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Meeting Imogen Heap (again!) 8 years since our performance

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Meeting Imogen Heap (again!) 8 years since our performance

Exactly 8 years ago, I had the honour of meeting and performing with my idol, Imogen Heap. (It’s a long story, but the short version is that I had sent her a video audition to perform with her and she agreed! You can read that blog post here). Most recently, I got to meet her in person again! How crazy is that?

 
 

During the recent Amsterdam Dance Event, the DigitalOcean Amsterdam group organised a Meetup event and Imogen Heap was one of the two invited speakers! I was asked by my friend ex-digital-marketing-manager-turned-junior-developer Valerie to come! DigitalOcean is a network of software developers, so even though I didn’t really have much to contribute, I was lucky that the theme of the evening was music!

The first speaker was Piet van Dongen (from Luminis) and he showed off a very funny project The Internet of Drums, where you could program a drum beat on this webpage that would trigger a small drum machine, so the audience was busy sending musical and some non-musical beats from their phone.

After the break, Imogen Heap came to present her latest project Mycelia, and The Creative Passport. Mycelia (in my understanding haha!) comes from the problem that artists spend too much time and money submitting data to countless organisations, especially royalty collecting organisations and streaming services, which get outdated and are full of errors or even not made public, so the idea is to start an open-source database based on blockchain technology, where artists can populate their own data even down to gear used, inspiration, artwork credits, lyrics, and special thanks, and artists in the network can connect and verify each other, and these organisations then have a credible destination to source the data, which is always going to be updated and correct because there is only ever one version of it.

So if you’re a musician, and want to own your data, sign up to Mycelia (link below) and be one of the first to be part of the beta testing.

After the talk, I joined my friend and another of her colleague’s to talk to Imogen. Funny, that after 8 years, I was still as starstruck as before! Nothing much changes. My friend told her that I performed with her and she was so sweet, because then she gave me a hug even though she didn’t quite remember me. At first she said my face was familiar but couldn’t really pick from where. Then she said I performed the cello with her and she said it was on the song Aha!, but then I reminded her about performing her song Earth with her with a cello and a loop machine to a sold-out Melkweg. It was very cute, because after that when she was talking to some more people, she was promoting me and telling them the story of when we had performed together 8 years ago and I played the cello with a loop machine.

It was very cool to talk to her about her new project. I told her that I was always so impressed by her innovations and how she’s always up to something. I offered to assist or support in any way possible and then the idea of having a Creative Passport party in Europe was born and she said that after the beta is launched, she would get in contact.

So maybe we will actually meet again, and sooner than 8 years!

More Information:
DigitalOcean Amsterdam meetup - https://www.meetup.com/DigitalOceanAmsterdam/
Imogen Heap Official Website - http://www.imogenheap.com/
Mycelia Official Website - http://myceliaformusic.org/

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Handpan street musician in Naxos, Greece

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Handpan street musician in Naxos, Greece

While I was on vacation in Greece with my dearest friends for a 10-year reunion since meeting in Amsterdam together, one night Bianca and I went exploring up the Naxos town towards the castle. There under a quiet corridor sat a hippy-looking guy playing a large steel pan with dents in it. Bianca encouraged me to talk to him and ask about the instrument since there was no one else around, but I was too embarrassed. Then from nowhere, tourists started coming from every direction, so I missed my chance, so I sat down and started listening. In fact, he played very rhythmically and mathematically with the sensation of improvising. I really liked it and somehow it was the happy medium between dance chimes and sound bowls used for meditation. After recording a sound clip, I left some coins, thanked him and left. Bianca told me that I should buy such an instrument. 

From that moment on, for the next 24 hours I became obsessed about the instrument, called 'handpan'. It was invented in 2000 by two Swiss, and the instrument was originally called 'Hang'. A few years ago they stopped making it due to the demand and with the principle that they did not want to mass produce them, so they started to focus on new instruments. Now, the 'handpan' instruments are selling for around 1800 EUR and the demand is much greater than the number of instruments being made. Looks like I wouldn't be getting my hands on the pan anytime soon. 

