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Scheherazade – Fighting to keep the stories lost to dementia

Hola all.

Just returned from Singapore from family and world and all broadcast is just about re-assembled. (more about that in another post) Has it been another month already? Sometimes I feel like goblins are stealing time with a timey wimey device.
timey

New Single! Scheherazade

Scheherazade comes from 1001 Arabian nights. Actually she’s responsible for the 1001 Arabian nights having told all 1001 tales in the 1001 Arabian nights.

Scheherazade was a beautiful woman married off to a king. Now the king had a horrible habit of killing off a wife every night. The rationale for this was that the woman would remain faithful to him and wouldn’t have time to cheat on him . Talk about insecurities.

TL; DR, King was cheated on, now kills every new wife. 

The story goes that Scheherazade staves off her impending death by telling stories to her king every night and leaving it on a cliffhanger. Actually, she gets her sister, Dunyazabe to visit her every night and to ask her to tell a story every night (on the pretext that Scheherazade is dying the next day) Scheherazade then finishes the cliffhanger early and then set up another new story, ending it again  at dawn on a other cliffhanger — which then buys her one more day of life.

For all intents and purposes, Scheherazade is probably the founder of network TV’s series format as we know it. (1001 Arabian Nights was probably 40 Seasons and 6 movies.)

Long story short, the king falls in love with Scheherazade after a long 1001 nights as he realises that he has met his equal. That’s just probably his perspective.   This is the behaviour of an insecure baboon.

Scheherazade will spend the rest of her life sleeping with her almost murderer and outwitting said baboon at probably everything else.

My Scheherazade is actually me imagining a race of storytellers who manage to live forever because people remember their stories. They never die because they are never forgotten.

This twist… unlike a lot of other twists is a personal one. My Scheherazade reference is my maternal Grandmother (Ah Ma or Nan to some of you.) , who had passed many years before. I wrote it when she got sick with dementia and passed on, so consider this a very belated eulogy.

Ah Ma was a woman of many talents and one of which was storytelling. I think I fell in love with storytelling and the arts through her. According to mum, Ah Ma came up with my name.

Which pretty much dooms me to music or the arts. Yun(韻) means Music/ Rhythm. Yu (毓)is an old Chinese character which loosely means  “Mother of” or in  some context “Maker of beauty”. As you can guess, it’s hard to translate these things. (see footnote)

That’s Mother of Music to you peeps, or beautiful rhythms if you be feeling whimsical. These days Mother of Music feels like a much more comfortable title to wear

— hey, magnificent titles forcibly given at birth take awhile for me to grow into.  🙂

My Ah Ma = Bad Ass.

I loved my horror even as a child, and Ah Ma had a knack of putting freeze sticks through your spines, even in the eternal summers of Singapore. She had a particular gift of making my brothers and me say “Stop it Ah Ma! I’m not going to be able to sleep from this.” (阿嬷不要讲了,我今晚不用睡了啦!!)

I can tell you that this is quite the achievement because I became quite the jaded horror fan at a very young age. My parents never censored the media for me and I was babysat with old classics like “The Exorcist” and “The Shining” and that’s just the English movies. There’s the creepy old Malay Pontianak classics, or the thick compendium of movies adapted from Liao Zhai (Chinese horror anthology)

Sometimes Ah Ma would tell stories about the Japanese in World War 2, about the cruelty of the Japanese invaders to the Chinese nationals at that time, that was hard for her to speak of but she did at times and those were tales of true horror. Then she’d tell about her life playing semi pro in basketball teams. As I said, she was pretty formidable. She was a teacher, a linguist and a lyre bird for accents. She spoke and wrote functional English (quite rare for her time, unless you were Peranakan), a wide variety of Chinese dialects, then Malay. I remember my aunts telling me that her accents for each of these was pretty spot on, so they always thought she was one of them — so she was local wherever she went.

I think she collected many stories this way and she shared many tales of heros and heroines that continue to define my identity this day.

Ah Ma managed Grandad’s business, did the accounts, looked after the kids ( later gran kids) cooked the annual corporate dinners from home (which sometimes meant managing no less than an assortment of 40-60+ dishes and feeding up to just under 100 grown men at once — all from her kitchen and without formal training as a cook or a restaurant manager.

I remember her beating me at badminton in her late 70s (embarrassing) . I remember her kindness and then I remember her fierce intellect.

Sometimes I think if Ah Ma had been born in my parent’s time or after where opportunities were just a little more equal for women, and at a time where the economy more or less worked, she might have been quite the bad ass .

Above all,  I remembered her as the confidante and wonderful storyteller. She had a way of bringing you into the story worlds with nothing but the props of her voice. She was and will forever be, my Scheherazade.

Ah Ma suffered from dementia in her later years. It’s a cruel thing, for anyone to watch. For someone who was so self aware,  highly intellectual and defiantly independent I think her moments of lucidity were perhaps the most hard to bear for her and those who loved her. Most of all, I hated watching her lose bits of her memories and her stories. I hated that she had to wait so long for her end when there was no cure in sight.

In a sense, Scheherazade is a little bit of a personal fantasy epic.  In my fantasies every time I sing this song,  I could rescue her, just like her stories defined and rescued me. Ah Ma lives like the Scheherazades and she remembers everything again. That, maybe somewhere on other planes, she’s having adventures of her own and is well and whole. I’d like to think that because we remember her stories, she lives on, like we will, in stories.

