volume 1: timeless
volume 1: timeless
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EDITOR & CREATIVE DIRECTOR joey low
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PURE is a specially curated fashion and lifestyle magazine that is published quarterly. Each 100-page issue is free from advertisements and offers an array of distinctive design aesthetics, journalism, features, and photography that aims to eschew excessiveness, simply focusing on what is truly the necessary in this world of over-consumption.
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The inaugural issue of PURE – Volume 1: Timeless – is finally out!
volume 1: timeless
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10 The Mnmlist
12 In Favour Of Minimum
22 Displaying Fragility 24 Travel Simple 26 Hey Hay 28 Declutter Your Wardrobe 32 Imperfect Beauty
36 The White Shirt
80 Sound of Modern Classics
40 Prints Please
82 An Art About Time
42 Barely There
86 Lush Greens
50 Water Your Soul
92 Hong Kong City
62 Maker In The Making
66 The Essentials
PURE [py-oo-r] adj. 01 not mixed or adulterated with any other substance or material. 02 without any extraneous and unnecessary elements. 03 free of any contamination.
More often than not, it is human nature to desire for more. Contentment seems to be achieved only through acquiring more things in life. We live in a world where ‘more’ is celebrated, while ‘less’ is neglected. But I beg to differ. I would like to think that true contentment is achieved through satisfaction with less. Stripping everything down to its simplest form; getting rid of anything that is redundant. To live more with less, is a lot more meaningful and valuable. This is what I strongly believe in; as such, I would like to introduce the birth of PURE, to advocate the embarcing of the beauty of less. PURE is a specially curated fashion and lifestyle magazine that is published quarterly. Each 100-page issue is free from advertisements and offers an array of distinctive design aesthetics, journalism, features, and photography that aims to eschew excessiveness, simply focusing on what is truly the necessary in this world of over-consumption. Our first ever issue – Volume 1: Timeless – might sound rather ambitious for an inaugural issue. We explore what simplicity means today and for the future, and how we live with it and embrace it. Readers can expect a variety of stories, ideas and interviews revolving around the idea of everlasting simplicity. With this, I welcome you to embark on the journey of PURE.
EDITOR joey low
THE MNMLIST w i s e w o r d s b y l e o b a b au ta from h i s va r i o u s b l o g s
Minimalism is a way to escape the excesses of the world around us — the excesses of consumerism, material possessions, clutter, having too much to do, too much debt, too many distractions, too much noise. But too little meaning. Minimalism is a way of eschewing the non-essential in order to focus on what’s truly important, what gives our lives meaning, what gives us joy and value.
concentrate on inner peace, on spirituality (if we wish), on our thinking. As a result, there is more happiness, peace, and joy, because we’ve made room for these things. Minimalist living is simply getting rid of things you do not use or need, leaving an uncluttered, simple environment and an uncluttered, simple life. It’s living without an obsession with material things or an obsession with doing everything and doing too much. It’s using simple tools, having a simple wardrobe, carrying little and living lightly.
The misconception about minimalism that it’s necessarily monk-like, empty, boring, sterile. Well, it is not at all. Well, it can be, if you go in that direction, but I don’t advocate that flavor of minimalism. Instead, we are clearing away all but the most essential things — to make room for that which gives us the most joy. Clear away the distractions so we can create something incredible. Clear away all the obligations so we can spend time with loved ones. Clear away the noise so we can
Minimalism is less stress, less expensive, less debt, less cleaning and maintaining. It’s more enjoyable. There’s more room for creating, for loved ones, for peace, for doing the things that give you joy. There’s more time for getting healthy. It’s more sustainable. It’s easier to organize. These are only the start.
photos courtesy of ivania c. & romeo p.
IN FAVOUR OF MINIMUM exploring meaning in minimalism
Minimalism is a lifestyle; it is much more just a visual aesthetic of everything clean and clear. For Dutch fashion and lifestyle blogger Ivania Carpio, minimalism permeates in all aspects of her lifestyle. She meticously documents and curates her blog at http://love-aesthetics.nl with her personal style, DIY, purchases, life, her beautiful home and her loving family through tasteful journalism and distinct photography shot by herself and her partner, Romeo P. who shares the same love for minimal aesthetics.
fairytale princess like, Ivania dresses her 7 years old daughter, Lois in a colourless palette and also made her a white leather blouse.
