Welcome to Episode 130!
STIMY Episode 130 features Alvin Wee:
Grammy, CAS & Golden Horse Award winning music mixer from Kuching (now based in LA)!
You might’ve heard some of his work:
🔸 Disney’s Encanto – it won the Grammy!
🔸 “Loyal, Brave & True” – sung by Christina Aguilera in Mulan
🔸 Top Gun: Maverick – with Hans Zimmer
🔸 Kung Fu Panda 3
🔸 Kingsman Series
🔸 “Arena Cahaya” – sung by Zee Avi
🔸 Video games like Final Fantasy XIII, Kingdom Hearts 2.5, Resident Evil XII, PUBG Mobile x Arcane Collaboration & Kena: Bridge of Spirits
As you might have guessed it, all these achievements didn’t come overnight.
It took a lot of effort, grit and good luck to get to where Alvin now is.
And we’re diving deep into all of them.
❓ What kept him going as he studied music & waited for hours at the RTM studio for gigs to come?
❓ Was Berklee instrumental to his career?
❓ How did he “break” into Hollywood & get to collaborate with the likes of Han Zimmer, Harry Gregson-Williams, Pharrell, Jay Chou & Yuna?
❓ What was it like performing (+ winning Best Original Song!) at the 53rd Annual Golden Horse Film Awards 2016?
❓ His advice for other Asians who want to “make it” in Hollywood?
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Who Alvin Wee?
Alvin Wee grew up in Kuching, Sarawak – and has always had a love of music.
Which he nurtured, despite it being an unconventional career choice!
- 3:03 Wanting to be called Donald Duck?!
- 6:19 Learning 7 instruments in high school
- 11:41 The vision
- 18:37 Was Berkeley instrumental to Alvin’s career?
- 20:53 IMDB
Breaking into Hollywood
It takes a lot of time & effort to break into Hollywood, especially for someone like Alvin who began with no connections!
So how did Alvin get his first break? And have Harry Gregson-William write a letter to support his US work visa application?
What is the Hans Zimmer camp & what is it like going through it?
- 22:06 Networking the right way
- 27:10 Being nice in a cutthroat industry?!
- 29:42 Harry Gregson-Williams wrote a letter supporting his US visa application!
- 33:26 Landing his first gig – Final Fantasy 13
- 35:43 Finding the next projects
- 37:27 Working with Harry Gregson-Williams & Hans Zimmer
- 43:19 What’s the Hans Zimmer Camp?
- 45:28 Disney’s Encanto
- 47:10 Do awards actually impact your career?
- 48:22 Not being pigeon-holed
- 49:56 It’s a marathon, not a sprint
- 51:06 Hollywood Writers’ Strike
- 53:05 Jared Lee: Is Hollywood really that glamorous?!
If you’re looking for more inspirational stories, check out:
- Eric Toda: Global Head of Social Marketing, Meta
- Jacqueline Novogratz: Founder, Acumen
- Karl Mak: Founder, Hepmil Media – Building a Viral Meme Business in Southeast Asia
- Apolo Ohno: The Most Decorated US Olympian in History – on the power of psychotic obsession & how to win in 40 secs
- Lydia Fenet: Top Christie’s Ambassador who raised over $1 billion for non-profits alongside Elton John, Matt Damon, Uma Thurma etc.
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STIMY 130: Breaking it into Hollywood's Music Industry | Alvin Wee
Alvin Wee: I think a lot of people think about it as I need to network. I need to make sure I know this person and do that and, try to foster this relationship because he's so and so, so and so and all that.
That mentality will get you far as well because, you are kind of strategically planning your relationships or for me, just be friends with everyone, you know. That's my philosophy.
You give everything, expect nothing but you seize every little smaller opportunities you have.
There's always the big actors and the big musicians know that. And then there's these people behind. And what you learn is yeah, there is one assistant job that helps you be in the presence of people and for you to learn, for you to get opportunities and all that.
At the same time, now that I've kind of done this enough, I've noticed that that job's not as easy as you think it is. The technical job, whatever you can learn that can be trained. I think a lot of it is just Relational skills.
Ling Yah: Hey STIMIES!
Welcome to episode 130 of the So This My Why podcast.
I'm your host and producer, Ling Yah, and hello from Singapore.
I'm actually in Singapore because tomorrow onwards I'll be conducting eight interviews back to back. Which is pretty epic. I've never done it before, but I'm also really, really excited because we'll be doing it in person and These eight interviews will cover tech leaders, of the best pioneering mountaineers in the region, and also very prominent startup founders, including the founder of Channel News Asia.
Now, before the madness of interviews tomorrow, I would love to introduce you to today's guests. which is Alvin Wee. Alvin is a fellow Kuchingite. Wee also went to the exact same high school. And now he has become a Grammy award winning music mixer.
You might have seen some of his work. Disney's Encanto, which won the Grammy, Christina Aguilera's Song in Mulan, Loyal, Brave and True. Top Gun Maverick, Kung Fu Panda 3, Kingsman series, and also video games like Final Fantasy 13, Kingdom Hearts, and Resident Evil.
Now, one does not get to this kind of level without actually going through quite a few challenges, because some of the people that have really supported his career include Hans Zimmer and Harry Gregson William.
Some of the things we covered. What it was like playing seven instruments as a child. Was Berklee instrumental to his career? How did he break into Hollywood and get to collaborate with the likes of Hans Zimmer, Pharrell, Jay Chou, Yuna and also Harry Gregson William?
What was it like performing at the 53rd annual Golden Horse Film Awards?
What's the insight scoop on the Hollywood strike and advice for other Asians who want to make it.
So are you ready?
Hi Alvin. Thank you so much for joining me on this podcast today. I love to start all my interviews by going to the very beginning.
When you were a child, you wanted to change your name to Donald Duck. Why?
Alvin Wee: This is the best way to start an interview. Well , I have a couple of good friends and I'm pretty sure you may know one or two of them. I can't quite remember the actual details but I remember my friend when we we were like hanging out. He said, oh, I wanna change my name. And I believe it was to Mickey Mouse, I think.
I went home and told my mom I wanna change my name to Donald Duck.
And that became a thing. And so she was a little kind of puzzled. Not really like, oh, was my son, all right. She's just like, oh, curious of all the names, Donald Duck and why. So she went and asked my friend's mom and I didn't hear too much about it after that, but it was just maybe a passing comment.
Actually, honestly, I'm very grateful that my friends do think about it, and they talk about this today because I don't quite remember.
Ling Yah: Definitely very memorable. And weren't you guys also mixing all these different concoctions for mee goreng? What was the best version?
Alvin Wee: Oh, the mee goreng.
So yes. You know, I think it's a very integral part of my life, even to this day.
Back then we'll go home, we'll play badminton, play football maybe, and we'll play a couple things or whatever. We hang around. And one of my friend had like Homestay Cook.