So this is for the ones we love. Here’s to the storytellers. Past and present. Here’s to remembering the stories.

 

Buy the track here

Footnote:

 

1. For those who do not speak any Chinese , Chinese is a pitch based and picture based language (yeah we still run on hieroglyphics) . So spelling my name with phonetics is actually data corruption at the highest level.

So please don’t go telling peeps that anything with Yun = Music. Because YUN as a phonetic pronounciation without pitch and the original Chinese wording it could mean clouds (云), transport (运), (faint)晕 etc, there are a myriad of characters spelled “Yun” , introduce similar levels of complicated monstrocities for “YU”  — and that’s just the mandarin pronunciation.

I won’t lead you down the labyrinth of what it sounds like in the Southern Chinese languages which results in my name having a different phonetic spelling, which have more pitches, because that’s a little bit confusing and cruel 😀  )

Also…can’t talk about Ah Ma and have the blog post in only English so here it is in my mother tongue.

 

 

山魯佐德 (Scheherazade)

首先介紹《一千零一夜》.這是阿拉伯民間故事集,是以包運連環的方式開始的。山魯佐德是這《一千零一夜》故事的創作人,也是故事中的主角。相傳薩珊王朝國王因發現前任妻子不貞,將其殺之。此後,這國王每日便新娶一女,翌日便殺。當然,國王如此特殊的癖好也傳遍全國, 沒人敢嫁入這豪門。負責國王婚事的維齊爾也因此將招滅頂之災。他的女兒山魯佐德為了救父,自願嫁給國王。聰明的她每夜便用講述故事的方式吸引國王, 每當故事講到最精彩的時候,天也剛好亮了。

(我覺得山魯佐德應該是現代的連續劇“吊味”方式的創始者。)

國王吊了胃口,為了聽故事,也不忍殺,暫且容她不死, 命她故事隔夜再續。就這樣,山魯佐德講了一千零一夜,靠著故事延續性命。 日子久了,國王終於愛上了山魯佐德,免了她的死罪。 國王故事裡覺得和山魯佐德“合拍” “登對”這詞應該是國王的一面之辭吧,本人認為這位才女為了救父而終生糟蹋這堆又鈍又臭的牛屎上才是其中的真實故事。

我這首歌裡改編的山魯佐德 (Scheherazade)是一族用講述故事的方式得到永生的人, 她們都叫山魯佐德。她們的身軀很特殊,只要有人記得她們的故事,她們便可遠不病,不痛,不死。

我心目中的山魯佐德 (Scheherazade)是我外婆 (阿嬤)。她已病逝多年,這也算是非常遲來的追悼詞吧。

我記憶中阿嬤特別會講故事。文筆也非常好。據我媽說,我這名字是她取的。 YUN ”韻“是韻律的”韻, YU ”毓“是”鐘靈毓秀“ 的”毓“,”毓“本身有”孕育“ 的意思。 兩者加起來剛好有孕育音樂的意思。所以我好像沒的選-- 當上了音樂家也是命中注定的。

阿嬤的幽默感真的好別緻。

我小時特愛聽鬼故事(騙你的 -- 現在也特愛聽), 父母也沒限制我年幼不能看鬼片。後來鬼片看多了,膩了,膽子也大了, 很難嚇著。可是阿嬤講的鬼故事卻能讓我們不寒而栗,雞皮疙瘩。有時還嚇得我們姐弟四人自舉白旗,求她口下留人, 不讓她說下去。當然我們隨之也會挨到阿嬤的笑罵 ”要聽又要怕,今晚不睡我打的呀!!”

其實, 我覺得阿嬤講什麼故事都讲的绘声绘色。她常說起她在學校的一些零碎趣事, 以前還是灌籃高手, 得過獎的,她教過書。又通曉多種方言,又會馬來話, 也會英文。雖然通曉多語言的本領在東南亞見多不怪, 不過聽我阿姨們說,阿嬤不但話會講,口音也學的很像,去到哪裡都被當地人當成自己人。她人生經歷豐富故事也多。阿嬤也會偶爾講起日戰的生活,講起日本人當時對華人的殘暴,肆虐,我記憶中的那些故事,比任何恐怖片都可怕。我記得中學讀亞洲史的時候我最愛找阿嬤講當時的故事,因為她故事講了,我那厭人的歷史課本也就可以少看了。

( 其實我對歷史故事樂此不倦,不過本人覺得歷史課本往往無謂的詰屈聱牙,讓人看了頭痛欲裂-- 還好中學時有了一個非常好的歷史老師, 才沒對歷史課文從此反感)

我心中的阿嬤很是能幹。阿公的生意多事都由她親手經營。當時生意人家中請客是常事,一請便不下百人。我阿姨們常說阿嬤能一人煮上一個滿漢全席。一人煮百人菜,其中的管理技巧應是到了神乎其數的地步. 在我們比較男女平等的年代,她說不成是精英一個,只恨生不逢時,懷才而不遇。

阿嬤晚年得了老人癡呆症。對任何人來說,這是非常殘忍的病。阿嬤生前非常獨立,這病對她和他身邊的人是莫大的打擊。最可恨的是她以病魔糾纏了好久好久, 可悲的是目睹她最終把自己的故事也忘了。

山魯佐德 (Scheherazade)是我的個人幻想作品。 。我常有那麼一個空想,阿嬤和山魯佐德一樣,能在千千萬萬的故事里永遠長存,永遠健全。只要有人記得阿嬤的故事,那阿嬤的精神就永遠健在。阿嬤的故事畢竟影響了我的人生觀,讓我一生受益不淺。這首歌是為阿嬤而寫的。也順便獻給愛講故事的同道中人 -- 因為發人深省,提倡文化意識,激發奮鬥感的故事,往往就是一個人走在人生道路上的盞盞深海明燈。

Error 404 – This page/reality does not intend to exist.