The next evening, Bianca and I went on a hunt to find the guy again, so I could ask him questions. While we were making our way towards the castle, we saw him playing in the open, near the restaurant with beautiful terraces where we had eaten the day before. Coincidentally, after one song, he started wrapping up. Again, I thanked him and he recognised us from the previous night. Then I asked about the instrument and he, Jeremie, told us his story. He had 2 handpans, one in D minor and one in C# minor (both with 10 tones, one for the white keys and one for the black) and waited 2 years for them. 

At the end, I asked him if I could try his handpan out, and so there I was, playing a new instrument, and the very beginning of my handpan journey! 

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UPDATE: 29 October 2017

I found the guy on YouTube! Crazy but he just uploaded a video 2 days ago I decided to try to find him. I searched 'handpan naxos' hoping to find him, and I did! His name is Jeremie and goes by the name of Chief of Nothing. I also found out there will be a Handpan gathering/festival in Naxos 25-29 May 2018. More about that here: http://hona.verbindliche-improvisation.de/

His instrument is an Omana (HP) D minor 9 (9 tones and 1 ding)

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Meeting Pieter Perquin at Muzikantendag

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Meeting Pieter Perquin at Muzikantendag

A good friend of mine, singer-songwriter Liloe Rix invited me to be her plus one at musician networking day "Muzikantendag" in Melkweg, Amsterdam. Primarily an event for singers, especially with the opportunity to showcase your demos in the "demospreekuur", I thought I would come anyway, showcase some tracks and see who I could meet. 

When I arrived (40 minutes before the start time), there was already a queue out the front and one of the organisers came out to hand out these pamphlets with the names of people who we could sign up for at the demo hour. As I scanned the list, I started to circle some interesting people, one from MassiveMusic and then I spotted Pieter Perquin on the list, a.k.a. Perquisite, producer, record label owner and cellist. Remember Pete Philly and Perquisite back in the day? I saw them in concert 10 years ago (probably in Melkweg!). TEN! I started to get excited because I had the chance to meet Pieter in person and speak to him one on one. As I was a few metres from the front of the entrance, Liloe joined me. She had forgotten her OV chipkaart (public transport card) so she was later than the time we agreed. Despite the delay, we were still very early. 

When we went in, we ran straight to the registration desk to sign up for the demo hour. We had 4 slots, and I chose two: Pieter Perquin of course and Casper Nederhand from MassiveMusic who I wanted to get to know because it's a company I have on my radar as a next move.

First I met with Casper Nederhand, A&R Manager / Communication at MassiveMusic and at first I showed him a track and then we talked about getting into the music business side of the music industry. I didn't get the feeling it was possible to get to know each other. 10 minutes is not a lot of time. It felt a lot like speed dating to be honest, except you have the chance to bring something to the table to try to impress them. 

By the time I arrived upstairs to where Pieter was, an emo couple were finishing up. I introduced myself as a cellist and told him I was following him since Pete Philly days. I love what he does with the electric cello and impressed by his productions. I showed him my music video cover of Ed Sheeran's Shape Of You and he gave me a positive feedback. Then I asked him about improvisation tips (as a classically trained cellist it's something I'm constantly trying to improve) and he suggested that I just put on different songs every day and for 30 mins I just jam along. He told me a bit about his story and how he got into production. He was always playing around with computers. Before I knew it, 10 minutes were up! What an honour it was to meet Pieter. 

As I was leaving, by negligence I realised that I took off my mobile phone case while showing him my video, and had to go back upstairs to get it. Embarrassing! He immediately held it out when I arrived. Later on, Liloe and I were on the staircase and passed him and she had the impression he smiled at me. Haha I don't know. For me it was too quick and I didn't even have a moment to register it was him. 

All in all, it was cool that I came! Liloe was happy too, as she also had interesting conversations with interesting people of the industry. Thank you Liloe! 

More about Pieter Perquin: 

Official Website: http://www.perquisite.nl/
Pete Philly & Perquisite: https://www.petephillyandperquisite.com
Kris Berry & Perquisite: http://www.krisandperq.com/

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Meeting Music Producer Vince Pizzinga

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Meeting Music Producer Vince Pizzinga

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
 
Dear Janice,

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.

Take care,

Vince.

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. 

Delta Goodrem performs a medley at the NRL Footy Show Grand Final on Thursday 28 September 2017. Watch for Vince Pizzinga on the cello!