One of my friend, Kok Ming , and his cousin, when we hung out, we would forget the time and we'll go back and say we're hungry.
And I think it was one of them or me would go raid the fridge 'cause You know, when you're young, you're in Kuching, the easiest thing to make is mee goreng, which is like the Indo mee packets.
It's a little sweet, it's a little savory. It's easy to make 'cause it takes three minutes. You put in boiling water and you put in the sauce and stir it. We were young kids, we wanted to customize it back in the day. And looking back as a person who now mixes things it was only natural that I want to try to incorporate different things to what I eat.
And my partner tells me that I have very ways of cooking. Mixed. I know, I know. I think it all stemmed from those days with my buddies back in, maybe like primary school I think, I can't remember.
That was what we did. It'd be like hot dogs . I can't remember we would like add the standard things. Let's add egg on the top. And then, you know, you kimchi, you can do like, interesting, kimchi wasn't a thing.
Mm-hmm. That true when we were growing up in coaching. That's true. If I knew about that, like, I like fermented stuff, like, you know, maybe not so much pickle 'cause it little sweeter. But like saukraut, kimchi, you know, kafir and stuff like that. If that was available, then I'll absolutely be down for that.
But, we got what we have like pickled radishes and all that. A lot of our dishes are based on like whatever was available in the Chinese market. So yeah, noodles, hot dogs. Sometimes a piece of fried chicken, sometimes a piece of this, a piece of piece of that.
Hungry young kids, we'll, we'll take whatever and everything.
Ling Yah: I completely get the hunger part because we both went to the same high school. You're in school, the whole morning. School until 4:00 PM I remember every single day I was starving and my mom would drive me to Mita or go to Taka.
You always eat something and then you go home, have dinner, and then you go out again. Yeah, you're always thinking about eating and in doing, which is why it was amazing for me because we went to same school.
I was balancing that with all my other tuitions and also two musical instruments. But you played seven musical instruments and you wanted to be a rock star.
Tell me how you figured out the time because I was struggling with two.
Alvin Wee: Well, I think, if you have very deep interest in something, you try everything out and, as you grow up as a kid, you're trying to figure out your personality and make commitment, right?
Joking aside, but committing to a single instrument was tough for me because I just liked music and I liked playing musical instruments. I liked playing music. It didn't matter what instruments it was. And a lot of my musical heroes like Prince or like big guitar players like Steve Vile or like, you know, bass players, like Flea. Some of the heroes that I looked up to played multiple instruments and I was listening to Symphonic orchestral music, maybe not as much then but I remember watching like Superman, and you hear this big lush music underneath.
And I wanted to be able to replicate it on my own. Being an only child back then all I wanted was to make all the music by myself. So it was less of like, I can play all these instruments because I am cool or, you know, I want to overachieve.
It was more of needing to create certain sounds in my head by myself and maybe not having as many people who shared that interest back in the day to be able to do that with.
Ling Yah: How did you figure out how to put all these things together? The right software? I mean, Kuching, there is no studio, there was no YouTube. We were using dial out internet at the time. Pretty much nothing was available.
Alvin Wee: Yeah, I know. I think it's important to know , and I don't wanna jump too much ahead, but, things like AI now, things like Google and YouTube, everything's click of a button.
You can learn every single thing very quickly very effectively and in very many different ways, right? The medium of imparting slash obtaining that knowledge has vastly expanded. Back then it was, bootleg downloads of videos.
It was books I could find.
The two or three people I knew who may have some interests kind of adjacent to what I wanted to learn about. Or it was like story slash experiences from teachers slash mentors who flew to the United States and the United Kingdom and you come back and they told you what they understood of that specific discipline in the music world.
Couple that with the general attitude towards the interest of music as nothing other than a hobby. And it's kind of really hard. Years later, now that I look back, the one thing that I realized for myself is I like to go against the grain.
Whether that's on purpose thing or innate nature to always kind of be different. I felt like I had to go do this because it was different from everyone else. And I just want to be cool. I just wanted to do my own thing, walk my own path, yada, yada, yada.
And so I was very determined to find, learn, and figure out what I wanted in the kind of music space.
Coupled with very supportive parents and like you said, a terrible, 56 k dial up modem , I cobbled things together and use that as my way to kind of gather all this knowledge.
And I'm sure books would help if they were around for things like this. You know, like how do you produce music? How do you create an arrangement for this? And, what's the difference between this type of music versus that type of music and stuff like that. Right. And because that wasn't available, I would download videos.
When I travel overseas, I would try to go to a recording store and talk to the people and say, Hey, how do you do this? I think one of the biggest story that stood out to me was, you need to purchase this software called a DAW, a digital Audio Workstation.
That's how I think 99% of the work is done these days. A digital audio workstation, this is basically like, a recording machine in your computer.
And even back then, this is now 20 years ago. Yeah, 20 years ago. I thought this is revolutionary. I thought this would be the best thing to happen, talking about technology and how it takes over, this would be the best thing to happen to like, recorded music because you can put all your files in one place and you're not carrying bulky tape machines and all this equipment and you can just recall it from a computer.
And I ordered it from Singapore 'cause that time there's no Apple store or whatever in Kuching. So I went to local Mac specialist store and said, Hey, I'd like to buy this. And they said, oh yeah, we don't have that. We have to order that from Singapore. I
said, okay, sure. Awesome. Let me put an order, how long it's gonna take, like three days a week. And then they told me, oh, kind of like two months. So I waited two months for this big piece of Bookcase to arrive with CDs and like eight booklets and whatever. And Back then it's still, you know, CDs, right? And do think CDs is now an archaic thing. 'cause you can just download your software online or even you just click and it just syncs to your computer or your phone or whatever.
And that became my first intro into what DAW was. I bought it and start pressing every single buttons and try to break it.
So that was my start. And I think it was good. I didn't touch any other, like, professional softwares, two hours close to 23, 24, 22, 23. Between that it was literally a lull.
I don't know what I'm doing.
Ling Yah: Did you have a vision of, okay. I know I love music, I wanna do this, but where do I go?
What do I aim for? It must have been even stranger for you because you went into music.
At least I did law, which is more conventional. You did music of all things.
Alvin Wee: Okay. So to be fair, I think with every parents, especially Asian parents, kuching parents. Their intentions always like your kid has to have some element of security in your job, right?
I always hoped, and I fought for this my entire life to be my career. I was very realistic about how my parents, you know my late father, when he was still around, spoke about it. Actually a big credit to them is they were never outright saying that you will not be able to do this.
As in they didn't crush my hopes. At the same time, they were also very realistic about like, you know, the best way is to do an accounting, or do law. or I always joke that, our parents have like there's four career paths for a Asian kid, right?
You have a doctor, lawyer, engineer, or failure, right? That becomes the kind of position of those people 'cause that's all they knew. Their intentions are pure. They want people to go the path of least resistance for you to be able to have a living and continue and start family and do that entire thing.
