Saturday, 25 May 2013

2013 End of May MUSIC UPDATES!

Warning: lots of music ahead!

I still have 4 exams to go so I have no idea why I'm blogging right now... I guess I've been suffocating in this black hole of revision for months and now that I have 2 out of the way, I feel like I can finally take a breather (also because I'm sick to death of revision)..

The biggest highlight of April and May has got to be seeing Shugo Tokumaru live. I remember when I missed him in 2011 so hoped that he'd come in 2012 but no sign whatsoever... I was actually at Li Yundi's concert in London when I found out that Shugo will be performing live and when I came back I ordered the tickets immediately. 

I think amazing is a total understatement, more like it's probably the best gig I've ever attended, and I've been to a few. The sound he made was so raw, there were no psychedelic runs or synthesisers or whatever to drown out his vocals and guitar playing. He's known for music with wild clashes and layering, but still it sounded like it was carefully planned to the last chord. Shugo was also accompanied by an excellent drum player (who was having a lot of fun hehe) and an awesome instrumentalist girl. She literally had a tableful of all types of percussion instruments and non-instruments alike, including whistles, birdcall things, shakers, you name it. At one point she was playing the accordion, blowing into a piccolo like thing AND playing the xylophone at the same time. It was apparent that the audience was also intrigued by her judging by the number of iphones pointing her way. 

Here's Linne (my favourite song by Shugo)

Some more music updates, I wrote an original beat if you would like to check it out, kindly know that I spent 2 hours on this since I was on a revision schedule and had to get this riff down before I forgot it.

I'm actually dying to finish a CocoRosie cover which I started months back but can't do anything about it because I won't be free until 14th June. Hopefully in the last days I'm in London I will finish it as a celebratory 'gift' for myself and my followers :)

So recently I've been listening to some new bands BUT since it's exam season I need it to be as stress free as possible so most of the time I'm been living in my comfort zone, ie eating things I know I like and listening to old favs. Of course this includes the brilliant Glen Check. I mean just check out this song '84, it's CRAZY. I can't believe I hadn't heard this before (thanks to's blog for letting me know :))

I mean if there was a competition called song-with-the-awesomest-intro-ever this would definitely win it. Also I found out that they use an APC40 to make these sick beats (but no idea where the samples are from adsjkfhsljkhsa).. I'm going to be in Seoul this summer and since Glen Check have informed us that they are in Seoul working on their new album I'm keeping my fingers and toes crossed that they will drop some sort of EP or anything when I'm there so I can buy it when I'm there OR EVEN BETTER see them live.

I made a 12 hour long set, my own Summer Playlist for 2013 (my essentials) and am here to share it with you :)


It includes a lot of my favourites and also a lot of new tracks I've discovered and am currently loving.

Unfortunately SoundCloud didn't have a few of the tracks I wanted to include, so I'll put some of them here:

That's it for now! I need to go revise algebra&number theory for my exam on the 30th! Please enjoy my summer album :) xx

Monday, 1 April 2013

Spring '13 music endeavours

Recently I feel like I've been standing still and watching time speeding past. I'm now 20 and have finished my 2nd year of uni (only got the exams left :C). I feel irrevocably senile. However I did have a fantastic birthday which I celebrated over 3 days. My flatmates bought be so much food and alcohol, my uni friends were sweet and waited with me until midnight in the middle of Trafalgar Square in the freezing cold. They bought a hefty 3 layer velvet cake which I indulged lavishly in.


All in all I have had a fun three months of 2013 so far, and would like to share with you some highlights. Unfortunately, I haven't been out and about as much as I'd liked due to the tenacious cold and gloom, and now it's already April aka time to buckle down and study 24/7. But this summer will be amazing, I'm in Shanghai for an internship and we're going to Seoul for a week (if there's no talks of war...) so I'll be somewhere hot for months :)

I've had an amazing experience with my Acapella group (The Houghtones) so far. We've braved the Lyceum Theatre (where the Lion King is held), and I was lucky enough to be given a solo. Standing on that stage was phenomenal, I've never seen so many pairs of eyes staring at my face. Thanks to that 30s of terror before I opened my mouth, now when I perform in front of an audience I don't get nervous anymore. I'm also grateful to my group for their amazing vocal backing plus all the hugs and confidence boosts they gave me backstage.

