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Suzie’s Lounge: Backstage with Joy & 9 Lives

Getting to Know 9 Lives

Interviewer: So today, I'm interviewing Joy and the Nine Lives! First off, I would like to get to know all of you personally. Let's begin with the band's vocalist, Joy Victor!


Interview with Joy

Interviewer: So, last year you released a movie video (MV) called "She's Got It All", a song dedicated to the women who have given you inspiration in life. You had also self funded this MV. So, ...

"Based on your experience, what advice would you share for anyone interested in making an MV?"

Joy: Actually there's a lot of things to keep in mind but I think the main factor in doing a music video apart from having the music ready is the allocation of time.

Time is very important! Especially when there are many different components to be executed in a music video!

Is it simple or difficult? How many people are involved?

For instance, my MV had over 30 women, 4 temperamental dogs, and a snake. Now imagine arranging all of this, while keeping to the deadline and budget.

Keep in mind, if you're making an MV, you will be renting a space. So time really is money; meaning keeping to the deadline is incredibly important.

To add, you will need a good production team that shares your ideas and views. Without them, it will be difficult to bring your MV idea to life.

Interviewer: Thanks for your advice! So for anyone wanting to make an MV, you should:

- strictly follow your deadline

- get a production team that you can work well together with

Moving on, the next question goes to Jude. 

Interview with Jude 

Interviewer: So, previously you were part of GTXperiment, and have since become a part of 9 Lives and The Rainbow Children.

"How and why did you make this transition into a more retro sound?"

Jude: For a start, I love music and I don't discriminate against any genre. I play all kinds of music, all styles ...

Daniel: Even "Chammak Challo".


Jude: Haha, yes, even Chammak Challo.

So about 9 Lives, I joined them 3 years ago. It was a phone call from Joy and everything changed after that. It's been a great learning experience for me.

I've had to learn to more "spontaneous" and be prepared for any kind of song. That's because the songs aren't fixed, nothing is fixed.

But that's the nature of it when performing with a professional band. You need to learn to be adaptable.

Interviewer: So what would you say your band's style is? Is it retro or something else?

Jude: Well, we don't only play retro songs...

Joy: Our core foundation is retro.

Jude: Yeah, the core is retro. We cover a wide range of songs, and a variety of genres. Again, we are adaptable.

Image from: https://www.lipstiq.com/

Interviewer: Thanks for that Jude. Next up Tony.

Interview with Tony

Interviewer: So, you've run many drumming workshops in collaboration with The Guitar Store, Alpha Drumworks, LBS MusicWorld, and Roland Asia Pacific.

"What are the main lessons that aspiring drummers should take away from your workshops?"

Tony: I think all the workshops that I've done before are mainly using electronic drums and percussion pads.

Reason being, I think because music has changed so much from back then where we had a big band behind us, with the current technology, bands can afford to be a bit smaller.

So drummers have got to do a lot more work to do now, which include programming your drums.

But the one thing anyone should takeaway from my workshops are to enjoy your sound and enjoy playing.

I think there are not many topics about techniques because anything you play if you're comfortable, that is a technique for yourself already. So I don't really emphasize on technique but just having fun playing the drums with the sounds that you have. 

Image from: https://www.facebook.com/alphadrumworks

Interviewer: Thanks for sharing your advice. I do hope anyone who attended your workshops and anyone reading this can take that away.

Last but not least, Daniel!

Interview with Daniel 

Interviewer: So I have a few questions. First, in the interview with 440 hertz, you mentioned that the sad reality is that the smaller the band, the better the chances of getting gigs.

"So what would you say is the ideal size of the band?"

Daniel: At present, it would be a 3-4 piece. Last time, it was easier for bigger bands because most of them were contracted for at least 6-7 months.

These days, its rare to have that kind of thing. Now its always once a week in various venues.

Lugging around a whole piece band is difficult and most clubs cant afford it. That's the sad reality. So, the smaller the band, the bigger the chances to get regular gigs. 

