Neil Zaza – the Guitar Papa

Neil Zaza I'm Alright Video with 2 Winners

Neil Zaza finally arrived in Changi Airport on 14 Jun 2016 (Tue) after the long wait of slightly more than 6 months. In my heart I was praying that all his baggage arrived in good order, especially his guitar. I spotted him at the baggage belt after about 15min wait. He got all his stuff rather fast, kudos to Changi Airport. Within the first 5min of receiving him, I popped the question if he needed wifi and passed him a hot spot dongle. The flight-wearied face suddenly lit up and immediately I got a big hug from him! Wifi is the way to make friends within a minute! >_<

Neil Zaza Guitar Contest

First thing lined up for the day was sound check the next day. Following that, a video recording with the 2 winners of the Neil Zaza Guitar Contest. I put Marcello Brandon (winner) and Ho Li Kai (Runner up) in a whatsapp group chat a few days before to make the necessary arrangements. Brandon arranged to collect his prize of a brand new Reverend Guitar with compliments from Movement Music the day before to prepare himself for the big day! Their excitement geared me up for Neil’s arrival. Excitement is contagious and so is their passion!

When they finally met their guitar hero in person, Li Kai was shaking up so visibly but I am sure Brandon was as well but hidden beneath his cool demeanour. I believe the most nerve wracking part was to play I’m Alright together with their guitar inspiration. The atmosphere in the Media Hub at *SCAPE was super charged up with PASSION. The three guitarists filled the room with energy that was explosive! I looked around and everyone had smiles on their faces, enjoying the moment.

The part that deeply touched me was the bonding and love the two young gentlemen have for each other, strangers until the whatsapp group chat. There is a mutual respect between these two that I admire. They worked through with Neil how the song should be played while waiting for Daniel Ho (@oneclickwonders) and Samantha Lee (@simsumsam) set up for the video recording.

I love the fairy lights and the two round light thingy (pardon my pathetic vocabulary!). My favourite part of the video is at 1:56-2:02. The few seconds of wordless communication captured by the camera hits home for me that this is the community that SOOS OIO is about. Established artists who have gone ahead are great inspiration for the next generation, forming relationships and communities to fire each other’s passion. I believe that these two young men will spur each other to be better in their guitar skills and fuel each other’s passion in the road ahead. I have somehow lovingly called them Neil’s Singapore Kids already. So Neil Zaza is unofficially the Guitar Papa!

Brandon & Li Kai have fun at the Recording Set
Brandon & Li Kai have fun at the Recording Set. By Daniel Ho (@oneclickwonders)

Neil Zaza Guitar Workshop at *SCAPE

The cosy room was packed with almost 30 participants anxiously waiting to learn from their guitar hero. It is a pity that Neil’s iPad decided to act up 30 min before the workshop. After much troubleshooting, with our fantastic sound guy Nizam exploring all possible solutions, Neil used his iPhone back up backing tracks for the workshop. As many of you know, Singaporeans are not the most participative and responsive crowd, especially in a classroom & workshop setting. Yet in this workshop, the opposite was true. It was fascinating and amazing to see how interested the attendees were. They raised their hands to ask very good questions and once again, the PASSION for guitar was oozing out of everyone.

Neil Zaza Guitar Workshop
Neil Zaza Guitar Workshop
Neil Zaza Guitar Workshop Team Photo
Neil Zaza Guitar Workshop Team Photo. Thank you to one of the attendee who offered to take this photo for us!

Neil Zaza Live in Singapore at Esplanade

A big shout out to the production team! Neil was completely blown away by the sound when he took off his in-ears during sound check just to busk in the quality of sound in the Recital Studio. Neil’s supersonic fingers on the guitar fret sounded so crisp and clear which not many sound systems can relay. I broke the usual rule of no photography allowed in Esplanade to no flash photography, wanting everyone to be able to capture their piece of memory in the show. The audience was amazing and it was so good to see you at the Meet & Greet session after. I love the fact there the age range of Neil’s fans ranges from pre-teens to adults!

Neil Zaza - the Guitar Papa
Neil Zaza in Esplanade 2016. By Daniel Ho (@oneclickwonders)


I want to thank the amazing team, lean and mean in a super awesome way. Each of you has made the week so memorable and I want to thank:

  • Neil Zaza – Your music reflects who you are in person – AMAZING!
  • Samantha Lee – What do I do without you?! =)
  • Daniel Ho – You are way more amazing than the photos and videos you take!
  • Angus Sham – You have quietly taken such good care of Neil Zaza. I did not even have to worry a single bit!
  • *SCAPE – Special shout out to Kenneth and Japheth who provided great support.
  • Esplanade – Special shout out to Jacklyn, Ben, Hock Hoe and your team. Awesome work!
  • Nizam – The sound guy for the workshop & video who gives 110%!
  • Wenling – For responding to the call for merch help so last minute.
  • Movement Music – You guys set up your booth so impressively and tirelessly for two days. Appreciate all the support you have given to us, especially the Reverend Guitar for Brandon.

One lesson that came across so clearly this week is that passion is contagious and infectious. Neil’s passion for guitar has inspired Brandon and Li Kai. When these three come together, their passion is crazy explosive dynamite. My conclusion is when passionate people comes together with respect and appreciation of each other, the effect is greater than addition and multiplication, but EXPONENTIATION.


For more photos of Neil Zaza in Singapore:

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