Category Archives: EZ 38

POWERHOUSE with PANACHE

Malaysia’s Pocket Dynamite, Prema Yin, is an entertainer with more passion and punch than a Flaming Lamborghini on New Year’s Eve. Deborah Joy Peter activates her all-access backstage pass for an exclusive tell-all with the spectacularly seasoned singing sensation.

At a time when her peers were either out chasing butterflies, having tea with Barbie or building towering sandcastles by the sea, then four-year-old songbird, Prema Yin, remembers laughing in the face of stage fright while belting out notes from a set of pipes whose origins often eluded many. Over two decades in, the wondering has stopped and the applause continues on in uproarious aplomb.

SELF-MADE SONGSTRESS

Then chasing the dream professionally at sixteen, the indie instrumentalist describes her immersion as an avenue for creative expression. Yin shares: “When I pour my emotions into the songs I sing, it feels like a weight is lifted off my shoulder, and more so when the lyrics hit home.” On a less sentimental note, her sense of fulfilment isn’t yet complete since career-wise, she insists the journey is only half-travelled. Still, she’s grateful to have been afforded the opportunity to develop as a musician.

DECORATED DIVA

One to keep the show going, as an artiste, she enjoys setting out in search of new landmarks to attain. It’s the very attitude which saw her go from snagging four prestigious nominations at the 17th Anugerah Industri Muzik showcase in 2010 to another at LA’s Hollywood Music in Media Awards under the Best Pop Song category only a year later. Following that, the rock diva was commissioned to perform at the 2013 Guinness Arthur’s Day Festival at the Sepang International Circuit.

Here, she opened for All American Rejects, The Wanted, and Five for Fighting. She’s also shared the stage with R&B icon Taio Cruz and done backup for soul sensation Colbie Caillat at least once. More than that, the effervescent entertainer made her mark taking on international tours across multiple countries including the US, Germany, China, Indonesia, Japan, and Singapore. Just as impressive are her vast airtime exposures on local and Indonesian radio as well as stellar chart successes across a period dating back to 2009.

EVOLVED EXECUTANT

“Besides luminaries like Sarah McLachlan, Aerosmith, and Janis Joplin, my inspiration comes from those who’ve left a mark on my life—past lovers, family, and friends.” Triumphs aside, Yin is constantly reminded of the debilitating hardships once endured. One such challenge was finance. “I invested my savings into my first EP hoping the investment would prove worthwhile. That pocket-emptying sacrifice coupled with not knowing where to start and what to do back then didn’t help.”

Rubbing salt into the wound, there were many who mocked her efforts and when put-downs were done in bad taste, the bitter pill became extremely hard to swallow. Luckily, with guidance and strength from a nurturing handful, her single Eyo Eyo went on to bag several noteworthy nominations and a feature in Hollywood film, A Novel Romance. Other originals such as Bleed, Superstar, and Prove It To Me, to name a few, still today serve as unforgettable markers of her mastery.

FUN-LOVING FEMME

Two years ago, in taking her crooning chronicles further, the star refined her stage identity from rolling rocker to cultural troubadour. The transformation allowed her to regain full autonomy of her creations and incorporate variety into her act by tapping into her Chinese and Indian cultural heritage. “It has helped me be me. I no longer feel the compulsion to fall into step with any particular persona or become someone I’m not, never mind turning into a mirror image of the symbol others want to see.”

The long-time singer-songwriter recently added to her repertoire video-making using stop motion animation and vocal coaching; she sees students weekly and makes house calls. Her first self-made lyric video was released in 2014 for Ring My Bell. More importantly, the 28-year-old visited Santorini in Greece last June—her dream destination. But when she isn’t away travelling, she has the age-old Chinese art of Wing Chun and the classical comfort of the veena to keep her occupied, both of which are her current top interests.

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Fully Invested in Art

A successful artist …..”must be passionate about art, have some friends with the same interest, be familiar with the backgrounds of other artists and with the market value of their works.”

