Alondra Bentley and Nine Stories

When a concert begins with a song about a ladybird, followed by one about falling in love and then the feelings and philosophies behind gaining white hairs when turning 30, I just know I’m going to enjoy my evening. Throw in an electric piano, ukulele and a guitar, along with a mesmerising voice and gentlemanly manners and I am smitten. Nine Stories is an upbeat, quirky pop group from Madrid, Spain and here on their China tour with Alondra Bentley, Nacho Ruiz was representing this unique band.

They played at B10 in O.C.T Loft on the Shenzhen leg of their China tour. This was a great venue for their performance as the space was big enough to cater for all the audience and yet still cosy enough to give the performance more of an intimate feel. It got even more special when Nacho from Nine Stories joined the main act of the evening- Alondra Bentley and they performed as a duo. Alondra’s voice is seriously one of the most incredible I’ve ever heard. It threw me headfirst into a memory of a warm, summery day in a forest with a picnic and all my favourite people. Her voice is light and soothing, filled with all the colours of the rainbow, and then some. Their songs were both magical and down-to-earth, just like them. I loved the way they had little chats with us (the audience) between each song and being here in China they’d even made the effort to learn a few Chinese words. I admire that so much. Not only was their show outstanding but their stage presence was also very special. They connected with the audience on a very personal level and only had good things to say about their time in China, especially in Shenzhen which they said they’d fallen in love with! This made me smile and inspired me to start reliving those feelings one gets from first arriving in a brand new city, a brand new country; those initial moments should always be cherished.

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Image sourced from here.

After the show they came straight outside to sign records and they took time to learn everyones names and wrote them individual messages, even writing Chinese names! They were very sweet and so instead of buying their cd, I decided to buy their vinyl because I’ve never bought one before and I thought this would be the perfect first vinyl purchase to make. They are such sweet people and beautiful musicians. If they happen to be playing in your city, please please go watch them! Not only will it be an absolute treat for your ears, but I guarantee you’ll leave in an optimistic mood and that smile will linger long into the evening. And then of course, you can just listen to their music whenever you feel your positive mood faltering and it’ll be returned immediately, I promise!

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Image sourced from here.

Thank you so much to Alondra Bentley and Nine Stories for gracing Shenzhen with your amazing talent and happiness! Please come back to China soon, and all the best for your wonderful future! I look forward to more sweet songs about the lovely little things in life!

This is one of my favourites, probably because I can relate to it so much!

Monday Musique: Stars – Elevator Love Letter

I haven’t seen the stars since I arrived back in China. These days lately have been the hazy kind, the grey murky kind that seep across your every path clouding and shrouding everything in it’s reach, enveloping it all into one big industrial bubble. Luckily, there is no shortage of green trees in my new neighborhood and a nice splattering of blossoming pinks along my morning motorway commute. These allow me to glide along in the daily penguin parade without getting too far sucked into the repetitive mist. And there’s always music. Today I am enjoying one of my old favourites- Stars, a dreamy indie group from Canada that have been delighting my ears from my high school years when I wore a plastic strawberry hair bobble every single day. Stars always make me smile with their sweet, mesmerising melodies and ethereal voices. If I can’t have real stars right now, at least I always have Stars in the musical form.

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Image sourced from here.

What do you think? Dreamy, right?! Please feel free to recommend some new musique to me. Every Monday is going to be Monday Musique day from now on, yay! Hopefully I can introduce you to some lovely tunes!

Love,

Luna.

Clockenflap 2013

Last weekend, Hong Kong’s largest Music & Arts Festival- Clockenflap took place right on the water overlooking the epic Hong Kong Island skyline. With a line-up including the likes of Franz Ferdinand, Chic, Cui Jian (Chinese rock legend!), Metric, 2Manydjs as well as many other fantastic bands, it was definitely a weekend people have been excited about for months! Clockenflap used to actually be free. I remember back in 2011 all you had to do was register online and wait to see if you got tickets. I did, but unfortunately they went to my junk inbox and I didn’t check it that week, so I missed out big time. Anyway, this year’s festival was a weekend of perfect weather, magical music, delicious cider, a whole range of different food stalls to choose from and thee most unique festival location I’ve ever experienced. I can’t quite explain the feeling you get when you’re watching one of your favourite bands playing (Metric) and the sun is setting over the glittering city and you’re just dancing around in a huge crowd of happy people; it’s really something special.

