A dedication: musicians share their favourite memories and songs they listened to with their fathers

A dedication: musicians share their favourite memories and songs they listened to with their fathers

No gathering around a cake lit with candles, no cheerful banter about our every day happenings, no long nights spent huddled in front of the television watching football with Dad - Father's Day this year sees a relatively quiet crowd. While COVID-19 disrupted many of our annual family gatherings on this special day for our fathers, our unwavering love for them is something that sticks with us throughout the process of growing up.

This Father's Day, we spoke to 10 musicians from 6 countries about their fathers. From Ariel Tsai and Elephant Gym in Taiwan to Renee Dominique in the Philippines, Valentina Ploy in Thailand, and more, they shared with us their favourite memories and how music played a part in growing up with their fathers. 


KT AND TELL FROM ELEPHANT GYM (TW)

Tell us about you and your dad.

During our childhood, our dad was our walking dictionary. Whenever we faced confusions or difficulties, he would explain them to us with lots of patience. When we had trouble falling asleep as babies, our dad would cradle us in his arms and keep strolling around the living room. Somehow, we would fall asleep in his warm hugs.

We were in a folk band in high school. After writing a few songs, we started to upload them online and join some competition by ourselves. One day, a record contract was sent to our home and our songs were picked by a compilation. Our dad was shocked and called the music company immediately to check if it was a fraud. After talking to the manager for 30 minutes, he then realized that his children might be talented in music. Since then, he has been our strongest supporter.

What is a favourite memory of you and your dad?

Our grandmother has been suffering from cancer and our dad has been taking care of her for years. Except for going out to work, he stayed at home for most of the time. Last year, Elephant Gym had been nominated by a prominent music award in Taiwan. We invited our dad to go to the ceremony in Taipei (we lived in Kaohsiung, 5 hours drive to Taipei.) Surprisingly, he decided to go with us. When the host announced that we won the prize, we believe our dad was crazily happy. After the ceremony, our dad, mom, and us went for an after-party. The smile on our dad’s face made every effort worth it.

What music did you grow up listening to because of your dad?

Our dad likes family trips. We listen to his CD collection during every long drive. He would play some Western classics such as The Beatles and lots of Taiwanese pop. We fell in love with Karen Mok, a Mandarin singer whose music is given priority in the car. When we were writing our own song 'Spring Rain', we came up with an idea to sample her famous song, 'Cloudy Day' in it. Luckily, we got the authorization for her record company to use the song!


BLASTER SILONGA FROM IV OF SPADES (PH)

Tell us about you and your dad.

We eat together, we watch movies together, we listen to music and he’s the reason why I chose music as a career.

What is a favourite memory of you and your dad?

My favorite memory with him is when I playfully slapped someone’s back in public who I thought was him.

What music did you grow up listening to because of your dad?

I listened to a lot of Stevie Wonder, The Jackson 5, and a lot of RNB music as well.


RENEÉ DOMINIQUE (ID)

Tell us about you and your dad.

My papa and I are like best buddies. We share a lot of common traits which is why we get along in many ways, such as humour, sports, technology, taste in fashion, cars, and any outdoor activities. He taught me how to ride a bike, play basketball, badminton, table tennis, and even Jackstones.  He showed me the importance of always giving my best shot. When I was younger, I was part of the school's varsity team.  He was always there to support and watch me during trainings.  He has always been the person I would run to for any kind of help, advice, and guidance.

What is a favourite memory of you and your dad?

My papa and I bond in the simplest of ways. Like going for a drive because I'm craving for 'Taho' (soy in sweet caramelized sugar with tapioca pearls, a Filipino snack) or anything that interests me at random times. We accompany each other to run errands, learn life skills, or go for bike rides in the city.  Our car ride conversations are always something and any time I get to spend and have a conversation with him is great. 

What music did you grow up listening to because of your dad?

Definitely a lot of all-time favourite classics and hits. Papa is a singer and performer so I grew up watching him and listening to him perform. It was important learning from him how to best prepare before a performance and never forget to enjoy the moment on stage and give an excellent show every time. He reminds me that what I have is all from God. Music and my talent is a gift to be shared to honour my Creator and spread the message of love and life to uplift others.


VALENTINA PLOY (TH)

Tell us about you and your dad.

My relationship with my dad could simply be described as the center of my life. In the deepest meaning of it. My dad has always been my number one person to go to whenever I have a problem or I feel down. He just has the power to lift up my spirits at any time. Also, he is the funniest and the coolest, and we often laugh so much! I am who I am because of a big part he gave me and I live happier thanks to his advice.

What is a favourite memory of you and your dad?

This is hard! There are so many good memories I’ve shared with him but my favourite would be when he wrote me a letter saying what I mean to him and how much he loves me. He doesn’t normally express his feelings that much so that was very precious. I cried a river last year when that happened.

What music did you grow up listening to because of your dad?

Surely Neapolitan music! My dad is proudly from Napoli (Naples), a big cool city in the south of Italy so he introduced me to a lot of very passionate music from there. There are two songs in particular that we used to sing a lot together and they are called 'o surdato nnammurato' and 'Tu vuo Fa l’americano'.


BENJAMIN KHENG (SG)

Tell us about you and your dad.

My father is a very wise fella. He used to give me great advice, now gives me great advice while talking trash. Everyone’s evolving for 2020!

What is a favourite memory of you and your dad?