So I did this awhile back. A silly little ditty to celebrate the fact that I SOMETIMES…can’t post links properly.

Or that you cannot type.

Error 404 — a celebration of Errors. Mine and/or yours.

You find it playing everytime you land on a dud link on my site.

So sometime this/last year I discovered I did like the idea of testing little musical possibilities in 45 minute bursts.

Enter the multi-genre, multi-lingual remixes of my error 404.  The self imposed rule means I have to write and record each song variant  in a 45 min block.

It’s a great way for me to flex my cross-genre muscles and break a single song format.

Is it a remix?

Is it a cover of my own stuff? Who knows?

My energies are best devoted to wondering about important things. Like…if blackholes like the taste of Goldfish…and when they come chomping I’ll know what to feed it.blackhole goldfish

I won’t tell you how many versions there are but every month I’ll feature a new version on here. (for all my/our entertainment). Also…bring a babelfish. It’s not all in English.

I will tell you, however, that error 404s have been used as a means to collect monsters.

According to the current lyrics, 404 looks like the chicken and tastes like the kraken. I’ll leave you to figure out if all versions report the same 404. 🙂 After all, 404 has many monster faces…and occupy many realities.

Screen Shot 2016-06-04 at 1.48.17 PM

I’ll feature some 404s in a bit. Meanwhile, go to yunyu.com.au/thispagedoesnotexist and hit REFRESH. 

404 has many musical faces.
I’m probably asking for it but break my website GENTLY and don’t bring on the apocalypse.

ps: in the event that you actually do…bring on the apocalypse. Feed it sushi….it most likely works

yunyu.com.au/thispagedoesnotexist

 

RED: How to use stories to destroy ANYONE.

 

Last month, at the release of Wanted: Storyteller, I covered how all stories are essentially propaganda. Now this is my theory on how it all works. (evil version)

How to destroy a woman through story.

You simply take her tale and pervert it. Write her weak. write her stupid.Say it enough, she will believe it. Once she believes, it is fact. She will teach it to others — like a virus.

How to destroy any culture through story.

Take a culture , make a stereotype, mock said stereotype. Write them weak. Write them stupid Instant skinning via story. Say it enough, and there are many who will believe. Once they believe, it is then a fact. They will teach it to others — like a virus.

Be a serial arsehole — How to destroy ANYONE through stories.

Abuse a class of people, invade a country or countries. Take everything they have. Tell stories where they are weak, Mock them. Make stereotypes, write them stupid, write them lazy. Say it enough, and there are many who will believe. Say it enough, the invaded will believe and will teach it to others….Like a virus.

My song Red is about the stealing of skins — the stealing of stories, the stealing of powers.

Red is Red Riding Hood.In case, like me, you have sometimes missed glaring pop culture stuff 😀

http://yunyu.bandcamp.com/track/red

The tale has its theoretical origins in China (Grandaunt tiger) , Africa (wolf and the kids) and various European regions. The popular version I refer to is about a girl who is sent off by her mother to run a little errand — deliver food to her ailing grandmother.

On the way she meets a genetically modified wolf that speaks human. She talks too much, now wolf knows her address and has beaten her to grandma’s house.

Wolf eats grandma. Bad bad wolf.

 

What happens next is interesting. Older versions suggest that rape happens. Red is told to climb naked into bed with wolf. Eventually, she outwits the wolf by pretending she needs the bathroom and ends up tying wolf to a tree (or filling its belly with stones). Leaving it to die.

Red rescues herself.

Something quite disturbing happens in the newer tales. Storytellers in Germany introduce a woodsman who comes in to kill the wolf. Woodsman has no backstory, he just appears. If I didn’t know any better I’d say he travelled by teleportation and was sent there by Robot Hitler from the future.

—if you are going to get ridiculous with storytelling with ZERO context, you might as well not be shy about it. Maybe we should include Rainbow crapping unicorns into the stories, or Godzilla. I like Godzilla.

So, just like that, Red got downgraded from self rescuing heroine to non playing character aka. Damsel in Distress. Other times, according to Charles Perrault, she simply dies from her wolf encounter.

All too easy to skin a story and pervert it no? The sad thing is that this damsel in distress version is the one more commonly told today.

 

The stealing of skins

In my obsessive read of fairytales, there is a recurring theme that happens in many tales — the stealing of skins.

The story usually goes like this, man finds woman frolicking in lake/sea, steals her magic robes which either give her the ability to fly (common in Chinese/ Russian/ Japanese folktales)or swim (see selkie )

Woman with no robe is left behind by her companions (usually sisters who fly or swim away). Man takes woman home. By all descriptions, she is raped. Stories told insist that she falls in love with her rapist. One day woman, who usually has had a few kids by then, finds skin, puts it on and escapes home to the skies or sea. It is said to be a sad love story when the woman leaves. Man pines for her forever.

Nevermind her opinion. Objects have no feelings.

The disturbing bit about the tales are that the stealing of the skin is a romantic gesture. The male is usually depicted as kind but lonely person. Woman, according to the storyteller, is happy to be a sex slave.

