With the upcoming Jack It! x Urbanscapes event happening at Urbanscapes house on the 15th of November 2017, alongside Shuuna, Radiowave, Mafidz, Kimchi Lai, Umar Azizi, and Zhafir!
Here’s a closer look at one of KL’s best-kept secrets. Ian.F and Court 10 brings to the table indie-slacker rock goodness with a tinge of the 60s to boot, and we’ve gotten the opportunity to sit down with Ian Fan himself for an interview!
What does your band’s motto “Hook, Line and Sinker” mean?
So, when you hear a song, there’s always gonna be that one part of the track that’s memorable- take for an example, Tame Impala’s “it feels like we’re only going backward”- so that’s the hook!
“Hook, Line and Sinker” means, if you can get the audience to think about that hook, then it’s half the battle won.
Is there a meaning or a story behind the name Court 10?
Oh yes! So when we were studying in SAE, they put in these student quarters but technically, it’s a fucking rundown apartment! It’s called Subang Goodyear Court 10 and they have like, a lot of these courts. We were in Court 10! Great place, wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. If you have the capacity to put up with bullshit like we did and are poor, then by all means.
Based on your band’s previous line-up, we’ve noticed that you used to play the guitar for the band- why the sudden change to the bass now?
So when we started off, we had Jon on the bass, and why not let him just play the bass? I’m a very bad guitarist so I just played, however, I could la. I figured to just let Jon carry the weight of the band, though, he never wrote any of the bass lines- I was in charge of that.
Now that Jon ciaoed and decided to not come back, I decided to just play bass and sing- although I was quite hesitant to transition into that at first, I guess its working out to some extent.
How did the band meet?
Most of us met in SAE, back in the day. The first person I met was Francis! Yeah, coz he was, okay, so Chan did our orientation and my batch included Francis, Jon and myself. Chan was there earlier and he had long hair back then!
When we introduced each other, I was like “Hi my name is Ian”, then Chan said “No way, my name is Iain too!” and Francis finished up the rest of the conversation by saying that his name was Ian too. It was actually the two of us who hung out together out of the rest, and we went to a Fish & Co. nearby for lunch. No, it’s not as atas as it sounds because you haven’t heard the other stories yet. This was like our first date!
Francis and I actually have this weird bond together. We’ve had our fair share of shit together and we both don’t like confrontation, but in the end, we always go back to each other. Kind of like an old married couple. Then I met Jon- who used to stay with another friend of ours at Court 10. Then one day I just suggested, “hey, let’s all jam!” and yeah, we were messing around for an hour and well… The rest is history!
What would you say were the band changes that Court 10 has undergone in the three-four years that you’ve gone through?
Changes ah… I think in terms of sound, we’re only starting to mature as of late. I guess the biggest change would be Chan- our lead guitarist/producer. In the 3-4 years that he’s played with us, he knows what kind of shit we like, and we also have Hao on rhythm. He’s very new and he doesn’t know how to play the guitar at all but, I’d still give him props! He’s picked it up from scratch and is a really fast learner. Francis is still Francos, but he doesn’t play the lead anymore.
If you’ve heard most of our songs, Francis is the one who came up with all of our guitar solos, and that’s usually the case. As of late, Francis hasn’t been working with me as directly. I think the biggest change is how I’m delegating work. Last time it used to be Francis and I, but now it’d be like; hey Chan? Can you come up with a riff? Same with Hao and Reuben, I let them do their own thing. When it all comes together, it’s pretty nice and it works out well.
Seeing that your influences include the likes of music from the 60s, The Beatles, Vulfpeck and Mac Demarco to name a few, why bring back a very vintage sound to your band’s music?
Because vintage sells! I think so. I mean, I grew up listening to old people music, stuff you’d hear on Lite.fm. The Kinks and The Everly Brothers to name a few. Most of the songs I listened to are very Doo-wop and a lot of my music is based on the 60s. I feel that nobody in Malaysia tries to bring back this kind of sound, so what’s the harm in doing so? I do think that the market for this kind of sound is very niche.
Upon listening to your music, there are bits in songs like Goodbye, Other End and Lambat Mati that include monologues, conversations and background audio (for example; the sounds of people having drinks at a bar)- was this unintentional or are they curated theatrics?
Oh! It’s a part of our theatrics because I like the fact that it’s raw. It’s like- fuck it la, if we’re gonna make a song then might as well say some shit inside, because you’re having fun, right? That’s what I like to incorporate. When the boys come and practice, I just say just do whatever you want. If they feel that whatever they’re playing goes with the song then by all means.