More about Vince:
Official Website
Instagram

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Meeting July Jones in London

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Meeting July Jones in London

The first friend I made on Acapella App and met in real life!

July Jones (soul-pop singer/songwriter based in London) was one of the first people I followed on Acapella App was who I discovered on the popular page. She really stood out to me and I liked her unique style. So I reached out to her just to connect and we immediately became friends. We talked a while about which song to collab together and before I knew it, I was heading to London for work and it gave us a chance to meet up! 

We met up for lunch on a beautiful sunny day with both our girls and it was so unreal to exchange stories about life and where we want to go with our music. We even talked about one day playing together. What an inspiration to meet such a smart, talented and confident young lady at only 20 years old! So grateful for the Acapella App which has a community FULL of amazing people! 

We also finally did a collab together - Runnin' (Lose It All) by Naughty Boy feat. Beyoncé: https://mixcord.co/acapella/p/L9BxgiJQPv22HeB-3p83VA/

Follow us on Acapella App: JulyJones and thewongjanice

Check out July Jones:
Official website
YouTube
Instagram
 

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I MET GRACE CHATTO FROM CLEAN BANDIT!

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I MET GRACE CHATTO FROM CLEAN BANDIT!

Can't believe I met Grace Chatto, the cellist from Clean Bandit. I saw Clean Bandit perform in 2014 in Utrecht and when I saw Grace playing her NS Design electric cello I knew it was the one for me. It took me one year to save up to buy it and now I finally have it. I called it Grace. 

Anyway the night before I was supposed to fly to Germany for the yearly adidas Global Brand conference I was reading the lineup for the festival they organised and I saw CLEAN BANDIT on the list. WTF!!! Wow I was so happy! I was going to try to meet Grace! 

As I arrived at Nuremberg airport I was thinking about how I could meet Grace and who I could contact... I came up with a plan and 1 hour later I was snuck in and was watching their sound check! After a long rehearsal (they were not really warmed up yet and the singer was still finding her flow) they finished and as they were about to leave, I was invited to come and talk to Grace. I nervously chatted about having the same cello, and she said she was still not used to it yet and had to look at the frets. It was a bit awkward and very quick, but I thanked her for inspiring me and got a photo together. That was enough! 

It was a cool festival. Jungle was the first act, followed by Clean Bandit and then Stormzy. There were food trucks in city themes, and a hot air balloon on a crane. It was an amazing show put on by adidas, and leaves us feeling proud and inspired. 

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Performing with Jenny Lane at Paradiso

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Ever since I moved to Amsterdam 2.5 years ago, my ultimate goal has been to perform on the main stage at Paradiso - Amsterdam's pop temple where I have seen amazing musicians perform on the stage including UK wonders Michael KiwanukaAdele, Florence + The Machine; Swedish queens Robyn and Lykke Li; indie rock idols Metric; alternative act CocoRosie and many world class rock acts who I haven't had the privilege to see including The Rolling Stones, Radiohead, Garbage, Red Hot Chili Peppers, U2, Pink Floyd just to name a few...

And now I am proud to say that I have finally performed on the same stage - de grote zaal - as my idols and realised my dream.

The event was called Syrious Music and was held to raise money for children in a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan. Among around 20 acts organised by composer Merlijn Twaalfhoven I was invited to perform 2 songs with Dutch starlet Jenny Lane. It was a really nice evening with a great atmosphere and all acts were completely different from world music to pop, to rap to German cabaret and the acts performed seamlessly consecutively but at different parts of Paradiso like in the middle of the room to having a choir on the balcony.

Our performance went really well. The moment we started the audience became suddenly quiet, being captivated by the waltz-like fingerpicking of the guitar and my mysterious cello line in the introduction. Jenny was great - her smooth voice and control was totally present. We rocked it!

Support the Syrious Mission cause here: www.getitdone.org/projects/107

Below: Me (Janice), Jenny and Nick backstage all smiles before our performance.

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Below: here you can see the true beauty of the Paradiso. On the stage is Celine Cairo with her band.

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Big thanks to Jenny for inviting me to perform with her and special thanks to Jaap Reedijk for the beautiful photos.

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Performing with with Michael Kiwanuka at Songbird Festival

(Above): Home Again broadcast on Dutch television! I was so honoured to find out from a friend who saw it on TV and I found out afterwards. 