And because that's what they need.
A lot of our parents, or even grandparents were immigrants and, they had a tough life and they probably flee some sort of uncomfortable life and they wanna build a better life. I'm very conscious of all that.
I think you need to have a lot of empathy for people of those mindset, because then you can understand that. The root of all that is just pure love and great intentions. So, I had that understanding. Maybe not as deep as now, but I had that understanding of you gotta be solid in your life.
You gotta be able to provide for yourself. Our parents worked really hard, our grandparents worked really hard. You know, yes, you can go into finance, you can do that, and it may be another way of looking at it. Maybe that would work for a lot of people.
So what I did was in high school when I was in form two, form three, I started a college degree. It was in computer programming. Back then I was working on computers on a keyboard in a dark room every day. And I saw that I would not do that.
So I flew to America, built a completely different life, and sit in dark room and work on a computer screen every day.
So I did a coding thing. You know, it's the basis of all language. Like, It was this thing called object oriented programming.
I did that because I was like, oh, cool, you're investing in the future, right? And because of that I had some sort of like what you call it kind of solid path to future. I can do something. I have actual tangible forces and skills that I can monetize and start a living and have my two kids and two grandkids and blah, blah, blah, and have a big house and drive a big car, and blah, blah, blah.
So that was settled. Then, when I was 16 or 17 my dad got really sick. He was diagnosed with cancer. So we were kind of traveling from Kuching to Singapore. And As you know, it's a two hour trip. It's not that far.
We were going there for treatments. And it was the time when you reassess your life when things like that happen.
Eight months later he passed and, I was told I had a really good time after that in terms of enjoying myself. But, you know, grief is a weird process. Before he passed and in that time, I was still playing music. I was still playing bands, I was still playing whatever.
I was in Kuching playing a show with a couple local people. And one of these local persons, he's working with the RTM or one of the music departments in the Sarawak state government. And he said, oh, you know, there's this thing called Berkeley College of Music.
And I said, oh, what's that? He said, oh, it's a contemporary school of music. And I said, oh, what's the Contemporary School of Music?
Because, again, on the sidetrack is our parents think that the only way to do music is you have to study your classical piano and you have to do this, and you have to do your grade eight. That's great because that's also a very structured way, and I believe it is just as valid of a way to do things if you don't know what else is there to kind of learn.
Because that kind of solidify certain things.
Ling Yah: It's true. Whenever I passed by Merdeka Palace, I just think A B R S M exam.
Alvin Wee: Exactly.
Ling Yah: that was my life. It really was.
Alvin Wee: Yeah. I mean, I did all that as well and I thought, oh man, that's not the music I like. It's great that I now know how to play the piano for a bassist.
I have good ears. I can recognize music, but that music is not always great. It's overrated. So I said, okay what's Berkeley College music? It kind of flashed me back to that. The preparation, the sight singing. You know, all that kind of thing.
And he said, oh, Berkeley College music is in Boston, Massachusetts, in the United States. It's the most premier contemporary music school that's been around. And they touch a lot about jazz and contemporary music. And I said, oh, wow, this is incredible. It would be nice if I can go there.
They said, yeah, if you go there, I think you fit right in. At that point I was playing guitar and bass. I was trying to do a master's in coding, right, in the uk. And This was when I was 17, my dad passed.
I don't know if you know, but like, in the UK they have some age requirements for certain degrees.
like I was asking about a master's program. They said you have to be a minimum of 22 because maturity level makes a lot of difference. And again, guys not mature at all, you're just, that much further away and you go, oh no.
Like, what? You know? So that made a lot of sense for me. I was a little frustrated, but at the same time, I kind of understood it. So I didn't really pursue the thing at that moment. 'cause I was 17 or 18. So I applied for Berkeley after my dad passed 'cause he said, you know, you should definitely do your degree.
You have your computer degree now you should go do your other degree in the United States. Experience the US and then come back and, you know, my dad had the family business. He said if you want, you can come and take over.
But I think at that point he said, you should come and take over. So I said, okay, let's do it. I'm gonna apply for music. Right. And then I found that, It was quite cost prohibitive to go straight to Berkeley for four years. cost of living, the exchange rate, school fees. All that combined.
And I found this place called ICOM?
Yes. International College of Music. Yeah.
But that didn't happen until I thought, oh, maybe Berkelee's the place.
I had this guitar hero that I worshiped back in the day named Paul Gilbert. He was in this band called Mr. Big. I have one of his like, kind of guitars that he designed and he went to this school called guitars musicians Institute, or the Guitar Institute of Technology in in Los Angeles.
And I didn't know anything about it and I thought, oh, maybe I should look into it as well. So the toss up was between specifically playing guitar and studying contemporary music as a whole.
So that's it.
So I decided, you know what, no, Australia, let's go straight the US. It'll be nice to be there. And I love to see New York. I love to see Boston, you know, like maybe California. I heard about California and I'm like, oh, I don't know what that is and why should I be there and all that.
There wasn't anything UK for me, at least at that point and I didn't know. I think access to information and knowing your options is very important into making decisions.
Ling Yah: Would you say that Berklee has been instrumental, looking back to essentially you getting your start in the career that you have?
' cause I mean obviously now we have so much information online. If you put yourself online as well, the right people might find you. So you don't necessarily need to go to university now.
Alvin Wee: Oh, absolutely. I think you're right. You know, how do you quantify what gives you a start, right?
Ling Yah: Yeah.
Alvin Wee: Like maybe it's my mom sending me to classical piano lessons that gave my start in my career. That initial inspiration to go, oh, you should find out more about music and stuff. Yeah, I think Berklee formally, Berklee formally introduced me to this life as a career.
Ling Yah: In what sense was it because they brought people who were professionals to come in and you got to see these people living the lives you wanted?
Alvin Wee: That's a very good question. I love that. Well, yes. Well partly yes. I think what Berkeley does still does to today, and did for them, and did for me is, it's a meeting of people who are of the same mind of wanting to make music and not only that, you know, there's academic part of it where you study and you break down all the essences of music in terms of like how do you measure music?
How do you categorize them? How do you define these categories and stuff like that. It's also melded with the people who are there, and you see just how driven these people are to wanting to make their career work.
It's true that the industry isn't a straight road to your career. All these teachers and all these people and professionals there, they are in the industry and they've been in the industry.
So what they can tell you is, yeah, it's not a straight road and it depends on what type of music, depends on where you wanna go and blah, blah, blah. So then you have to go and say, okay, what do I do? How do I make this happen?
And you draw upon the passion, the drive and the spirit of everyone there. You marry that with all the knowledge they can give and you take all that and put it into a community. And that's where I think Berklee helped me. Learning theory, learning all that is great because you are able to then harness that information.
But realistically no one in the industry has actually asked me about my college qualifications. It's sad or is it not? You know, just depends on how you define education. Right.
