I Wanna Be A Producer: Eric Wong

Concluding our feature, JUICE speaks to a guy who’s recorded numerous bands but still finds it hard to call himself a Producer. We find out why. Please meet Rock Producer turned Club Manager, Eric Wong.

Text June Low
Images Eric Wong

You may remember him as the bassist for local indie rock darlings OAG, but Eric Wong has plenty of other feathers in that cap of his.

After graduating SAE in 1995, he worked with TGVC cartoons as a 2D cell-animator and sound engineer on a TV programme called Di Mana Joe Jambul?. In 2000, he received a job offer at Studio 101.

“That was the beginning of my studio career, I would say. Kamikaze was the first band I recorded with and it was such an amazing and inspiring experience working with them. I learnt so much from Sham Kamikaze.” Other bands Eric has worked with include OAG, The Times, Free Deserters, Nao, Subculture, Gerhana Ska Cinta, Citizens of Ice-Cream, The ACAB, Love Me Butch, Koffin Kanser, Deja Voodoo Spells, Damn Dirty Apes, Langsuyr, Prana, Project AK, Furniture, Teh Tarik Crew, Lyme, Bau, Roots ‘N’ Boots, Plague of Happiness, Nervewreck and Sil Khannaz, amongst others. Just so you know how hardworking and hard-rocking this guy really is.

But how did he go from that to being in OAG?

“I met Radhi while he came to Studio 101 to record vocals for Gerhana Ska Cinta’s ‘Senyuman Ragamu’. We were hanging out during recording breaks and Radhi told me he was looking for a bassist, so I joined OAG in 2004. I quit the job at Studio 101, and became a full-time musician, freelance studio engineer, and live sound engineer for Soundscape Records.”

Eric left OAG after their last acoustic show at Istana Budaya in 2009 and joined Playtime Productions as a full-time studio engineer. He began working with a new band, and this quickly marked the beginning of a new era.

After completing pre-production on their EP, the Free Deserters found that they had been deserted by their bassist. Frontman Zack Yusof then asked Eric to play with them, and he agreed. After the album was completed, they toured and played gigs in London and visited Amsterdam last July.

“Working with rock bands is fun but challenging because while you’re dealing with people with different ideas and expectations, you also need to think about how well they can actually deliver during the recording process, how to approach them, the extent of the engineer’s involvement in the production process… there are just so many things going on, and time is precious because time is money.”

So what qualities should a good rock Producer possess?

“In my opinion, a good rock Producer should be able to communicate with and learn from the band. He needs to listen carefully and understand what the band is aiming for; plan and schedule; guide and help them through the production process to achieve the best results.”

Despite a seemingly consistent career in the rock scene, the winds of change blew strong and Eric eventually left the production scene.

“Nothing much was going on in the studio, and my boss Jeff Siah opened Club VR1 on Asian Heritage Row. He asked me to help him out at he club. I never thought I’d venture into the dance club scene, but that’s what I’m doing now. I am constantly learning new things, and thinking of ways to improve the club, so I’m enjoying myself.”

We were humbled by his frank explanation. When asked if he would go back into production work again, he simply replied that he would if a good offer came up, but that he was busy with the club and felt it wouldn’t be right to quit halfway.

“I will still be producing for my band The Free Deserters very soon. We have enough material to cut another EP and we’re practicing hard to perfect it because we’re gonna record live. Meaning all instruments and vocals have to be done at one go. No room for errors. It’s a challenge with rewarding results. But really, the fun is in the process, though it’s a sadistic type of fun at times.”

Well, we guess that’s one thing that drives all Producers to do what they do. FTW!

More furious features at www.juiceonline.com/features.