I have no words….except

Stories are powerful things. In this instance, rape is romanticised. The successful fight for freedom is regarded as a tragedy. Insisting that things are so only hides the wounds of a story, wounds fester in secret, we continue to feel what we feel. Now we feel too scared to share the wounds because no stories of self rescue tell us we can get ourselves out. No stories justify our rage. Women continue to be afraid to report rapes and violence and are ashamed, and shamed for it.

The stealing of skins, the stealing of powers that come with it, the stealing of stories.

You can extend this methodology to any culture the mainstream media wants to negate. Take any culture’s skin(story), pervert it, tell THEM what it is. Make them ashamed for trying to be strong. Make them ashamed for being them. Make them pay for trying to exert themselves. Make their rage foolish and trivial.

Negate them.

Take this methodology to any class of people you want to negate. The poor, the artists or dare I say…the scientists. Tell them to get off welfare, tell them to make immediately profitable inventions, art. Make them blame themselves. Make them attack each other. Twist their tales. Write them lazy, write them stupid. Blame them if they have nothing left to give. Make them ashamed to call the game unfair.

The wolves at our door have their goons and their dogs.

My Twisted Tale:

Today, at the release of RED I’m going to steal one back for us, the ones who bear the mark of the Twisted Tales.I will play their game and add a further mutation to Red Riding Hood’s tale.

What if Red was the wolf? What if it was the Woodsman that took her wolfskin and stopped her from accessing her powers? What if the Woodsman was the one that killed her grandmother who was also wolf.

More excitingly, What if Red found her wolfskin today?

I know what I’d do if I was her.

I’m not returning to the woods, the skies or the sea.

I’d be coming straight for the Woodsman’s JUGULAR, then I’d free up a few more wolf skins because I’m sure this serial arsehole has a collection.

h

Then I’ll write rainbow crapping unicorns into the story. Because RAINBOWS!!

 

Buy the RED single from TWISTED TALES here:

https://yunyu.bandcamp.com/track/red

https://yunyu.bandcamp.com/track/wanted-storyteller

RED has a teaser that lives here:

Next Single from Twisted Tales: RED

 

https://yunyu.bandcamp.com/track/red


Red is about the stealing of skins, the stealing of stories. In this Twisted Tale. Red Riding Hood avenges her grandmother who is also part wolf. The woodsman killed her grandmother and stole her wolf skin. He also stole Red’s wolf skin when she came to visit grandma.

Tonight she finds it. Tonight there will be blood.

If you had missed the little sneak peak..Shot/Directed/ Edited by the very talented Raj Muneshwar .It is here.

The lyric video if you want to sing along 🙂

If you missed the last release from Twisted Tales, Wanted: Storyteller, which features depression, madness, advertising and big pharma drugs. It’s here

https://yunyu.bandcamp.com/track/wanted-storyteller

Full moon night, Blood moon night. Next Single teaser.

Broadcasting from Twisted Tales – A teaser for the coming Single RED.

Directed and edited by: Raj Muneshwar
Music and Sound by yours truly.

https://youtu.be/nQw5JA_cOZQ

Till then
Your Royal Madness
Yunyu

Wanted: Storyteller

On this album reboot:- I picked Wanted: Storyteller.

DSC03191

This is an album about the perversion of fairytales after all, so this gives it an idea of what is coming. There are a lot of women in this album, then again, fairytales were once known as old wives tales, so that makes sense. Stories of wisdom and wit from mothers to daughters. There are men here too, just not so many. Maybe I just resonated with the female characters better. When the north winds visit my lair with the muses, the girls always told the loudest tales. So, like any good weaver of tales, many more of their stories get into my web. Storyteller is a good taster of things to come, but I’d like to warn that my album is sonically quite diverse and the tales are a little dark and slippery. Stick around if you are feeling brave.

Just expect no comfort.

I had a dream about all the fairytale characters having some kind of class action suit on the Storyteller for some really badly changed tales. Red Riding Hood went from rescuing herself in the earlier versions to getting rescued by a woodcutter with no backstory. It seems that even the damsels that don’t need rescuing are forcibly rescued. Then there’s the happily ever afters, that’s pissing every damsel off if they existed on some plane.

I remember always questioning happy ever afters. It always seemed like lazy storytelling. What happens with life? What happens when we close the books and the characters are allowed to go wondering on their own in the night and on our shelves (or in our devices?)

Then I remember the morals. I get fed a lot of folktales. Some morals I can understand, they tell little children not to go wandering about in the night, or the bogeyman or Hantu Tektek (it’s a big boobed Malay ghost with a portal in her nipples/boobs…very terrifying) takes you. I never got those about beauty and how it had anything to do with kindness.

Then I always wondered what happened to the ugly ones, or the beauties that get old. Do they always become the evil crones? Why do they always become the evil crones? My theory was that if you wanted to keep one gender stupid, it always made good sense to kill their stories and destroy the experienced, and the smart which invariably comes with age and a little wisdom. Keep those that do comply and the ones that don’t? Kill them, break them, burn them as witches, for those too hard to kill make them the Baba Yagas of a world that does not want them.

Which is always a little sad because any society that sets out to destroy and invalidate one aspect of their pool of knowledge will always invariably stunt some aspect of themselves. Maybe that’s why the world’s a little broken these days eh?