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The day before Songbird Festival I was called by Michael Kiwanuka's tour manager to ask if I would like to come to the show in Tivoli, Utrecht and also perform at Songbird in Rotterdam. This one came as a complete surprise. I'd spoken to Michael before about this and they were enthusiastic about me playing but to finally get that call I was really overwhelmed.

So I arrive at the artist reception to get my wristband and Lianne La Havas walks passed to go to her dressing room. Wow, I thought to myself. I was really IN the action. Then I went to Michael's dressing room and got introduced to the crew and band: Michael Kiwanuka (vocals, guitar); Miles James (guitar); Steve Pringle (keyboards); Pete Randall (bass); Lewis Wright (drums); Graham Godfrey (percussion). The next couple of hours were a blur; I went backstage to watch fellow Aussie Matt Corby and sat in the audience for Justin Nozuka to see what the audience would see when I perform. As I went back to the dressing room I bumped into Lianne La Havas. I called her name and while shaking her hand I introduced myself as Janice. It took a split second but she then said "Janice Wong? I heard that you're playing with Michael! So great to actually see you!" How cool! She had seen my video so she knew who I was. I was a bit embarrassed and I even told her that I felt bad! haha. She said she would try come to watch after her performance.

Backstage the boys were getting ready - and it's funny what goes on in the dressing room! Miles was bidding on a reverb plate on eBay and won it! The others were doing press-ups, ironing their shirts and doing their hair. Michael was watching a live stream soccer match! It was a bit strange that Michael didn't ask me to rehearse or run through the song at all. It seemed like he trusted me and we were just going to wing it!

And luckily, the performance went smoothly. I went on for Home Again and the crowd started cheering at the start of the song. I was so nervous though that I closed my eyes for the first half of the song when it was just Michael and me playing. When I opened my eyes I could see the audience and a couple people in the front row recording with their iPhones. So cool!

Afterwards we went for a drink at De Unie with all the bands and crew. Was a great evening! Just wanted to thank Michael again for the opportunity. It was something so special to me. He really enjoyed it as well. His manager said it was the best performance in the tour so far!

See below for pictures from the night. Below: Michael Kiwanuka & band playing Home Again featuring Janice Wong on cello! (Photo by Andreas)

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Below: Close up of Michael and myself on cello. (Photo by Andreas)

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Below: view of the stage from the middle section. (Photo by Andreas)

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Below: Backstage looking out into the crowd at de Grote Zaal. It was packed!

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Below: Michael Kiwanuka's setlist from Songbird Festival, in the dressing room.

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Below: Me and the boys from Michael Kiwanuka's band in the dressing room. They're all so lovely and sweet!

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Below: My friend Lieke having her vinyl signed. They have 2 degrees of separation. Small world -x-!

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Below: Having a funny moment with Lianne La Havas

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Meeting Ernst Reijseger and his 5-string cello

Proud moment to stand next to Dutch cellist Ernst Reijseger and his 5 (!!) string cello. I had a chat with him during the Amsterdamse Cello Biënnale, a bi-annual festival celebrating the greatness of cello music and cellists, classical and modern. Ernst Reijseger was holding an open improvisation class at Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ. He was amazing. He uses his cello as a double bass, guitar (holding it horizontally and playing chords), a percussion instrument in addition to using it as a cello. For the modern cellist, Ernst is absolutely an inspiration. 

Check out Ernst Reiseger:
Official Website

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Meeting Michael Kiwanuka on air

My dear friend Lieke V posted on Facebook that she had a +1 to an exclusive live in-studio BNN That's Live recording for UK soul-singer Michael Kiwanuka. I wasn’t the first to respond, but definitely had a good chance of being picked since I had made this video and been to gig supporting Adele and his first headline show in Amsterdam. And luckily Lieke picked me because of what happened next!

So off we went: Lieke carrying her Michael Kiwanuka newly bought vinyl (and 2 more die hard fans that we recruited along the way) on a train to Hilversum (the city in Holland where TV and radio is made) and made our way to the BNN studio, which was another small bus ride and 10 minute walk through Hilversum suburbia.

