A long-lost penpal who I finally met, 13 years later!
In 2003, as a teenage fangirl I became obsessed with Australian singer/songwriter Delta Goodrem and her album Innocent Eyes. All the songs were so catchy and she was so amazingly inspiring as a human being. She could sing beautifully, play the piano, but most of all, she sparkled when she played and whenever she was interviewed.
When I discovered that her album had strings, I was adamant on playing the cello with her in the future. So as simple as that, I checked the credits on the CD booklet and searched the name of her music producer, Vince Pizzinga on the Internet and sent him an email. To my surprise, Vince replied to my first email and we somehow became friends. I had a lot of questions about how he got into the music industry, and told him my frustrations of being a classical cellist and not knowing how to get into pop music. He became a sort of virtual mentor, an electrical engineer turned music producer who gave up the security of an engineering career for the joy and satisfaction of his passion to work in music full time. I hope Vince that you don't mind me sharing this email, but I find it the best piece of advice anyone ever told me and it has definitely impacted my 'path' to follow my music dream.
From: Vince Pizzinga
Sent: Monday, June 16, 2003 11:23 PM
To: Janice Wong
Subject: Re: music
I have to start by saying that I don't profess to have any real answers for you.
The only thing I would encourage you to do, as I would encourage anybody, is to follow your heart. If you know what you're passionate about, then I think you've already won half the battle.
Speaking from personal experience, no amount of money I could have made as an electrical engineer could ever rival the joy and satisfaction I get from being a musician. I didn't make the decision to become a writer-producer until I was 27. I had the dilemma of giving up on 5 years of university study and the possibility of working in an industry that would have given me financial security, to working in an industry where I had no 'real' qualifications and that has absolutely no security.
But it has been the single most profound and significant decision of my life, it is the one thing I've wanted most all. As a full time musician, I spent the first few years not making very much money at all. But I persevered and have been very dedicated, I've worked extremely hard and somehow I've managed to scrape together a living. Most importantly though, every day brings a new and rewarding experience. I have achieved things as a musician that I never would have dreamed of (I'm watching Delta performing a song I wrote with her on Micalef!!)
Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating you compromise your livelihood so you can spend all your time playing the cello, it's no fun being poor. Be pragmatic, just don't compromise your passion. I think to spend your life doing something you didn't love would be a very torturous thing.
I really believe the greatest reward is in the act of having a go. Its not about how much money you make, or about how many top 10 singles you write. It's about exploring your creativity, it's about communication your ideas, it's about discovering things about yourself and the universe through your work.
Hope I haven't been too flowery!
Good luck Janice, I really hope you achieve everything you want to through your music. Don't be afraid to follow your passion, the alternative is unthinkable.
Eventually we lost touch, but with Facebook and Instagram, we ended up 'staying connected'. As Vince relocated to Los Angeles in 2006, I thought I would never have the change to meet him. Then by chance, I was going to Sydney for a online marketing conference and I saw he was posting photos from Sydney and invited him for a coffee. How cool it was to finally meet in person after all these years!
We talked about our projects and passions and just started to get to know each other from scratch. He told me about being the musical director and playing the cello for Delta's Wings of the Wild tour, his new joint cafe venture Matcha Mylkbar and making a documentary with his friend. What an amazing kindhearted, interesting and not to mention humble soul Vince is, exactly how he was in the emails.
Considering how successful he was as a producer, the album he produced - 'Innocent Eyes' subsequently had over 4.5 million sales worldwide, was awarded ARIA “Album Of The Decade” in 2011 and in 2003, Delta Goodrem was the winner of 7 ARIA Awards, it was even more special to see how humble he was.
So great that people like this in the world exist. I am so grateful to have met him and hope to meet him again one day.