If we look under the hood a little, we must know that stories always functioned, in one form or another, as propoganda. This started with the Brothers Grimm, when they strolled Europe through collecting folktales and appropriating them as being uniquely German (not true). Charles Perrault took to inserting christian morals to propogate his Christian ideals. Does not take much to see that stories will mutate with these varied agends. See how you should never trust a storyteller?  (One should also extend this distrust to poets?)

Perhaps it’s easy to congratulate ourselves. We’ve come quite a way for gender equality, or have we? Female bodies are still open for comment and control (breastfeeding in public gives some people hives, abortion is frowned upon, women who choose not to breed are still invalidated), women still fight for equal wages, then there’s the notion of cutting into ourselves to fit beauty standards that simply cannot happen naturally.

We laugh at rib breaking corsets and toe mutating Chinese foot binding, but we haven’t progressed much if we are still subjecting ourselves to impossible perfections. If anything we have now graduated to slicing into ourselves and injecting poison into our faces. Yay progress.

Gender inequality is a knife that cuts into both genders. Part of telling women that they need to be rescued is that men are forced into standards just as unrealistic and stressful. The demands of strength and capability where men have to be protector on all aspects all the time would be hard to bear, and in a world where socio-economic developments are fast changing and not always for the better, it’s a hard gig for many males. Rising male suicides that correlate with rising unemployment rates corroborate with this observation. There is something very wrong twitching in the wires of our media landscapes and the stories we tell ourselves. The gender rules we have written for ourselves are choking all of us, and there are many silently dying or are fast becoming the living dead, living lives we never want for ourselves.

This song is pretty self explanatory and is a snapshot of the perverse standards  from a female centric standpoint. Maybe one day, we will get to kill the storyteller and name their words poison.

Till then, nothing wrong with a little dream about the storyteller getting skewered in my mind.

If you like it BUY a copy.. I’m hungry. FEED my delusions.

https://yunyu.bandcamp.com/track/wanted-storyteller

Next Single due on a FULL MOON. BECAUSE It has wolves.

Wolves are coming

Your Royal Madness
Yunyu

Twisted Tales. It lives again.

Dear Spiderlings,

It’s been awhile. Here is a continuation of Twisted Tales that has been a very long time coming because I had to go learn how to put it all together. I’m quite levelled up now. Here’s the first of the remaining tales. Coming to you monthly. Here’s the first: Wanted: Storyteller.

Headphones highly recommended and you can stream and purchase your copy here:

http://yunyu.bandcamp.com/track/wanted-storyteller

Still with me? OK, here’s my little plate of adventures of why things took so long.
In short, there were skills to be attained.

When I wrote Twisted Tales, I always knew it was going to be one tough teacher. I’ve learnt heaps from when I was just a girl with a keyboard. First, I wrote Twisted Tales that required one to sing in different styles from jazz to rock to cabaret. Talk about conceptualising more than you can chew. The next challenge came from the production of it. This was probably the hardest hurdle to cross.

I had to put a temporary stop to the creation of the album for a time as I had no idea on how to make it happen — which is one way to say that the album pretty much stalled, died, carked it in the neck. There’s the sophomore album curse, then there’s my curse. The musical training I had at that time pretty much limited many options for me, which made it hard to produce Twisted Tales in the way it demanded to be produced. It needed to be done by a producer who was familiar with a wide range of musical styles and was clued on enough to the stories in the tracks… with my ideas intact. So really in the end I am going to have to produce it, but I had no technical production knowledge of any kind even though said music is all in my head. So that presented quite the conundrum.

So I went off and did some learning. The first year after my last tour, there was me struggling to get my coffers back into the black. That wasn’t the most pleasant, but it was necessary. Then after I was done selling my soul in the day full time, which luckily did have some economic value, I made myself learn everything I could music wise. So that was that. I’m lucky I don’t sleep much and can do a Tyler Durden when I need to (Fight Club. Go read Fight Club). Then there was me throwing myself into the production end of things.

For someone who was basically quite content to deliver her tracks as the girl and keyboard format to the studio, that was all a little daunting at first. By the end of the year, I managed to cobble together a semi-acceptable music reel and sent it off to the very prestigious AFTRS (Australian Film Television and Radio School) to see if I could get myself a place there.

Why film school? When you think about it, I guess it makes sense. My music and lyrics were always described as a little scenic and filmic. Made sense to employ filmic techniques to the production rather than any kind of pop as we know it.

Lucky me, I got in and what followed was another year of intense learning. I learnt how to compose really fast. I learnt how to listen, how to get technical fast, then most importantly, how to deal with the fickly musical muses when you haven’t slept.

I was really lucky to be tutored by some really amazing teachers. Martin Armiger, Kirke Godfrey, Christopher Gordon and Geir Brillian to whom I am very grateful for. They were immensely kind to someone who could not read music and knew very little production wise. Then I had the pleasure of learning with some really amazing fellow composers as well so that all just butt kicked me into catching up somewhat whether I liked it or not.

If I had any advice at all for anyone wanting to get creative, get technical fast… or get locked in with your muses. I only wish I did this earlier. I love machines, so my old logic of staying away from production so that I could stay creative as a songwriter is now viewed by the new me as utter rubbish. You get technical so you can get free creatively. Or you can stay locked in with the muses and stay reliant on other people. Your art, your choice and I now choose technical prowess any day. In short, be bad ass.

A year after graduating, I got busy continuing to make film music for short films in Australia. You can see them here.

Then I got lucky getting work from Singapore and China too. I won a best score award for a short film, “Drover’s Boy” directed by the very talented Margaret McHugh at the International Samobor Film Music Festival. Pretty big year film wise, then I still miss my tunes. So I work on them at night.