INTEREST in artworks as a form of investment is growing throughout the region, thanks to the wealth of indigenous talent, and the burgeoning ranks of eager collectors. But though many see it as having relatively low risk, it still helps to be knowledgeable about the industry.

Masterpiece Auction House Managing Director Dato’ Oon Pheng Khoon believes it is vital that one is passionate about art, have some friends with the same interest, be familiar with the backgrounds of various artists, as well as the market value of their works.

Those eager to start collecting should also regularly attend art exhibitions, previews and auctions – as they provide ample lessons about the buying and selling of art, and which artists or artworks, are in demand or otherwise. And best of all, they are mostly free to attend.

“Prices of art are always fluctuating, so it helps to be familiar with the bidding process, and understand the value behind each piece. Serious collectors track artists’ backgrounds, career progression and standing within the art scene, as it influences the value of their works,” said Oon in a recent interview.

Senior artists tend to be in favour, as are those with positions in art-related fields and institutions, as they often end up painting for life. Some collectors also favour works done in certain mediums, for they last longer and degrade less over time, hence representing a more solid investment.

“Good works may be pricey, but its value appreciates. Artists who are regularly featured in auctions are a good bet, as it shows their works are constantly in demand. If you buy a piece today, and there’s someone else willing to acquire it from you immediately, then you know you’ve got a gem.

“Collecting art is as good a investment compared to traditional options like stocks, properties or commodities. It is mobile, and you can buy or sell it anywhere. Art is also a finite thing, each piece is truly one-of-a-kind, and their availability gets less and less over time.

“You hardly see the best works from prominent names on the market, because they have all been snapped up by collectors once they become available. But besides the monetary value, collecting art also means you have excellent treasures to look at everyday,” he added.

Oon, who was born in Alor Setar, Kedah, fell into art almost by chance. Educated at Keat Hwa Secondary School, he worked in the construction, shipping and transportation industries during the 1980s, followed by real estate in the 1990s.

Around that time, many in Kedah started collecting Chinese ink paintings as a hobby. Oon  followed suit and never looked back. After China opened its doors to the world in 1993, he would regularly venture there to meet renowned artists, and buy their works.

“We would read a lot of art magazines and find out who the good artists were, and then approach them. At that time it was hard for them to sell their works, so they very receptive towards our interest,” he recalled of the time when he developed a passion in buying and selling art.

Also in the 1990s, art auctions started in Singapore, and he would regularly attend to broaden his knowledge. Indonesian artists were all the rage back then, but once art auctions started in Malaysia in the 2000s, local artists soon found a great platform to promote their works and excel.

In 2005, Oon relinquished all his directorial positions at his former companies, to concentrate on the buying and selling of art. He was roped in by Masterpiece Auction House when it established its Kuala Lumpur branch in 2012, with the company holding its first auction a year later.

Five auctions later and the company had sold over 800 pieces of art worth approximately RM15million, with a take-up rate averaging close to 90%. Other auction houses are enjoying similar results, and Oon believes the industry can only get better and better.

“It has grown steadily, and the number of art collectors today has increased four or five-fold, compared to a decade ago. Many lesser known Malaysian artists have now become prominent names, as the buying power and interest amongst collectors increase.

“I feel it is my responsibility to help promote Malaysian artists, and I’m now enjoying my life doing just that,” he sums it up succinctly.

WUNDERKIND of IRON WILL

Responsible for spearheading the Victorian chapter of the Australia Malaysia Business Council and leading a landscape poised for change, Joe Perri is the face of the campaign championing bilateral trade and relations with Malaysia. Deborah Joy Peter tells his story.

The story begins over six decades ago. An obscure immigrant couple of Italian descent, whose only real chance at survival at the time, was to pick up what was left of their mangled existence after the second World War, exit their motherland, and start over in a whole new world—the forever home they would soon recognise as Australia. The man goes ahead, slogs to save a few coins, and sends them back for the woman. She then joins him in Sydney where they exchange vows before settling down in Melbourne.