Ling Yah: So they just ask for your imdb?
Alvin Wee: You know, that's funny. I think a lot of it is based on reputation these days.
Mm-hmm. I get random calls, you know, friends from Peru. I have people in China, people in Australia, Germany, people in Italy, you know, people in London, Malaysia obviously and Taiwan.
None of it has ever said, Hey, can we see what your qualification on this is? You know obviously there is an association to your past projects and whatever, but I think what Berkeley did was enable me to go sit down and be able to do something without having to refer to a hundred books to how to achieve that. It gave me that.
It gave me that knowledge that I can pull from. It's not like law where like, again, as you know, the books are just as important. Knowing the bar and knowing the law and stuff like that.
It's slightly different in the sense where you can't do that.
You need to be able to be in the industry and kind of pick out and create, right? It's a creative industry. How do you define creativity?
But at least with Berkeley, you meet people and you learn how driven and how just motivated everyone is, and you draw on that and you say, okay, if everyone's just as motivated, everyone in that industry must be just as driven.
Ling Yah: What I'm interested in is that, I've heard lots of interviews, spoken to some people and they would say people in the industry, very friendly, always trying to help, because you never know. You give and people will wonder day, just call you and say, Hey, can I connect you with someone? So there's that.
But then there's also thousands of people who wanna the exact same job as you. There's only one job. You need to stand out. You can have one person come in, they will say, yeah, come on board. I need an assistant. But that guy can only say yes to one assistant. There's thousands of you. How do you find that balance?
Alvin Wee: Wow. Okay. This is absolutely, I think the most, the most critical step in my life. I think there's two parts, right? I think a lot of people think about it as I need to network. I need to make sure I know this person and do that and, try to foster this relationship because he's so and so, so and so and all that.
That mentality will get you far as well because, you are kind of strategically planning your relationships or for me, just be friends with everyone, you know. That's my philosophy.
You give everything, expect nothing but you seize every little smaller opportunities you have. You hear story from people who like got into the industry and they, you know, street people behind the scenes, what ends up happening is they do what they're told.
There's always the big actors and the big whatever, and the big musicians know that. And then there's these people behind. And what you learn is yeah, there is one assistant job that helps you be in the presence of people and for you to learn, for you to get opportunities and all that.
At the same time, now that I've kind of done this enough, I've noticed that that job's not as easy as you think it is. The technical job, whatever you can learn that can be trained. I think a lot of it is just Relational skills.
It's like when you're talking to people how do you make sure that people are all taken care of.
How do you kind of pick out the nonverbal cues? I know there's a lot of emphasis in this world placed on verbal communication. I need to express how I feel. I need to write a letter.
I personally believe very strongly that 90% of the time, people don't know how to express their words and draw on that immediately when they're emotionally feeling something.
90% of the time people's head are in a different direction or they're somewhere else and they need to do something that they don't know they need to do.
And I'm not saying it's your job, but what I'm saying is if you can figure out how to anticipate or project, make very calculated decisions on what people need and help that process along, you know, all the peripheral stuff, right? Like, there's studies about people changing their habits.
Like, you have your coffee or you have your breakfast like 20 minutes later and it completely affects the day. Small little things like that that you don't notice because it's just in your muscle memory or whatever.
Those are the hardest thing to explain to people.
I cannot explain to you how I make you feel comfortable. I can't explain to you what is it you do as a podcast host that makes people want to talk to you and want to explain, share things to you.
And you know that because you know that instinctually, but you also know how to read and tap into where the conversation's going and go, okay, let's chat here.
A lot of it is just hand gestures. Like the way people sitting, how they're dressed , what they're talking about and stuff like that.
That part I think I put a lot of emphasis on.
I really like people who can understand that. People may not read certain social cues. For those of us who are lucky enough to be able to do that, I think you should definitely capitalize on that.
Berkeley provided me the skills and training for me to be able to do that job as a secondary thing. Meaning I don't have to secondhand think about what I'm doing anymore because I've already been trained. I know what to do.
I know to draw what information to do it so I can focus on keeping a really good environment for a workplace where creativity is supposed to thrive. So even though many people may wanna get in the industry, a lot of time people forget that, "A" maybe stylistically you are not the right person.
And "B" it's trickier than you think to be an assistant and all that until you built your own style and then you prove yourself and all that. It's kind of a tricky thing to say, oh, come and help me, and all that. Yeah, that's true.
I always welcome people and I'm very open with my information. Yes, I paid for a Berkeley degree that cost me an arm and a leg, but it's just information that gets updated every six months. AI is probably gonna move that along and I don't need to do that.
Yeah, people can come help, but you'll be surprised to see how many of them don't step up to the plate.
Ling Yah: And when you say don't step up to the plate, is it because they don't work hard enough, they're too relaxed about it?
Alvin Wee: Part of it, yes.
Some people "A's" personality. "B", don't work hard enough, and "C" some people think that because they have the degree, they have a certain level of competence in the industry, and so they feel like they deserve a certain position.
As you can tell from our conversation so far, my philosophy is it's just a piece of paper. It's just knowledge.
The thing is how are you providing value to an industry that thrives a lot on creating emotions.
Ling Yah: I'm sure the industry is cutthroat though, so how do you balance being competitive while being also very, very nice and sharing everything that you know?
Alvin Wee: You know, like I said I don't think it's about the information. I'm gonna be very frank and very honest about it.
Like, you can ask me anything. I'm an open book and I'll share every single thing I know about every single technological piece. What computer, what my workflow.
That's easy. I really think the part that sets me apart from people has nothing to do with my skill. And it has to do with how I'm able to pick, translate and decipher these creative types and how I'm able to provide a sense of security to The people that pay. Like the studios or the labels or whatever where like there's deadlines and all that.
And they can feel like if they come to me or my studio / my company / production company, that they will get their products in a timely fashion and with everything taken care of. And that's a lot of what people want is just to be taken care of.
I joke with my partner and we talk about character type. I joke that I'm type B where I'm just a little too loose. I think it's just the Kuching thing, right?
You're like, oh yeah, you know, whatever lah. Cincailah, canlah, whatever. And I think I portray that just on an outward basis while still hold my own self to a high standard.
The thing that I have against a lot of people, I think is I dunno how to put this real lightly, but Asians take shit very well.
Ling Yah: Yeah, it's true.
Alvin Wee: So, you know, certain people in the industry where they're overly stressed, they yell some people might call it verbally abusive or whatever. I just let it roll over.
Like I believe in sticks and stones. Sticks and stones may hurt my bones, words will never hurt me kind of thing. Maybe that's just how we were grown up. And you probably as a lawyer, if you're a litigator and all that, you know how certain people may be wordsmith.
So I, being able to make people feel very comfortable and being able to chat and just keep the peace that has given me the career that a lot of people don't. As you can tell, what I'm able to do has nothing to do with whether I'm the greatest mixer, greatest producer, or whatever.
