Just like the description says, I really wanted to do this for a very long time already. I wanted to do this even before I could play drums!
When I was in secondary school, I grew up in this era of YouTube stars. It was just this explosion of talent online that just wowed everyone. Everyone in class knew who Sam Tsui was and how cool his clone accapella for Michael Jackson was! Everyone knew who Tyler Ward was and how super duper nice his version of California Girls was. Back then it was the ship Tyler Ward and Julia Sheer days. It was the non-mainstream instrument battles, the incredible talents online just kept flowing.
Then I remembered one day, I watched Tyler Ward’s version of Club Can’t Handle Me featuring Cobus Potgieter on the drums. It was incredibly exciting hearing how the instruments blended into this very nice video!
Then, when I was Sec 2, my mum wanted me to learn something during my holidays. My mum was thinking of drawing, because, you know, I was taking D&T the next year. However, NAHHH, I told my mum I wanted to learn how to play drums and the rest was history!
I wanted to be the cool Cobus, I wanted to be as cool as Leb, so that was why I picked up drums! Haha!
It is interesting to see how my playing had developed over the years. First, I was only a score person. I couldn’t improvise or lead the band, because I was only used to playing to MP3s and following them. It is okay to speed up or slow down, because the song is static and won’t speed up or slow down, so you can still bounce back!
Then, in order to get over myself and have more confidence, I started to sing and play, this is so that I could keep time! Cause last time, no metronome one! So I asked Jon Wong how to keep time and he told me a unofficial way, that was to sing to yourself and play! So I practiced that! It did work for most songs, but for some songs, there is just this tendency to speed up when you are excited! Haha! Though, because of this, I started having more confidence and started to lead rather than follow! Playing drums to lead is hard I tell you! It was a journey full of self doubt and disappointment because I honestly knew quite little of music then. The lingo that they used was just confusing. I mean, what on earth is a walk up? Why are they spouting numbers? Aren’t I punching already?
Then, it was constant feedback from Leb, Josh and the worship leaders. I am blessed to have such leaders willing to teach and sharpen my skills! Though I admit that I do get a little scared whenever I see like Leb come towards the stage to debrief me! Though it is good! It means that I have more to work on and improve on and it is only because of all the advise and suggestions that I have gotten over the years that I could play the way I could today.
Then, it was the desire to teach. I started teaching quite a few people how to play drums and it was good! Like I uncovered some really good talents. Like Bro John, HuiShi, etc they could play Beats before I even instruct them! Too bad that I have gotten so busy over the years that I really don’t have the time to do so anymore… 😦
Teaching drums also made my ground my basics! I started practicing all the rudiments that I haven’t practiced since the first lesson of drums.
Then, Leb started using the click track during worship. So I started using it too. It was tough I tell you. FREAKING TOUGH. I know the metronome should be my Wife, my lover and my beloved, but wow, just cannot Sia! It was difficult, because by now, I was already used to playing drums while singing and following my tempo. Sometimes when we do like stop starts, we would slow down a bit, then when we go to the chorus, we would speed up a bit. All these felt natural, but now, I have to follow a standard time and learn how not to speed up or slow down. It was really hard because it was unlearning what I learned.
Sometimes I feel that learning music is about learning, unlearning and relearning stuff. When you first start out playing, they would tell you to use your wrist only. Then when you get better and have better technique, they start to ask you to use your fingers. Then when you feel like your technique isn’t stable, go back to the wrist. It is all about going back and forth.
However, slowly slowly I was able to! With two exercises! The ghost click and the offset click exercises. Both very fun and rewarding click exercises that everyone should know!
Then, last year, I took grade exam, so I tried to ground all the 40 rudiments and work on score reading and details.
That led me to change my preparation for worship sets. I used to just listen and go to set to play. However, during this time, I have to start to let the probationees try out, so I honestly don’t have enough time. So what I did was that now, I will sit down and write down notes for the songs. So that the grooves I play will be accurate and not just by instinct! By instinct is good, but, it might not be the best! So yeah!
That practice actually made me very sensitive to the details! Like I started hearing lines of guitars that were supposed to be played or like how certain notes were supposed to be sung differently for a particular stanza.
Then now that I am doing sound, I also start to understand how frequencies work with each other. How we need to fill up all the frequencies to make it sound fuller. I began noticing when the mix was a bit muddy. I began understanding quite a few things. It was good!
I can now support the band a lot better than I ever could.
The idea of this cover was a simple realisation that I actually have enough right equipment! I really wanted to film a cover when I was younger, but I didn’t have the right equipment. Like even with my phone, I still lack a tripod or a holder so that I can film! Then the problem of the audio as well! Like I can use my phone and put it very far away to capture the audio without clipping, but then, how do I film myself?
Getting into photography was a good choice! 😀 I mean it is still probably my most expensive hobby, but I enjoy it so much and I can do this now!
The video on my camera was really good and the in-cam mic is awesome! The compressor works wonders! I mean I am hitting really rather loud, but the audio was still acceptable!
I wanted to do a Tenth Avenue North song, just because they are kinda like my favourite christian band right now. Oh yes, I do like them more than Switchfoot!
I think the most difficult thing about this cover was finding the right angle and lens. I wanted to use my Sigma 30mm, just because my ISO can be lower, but it was too tight. Hence, I went back to my kit lens. The composition was either too tight or the background was too ugly!
So yeah! I did some changes to the background! I overexposed the shot by 2 stops just so that I will be properly exposed, but I honestly didn’t expect that details in the highlights was so hard to recover. So yeah a mistake I didn’t expect! Something to note!
I did a few Creative improvisation. Like for the first part, the original had a triggered snare. I don’t have that, so I used the hats instead. Then I added some Toms to the verses just to add some flavour and my own playing into it! Recently, I have been doing the crash both one and two thing! Like I can get more dynamics and it sounds freaking cool! So yeah! Love that! The only fill I actually planned beforehand was the stop start fill! I actually like fills like this! Not too busy and perfect for the music! It’s when it isn’t busy that it is harder to be on time.
The rest of the fills were played on instinct. That is really what it means to play in a band. To practice a fill so often that it becomes second nature to you to use that fill.
The audio editing process was good too. Learning sound really benefitted me. I learned how to cut the right frequencies and not just blindly cutting!
Well, I am pretty happy with the reception so far! Not a lot, but it is good! 🙂 so yeah!
I really cannot believe so many people dunno who tenth avenue north is!
Thank God! May I always be humble and serving you Lord!