Monday, November 30, 2009

Songwriting Journey - Unbelievable

Finally our church's first EP (Extended Play) "UNBELIEVABLE" is out last weekend, launched during our Emerge Conference. Everyone went home humming the tunes of "Rising" and slept with 'launch me like a cannonball' lines in their heads. Yeah, can't get rid of it!

CHUP! I know you wanna screamed "Hey! you guys made a spelling error for the cover, the cd and t-shirt". "UENBEILAVBLE"???.

@_@ Gotcha! See, that's the whole point! It caught your attention right? :) It's not an error, it's an artistic way to capture your attention to pick up the CD! It was intended that way, it's definitely not a typo error. clear you doubts! :)

The EP consists of 7 songs:

2 English praise (Rising & A Story)
2 English worship (Broken for you & Unbelievable)
1 devotional (Lord's prayer)
1 Chinese pop love song (You taught me to love)
1 Indonesian worship (Unbelievable-Indo)
and a hidden track with African choir at the end.

Yes, it's kinda 'rojak' I know. Well, it caters for all! :) Now every member in church will feel the sense of belonging. The bananas, the 'cina'-man, the africans, the indonesians etc... it's a big family you know.

It was a miracle to get the EP out by Emerge though. It was super rush! Ask the boys that did the recording, the schedule is super tight.

Kysern Lim's "RISING"was so catchy and now everyone talks about the cannonball!

Debbie Teong's "BROKEN FOR YOU"sang by Wendy Foo was beautifully arranged with Kysern's amazing classical playing.

THE LORD'S PRAYERis a wonderful song to do your quiet time and ponder upon Him.

As for my involvement, I was mainly involved for the chinese song (You Taught Me to Love -教我去爱)and the lyrics for 2 of the other english songs: Unbelievable & A Story.

Well, as I know that the band is trying to write songs for the album, up the the final moment before recording, it wasnt fruitful yet. I was very concern as I know the pressure is heating up too as the deadline is closer and closer. Anyway, I've been praying for a breakthrough that we will have inspirations and more importantly, a Word of season to write new songs, not just jamming away and write anything just to produce something.

I woke up one Monday morning and after spending some time praying, many ideas and inspirations flooded into my spirit. I wrote them down immediately, and worship God with each words I wrote.

I wrote 4 songs that morning, 2 songs with music done, the others were just the lyrics.

One of the song that I really love, is the song named SPEECHLESS. In which now big portion of the lyrics has become the song "UNBELIEVABLE". I love the bridge, it was a devotion echoed to God that morning about His amazing grace towards us. Anyway, Abel thought about using the word 'unbelievable' because there was a season in church that Ps Kevin always says:"Unbelievable!" and the church responded "Believe it!"

So yeah! Kinda 'flow' with the church current culture. Anyway, so when they told me that they needed verses and lyrics for that song title as they only have the chorus lines, I've passed that lyrics over and they continued to work on the music. And with the help of skillful and creative musicians, the music is now done, it's amazing! Love it.

Next song is the song "A STORY". Well, this song was written because that morning, I recalled a sharing by Ps Kevin in leaders meeting one night, where he shared that our church must tell a story. Every church has a story. Everyone has a story. What is the story of our church? What is the heartbeat of every member? So then, I penned down the lyrics for this song with the desire that everyone would sing and echoed the vision of the church. That our church is one that LOVES & GIVES TO THE LOST & THOSE IN NEED. Thanks to Kysern that put it wonderful music (you rock' bro!) and Abel added a few lines too to make the song more crunchy! :) They did a great job!

Another song that I've worked on with more effort, from composing to recording, is that only pop chinese song in the EP. It's giving a totally different 'feel' in the EP as it's not a worshipful song but a pop song. The song "教我去爱“ You taught me to love.