When Tegan and Sara were performing, in between songs they admitted that the night before they’d been a little drunk and had told everyone they saw that they were planning on moving to Hong Kong because it’s just so freaking beautiful. They woke up in the morning and had google maps open on their browser with neighbourhoods pinpointed that’d they like to live in. That’s the kind of thing I do and I was pretty happy to discover I’m not the only crazy dreamer out there.

The photos don’t really do the day I spent at Clockenflap justice, so you should probably make a little trip to Hong Kong next year and go along and see this surreal beauty of a festival for yourselves!

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p.s I’d just like to add that this is supposed to be Winter in Hong Kong. I know, I know, we are very lucky!

Love,

Luna

Check out this song by the Danish band Efterklang. I saw them play at the festival and I was pretty impressed. That’s probably because they announced their love for Taiwan after playing a gig in Taipei the night before. They even threw gifts from Taipei into the crowd. I may have screamed like a girl…It’s the Taiwan love, I just can’t help it. Thus, not only is their music brilliant, they also love Taiwan. We’re best friends already.

Musical Musique

Hello,

I thought I’d share some music I’ve been enjoying lately. Life in the big, bad city has taken it’s toll and I’ve been in bed with a severe case of tonsillitis for what feels like forever, thus I have been discovering some new musical melodies to help ease the pain, and let’s be honest, who doesn’t love some new music inspiration?

Perhaps this can be a little exchange of music. If you like what you hear, you can share a few new songs or bands with me too? I’d like that!

Seeing as I’ve been sick and dreaming of my homeland and it’s grass-is-greener pastures and my Dad’s homemade soup, I shall start with a few of my fellow talented Scots -

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Frightened Rabbit – Hailing from Selkirk (where? I’ve never even been there!), they are indie-rock amazingness! I can’t pick one song, but I like ‘Statekirk’, ‘The Woodpile’ and ‘Scottish Winds’. Oh, those accents! I miss home!

King Creosote – He’s from my county, Fife, yay! He has released over 40 albums! Seriously, who is this guy?! Wow! Start by listening to ‘Coast on By’.

Panda Su – On a misty Monday morning in 1999 I met this 12 yr old girl and it was love in the form of friendship at first sight. Haha. You MUST listen to her. She has a magical voice and she will dress up as an actual panda for you, if you ask nicely. I recommend ALL her songs – ‘Alphabet Song’, ‘Eric is Dead’, ‘I Begin’, ‘Maps’ and the list goes on. Suz, I miss you!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v47mmOuP0-M

So proud to know her! And that was live! LIVE! Yoh, she is one talented panda!

Biffy Clyro – Scottish legends! Listen to ‘Bubbles’, it’s so good!

Belle and Sebastian – You must know them! If you don’t, shame on you, go and listen to them right now! Begin with ‘Another Sunny Day’ and proceed to dance your morning away…

For such a wee country, we certainly have some amazing music. And that’s only 0.02% of what beautiful Scotland has to offer in terms of sweet tunes. Those were just a few of my favourites to get you started.

Right now I’m also loving -

*Rhye

*Woodkid

*Foals

*Alt-J (don’t get me started on how much I love them).

*The Joy Formidable

*Suuns

*MS MR

*Local Natives

*Mikhael Paskalev

*Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Happy Wednesday! The sky is blue, I’m eating chocolate again and I can’t describe how good it feels to be healthy. Yay for magic medicine and days of rest!

Love,

Luna

Mr Little Jeans

This song! Wow! Mr Little Jeans, I love you. Who is the girl behind this magical voice? Well, she’s small and Norwegian and she makes me want to dance in a purple forest under the full moon all night long. And that choir, now that’s some talent! I can’t wait to listen to the rest of her songs.

I love this video too! It compliments my life nicely right now. I hope there really is someone watching over me.

What have you been listening to lately? Feel free to share some music inspiration in the comments below, infact please do!