My 2nd encounter with my group is entering the Voice Festival UK 2013, an inter-university Acapella competition in which we were examined on performance, vocal ability, creativity, choreography and many other aspects including vocal percussion and soloist/backing harmonisation. It was a totally unforgettable experience, both the competition itself and also the preparation stage where all of us gave up so much time to get the entire 12min set together in around 2 weeks. The competition was also held at my old Sixth Form school, City of London School for Girls, and our rehearsal room was the room where I used to maths (which means I probably stayed there 90% of my day). Nostalgia undermines what I felt.

the score for one of our songs

serious face family portrait

We didn't win in the end as it's our first time ever entering, but the winners really did deserve their title. They are called 'Vive' and are from Guildhall School of Music and Drama. They most likely won for their originality plus very tight, dissonant harmonisations.


I heard them for the first time at the London Acapella Festival 2013, and was impressed by their execution, especially at their blend and how they don't sing with their solo voices. They really listen out for each other and make sure that the others are heard, not only themselves. Since our group all come from a background of being soloists, we all agreed this is something we could work on.

They also remind me of a Korean jazz group called 'The Green Tea' who I discovered around 4/5 years ago:

There were people from BBC and Channel 4 who came and filmed us rehearsing, and carried out a few interviews. We also received some positive feedback:
"The Houghtones of LSE were the third group to take to the stage, and they opened with a fantastically original idea. The theme of radio jingles cleverly ran through their first number. They opened with the BBC Radio 2 jingle, segueing into Queen’s Radio Gaga, Ignition (Remix), and even Beethoven’s fifth symphony combined with When I Get You Alone, Robin Thicke number based on a sample of A Fifth of Beethoven by Walter Murphy, before ending on the ‘This Is Heart’ jingle. In that fantastic introduction – complete with a William and Kate parody – they established themselves as having a fantastic sense of humour, great stage presence, and fantastic, simple, but extremely effective arrangements. They clearly enjoy a good medley and so I was already sold, but then their next number, an arrangement of Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water that borrowed elements of Aretha Franklin’s version of the song, really brought the good stuff, combining a brilliant soloist with an arrangement that was both subtle, pretty, powerful and full on. Their set culminated in a mash-up of We Are Young by fun. and Take A Walk by Passion Pit. This is definitely a group to look out for." - UACUK

On March 13th I went with Frankie to see the BBC Singers singing some Baroque works by Lotti, Scarlatti and MacMillan. It was a great way to relax and take a break from end of term deadlines. I'm not religious, but after this concert I understood why people go to church to pray and self reflect. We sat in the front row and the voices of the singers reached as directly, to the degree where we could hear their enunciation+vibrato as clear as glass. The music is both overpowering and introspective. It was hard to not be at complete peace. We were treated to an excellent repertoire of both 16th century classics of the Passion of Christ and also contemporary works by Macmillan, which had the iconic Baroque style, but was given a more clashing, political edge. 

Around 3 weeks ago whilst I was skimming Facebook I saw a post by piano legend/master Valentina Lisitsa saying that she was going to hold a free concert playing on an old public piano at St Pancras International Station. It was obviously unmissable since her normal concert tickets are sky high in prices, so I waited for her in the freezing cold. It turned out she kept her promise and played for us a first class set, including Beethoven's Appassionata in full, Liszt's La Campanella and Tottentanz, Rachmaninoff Prelude No.5, Chopin Nocturne No.2, Ave Maria and many more pieces by Rachman. I was impressed how her fingers could move so fast on that crappy upright piano under such cold temperatures, and how she kept on playing without talking much for a good 1 and a half hours. 

Me and the legend!