The 25 years old had always been in favour of minimalism and tend to steer away from clichés. 3 years ago, she did an experiment called “wearing the same dress everyday for one month,” she explores various interesting ways to wear the same basic dress every day in the span of a month. It was a response to the way she felt about the fashion blogging industry, where fashion bloggers often encourage consumerism and materialism in which she aims to avert.
Ivania is always dressed in monochrome hues. Navy blue would likely be the most colour she would wear. She believes in investing versatile pieces that she can wear often and would lasts for a long time. As ironic as it may seem, most of the things she owns are white, she realises how few connotations white contains as compared to other colours. “By not adding any color or print all attention is directed to the technical details and fit, that is what interests me most in fashion,” says Ivania. She creates depth in her quasi-boring monochromatic outfits with just a few basic accessories or none at all, purely playing with the textures and materials of her clothings. To conquer stains that are prone on white, she uses bleach, leather care or even scissors – by snipping away stained areas to recreate a ‘new’ piece of clothing.
She eschews the stereotypical image of how young girls look. While a young girl typically dresses in pink with riboons and frills; very
Besides blogging, Ivania is a journalist and an avid DIY craftmaker (the boxy top in the first page is one out of her many handmade
creations). She makes a variety of crafts ranging from upcycling old pieces, creating garments, jewelleries, clutch bags, stationeries, home displays and even furnitures like clothing racks and work desks. Each piece is unique and they are beautifully documented on the blog. DIY is a personalised creative avenue that provides her the freedom to create something that is not found in stores, that is of a suitable fit and with her preferred details, which more importantly also allows functionality, an attribute she soughts because it gives meanings to the things. On that note about meanings, Ivania has two prominent tattoos; a black rectangle behind her right leg as well as a thin line on her right arm, both tattoos holds meanings close to her heart. She chose simple design elements (a rectangle and a line) to represent her perspective, her tattoos are certainly more than a mere aesthetic sake. She describes the latter as, â€œIt is about staying focused, staying on your path that aims to your goals and dreams. The line is almost never 100% straight because my arm is always in movement, and so is life. There are curves and bends but the line is always there and can always go back to its original straight form.â€? As simple and fuss free just like her dress style, Ivaniaâ€™s home studio is simple but beautifully designed as a white studio; filled with multiple layers of white on white and a variation of clear objects; from chairs, glass containers, lamps and side table. Living with less, she even recycles and reuses objects, such as stacking shoeboxes from shoe purchases she made as her bedside table. The interior of her house keeps everything uncluttered, thus providing sufficient space for her family and herself to live in comfortably, especially suitable for a DIY maker like her. It always evokes a sense of softness and cosiness. Her consistent minimalist lifestyle and aesthetics have undoubtedly made her blog so distinct amongst the array of blogs across the Internet. It is truly inspiring and always so fresh to peruse.
OATMEAL staple food for all ages
Humans have been consuming grains as food, such as oatmeal. It is generally considered as a nutritious staple food; people of all ages, toddlers, adults and elderlys eat them for its numerous health benefits. It is reportedly first found in Egypt, some time around 2000 B.C., but it is more evidently found in the caves of Switzerland, believed to be discovered during the Bronze Age, that is thousands of years ago. Oatmeals originally came from Avena Sativa which is a species of grain grown from its seed. Oats are best adapted and grown in geographically temperate region, one where there is lower summer heat and a greater tolerance of rain. Thus Russia, Canada, the United States, Finland and Poland are the worldâ€™s leading oat producing countries as these places are have cool and moist climate through the year. To produce rolled oats that we often eat, it takes a rather long process. First, like many other grains, it is harvested when ripe. The oats has will then brought to be de-husked through a significant impact, get it heated and then cooled to stabilise the oat groats, which is actually the seed inside the husk. Next, it is milled under heavy rollers to produce these fine, medium or coarse oatmeal. A daily consumption of oatmeal can help to lower blood cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart diseases when consumed with a consistent low-fat diet, this is because oats contain soluble fibre and beta-glucan. There is also a high content of complex carbohydrates that encourage slow digestion and it stabilises humanâ€™s blood glucose level. Although oats are commonly used to feed livestocks, it is equally popular as human staples. It is commonly consumed as breakfast in Western culture and there are many ways to prepare it, simply. Truly, the discovery of oatmeal have allowed for a wider appreciation to enjoy healthier staple food.