I love working as a film composer… but I have a minor gripe. Until something I’m working on is released into the wild, I’m sworn to secrecy. Which…is a little bit unfun.

Twisted Tales is a relief. I can talk about it all I want now.

I’m going to release them once a month . So keep them ears peeled.

Thank you for being ever so patient, and thanks heaps to those who keep checking on me. I’m ok, I’m better now. Thanks for letting me get skilled up and hopefully a little more formidable than ever. No more musical locked in syndrome. I has become a one woman legion on the song making, sound design and production front and am allowing myself to feel a little bit bad ass.

There are more plans for more content afoot. Meanwhile a little twisted fairy tale once a month seems like a good place to start. Here it be Twisted Tales — the reboot! I present the first — Wanted: Storyteller.

Get your copy here: http://yunyu.bandcamp.com/track/wanted-storyteller

Till then,
Love

Yunyu

Drover’s Boy wins Best Score in International Samobor Film Music Festival

Oh my. I’m just gobsmacked on this one. http://www.isfmf.com/2015-isfmf-winners/

My score for Drover’s Boy (Directed by Margaret McHugh) wins the Crystal Pine Award for best score in the shorts category. Some very awesome composers whose music I have grown up with are in this list and I am just truly humbled.

Once again I would like to thank the immensely talented cast and crew for putting this beautiful film together. Margaret, thanks for being such a fun director to work with and letting me explore the aural landscapes.  Special mention goes to Ted Egan, whose song Drover’s Boy inspired the documentary. The score would not have come together without the help of my crazy good music team. Thank you again Geir Brillian for the wonderful mix and James Collins (who is a wonderful film composer as well) who played some very ethereal guitar on the documentary.

Also thanks to my lecturers at the Australian Film Television and Radio School Martin Armiger, Kirke Godfrey,Chris Gordon and Geir Brillian for their lessons and tips while I was crafting the piece.

Once more with feeling, I present the ending extract of Drover’s Boy.

Full List of winners and nominees below: Congrats to all.

CRYSTAL PINE, BEST ORIGINAL SCORE | FEATURE FILM

WINNER

  • UNDER THE SKIN – Mica Levi | UK

GRAND PRIX

  • BIRDMAN – Antonio Sanchez | USA

 

OTHER NOMINEES

  • 3:13 – Guillermo Guareschi | USA
  • RELATOS SALVAJES (Wild Tales) – Gustavo Santaolalla | Argentina
  • GRAND PIANO – Victor Reyes | Spain
  • OCULUS – The Newton Brothers | USA

 

CRYSTAL PINE, BEST ORIGINAL SCORE | DOCUMENTARY

WINNER

  • THE SALT OF THE EARTH – Laurent Petitgand | Brazil, France

 

OTHER NOMINEES

  • VIRUNGA – Patrick Jonsson | Congo, UK
  • FINDING VIVIAN MAIER – J. Ralph | USA

 

CRYSTAL PINE, BEST ORIGINAL SCORE | SHORT (live-action, animated, documentary)

WINNER

  • DROVER’S BOY – Yunyu Ong | Australia

GRAND PRIX

  • L’ART DES THANATIER (Monsieur Thanatier’s Artistry) – Olivier Calmel | France

 

OTHER NOMINEES

  • LE VENT DES REGRETS (Wind of Regrets) – Ivan Palomares | France
  • BUFFALO RISING – Olivier Militon | France
  • ESTEFAN – Alan Williams | USA
  • EL CAMINO – Ivan Capillas | Spain
  • TEDDYBEAR – Ros Gilman | Austria

 

SPECIAL CRYSTAL PINE, BEST ORIGINAL SCORE | FEATURE FILM

WINNER

  • INTERSTELLAR – Hans Zimmer

 

GRAND PRIX

  • THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL – Alexandre Desplat

OTHER NOMINEES

  • GODZILLA – Alexandre Desplat
  • NIGHTCRAWLER – James Newton Howard
  • GONE GIRL – Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross
  • CALVARY – Patrick Cassidy
  • PRIDE – Christopher Nightingale
  • HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 – John Powell
  • BIG HERO 6 – Henry Jackman
  • SONG OF THE SEA – Bruno Coulais
  • A MOST VIOLENT YEAR – Alex Ebert
  • VISITORS – Philip Glass

 

THE ARTISTIC BOARD

Richard King, Randy Thom, Mark Dornford-May, John P. Corigliano, Jaco van Dormael, Ozren K. Glaser

Drover’s Boy nominated for Best Original Score for Shorts in ISFMF

Woohoo! Proud to announce that the soundtrack I wrote for the short “Drover’s Boy” Directed by Margaret McHugh​ Received a nomination in the category Best Original Score for Shorts in the International Samobor Film Music Festival (ISFMF)​.

http://www.isfmf.com/2015-isfmf-nominations/

Listen to the soundtrack for Drover’s Boy here

https://soundcloud.com/yunyu/drovers-boy-soundtrack-ending-extract

drovers boy

Thanks to the very talented cast and crew of Drover’s Boy and Huge thanks to the music team

Brilliant mix by: Geir S Brillian​ and James Collins​ on some very out of this world guitar playing 🙂

Other nominations here:

 

