Hello, my treacherous friends,
and thank you for joining me here tonight.
I brought you all here to discuss, as I must,
how grateful I am for your insights.

–OK Go – Hello, My Treacherous Friends

I received a nod today from Jadit of the Local Beat (Dayak music) column of Postmag, regarding my BandKuest 2006 article, where I poked a hard finger at local bands about doing everything right until the singer opens his mouth. Andrea and I have already noted this trend going on for a while, and even a concert virgin like Robin noticed. So it must be true… a majority of vocalists in our local bands can’t sing.

According to Jadit’s column, it’s also true for a lot of contemporary Dayak music. He followed this up with his own experiences with that music scene and again, pounded in the fact that the vocal is the most important component of a song. He’s also heard great music ruined by an incompetent vocalist.

While it’s not my intention to be mean, someone has to say it. We have a lot of bands in Kuching that are solid, incredible even, where playing the instruments are concerned. The vocals always sound like an afterthought. It’s almost always drowned by the music.

I realised from past experience that this isn’t a new problem. I used to be in a band. I recognise the signs – everyone wants to be the superstar musician and forget that at the end of the day, they are supposed to support to vocalist instead of the other way around. The singer can’t shine if you drown him out. The loud music can’t compensate for a singer whose voice keeps slipping and sliding all over the place.

I also realise that it isn’t going to be easy telling your singer that his singing sucks ass if no one else in the band has anything better to offer. Being the vocalist almost always mean that you’re the frontman as well. If you really want to get somewhere, seek an honest opinion from someone with experience in these kind of things and do something about it.

Don’t trust your own opinion of it. Remember Malaysian Idol auditions. Everybody thought they could sing.

Take your singing seriously. Sign up for voice lessons. There are several music schools out there that offer them. Just because you didn’t have to buy this instrument doesn’t mean that you should pay less attention in maintaining and getting the best out of it. Singing is not a matter of opening your mouth and producing a caricature of the song. It’s giving your listeners a reason to hear you out past the first minute.

If you don’t suck so bad, at least the poor judges will feel like it was worth signing up for the project. If I ever agree to judge one of the band events, I’m not going to be kind about the vocals. Just warning ya. ;-)

If you’re content with just having fun with your band mates and amusing a few friends, it’s makes for a nice hobby too. It’s certainly much better jamming in a studio with friends than being out there.. say, vandalising pay phones.

There is an incredible amount of talent in the indie music scene in Sarawak, as we’ve seen in BandKuest and various band events around town. This is just one last hurdle to cross so… COME ON, GUYS! Dazzle us in the next band contest! Give the judges a different kind of headache!

3 comments

  1. yeah, the local bands have a lot to improve on the vocals part… it was either they were screaming on top of their lungs pointlessly, or nothing more than a soft mumble !!!

  2. i love bands but not our local ones. They mumble too much. Should look for more talented singers. Anyone knows where i can go for an audition? i just want to sing, doesn’t matter in a band or not!

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