石源司機-The Musical Taxi Driver

Last night, despite the typhoon, my friends and I ran across the puddles and dived into the closest taxi we could find. As we dropped our dripping umbrellas on the floor, my friend had a feeling she’d been in this taxi before. The back of the driver’s seat was covered in photos and newspaper clippings. We took a closer took and realised it was the driver in the photos. We then peered over the front passenger seat and that’s when we noticed the instruments. Musical instruments. The driver started fiddling with his sound system. He slipped in a CD and our ears were instantly met with the melancholic waves of a classical number. This, paired with the storm outside, and the fact that we were driving through small alleyways lined with city-goers braving the rain to enjoy a hearty feast, left me with a feeling that we were starring in a perfect movie scene.

As the music reached it’s crescendo, my friend piped up- “司機,我已經坐過你的車“ (“Sir, I’ve been in your taxi before”). He immediately remembered her, and thus began their conversation about the curious life he leads.

His name is 石源 (Shi Yuan), which directly translates as the source of stone. He is a taxi driver on the streets of Taipei where he gets to meet all kind of lovely, crazy people on a daily basis and gain a little insight, a little peek into their lives.

But, 石源 is not just a taxi driver. He is an extremely talented musician and a few years ago he used to play music in a western restaurant. However, due to a change in consumer needs, the western restaurant decided they no longer needed in-house musicians. It was at this point in his life where he began driving a taxi. He loved his daily encounters with all sorts of wonderful people, but something was missing. He hadn’t taught himself how to play numerous musical instruments to just sit in a car and drive people around. Music ran through his blood and it wasn’t enough for him to just sit and listen to his favourite CD’s day after day as he explored the roads of his beautiful Taipei. There must be something more he could do?

One day he discovered a hospital that recruits volunteers to play music to their patients. This was it! This was his chance to celebrate his passion and talent for music, his chance to share it with the rest of the world, and in return help make people smile. He started playing the piano in the lobby area of National Taiwan University (NTU) Hospital, and pretty soon, news spread of the gentle, kind-hearted talented musician taxi driver and his generosity. Before long his musical wings had landed him in a few more hospitals dotted around the city and now he has a weekly routine of the hospitals he visits to share his music in-

Monday 星期一12-2pm Xindian CiJi Hospital 新店慈濟醫院

Tuesday 星期二 12-1pm Tai Da Hospital East Side 3rd Floor 台大醫院東址三樓

Wednesday 星期三 11-12pm Shi Lin Yang Ming Hospital 士林陽明醫院

Thursday 星期四 11-12pm Nei Hu Third Zong Hospital 內湖三總醫院

12-1pm Nei Hu Third Zong An Ning Bing Fang 內湖三總安寧病房

Friday 星期五 12-1pm Tai Da Hospital East Side Lobby 台大醫院東址大廳

Saturday 星期六 11-12pm Lin Kou Chang Geng Medical Building 林口長庚醫學大樓

That’s his current schedule and to think that in-between all of that he still works as a taxi driver. He is a busy man and yet driving us to our destination, he seemed so calm and relaxed; I could tell he really enjoys his life.

He is a self-taught musician and believes that if you really put your mind to it, you can learn any instrument you like. He plays the piano 鋼琴, small violin 小提琴, big violin 大提琴, ukelele, mandolin, guitar 吉他,keyboard 電子琴, banjo 斑鳩琴, er hu (chinese fiddle) 二胡, yue qin (a lute with an oval or octangular sound box) 月琴, chinese flute 中國笛, accordion 手風琴, jazz drum 爵士鼓, latin drum 拉丁鼓. Wow! Could he be any more wonderful?

He has become good friends with the patients in the hospitals and some people will put aside a spare hour in their daily schedule to make a trip especially to the hospital to hear him play. I haven’t met anyone as fascinating as him in a long time. I love that he clearly gets such pleasure and happiness from spreading his love of music to people. Hospitals can be sad, eerie places, but thanks to this amazing man and his music, the atmosphere is brightened and even if just for a moment, people can forget their illnesses and just revel in the music, allowing it to wash over them and soothe them.

Once, he was called by the family of a sick lady to rush to her dying bedside and play some music to allow her to cherish her last hours. He immediately stopped what he was doing, grabbed his instruments and rushed to the scene. He did not have to do this, he had no relations to this lady whatsoever, and yet there he was, playing his violin, spreading joy to what may have been someone’s last minutes on earth.

