E.S from Mistaken Identity
Interviewed by olibia
They have gone as far as to approach several recording studios at one time to have their music recorded, if you have not heard of them, hear them now. Here we have E.S from Mistaken Identity gracing the grounds of Pure Rock.
PR: What would you say defines the sound of Mistaken Identity?
E.S: Thatís rather tough for an opening question. Iíd say the main factors that contribute to the sound of any band professional or not, would definitely be its songwriters. Well in M.I, Timís really the rock kind of guitar player. Jonís a bit more Indie with his hook-in riffs, while I prefer to do ballads. In a sense these influences and styles from each individual member make M.I sound very alternative. So the guitar works really do play a big part. Yazif and Jarell have also contributed immensely with their views and their support in what we do.
Our latest single, Flashback, which will be released soon, was a collaboration with a quartet of really talented young singers, Soulz. Working with Soulz really helped us reach new branches of music that we would never really have thought of going into. This particular track has a lot of R & B and soul influence and yet it still sounds M.I due to the guitar sounds.
PR: How does the band realize that this is the 'M.I. sound', when writing new compositions?
E.S: Simple, the end results show.
PR: You guys have been around for a while now. How has the band evolved over time?
E.S: M.I was formed 2 years ago in mid 2003, if I remember correctly. Thatís not really a long time compared to the life spans of other bands that have been around for ages and still churning out music they want to make and releasing record after record (my utmost respect to them). But Iíd dare say weíve accomplished most of the goals weíve set out to do in that short period of time despite facing extremely anal obstacles such as a change in line up, which was never deliberate. Internal conflicts, literal fights happened and all that kind of rubbish.
I think the band is more organized now, a lot more focused on what we want and we do give each other that amount of mutual respect that we rarely did then.
PR: What are the intentions of M.I., being in existence as a band and as musicians?
E.S: Hmm when we just started out, I thought that every dream was bloody absurd, but one by one they started to come true. Everyone starts out with aspirations of having your own album and playing in your own concert with the audience screaming away. I think the band has already achieved our personal primary target which was to have people really enjoying our music and allowing our songs to fill their empty nights, although Jarell jokingly still admits that heís in this just to get the chicks.
I once stumbled upon this blog. It was a 17 year old boy who was going through a rather rough patch and he put up the lyrics to one of our songs, Forsaken on his site. It was kind of a nice feeling knowing that all our hard hasnít gone to waste and that it did touch listeners who had everyday problems, no matter how insignificant those worries may seem.
I remember were a few incidents where people came up to us asking for autographs on a small scale and strangers approached us in the places we would never have thought of (such as a street soccer court) and giving us their compliments. Humbly in my opinion, these experiences have been flattering and represent small forms of motivation for the band, but we just take it in our stride and go on doing our job. It was never about fame.
PR: While we're on that, where did M.I. get the inspirations from, for debut album Nicotine Induced?
E.S: We donít really have a fixed template on how the process goes. For example, the band recorded Self-Deceit or Sacrifice based purely on a riff Tim came up with. Then, when I heard it, I wrote the lyrics and vocal melodies based on what the song made me picture in my head. In a way the music made me say what it was trying to tell me. We also try to get inspired internally by feeling what one another has composed or brought in. Ultimately, itís a team effort.
Forsaken was written based on a heartbreak (how clichť isnít it), tears spilled and the words came out the chords came out in an instant. I played the song on an acoustic guitar for the band in the studios itself and we recorded it the very next day, impromptu. But we do get our inspiration not only from music but also from other forms of media such as movies, novels and even things we saw on the street. I guess the key was that; we wrote about the things that captured our attention.
PR: Are there any strong international/local influences that M.I. can relate to? If so, how?
E.S: Hmm we do get a few ideas from certain bands. After opening up, Iíve learned how to input a lot of interconnecting vocal melodies and every one else has definitely learnt a trick or 2 they could use when the need arises. However we donít really go all out to write a song in any particular way to sound like anyone we idolize.
PR: M.I. had picked to work with several recording studios at one time. Are there any reasons for that?
E.S: Who you work with does play a big part when it comes to recordings, I mean the songs weíve written and practiced for months on could always have been theoretically or musically wrong. And we decided that we really needed to meet more people who knew what they were doing, in order to learn from them.
Mistaken Identity recorded our EP at Home Studios, which concentrates mainly on Audio Post Production and not band recordings. Wayne Khin and Joshua Chua were incredible people who really imparted a lot of knowledge to us. There was once particular session where Jon brought down a small mini amp and covered it with a waste paper basket in an attempt to experiment. I mean there will definitely be failed ideas in the studio but ultimately itís the freedom that the engineers are willing to give band that matters.
Our producer Neil Lim, did a great job in our album. His input was invaluable and the amount of dedication he put in during those 2 months really gave us the drive to work hard knowing that someone who was not going to take the credit was putting in so much. Kevin Foo from Loft Studios was also a delight to work with when we recorded our drum tracks there. The help and the understanding of what we really wanted with our budget, that he gave us were really encouraging. Our latest single was recorded at Black Isle Studios, because we wanted to record in a new environment. Joshua and Sean really knew their stuff and the efficiency rate was sublime. I would suggest that bands record their albums in different studios because environment and the people work with will make difference in your music. Different chefs given the same ingredients and recipe will give you a different taste.
May I take this opportunity to thank them? I guess I just did.
PR: Where does M.I. think the limit to 'being sold out' is?
E.S: Honestly I still donít get that term. Certain people start labeling a band as sell-outs once theyíve broken into the commercial market. Well I think the music industry itself has its different scenes, be it commercial, underground, metal or indie. It all boils down to which scene the band would like to pursue. Correct me if Iím wrong but I think every band would love to have a fan base and see their CDs sell in which ever circle their in or at the very least be appreciated. Everyone adores admiration. Weíve met artistes that have made it and yet they are still eating humble pie.
PR: On music writing, do the recorded compositions leave the studios as that or does M.I. believe in constant improvement?
E.S: We do try to work with different arrangements for the live versions of our songs, so that they wonít sound dry. However the major changes or improvements are done before the song is recorded and during the recording sessions. I had to do like over a hundred takes for one of our songs, it was hell. But I guess itís more about trying to touch up on the songs rather then re-working on them on a whole. The moment the song leaves the studio; if it ainít broke we wonít fix it. However we try to ensure we get the best out of it before we release it.
PR: Last question for you, what is M.I.'s take on the local music scene?
E.S: Everyone has his or her different opinions and perceptions. Ours personally would be to say that the local scene isnít dead. Opportunities are opening up. Radio stations have started local music shows; band competitions with recording deals are being held more frequently and more gig organizers are popping up. I think everyone has to work hand in hand for this to work because the higher powers are realizing the potential and value of local bands.
I mean weíve got a population of 4 million people with a quarter of that consisting of youths. So I donít see the rationale behind why people think that there is no market. If a band here canít even break past 2000 copies, I donít think we should be considering about a foreign market. Itís really up to the bands to impress the labels to sign them, because if the musicís really good I donít see a reason why they wonít capitalize on it. A lot of credit must go to everyone such as the bands, the studios, jamming studios and people like the Pure Rock crew for working hard because Singapore music in any and every genre has made progress over the years.
Thanks for having me on this interview Olivia itís been my pleasure.
PR: Well, our utmost pleasure too.