So it's less about staying competitive and more about how you create a environment for people to just be creative. I think I'm able to do that very effectively and consistently for the last few years.
The skill thing I think comes with time. That's the technical skill thing, like being able to mix, being able to recognize music, being able to do that that comes
almost like a base skill, right? Of course you have. Yeah, exactly. What stands out is
you the person. Exactly.
That's how I think about it.
Ling Yah: That's fair.
Yeah. But when you were first moved to California and you only had one year to figure out how you're gonna stay, were you also as chill and cincai then, or were you like, oh my goodness, I need to figure this out? I have one year.
Alvin Wee: Wow. Wow, wow, wow. Okay. It gets stressful. I wouldn't lie. You know, it gets scary.
Well, okay, after I finished Berklee, my first few months in LA, I got an opportunity to do this video game called Final Fantasy 13, one of the final 13 years. Thank you.
The industry's always looking for people who have something to bring, right.
I got that project, it's not because I'm better than my friends. You know, like kind of do not give too much away. Like when I first entered the music production engineering program in Berkeley, I remember this clearly, and I, I tell all my friends this. I hope it encourages them that I.
There were I think 12 or 15 of us in the class.
In this class on the first day you had to partner up to do certain course work together. And to even getting in that program, you need to show that you have experience or you have the drive and your grades supposed to be a certain thing.
So all my friends did. They worked in studios there. They have years of engineering experience, years of writing, producing and whatever. You can tell they were like, driven, like the super kiasu. I'm ready to do this and everyone step out of my way.
And they all partner out with each other 'cause they're like, oh, you know, you're good. Okay, you're good. So then they all partnered up. I didn't have a partner. I remember that.
It didn't affect me. I'm used to it. You know, my school days are the same when it comes to , group work. Two other friends saw me and said, Hey, let's partner together and we'll do it together.
Fast forward to now 2023, we are the only three successful people from the class. We all have careers we all have awards. In that 15, the only ones who are like literally making a career.
It's not like, oh, I'm still struggling. We are working, we are working in industry. And so from that experience, I vowed that I was gonna get as much experience I can in school. Not partnering. So I started helping every single one in class, every group, every person.
I helped this guy at 2:00 AM in the morning also millennium folk. No one was helping him to set up in the studio so I came in, helped him set up. I was really tired 'cause I just did a long, like 20 hour day . But I helped him anyway.
Months later, he reached out and he said, Hey, come into my apartment. So I went to his apartment and we sat down and he is like, Hey, check this out. And I heard the music and I saw like some really shitty animation on the screen and said, dude, this sounds like Final Fantasy, but why is that animation like shitty?
He like, some cover said, no, this is like new music. I said, oh cool. Like are you guys doing like a tribute? He said no, this is the next final fantasy and I want you to mix it. So there's a very huge example to me at least, of my skill of working with people. Treating people well, treating them with respect.
And that's how I got Final Fantasy.
So, coming back to working on FF and coming to LA, I did Final Fantasy and then straight after with the same guy, I got Kingdom Hearts 2.5. These were massive video games. Did I know? No. Did I care? Yeah.
So I did those games and the one year was to get the Visa right? My lawyer just happens to be a big fan of video games. I start speaking to her like halfway between, and she said, why don't you go for a green card?
Then you are able to stay here for a little longer. She said, you have like two huge video games. I think that should be fine. I was uncertain.
This is all personal level. There's no external factors to this. I need to know that I gave it my all. And if I gave it my all and it still didn't work, then it's not for me. So, I just went in and said, I'm gonna meet people and we'll figure it out from there.
Here we are, 2016, my uh, visa came in a letter and said, yeah. Welcome to the country, which is now seven years ago. Feels very weird, but yeah,
Ling Yah: Time flies. Going back to Final Fantasy. The person that you're working with is Steve Lindsay, who also worked with the likes of Snoop Dogg. He was your first sifu.
I wonder when you meet people like that, obviously you said you gave it your all. What does that look like when you have an opportunity to work with someone that big? What does it mean to give everything that you have to impress them, do the very best.
Alvin Wee: Yeah. So this is the part of going back to also unable to quantify the thing.
One of my teachers usually explain that. When you're driving a car, you're not recalling every single thing. You're not recalling the mechanics of your legs, you're not recalling how to turn on the engine. You start the engine, you start driving, right?
That to me is how I harness knowledge. When I gave it my all. In school, I was in every single session. Classes usually happen between like 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM and then I would work in the Berklee studios. They call like a work study thing from like 7:00 AM to 9:00 AM.
And then I'll pick up shifts. And on top of that, you can actually use the studios to do your own projects in between. And so I did that too. I did that for my friends' project as well.
So I would start at seven, finish at nine o'clock , go fit all my classes nine to five. And if I didn't have classes, I was in the library studying. After five o'clock, six o'clock, I would be in the studios or in one of the rehearsals room working till 2, 3, 4 am every day. I would do that nonstop to know and learn everything I could.
So then when I went to work for Steve. Steve is old school, like work in person, you have to be present for all of it, and you have to wait. And, you know, you can't just be interrupting them.
I would show up when I'm told. I would do everything to make his life easier. I'll collect the trash, clean up the studio, pack things up, and do a little mixing. Do everything that's needed. And then you realize that that's literally what I do now.
I can't just be doing what I'm creatively great at. I have to do everything around it. So I was doing everything I can so that he spends the least amount of time worrying about dumb stuff. On top of that I was also hanging out with friends, was trying to find other gigs and still mixing for other people, producing other bands.
That was the first time it took me into the pop world and learning like how they write music, how they create sounds and all that.
Ling Yah: And how did you figure out after these two big projects, where's the next one coming? Because I think that's the scariest thing and possibly why lots of people in Hollywood are paid a lot because you just don't know when the second job is ever going to come.
Alvin Wee: Knowing where things are gonna come is always uncertain. I think Seth Rogan said, the people that are successful are the ones that just don't give up. You kind of feel it out and you work towards every new project.
I mean, by the time all these projects are announced, I've already been looking and doing different stuff.
So when Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts came out, I was only working on some artist's album. And the album came out and had number one in like eight countries or something and by that time that hit number one, I was already working on Kingsman.
So how to find your next project is, I guess the elusive question. It's just as elusive as how do you get people to come into your restaurant? You can promote, you can do things, but if people don't wanna walk in, people don't wanna walk in, right?
And they'll always be the casual food traffic. So Just put yourself up there. I just constantly finding things and doing things.
Even with Steve, it was a random call from a friend who I helped years ago.
It wasn't like I walked in and got the job. I helped this guy two years ago and my friend called me, I said, Hey dude, do you wanna work for Steve Lindsay? I said, who is Steve Lindsay? look him up and if you wanna do it, the job's yours.
And I said, sure. So that's how I got that gig with Steve and I met a whole bunch of people from label side.