Try oatmeal cooked melt in hot water, stirred evenly with condensed milk. Add in sliced fruits or berries to include fibre in your meal, or even sprinkle cinnamon powder over the
oats. Alternatively, you can bake your own bread, cookie or muffin with oatmeal (recipes are readily available online).
the clarity and ephemerality of glass
Archaeologists gathered evidence and suggested that the first true glass was made in coastal North Syria, Mesopotamia or Ancient Egypt. From the First Century BC, glass blowing became one of the most common way to make glass containers. At that time, glass that was made was highly coloured due to the impurities from raw material, until the First Century AD, colourless glass was then produced. Particularly, the Venetians are known for their technical and artistic skill in glassmaking, a significant number of Venetians glass craftsmen moved throughout Europe to set up a career in their glass craft. Glass then were highly decorated with intricate motifs, used both as a cup, display and even made into an art piece. Modern glass making today are simpler and also practial, despite its fragility and ephemerality. Simple designed glass becomes a good home or office display and storage â€“ from flowers, stationeries, coins, collection of small items or as an accessories holder â€“ what is stored in it could be easily seen right away. The collection of glass displays does not have to be bought intentionally, it could be reused from a drinks glass bottle.
TRAVEL SIMPLE basic essentials checklist for fuss-free travel packing
For someone who is passionate about dressing up when travelling, we would often encounter a packing dilemma due to a limited baggage weight. Everything probably seems necessary and worthy of getting a place in your baggage, but we can avoid these unnecessary stress in packing without having to miss anything out. Conquering the travel fuss can be a fun process, but it also takes a measure of discipline. First of all, last minute packing are not encouraged. It does not allow time to think through what are the â€˜needsâ€™ to bring, and you would be likely to throw in whatever you think you need. Unless you are a frequent traveller, it would be difficult to know what you need off your fingertips. Secondly, make a checklist. Most people tend to skip this step, but it is really helpful. As you list out the basic essentials check list, you would see how much easier packing would 24
be and it is organised, so you can prevent having certain thoughts slipping off your mind. A list of true necessities (here the word ‘true’ is emphasised as it often gets forgotten in midst of packing, when everything suddenly seems important enough to be packed in) such as clothes that you know you can easily pair with other garments. Your packing list should also include basic necessities like toiletries, phone chargers, etc, but it still needs to be carefully thought through. In this feature, we compiled a visual list of basic travel essentials (from left to right: wearing, toiletries, other necessities, in the bag). There are no hard and fast rules to packing: it depends on where you are travelling to, the purpose and duration of your trip. So, work with these factors. Fashion designer and frequent traveller Diane Von Furstenberg says, “If you pack lightly, you live lightly. If you can figure out your suitcase, its pretty much you can figure out your life.”
HEY HAY simplicity with a modern twist
Back in the 1950s and 60s, the Danish adopted a mass manufactured process in creating functionable furnitures while upholding the value of craftsmanship. In response to preserve this vision, Rolf Hay and his Mrs started their own furniture company named HAY in 2002. Their mission statement for HAY had since been about giving honour to the Danish furniture production on how it first started and at the same time, adding a modern twist to each designs. Industrial mass production of the era then had allowed furnitures to be made pocket friendly to all, and HAY aims to offer quality products to regular people in an accessible and affordable means as well. “We want people to buy things that they can keep, treasure for many years and will not throw away,” says Rolf. The brand has consistently achieved their vision over the 12 years since its creation, it has been everchanging, surprising and not perfectly symmetrical – he simply describes that “something have to ‘stick out’.” The brand celebrates uncomplicted design and strives to stay straightforward and functional. In doing so, the designers of HAY embrace space, new technology, and society and understands the grounds for modernity. Their inspirations come mainly from bridging the static and dynamic nature of architecture and fashion respectively. Like their forefathers, HAY is a modernist and industralist brand, except that today they are equipped with technological advancement in order to better improve their designs. Rolf shared that “a lot of designers today are too focused on making timeless pieces, but we think that the only way to be timeless is to make something typical of our time innovative and groundbreaking. Becoming too technical is not something we fear. We find that technological knowledge and product development are essential.”