Interviewer: Well that's unfortunate, but as you said, it's the sad reality of it. But on a different note, I found and looked at your Soundcloud.

"So it looks like you have released 12 tracks to this date. Do you have any plans on creating any new tracks?"

Daniel: We plan to do it. There are some projects in the pipeline, and hopefully, we'll see which one will suit the band. Because we all have different tastes in music so everybody has an idea of what the song should be. 

That said, it would be ideal if each of us has at least 1 idea. With this, we can create our own sound/music.

Interviewer: So a sound that's unique to 9 Lives?

Daniel: Yes, that's the idea. But we haven't gone into it yet, because work doesn't permit us the time to create it. We are after all, a working band, and not an artist band.

Interviewer: Well, I believe lots of people will be looking forward for your next album release. So that's the end of the personal questions section. Let's go into some general questions; anyone can answer them.

General Questions 

"Are there any places where you and other local artists meet up?"

Joy: We actually host a jam session every Sunday in a bar called Tom, Dick and Harry at Bangsar South. Prior to this, we hosted in a bar called Waikiki for a couple of years.

This platform gave a chance for the working musicians to grow and network, because our industry is very small and pretty much all of us are in a way friends and colleagues.

So the idea behind the jam session is to create a hangout joint where all the musicians could just come and hangout.

No obligations, no pressure, no one is being forced to be present but its a way where everyone gets to network, get together, get to know one another.

Also! When we jam, it's not with your own band! So, you get to jam with different people and get to experience performing with different people in a very casual setting.

It's a lot of fun! Lots chitchatting, talking about life over a drink or two, and just build that bond within the musicians. 

Interviewer: I'll definitely be including that in the write up. So, another question I have is ...

"What sort of music genre would you like to hear more of?"

Joy: I think we would embrace any sort of genre of music, it's just the fact of having a consistent array of live music - that is just what we need, especially in our country!

Malaysia has a crazy amount of talented musicians!

We've met so many people during our jam sessions. There are so many bands with no jobs because there are not enough venues, so they can't showcase their talents. 

We need more venues that support more local musicians. That will give us Malaysians a chance to actually showcase our talents.

Interviewer: More local music is always a welcome to have.

For the next section of the interview, we have quickfire questions. These are simple questions, but we'll need them answered in 5 minutes! Here we go!

Quickfire Questions 

"Could you tell us about any local artists that we should be looking out for?" 

Joy:  PopCult, a 3 piece band. A great band in the scene!

Fazz is also one of my favorite bands at the moment, very theatrical, very energetic, very good!

Jude: I'd say Jumero. They're not very new, but they're great, and they just came out with a new album (Mind Games)! 

Image from: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWWuJDeoY-3pElb2F6s-F-Q

"In your opinion, what's an essential skill that a performer/musician needs today?"

Joy: Good social skills, good work ethics, professionalism, and just the passion and determination to want to work - that is the most important thing.

Talent is subjective. One person's medicine is the other fuller's poison. So, at the end of the day, it's more of that work ethic where you see a person.

They may not be the best singer in the world, but if they have the professionalism, punctuality, the social skills, they would make it further in the scene. 

Jude: I agree. There are people who are very good with their music, but have a very bad work ethic and are hard to work with.

"What industry advice would you give to people trying to get into the music scene right now?"

Joy: I would say for any newcomers trying to get into the scene, I would say you need to seize the moment. You cannot sit and wait for the job or the opportunity to drop on your lap.

You have to go out there. You're gonna make yourself be seen. You're gonna make yourself be heard. You got to be determined, passionate.

You got to be a go-getter. If you're shy, you'll end up singing in your bathroom.

You need to get out of your comfort zone because when you have the talent, your talent is to be shared. You want to share it with the world. 

Interview: And... Time. Very well put, and very inspirational. And only in 5 minutes!

