God only knows how much the public clamours for live music events. (#savemusicsg) There's only so much watching events unfold through the monitor before you want to put your fist through it. Y'know, so that it feels like you're doing something like 'participating in it'.
So, when a one night event held at the Sands Theatre and hosting 13 of Singapore's best in the music scene like Yung Raja; Rangga Jones and AE$OP CA$H, you pay attention. Called Majulah Live x It’s A Rap, the Sands Theatre will open its doors to up to a thousand patrons. Jon Chua, the founder of Zendyll, the company that's putting the show together, says that music tends to bring people together. "We wanted Majulah Live x It’s A Rap to be unapologetically Singaporean, and to celebrate our culture through local entertainment."
To make things more interesting, there will be a comedy performance prior to open up the show. Ticket holders who attend Majulah Live just for the music, will be surprised by the stand-up acts by Qamarul Haziq and Jacky Ng. We speak to them about opening for a music show and what have they been up to during the pandemic.
ESQUIRE: Is this like a bigger venue that you've ever performed in?
QAMARUL HAZIQ: [thinks for a bit] It's the biggest show since pandemic.
JACKY NG: I don't even know how many tickets we are selling for this one because there are safe distancing measures involved.
ESQ: People are coming for the main acts, which are the musical portions and you guys are opening up the show with stand-up; is that hard to ?
QAM: Hip-hop especially, is a complement to comedy. We're not the headliners; we're supporting them. We are not selling it as a comedy show.
JACKY: If anything, we're selling it like a live festival, right?
QAM: A showcase of local talents, regardless of their genre. [to Jacky] Remember when we did Fridays with [Fakkah] Fuzz? It was at Refuge where it was comics performing the first half and the second were musicians.
JACKY: There's no way a hip-hopper? Hip-hoppist? [laughs] I mean, someone who does hip-hop can open for a comedian and the comedian would do well. That energy those guys bring to the stage is so high and hard to match, whereas we are perfectly comfortable opening for them, setting it up for audiences to enjoy the music later.
ESQ: Where are you in your respective careers?
QAM: I've been pushing myself more than I've ever put before the pandemic. I've my own podcast called How to Malay. I'm in another podcast with Jacky and Fuzz [called The More Better Podcast]. I feel like I've gotten more traction during the pandemic then before.
ESQ: Is that what it takes? A worldwide pandemic for you to make something of yourself?
QAM: Yeah, because I was stuck indoors, there was no place to do live comedy, I had to create my own opportunity. When I had the chance to do things, I didn't but when its denied to me, I went ahead and made it happen. That's the way my mind works.
ESQ: Jacky, you're working with SGAG as one of their talent. What is that like?
JACKY: I can give my parents money on a monthly basis. I don't have to worry about being hungry. Before I had a full time job there are weeks where you have to ration your food intake. That said, having a stable job on the side allows me to do stand-up the way I want to. Before I started working full time, I would accept any job that comes my way. Now that I've this job with SGAG, I can be choosy with what kind of stand-up offers that come my way.
ESQ: I understand you have an album coming out.
JACKY: Yeah. The album is called Listen Together and it took a long time, mostly because of the pandemic. If you listen to the album, you will know that it that it doesn't take a year to make it. [laughs] The actual production can be done in six months but it took a year because I got a new job last year; gotten into and out of several relationships.
QAM: The heartbreak is the one that delayed a lot of things.
ESQ: Qam, what about you?
QAM: The plan is to record my 45-to-an-hour set and either post it out of put up clips on the Internet. Just so that I've a collection of my material.
ESQ: Are there going to be skits in between your jokes? Jacky has an album that is just sketches.
JACKY: I mean, Qam is a stand-up purist. He doesn't like the nonsense that I do.
QAM: It's not that I don't like it, I'd rather stick to stand-up. That's my chosen art form.
JACKY: Would you say that it's because you're damn lazy and you just want to do only stand-up?
QAM: Honestly, I cannot make myself look goofy like you.
ESQ: Is there any difference from a small-scale performance in a pub and a place like Sands Theatre?
QAM: The pressure. I mean, I'm used to the crowds but it's the rest of the act who are watching me perform backstage.
ESQ: Whom are we talking about?
QAM: A bunch of musicians I like. There's Sheikh Haikel-
ESQ: What is it about him that you like?
QAM: Because Sheikh has been a pillar of hip-hop and the Malay community for the longest time. You can't help but know who he is and I idolised who he was and is now. And it's not just music. There's his F&B business where he popularised Western food for Malay people. Really, you can't help but be awed by him when you meet him.
ESQ: How about you, Jacky? Is there anyone you're looking forward to seeing?
JACKY: I look forward to seeing AE$OP CA$H. When I heard his "Fendi Belt" remix, I was blown away. I started listening to the rest of his stuff. And today, we were just hanging out.
QAM: And he knew your name.
JACKY: He knows my name.
QAM: There are other acts that we wanna watch. Like Fariz [Jabba] and [Yung] Raja; they are friends of ours so we have listened to a lot of stuff of their stuff.
JACKY: Performing at Majulah Live x It's A Rap is grander. We don't do interviews at Fridays with Fuzz.
QAM: Our faces are on MRT trains. That's weird.
ESQ: How are you taking to this sort of exposure?
QAM: Just hoping my dad accidentally sees it… since he works on the MRT. [laughs]
JACKY: [to Qam] You don't think you'd tell him?
QAM: Nah. I want it to be natural. Let him find out naturally.
ESQ: Jacky, you're synonymous with Insecure Ian on SGAG. Do you think that this sort of recognition has its own baggage?
JACKY: It's something that I worry about all the time but there's really nothing I can do about it. SGAG is my job and I enjoy doing it.
ESQ: Someone in the audience might shout out, 'Do Insecure Ian.'
JACKY: I will cry. [laughs] And hopefully that is enough Insecure Ian for them.
Majulah Live x It's A Rap is showing on 19 March, 8pm at The Sands Theatre, Marina Bay Sands.