photos courtesy of hay
DECLUTTER YOUR WARDROBE steps to reducing in achieving more
Dressing up can be quite a hassle especially on hurried mornings when you have to rummage through an overwhelming wardrobe. Remember the excessive wardrobe scenes in Sex and the City or Confessions of a Shopaholic? Maintaining such an immense wardrobe can be rather intimidating. It is not about having a neat but immense wardrobe, instead having a neat, small and timeless wardrobe. Think about it: When more clothes enter your wardrobe on a frequent basis but barely any leave, you are bound to face an overflowing pile of clothes. Do you really need that much clothes? On the other hand, having a small but versatile and statement-making collection of clothes is definitely sufficient to get you out of the house without fuss and still look sophisticated. While this feature focuses mainly on decluttering your wardrobe, it can also be applied to the clutter you might have accumulated in your home or office over the years. Before you begin, it is important to understand your personal style. Look at your wardrobe with this mindset – keep only what you need and not every single item that you think is “nice”. Not everything nice will suits you. List down some of the essentials of your style and be strict about it. After which, get three unwanted boxes or huge plastic bags, separate your clothes into three piles, and name them ‘Active’, ‘Extinct’ and ‘Dormant’. This process might take a few days, but perservere and be disciplined. You will be on your way to achieve a fuss free and uncluttered wardrobe. In addition, on your future shopping trips, be clear about what you truly need in accordance to your personal style, and in the long run, you would find yourself saving a lot more money instead of spending them on unnecessary pieces.
active Clothes that are essentials, suits your style and you are sure to wear them often, this pile inclues basics and lingeries, which are necessities. It is good to invest in versatile pieces that never go wrong, such as a sleek black dress and a pair of trusty and lasting jeans. They should not be trend based but timeless yet they look current. In the long run, you will also find yourself saving a lot more money than spending them on unnecessary pieces.
extinct Pieces you have neglected for more than 6 months, and will most likely not be wearing anymore. Be firm about it, do not leave any reluctant feelings lingering on this pile. You can choose to sell or donate them, instead of thrashing them away, at least you know these still good in condition pieces are better off in the wardrobe of someone else. Another way to get back some cash and do some good deeds.
dormant Those that are unique, vintage, but slightly off in fit. However, they are not frequently worn but are still worth the keep, so these goes into the dormant pile. However, do take time again after 6 months since you packed it as it will need to be reviewed again. By the next review, decide thoroughly if it would now go into the active or extinct pile.
IMPERFECT BEAUTY do-it-yourself spray on print
We love creating practical things and there is always a sense of accomplishment after every successful DIYs. There were unfortunately a handful of failed attempts, but for this DIY, its imperfection will turn out to be a raw beauty. We wanted to recreate something new from an existing item and decided on spray painting white utensils. This mini makeover took just 2 steps completed within 15 minutes. Please do this in an open and airy space, you do not want to choke on the fumes. Excited? See the facing page on how you can recreate your utensils too.
You will need: cups to be sprayed on, masking tape, spray paint suitable for the cupsâ€™ material in the colour of your choice, we used matte black. Also, prepare a large piece of paper to prevent dirtying the surface you work on.
Tape the areas where you do not want paint to get on during the spraying with masking tape. For hygiene purposes, we taped the top so that no paint gets there.
Flip the cup upside-down and then spray from afar at a higher angle so that the base of the cup, now at the top, will be darker. Spray it a few times to create layer.
When you are done spraying, leave the cup to dry. Once it is dried, the black will turn from glossy to matte effect. Remember to wash the utensils before using them.
