The Bobby Washington unplugged concert will be held at theDesk on September 20th and September 27th.
Bobby is the leader of the OLAM band. OLAM is a unique rock band with acoustic music designed to be original.
Before the concerts, we had a chance to conduct an exclusive interview with Bobby. From our conversation, we learn his sincere thoughts on life and his journey as a musician in Shanghai.
What made you decide to become a musician?
It took me a while to be here and accept being a musician, because I was afraid to be judged. Then I realized my talent and committed nurture the gift that I have. Everyone has different talents, but some are afraid to explore the talent and be themselves. When I am playing music, I feel like I am 100% who I am supposed to be.
I always try to find out who I am. The thing I found is, I can express myself through playing music. I am free to be poetic and creative through music to articulate some complex ideas and feelings via my voice, the language and the instruments that I play.
Living up to the full potential that we have, for me, music is always that for me.
That’s why I chose music and become a musician, to be myself. I hope everyone can find their talent and live up to the full potential to be their true selves.
As a performer, what have been the most incredible moments of your career?
There are so many incredible moments, I’ll give you 3;
1.My Band – I have a lot of those incredible moments, one that comes to mind right away is my band. I was sitting there writing and singing songs, getting a band to feel my music and understand and play all together. I cried at our first concert, it was overwhelming to see an idea to become a realization. Finding the right band members, to have people from different backgrounds and cultures and yet we come together and create songs to positively impact people how they see the world differently and be moved. Being loved and showing love to other people, it’s about life.
2.People I met in Shanghai – Shanghai has some of the best of the musicians in the world here, meeting them and they are just like normal people, when I first got to Shanghai and I didn’t have much experience. Usually I was just playing classical music, I remember realizing the people that I am meeting, they taught me a lot about being a musician and being a good person. The singer from the Chair Club, Denise, she vouched for me. They offered so much help and information, I was trying to learn how to record music, they took the time to teach me even though they don’t know me. I value and appreciate that so much. I was deeply moved and encouraged.
3.The Audience – Touching moment: I remember the first time I heard the audience sing my original song, “Dancing in the desert”, I thought I heard an echo effect from the microphone, but then I realized that it’s coming from the audience. They really liked the song, it was very impressive and I was touched.
We just listened to the song “Run” what concept would you like to share with your fans?
From this song – “Run”, the concept is you are running towards something, for me I am thinking of life, a road, a journey. I love mountains and forests, when I think of life, I think of life as a trail, a trail going through the woods, ups and downs and through the mountain or going around the mountain. I am trying to take the audience through different phases of life and at the end through all of the different feelings or emotions that happens in life. Nonetheless you still have to keep running. You don’t have to stop or give up because it is difficult, you continue to run and enjoy the scenery/journey of the life we have, and recognize your emotions are valid.
I cry very often at the end when I sing run run, run, run… That part I always for some reason visualize a person or myself running, trying to get to the top of the mountain, being at the top of the mountain is very symbolic. It’s not about being the president or CEO, it’s about being comfortable with your own skin accepting everything about yourself, the good and the bad, the ones who do the best to become the best of oneself.
Is there any inspiration or impact to your music from living in Shanghai?
Yes. There is a lot of inspiration and impact the music and lyrics creation and me from living in Shanghai.
So my family is back in the USA, I am satisfied being in Shanghai but I also miss my family, missing America creates a tension can also be my inspiration to music.
I lived in quite a few cities in China and Shanghai is my favorite. I used to live in Henan where there weren’t a lot of foreigners, so for me I had to learn very quickly how to see things from a Chinese point of view, it caused me to open up more and fall in love with China altogether. Shanghai is very impressive, it is an extremely international, multicultural vibe you don’t get back at home. You have people from all over the world living together in perfect harmony in Shanghai. This is the whole point, the reason I am here, and I am very keen on having a band with members from different places with different backgrounds and cultures. I hope that we can be the example of people with diversity being able to work and live together in harmony.
What target group would you like to build a bridge with via your music?
I think of my target groups differently, I look at people from the inside but not the outside, age can be from 18-105 (hahahaha…). Ok, to answer properly, the music that I write is for anybody who is looking for answers/comfort/dealing with issues in life. Real music that has deep substance and connection with people.
My music is good for the youngters early 20s, this generation of people are very sincere about what they are listening to, they dislike surface stuff, they want something that is very impactful.
At the same time, they also want high energy music, and so I am trying to bridge that, let the younger generation be part of my acoustic music but not the electronic dance music stuff. Just real people playing real music with real instruments.
For the older generation, in their 40s, they are used to the kind of music that I make, it reminds them of the old school music that they once enjoyed.
So, I hope I can bridge the gap between these people with my music.
What was/has been the most difficult time in your career and how did you overcome the challenges?
It was last year. There were many times I wanted to quit, I was frustrated, I was only living on the money that I saved, I couldn’t find a day job, I couldn’t find a gig, and people thought I was joking or they think I wasn’t trying hard enough. It was extremely difficult, and I broke up with my fiancée at the time. I also made a bad investment and lost a lot of money, had to stay on my good friends’ kindness. On top of all this, I had difficulties creating songs in my head and getting it out. Everything was blocked, all I could see was all these problems in front of me, I couldn’t even express them through playing the piano. I ended up crying a lot, how do I deal with that? I talked a lot to my older brother, (he is number 4, I am number 6) and friends. Just like the song Run, I listened to a lot of the songs I wrote and the performances because they were all very encouraging for me. I overcame my difficulties by investing the time in the right places, recognizing my own emotions, paying attention to the music I make and the career that I wanted it to be. Sometimes we just need a breaking point and after that one moment, everything started to get better! Now I take my music very seriously, I understand a lot more of my responsibility as a band leader, as a singer, as a musician. I think of it as an honor, because I found it within myself.
What are the main reasons behind choosing theDesk for your unplugged concert? Is there anything that you and theDesk have in common?
I heard about theDesk, we met, and we talked with Kaylynn (Marketing Manager) and Oscar (Chief Creative Officer). During our discussion, I discovered theDesk and my music and my band are very similar. We both want to find a place, a common ground where people from all over the world can join together and build their dreams. I am being the best that I can be so that I can be beneficial to you and others. theDesk is on the same page, they are providing a simple shared space, a quieter, more controlled place you can sit down to meet with your clients, get things done and you will never know who you are going to meet at theDesk!
It’s the connection and the concept to help others, to build a community together with its members to help people to achieve their goals and live up to their full potential.
theDesk is offering more than just a space but the opportunity to grow and help each other, that’s the reason why I chose theDesk because we have similarities. I didn’t get that until I met Oscar and we talked, he wants to have the people, the community together and he wants the community to be happy, to flourish, to be profitable, and joyous. I see him as a creator, an entrepreneur, his ideas inspired me. Because of his vision, I can do my concert here, just because of his idea, belief and trust in my music, it brought me here, I wasn’t sure if they would agree to it, maybe I could ask, why not try?
A lot can happen when people are together for positive reasons, be considerate and loving. Like last year it was so tough for me, but no one knows. It takes 1 person to reach out, and it causes that person to feel so energetic and so vibrant again, it gives hope. Making the most of your life while you are here is being who you should be and helping others, then our community will become so much better.
theDesk encourages everyone to be themselves and achieve their dreams in business, and so do I. I am very glad that theDesk offers such a place and a community to people like me to achieve my goals. I am very much looking forward to performing and meeting my audience at theDesk, thank you so much for all the support!
OLAM was established in Shanghai, Mark Wang as bassist, George Deng is the guitarist and Kavin Chalermrungroj is the drummer. They use their unique and fresh music to bring unfettered joy to their audiences.