There was a small crowd waiting outside the entrance on this sunny Saturday afternoon. It was relaxed but still kind of exciting. So we went upstairs and Eric Corton was already on air. There was a box with forms where we could make a request or ask Michael Kiwanuka a question. Lieke said to me “hey Janice, you should ask him if he remembers you from YouTube!”. Ha ha yes, very funny Lieke.. but deep inside I thought it was such a waste not to ask anything. So I put my question in the box and enjoyed Michael performing his first 2 songs.

During the break, Lieke disappeared, clearly plotting something.. and the next thing I knew, I was asked by Edwin and Eric to stand up by the microphone to ask my question to Michael, who was already standing there. Nerve wracking! I shook hands with him and introduced myself. He already recognised me but we didn’t have time to talk. And then we were live on air! Eric asked me to tell my story. So I told that I made a video last year of me playing Home Again on my cello and basically I’ve always wanted to play with him. So my question to Michael was “Would I be able to play with you one day?” and he said YES! His next performance in Holland will be at the Songbird festival on November 25! Eric was really enthusiastic and said that he would bring a film crew and capture my little journey. Aaahh it is really good news!

Listen to my moment on air on the track “Michael Kiwanuka – Up, Close and Personal (2012)”: http://thatslive.bnn.nl/artist/78164/michael-kiwanuka

(Photo by Yuri Saalberg)

Check out Michael Kiwanuka:
Official Website
YouTube

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Meeting Kris Berry

It’s funny what YouTube has brought me. Just by ‘being there’ people stumble upon my videos and like to get in contact. So I feel really lucky this video brought me in contact with Amsterdam-based singer Kristel de Haak a.k.a Kris Berry.

Kris Berry’s musical taste is clearly influenced by the classics: Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, Beach Boys, which leads to her own compositions with her band being nothing but soulful and bluesy hits. Andreas and I (from my band The Dingo Birds) met up with Kris this relaxing Sunday afternoon and had a jam, shared musical ideas and enjoyed life. It was cool to play with a vocalist who thinks a lot about lyrical rhythms, and feels music differently to me, a classical musician and Andreas, all about guitar and melody lines.

Kris told us about her debut album Marbles, which is releasing in a couple weeks. If you’re in Amsterdam be sure to come along! She’s been on rotation on top Dutch radio stations 3fm and Radio 6, performed at North Sea Jazz festival 2011 and already hit the top stages in Amsterdam (Melkweg & Paradiso). This is one to watch!

Kris Berry album release:
April Friday 13th
Sugar Factory, Amsterdam

More about Kris Berry:
Official Website
YouTube
Instagram

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Meeting Zoe Keating

Is this luck or fate? I bumped into my cello idol Zoë Keating in Zurich airport! 

Zoë Keating is a classically trained cellist who uses technology in both her playing and her grass-roots promotional methods to get her where she is today. I discovered her back in the Summer of 2006 while obsessing over Imogen Heap’s Speak for Yourself album. Zoë was the supporting cellist for Imogen’s tour (check out Immi’s old moblog here) and I was immediately intrigued by the fusion of classical and technology that Zoë was showcasing. One technique I was particularly fond of was the use of looping. Six years on, after buying two loops, an even after a performance with Imogen Heap herself, I still hadn’t managed to see Zoë, until now.

The story: I was on an unplanned stopover in Zurich from Nuremberg to Amsterdam (which logically is not convenient but the price was), and in a daze walking to my gate I noticed a beautifully unique tall lady with red dread locks on top. I exclaimed to my colleague to look over, because it looked like someone I knew, but I didn’t have my glasses on. So I sat down at my gate and thought to myself that as crazy as it was, it was most likely Zoë. My first reaction? Not to run straight over there and ask, but to log onto her Twitter page @zoecello to see what she was up to!

Ha! What did I discover? She was on a plane 12 hours earlier! This was too crazy…

Without thinking too much I just took my camera and went over there, before it was too late. I said sheepishly, “excuse me, are you Zoe?” hahahah. Terrible anxiety hit. She looked kind of surprised (but I mean, 1.2 mil fans on Twitter? She’s not exactly unknown…) which was nice because she was super friendly and down to earth. I told her I was a cellist and I discovered her through Imogen Heap. She asked me when I started playing when I said 8, she said “oh, me too!”. Soul mates! Anyway so we had a brief chat about Imogen and auditioning cellists for the song Aha! and we got a really geeky photo together.

