May 2021 - Shueh-Li Ong

 

Shueh-Li Ong

The May 2021 episode of the Theremin 30 podcast features music from Spain, England, and the USA. Rick Reid interviews Shueh-Li Ong, host of the YouTube livestream series Music and Chat with Shueh-Li Ong.

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FEATURED MUSIC*

*The full-length recordings featured in this show were used with the knowledge and permission of the artists and composers. Please support the artists by visiting their websites, purchasing their recordings, and attending their performances. 

ADDITIONAL MUSIC

INTERVIEW GUEST

CALENDAR OF THEREMIN EVENTS

MEDIA LINKS

CONTACT

CREDITS 

Copyright 2021 Rick Reid 

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TRANSCRIPT

David Brower
This is Theremin 30, thirty minutes of theremin music, news, events, and interviews, with a new episode about every 30 days. Now, here is your host from Denver, Colorado, USA -- Rick Reid.

Rick Reid
Hey, there! Welcome to the May 2021 episode of Theremin 30, the world's number one monthly theremin music podcast. I think it is safe to say that. This month I've got some wonderful music from England, Spain, and the USA. And my special guest is the multi-talented Shueh-Li Ong, host of the YouTube live-streaming show Music and Chat with Shueh-Li Ong. It is going to be a challenge to get everything into a 30-minute show, so let's get right to it.

First up, it's brand new music from Therematic, a project of Spanish thereminist Javier Diez Ena. Javier uses several theremins and Abelton Live to create both audio and MIDI streams at the same time. The result is a style he calls theremin dance music.  The name of this track is "Exotique Mecanique." 

Rick Reid
We started the show with a song called "Exotique Mecanique" by Therematic, the new dance music project by Javier Diez Ena. After that we heard a Claude Debussy composition, "Beau Soir," or "Beautiful Evening," performed by UK thereminist Charlie Draper and Harpist Holly Lowe, a duo calling themselves Stranger Strings. Debussy wrote this piece to accompany the words of a poem by Paul Bourget. The duo recorded this track last November for a TEDx presentation. You can watch the video on the Theremin 30 YouTube playlist.

It's time now for the Theremin 30 calendar of theremin events. On June 5th, concerts are back around the world with the Divine Hand Ensemble performing at a cemetery in Philadelphia, The Narcolepter on stage in Australia, and Javier Diez Ena performing as Therematic in Madrid, Spain. Lydia Kavina continues her online theremin workshops on most Sundays.  Yoko Onishi hosts another edition of the RCA Theremin Evening on YouTube on Saturday, June 26th. And on July 4th, the New Note Orchestra featuring thereminist Alexx Mazonovich will present a live-streaming concert with music from their new album. For details, visit the calendar page on Theremin30.com.

I'll have music from Armen Ra later in the show. And coming right up, I'll visit with the host of Music and Chat with Shueh-Li Ong. So stay tuned!

Rick Reid
Shueh-Li Ong has been called Singapore's Diva of the Theremin. The Nashville Scene newspaper has called her Queen of the Theremin. And I called her just a few days ago to find out more about the streaming talk show she has been hosting from two different continents during the pandemic.

Rick Reid
Sheuh-Li Ong. Thank you so much for being on the Theremin 30 podcast.

Shueh-Li Ong
Thanks Rick. Thanks so much for having me.

Rick Reid
We met in Durham, North Carolina, during Moogfest, a couple of years ago.You were performing at the Arcana.

Shueh-Li Ong
Yes, I was. And it was a pleasure as well to meet you finally in person.   

Rick Reid
You play keyboards and synthesizers and theremin. And it seems like every theremin player's got a story about how they became a theremin player. So what's your story?