THE WHITE SHIRT
once a classic, always a classic
The classic white shirt is arguably the most timeless and liberating piece of garment. Young or old, male or female, Victoria Beckham or an average man on the street – the white shirt is endlessly versatile. It is said that the oldest white shirt in history was found in Tarken, in a First Dynasty Egyptian tomb dating back to 3000 BC. Archaeologists said that the shirt was made in linen and had pleated sleeves and a fringed neck. In the sartorial context, modern white shirts originated from bespoke menswear, and has now evolved into a womenswear must-have. In the past several decades, fashion designers have reinterpreted this basic garment into various cuts in traditional, classic, and futuristic styles. The white shirt is a blank canvas that is subtly embellished with multiple details: collar, buttons, cuffs, sleeves, pocket, symmetrical opening, a range of fabrics and materials, textures, folds, creases and even stains. Its personality and story are revealed through the wearer overtime. It does not connote any social class, culture or era and is not time- or trend- specific. A perfect uniform and your go-to garment any day – interviews, presentations, performances, formal occasions, picnics, 9-5 workdays in the office, days off, weekend brunches, beach outings, vacations, and across all seasons. Regardless of where or when you wear a white shirt, there are countless ways of wearing it and indeed, when in doubt: throw on a white shirt. You’re good to go.
PRINTS PLEASE minimalist prints and textures
“minimalism is not about abandoning pattern or print. i see minimalism to be a philosophy that involves an overall sense of balance, knowing when to take away, subtract. it’s an indulgence in superbly executed cut, quiet plays of color tones, and clean, strong shapes.” calvin klein
There seems to be a misconception that prints should not be allowed in minimalist fashion. On the contrary, prints can be equally celebrated alongside the cleanness of minimalism, to a certain extent. The master of simplicity, fashion designer Calvin Klein believes that minimalism in fashion is a play of balance, knowing when to add on, and when to subtract. When it comes to prints, one should avoid wearing the kind that are ‘in-your-face’, screaming for attention. The key to it is subtlety. Prints tend to come and go along with the fast changing fashion trends, and these trends seem to make life a lot more complex. A subtle dose of prints could be versatile and it creates an added layer of texture into your outfit. Here’s a selection of our choice of prints; shape, size, colours, and placement are factors to keep in mind when selecting your print.
BARELY THERE photo collection: a subtle statement
Rings MAISON MARTIN MARGIELA
THIS PAGE Bangles ACNE STUDIOS OPPOSITIE PAGE Bangle HARDWARE STORE
THIS PAGE Ring HARDWARE STORE OPPOSITIE PAGE Bangle COS
WATER YOUR SOUL
the clearest, simplest, easiest form of liquid to consume
With a vast variety of drinks available to us everywhere, what kind of liquid do you choose to consume? Pure water is arguably the best option in my honest opinion. It is available everywhere, and costs a penny for it, but yet many times people choose spend several bucks on bubble tea or sugared drinks that causes harm to our bodies if consumed frequently. Unlike water, the more you consume, the more it cleanses your body. It is available everywhere â€“ your home, grocery and convenience stores, water dispensers, cafes and restaurants, and is sometimes even free. Some drink directly from the tap, or boil it then let it cool. You may also choose to throw in some sliced lemon or cucumber into your water that also helps to cleanse your body, or fresh fruit juice, which provides vitamins. Personally, it is inevitable to have moments where you will feel tempted to grab a cup of bubble tea or a canned drink, especially so on a hot day. If you rarely consume water, we suggest to start by getting a simple water bottle, remember to bring it out daily and aim to drink a litre a day at least. You will soon get this healthy habit kicking daily.
PHOTOGRAPHY joey l. STYLING gabby g. & lesley c. HAIR & MAKEUP wendy o. MODELS charles p. & r. ga hee
PREVIOUS PAGE Sweater COS Pants ZARA Hair Clasp ACNE STUDIOS Heels ZARA OPPOSITE PAGE Sweater CALVIN KLEIN Jeans ZARA THIS PAGE T-Shirt COS Jeans ZARA Blazer CALVIN KLEIN
Sweater & Choker COS
Dress ZARA Clutch & OTHER STORIES Bangle ACNE STUDIOS Brogues TOPSHOP
THIS PAGE Sweater CALVIN KLEIN Pants COS OPPOSITIE PAGE Shirtdress FEIST Skirt ACNE STUDIOS Choker COS Heels ZARA
MAKER IN THE MAKING
a simple message, a series of bags In the age of fast fashion and mass manufacturing, products are made so quickly in bountiful amount, the story of the product or even the person who made it hardly crosses our minds. We met up with Tiffany Loy, an independent Singaporean maker, over at her small and cosy workspace where she spends most of her time. Making things has always been part of her personality since a child. Being a formerly trained industrial designer, she likes to experiment with various materials and recently, she is drawn to softer materials like textiles. Amongst her projects, Parasolbags is one that has evolved from a personal item into a small online business, which she sees as an industrial project rather than crafts. This series of bags is more than just its design aesthetics; it is practical and would stand the test of time. It was a pleasure to have a chat with Tiffany, and also watch her draft and sew new tote bags for her customers in her lovely studio.
