Lennat Mak has her finger in a lot of pies, with a pretty interesting career in the music industry so far as an intern, writer, producer, and drummer of one of Singapore’s current ‘buzz’ bands Obedient Wives Club. Her latest project, the Kombi Sessions, is an original take on live video sessions, featuring Singapore indie bands playing in real-life, moving Kombis. Find out more about the ‘rock goddess‘ and her dream ride, childhood dreams and nightmares… about pedigree cats.
What was your first stint in the music industry?
I started out as an intern with a music channel. I was bumming around after graduation, trying to “find myself” and decide what to do. One day, I happened to chance upon a job ad for editorial interns on the music channel’s website. I applied, got in and a few months later, I signed on full-time as a music journalist, covering all sorts of music related stuff.
Along the way, I also worked for a drum festival, Gibson Guitar Singapore, a major music label and did freelance writing for a few music publications. Right now, I’m back at the music channel full time, again! There’s no escape, it seems.
What do you love most about working in music?
I love that I’m around music all the time and I can’t imagine myself working on anything else. There’s no business like the music business.It’s always good to keep an open mind and be objective to all kinds of music.
And one thing about most people working in music is that they are nary your boring 9-5 people who talk about commonplace things — they are all so passionate about what they do. I love being around passionate people who have firm beliefs and strong viewpoints.
What did you dream of doing when you were a kid?
I wanted to open a restaurant and be a chef. But of course, as I grew up, I discovered that my culinary skills are almost non-existent. I still can’t cook to save my life. On the contrary, I think I mastered the art of cleaning the dishes just to make up for it.
“I love that I’m around music all the time and I can’t imagine myself working on anything else. There’s no business like the music business.“
You’ve driven around in a few Kombis now… what’s your dream ride?
I would love to have that yellow 1970s Baywindow Kombi featured in Little Miss Sunshine. It was a common goal among my friends for a while after the movie came out; just so we could go on a road trip and reenact the “no one gets left behind” scene. Now, I would love to own a Kombi and use it as a touring van for the band.
Tell us some funny stories from shooting the Kombi Sessions!
We have to improvise a lot during filming. In Episode 2 for Pastelpower, Cherie and Adel improvised their “gangsta” fist bump and it caught on with everyone else. Check out Episode 3 with Pleasantry and Episode 4 with Sapporo Safaris (trailer here!) and see if you can spot the same fist bump.
Aside from that, I also love how all the bands featured on Season 1 make references to each other and do various collaborations on the side. If I list out the references, it will probably be too much of a spoiler. So, best for the audience to discover themselves!
We’ve heard that you’re a keen long boarder! Where do you usually skate?
I love longboarding! I picked up skating back in December 2010 and I’m actually one of the ambassadors for Longboard Girls Crew in Singapore. I do a lot of long distance cruising from East Coast Park to Changi Village. Sulaiman (OWC bassist) brought me to skate around the Marina Bay Sands area once and I fell in love with the awesome night scenery there.
I also did a charity long distance cruise from East Coast Park to town with Khai and Mag from the Great Spy Experiment and some other friends. It was a really fun and rewarding experience.
What’s one instrument you wish you could play and why?
The piano. It’s melodic and percussive at the same time. I actually learned a bit of guitar and bass before I picked up drumming. Along the way, I also wanted to learn the violin, trumpet, gamelan and so many other instruments. I guess drumming still holds my interest more.
Suddenly, all these indie bands like Obedient Wives Club, Cashew Chemists, Pep Talk, Pleasantry and Sapporo Safaris are coming up. If you ask me, I really do feel that all these bands make up a very strong current wave in the small local music scene that we have.
Who is your all-time favorite record label?
Third Man Records. The White Stripes is my all-time favorite band and has really influenced me a lot musically. Jack taught me a lot about how to appreciate good music and why it is important to have a romantic notion for music. And he is such a visionary in everything he does, from his musical direction for his own bands, to recording style to how he runs his own label.
I’m actually hoping to start a boutique record label releasing 7″ split vinyl singles in 2013 — in the vein of how Third Man Records does things.
What would you like to see more of in the music scene here?
To have a really collective music scene. If you look at all the past great music scenes from Seattle, Detroit and Atlanta, you will find that all those movements came about because you could discover a whole load of good bands from the same geographical area.
I still take delight that Bradfox Cox from Deerhunter did a fist bump with me when we were talking about the Atlanta music scene and how great The Coathangers are and the fact that he designed their first LP cover. He seriously takes pride in his own local music scene and fellow bands. I want to feel the exact same way he does!
And it’s this very same observation, among many other reasons, that propelled me to produce Kombi Sessions. Suddenly, all these indie bands like Obedient Wives Club, Cashew Chemists, Pep Talk, Pleasantry and Sapporo Safaris are coming up. If you ask me, I really do feel that all these bands make up a very strong current wave in the small local music scene that we have.
“[Bradford Cox] seriously takes pride in his own local music scene and fellow bands. I want to feel the exact same way he does!”
Granted, as it is, the sub-genres have always had a very strong community of bands that support each other. Music discovery shouldn’t just stop at one band.
Cats or dogs?
I’m really not an animal person. But there’s a pedigree cat named Thom at Thom’s Loft, which belongs to Alan Bok, OWC’s producer for the second EP. Despite me not being a big fan of animals, Thom has sneaked into my heart without me realising it.
There was a period when we had not been rehearsing so I didn’t see Thom for the longest of time. And guess what? I had a nightmare about the cat, woke up traumatised that I had to text Yinqi (OWC vocalist) immediately for counseling. It was horrible. Not the best of times.
Favourite Instagram filter?
What philosophy/quote/motto do you live by?
I love this quote by the character Penny Lane in my all-time favourite movie, Almost Famous:
“I always tell the girls, never take it seriously. If you never take it seriously, you’ll never get hurt. If you never get hurt, you’ll always have fun. And if you ever get lonely, just go to the record store and visit your friends.”
But lately, I’ve been going on non-stop with, “No regrets. Just love!”.
By Melissa Yong