How and when did you start your instrument repair business?
I started fixing guitars as a side hustle since I was 19—I’m 25 now so it’s been about six years.
Back then, I had an electric guitar that was in poor condition, so I learned how to fix it up on my own and realised that it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it’d be. After sharpening my skills, I decided to start my own repair business to provide affordable instrument servicing in Singapore.
Since then, I’ve worked with all sorts of individuals, and even local bands such as Sun Eater and Doldrey, and I’m planning to open my own space this year, if all goes well.
How else are you involved in music?
I’ve been playing the guitar for as long as I can remember, but only begun to take it more seriously—learning theory and approaching music in a different perceptive—when I was 17.
Currently, I play in a band called 8forty5. The name came about when we booked an 8:45p.m. slot at a jamming studio and it just stuck! We’ve just released our first full album, you were there, on Spotify after four years, and our plan is to go commercial.
I teach music as well. Every Thursday, I’m quite literally a rock band teacher at an interest group in St. Patrick’s School, like Jack Black from the movie School of Rock (laughs)! Outside of that, I also teach guitar one-to-one with my own students.
What do you love most about music?
Music is a medium of expression and communication that requires little words. I listen to a lot of genres from hardcore to pop. For me, the movement and arrangement of music alone can bring me to tears.
There was once I visited a record store in Korea and had a really nice conversation with the owner. I don’t speak Korean by the way, and not a single word of English was used, we just spoke in music.
Tell us more about what you got up to in your recent trip to Malaysia.
I just returned from an apprenticeship in Kuala Lumpur under a master guitar builder. Across the span of a whole month, I built a guitar from scratch, and yes, I mean from tree to guitar—I literally chopped a tree down, sanded the wood down, and pieced everything together myself
It was honestly quite a spiritual experience. I enjoyed it so much that I’ll be doing it again later this year using local wood and materials that can be found in Singapore.
You’re a barista too, do you see this as a long-term career?
Right now, I’m thinking about focusing on repairing instruments full-time, but I’m equally as passionate about coffee as I am guitars and music. I’m the kind of coffee snob that points out the notes of different coffees (laughs).
I find coffee and guitars somewhat similar in nature; coffee beans from different regions create different flavour profiles while different types of wood produces different tones in a guitar.
Where can we get a good cup of joe?
Of course I have to recommend Tiong Hoe Speciality Coffee at Tanjong Pagar where I work. In fact, I’m actually on my break right now (laughs).
That said, other great spots to try are Kurasu and Apartment. I’m friends with the owners there and they brew really delicious coffee.
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