Shueh-Li Ong
When I considered the theremin, I had reached a juncture in my development as a musician. I already had a degree in piano and post-graduate research in interactive multimedia performance systems. And I had just left a position as head of marketing and game development lead with this particular company in Singapore to then direct a music and technology show design company. I know it sounds like a mouthful, but I was always very keen that way to do too many things. So I was quite ready to incorporate other languages into my work, other musics. And the theremin was a natural choice. The grandfather of electronic musical instruments. I thought it deserved some airtime. I thought I could be a proponent -- one of many. Being a student of the theremin has also shaped the way I view and resolve problems in life. I hope I'm a little wiser or a wiser learner because of the experience.  Feeling inadequate is a catalyst to progress and a good thing if it challenges you. I guess you could say the impostor syndrome is a version of what I'm talking about. Some people are on the other end of the spectrum, the moment they start playing an instrument, they can do something, be it artistic or arithmetic or whatever. They go, "Nah, I'm really good at this. And look at me."  And I had come from the other side where the more I do,  the less I know, but the more excited I am.

Rick Reid
It seems like a lot of theremin players starting out or even after a few years still feel like an imposter. I know, I feel that way.

Shueh-Li Ong
The theremin is such a humbling instrument. Isn't it? It really forces you to just get down on your knees and pay attention. I know so many musicians and good ones who decide they want to play the theremin and realize it's not one of those instruments you can tame easily.  

Rick Reid
You've been playing theremin for more than 20 years and you've got a theremin with the Bob Moog signature on the top, did you ever get a chance to meet him?

Shueh-Li Ong
Yes, I did very briefly because we communicated over what I would like to have as a quote-unquote, player of the instrument, which was to have the volume antenna inverted. So he kindly did that for me. And when it came to purchasing my Etherwave Pro, he also did the conversion on that for me. A funny anecdote was during a photoshoot someone hit and toppled the E-Pro and damaged the antennas and it was sent it back to him to Moog Music. But unfortunately, Bob Moog had already left us and was only there in spirit. And the guys at Moog Music said to me "Bob did not leave any blueprints so we'll have to reverse engineer this and --hope we can fix it!"

Rick Reid
You use a lot of effects with your electronic music. Do you have a favorite effects pedal that you use with your theremin?

Shueh-Li Ong
I started off experimenting with effects pedals and then ended up using plug-in effects on Mainstage instead.  Mainstage is the performance accompaniment to Logic Pro, which is the DAW that I use. 

Rick Reid
The other reason that I wanted you on the show, not just because you're a theremin player, you have a show of your own --  Music and Chat with Shueh-Li Ong. What is that? How do you explain it to someone who hasn't seen the show?

Shueh-Li Ong
I began Music and Chat with Shelly Ong, a YouTube live stream, as a means to stay in touch with friends and fans during the pandemic. And friends from the industry and their friends have been my guests. Sharing their behind-the-scenes work as inventors, concept artists, VFX supervisors, composers, orchestrators, synthesists, magazine editors, et cetera, et cetera.  The whole idea was to stay in touch with everybody and to bring some fun and joy and party spirit. When I say party, everyone gets together and it's a hearty party. I say you feel like you're gathering with friends and you are interacting with them because it's real-time, everyone gets to, have conversations with each other, as well as with the guest and with me. And they really enjoy that. So do the guests, which is really nice. 

Rick Reid
People can ask questions of your guest?

Shueh-Li Ong
Yes. And they do. Very often they are more informed than I am, being fans of various areas or musical genres, or even the guest, in particular, they have followed the history or the trends of the era or the person in question. And they have more in-depth information than I might have.  And I love it because we all learn from each other. That's the whole point, isn't it? I'm just hosting it. I'm not claiming to be the historian. And I have had some. Interesting historical and anecdotal accounts as well from our various guests, who have included Peter Zenovieff of EMS London, Jim Scott and Herb Deutsch on their work with Bob Moog, Pat Gleeson and Don Preston on synthesizing Apocalypse Now, performers from Moogfest  '07  when it was still held at B.B. King's Times Square. I've been trying to find video clips from MoogFest '07, and I believe someone out there has it. So I'm hoping to bring the gang back again to view some of these clips, which I hope will be in a few months' time.  I'll have some other guests such as Dean Parks and Chuck Rainey, Fairlight and Synclavier exponents Rory Kaplan and Chris Currell, and Bob Clearmountain will be back for round two. Bob is a premier mix engineer well-known for his work during the eighties and nineties, I believe, and still carrying on.