So what was Zoë doing in Zurich? She was on her way to speak at the midem conference talking about Direct2Fan promotion and ideal routes to a sustainable music career. Sounds totally down my field of interest and maybe next year I’ll be able to attend.

Last thoughts: I still can’t really believe that this happened. I mean, I don’t know so many cellists by name or face and especially don’t look up to any contemporary cellists as much as I do Zoë. I have a strange talent of ‘bumping into’ people, but this is something different. Some people say I have a special star and these things happen to me. Is there a meaning to this? I don’t know. I guess I shouldn’t ask questions and keep doing what I do…

Check out Zoë Keating:
Official Website
Instagram
YouTube

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GIG REVIEW: On stage with Alex Winston at Paradiso

Just when I thought I was just going to an ordinary Monday evening concert... it turned into me performing at Paradiso with Alex Winston! 

The night started Alex Winston kept us waiting. Actually we had been waiting since June this year since she had cancelled. Now she kept us waiting since the legendary Gillian Welch was performing an epic show downstairs. But come on... we were getting restless.

On Alex came with her Sister Wife (there used to be two?) + band and we moved to the front. Alex asked who would like to beat the snare and I was fed up with the non-action by this point I just went for it. Here I am with the drum.

First step: getting the drum

So here I was in the crowd beating along to the first song Fire Ant. After that I tried to give it back but then she said I could keep it. A few songs down the line, Choice Notes and my favourite of the new stuff Velvet Elvis I kept on, and Alex was proud. "I can't believe you're still drumming! You're going to be a new Sister Wife!" So then.. for the finale Alex called me up on the stage...

Then we started playing together...

And then we went crazy!

I think I'm almost a Sister Wife now... What do you think?

In Summary: the band was tight and had a great powerful and collective energy. Their sound was definitely fit for a much bigger venue; 6 of them on stage all singing at once. With the grumbling of the keyboardist to the amazing range of Sara Kliger to Alex's distinct voice. Their drummer was also a huge part of their sound. The beat. Really enjoyed it and wish they'll come back to perform on the main stage next time (with me on drum again?).

Thanks Alex for the fun night. Turned out my Monday night wasn't so ordinary after all!

Setlist

More about Alex Winston:
Official Website

Alex Winston - Choice Notes (for Watch Listen Tell)

Alex Winston - Locomotive (A Take Away Show)

Alex Winston - OFF GUARD at Bestival, Isle of Wight, 2011

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GIG REVIEW: Hanging with Kaki King at Bimhuis

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GIG REVIEW: Hanging with Kaki King at Bimhuis

Like BFFs with Kaki King. Haha. 

I saw Kaki King perform in 2009 in Melbourne and that was not her best gig. More than two years on, without her band, and in Amsterdam’s most beautiful venue for jazz and improvisation, Bimhuis, I was ready to give her another chance. When my friend Laura and I walked towards the entrance and saw this spectacular view over 'het ij', I already knew this gig was going to be special. 

Kaki had four guitars, including her custom-made seven-string from West Virginia, 6-stringOvation Adamas 1581-KK, 12-string Gryphon, and a Taylor guitar her dad gave her. She played each one by one, like a singer-songwriter evening in a round. 

Kaki was in a great mood. It was the first stop of her solo European tour and she said she really loved Amsterdam. Holland in general. How she was amazed by Dutch architechture and how Bimhuis is held up only by two pillars. The first song she played was Bone Chaos in The Castle and she said she named that song after a friend who broke their collarbone. The rest of the set was fantastic, with Kaki’s funny introductions and amazing us with her mesmerising instrumental music.

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Performing with Imogen Heap in Amsterdam (LIFE GOAL ACHIEVED!)

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Performing with Imogen Heap in Amsterdam (LIFE GOAL ACHIEVED!)

VIDEO: Imogen Heap - Earth with Janice Wong on cello using a loop machine

VIDEO: Imogen Heap - Aha! with full band

"I love playing music with people, especially because the way you connect can be much more meaningful and special than talking one on one."

