Anyhow Blues Again

Here’s another page of an after a sleepless night musings. i thought i should be sleeping like a baby after last night’s jam with the boys, Zai, Reef, and Hafiz. it was satisfying one that we felt like it was finally getting some direction now. maybe it was because i feel more relax working with Zai today than ever before due to his cool delivery of his speech on last friday 25 march talking about the need to reclaim the Garden. yea i got to talk about it still although i should be thinking about my own stuff but i been having my hangups and there is this thing about Zai and i that is hard to put my finger on, a kind of closeness that gets to the point where it burns too much, ha that burning image again. its like fire and ice we are dealing with in each other different directions. sometimes i just don’t dig him the way he does things and i just don’t want to hear about it but i felt totally with him on this about the garden. i mean i was not around when it happened but it’s not about fault finding and the way Weng Choy say about people only saying things after its done. i can understand the logic of that but it doesn’t mean we can’t do something about it. i worry about the extreme arguments sometimes Zai comes up with sometimes like those things about how the ISD or the powers that be may wish to have the Substation closed down and us artists all shut up, i like to believe is not true and only our artists’ sensitivity that goes overboard and into the state of paranoaia. But i must admit i share his paranoia all the time, like looking in the mirror to see if there is a police car and almost cut my hair syndrome is sick and still with in my physique so deeply i can’t get rid of it that’s the reason i’m doing my long hair project now…(go breakfast continue later…)

"Too Late The Hippie", Vital 07, Chinese Art Center, Manchester 2007

that was yesterday. i had a busy morning but slept the rest of the afternoon till midnight….

That was that….days ago, had some setback and meetings, gallery openings, and i been busy busy busy and there are a lot of people who go by then think i m a privileged bastard to waste my time doing art and playing guitar writing songs. And dreaming of stories to tell or some art project that do not look like art like conceptual until don’t know how to be conceptual… we had another 3 hours jam in the studio. It’s work we like and most would see it as hobby. When i described what i do in terms of working as an artist to my neighbour in Tokyo, she said, “Hmmm…you have a good hobby.” And i could almost discern a smurch of disbelief under her breath. But believe it or not, i consider this project to be most difficult for me both physically, psychologically and philosophically.

Self doubt has got nothing to do with it? you bet it has. i back pedal all the time usually it goes back by itself cause i think we are always going uphill anyway and i only learn to ride quite late in life so i don’t even need to back pedal and oops i find myself going the wrong direction without doing anything. ie. when i really let go. So if i m gonna climb that hill boy i better pedal hard. And that happens easily if i get into doubting and it ain’t hard for this cynical negating contradiction staggerer but you don’t want to hear the whole story do ya?

When i first met Vassan Sitthiket, was in 1993. Koh Nguang How had initiated with Chumpon Apisuk to have an exhibition of Thai, Singaporean and German artists in Concrete House, called “Sense Yellow” where all of us would do something with the colour yellow. Guess what i did? anyway we did have lots of fun especially the unplanned jamming with Vassan’s guitar. i must admit i found in him my alter ego and can only say my joke about being King of A minor i gotta hand over to him! After the 2 performance days one on opening night and the other on closing, somehow these Thai guys were wouldn’t stop. There was that weekend market Chartuchak where the Ruangpang Community Club gets rocking with poetry slam and music jam as well. And Vassan invited us to go to another gig in the forest somewhere up north outside Chiangmai. One of the guys from the legendary folk rock group called Caravan wanted to give back half of his farm back to the forests and was organizing a gig in the forest to celebrate and Vassan was invited to sing. I had time and gladly arranged to go witness it. I imagined a big campfire where we would watch and enjoy them singing, dancing all around. But wow when we arrived I was overwhelmed with the space and people. There was a huge stage at the edge of the forest and 30,000 odd campers pitched tents and nonchalantly waiting for the gig to start with their own little parties. The farm had horses galloping around in log-fenced yards and at the side, Black Angels, black-leather jacketed riders on harley choppers, the Thai version of ‘Hell’s Angels’ rode in and parked encircling the audience camp grounds and played security guards just like in the summer of love gig Woodstock! Ands soon after the gig started I watched with the widest smile on my face but i found it hard to hold back my tears. The music was great, i did not recognized the songs and it hit me that they were singing in Thai all along, song after song by different artists. It was so nice to be singing or listening to one language…I must say this would not be possible for dear Singapore where i m from. OK its great too that we have diversity and in these global situation appreciate multi-culturalism has its values too, blah blah blah… but just looking at this, I rather join these guys with their own Thai indigenous language.

The gig went on for hours, until morning after three fights, that kept the angels busy. i had a good time but it added more self-doubt in pursuing the idea of singing in English. Maybe not easy for you to dig this but it weighs heavy enough for me.

 

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5 thoughts on “Anyhow Blues Again

  1. I dont know when you posted this Wen Lee – but why dont you sing in -whatever language you want to sing in? I have only ever heard you speak English – do you speak Malay/Chinese/Japanese? mike cooper

    • i m not fluent in them unfortunately. English is more often than not the language that my brain functions in. but apparently this is not only me in Singapore. i can always blame history but i do have hangups too. but of course being an outsider looking at a concert in thailand it brought out those darker sides is all. i like to stick to telling jokes but tragedy is my forte..;)

  2. Hi Mr Lee Wen,

    My name is Anabel Poh and I am a year 4 student in School Of The Arts Singapore. I am doing a research essay pertaining to one of your performance art pieces. I was wondering if I could interview you, and if you are willing to be interviewed, please email me at anabel.poh@students.sota.edu.sg .I would really appreciate your help. Thank you.

    Regards,
    Anabel Poh

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