I was 9 and my mom was mad at me for something. She told my dad to belt me. My dad took me by the arm to the room and locked the door. I was crying my ass off. My dad took off his belt, looked at my sternly, and told me to keep quiet. He took his belt, raises it… and whips the bed. I’m confused, and he asked me to make a noise. I went, “….aaahhhh.” He whipped the bed again and asked me to make a painful noise again. We repeated this several times. He then said, “show me your crying face?” I showed him my crying face. He unlocked the door and we walked out.

What music did you grow up listening to because of your dad?

Bee Gees, The Eagles, ABBA, Simon & Garfunkel.


SALEH HUSEIN FROM WHITE SHOES & THE COUPLES COMPANY (ID)

Tell us about you and your dad.

My parents were passed away years ago. I lost my mom when I was in high school and my father when I was in college. I had a closer relationship with my mother than my father. However, since my father had a strong personality, everybody in the neighborhood respected him and his presence in our lives made us feel safe and secure.

What is a favourite memory of you and your dad?

One of my fondest memories with my late father was watching football and boxing with him. As I told you previously, his strong personality was a bit scary for me at that time. However, when we watched the game, he could not contain his excitement. He was screaming and kicking and that made the game more exciting because he could be so expressive. 

What music did you grow up listening to because of your dad?

Orkes Melayu music by Indonesian artist Munif Bahasuan. My late father played the songs on repeat and the melody intact in my mind until now.

RICKY VIRGANA FROM WHITE SHOES & THE COUPLES COMPANY (ID)

Tell us about you and your dad.

Back in early ’90s, I often traveled with my dad by boat for fishing on a remote island in Sumatra, or we fished along a big river in the countryside or just some small river near my hood. Also, we often rode our bicycles with his group of friends to some National Park in West Java such as Halimun Mountain National Park. I think he’s the one who introduced me to nature and how important it is for us

What is a favourite memory of you and your dad?

One of my favourite memories with him was when we went fishing in Lampung (South part of Sumatra) and he caught a monster stingray fish. That was my first time seeing a huge stingray with a deadly poisonous tail. I also fell from the boat into the sea and he tried to save me, but the fact is that he can’t swim, so it’s like a drama for all of us (me, including the boat crew) who tried to help him.

What music did you grow up listening to because of your dad?

Jimi Hendrix, Cream, The Beatles, John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, The Rolling Stones

 


ARIEL TSAI (TW)

Tell us about you and your dad.

I am very close to my dad. One would often be surprised how close I am to my family, especially when I refer to them as my best friends growing up. My dad usually gives an impression of being quite strict and authoritative, but he is the most family-oriented person whom I’ve ever known. He truly puts family first, and with each decision he makes, he always thinks about us first. He often jokes that he lives for the family rather than himself, but it is so true, and it always brings me tears when I think about it. I am so blessed and grateful to be able to look up to my dad as one of the most influential and loving figures in my life.

What is a favourite memory of you and your dad?

I usually spend time with my dad, mom, and brother. There was one rare occasion that I distinctly remember. It was when I got to have dim sum with dad one-on-one when I was a sophomore in college. It was like a father-daughter date where I openly shared a lot about my personal struggles with him. It was also when dad told me a lot of interesting stories about himself and how he grew up. That was one of my favorite moments with him - simply bonding over the dining table, sharing with each other our deepest thoughts while eating some delicious 燒賣 (Siew Mai) and 蝦餃 (Har Gao).

What music did you grow up listening to because of your dad?

I grew up listening to Mandarin pop. I was the one who introduced the genre to my dad, and though he rejected it at first because he was a big fan of folk music, later on, he was even more into it than I was! He became a huge fan of Jay Chou and often played his songs on repeat. Therefore, I was quite exposed to Jay Chou’s music growing up, and my songwriting was heavily influenced by him as well.


HAOREN 朱浩仁 (MY)

Tell us about you and your dad.

I think my relationship between my dad and me is like Superman and an ordinary person. My dad will never cause us trouble, and we are free to do what we want to do from childhood. Hence, my dad would support me no matter what I decide to do. My dad was really like a superman who always sacrifices himself to support every decision made by his son.

What is a favourite memory of you and your dad?

I like to travel with my dad the most. Dad is always happy when traveling and I also hope to show my dad more about this world. I remember when I was a kid, no matter what happened, my father would take me to buy toys as long as I cried. I remember once when I was naughty and I played with my relative’s motorcycle. As a result, I was hit by it, but fortunately, there was no injury. My dad took me out to buy toys immediately. Now I remember that he really bought me many, many toys such as trains, aeroplanes, yoyos, and a lot more. 

What music did you grow up listening to because of your dad?

Sam Hui's songs - I can basically sing all his songs and until now, I still remember all the lyrics. When I travel for long distances by car, his songs accompany me. They are also played on repeat during the New Year. Recently, he did an online concert and that really reminded me of many memories with my father. In my first album, I sang a remix of his song '世事如棋' and I also sang it during Astro Talent Star Quest in 2008. 


CLARA BENIN (PH)

Tell us about you and your dad.

I’m a lot like my dad! We’re both very sentimental and stubborn at heart. Not only do we look alike, but we also share the same interests - deciphering music, eating popcorn, watching '80s-'90s rom coms, and a love for authentic Italian food!

What is a favourite memory of you and your dad?

We used to stay up till midnight just jamming to our favourite standard jazz songs.

What music did you grow up listening to because of your dad?

I grew up listening to The Beatles, Stevie Wonder, and Sting. My dad would play their music in the car all the time!