How would you describe Parasolbags? It is quite spontaneous and resourceful. As the parasol fabric I use are left over material from factories, I learn to appreciate and accept whatever that comes to me. Every bag will turn out differently although they look pretty much the same. Share with us the process of making a Parasolbag. I get a lot of off cut fabrics from factories that comes in triangles which are all in a mess, of different sizes and colours. After getting the fabrics which would be in a mess of different sizes and colours. Secondly, I sort them out according to its colours. After having enough orders, I will then pick out the colours and see how the fabric can be patched together, and then just cut and sew. The process is fairly logical and straight forward. What is so special about Parasolbags? If you consider a tote without the diagonal line that Parasolbags has, it just looks like a normal tote bag, but with the line, it gives the bag more character but yet it is not ornamental. The line is there for a reason, because of the way these off-cut fabric are in triangle form when I received them, since they are left over from factories. Also, the entire bag is strictly made with the same parasol material including the handles and draw strings for bucket bags which gives a very homogenous feeling, even though I could have purchase readily available straps. The material gets very seasoned overtime, so it gives the bags a structure and does not affect the drape of the bag. So, parasolbags is a design with practicality and has a story and reason behind it.
Some of your works seem to cross over to the field of art. Would you see your works as more of an art or design? I would still see myself more of a designer than an artist. Art is a lot more personal, it is always about the artist’s view or personal background but design is more for someone else. A designer would try to see the benefit of the object in the shoes of the user and that is how I think as I create my works. Having made so many bags on your own, do you encounter failed attempts in the process of making? Plenty! And that is why it is important to plan first. Which is your favourite product you’ve made by far? I don’t think I have made enough things to have a favourite, but I would say what I spent the most time on would be the embossed textiles machine that was designed by me, in collaboration with National University of Singapore. How would you see yourself in the long run? I’ll be old! I don’t know…I cannot even see myself next year. Because a year ago, I would have never imagined myself doing Parasolbags that has been around for almost a year and the other projects I have done. I do not have any solid plans. I try not to think about myself too far away because things are always changing, and I am quite a spontaneous person, so if I chance upon better things along the way, meeting someone who I can see possible collaborations and projects to work on, I will go for it. In the future, even if I am not designing for a living, I would still see myself make things, it is infused into my lifestyle.
i try to keep the message very simple. for parasolbags, the message is simply “i’m using off-cuts”. tiffany loy
editorâ€™s picks: 10 sartorial needs
In pursuit of a building a wardrobe filled with essentials â€“ a no nonsense, versatile and timeless collection, I have specially picked out ten sartorial essentials that would last the test of fleeting trends. Essentials do not only include basic t-shirts and intimate wear, but in my definition, it means a small collection of items that would fulfil these three factors: 01 One can keep wearing the same piece without feeling obsolete. 02 Numerous ways to match the pieces. 03 Seen as an investment purchase, but will save you money in the long run as the need to buy more clothes depreciates.
SOUND OF MODERN CLASSICS
Art and Music are so intrinsically linked. Having existed from an early age, it has evolved tremendously over the history; from classical tunes to loud catchy beats of the current ‘popular’ music. All in all, music expresses and reflects one’s mood, sometimes so deep it can touch a listener’s heart. Today, Western, Chinese and Korean pop music seem to dominate the international music billboard charts and more artistes are hopping on this bandwagon, sometimes for its drama and fame. In midst of this complicated and overwhelming industry, music seem to come and go. We spoke to Darren Ng, composer and musician of his brainchild, sonicbrat, with regards to his music – one that is calmer, quieter and minimal, which stands out from the complex and jarring music industry which often come and go, Darren’s music is much more expressive and everlasting. What does sonicbrat mean? It doesn’t really mean anything. Perhaps it can mean anything to anyone, or nothing at all.
