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Monday, July 17, 2006

Ywenna and Rhapsody

During the production of my last short film, Vertical Distance in May (interested? Read about me beginning to shoot the film, then some photos of me and my beautiful crew shooting the film, and about me beginning to understand Wong Kar Wai's methods more and more duringduring postproduction of the film), I was burdened with the fact that I don't really have any actual songwriters to do the composing for me, and I because I wanted to open myself the possibilities of submitting my short film to contests, viewings and festivals once I can acquire the rights for it end of the year from university, I couldn't use copyrighted music.

Ultimately, I gathered my music for my soundtrack from three sources, one was CCmixter.org, a place featuring Creative Commons-protected music (which I use for my recent vlog entries), one was from the flutist Arshi Tope (I was fortunate enough to see her putting up a performance in Perth city while I was shooting some scenes by myself), and then, where else but the paradise for sexual predators wonderful place for friends, Myspace?

While searching for Malaysian jazz musicians (needed something like that for the opening and closing of the short film), I stumbled upon Rhapsody, a piano and vocal musical duo whose (from their Myspace profile) 'catchy poppish tunes have jazz overtones, with Thelonious Monk, Ella Fitzgerald, Jamie Cullum, Alicia Keys and Antonio Carlos Jobim among their musical influences'. Yeah, after sampling their tracks, I nodded with satisfaction, added them as my friend and messaged the duo, Ywenna (the composer and pianist) and Nicole (vocalist and lyricist) for permission to use their songs for Vertical Distance. To my relief, they said yes.

So I used two of their tracks, 'Blue Skies' and 'Dizzy' as the opening and closing themes of Vertical Distance. That was nearly two months ago, I have to say that without their songs, my film would never have worked that well, especially the emotional yet implausibly stylish ending, and receive such a warm reception from the audience during its premiere last month. Since then, I've returned to Malaysia from Perth, hoping to meet with them so that I can hand them each a copy of my film.

Well, I finally got to meet up with Ywenna on Sunday (Nicole, unfortunately, was busy) at Starbucks, KLCC. If this were a generic personal blog, I would've stopped writing that much and plaster this entry with photos of myself and Ywenna. I DID carry my camera and camcorder with me during the meeting, but felt that it would be kinda awkward whipping them out of nowhere.

During conversation, Ywenna and I lamented mostly the same thing, that both of us, one an indie musician, one an indie filmmaker, might be suffering a similar fate. That we may be in working in a market that is long saturated by mainstream works, hence leaving little room (for now) for the acceptance of non-conventional creative works. With Hitz.fm, all we get are the Top 40 Billboard hits, and for Chinese listeners, well, are there that many others besides Jay Chou? Ditto with films, where all we get most of the time are Hollywood blockbusters, Hong Kong star vehicles, and Asian horror films. With the lack of variety over the years, people here grew (too) comfortable with these kinds of music and film, thus making it increasingly difficult to allow themselves the chance of exploring something else.

Will there be any room for the independent artists (I use this term for filmmakers, musicians and writers) who try to defy conventions and push boundaries? Or should they cease being unique and conform to what everyone is used to?

I'm launching into these rhetorics because I want to prepare you, my dear readers, for the works of Rhapsody, which cannot be categorized to just one genre, even though there is admittedly a tinge of jazz in all their works, their stuff isn't as conventional and boring as that. Therefore, here's a list of some of their tracks that are available for download. Note that they are all demo versions, so it ain't that clear.

1) Blue Skies
A cute and quirky instrumental track I used for the opening of Vertical Distance. It was so infectiously cheery that my lecturer bopped his head up and down whilst listening to it.
Download (1 MB)

2) Open Windows and Open Plains
Dreamy and languid song that makes you feel as if your windows are opened, and you are facing open plains.
Download (3 MB)

3) Dizzy
Ethereal and moody song I used for the ending of Vertical Distance. So powerful when coupled with the nice images of my film that a girl commented that she felt the chills (in a good way) looking at it.
Download (3MB)

Go download the rest of their songs here.

Here's a brief video of a Rhapsody performance back in May that was shot by Lainie.

They just had a performance on Saturday (15th of July) for the KL Sing Song 2006 at the KL Performing Arts Center which I unfortunately missed (too far, no transport, me live in PJ). However, there's an entry about this on Rhapsody's blog. And Cyber-red wrote about it too.

So yeap, I'm hoping that this will not be my last collaboration with Rhapsody. Look out for a possible music video that I'll be directing for them end of this year! Dum dum dum!

Related Links:
Rhapsody's Myspace Profile
Rhapsody's Blog
The Great Swifty's Myspace Profile (:P)

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