PREMIUM PEDIGREE

The pair’s labours haven’t fallen on futile ground. The testament of their triumphs and tribulations are captured through a single fruit of their union—a male offspring who’d go on to become a walking legend. That human treasure is who the world today celebrates as Joe Perri, the president of the Australia Malaysia Business Council’s (AMBC) Victorian chapter. A master of ship who directs with heart and depth, his origins mark a set of footprints indelibly printed on the sands of a past bent on making history.

Holding dear beliefs, lessons, and strength of character passed down from parents who dared to dream, his remarkable trail, according to the man himself, is the sum total of a heritage rooted in sheer perseverance. “Their love, care, and guidance have stayed with me always and continue to provide me with a beacon and are the values and morals which sit at the core of my character when relating to my own wife, family, friends, and clients, and so on,” Perri notes.

DYNAMIC DOER

Although well into his fifties, he continues to look to his exemplary guardians as his ultimate source of inner zest. Smiling on the path already trodden, he’s anxious to plot the voyage that remains. It’s been 10 years since his immersion in international trade relations began. He was propositioned to use his wealth of marketing and communications expertise to assist the newly appointed national president of the AMBC at the time. Eagerly accepting, he then proceeded to join the organisation in his home base as member.

“The activities of the council, friendly nature of its members, their diverse backgrounds, and business interests in Malaysia motivated me to go beyond just being a member and led to my joining the Victorian executive team.”

Here, his skills in marketing, public relations, communications, and more were put to good use. As a result, the appointment followed his election to VP and subsequently president, three years ago. Nine years before his first AMBC commission, the marketer founded his personal venture, Joe Perri & Associates.

Picking up on that last point, his duties are divided into two streams—a commercial side where he helps businesses achieve goals through marketing and PR processes as well as a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) side which he commits to in a voluntary capacity as president.

CONSCIENTIOUS COMMANDER

He adds cultural understanding and appreciation are feats to tackle, and that the way forward is to have the Asian and Western ways of conducting business adjust accordingly so the best of both worlds is the ultimate outcome. Facing these hurdles won’t be a cinch, but the implications on leadership and prospect of having to flex his captain of industry is justification enough for a heightened sense of exhilaration on his part. “What an exciting time to be in business. International trade is quite frankly in overdrive,” the AMBC head quips.

It’s become increasingly clear to Perri that no country or economy can operate in isolation; every nation is now part of the global ecosystem. To maintain success and strengthen mutually-beneficial trade and investments between countries, alliances are a necessity—and more so, since Malaysia is Australia’s eighth largest trading partner. “The Malaysia-Australia Free Trade Agreement enforced in 2013 was a significant step forward and will continue to be a platform to build on with more trade between the two nations.”

Needless to say, the unified body’s greatest asset is its members; they comprise business owners with commercial operations in Malaysia and Malaysian-born expatriates in Victoria. For the reasons above, the values of AMBC Victoria, especially those CSR-related, reflect that of Perri’s own, such as service to community and country and giving back to a nation that has aided those seeking to expand their businesses and in so doing, had created jobs for countless Australian and Malaysian families.

HAPPY CAMPER

On family, Perri’s consists of his wife, Luigina, two children, Danielle and Matthew, a goldfish as well as a “spoilt cat”. The latest to join that lineage is his son’s fiancée, Juliet. Their wedding takes place in October—the festivities for which the entire household is keenly anticipating. For senior, coming home to a loving family is one of the truest blessings in life. He may be a trade specialist, but the people mentioned above aren’t anyone he’d exchange for anything else.

Adding to that list, he is just as proud to have seen the world. Speaking of going places, the wanderlust-lover recently spent a weekend away with loved ones at a small township called Metung in the beautiful Gippsland Lakes area, a four-hour drive from Melbourne. “It was literally divine.  No tourist attractions, McDonalds, theme parks, cable TV or even a decent cell phone signal. Each morning, we woke to the sound of dolphins, seals, and pelicans in the water.” Now, he can’t wait to get back in a month.