New Music Tuesdays: Isaac Ong goes live at LASALLE
Photo courtesy of Joseph Chow.
Walking into the ground floor cafe at LASALLE on a Tuesday night felt faintly familiar, like a tune you know from somewhere but can’t quite put a finger on. I used to come here often with my fellow SMU schoolmates, back when the cafe still occupied twice the amount of space and had an entirely different name.
“Do you remember what it used to be called?” I asked Isaac Ong when we finally managed to sit down for a chat after his band finished their sound checks. “I’ve been trying so hard to recall what it was.”
He paused, and by the look that passed over his face I knew it had also drawn a blank – and we both laughed. “I’ll figure it out,” I promised.
A quick look through Facebook a few days later gave me an answer; after all, my friends and I had many meetings and even birthday celebrations here in the early 2010s. Before the cafe had changed hands, Lowercase Cafe used to be called “15 minutes”, after the Andy Warhol theory on everybody’s 15 minutes of fame.
True to its location within one of Singapore’s most renowned arts schools, 15 minutes was a melting pot of art, music and culture way before Isaac would lead a similar movement to reclaim that for Lowercase. Despite the forgotten years after I graduated and stopped coming to that part of the city, 15 minutes stayed in my mind as the beautiful glasshouse cafe with art-strewn walls and open mic nights.
So you can imagine the déjà vu stepping in again 7 years later, only now the stage has moved and you recognise the man singing with the band. I was there for the trial run of TUESDAYS, a new series of weekly Tuesday night music sessions for youth and the young at heart.
“We want this to be a ‘good vibes’ environment where people can share stories, take a pause from life and find a space in the middle of the madness.”
The team behind this, which Isaac is part of, hopes to bring back the live band culture young people have always enjoyed. It’s a start to recreating a safe space for friendships, creativity and the enjoyment of good music.
“Good music, good vibes,” Isaac replied, when I asked him what they envision for TUESDAYS. “We want this to be a ‘good vibes’ environment where people can share stories, take a pause from life and find a space in the middle of the madness.
“Something crazy always happens whenever we do this.”
Granted, this isn’t the first time Isaac is spreading the love through music. Since his early 20s, the man has been an itinerant musician of sorts, having sung his way into hearts on Channel 5’s The Final 1, The Voice SG/MY and even China’s Come Sing With Me.
For years, he has spent time in various Southeast Asian nations bringing a unique blend of love and music to the youth and children there. Back home in Singapore, Isaac leads the FOPx worship team, several of whom have agreed to play alongside him monthly for TUESDAYS.
But his will not be the only band taking the stage once TUESDAYS kicks off in April. I hear that Martin Tang, award-winning producer and songwriter to Mandopop superstars such as Jacky Chung, A*Mei and Stefanie Sun, to name a few, is in discussion to help fill out the lineup.
And it doesn’t stop there. The team is currently looking for likeminded musicians, artists and creatives to take over the Lowercase space and make it something of their own. Maybe teach a class on making instruments. Start an interest group. Set up a craft corner. The possibilities are endless.
From where I stand, TUESDAYS at Lowercase might just be the new weekly dinner plan of 2019 for many. Isaac sure hopes so.
“It’s one night to love, to feel peace,” he said with smile. “It might even alter your life.”
Mark your calendars: TUESDAYS will officially start on April 23, 2019 at 8pm. Lowercase Cafe at LASALLE College of the Arts is open all week, including weekends. To follow the weekly TUESDAYS lineup or find out how you can be a part of the initiative, follow @coloursglobalsg on Instagram.