Rachmaninoff Prelude No.5 In G Minor, Op.23

To end off with some modern day music, I went to see Beach House with some uni friends. I really have no words to describe how incredible Victoria's voice was. It was hauntingly elegant, sultry and heavy but liberating at the same time. She had an amazing range for a female voice and was not scared to deliver with volume, which was very refreshing for singers of her genre, who often sing with a raspy, airy tone. I was hugely impressed also by the stage lighting, which changed with the music and added more impact to certain parts of the music. They did a super long set playing their new album Bloom entirely and also many old songs. Before seeing this live I honestly quite disliked Bloom because the entire tracklist sounded like they all came from one sample. But the band was very conscious of the beginning and endings of their songs, which in the end seemed like a 2 hour long track. They definitely lived up to my standards and we all left evidently yearning for more.

Victoria did however say that they won't be playing again in London for a very very long time, and when we all laughed in disbelief she told us it was no bullshit. I have no idea what they have in plan but that made me very sad :(


That's it for now! I'll be getting a new haircut this week similar to my one of my favourite Chinese actress Sun Li's
so hope you look forward to my future updates :) I also want to do a wishlist post on a few fashion items to let you guys know the trends I'm into right now, but I'll probably do that after I have my haircut so I can upload some nice photos of me haha

I'll end this post musically with 3 songs I'm madly in love with right now! x

Mindy Gledhill - Anchor

Blondfire - Walking With Giants

The Shins - Australia

Good luck with revision to all of you, I'll be working hard too :D
Can't wait for the summer!!

Friday, 1 March 2013

London's Levitating Girl (Part 2)


Around 2 years ago, I invited my friend Georgia out for a photoshoot inspired by Natsumi Hayashi, named 'London's Levitating Girl'. I think the photos are quite self explanatory~

I was so happy with Georgia's choice of clothing for the day, it was perfect for this theme!

I'm super glad Georgia got the 'floating' concept perfectly, I wanted that windswept dreamlike feel, and she grasped it really well!

Here are some of my haphazardly 'jumpy' ones... well I tried...

Check out Natsumi Hayashi's blog HERE
I hope to do a bit more levitations in the near future, when the whether gets a bit warmer here!


Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Asian Plastic Surgery - A Pursuit of Perfection?

This has been sitting in my drafts for some time now. But I think I should post this because Kpop is undoubtedly taking over the world and loved by growing numbers of young teenagers who are going through their most insecure years. With surgery becoming ever so cheap and easy, it's a scary thought imagining young people running to surgeons with pictures of their idols when it's probably just a Hallyu effect they are suffering from, unknowingly. The digital era we're living in is a dangerous, addictive and deceptive one, with information of all sorts multiplying every second. Which is why blogs like mine should provide some insight, and even if one person reads and understands, I've done my job.

I went into some depth discussing things, and I can't help be against full body/full face surgery (why do you hate your appearance THAT much?) But at the end of the day, people choose plastic surgery for themselves and we don't have the right to judge THEM, even though we may agree/disagree to it ourselves. If you don't like it, don't get it done, but don't judge others who do. Peace xx

Finally I'm here with a post to talk about my personal views on plastic surgery in Asia.

Today I watched the new Japanese film 'Helter Skelter', which is about a young celeb Ririko who had full body plastic surgery, and how she dealt with her issues as the surgeries took their toll. I found that the film very graphically pointed out to the evident problem Asian societies have with beauty, but left it open for viewers to think for themselves whether plastic surgery culture should continue or not.

Personally I'm fascinated by plastic surgery for obvious reasons, but I'm very annoyed at many articles and videos online of non-Asian people or Asian people living outside of Asia talking about plastic surgery as if it's the most absurd thing in the world. They make fun of it without thinking through why people do it, why so many people do it, why society allows for it etc. 'Omg, can you believe people make their eyes bigger to look more Western?' is the type of mocking tone all these videos use, making most non-Asian people who don't understand about plastic surgery culture in Asia think young Asian people are all weird and white-wannabes. 'Motivational' videos of people continually drumming into their viewers 'it's the inside that counts' or 'why do you want to look American?' to persuade them not to consider surgery as a option are blatantly ignorant. They think that they know what beauty is, but really, how can anyone define beauty in such a homogeneous way?

