A Note From Shun
Hey there, it's been awhile... Thanks coming here. I just put some new music out as you can see. I'm sorry it took me awhile but, I'm here now and I'm glad you're are too.
To be really honest, after this music was done, so was I... and I just could not bring myself to release it. Not because I wasn't proud of it, but because the impetus for making this music was nothing more than an act of survival.
I'm usually pretty excited to share my music but this time it was different. Since it was born out of a trying journey, it only felt right to me to share the music only when I felt ready to share the story behind it. It took a long time for me to be public about this, so I really appreciate you taking the time out to read this.
Releasing this album has become neither about me nor the music anymore, but about a responsibility I feel to let anyone out there who may be going through the same thing, know that they're not alone.
What I wrote is pretty long so if you're dyslexic like me, or don't like to read, just go ahead and enjoy the music!
THE STORY BEHIND THE MUSIC
Ever since I could remember, I had always felt out of place in this world and my life was just endlessly running in circles searching for distractions to keep going. I'm sure someone somewhere can relate to that and hope you find parallels in this story. I never did well in school due to my dyslexia and had trouble understanding the world until music came along out of nowhere and it was the biggest and most effective distraction. Well, at the time it wasn't a distraction, it was life changing to say the least. I played guitar everyday non stop and learnt everything I could about music, from blues, jazz and be-bop to European classical music and traditional Indian music. I was going to discover my own voice in music and make people feel like they're listening to music for the first time again. I left my country and the people closest to me to pursue my dreams, I had finally found my 'identity' and I felt like I finally knew who I was:
"Shun Ng: Guitarist, Vocalist and Songwriter"
With that, a new found direction for my life as though bestowed upon me divinely, I took to it fully and worked my ass off to become that. That attitude took me to amazing places professionally and emotionally that I'd have never even dreamt of in a million life times. But deep down it had always felt like it wasn't me that was experiencing them, it didn't bring me joy like I had convinced myself it would, it was as if I was just a cold spectator to these events. Everything that was great wasn't happening to me, but merely happening in front of me, and all I could do was watch and feel nothing. It was disorientating to me, as it felt like it was me who had these dreams, it was me who took the leap and me who suffered and struggled to get there, but when my dreams were made my reality, it was a nightmare, a nightmare of emptiness.
But, I kept going and going... Because that's all I knew. Shove the suicidal thoughts away, force the cynicism towards life away and just keep doing it. Because, that's what you do... that's what it takes, that is what is expected. You smile and you and put on a show.
I gradually stopped playing the guitar and eventually stopped listening to music completely. I hated music, I hated myself and I wanted nothing to do with either.
Music, my channel to divinity, the savior of my life and the one thing that gave me freedom was now the warden of the loneliest prison I've ever known. It was a trap..
If fulfilling my dream wasn't enough, then what is? I chased freedom only to be trapped in this cage. I know fame and money won't bring happiness but wasn't pursuing a dream supposed to? I still don't know if anything will ever truly make me happy or is this shit something we have to always just pursue, like a sick unattainable cycle that is designed to keep on going till we ultimately die. Is death the only true freedom?
I started to think about the Homunculus theory. A little person in our mind (our consciousness perhaps?) that watches and processes everything we see, and that our eyes are merely receptacles and the Homunculus is the one that watches and processes these 'images'. Trapped in your mind, The Homunculus would see the cynical and cyclical nature of life for what it is, and just want out. We're all trapped in this body and this meaningless existence, to seemingly no end except our own, why stick around if you're just a hamster running on a wheel to its death?
It shames me to say that I've been close to taking my own life several times now, which may be shocking to many who know me, but the more I became aware of this sick reality the more it felt like freedom was increasingly entrapping but death evermore freeing.
I realized the hardest thing about all of this was when I felt like no one could understand me, I'd be surrounded by many people who loved me but I felt evermore alone.
I wasn't sad or or afraid of death, the thought of taking my own life seemed like the only natural and logical solution, if anything it felt almost comforting.
Recently, more than a few of my friends have either attempted suicide or taken their own lives in the hopes of an escape. It seems to me that no amount of money or legislature can remedy the plummeting state of our societies’ mental health but instead in many cases has been the driving factor. Art is the greatest form of communication to address this and has always been the most powerful and effective form in impacting social change.
For those blessed enough to not be plagued with mental health issues, I hope this music helps with understanding what it's like to be the "Homunculus", to feel trapped in your existence with no end in sight. Because the power lies with you! It was the people who really understood me and truly cared for me that helped me through this, and they continue to help me everyday. Their love revealed to me how selfish my propensity was, knowing how much I'd hurt them if I had left them behind.
So I guess I'm sticking around a little longer and feel like I have some purpose (or responsibility) for now. I want to tell my story in hopes that it'd bring you closer to understanding anyone else who may be going through something similar, so that you can be there for your brothers and sisters, and they can in turn, be there for you.
A close friend, and survivor of her mental health struggles once said to me with wisdom and innocence, "Yeah.. It is all meaningless shit... But, if you take life as one big hang.. then I guess it's pretty okay."
So, let's hang.
Yours in music always, Shun Ng
FOR THOSE WHO STUCK AROUND...
Okay I'm still a musician at heart and still want to share a few fun facts about actual music of the album.
I've never done anything as experimental and ambitious as this before. Being primarily known as a “Fingerstyle Guitarist” I had always set out to push the limits of the acoustic guitar but had always presented my music in a minimalistic format, with just a voice and guitar simultaneously, doing it all at once. In the endeavor of this album, I found myself experimenting like I've never before. Without the burden of “doing it all at once”, I found myself searching for new sonic possibilities, new ways to express myself... Scratching strings with a blade, hitting the guitar body every place possible and making various percussive sounds with my voice. I ended up creating an entire library of unique sounds with just those two elements. Needless to say, it was a wild and introspective ride. Pretty soon, it evolved into a layered multi-track production of sounds coming from my acoustic guitar and voice, no synthesizer, no drum machine.
This album helped me get back into doing music again, for my own enjoyment or the first time in a long time, and I sincerely hope that translates to yours.
Oh and one last thing I have to mention, this album was mastered AND CUT by the legendary engineer Bernie Grundman (Michael Jackson, Earth, Wind & Fire, Steve Vai, Prince...) I've never done anything like this sonically before so, having BG's magic touch on the master was really something special. Last but not least... The spectacular artwork was done by the amazing Jui Talukder.