My first attempt to write a chinese duet song. Tried it for english songs but first chinese duet song. It was a great experience. Where did I get the inspiration for this song? My bathroom! Yes, I was showering and praying and pondering upon writing a love song, at the same time was thinking about love and forgiveness. That's when the lyrics came into my mind, He has taught me to love. Well, it was also meant for commercial publishing because the song did not mention anything about God or Jesus, it has double meaning. If you can 'get it' of course. *winks*

It was also meant for a person who has lost confidence to love due to previous broken relationship to rediscover and relearn how to love when he/she met the new lover. Well, music is fun. song has a soul.

I totally enjoyed the songwriting experience. As for the music arrangement, it could have been done better if given more time. I didn't have much time to plan out the intro and interlude, I felt it can be done better. Ahh, rushing it... and learned a lesson from that too. Anyway thanks to Xiao Kang Studio. The recording is nice. It's a good scrutiny anyway.

Thanks to Chronicles and Aiko for their amazing voices that make the song so soothing and beautiful.

I always believe that writing songs for congregational worship is not just about a nice song, but a song that the people can echo back to God the heartbeat and prayers of a church, that is very much flowing with the direction of the church at the season, or it can be a song that speaks of the word of season given to the church through pastor's message. Thus I always remind myself to write songs that flow with pastor's sermons.

Thanks to KC Gan the creative director of CHC Singapore who wrote amazing songs in their albums, has always been my guide and inspiration in songwriting. He gave me many good advices throughout the journey. He just told me that he is now writing new songs for next album already! so fast... anyway, I'm starting another round too to prepare for next church album, better start early so we'll have more time to work on it. Praying for prophetic inspirations. *winks*

Well, I still have many chinese pop songs yet to be recorded properly for demo, but I've met up with a wonderful songwriter and friend last week, Will Tan VC who offered to help me publish and push out the songs in Taiwan through his newly established recording label 'Rainbow Heaven' 彩虹天堂。That's a great open door yo... thanks bro!

I've so much to learn and explore in terms of music and songwriting. It's a tough journey! As S.H.E sang it in their famous song "听袁惟仁弹吉他", "写歌其实不容易卖歌又要靠运气靠关系" (Songwriting is not easy, selling song also depends if you're 'lucky' to have 'wide-networking') . "音乐这条路很辛苦,很寂寞“ (The journey of music-exploring is not easy and often lonely).

That's so true hey. When you wrote a nice song that is easy to sing "朗朗上口," people may comment that it sounds like another familiar song (they are trying to say you are copying). If you wrote a song too hard to sing, people may says that it is hard to remember and follow thus it's a lousy song. If your lyrics are too simple, they says you have no substance, if your lyrics too 'chim', they says you are writing nonsense and it's not practical at all.

The truth is that music is universal. Creativity is unlimited. You may come up with a melody that someone from another corner of the world has also making the same sound and melody. Coincidences happen all the time. Songwriters, agree? ;)

The debate never ends. There will always be critics for all the things you do in life, be it music, or dance, or design or whatever that you use your creativity at. That's why I admire those successful song composers whom i believe, have been through a lot and survived all the critics to be where they are today.

I've learned to take advice from people who genuinely believes in helping me to succeed, taking in the constructive comments to improve and I've also learn to reject comments that only meant to tear down confidence and destroy passion from those who has no intention to help fulfiling my destiny. I hope you this will encourage you guys out there who is trying to achieve your dreams, whatever you aspire to do in life, JUST DO IT! LIVE YOUR DREAM.

Well well.. I just gotta remind myself to keep doing what I'm passionate about, whether it brings rewarding results or not at the end, as least I've tried and I live with no regrets. Too many people have lived with setbacks, discouragement and thus ignoring their deepest voices and passion that makes the 'real' them.

Like it or not, we only have ONE life to live. Live it to the fullest! @_@

Ah, I want to thank my hubby and family members who are always supportive of my pursuit of music as well as other dreams in life such as... minister to the rejects. And to some of my closest friends who always believed in me. With your support, it's more than enough to keep me going! :)

One Life. Live It.
SHIR~