CRYSTAL PINE, BEST ORIGINAL SCORE | FEATURE FILM

NOMINEES

  • 3:13 – Guillermo Guareschi | USA
  • RELATOS SALVAJES (Wild Tales) – Gustavo Santaolalla | Argentina
  • GRAND PIANO – Victor Reyes | Spain
  • UNDER THE SKIN – Mica Levi | UK
  • OCULUS – The Newton Brothers | USA
  • BIRDMAN – Antonio Sanchez | USA

 

CRYSTAL PINE, BEST ORIGINAL SCORE | DOCUMENTARY

NOMINEES

  • THE SALT OF THE EARTH – Laurent Petitgand | Brazil, France
  • VIRUNGA – Patrick Jonsson | Congo, UK
  • FINDING VIVIAN MAIER – J. Ralph | USA

 

CRYSTAL PINE, BEST ORIGINAL SCORE | SHORT (live-action, animated, documentary)

NOMINEES

  • LE VENT DES REGRETS (Wind of Regrets) – Ivan Palomares | France
  • BUFFALO RISING – Olivier Militon | France
  • ESTEFAN – Alan Williams | USA
  • EL CAMINO – Ivan Capillas | Spain
  • DROVER’S BOY – Yunyu Ong | Australia
  • L’ART DES THANATIER (Monsieur Thanatier’s Artistry) – Olivier Calmel | France
  • TEDDYBEAR – Ros Gilman | Austria

 

SPECIAL CRYSTAL PINE, BEST ORIGINAL SCORE | FEATURE FILM

NOMINEES

  • GODZILLA – Alexandre Desplat
  • THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL – Alexandre Desplat
  • NIGHTCRAWLER – James Newton Howard
  • INTERSTELLAR – Hans Zimmer
  • GONE GIRL – Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross
  • CALVARY – Patrick Cassidy
  • PRIDE – Christopher Nightingale
  • HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 – John Powell
  • BIG HERO 6 – Henry Jackman
  • SONG OF THE SEA – Bruno Coulais
  • A MOST VIOLENT YEAR – Alex Ebert
  • VISITORS – Philip Glass

 

 

 

Bled and Izola Film fest

After being shortlisted for the European Union Film award, the festival organiser, Tanja Hladnik of Izola Film Festival maintained contact and were keen to do a showcase featuring some of the music I did while at AFTRS. Woohoo!!

Given that I had gotten curious enough about Slovenia while applying for the award and the offer to so kindly showcase my work , I decided a trip was in order – which made for happiness and excitement all round.

I scheduled an arrival before the festival started because I had long heard of lake Bled, seemed like a nice enough detour to rest up and see the sights before I got onto the festival.

Getting there was probably the biggest challenge. 20+hours of flight time give way to many strange thoughts. By the time I land in Narita airport groggy and delirious for the 2nd leg of the neverending flight, I am wondering strange thoughts about Twin Paradox and why  A-list actors don’t build film sets in flying containers so that they age slower. And why cone of silences don’t yet exist for screeching flying toddlers who have managed to infiltrate every neuron of my brain.

Flights and non sleep can do strange things to the psyche.

It’s evening when I land at Ljubljana airport. I share a taxi to Bled with a kindly Canadian who is also visiting for the first time. This is a good thing because I can begin my day in Slovenia sleeping – a nice end to a nightmaringly long flight. The Sunset here is at 9.45, I’m in alien lands falling asleep to churchbells ringing in Bled. I have 3 days here.
Bled 

No jet lag. How is this possible?

Everything here being strange and beautiful could be a contributor of sorts.

Have spent the day by the main lakes and I’m mesmerised by the lake with trees still standing upright in the clear water. I can only describe it as an underwater forest where the birds are fish.
It’s relatively quiet by the lakes so there’s just a lot of thinking time — which is good, I can work on my presentation that I’m giving at the Isola film fest, only just, because everything here is distractingly beautiful.

I catch up through the day with EU film award winner, Director Malina Mackiewicz who has also arrived in Bled on an earlier flight.

IMG_0716

A walk round the neighbourhood yields a treasure trove of fairytale-like houses. I can’t stop taking pictures of houses.

In my talks with film contacts in Slovenia, I’ve been asked to try Kremsnita on more than 2 occasions. I’ve discovered it’s a cream coma inducing delicious cake .

 

Bled Castle is an easy uphill stroll compared to the usual hiking terrains of Sydney. Great visual paydirt, check out the views!

I bought a copy of Slovenian fairytales — because I collect tales like ghostbusters collect ghosts.

IMG_0740

Saw a beautiful lyre at the shops but apparently it was already sold and reserved ..bummer — am now on a mad hunt for said lyre.

I made 2 discoveries amongst many things. First, vodka costs $1.50AUD per cup on average. Very mood improving (if that was anymore possible). Secondly beaches in a Slovenian context are stone beaches as opposed to sand beaches. It’s very quaint. I like it. Lake Bled has such said beach.

I see fireflies up close for the first time in a long while on an evening walk up castle bled. I used to see them in Malaysia as a child, but this was a long time ago. Fireflies are the stuff of magic, I spend the evening nights in an endless game of catching and releasing them. I could do this forever.

firefly trails

firefly trails

Fireflies are rare and beautiful for me and I’ve read that they have mostly disappeared as development and light pollution affects their lights so there are lesser firefly larvae born each season.

So far I have recorded sounds of ducks, sparrows, churches, churchbells, more churchbells and people speaking Slovenian. It’s a different sonic world to Australia so my ears are perked at every turn.

 

Ljubljana

Leaving Lake Bled was hard. I keep going back to the lake to look at the forest in the lake where the birds are fishes.