When did you start playing the classical piano? How do you feel about the piano compared to other instruments which you’re also able to play? I started learning the piano classically at 4 years old and finished it when I was 17. The piano is something close to me, something I grew up with and grew to love (and hate at times) but it has a personal relationship with me, like an old friend. It is akin to someone you know all your life, yet he or she remains very much a mystery. The other instruments are as beautifully haunting. The alienation I feel when I pick them up (like violin, cello, guitar, etc) can be overwhelming but at the same time alluring. They are new friends you meet along the way. You’ve been a pianist for almost your whole life, and now a musician and composer with many years of experience in the industry, how has your personality and identity influenced your music? I think very much so and I suppose more of the former than the latter. Personality that expresses through music
photos courtesy of kitchen . label
or any art forms over time will translate into identity. I do not think I do it consciously, but personality informs preferences and methods, which in turn formulates vocabularies in expressions. I do prefer simplicity and sincerity in life, and this has informed my preference in expressing in quieter ways. I enjoy the gaps and pauses in life and often indulges in the form and core of things, or the emptiness of it – the understated, the subliminal and the negative space. I think all these parts of my personality inform my way of making music or sounds, but never a conscious effort.
Was “Stranger to my room” intentionally recorded at home in tandem with the album’s concept? That album was intentionally recorded at home because it came from a simple thought or feeling – the alienation I felt at home, this home that I have been living alone for 10 years. I feel the need to address this space that I have co-relation with as a body. How I am both familiar and estranged from it. This dichotomy extends itself through my senses. I recorded in different parts of the space I live in. The way sounds travelled and resonated, the imperfections are all part of it, part of me. However, I have always recorded at home. All my works, from albums to sound design and music for theatre, are all done at home. So the “intention” really is not the focus here but rather how things are and ‘be’; how they naturally came about.
Name a few that have influenced your music. Many giants in art have influenced my music and lifestyle in general. From writers like Haruki Murakami, Milan Kundera, Italo Calvino, Alan Lightman to artists and virtuosos like Amy Stacey Curtis, John Cage, Pierre Schaeffer, Nils Frahms and so on, there are just too many to list. With that being said, I do not see a music style as a choice or an end in itself, but one that is ever evolving through time and space, drawing perspective to and from one's life.
What do you think of Singapore’s music industry? I think the scene is more encouraging for the younger generation compared to our times – when doing music was deemed a waste of time and life. What projects are you up to lately? I am currently working on some sound installations and my usual sound design and music composition works for theatre productions throughout the year. I am also working on my next album “Murmurations”.
Where do you search for inspirations and how do you translate these inspirations into musical form? I do not ‘search for’ inspirations. It is in fact the other way around, inspirations find me. So it is chance and anything can inspire and speak to me. The translation comes naturally. If there is a need to ‘translate’ consciously with much effort, then it is better to drop the idea and let it go.
Describe yourself and sonicbrat in 10 years time. Older, slower, wiser, lesser.
AN ART ABOUT TIME the silent, emotive capture
“water and air. so very commonplace are these substances, they hardly attract attention – and yet they vouchsafe our very existence. the beginnings of life are shrouded in myth: let there water and air. living phenomena spontaneously generated from water and air in the presence of light, though that could just as easily suggest random coincidence as a deity. let’s just say that there happened to be a planet with water and air in our solar system, and moreover at precisely the right distance from the sun for the temperatures required to coax forth life. while hardly inconceivable that at least one such planet should exist in the vast reaches of universe, we search in vain for another similar example. mystery of mysteries, water and air are right there before us in the sea. every time i view the sea, i feel a calming sense of security, as if visiting my ancestral home; i embark on a voyage of seeing.” hiroshi sugimoto
Hiroshi Sugimoto is a Japanese Artist-Photographer, who describes his works being an expression of ‘time exposed’, dealing with the notion of time in life in his works. From exploring history, time capsule and temporal existence, he investigates through various subject matter issues surrounding time, empiricism and metaphysics. His photographs depict the transcience of life and its conflict between life and death. Seascapes, Theaters, Dioramas, Portraits of Madame Tussaud’s wax figures, Architecture, Colors of Shadow, Conceptual Forms and Lightning Fields are several subjects he had explored. Seascapes is a series of evocative photographs of the sea, it is an ongoing series Sugimoto has been capturing since the 1980s. A rather familiar and refreshing view of the sea has been captured and it evoked a sense of bleakness, deep emotion and serenity. So quiet, you feel you can almost hear the sound of your own heartbeat. Through 30 years of Sugimoto’s Seascapes, the sea remains almost the same. These photographs touch your heart, you can hear it and you can feel it.