In between that, I did Kingdom Hearts, obviously. Then back to Steve and I got called to work for Al Clay.
I came in and he said we're gonna work on this film called Kingsman. I saw that trailer on the cinema. And I was like, interested in film music. I would love to do all these things. And um, that as they say is how I got my next gig, I guess. It's all very relationship based.
Ling Yah: Apart from Steve Alclay, who would you say are the people that have basically been the most instrumental in your career?
Alvin Wee: Well, there's two composers that I can think of.
Number one The first film I worked on was his film, and his name is Harry Gregson Williams. He's a very well-known composer. He did this film called The Martian. He just has Meg two that just came out. I worked with him on Mulan. He's known for very famous video game back in the day, metal gear solid.
So very influential.
Ling Yah: I listen to his soundtrack all the time he's on the John Williams level.
Alvin Wee: Yeah, he is. Very talented. From Cambridge, I think St. John's College. He did this small little film called Shrek.
So, you know, very small, very small. He's very, very good. So he's one of the persons he helped kickstart my career. He wrote a letter for me for my Visa, so I'm very thankful to him. Obviously, Han Zimmer is also a very huge influence.
And they say if you go through the Han Zimmer camp as in you go through his production company, everyone tends to have a career after that, right?
But instrumental single handedly would be Germaine Franco, the composer of Encanto and Dope and Little.
She stands out for me for every project that she does. I'm so grateful for that. I mean, I cannot believe how much she's done for me.
And I cannot believe that she's embraced me. She treats me as a consummate professional. She expects the highest levels of work all the time, but she gets me into every room. I'm very grateful for her.
Ling Yah: We have to go back to each of these names that you just Oh.
Very, very casually brought up. I imagine working with someone like Harry, he has so many people under his team working together. How do you essentially sort of build that relationship with someone who is composing on that level and ensure that you capture the vision that he's got?
Alvin Wee: Funnily enough, with Harry, he has a very small team. You know, when you get up to that level there are two ways to approach it, right? Some people like huge teams 'cause it makes them look really good and it runs a very smooth ship. Or you run a very tight ship.
You have two people who absolutely does everything. You are nimble, you're quick, you're very efficient, and these two people are the best in the industry. And I think that's what Harry does.
He doesn't have a huge team. I remember mixing with him, and at that time I was still an assistant for Al Clay.
Harry would come in and he would wanna get onto the board himself and do things. And, Usually it's a very Sacred space. They just wanna make their music sound accurate. He doesn't want to get distracted or anything. I'm this new kid from Kuching.
like, My first thing I did for him was to turn his pages while he was reading a score. And then it's very important, oh, very important. So that when he was watching the DAW, he could also compare it to the score and know what he was looking at. You know, we work on these things called consoles and there's all big faders and he has like LED strips and all that.
You can't be always staring at the screen. So I made sure everything was color coordinated, labeled, and present it properly.
So all he had to do was click on something and he showed up on the fader. I would also make sure he has coffee ready, the fruits are there. You know, small, dumb things. And at the end of the second day he said, oh, you're good.
Do you wanna come and do this thing with me? Of course. I was working with Al so I can't go work for someone else. But then had a liberal relationship with these people.
Harry would call me and say, Hey I've got this movie. You're Chinese, right? Can you do this with me? Yes, I'm Chinese. He didn't say that. All right. He was like, look, I understand your background and I know you've done Kung Fu Panda of Hans and blah, blah.
So I said, yes. I'm happy to do it. Serendipitously, when I was young, played in a Chinese orchestra, so I had a lot of knowledge of Chinese instruments and managed to pull that out my bag and work on these Chinese instrument overdub productions for Mulan. And that's through Harry.
He is a big, big influence in my life and I'm still grateful to this day.
He still has his team. I don't think I'm at that level where I can really mix for him yet. 'cause he has a team that he trusts and works and cultivates for a long time.
But whenever he call on the drop of hat, I'll be there.
Ling Yah: Pat Cannon is also someone that you work with from Mulan. He actually wrote extensively about the whole behind the scenes of creating the Mulan soundtrack, which I thought was very interesting. Mm-hmm. I wonder why it was like just working with him and also all these different people that you brought. In Wuman who was for one of the very best pipa players in the world.
How do you find the best of the best and just coming together and bringing them to create this really unique piece of music?
Alvin Wee: Chad's a very fascinating composer. He's very intellectual. Went to Harvard, and went to Julliard as well.
Julliard. Yes, that's right. Yes. Very intelligent. And he has a deep interest towards learning these musics and all these cultures. I believe his wife is East Asian as well. They've actually, funnily enough been to Miri on a vacation.
He works with a lot of Japanese composers. He work with Chinese composers.
Harry called him up and said, Hey, can you handle the ranges?
He's very intellectual, so he is perfect for the job. He can translate western music to eastern understanding of music and kind of merge that. And the way you find all these instrumentalists is through this job called a contractor in any music city.
You find people for your specific project.
The contractor looks up these people on their Rolodex. And Wuman super ensemble, she's definitely the best. It was an absolute honor to have her play.
I've worked with a lot of them ever since I did a Kungfu Panda thing for Shanghai or Dubai or something again, with Wuman.
I've done a couple things with Bebe, the guzheng player after that. We just did the Joy ride that came out recently with Stephanie Hsu and Adele in writing. .
It was such a surreal experience being part of culture into Hollywood movies. The movie didn't do as well, but we definitely put in a lot of our own effort to make sure it did.
Ling Yah: You mentioned the Hans Zimmer camp.
What is that? What does that look like?
Alvin Wee: Hans is a compound and he appreciates all his composers and collaborators to be around. His compound has composer rooms and assistant rooms and studios and all that.
Every composer has their own projects and Hans decides, I want this composer to help me with this, and that composer will come and they'll work together. So I was just one of those assistants in one of those rooms, you know.
Al Clay had a room at Hans Zimmer Compound and I was an assistant there. I got roped in one day, and it was a recording session for one of the first sessions for Kungfu Panda and it went on from there.
Ling Yah: Outta curiosity, 'cause I have been in orchestra. Sometimes we record as well. You do it multiple times. The first time Composer comes and he asks you to play, and he was saying first Viol, second violin play.
No, I wanna change the notes. I wanna change the expressions. You go through multiple versions before you finally do the recording. What does it normally look like on the scale that you are working at? How long would one piece take to go from, let's come together into the studio to recording the final piece?
Alvin Wee: So, because I think everyone in LA are professionals and they have done this for a long time, it takes you quite a while to kinda get into that roster recording people.
After the composer writes it, it goes to this person called Orchestrator / an arranger, and they determine articulation, they determine all that.
Everyone shows up and they start playing. And it's on the stage where you change articulations, test the bassoons for this part or something.
Decisions get made on the stage because while you can play as an orchestra and sounds good, it might not translate to what people hear with all the sound effects. And sometimes there's certain decisions like that. But generally, these musicians are best in the world and so they get it on the first try.
