Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Interview with Singapore Indie band, Pitch Feather (Part 1)

I've been following a Singapore Indie band, Pitch Feather, on SoundCloud and FaceBook soon after they made their presence known in the Internet in late 2012. You might have heard of them too, when their remix of the 2013 NDP song went viral and busted their soundcloud download limit.

A few weeks ago, I got in touch with them (their lead singer, specifically) on Twitter. They were game to do an email interview.

Pitch Feather - Cover
All Rights Reserved. Pitch Feather.

I looked around the Internet to see what I can find about the band. It was soon obvious to me the band had been busy experimenting and planting themselves online (some of the social sharing platforms were new to me).

Here's what I found: MySpace | SoundClick | SoundCloud | FreeMusicArchive | Undergroundmusic | Reverbnation | Twitter | BandCamp | HeartthrobProject | LastFM | Beat100 | Soft.com | BandSoup | YouTube

Get them a Wikipedia page to complete the list!

These earlier interviews have already covered their origins: 5minutemusic.com | Pandarocketship.com | SEAindie | moshinmag.sg. Rather than cover old ground, I thought to find out more of the personalities behind the band. I had more than 20 questions. Their lead singer, Alberta, was nice enough to answer almost all.

Here's Part 1:

[Rambling Librarian = RL]
[Pitch Feather = PF, answered by Alberta]


[RL] Let me state what I found from your Facebook Page and published interviews:
  • You are a 3-person band: Alberta, Chuan, Hongliang.
  • Pitch Feather was formed in Nov 2011.
  • “Pitch” represents your music while “Feather” symbolises freedom. Pitch Feather is the search of freedom through your musical journey.
  • In the 2000s, before you were Pitch Feather, you were a band that played covers and called yourself "The Eggheads".

Question: why The Eggheads?

[PF] That was ages ago and I can’t exactly recall why we chose that name then. But I do vaguely remember having a requirement of having “The” in the band name because we wanted a name in that vein – we loved bands like The Beatles, The Cardigans, The Eagles, The Smashing Pumpkins. It was cool. As for “Eggheads”, I think maybe we were trying to be comical. Haha!


[RL] Looking at past interviews, relatively little was mentioned about the band's origin, way back to The Eggheads. So how did the three of you meet? And how did you end up forming The Eggheads?

[PF] Chuan and I met about 7 years ago through a casual jam session with mutual friends. One day, the both of us decided to form a cover band for fun, so we pulled in our guitarist friend, Roy Soh (whom we also collaborated with for two of our current original tracks - “Usual Day” and “Lonely Ivory Tower") and Hongliang on drums, who was Chuan’s friend from their teenage school days. For a short period of time, Hongliang’s then and now girlfriend, Ccube, stood in as our keyboardist.


[RL] How the three of you got into the music scene back then, i.e. a band playing covers. Could you do a little reminiscing about the good old days?

[PF] We were not very active in playing gigs. We wouldn't consider ourselves to be deep in the local music scene, although we did perform at random events when opportunities came. They were mostly school organised events (Hongliang was from NTU’s hall band community, so he had quite a lot of lobangs).

I remember we had the chance to perform at The Army Half Marathon. Performing in front of marathon runners was quite refreshing.

The most memorial gig we had as The Eggheads was probably at Home Club -– the legendary Joe Ng invited us over. The main highlight of that gig was a closing Metal Medley we put together, and the crowd loved it. Sweet memories.


[RL] What's the musical background, including mixing and sound engineering, for Pitch Feather? Any formal musical training etc.?

[PF] I’m mainly a self taught singer-songwriter. I have close to zero formal music training. At 15 I bought myself an acoustic guitar and attended a brief beginner’s guitar course that only taught basic chords, instead of music theory and individual notes.

If you talk to me about music theory, I won’t be able to say very much, to be honest. I do think theory comes in very useful when communicating ideas with musicians, and I'm still learning by the day.

Regardless, I don’t think anyone needs to be a theory expert to write good songs. Most of my musical know-how comes from feeling and intuition, probably a result of me intently listening to and studying music albums that I like since young.

