made the song his own. So much so that one would think his was originally version. That’s the sign of a great singer. I now understand why they call him one of the Four Heavenly Kings of Cantopop.
I finished recording the new parts and sent it of as soon as possible. I think they just had enough time to mix and compile the whole album for the final approval on 29 December before being sent for mastering in US by the legendary mastering engineer, Bernie Grundman.
So now it’s official. The album is out. My song is in. My guitar part is in. It was even one of the 2 songs he performed at his album launch press conference.
However, all this still feels a bit surreal to me and the significance of it is only beginning to sink in. As of today, I have yet to hold the album in my hand. Stephen said he will try and bring back an autographed limited edition CD for me when he comes back home for his Chinese New Year break next week.
Maybe then …. It will be time to celebrate!!!
Happy new year to you and your loved ones!
May 2010 bring new hope, joy and love to your life and that you accomplish all that you set out to do!
Here is “Auld Lang Syne” from me to you.