I have nothing but overwhelming admiration for this taxi driver musician and his gigantic heart, bursting with goodness.

We need more people like him in this world.

I hope that if you live in Taipei, you too, may have the chance to stumble upon him and take a ride in his taxi. Otherwise, why not go and listen to one of his daily concerts in one of the many hospitals he frequents.

There’s something special about him. His energy is contagious and I feel so lucky to have had the chance to meet him.

Once we reached our destination, he handed us each a few tissues. The rain was getting heavier and he wanted to make sure we would leave his taxi comfortable and dry. We hopped out and wiping off the rain droplets from our arms, we peered inside to thank him once again. He nodded in acknowledgment, twisted the knob on his CD player and proceeded to select his favourite classical number to prepare for the next customer seeking a little retreat from the rain. As we shared one last smile, he drove off, not phased one bit by the typhoon that lay ahead. He had his music.

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石源司機 The man himself.

source: image

You can watch him on youtube too. He has quite a few videos up there and here is a little sample-

I think it’s so cool the way he lives almost a double life. He’s like some kind of superhero. He drives a yellow taxi by night, but when the sun rises he adorns his favourite suit, complete with bow tie and top hat and off he goes to create a healing, musical spectacle.

石源, you are incredible.

The Paper Kites

This band, I have no words. Their music leaves me feeling lighter and at the same time makes me want to undertake a huge journey, whether an exploration of a new country and culture, or just a little journey into my head to reshuffle my thoughts and get back on the right track.

They are from Melbourne and have just recently released their new album- States. It’s only available from October 1st in the USA so possibly the same applies for everyone outside Australia too.

You can have a little listen here to one of their latest songs-

I’m always looking for new music. If you have any new (or old) favourites, please feel free to share them in the comments below. My ears would love some new inspiration.

“throw yourself on the aeroplane and fly like magic”

I am loving this alternative dancey-folk song from the British/Spanish band- Crystal Fighters. Doesn’t it just make you want to smile? And dance around in the sunshine? Like all day long?!

In between real-life job stuff, I think it’s a good idea to take some time out to appreciate the small things in life, such as this lovely song.

But also, have you noticed the moon today? It’s a perfect little moon; the way a child draws the moon (OK, I draw it that way too)- it’s a slender little sliver, and it’s creeping up to the half moon mark. I love the moon.

Sometimes it’s so easy to get caught up in this crazy life we lead, so easy to forget the real beauty in everything that surrounds us.

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Lately, in amongst job applications and interviews and decisions, I’ve not wanted to miss a thing. I can’t seem to walk past a new, hidden alleyway without cycling down it to see if there’s anything exciting to be discovered.

When was the last time you just explored? I know most people are busy leading hectic lives but there must at least be five spare minutes where you could mix up your route home from work, or maybe you could try a new dish at your favourite restaurant, or how about going totally wild and trying a new restaurant?!

I should probably just become a professional explorer.

“Helloooo world, please hire me. I think you’re beautiful. I am very good at persuading other people you are beautiful too. I look forward to hearing from you and continuing our journey of adventures together.”

Love,

Luna

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André Chocron

I can’t stop listening to Mikhael Paskalev after I saw Emma-Jane talk about it on her blog. I am obsessed. One song in particular- ‘I spy’- is amazing! Infact, I needn’t say any more; just watch this video and those dance moves- epic!

Mikhael Paskalev is a Norwegian/Bulgarian musical genius and his music is pop with a twist of indie and a touch of folk thrown in for that extra cool. He says he is inspired by The Shins, Edward Sharpe, The Mamas and the Papas, so yup- he also has good taste. I like him.

And I like the music video above too, and not just for that dancing! The director of it- André Chocron, a film director based in Oslo, he has got some skills. A friend of mine introduced him to me tonight and then we realised that he also directed Paskalev’s ‘I spy’. Check out this crazy stunning video that he directed:

Yes, those businessmen are skateboarding down that beautiful road. Isn’t this just incredible? He only graduated in 2010 from The Norwegian Film School, so this guy is clearly one to watch. I can’t wait to see what else he’s done! That is creativity right there in all it’s underwater dancing glory. Yay!

Have you seen anything else this guy has directed? I’d be so keen to watch! Thank you.