Rick Reid
And your show is music and chat. So you actually perform live during part of your show.

Shueh-Li Ong
Yes, I do at the very start. I chat with my viewers and then I play something live for them. And "live" is the operative word.

Rick Reid
Synthesizers and theremin?

Shueh-Li Ong
Yes. Sometimes tin whistle. On the odd occasion I sing.

Rick Reid
If people want to watch your program, is it every week?

Shueh-Li Ong
I just launched season three last Saturday,  And due to my teaching schedule, I'm doing it every fortnight or some people might say every two weeks. And I will see how my schedule works out. I might start doing it weekly.

Rick Reid
I've been putting it on my Theremin 30 calendar. And  I put a note in there because sometimes you change the time depending on your guest's schedule.

Shueh-Li Ong
Because it's live. I do need to accommodate the guests depending on where they're coming from.  I feel very fortunate being in this pandemic situation that people are still reaching out and that's the whole point of Music and Chat, that we can come together, share music, and just share our companionship. And our guests have been very nice to agree to appear and allow us to do that.

Rick Reid
If I miss a show, can I watch it later?

Shueh-Li Ong
Yes. They are currently archived on my YouTube channel.  If you are interested in checking it out it's Oceanachine spelled O C E A N A C H I N E.  It's one word, or if you get lost, you can type my name in, but you need to spell it correctly. And it's S H U E H L I and my last name is Ong, O N G.  

Rick Reid
it's Music and Chat with Shelly Ong and it's every fortnight. it's either on a Sunday or a Saturday, depending on what part of the world you're in.

Shueh-Li Ong
I usually put a placeholder on the spot where the live stream will take place eventually. And it gives you time and dates and how many hours to the live stream. You won't ever get lost. And if you subscribe and hit the bell symbol, you'll be alerted to when the live streams take place.

Rick Reid
And I'll have the link to that on the show notes for this episode. So if the listeners don't remember how to spell your name, they can just click on the link on the notes and get right to your show on YouTube.

Shueh-Li Ong
If I may tell your listeners that if they're interested in lessons with me, I can do them remotely, or if they want a song or album to be produced and they need help, I can do that, too.

Rick Reid
Oh, cool. Thank you very much for being on the podcast.

Shueh-Li Ong
Thanks, Rick. And you take care, and thanks so much for having me as well.

Rick Reid
Now, let's finish this segment of the show with some music by Shueh-Li Ong that features upright bass player Brian Mooney. This is a medley of two short pieces called "SarahSaoirse" and "Izeibil."

Rick Reid
There's still music on the way from Armen Ra, so stay tuned!

Rick Reid
Let's finish the show with two tracks from Armen Ra's 2018 album Theremin Discmorphia.  I was going to play just one song, but these two tracks seem meant to stay together. First, you'll hear "Nessun Dorma," the aria from the Puccini opera Turandot. "Nessum Dorma" translates from Italian as "Let No One Sleep."  After that, we'll hear "Let Me Sleep."

Rick Reid
Thank you so much to Therematic, Stranger Strings, Shueh-Li Ong, and Armen Ra for sharing their music, and another thank you to Shueh-Li Ong for visiting with me about her Music and Chat show on YouTube. Coming up in the June episode, I'll be playing new music from Paulo Pascual and the New Note Orchestra. Until then, please do all you can to support the recording artists and guests who appear on Theremin 30. It has been a difficult time for everyone in the theremin community, so we need to continue to lift each other up. I'm your host, Rick Reid. I'll see you around on Twitter and Facebook.

David Brower
You've been listening to the Theremin 30 podcast. Visit Theremin 30 on the web at Theremin30.com.