“A Million Times (All On You)” — Aaron Chan

3 10 2011

I’m again at a loss for what to post so here’s a song I co-wrote and performed for the first time last weekend where I screwed up.  Enjoy!

Goodbye Spain

22 05 2011

Shameless self-promotion time!  Before “Goodbye Spain”, I had always written songs with my own lyrics.  It’s not that I wasn’t open to writing songs with other lyrics but the thought never occured to me.  Then one day, I came across my good old friend Sam West’s blog, which he used to post his own poetry and lyrics every once in a while, and that was where I read lyrics of his called “Goodbye Spain”.  The words spoke of a longing to get out of a smalltown, and though Vancouver isn’t a smalltown by any means, I could still relate to the lonely, outsider feeling of the poem’s tone.  In fact, I was so impressed and liked the lyrics so much that I asked Sam if I could write a song with them and once I was given the OK, I got to work on them.  First collaboration!  Woot!

For a while, I couldn’t come up with much.  Most of the time when I write, I’ll either have the music for the verse or the chorus down, but not for both, and I usually just get frustrated.  With “Goodbye Spain”, it was the same thing: I had music for the verses all set but nothing really came to mind for a chorus.  Eventually, I somehow managed to crank something out, and the next thing I knew, I was singing the song walking down the street, thinking to myself, “Damn!  That’s actually a pretty awesome song.” (rather than, “Damn!  I must seem like a crazy person right now, singing in public about highway A1A.”

I don’t have a studio version recording of the track yet, but I’ve performed it a bunch of times in live and this is my favourite performance.  Enjoy!

30 Day Song Challenge: Day 20 – A song that you listen to when you’re angry

29 04 2011

Well, first of all, I’m not usually angry.  Second of all, when I’m angry, I don’t usually listen to music; I’ll talk to friends or write it out or do something else.  Third, if I do turn to music, I will play it out on the piano rather than sit and listen to a song.  So!  It was a little hard to think of a song that I’d actually listen to if I were in fact angry, but after looking around my CD collection on my desk, Ms. Fiona Apple came into my sights.

Though “Limp” is a song that upon listening to it, I actually feel angry, it’s not particularly a song I’d listen to if I were angry, but it’s the closest thing.  Maybe I’ll do it next time.  And there’s a percussion solo in the middle of the song!  How rare.

Revolutionary Etude Op. 10 Nr. 12 — Frederic Chopin

31 03 2011

Many a year ago, I used to be able to play this one and it took me about a year or so to learn it, play it at tempo, and play it all without dying halfway through.  There are sixteenth notes in the left-hand throughout the entire piece and at a tempo marking of Allegro con fuoco (fast with fire = loud and fast), it really tires you out quickly if played at tempo.  And though it took me a long time to work my way up to tempo, I eventually did manage to do it, albeit kind of sloppily.  But alas, I performed it for my ARCT exam and it was good enough.  Unfortunately and very much stupidly, I didn’t keep practicing it, so now when I play it, I’m done around halfway (or else if I go on, I miss about 80% of the notes and there’s only so much murdering of Chopin I can handle).

Although it’s just under 3 minutes in length, it can be an extremely painful 3 minutes.  But performed right — like in the case of Alan Schiller in the youtube video at the bottom here, who plays most similar to how I used to play it  — and it’s a dazzling spectacle of technique, rhythm, and virtuosity.


28 02 2011

I thought I had posted all the song lyrics I had written but apparently not.


Breathe a secret in a bottle,
careful not to spill a drop.
Slam a cork in,
throw it away.

But it someone were to catch this message,
he swears his world would fall.
So it’s best not to breathe
than say anything at all.


I know it’s hard but
every word you say, every step you take
will lead you to where you belong.
And out of darkness,
there’ll be a light, you’ll no longer fight
with the demons of doubt in your head.
And walk through the door

And with each passing day
the secret’s in his heart.
You can layer on the lies
but a thought is never too far.
A thought is never too far,
a thought is never too far.


And when the bottle washes up on someone’s shores,
that’ll be the day… someday.


11 01 2011

Fun exercise I wrote in high school.  We picked out two words out of an envelope containing random words and had to work it into the story.  Guess which ones I got?


“How is she?”
“I don’t know… It’s not looking too well…”
“Please tell me she’s going to be alright!”
“I can’t really say.”
“Oh my god!  She’s going to die!”
“Please, calm down, sir.”
“But she’s my baby…”
“We’ll do the best we can for her.”
“Okay, okay…”
Tell you what.  If you need to come in again, for any reason, we’ll give you a discount.”
“Thank you; I appreciate it.  Now please, you have to save her!”
“It’s best you go home.  Stuff like this can take days.”

After that, I start bawling my eyes out.   I sit in the lobby, waiting for any news.  A few people around stare at me, as if I”m the one needing treatment.  Then, I recall the man’s words, telling me to go home.  With Herculean effort, I manage to drag myself back home.