It’s a 5 hour journey from Bled to Isola with a Ljubljana stopover. Great. I get to see a glimpse of the capital before trotting off to the festival.

DSC00462

My highlight was the puppet museum in the Ljubljana Castle.

I am enjoying the fact that so far Slovenia has no hustlers on the streets trying to sell me stuff, something I’ve come to expect from the visit of any touristy places I visit, this is a pleasant surprise.

More pics from the capital, which will have to be investigated on a return hopefully sometime in the near future…

Izola Festival begins!!

A 3.5hr coach ride and I reach Izola – This is a blissfully beautiful seaside town parked by the Adriatic sea. I’ve only ever seen towns like this in movies so I keep thinking I’m in a movie set.

I’m still weirded out by the fact sunset is at 9.30. It’s wonderful that I can see the sunset and moon rise in one panoramic view.

This is my moonrise timelapse shot

Sunset over venice (that land mass over in the horizon)

IMG_0789

I’m going for a morning swim tomorrow, not before getting my bearings on the festival.

DSC00629

The first day of the festival I find the office of Kino Otok film festival easy enough. (Right at the bus stop I landed in)

IMG_0792

 

I finally get to meet meet Tanja and the rest of the festival organisers. Isola is a comfortingly small place so I learn pretty quickly that people are happy to arrange meetings in the vicinity of a time, at a vicinity of a place because sooner or later we bump into each other which is a nice and relaxed concept of space and time that rather works. My screenings are tomorrow with a presentation to make the day after so all I have to do is to meet people and get lost in the beautiful buildings.

I’m loving this festival, there are so many interesting people who drop by.

One of my many highlights include meeting Miguel Machalski who is a screen consultant with an excellent breath of credits including Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby and David Cronenberg’s Spider. The singer-songwriter part of me is fascinated by the process of stories since I see the songs I make as 4 minute mini stories which invariably is what skilled storytellers thread together when telling longer stories. The discussion of music’s role in stories and whether music is written into scripts makes for long conversations. Interestingly Miguel is a trained musician so he tends to write with a screenwriting ear, quite akin to a musical ear. He believes that screenplays have an internal rhythm and harmony, not unlike a composition. I’ve had a similar conversation with a director and editor before where they both referred to rhythm in stories but it’s interesting to me that inherent rhythms in stories happen as early as script development. Maybe in the best of films, collaborators are all implicitly aware of this rhythm, kinda like quorum sensing together.

A chat with other film makers reveal that smaller film festivals are where the party is really at for creatives. Creatives sit and chat and share ideas at their leisure whereas the big festivals, though exciting, are intense networking sessions which leave no time for further connections.

The next day saw the showcase of my music in the films I worked on which was very kindly received. It was fun to be able to talk about the scoring process at a Q and A, given that I’m really quite new at the realms of film scoring, it is quite humbling.

DSC00634
The audience are mainly directors so I keep my presentation to how music could invoke a very primal kind of connection for audiences and contributes to the total immersive-ness of a story

I try and distill everything I learnt at AFTRS into a 30 minute presentation which is quite an impossibility – I hope I helped with some insight to some things – if only a tiny bit.

I enjoyed Milena’s presentation of her film making experiences as a director.

The rest of the days blur into meeting more exciting people including Toma Zidic who worked on the Croatia set of Game of Thrones (Great stories mate!) and soaks in the Adriatic sea. Apparently people in Slovenia find my paranoia about jellyfish killing me hilarious – they assure me that nothing (they know of) is in the sea and trying to kill me. I’m liking this sea more and more, the waters are so soothingly warm in the summer heat and the sun is gentle and does not fry.And fishes! There were so many fishes in the crystal clear, calm sea. What sort of wonderful parallel universe is this?

Other tales of interestingness from Slovenians include the fact that private cinemas are doing really well (more are opening up) as opposed to cineplexes. This is a welcomed opposite to Australia, and many other parts of the world, where cineplexes drown out the private cinemas.

I learn that Slovenia’s income inequality is one of the lowest in the world, and the unemployed have mostly free access to “cultural centres” including cinemas. What a novel idea. I wonder why economies with bigger GDPs cannot pull this off if the GDP was indeed an indication of the nation’s wealth — all this said while I read about Australia’s arts budget being slashed time and once more with feeling.

Then there’s the interesting stories that come out of the area. In an area where the borders keep changing there are amusing stories of houses that travel. One film maker’s grandmother had a house by the borderlands of Croatia and Serbia and in the space of recent decades, had found herself belonging to as much as 8 different countries while having the same geographic coordinates.

Then I’m enjoying the nightly screenings of the festival that either happen in the middle of the town (with a live orchestra!!) , or by the beautiful beach.


As I write this I recall that there is a Slovenian legend called the ‘Silent Girl’ in which a girl does not talk no matter how beautiful the countryside was. She finally sees a beautiful stone by the stream and is unable to resist commenting on its beauty. The stone shatters at her remark. She decides not to say how beautiful the field was as she imagines she would have destroyed the field as well.
This is rather how I feel about writing about a beautiful country like Slovenia. It is indeed Europe’s best kept secret where it’s small land mass boasts beautiful apline forests,exciting cities, beautiful Adriatic coasts and adorable seaside towns – and every selfish part of me wants it to stay undiscovered, beautiful and peaceful.

So if you do visit, keep it pretty, for I would really like to see it again.be returning for more.

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