Keep Your Day Job: Halfway Kings

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So you think you know Halfway Kings (Adeline Chua and Joachim Sebastian). They’re the acoustic duo known for their particular brand of unpretentious minimalistic folksy blues tunes. But bet you didn’t know that one’s an audio producer for the advertising industry and one’s a.. medical laboratory technologist. This month, JUICE talks to Halfway Kings about their love/hate relationship with each other, Adeline’s emotional retardation, meth lab fumes, and of course.. their day jobs.

Hi, guys! Before we start, and just to clear the air… are you guys dating? Pardon, our kepochi-ness…
Joachim Sebastian We get that a lot. For the record…
Adeline Chua Hell no.

No business with pleasure? Oh well… your band profile reads, “A weird, weird duo coming together to form a band where minimalism does not take away from intensity.” Just curious, what do you mean by “weird”?
AC I don’t think I’ve met any band quite like us. We never praise each other. We can’t really stand each other to begin with.
JS Halfway Kings is an uneasy compromise between two completely different people that have only one main thing in common; love for music.

That seems pretty normal. So would you describe your day jobs as weird as well?
AC I still find it strange telling people that I’m a producer. I think even my mom just pretends to know what I’m doing.  Producers (in my particular line) oversee the process of audio production for an advertisement; everything from sound effects to voice-overs to jingle compositions.
JS My job is not weird. I am a Medical Laboratory Technologist. I draw your blood and run most diagnostic tests in the hospital laboratory.

Adeline, how do you find peace and calm (as reflected in your voice/music) amidst the chaos and mayhem that is the advertising industry? JUICE knows for a fact that certain clients sometimes make you wanna stab yourself with a fork…
JS Adeline’s vocals are peaceful and calm? Hmmmmm….
AC First of all, I’m a little emotionally retarded detached, sometimes that translates as being at peace. Second, I haven’t really experienced the full force of advertising mayhem yet (I only started working a few months, my team’s been nice and shielded me from the really nasty ones). Third, it’s very interesting that some people feel soothed by our songs and some people say our music could score a butchering scene from Kill Bill. I’d like to think we have bits of both.

Joachim, you work in a meth lab. Do the fumes from the chemicals get you high and help you create melodies?
JS Nice one. It’s called a med lab actually and sadly, we don’t get high from the fumes. The fumes at my place would just leave you with a tumour or a really bad infection most of the time. We try to avoid fumes. They are not good and don’t leave you with superpowers.

How does a typical working day go for you guys?
JS Start work at 9. Suit up (with my ultra-cool lab coat). Get to my assigned bench for the week. Run Quality Control, then work them samples! Repeat till end of day.
AC Days vary according to the projects we work on. A day at work could be as mundane as drafting up quotes and arranging voice-over talents’ schedules (only to have the client cancel the whole thing once you’re done) to being as exciting as discovering YouTube sensations all the way from NYC and successfully getting them to compose tracks for our projects.

Any job perks/hazards?
AC You meet musically talented people all the time (the coolest so far has got a link to MGMT!) and having to give them constructive feedback regarding their compositions really makes you pay careful attention to what makes a good piece of music good. It keeps me awed and humbled, that’s the biggest perk. The hazard is when that awe turns and cripples my self-esteem as a songwriter instead! Haha!
JS Perks – work ends everyday at 6 and the people that I work with are really amazing. Hazards – usual health hazards; putting on weight due to the unending “makan parties” that are thrown (I have a hard-earned belly already).

Does your day job inspire your music? And vice versa? 
AC My relationship with music as a profession went total “see-saw” after I wiggled my way into audio production. On one hand, I know I’ve got great sound-engineers and composers to learn from and the job conveniently requires me to be on my toes when it comes to knowledge on music. On the other, I sometimes get my fire doused when I see how beautifully written tracks are taken apart by clients and turned into some Frankenstein-ian mish-mash of what they think the audience would like. But mostly my job inspires me to write more music…still.
JS I guess it goes both ways. I need music to survive my day job and I need my day job to survive playing music.

So Adeline, do you see yourself owning your own audio production house one day? And Joachim, your own, urm… medical lab?
JS Medical lab? I don’t think so.  But I would love to own an audio house. Maybe Adeline might want to own a lab.
AC Oh man, I can barely see past tomorrow’s breakfast! I have no foresight whatsoever.  Did I tell you that I initially started out studying to be an interior architect? Look what’s happened! I’ve learned to just try to be good at what I love doing and let God take care of the rest. It makes for a more surprising ride!

Halfway Kings are in the midst of recording their EP (with Monsoon Records) set for release sometime next year. Halfway Kings will go on a short hiatus starting January next year to March 2012 as Adeline will be away in Cambodia for some volunteer work. We salute you, girl! For more updates, head to and