Ling Yah: Yeah. I completely agree. I remember when I was playing in London and everyone were basically from Royal Academy, and I remember I was five minutes late, I walked into a rehearsal and they were playing.
I knew a piece we had never seen before and it sounded perfect. And I thought, you'll never find that in Malaysia. I'm really sorry to say, but you really won't.
Alvin Wee: You know, the Philharmonic orchestra is definitely a whole different thing and it takes years.
Yeah. Takes years.
Ling Yah: I wonder with Encanto that you mentioned briefly.
Before you could even start working on it, you did lots and lots of research into Columbian Music, which I'm sure you were not exposed to in Kuching as compared to Mulan.
How do you do that research? Were you basically collecting these different songs, finding the music sheets for them?
How did you basically do that part?
Alvin Wee: Well, I didn't write the music for Encounter. Jermaine did all of that. I come from a music producer brain and being a mixer on that, I just wanted to make sure that I got the vibe of the music.
Like you can get someone to play Ong. They can play the right rhythms and the right instruments and it sounds terrible. I wanted to make sure that I wasn't some Kuching dude mixing and making columbian music and it didn't sound like that.
I was trying to make sure that it sounded exactly how it was supposed to sound. Like this harp called arpa llerna in the encanto music. And If you don't get it right, it sounds like a guitar . if you get it in a different way then it sounds more like a harp and you don't want that as well.
Let alone just that instrument, you still have all these other instrument.
You need to study and make sure that it's represented properly. So a lot of it was reading books.
Then the second part is listening 'cause I need to be able to translate what I hear.
Sometimes instruments don't really sit on a click. They sit on a groove. So sometimes they are shuffling . You wanna make sure that they feel like they're sitting in those rhythms. It could be it's not straight 16th, but it's also not a shuffle.
So a lot of my research went into listening. A lot of YouTube. A lot of watching videos, a lot of listening to music.
Ling Yah: And you were also researching hand gestures as well, weren't you?
Alvin Wee: Not me specifically but that's a story for another time.
Ling Yah: Okay, that's fine.
So Encanto obviously won a lot of awards, including the Grammys. You've also performed at the Golden Horse Award as well. Also won an award there.
I wonder, all these big fancy awards, do they really have an impact on your career?
Alvin Wee: Yeah, absolutely. 100%. Mm-hmm. It's amazing to be recognized for your work. It feels very good that you put in that much effort. I also wanna recognize that there are a lot of incredible music out there that doesn't get awards.
That is like, you've captured something in time and that was the right thing in the right moment. I'm eternally grateful for that. And for some dumb kid from Kuching, it means a lot.
Just by having that, it's not gonna improve your career. It gives you the opportunity for people to know that, oh, they won a Grammy. Yeah, it impacts your career. It impacts positively your career.
Ling Yah: You mean like the phone is just ringing all the time.
Alvin Wee: I remember all the time, but , a lot more enough to go. Yeah, A lot. Yeah, definitely A lot more. Definitely a lot more. And people recognize it. I don't wanna be recognized for award. I want it to be recognized for the work, you know what I mean?
Like, I rather have someone call me because they heard this one little indie thing that I did that no one heard of.
And they're like, oh my God, that was awesome. I didn't know what you do. But that was phenomenal.
Ling Yah: I imagine you can't say yes to everything. And I read in interviews with actors, when they win awards, they get lots of offers and they really see through and go, I don't wanna be pigeonhole into this same role. I want something vastly different.
Do you think in the same way as well? I want something different for what I've done before?
Alvin Wee: Yes. And also because I'm an actor, right. I'm never gonna make the big paychecks, that these superstar actors get. I am able to take on more things at the same time. I think the threshold of saying yes to everything and not being able to handle everything has not crossed each other yet. Which is incredible!
I don't know if that speaks to me not doing enough or me doing too much. Right. A little shout out to my team. I have two incredible people who work for me.
Ling Yah: Also Malaysians?
Alvin Wee: Actually, I have a Malaysian that works for me. He somehow has a very similar trajectory. Worked in the Hans Zimmer camp. He's like incredible and he is part of my team.
I try to have as much Malaysians as possible.
Nepotism at his best. 'cause why not? I'm joking.
No, I just take on, because I haven't reached that saturation point of like, I'm doing too much. I have video games. I have a record that I work on. I've got a couple films, couple of TV shows couple of fun stuff coming out.
I can work on things that I really love and I can work at my own pace.
Ling Yah: What does a career trajection look for you. In corporate lawyers, very, very clear. By six years you should be a partner. You know exactly where you're going. For you could be anything.
Alvin Wee: Wow. Corporate lawyers you'd be a partner in six years? Wow. Wow. I mean, it's small. Is that
Ling Yah: like a, a small firm? Smaller firm. Six to nine.
Alvin Wee: I see. Okay. Okay.
When I started, someone told me that it's a marathon, not a sprint. You are not working towards a goal. I mean, I don't have the goal of like making partner.
Maybe if I go to a studio. Like you can go and get a corporate job. Many of my friends work at Warner Brothers, Sony, Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Disney. You go get a corporate life. You work on cool music and you work on the corporate side, and then you can maybe work your way up to becoming a director and whatever.
But like, you know, it's music. I can self-publish anytime. I can do what I want. I can create what I want. I'm not answering to some person.
So the career trajectory is to be able to consistently do the creative stuff and not be inundated with all the boring stuff. I think that's the measure of success for creative people.
And I think if I can consistently do that without worrying about, oh, I have to take on this extra random stuff to make money, then I think the more I guess quote unquote successful I get to be.
Ling Yah: I want to ask one question before we go to the question from a mutual friend of ours.
Alvin Wee: So Oh, wow. Okay. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I've got time, so don't, don't worry about it. Oh, yes. Yeah. Yeah.
Ling Yah: Today is actually the 101 day of the Hollywood Writers' strike. Big news, even here. I wonder, since you are an insider, what has it been like for you and your broad views of what's happening really?
Alvin Wee: That's a very fantastic question. I'm part of this union called I A C, which is a local 700, and that covers the picture editors and they also covers mixers. That covers music editors and my partner, she's also part of that.
Because we are considered the part of production after the shooting's done, we still have things to work on. Minimally, but everything has stopped and that's scary. You know, like some people had to sell their houses the last time.
The reality is how do you make a living?
Everyone just wanna make a living in this industry.
I don't know too much of where the studios are thinking, but I know that the sentiment is, please do not replace us with technology. The technology is not gonna not be there.
The question is, do not use it as a way to manipulate human lives that you've relied so long on that enables this technology to be built.
It's both scary and kind of sad that a lot of people are so affected. We don't know what the future is, but we're terrified and if my union says strike, I'm gonna strike.
Right? That's just the case.