Plastic surgery is so common in Asia that most people don't even think it's considered 'changing'. Let alone have time to think 'I'm beautiful on the inside' and all those irrelevant topics.

That man needs to shut his mouth.

I think there's something much deeper and concerned with human nature that drove plastic surgery culture to the scale it is today.

Desire is what every human is born with. Everyone wants what they don't have, and with the money and technology we have nowadays, what is there to stop us from getting the things we want? No one taught high school Asian girls that big eyes and small faces are beautiful. They don't care about looking American. We're talking about a society in which the rich and famous seek 'perfection' There is no room for flaws in success, which partly explains the no body hair, no bf/gf, no scandals, no talking of hardships, no social network, no talking about other celebs, no drinking/smoking in public, no overly private lifestyles these Hallyu stars are expected to give up to. It's understandable though considering how important they are to the country today.
"K-pop accounts for around 3.8 billion dollars worth of the country's economy. So whilst the girls and boys might look like they're at it like rabbits, they're very much investments, to be protected from the wrong kind of attention." - Vice
An average adolescent is surrounded by images of Asian celebrities with perfect features, and since they are so well loved, it spurs on a desire for these girls to idolise them and want to look the same. As humans, our instinct is to adapt and accept to our surroundings. Hence why controlled political systems still exist. When people don't see what is outside of the box, they will accept and will not question. No one will even think to ask why a certain celebrity got surgery, or why these features came about to be the most ideal in the first place. What people see is popularity and love that these 'beautiful people' receive, and that's what they desire.
"We'll be forgotten. We're just machines for the processing of desires. 'Pretty!' 'Wow!' 'That's what I want to be!' Desire doesn't care. It just keeps on going with another name and another face." - Kozue Yoshikawa, Helter Skelter
It doesn't matter to them whether in the future their surgeries will take their toll, and whether in the end they'll realise outward appearance is not everything they desire. Most people who have surgery know very clearly that appearance is not everything. But physical beauty is a weapon and a source of courage. Especially in Asia where it is very much a financial weapon. Hence no matter how many failed surgeries, regrets, scarring, post medication stress there are, there will always be a new generation of young people willing to try. The journey will never end because of curiosity. People see more utility in short term happiness, when they get attention and praise from others, than not having any of this at all.

So if surgeries do give people courage, and do offer positive utility subject to the individual, who are we to judge on whether people should get surgery or not? Maybe this surgery will genuinely make someone happier in life, so who are we to say that surgery is a bad thing? 

Many would say the fundamental problem is the media, what people around us tell us and what we see. But I think otherwise, because without role models, fame and power, societies wouldn't exist in the first place. No matter how civilisation evolves, every human being will always at the end day have an idea of what is ugly and what is beautiful. WE WERE BORN TO JUDGE. If you think back on your life, no one told you what is beautiful and what is not. We are influenced by so many things we experience that this judgment on beauty was already made long before you could even realise it yourself.

So who is to blame? No one.

There isn't anything to blame for. Beauty is an economic market which will never die down, because there is always a plentiful supply of young men and women who want to look above average. And naturally, with the invisible hand of capitalism, something will take advantage of this. When a market has demand, there will always be suppliers. It's just simple economics. Markets will expand technologically if demand allows it, and who would say no to becoming more beautiful overnight?

The people get surgery because desire for beauty is something that will never disappear. The plastic surgeons do their work because the economy asks for it. The society's idea for beauty is an accumulated concept that originates back to the start of civilisation. The motivation exists because of curiosity. So, who is there to blame?

Maybe it's just Asian culture.

In Asia, beauty is definitely much more important in society than in any other part of the world. You must include a picture of yourself in resumes, and employers can unfairly distribute wages based on appearance. In other words, being beautiful is essential. There are high school students in Asia who think when they finish their uni exams, they are finally allowed have a taste of the real society: drinking, getting into relationships, having plastic surgery etc, because it's normal and what everyone else is doing. When girls get surgery, it doesn't matter to them that their new face will be fake. All they care about is the new opportunities that they will have.

