1) PLEASE TELL US BRIEFLY ABOUT YOURSELF? AND WHAT YOU’VE BEEN UP TO THESE LAST FEW YEARS?
Thanks Sire Guitars for this interview!
Hi friends, I am Leonard from Singapore, and my favourite genres of music are funk and ballads, but I play pretty much anything to serve the demands of my gigs.
What I’ve been up to these last few years? Here in Singapore, it is compulsory for Singaporean men to serve 2 years in the military, and I am proud to have completed mine! For the military enthusiasts and freedom fighters, I completed my 2 years and left the service as an Infantry Platoon Sergeant, with the rank of 2nd Sergeant. It’s nothing to boast of, but I’m glad to have contributed to my nation’s defence.
I am now pursuing my Bachelor’s degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering in Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
I got to know Sire Bass by chance actually. It all started when I was looking up a couple of Marcus Miller videos to learn his licks, when there was a linked video at the side that featured Marcus talking about Sire guitars. At that time, I didn’t remember hearing of such a brand before. Like, “Sire..? What is that??”. After some more research, and learning about Sire’s purpose of serving young musicians and making affordable instruments, I decided to check out the Sire V7 for myself to see how impressive it was.
The first store I went to had a few V7’s, but their strings were somewhat dead and they didn’t feel good. But…I really wanted a Jazz bass for the versatility, and Fenders here in Singapore are still considerably expensive. So I pulled the trigger, and ordered a Sire V7 4-string Ash, Sunburst. I’ve never looked back since…this thing plays like a charm.
3) WHEN AND HOW DID YOU START PLAYING BASS?
I love telling this story! In short, I was first a dancer, and realised how good that “deep thumping sound” made me feel like dancing. Then I went on to learn bass.
Tell you more later!
4) REGARDING TO YOUR FACEBOOK PAGE, WE FOUND THAT YOU ARE A MEMBER OF “SABBY AND THE CATS”. COULD YOU PLEASE TELL US BRIEFLY ABOUT YOUR BAND AND WHY THIS BAND IS CALLED “SABBY AND THE CATS”?
Yes, of course! We are a group of students who reside in the same hostel in the university, and our first gig together was at NTU Fest 2015. Do check out our Facebook page here! https://www.facebook.com/sabbyandthecats
To keep the long story short, we decided from there that we really enjoyed making music with each other, and we also shared the same direction for music, which was to eventually write and record our own material. So we stuck together until now, and we’re confident that we will never split unless life’s circumstances force us to.
Why “Sabby And The Cats”? That’s because our lead vocalist’s name is Sabrina, whose Instagram account is so aptly named as @sabbythecat. Plus I’m an oldies guy, and seeing how James Brown used to introduce the members of his band as “cats”, I thought “Sabby And The Cats” would give the name an interesting angle.
Do check us out here! Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sabbyandthecats
Thank you Sire Guitars for your support!
5) WE NOTICED THAT YOU ARE ALSO STUDYING ELECTRICAL AND ELECTRONIC ENGINEERING AT NTU, APART FROM BEING A BASSIST AT THE SAME TIME. WOULD YOU PLEASE GIVE US SOME TRICKS TO MANAGE YOUR TIME TO DO BOTH THINGS?
Definitely! Well to be honest, I started off my first semester in NTU very badly, ending the semester with a 2.6 GPA out of 5. So if you’re looking for a model student to follow, I wouldn’t be a good example!
As the semesters went by, I spent a lot more time cultivating skills which I felt were important that many people in my course neglect, like communication skills for example, as compared to studying. I’ll still study and keep up with my academic material of course, but the emphasis will be on learning and acquiring new knowledge rather than attaining a good score.
To manage my time better, I plan my day the night before, complete with start and end timings, very much like in the military. The perk of doing this is that I get to strike out tasks that I’ve completed in the day, and it makes me feel productive.
Oh, and playing bass and being a musician are just things that keep me sane. They also happen to be some of the things I live for.
6) IN PREVIOUSLY VIDEOS ON YOUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL “HTTP://WWW.YOUTUBE.COM/USER/CHOONHWEE”. IT SEEMS LIKE YOU USED TO BE A DANCER. COULD YOU PLEASE TELL US WHY YOU TURNED FROM DANCER INTO BASSIST?
Well, you know how important a good bass line is in helping people find their way around the dance floor. Likewise, bass lines have been what I always first looked out for in songs since I started dancing. Hence, I decided that I should pick up the skill of playing bass in order to understand how these bass lines I love are crafted.
Prior to my enlistment into the military 4 years ago, I drew up a bucket list of things to do before beginning my military service, and learning bass was one of those goals. Took lessons for 3 months, and off I went into the service.
I wouldn’t say I’ve converted into a bassist and left dance totally, because if you’re once a dancer, you’ll always be a dancer. But at this point in my life, it’s geographically much less convenient to dance than it is to have band practices. And I guess that’s what leads people to say that I’ve “stopped” dancing, because I’m hardly seen doing that nowadays.
Also, I’ve created a separate channel for bass covers, and you can find me here at Leonard Ng Music (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEHeCcxsvG36w1NC9wiL01A).
7) HOW DO YOU FEEL WHEN YOU PERFORM AS BASSIST, AND HOW DOES IT DIFFER FROM PERFORMING AS A DANCER?
The biggest difference in my opinion, is the limelight that you get. As a dancer, you’re supposed to want people to look at you. And people WILL look at you because they will compare who’s better than who, or who dances funny, you know. That’s also how you score points during competitions; the judges look at you, and they assess you. So in all that we do in dance, we often juggle between expressing ourselves and making our presence known. If you’re a huge guy, you’ll naturally get more attention on the dance floor.
As a bassist however, most people don’t actually know how you contribute to the band. Even more interestingly, some people don’t even know you exist. That’s what I like about being a bassist: I know the importance of the role I play, and I’m perfectly comfortable with thumping away at the back because I know that I make a difference. If I ever get recognition, it’s a bonus. And because of my dance background, limelight is not a problem if I ever get some air time (provided everyone doesn’t go off to get a drink during the bass solo).
8) DO YOU THINK THAT MUSIC CAN DO SOMETHING TO THIS WORLD?
I started out as a dancer, and it was because of the late Michael Jackson that inspired me to dance. Thinking about it now, it’s an incredible cause-and-effect chain that led me to now play music.
Michael Jackson spent his lifetime trying to make the world a better place through his music, and with regards to his contributions, yes, I definitely think music can be a great influence to this world like how it was to my world and my artistic journey so far.
9) WHAT DOES MUSIC MEAN TO YOU?
Well…at the core of it, music is life. Art is life. It’s one of the things I live for, because it’s a language more beautiful than even the sweetest words in the dictionary can describe. The best part is, everyone understands music. You can feel it when a piece invokes sadness, melancholy, or joy in you. It’s a universal language.
10) ANY ADVICE OR SUGGESTION TO SIRE GUITARS?
Make the instruments cheaper…just kidding! :P
Keep up the amazing work! Many musicians in this world are benefiting from the Sire Revolution, and each Sire sold will bring us one step closer to unifying the world through music.