Authenticity and sincerity characterise one-man band, MC, DJ and local phenomenon Masterpiece, who also organises all things funk and soul at his monthly 'Turn Up The Heat'. This Friday, we invite him for a special four on the floor-tinged appearance with a mysterious vox at the upcoming Midnight Shift. Read on for a hint of what to expect.
So please tell us the lowdown on Masterpiece. How long has it been since you started?
It was 2006 when I started MC-ing for Pushin’On. Then in 2010, I started performing the Ableton ‘live’ sets of productions and re-edits. So that’s about 2 years, 3 months, 2 weeks and 4 days ago.
What can we look forward to your special performance with (mystery vocalist) on May 18th?
Well I would have to thank Midnight Shift for that because you’ve invited a funk and soul singer/producer to create a 4/4 ‘live’ set! What I’ve tried to do while creating this set was to avoid listening to any techno or house. You will hear the important elements of the genre but I’m definitely putting a lot of Masterpiece into it.
What is your music-making philosophy?
What I’ve discovered is that the funk can be in any kind of music. So don’t be afraid to make stuff that you’re not used to and trust that your own style will show through in the music.
What or who inspires you?
I enjoy watching girls dance and that is one of the biggest inspirations when making music. And on that same note, being in a roomful of people dancing happily also inspires me immensely.
Who are your dream collaborators and why?
I really wanna write tunes for Janelle Monae, Jose James and Sharon Jones. These are some of the most soulful singers around now and I listen to their music everyday. So many of their tunes make me go “Damn...Wish I wrote that song!” and that’s what makes them special.
What is your favourite piece of gear, real or imaginary, and why?
Turntables definitely top of the list. It just feels so good you know… and as an instrument, it is so versatile. I’m also really getting deep into 16-pad controllers cos they make for such a dynamic performance. Imaginary instrument? My first thought was electronic melodica but I found out that it already exists! I’m happy with what I have.
What is the best compliment you've ever received?
This happened a couple of weeks ago at Sunday at the Training Shed. This guy had seen me before with Pushin’On, singing with the Mighty Mighty, DJ-ing and also the solo ‘live’ sets. He said he’d seen me doing quite different stuff and couldn’t really place me as a singer or MC or electronic musician. Then he said that despite the different performance medium, he saw the same sincerity and authenticity in all the sets. That really made me happy cos you never really think about it consciously when you’re preparing your sets cos you just go ahead and dive into it. It is however very nice to be recognised as authentic and sincere, no matter what genre or style of music you do.
Do you think Singapore has no music identity?
Nope… I definitely think we do. I think if we all embrace the diversity of sounds we have here, we’d definitely see that there is an identity here. Of course I’m excluding commercial radio or club music from this (sorry guys! Me no mean no harm!). I also believe that we shouldn’t have to rely on validation from other people to make us feel like we have a Singapore music identity. Just do your thing, people will know you and they’ll know you’re from Singapore. I think trying to consciously create a Singapore music identity will just be too much unnecessary work.
We also shouldn’t compare ourselves to places with more distinct musical identity for example Detroit/Berlin for techno or New York for hip-hop. Even those places have many other types of musical entities in that space. How do you think a hip-hop DJ from Berlin would feel if everyone just wants to talk to him about techno? The creation of any identity is also plenty of times political. Don’t bother, just do your thing.
How would you describe your personal sound?
Its soul music.
Which is your favourite album of all time?
Donny Hathaway ‘Live’ (1972)
What about DJing?
I have been! But for not very long at all… about a year and a half. DJing is important in music yo… because it's about filling up the dancefloor and making people dance and be happy.
Are you more of a morning or night person?
I’m more of an afternoon person. I like to be up for lunch.
Will there be a Masterpiece album or release in the works anytime soon?
Yes... very soon. The 'Somebody Thrill Me' EP is the most upcoming. Crafting the final piece of the puzzle is taking longer than expected but you know...I'm in no rush.