Even though I hate the idea of 'media influence' as a reason of why people decide to go under the knife, it's definitely a factor. I grew up in London, and not once did I think about the size of my eyes or face or anything before I discovered what Asians think about them on the internet. During secondary school here, I remember talking to my friends about double eyelids, and nobody even knows what they are. People here joke about Asians having slanty eyes, but I never heard anyone saying that slanty eyes are 'ugly'. One very interesting phenomenon that I want to mention is that in the West, when you tell your friends 'I'm ugly/fat' etc, they will say 'No way, you're pretty!', but in Asia, people will bluntly tell you 'Yes you're fat/ugly' if they think you are, because they think it's a genuine/helpful comment. 

In Asia, beauty is more of a second nature or obsession than enhancement. It's like a drug that's hard to quit. Asian makeup doesn't enhance your appearance, it's made to change it. The more you play with it the more addictive and the more you want. Until you're so obsessed that it doesn't matter if when you're old your face will become distorted. It doesn't matter if you have to take post surgery medication. It doesn't matter if most men will not date you seriously if you had surgery. What matters is that you can become more and more and more beautiful, so why should you stop?

What I'm fascinated by though is not why people pursue beauty, it's why people have the courage to let a stranger cut their faces/bodies open whilst they are unconscious, and how they can cope with living out the rest of their lives with plastic inside their bodies. Whatever the reason, it must be so crucial to the individual's life they s/he is willing to turn a blind eye.

On a casual note, I do think some Asian surgeons, particularly in South Korea, know what they're doing when they operate. Even though it's so obvious to me when someone's had surgery, you can tell there has been an attempt to make each look unique. The doctors consult their patients in great depth about their bone structures etc, and will often make suggestions on what they think suits their patients' faces/bodies. Most of the ones that come out looking unnatural are probably mindless people who pile on mix-matched ideal features from celebrities, which generally will not look good together.

After watching some youtube videos, I realised that Korean women who get surgery find it a very pleasant experience. They often go through minimal pain (or less than they can endure), and the result is most of the time desirable. Hence more and more women go. I often wonder what goes on in the minds of these plastic surgeons. Why do they find so much pleasure in changing people's bodies when it's not needed? Their patients' entire lives and futures are in their hands, do they find it satisfying that they have such immense power over someone else, or do they enjoy being trusted? Do they sincerely want to make others' lives 'better'? How can anyone be strong enough to watch themselves cut open another person's flesh and tell themselves that it's for their own good?

However even though I don't hate plastic surgery, it does make me sad when you ask a teenager living in Asia 'what is beauty to you?' they will reply with 'Big eyes, small face, high nose bridge, white skin, tall, etc'. I think that even though surgery removes your outside flaws, it will never remove your insecurities. Everyone has them and it's hard to deal with it especially when you have Asian friends who tell you you're fat/ugly on a daily basis (trust me, they don't mean to make you feel bad!), it's even more hard not to do something about it. I think it's impossible to fully accept yourself when you know you have flaws, but it's always good to think that your flaws makes who you are, and your good points may even come from your flaws. It's hard to believe, but no matter how 'ugly' you think you are, there will be people out there who will think you are beautiful in your own unique way. I once watched a Chinese TV programme where one of the presenters went to S.Korea to shoot a show, and she recalled "all the celebs I met were every pretty. But when I came out of the studio, I couldn't remember any of the faces."

There was one scene in Helter Skelter which I found especially memorable.
'Tiger Lilies' is in the film a name given to young girls who are willing to go on lengthy 'adventures' in order to become beautiful. In that scene, two older people stood in the middle of Shibuya. Looking around they said:
"There are Little Tiger Lilies everywhere. Young, glittering. But everyone knows one day it has to end." 

High school girls in Korea

Maybe she is really happier?

Surgery creates extra economic activity+jobs by hotels who offer patients private plans for them to rest and heal. Korea is also a tourist destination for plastic surgery (many Chinese and even Caucasian people travel to Korea just to get surgery).

Watch how these girls are STILL overly conscious even after surgery

Not all people in Korea like plastic surgery, and modern Korea's obsession with 'perfection'. Seoul Fashion Week recruit models who have natural faces