Five Inspiring Stories About Singaporeans Who Live For Music

 

This brand new docuseries by Viddsee is all about the different ways that music work for people.

You’ll find a wheelchair-bound guy spitting rhymes like Will Smith.

Two guys are making drums from scratch.

A joget and jazz fusion band is making their presence felt, a super cute grumpy uncle has a knack for giving old instruments a new life again – and a formerly angsty boy is dealing with his guilt through music.

Five exceptional Singaporean stories are highlighted in this Viddsee Originals documentary series ‘Keep The Music Going’.

Director Saravanan Sam shared that he came to this approach by asking himself an unusual question, “What is this series NOT about?”

“It’s not a series about winners or losers. This series is really about the people who are working at their craft – regardless of winning or losing.

director saravanan sam in keep the music going

These people are not gunning for a final destination or a pinnacle of achievement – all they want is to do what they love and be damn good at it,” he shares.

And that’s how he decided to tell these five Singaporean stories about how music shaped their lives, and how they used music to shape the lives of others:

The Wheelsmith

When he was just four years old, Danial Bawthan was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy which led to him being wheelchair-bound, slowly losing control over his muscles.

Armed with incredible optimism, wit, and passion for music, Danial is determined to let nothing get in his way from dreaming big.

With the name “Wheelsmith” (clever, right?), Danial is a self-taught rapper and sound designer. And if that isn’t impressive enough, he’s also a national wheelchair rugby player!

wheelchair bound rapper

If your doors don’t open up for you, go find a window la bro! – Danial Bawthan

“I chose music because it doesn’t have a label. It doesn’t discriminate against you. There’s no ‘amputee singer’ or ‘blind guitarist’ or ‘deaf drummer’. It’s just good music or bad music,” Danial says.

Watch the film to witness how Danial uses music to rise against the odds.

The Wind Worker

‘The Wind Worker’ is a sassy uncle who is extremely OCD about keeping musical instruments clean and in tip-top condition.

He also has a reputation for not mincing words when students pass him instruments that are dirty and badly maintained.

Through his work as a professional repair technician, Mr. Yap keeps the music going by giving vintage instruments a new lease of life.

uncle cleaning music instrument

“I do scold students for not taking care of their instruments. Because they don’t own the instruments. If the instrument doesn’t belong to you, then you have a responsibility to take good care of it. I hate dirty instruments!”

“I love my job because I can take an instrument that’s been beaten up for many years and I can make it look good again. I give it life.”

“People call me the angry technician. I have friends who are instructors – and they always use me to threaten their students. Like if you don’t take care of your instruments, then I will send you to Mr. Yap!”

Watch the episode to see how obsessed Mr. Yap is about clean music instruments.

The Accidental Singer

“Don’t be a dick” – is Shak’thiya’s life motto.

On the surface, Shak’thiya is your typical guitar bearing, open mic enthusiast musician sporting an impressive beard.

But when he opens his mouth, he releases a burst of powerful, raging vocals.

Mostly known for his soulful singing and for an appearance on national television, the best thing about him is this: he keeps it real.

“I used to be very angry. Like very very angry. I was a shitty kid. So there’s a lot of guilt – and all that has to go somewhere,” – Shak’tiya

His myriad of experiences in life have led to guilt, heartbreak, and loss – and he’s chosen to channel all these emotions into his music.

shak'tiya playing guitar

A stranger’s words left a lasting impression on him

At one of his open mic sessions, a random lady approached Shak’thiya and said some encouraging words – words that stuck with him for a long time.

“There was a lady there. Don’t even remember her face, or her name. She asked me when is the next show. I said I’m just doing this for fun,” he says.

“And she said, “Well I hope you do it more.”

Watch the episode to learn more about Shak’thiya’s journey as a budding musician.

Colbern Drums

Have you ever wondered how do people make drums from scratch?

What started out as an experiment to modify their drum kits turned into something much bigger for drummers Benjamin Thia and Lee Lin Chow.

Today, Colbern Drums is synonymous with customized drum sets played by many Singaporeans.

For them, it’s not so much about the money, but rather the satisfaction and fulfillment that they get from the craft.

guys at colbern drums

“Can make a living by making drums ah? Where you learn from?”

Thriving on their passion for drums, drum makers of Colbern Drums often field these types of questions from the general public.

“It’s definitely a struggle. But then again, what isn’t? Life itself is a struggle,” – Lin Chow

“We don’t make millions of dollars – but we make our hearts happy. I think that’s more satisfying and it makes all the struggle worth it,” he adds, which reflects the sentiment of their tagline: “You dream, we’ll create.”

Watch the episode to learn more about the art of making drums!

Jazz Boleh Djoget

The Jazz Djogets was born over a glass of ‘teh tarik’, when a bunch of friends got together only to realise they all had similar taste in music. They’d wanted to combine their love for both jazz and joget – and hence the Jazz Djogets were formed.

The Singapore-based septet plays a mix of Malay, Indonesian, English, Brazilian, French and Japanese songs, all with a jazz twist. Their sets are always colourful, happy, and bursting with smiles.

It’s always a kampung party with the Jazz Djogets!

jazz djoget team singapore

“We are a bunch of party people. All our friends know that whenever they come over, it’s always like a kampung. They know for sure that they’re going to have fun!” quips Rudy Djoe, one of the members of Jazz Djogets.

However, Rudy also notes there’s actually no proper venue for them to perform at, but that has never stopped the band!

If people don’t give you a place to play, you create your own playground!

“There’s no significant venue for jazz in Singapore. There are people trying to raise awareness. The legendary Striptease Queen Rose Chan had hurdles too, and she overcame it. We do the same with our band,” he added.

The Jazz Djogets hopes to be a sought-after band one day, playing in music festivals around the world.

Watch more films by Saravanan Sam here.

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