I look at the room where Betsy is kept.  Alone.  Dark.  So miserable.  Eventually, I wake up the next morning realizing I was on the floor of Betsy’s room, tears on a pillow.  I had cried myself to sleep without knowing it.

Immediately, I drive to see Betsy.  The man who I saw yesterday is there.  He comes over to me and put a hand on my shoulder.

“How is she?  Is she going to live?”
He looks down at the ground.
“I don’t do this very often but…”
Wellk, I’m already in tears so there isn’t a point of finishing his sentence.
“Her strings are broken and the frame is completely shattered.  It was impossible to repair her.”
“Can I see her?”

The man leads me to a room in the back.  A pie of what used to be Betsy lays on the floor.

I knelt beside it and sobbed.  All those good times with my Betsy.  The keyboard was still intact, and with that, I played one final number on my dead piano.

Where the Sidewalk Ends

28 12 2010

It’s also where the streets have no name (okay, that seemed more witty in my mind).  This was one of the earlier songs I wrote back in the day, and it is based on a Shel Silverstein collection of poems of the same name.  I’m not sure how it somehow popped into my head but I do remember really enjoying his work in the 2nd grade.  I’ve pretty much forgotten about this song since I used the bridge of this song in “Let Go”, which I think is a much better song, both lyrically as well as musically. That being said, I still remember how to play it and how the melody goes so maybe it’s not such a bad song after all.

Where the Sidewalk Ends

Where the sidewalk ends,
that’s where I’ll see you again.
Jumping from crack to crack,
always wishing to want you back.

When the rains begin,
I’ll hold a candle and some things.
As the colored skyline fades,
I rush back to my mental cage.

And I run down the street
All these thoughts and memories gently spilling out.
Leave me here to mend.
And I”ll meet you where the sidewalk ends.

Where the past will start
is when my heart departs.
Chasing fantastic dreams
and anything else in between.

How fortunes finish,
a mystery diminished.
Mixtures of low tides,
bottle up numbling then divide.


Fly away, I’ll fly away
Fly away.
These mistakes, oh, these mistakes,
Will I finally die today?


Where the sidewalk ends,
that’s where we’ll meet again.

Let Go

30 08 2010

Another song I wrote quite a while ago. 

Everything seems to be faded
Everything seems to be fake
Everyone thinks they can handle
Life nowadays

Nothing is ever as it looks
Nothing is truly ever new
Nobody sees in the darkness
Or with clouded eyes


I still have yet to know
I still have yet to know
Let go
Let go

Looks like you’ve got me hooked
Looks like I can’t swim away
Looks like you appreciate my absence
From your heart

I still have yet to know
I still have yet to know
Let go
Let go

I still have yet to know
I still have yet to know
I still have yet to know
How to let you go
How to let you go
How to let you go

Child’s Play

3 08 2010

A little ditty I wrote.

The alienation of my music

1 08 2010

[posted from my myspace blog page since I’m too lazy and uninspired to write anything new today]

This weekend is Pride in Vancouver.  I’m going to be helping out with some filming of queer events and performers for a documentary a friend of mine is putting together about local queer performers in the city.  Of course, interviewing bands and musicians who are playing shows when I myself am a queer musician and have a hard time even getting a show kinda makes me jealous.  But there’s something else that I’ve been thinking about as well.

When I think of “gay” coupled with “music”, I–and I think most people–tend to think of dance-y, trance-y, electronic stuff that simply makes people want to dance.  And who better dances than the gays?  (The correct answer is no one, in case you didn’t get that)  Then there are also bands that can put on a good show because well, frankly, they’re noisy and during a celebration like Pride, noise = good.

But then there’s me.  My music/style isn’t particularly upbeat, both in a tempo sense as well as an uplifting way, and it’s not really loud either.  I thought about it a lot over the last few days and I realized my music isn’t… very gay.  Not that that’s a bad thing or that I feel like I should change my sound.  No way.  But it’s just difficult sometimes to try and get people, especially the gay community, to listen and enjoy my music when I’m so much different than what they typically listen to.

My music can be brooding, pensive, and sad, and a lot of people don’t want to listen to that, which is fine, whatever.  But then to see other musicians making it because they’re more… accessible or have a more popular sound and have more fans is kind of disappointing, especially when I feel like my music and my songs are a lot more meaningful than stuff that’s already out there.

I sent an e-mail to the Pride organizers with a link to my music several months ago when I saw an ad for acts in the upcoming Pride.  I never got a response from them so I can only say that my music wasn’t what they were looking for.

It’s not that I don’t have any happy songs, but that I don’t feel the need to write happy songs when I’m happy because I’m out there being happy!  It’s only when I’m utterly depressed and unwilling to do anything else that I write.  And if that gets me fewer gigs, than what am I supposed to do?

Anyhoo, I’ll try not to be a downer for Pride.  Just a reminder that my short film, Stay, will be screening on August 16th at 9:30 at Tinseltown.  Happy Pride, tout le monde,