Right now we have to fulfill our current obligations to finish all the work. Because also this industry is based on relationships. So even if the studios are striking, you still have relationship with all those other people who just need to get their work done. And how do you kind of balance that?
That's just a long and short of that. I've seen a couple of picket lines and I haven't personally gone down a picket with them, but I've donated.
I drive through Hollywood, so I see Paramount and I see Netflix. All the social media posts about the picket is there. It's there. Like I see them shooting the video. I see all of them.
That's like literally a five minute walk on my studio. Every time you pass, they're just like, honk and support.
I think it's good and I really hope they resolve it. You don't want people out of a job. The industry's gonna crumble.
Ling Yah: And I want to share essentially this question from a mutual friend of ours. Here we go. Yo, this is Jared.
Okay. Alvin, is working in Hollywood as glamorous as what the world think it is? Or is it exaggerated on media, like, it's the place to? Lemme know.
There we go.
Alvin Wee: That's a very profound question. I think you need defined what you mean by working in Hollywood.
Do you mean like going on the red carpet, events, launch, studio parties and all that. If that's the case. Yeah, it's crazy. Like those parties are insane.
I mean, I've not been to a lot, but I've been to some rap parties and like the gifts they give. They'll give like Disneyland tickets, they'll give like AirPods. These rap parties and rap gifts are huge, crazy, you know. Some people would do a Ferris wheel and like, When they launch events and all, it's insane.
So those are the perks. Those aren't exactly everyday life.
Jared, like, great question and the thing is, it's all hype, right? Everything's all about hype. You need to get people excited about things.
That's why you have things like hype Man, and Hollywood is just one giant hype person. What they wanna do is get you excited about that next story that they're about to tell and all that.
So yeah, there's a lot of glamor that goes with it.
What you see there is what a lot of people behind the scenes have worked really hard to make happen.
That part is not glamorous. The shitty part of organizing all this time and having people on headsets and people on the organizing part getting like waivers, getting like closing down sections and applying for permits and all that, that's boring. But that has to be done to make it look glamorous, right?
Big shot of airplanes flying, blah, blah, blah. And then they'll walk down, the smoke comes up and all that. That's all someone planning it. So it's two sides of the same coin, right?
It can be equally as glamorous as it is really hard work. And the glamor that's the entertainment part of it.
The part that I do, for the most part, I'm sitting in a room, like in the edit bay. In a recording studio, in a scoring stage, in a writing room with a artist or on my computer.
So is that glamorous? 90, 95% of the time it's not. For the 5% of the times where you are working with a team it feels very rewarding because everyone's just so cool.
And I think the thing that needs to be reminded to people who are curious about that question, like our dear friend Jared. It's a lot of hard work from the back.
That's why it looks so good.
Ling Yah: I love that you mentioned TikTok, because now obviously our world is very, very, very different.
If, say there was another young Alvin from little place like Kuching who wants to make it like you, what will your advice be?
Alvin Wee: Define what making it is. I think that's very important. First, define what making it is.
Is it to win awards?
Then find all the avenues that you can be able to express that, like TikTok and Instagram. Then you gotta move to one of the biggest cities.
Let's say you're really talented, what you do, and you want to do it where you are, there are also people who are equally as talented, who want to be in where the action is.
The issue is not about whether you're good. Everyone's good. It's a creative industry. You cannot quantify how creative someone is. So everyone's just as creative and able to be just as talented. And the thing is, if, all these other people are willing to move to a place where all these things have been created, they're already kind of a little ahead of the game.
They're in where the action is. So if anything drops, you see something, you can do it immediately, as opposed to oh, I hear of this audition. Okay, let me book my flight.
It's about the opportunities, you know?
Yeah. Move to where, where all of it is. And then start there.
Ling Yah: Is there anything that listeners can help you with?
Alvin Wee: actually, you know, kind of, I, I, I didn't speak a lot of this to, kind of, People in Malaysia specifically, and in parts where the industry is not yet as strong to just go support and listen and ask for better content of your creatives.
When we ask for better content, don't downplay what their achievements are.
Don't say that the music is terrible. You support it. Like say, I'll go to your shows, what can we do to have more shows? Can we pay for it? And I know that's a very hard right, because it's gonna be a long process.
If you support local content, you are gonna support local creators. And if you support local creators, there're gonna be more people that comes out and help that.
If there's a kid out there who's trying to make it as a dancer, don't say like, oh, you'll never make it. Say, hey maybe you can try this. I think that's the best thing you can do.
Support people in whatever they wanna do and also help each other.
Ling Yah: It's been such a pleasure to have you. I normally am all my interviews with the same questions.
So the first is this, do you feel that you have found your why?
Alvin Wee: I think I found a very simple why right now, which is I just want help people. Yeah, that's the reason why I do it.
So, yeah, I think I found my why.
Ling Yah: What kind of legacy do you wanna leave behind?
Alvin Wee: Oh, wow. This is a little too deep for me. I think the only legacy I wanna be able to do is inspire new people who look like me to be able to do this and know that they can do this at the highest level possible.
Ling Yah: And what do you think are the most important qualities of a successful person?
Alvin Wee: Wow, I'm stumped. Let's see. Well I think you need to be supportive of people, you need to be embracing of new ideas. You need to be very convicted of your philosophies in life. And you need to have a lot of empathy.
Ling Yah: And where can people go to find out more about you, support your work and all the links?
Alvin Wee: Ah, yeah. So all my links always, weethewalrus. W e e, the Walrus, 'cause Wee is my last name.
So instagram.com/weethewalrus, you know imdb.com/weethewalrus, Facebook's the same.
Instagram's the best way to get me, follow me there.
I'm all about the funny memes and some musical jokes once in a while, my stories. But, it's all fun and games.
If you shoot me a DM, I'm always happy to like chat and all that. And like I said, I'm always happy to help people and I'm trying to help people find their position in life and see how they wanna do it.
So I think that is my why. Just come and chat with me.
Ling Yah: And you have a website too, the link I would drop as well.
Alvin Wee: That's right.
alvinweemusic.com is my website. It currently serves as a landing page. I've never really updated it, but yes, alvinweemusic.com. I am gonna update it really soon now that I have time with the strike and all that.
So watch out for new things.
Ling Yah: We will watch out for new things. And is there anything else before we close?
Alvin Wee: Well, if there's any time anyone that comes to LA, bring some laksa, please.
Ling Yah: Sarawak laksa, right? Not any other laksa.
Alvin Wee: There's only laksa in Sarawak. Everything else is curry noodles, right?
Ling Yah: Exactly.
I couldn't agree more. My fridge is full of Sarawak laksa and nothing else.
Alvin Wee: Oh, tell me about.
Ling Yah: So essential. Alvin, it's been such a pleasure to have had you on. Thank you so much for your time.
And that was the end of episode 130.
The show notes can be found at www.sothisismywhy.com/130. 130 And if you haven't done so already, I would really, really love if you could just please give a rating and review for this podcast.
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