INVERSE PROPORTIONS definition: A relation between two quantities such that one increases in proportion as the other decreases.
Sure the name Inverse Proportions came about as sort of an accident, but somehow as the music grows, the name has taken on a life of it's own. I'm back in Singapore for the first time in years and it's a huge culture shock for me - essentially relearning my own culture. Tell you the truth I'm a little grumpy about it. Plucked from wandering Orange Hill in Jamaica between naps under mango trees and diving in the ocean before evening song writing sessions or curry conch dinners with philosophizing rastas - and now thrown into the pace of Singapore's hustle and no nonsense bustle can be hard on the heart. The stereotypes of the Lion City seem to revolve around canning of American vandals, illegal gum chewing and staunch unimaginative folk. It has been said that Singapore is run like a corporation and not a country. Even recently we witnessed the words of a bourgeoning Singaporean artist Stephanie Koh who blurted out "I don't really feel proud to be Singaporean" followed by "No one here is creative". As a reflex reaction I wanted to immediately agree, but then took the time to think - What do I know about what a Singaporean is or isn't anyway? I've been away for so long having lived in Canada, USA and Jamaica.
I looked forward to weekly rehearsals with Inverse Proportions as it became my only creative outlet in my new Lion City base. I was initially introduced to band leader and bass player Jeremiah through someone that interviewed me for his school project (Shout outs to Zeph!) and J brought the crew together: Sarah Tan on keys, Zie on synth + sampler, Anson Koh on drums and Aidan joining us on this show banging out percussions. We got to work creating the music for the show, building on songs from my catalogue and translating them into the energy of a live band. I told the band from the first rehearsal - just play, feel and experiment how you wish. That they did, creating blends of Hiphop, Drum and Bass, Reggae, Pop and even some Disco. Everything we produced together for the show was created from the ground up and original music written by a tag rag group of Singaporeans. You know what? On an internationally scale the sound not only holds it's ground, but pushes boundaries of musical genres. Stereotypes of the physical appearances for who plays what style of music are shattered with this group, who represent a diversity of cultures. I no longer believe that Singaporeans are not creative - I think they just need more opportunities to express and experiment. We are creators, rebels and upsetters of the status quo - and yes, we are also Singaporean.
Just as important as the music are the relationships built in forming Inverse Proportions. The crew has been teaching me Singapore slang and I've been hopelessly screaming out phrases like "Bo Jio!" and "Lepak" in the wrong contexts. I'm learning I'm learning! I might quite possibly become the first person to mash up Jamaican Patois with Singlish. "Bumbaclat! Why you so bloodclat Lepak" After working all day all the musicians would show up on time to rehearsals with an amazing attitude and with jokes and laughter between sets. Wait a minute - these aren't the staunch uptight stereotypes I have come to expect?
Back to my original point - the name Inverse Proportions is beginning to take on a life and meaning of it's own. As the music, the friendships and creation with the band grows - my ego and negative expectations of Singapore shrinks. We had so much fun rocking the crowd at Aliwal Urban Arts Festival last night - which incidentally is a creative festival bank rolled by the government of Singapore. We open with Warriors Tongue and a 2 year old started bboying in front of the stage. Midway through our set, I had a packed house of Singaporeans yelling "MORE FYAH! MORE FYAH! BOH BOH BOH!" Am I in Toronto or Bedstuy New York? Nah, that was Singapore kids. The more the vibes grow, the more my small minded view of what I don't know shrinks away. After the show, with the crowd still chanting for an encore, Jeremiah meets me back stage and says "Pretty good start huh? " I flash back on years of working with rock and rollers and rappers whose egos would fill the room and insist on screaming "We're the best son, that's it we taking over". Here was this talented musician that had just rocked a packed room maintaining his perspective of things to come and calmly putting this start of something good into perspective. This is a new beginning. As habits of the past decrease, this new road ahead can grow. "The relation between two quantities such that one increases in proportion as the other decreases". This is the Inverse Proportion effect.