1. Tell us a bit about your background. What made you want to pursue music as a career?
I've started classical piano at the age of 9. Like many kids, I was 'forced' to take lessons and exams by my parents. Looking back, I'm extremely grateful to be given this privilege. At 18, I started performing in indie bands as a keyboardist. After graduating from college, I was accepted by a local university to study Banking and Finance. One afternoon before the start of school term, I made my way to pay fees only to find the university's office closed. An inner voice probed me, and I decided to check out a music degree course in Lasalle College of the Arts instead. That faithful day was a turning point for me and I found myself pursuing a music degree from then on.
2. What is one song that you never get tired of playing?
Landing on an Asteroid by Simon Yong!
3. What are some of your most memorable performances so far?
Too many to name! Some of the most memorable performances has got to be the overseas gigs. An English-speaking competition TV show in Guangzhou, The Simon Yong Band tours in Japan and playing in MIDEM festival at Cannes.
I did my first ever big band gig with Summertimes Band at Esplanade in January 2016 as a 2nd alto saxophone player and that feeling was pretty incredible too.
Joanna performing on her saxophone with the ATM350cW clip-on instrument microphone;
Photo credit: Anna En
4. How do you incorporate the System 10 in your performances and how is it working out for you?
System 10 was a revolution especially as a keyboard player. Having been 'rooted' behind my keyboards for 10 years, I felt liberated to perform with the wireless system and my keytar. On some shows, I've used the beltpack simultaneously for both the keytar and saxophone. I can be pretty clumsy on stage, tripping over cables etc, hence the System 10 is ideal for me! And, did I mention it's very user-friendly too?
5. What is the greatest challenge in your work?
One of the greatest challenge as a full-time musician is finding time for family and friends. We have very diverse lifestyles and schedules. Most of our free times are usually spent honing our craft too. Music practice is a lifetime commitment.
6. How would you describe the music scene now compared to when you first started out?
The music scene is definitely more vibrant today. I'm thankful that we can generally make a decent living in Singapore. The music opportunities are aplenty. Music education, session works, weddings, events, pubs, festivals etc. There's something for everyone - original music showcase, cover music, hobbyists and full-timers etc. Our local acts and music are getting more recognition abroad too thanks to the internet age!
7. What/Who are your musical inspirations?
There were many musical greats who inspired me along the way like Dream Theater, Candy Dulfer, T-Square, Guthrie Govan. However, what truly sustained my passion is the love, encouragement and support I constantly receive from my family and friends. Music is empty without love and soul.
Joanna with the other members of the Simon Yong band in front of the Audio-Technica/EBX van
8. What are your plans for the future?
I'm in the midst of recording my debut full-length album and looking to release by end 2016. I'm excited to share my own compositions with everyone! Looking forward to greater musical growth each year and of course, to constantly explore other genres.
9. Any parting tips for aspiring musicians?
“Music is not what we do, music is who we are. We may not have the same technical abilities but may we have the equal passion and intensity towards music.” - one of my favourite quotes by my mentor Mr Benson Kong