16.30

Cycled to Melkweg with the cello on my back, and got in just as the rain started. Met the lovely crew and got fitted with a radio pack and hit the stage. Oh, how nerve racking. Roll in the cellist! I sat there sorting out my leads and loop machine, and bowed out some tunes. Tried to ignore the fact how scared I should have been, on stage with Imogen Heap, but I just closed my eyes, listened to the cello echo in the hall and concentrated. We ran through Earth once. She was already happy with it, smiling and ready to move on. Then the others came onto the stage for Aha!. She said "we didn't tell you we were playing this one did we?" No, I wasn't expecting to play this one (but of course had practiced it anyway) and she said she had seen my audition (all those months ago) so she knew I could play it. After one time through it already felt good and Imogen smiled, because she knew it was going to be all good.

18.00

Imogen ran off to 9 straatjes (9 streets) to get an outfit and I had some good Thai food with Ben Christophers and Emma and Vince from Geese, before rushing back to get ready. It was an early show, with no supports. Bumped into my two Dutchies outside and we went in. I hadn't told one of them I was playing, so it was a little bit tricky to hide my all-access pass and to explain that I was wearing these small bud-earphones as a fashion accessory (hiding the radio pack under my armpit)...

19.40

And the show began! I was calm. It was cool to enjoy the first half of the set in the audience in great company. It was my second time seeing Imogen Heap in concert, the first time was in Melbourne, where I discovered she was auditioning cellists while at the show. It felt like this was my second chance. And those don't come around often in life. Just before she performed 'Let Go' from the days of Frou Frou, I said to my friend, "I'm just going to the toilet" and never returned...

Imogen told a little story of my audition before she brought me out, and when I came out, the crowd (my friends haha) screamed very loudly, "Jaaaaaaaaaanice!!!!" thanks guys!

I plugged in, and I had a moment with myself when I looked into the black mass of people, which was probably 900 people all there watching me. I started playing and I knew it was all great from that note on. I started to enjoy it. When I looked over at Imogen to start, she was smiling at me. Wow. I've talked about this before, but I love playing music with people, especially because the way you connect can be much more meaningful and special than talking one on one. I mean, we had hardly said more than 3 sentences to each other, but on stage we knew each other.

LOVED IT. And my friends too, and the rest of the crowd! Ben later on told me he was jealous!

22.00

Took the crew out for a drink at Weber "a favourite haunt for musicians and well known for playing the latest independent music". Yes it was fun! So great to be surrounded by such great people. And, they only had good things to say about me, which was so generous of them.

02.00

It was time to send the crew off. Stood outside the big black bus (the size of 2 stretch limos and a small train carriage) with Imogen and had a strange moment, you know, you have a one in a lifetime chance to say something meaningful or impactful, but also know it's better to say nothing in case it's too corny. I already played the 'silly' card when I gave her some dutch treats (a wooden tulip, clogs and a chocolate letter) then asked for a photo and some autographs. Haha! I just accepted my position as a young fan. I just said thank you a billion times, and she thanked me too, wished me luck for my studies, and hugged. All the best to you too Imogen.

PHOTOS

Janice and her 'fans'

Friends-THE-WONG-JANICE.jpg

Imogen and her digital grand piano

Imogen-Heap-piano-THE-WONG-JANICE.jpg

Ben Christophers on guitar

Ben-Christophers-guitar-THE-WONG-JANICE.jpg

Had to do the cheesy thing and give her some Dutch presents including a tulip, clogs and chocolate letter.

Imogen-Heap-backstage-Melkweg-THE-WONG-JANICE.jpg

Setlist

Imogen-Heap-setlist-Melkweg-THE-WONG-JANICE.jpg

Other photos and videos I found on the Internet:

http://im-not-a-robot.blogspot.com/2010/11/imogen.html by I'm Not A Robot (my favourite review!)

I'm-not-a-robot-Imogen-Heap-The-Wong-Janice-cellist.JPG

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=do22HLj4kcw by user dukespirit, originally on http://ghostsofmylife.web-log.nl/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1HdcvhSEnDs by user pegasusnl

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AkTDD5Tvtrk by user aalten82

In Dutch:

Concertverslag: Imogen Heap dirigeert haar publiek by Mirjam von Bannisseht (Alternative.Blog)

Imogen Heap - Melkweg, Amsterdam 23 November 2010 by Ghosts of my Life

Imogen Heap in de Melkweg: foto's by Gooddayz magazine

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