Chuan’s the main guy behind the mixing knobs. You can say he’s the most technical one among us. He didn't have much formal training in music too, but his hunger for knowledge is incredible. He reads about music theory and production techniques a lot, and I give him a lot of credit for making the songs come alive. Of course, the production is still a joint effort and we still contribute ideas and comments to the mix.

Pitch Feather - In the Studio
All Rights Reserved. Pitch Feather.


[RL] Chuan wrote about the motivations for your adaptation of the NDP 2013 theme song. I thought it was fantastic publicity for Pitch Feather. You were featured at NewNation, mentioned at blogs like this one, even maxing out your Soundcloud download limit. What do you recall of that little episode? Did you get a sense there was a jump in the number of new fans/ mailing list subscribers?

[PF] We were really excited to see an overwhelming response to our cover. And yeah, we did gain some new fans from it, which was encouraging.


[RL] Did the guys appoint you as the social media manager? :) Does Pitch Feather have a social media strategy of sorts? How has the experience been, managing so many accounts, responding to fans etc.

[PF] No, actually we each have our own roles to play. For example, I manage our Twitter and SoundCloud accounts and Facebook is managed mainly by Chuan. There are no strict boundaries, though. Each one of us is free to participate in any way we like – especially on Facebook where everyone has an account. We try to engage our follower/fans as much as we can.

[NOTE: RL - Pitch Feather is very prolific on the Internet and music social media sites, as far as I can tell. A Google keyword search for "Pitchfeather" showed like a ton of stuff about your band, I went as far as 40 search results listings and stopped there. Wouldn't be surprised if there were more.]


[RL] Your track, Jolly Old St Nick, seem to be your first Creative Commons licensed track (I blogged about it, here) Prior to this, you've had four All Rights Reserved tracks on your SoundCloud page. What's your approach/ thinking behind licensing your music online? Or specifically, would you adopt CC licenses as a way forward? Your thoughts?

[PF] I think CC licenses are great, and we’d try to adopt CC whenever we can. For our originals, right now we still consider them to be “in production”, and wouldn't really want people to make remixes or go spread them around.

In fact, even after the songs are fully mastered and finished with production, we’d have to consider carefully we want people freely download and share, so the songs from the album are probably going to be All Rights Reserved all the way. Regardless, we still like the CC licensing system, and would try to use it whenever we can.


[RL] Says here you're coding your own mailing list. Who's the IT geek/ coder in the band?

[PF] Chuan. He was formally schooled as a computer engineer. He has a Bachelor’s degree with good honours from NUS, and runs a digital technology/marketing firm (Tech Plus Art) with a few of his friends.


[RL] Chuan seems to be a "closet rocker". I just had to point it out, since I'm partial to guitars and guitarists. LOL. What's the gear that Chuan uses?

[PF] Chuan’s a metal head at heart! He brings a lot of metal influences into our music, and that’s also probably why we sometimes sound a bit different from normal “pop-rock”. You can hear a lot of minor keys and some “metal” chord voicings here and there. We’re a little bit like The Cardigans (my favourite band of all-time, by the way) – a pop band with a subtle metal twist. The guitarist is a metal head as well.

By the way, those guitars in the picturebelong to the incredible, awe-inspiring Daniel Sassoon, whom we recently collaborated with for one of our more complicated songs that is yet to be released.


[RL] I get a sense the three of you seem rather private. Even though you're prolific in social media, it's rather "business like", focusing on the music. Comments?

[PF] Yup, you’re right, we’re rather private people. We enjoy being in our own private space, and don’t really crave public attention. Some people like to show off what they ate, what they did or saw on social media, and that’s cool, but that’s not who we are.

We’re also mindful of the fact that irrelevant postings may put people off. For the random things in life, we have our own personal social media accounts.

For Pitch Feather, we want to concentrate on sharing our musical creations and the production process. It’s a musical journey and we want our followers to be on it with us as much as possible.


[Read Part 2, here]

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