R: We’ve been jamming for quite a number of years now and after so long, we realized that nothing much has changed within the industry. So we set out to make a difference in our own way. We decided to start up Decibel Studios, a 24/7 jamming studio and music school. The jamming studio side of things is fully automated and we’ve tried to make it as seamless and convenient as possible.
K: I was given the opportunity to play in a church worship team as a keyboardist and the interest as a jammer grew from there. I knew Reuben from the worship team and we used to jam regularly even outside of church. Over time, we realized that there was a lot of potential for the jamming scene in Singapore to grow and prosper so we wanted to create our own version of a jamming experience.
When did you realize you wanted to pursue this path?
R: When I was much younger, I wanted to become a professional musician and play in huge stadiums. As I grew older, other dreams and ambitions began to replace that one. But music was always an integral part of my life. I knew that Kenneth had been looking to buy a studio for a few years and I finally approached him in July 2017 regarding this. After some discussion, we decided to start up a new jamming studio and music school.
K: It has always been one of my dreams to start a music business on my own, but I guess the realization of this pursuit grew proportionally as I approached the big three-zero.
Do you guys write and produce original songs?
R: Not currently. However, we do enjoy rearranging songs and playing them in different styles.
K: I wish I had the ability to write and produce original songs.
Were you guys always interested in music as a kid or did it blossom as you grew older?
R: The first instrument I picked up was the bongo when I was about five years old. I also played the African drums when I was living in Uganda, East Africa from the ages of seven to ten. I eventually started playing the drums after joining a band competition with my friends when I was sixteen. The bass guitar was the next instrument I picked up. I’ve played in a few bands and also in churches. My live playing improved in church, where I played every week and I explored different genres with various bands outside of church.
K: When I was young, music lessons were generally expensive and not a lot of kids had the luxury of owning a piano at home. My parents strongly felt that money was better spent on tuition but they eventually realized my interest in music was stronger. So one day, my dad gave me a 61-key Yamaha keyboard that came with a beginner’s music book. I read through every single page of that book and slowly taught myself music. That was the starting point. I guess music has always been a part of my life ever since, as I transited from my school’s band, to the police band, and then to playing in a church worship team.
Why is music so important to you guys?
K: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once said, ”Music is the universal language of mankind”. I remember a particular Japanese cultural exchange I experienced when I was younger with some Japanese students. Everyone was so awkward and reserved around one another. It didn’t help that we couldn’t understand each other and we didn’t know what to do either. That was until I started belting out some j-pop songs on the piano and their eyes perked. They started singing along, and suddenly it was like we were old friends catching up. I truly felt the power of music that day and its capacity to amaze and captivate.
R: Music has always been a part of my life. As cliché as it sounds, I always have a beat or rhythm going on in my head. Playing the drums has been an excellent source of stress relief for me. When I play with a band that I connect well with, I find myself being able to forget everything else. It is a feeling of pure euphoria.
What would you like to impart to the students you teach?
R: I would like all our students to love music and to play their instruments because they really enjoy it. I’ve had so much fun as a jammer and I’d like to be able to give back to the community.
K: Play your hearts out. Because music has so much to offer, I would tell my students to go in the direction of where their heart sings the loudest and never let anyone tell them otherwise.
Are your family and friends supportive of you guys, and what did they think when you decided to pack up and pursue what you're doing?
R: My family and friends have been very supportive. We’ve received so much help from them and we can’t thank them enough. To quote John Donne, “No man is an island.” I’d especially like to thank Amos Tay for his technical support and photography. Another person I’d like to thank is Edwin Lek for his technical advice.
K: I'm grateful for everyone who has shown us their love and support. The road to starting a business is never easy but I have received so much support from my parents, our friends like Amos and Edwin, as well as many others who have helped and advised us along the way.
What do you do in your free time?
K: I love to spend the day playing all kinds of songs on the piano for hours on end. No surprise there. Other than that, I (try to) hit the gym on weekends, play computer games, dabble in a bit of swimming, cycling, badminton, café hopping and yes, jam session on almost every weekend.
R: I enjoy traveling and meeting new people on my journeys. There is so much to learn and so many things to discover. Other than that, I obviously enjoy jamming. Cooking, reading, writing, and photography are my other passions.
How you spend your days?
R: Every single day for the past six months have been spent doing things related to the starting up of the studio. Now that things have settled down a little, I usually spend time with my friends either jamming, playing GTA V or just hanging out.
K: I wake up > hit the snooze alarm > go back to sleep > oversleep > panic > wash up > get dressed > embark on a 1.5 hour journey to the CBD where I grind it out for the next 9 hours till the skies are dark.
That said, where do you see yourself in the next few years? Are there any projects you want to explore?
K: We have a few projects in the pipeline that I'm eager to kickstart which build upon our current business model. However, I’m mindful that we just launched Decibel Studios. So right now it's all about building up the brand and jamming community around it. We hope to provide an alternative jamming experience to the community.
R: As Kenneth mentioned, we have a few projects in mind. All I can say right now is that we are aiming to be multi-faceted in the sense that we want do things like equipment rental, concerts, recording etc. We’ve just started Decibel Studios so we’re taking things one step at a time.