Moving on to our final section of the interview, here are some questions that some Malaysians have for artists like yourself (sourced from /r/Malaysia)

Questions from the Public

"In your opinion, what's the biggest factor slowing down the growth of the music scene in Malaysia?"

Joy: That's a very tricky question...

Daniel: Sadly, a lot of backstabbing. Everyone wants a piece of the cake. But in order to have the cake, they have to work together and make a name for themselves. The right way.

Joy: For me, with the influence of radio and social media shaping how we interpret music and providing a lack of exposure to other genres of music, what the public wants is rather.... skewed.

So if you're playing in a venue where the audience only wants a certain kind of music, they are not being opened to embrace new music.

Because of this, musicians themselves can't get better, because if you want to try different stuff, but the audience doesn't want it, then bands will be limited in what they can perform.

This sets an example for newer bands, and the problem repeats itself.

So, it's just about educating the public on how to perceive and support local music. 

"If you had the chance to collaborate with any musical figure, dead or alive, who would it be?"

Tony: I would like to play with this guy called Philippe Javel from France. He plays the piano and keyboard. He was playing for this conductor called Paul Morion back then and now he travels around. There's one time he came down to Malaysia, to KL.

That was his first time actually I saw him and I got a gig with him to play in Cambodia. The way he plays the music soothes my soul. So I would definitely want to play with him again. 

Daniel: I think Marcus Miller 

Joy: 2 Bassists?  

Daniel: Yeah

Joy: If I had the choice to sing alongside someone, dead or alive, from Malaysia, I would love to sing with Amy Search but obviously he doesn't know who I am.

But, yes, he's one of the local singers that I would like to collaborate with. If you're talking international, I would love to sing with Pink or Steven Tyler, or both. 

Jude: Right now, I think of I wanna play for or be in a band with John Mayer if that's possible. Just be a 'kuli' also can, I don't mind.

I would also like to collab with my No.1 inspiration, Prince, but sadly he passed away. Maybe next life?

"So 9 Lives has been playing at Suzie Wong consistently for a few years. How has Suzie Wong been treating you guys?"

Joy: So, when we first played in Suzie Wong, when they first opened, I got the break for 9 Lives to perform here through a friend of ours, her name is Amy, Amy Yeoh Tan.

She couldn't make it for a show and she was like, "Joy, could you guys replace my gig?" and I'm like "Sure!". From then on, we've been performing in Suzie Wong every month.

I think this has been 2 years-ish consistently and I think Suzie Wong is one of the few venues that supports the local bands and it's a great environment to perform in! They take care of us really well.

With the network that Suzie Wong has with their clientele, it actually gives bands fantastic exposure! As the audience here are all music lovers.

Interviewer: So if anyone wants to catch a 'break', they should try to perform here? 

Danniel: Yes, but they need to get a 'break' to perform here first haha.

Interviewer: Okay, last question. 

"What are your definitions of success in the local scene? And how often do you see newcomers “succeeding”?

Joy: I think to get into a pinnacle of success also very subjective because a person could be playing and being very happy doing what they do, earning very little and consider that successful because they're happy.

Because, with what they earned, they live within the means of what they earn. In another way of success is earning millions of dollars, right?

But, both ways, I think at the end of the day, success for me, individually, personally, if I'm able to share my talent consistently, having the job consistently and always being called to work, knowing that people would like to watch your band.

So, that in itself is a form of success, rather than being so fantastic but you don't have a job.

Jude: I think it's..it varies depends on their goal. So the keyword here I think is their goal like it can be as simple as being able to release an album or something that defines their success.

Interviewer: I think that's all for this interview. Thank you very much for your time, and I hope you have a great performance later!

Want to catch Joy & 9 Lives and other bands perform live? Check and book here for live performances at Suzie Wong!

Have your own questions? Have a suggestion? Maybe you want to say hi? Well, leave them in the comments below! And if you liked this, do share it around!

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