(From left) Stronger than yesterday: Calin Wong, Tay Kexin, Peter Huang, Eugene Yip, Goh Mingwei and Juni Goh of MICappella will be showcasing new material from an upcoming EP. | Photos: MICappella
When Hal David and Burt Bacharach wrote the hit song "What The World Needs Now Is Love" back in 1965, one wonders if the pair knew it would become the power anthem it has been through the decades - as a song to inspire and rally good vibes in the face of adversity.
And, boy, has the human race been facing a lot of adversity recently.
One of the sectors hit hardest by COVID-19 not only in Singapore but around the world: the entertainment industry. After eight months of no shows, things started looking up at the end of 2020 when live performances were allowed a limit of 250 concert attendees (with no pre-event testing required). That still remains, and from last Saturday (24 Apr 2021), the limit for live performances was increased to 750 attendees with pre-event testing implemented.
MICappella - formed in 2009 and comprising Calin Wong, Tay Kexin, Peter Huang, Eugene Yip, Goh Mingwei and Juni Goh - was scheduled to hold a concert last year to promote their album, "Love, MICappella". Sadly, unlike Queen's declaration, the show just couldn't go on.
But here we are a year later, and the local sextet can certainly shout their hoorays as they prepare for the very belated two-day showcase on 15 and 16 May (Sat and Sun) at Marina Bay Sands' Sands Theatre, which has a capacity of 250 pax with no pre-event testing required.
Each day will see the group performing two one-hour concerts - one at 5pm, another at 8pm - on a 360-degree stage. Tickets available here.
"Sonically, I believe we have a chance to use a sophisticated and excellent sound system meant for over a thousand pax in a theatre, but now used for just 250 pax," says Peter.
"Pre-COVID, you’d never get this sonic quality in a smaller venue for 250 people. It’s a chance for us and our sound engineer to consider more detailed effects and textures to present the best show we can to our fans."
We speak to the six songsters about the past year, the long-awaited concert, and love, sweet love.
COVID-19 put your plans for this concert on hold for a year. Do you believe in things happening for a reason? What are the advantages of having the concert now?
Peter: I’m not sure if things happen for a reason. But I believe we can always make the best of a tough situation and it will be an opportunity to be more resilient. The passion for our music to me is the driving force of this resilience, which I believe will see us through this period, and I also believe, will show in the music we write and perform for you guys in this concert.
Calin: Having this love-themed concert during the pandemic could not be more suitable, as we feel that the most important thing for us to do now is to reach out, spread warmth and positivity, and hold each other up in times of turmoil with the best way we know how: music. That said, because of COVID, we have to split one show into four, which means four times the energy, four times the time etc. It is definitely challenging and demanding, but we are rehearsing hard to make sure this is a concert our audiences remember.
Juni: What the world needs now, more than ever, is love. That’s the main theme of our concert, since “Love, MICappella” is both our EP and concert title, so you could say that it might have happened for a reason.
With a longer lead time between the EP release and the concert, we’ve had time to perform some of our original songs through live shows pre-pandemic and livestream shows during the pandemic. Having more time with the songs gave us more perspective on them and I believe we are definitely more comfortable with these songs than we would have been a year ago!
Did being apart for so long help or hinder MICappella?
Juni: You may think that for us, the extended break was filled with a cappella training, but that’s far from the truth! We tried rehearsing over Zoom once and failed miserably due to the lag. Everyone fell apart after a while. We just stopped singing together for a good few months. I’m glad we are intensifying our rehearsals leading up to the concert.
Eugene: I think pitching in a cappella requires us to be together to stack harmonies and stay relative to the different elements in a song. When we’re on our own, singing to backing tracks, I tend to be a little more free-form unconsciously, and that can make my pitching worse.
Kexin: Absence made the heart grow fonder. It helped in giving us some space and time to rethink and recalibrate our priorities as a band. In the past, we were just constantly overwhelmed with performances and going wherever the wind blew us. Even though we had plans in mind, we often had neither the time nor energy to follow through with the big ideas.
With this downtime, we got the chance to have serious talks about future plans, and dug deep into the running of the band for longevity. We were physically apart, but kept in contact. I believe we bonded stronger while trying to adapt to the challenges presented to us during COVID.
COVID-19 has been a time of self-reflection for many of us, especially artists. What has the pandemic taught you, especially about love?
Calin: Thanks to COVID and the lockdown, I had to face my children 24/7 for two whole months – and I couldn’t bring them out to expend their limitless energy! Even though it was trying sometimes, I spent an immense amount of quality time with them and I emerged from it understanding and loving them a lot more.
The song “Through Your Eyes” I wrote for the “LOVE, MICappella” EP is about my daughter Evey and this pandemic made me see through her eyes so much more (seeing that we were together all the time).
Kexin: COVID has brought me much closer to my family. I used to be so busy with work that I neglected spending time with them, missing out years of precious moments. Their presence during this pandemic made me realise that love is enduring, and no matter what happens, family will always be there for us.
Juni: Even though I was apart from family and friends throughout the Circuit Breaker, we connected digitally, whether it was through video calls, sending food deliveries to each other or even on a karaoke app. One thing that touched me was I celebrated my birthday a few weeks into the Circuit Breaker, and on the day itself, I received three cake deliveries, ice cream deliveries and even a huge helium balloon with my name on it!
Who is the most romantic one in MICappella?
Eugene: I think it’s Kexin. I see how she is with her partner on their special days, and there’s a thoughtfulness, and also a sense of shared quality time, and they are really present with each other. I think it’s really heart-warming. That’s true romance to me. ❤️
Juni: I think Peter is secretly very romantic. He cooks meals for his wife on special occasions (even though he doesn’t usually cook, and his food can be summed up in one word: salty), and would make them bland on purpose (so as to make it edible for others)! I think that doing something one usually wouldn’t do for the sake of others is the most romantic gesture of all.
“Love, MICappella” is styled as a love letter. As MICappella, if you could write a love letter to anyone, who would it be to, and what would it say?
Peter: To all our supporters: Things are going to eventually blow over. We just need to keep our heads up and remain committed to doing the right things to protect each other. As for ourselves, I have confidence that our music will keep us going.
Calin: To our supporters: Thank you so much for standing by us all these years, through good and bad times... We will strive to continue making great music that can, in turn, stand by you and keep you company through your good and bad times.