photos courtesy of hiroshi sugimoto
LUSH GREENS photo collection: immserse in mother nature
Being immersed in the daily rat race at work, we rarely draw ourselves to the nature. Our ways of seeking rest or hiatus from work tends to be the internet or social media, which is seemingly inevitable because we live in the age of technology that is pervasive. Admist that busy life, we came to revisit the forgotten nature around us and it is truly revitalising. We forgot the last time we felt this refreshed. Words and photos do no justice. The smell of dew, crunch of leaves under our feet, the cacophony sounds of the forest, the fresh air, light rays penetrating through the canopy...There is so much beauty in mother nature, but so often neglected. Taking an early morning walk through the lush greenery helped me to clear my mind. It is not about giving up the work that is still on hand, but about taking a temporal break from it, thinking deeper and then coming back to work, and finally doing it better than before. Nature is all around us, it may not need to be a forest, a park or a garden stroll could suffice for one who lives in a busy city.
HONG KONG CITY finding calmness in the bustle
Hong Kong will always be described as a bustling, crowded and consumerist city, with cross Eastern and Western influences, once colonised by Mainland China and Great Britain. Everything in the city seems overwhelming; the bombardment of neon signboards, rows and rows of shops, crowded streets from day to night; and the list goes on. There seems to be a pervasive desire for one to acquire more, similar to one of their tourism tagline (translated into English) that goes: “In Hong Kong…Shopping, Eating, Shopping, Eating.” Its heavy human population meant that houses become smaller; houses could go as small as 28 sq feet. I felt uneasy when I arrived at my tiny apartment to be shared with four other people. My first thought was that this tiny space is just sufficient for one person. I wondered how the people in Hong Kong manage to live in such a small space everyday, and I only had a handful of belongings with me. Then it hit me. A small space does not mean mess and suffocation, if your living space only has what is truly necessary. With less objects, there will be less clutter, less organising and lesser need for storage space; a small wardrobe for clothes, a chest of drawers and a shelf could probably suffice for storing all your belongings. This would make living easier, yet still comfortable, especially so in such a space-constrained city.
While most of the streets are filled with people and noise, I took notice of small areas that reveal the simplistic side of the city – slightly quaint, calm and less jarring. I left my heart at St. Francis’ Yard at Wan Chai district, one of my favourite hideouts. There are small shops and cafes tucked in the corners of the streets, away from the main road and up a slope; it felt like an instant escape from the pushing and fast paced walking of the city. Stores such as The Monocle Shop, Club Monaco’s The Men’s Shop, Carven, n lost n found (an antique store), and restaurant Ted’s Lookout are situated in the yard. Though this city is overwhelming, the keen desire of locals to preserve their culture makes Hong Kong a precious place. While clutter seems to be part of their tradition, it is perhaps why it is harder to find a compromise between preservation and modernisation. How do you decide what to keep and what to destroy? Comparing the Hong Kong of today and the Hong Kong 10 years ago, there is a growth of urbanisation, blending the old and new nicely together seamlessly. I am not sure how Hong Kong would be 10 years from now, but I hope to be able to look at the city still knowing their roots, and also be able to live comfortably with less hustle and bustle.
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Basheer Graphics Bookstore Block 231, Bain Street, #04-19 Bras Basah Complex Singapore 180231
The Monocle Shop Hankyu Men’s B1F, 2-5-1 Yurakucho Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo Café 100-8488
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UNITED KINGDOM The Monocle Shop 2A George Street Marylebone, W1U 3QS London
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