As for the bar thing, there’s this band called Bowling For Soup, they sang “But I almost had you~ But I guess that doesn’t cut it”, where at the end of the song, he gets a crowd to sing along, which is what I wanted to do for the song Other End. Just layers and layers and layers of us just shouting!
I don’t like a song to be clean clean, I like the aesthetic of having people just saying shit. There are some things that are unintentional. Like at the beginning of Say, there’s a line in Mandarin that means “Come Home”. It’s called Dang Zhe Ni Hui Lai, of this creepy lady just saying that. It’s like a horror Chinese thing. So, I threw that in before the song started!
What’s the creative process and the inspiration that goes into writing your songs and lyrics?
Usually, when I write, it’s emotionally driven. When I wanna write a song, I’d sit down and the first thing that I’d hum out is the bassline. Once I’ve set the parts for the bass, I’d go upstairs and try it out. It’s usually very impromptu. There’s a certain structure to the song, but what I’m doing is creating the skeleton for it. The bass is primarily the driving force of Court 10’s music.
The creative process for me is very simple, or to the instrument. That’s why I have Reuben because his comprehension of the piano is fantastic. So if I can hum out the tune, he and Chan can pick it out. There are some notes that can only be played on certain instruments. Most of my songs are very melodic because they’re based off 1920s-30s flapper jazz, like those kinds of tunes. Fruity tunes! Yes! I like my songs to be fruity.
They’re about girls la.. Probably just about one girl- Wen Li (currently girlfriend). All of my songs are about “What if’s?”- Could’ve, Should’ve, Would’ve.
What has Court 10’s musical journey/transition been like; from your first single “Say!” to the latest track “Summertime Radio”?
Summertime Radio isn’t even out yet! Ok lah, if you ask someone like Emma- oh! Shout out to Emma Megan Khoo! I think she’d be able to tell how much we’ve changed because she’d heard our stuff from the get-go. From the first time, we’ve played Say to Summertime Radio.
I think the sound has matured in some sense- you can hear that Say is damn barai and unpolished, Other End is a slight upgrade in terms of technicality, then Lambat Mati is a troll ass track, then you get to Goodbye which is slightly refined and now we’re hoping that Summertime Radio will be a game changer.
What was the inspiration for Summertime Radio?
Vulpeck. I like the Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder- its pop but it’s got some groove to it. When I wrote Summertime Radio, the one person I had in mind for it was Reuben. I knew that Reuben would carry the song.
I’m tired of writing songs- I wanted to write a banger, and that’s how it was conceived. Even though it’s always summer here, just dance everyday lah! I think with SR, we have a more cohesive idea of our music, and we are slowly heading towards a different sound.
Coming together in holy matrimony
Yeah, we used to play for church! Regardless of what you think, it’s pretty cool that there’s an environment that nurtures musicians and there’s a subculture for Christian music too. Though, our seniors were a thousand times better than us. There actually is some sort of a standard to it, because you can’t go to church and fuck up playing, right? Because it’ll just look bad!
Yeah.. playing in the church actually helped a lot, it really extends your musical knowledge. You play a lot of songs- from really old hymns to contemporary songs. You pick up on different techniques as you go along too. I think the thing you learn from playing for the church is discipline and you also learn how to be tight as a band.
I met Reuben through Francis because he plays bass for The Filters. I found out that Reuben plays for church as well, and that he’s on the keys. So I called him in! Out of everyone though, Chan took the longest for both him and us to warm up to each other. I’m gonna be honest- when I first met Chan, I was like, “Man..” I don’t know! But now I can’t live without him.
Would Ian.F & Court 10 ever do EDM? We heard that you even have a recorded track too!
What EDM track?! Oh my god!? Okay listen, in all honesty, I think it’s actually a pretty good track! Shoutout to Mr. Joseph Chua- this guy is really fucking talented! This track that we did is fucking funny. It’s called…. Heart’s Beat.. yeah! We don’t even know why we called it that. The lyrics were all found from google pick-up lines, which was Joseph’s idea.
This song was actually produced to be on the college album for SAE, but shit happened and it didn’t work out. We were just doing our own thing and then one day Joseph came up to me and said, “Hey man, do you wanna do vocals for my song?”. He showed me the track and I said ok ons man!
Now that you’ve been the semi-finalists for Vans Musicians Wanted 2017 to playing for the upcoming Urbanscapes Festival on the 16th of October, what’s the next thing Court 10 is planning to do?
We’re gonna play at Glastonbury.
Hahaha, I’m kidding! No lah, we’d love to play at Good Vibes next year, we don’t care if it’s the 4 PM show, we’ll play it! But I think, for now, we’re going to focus on releasing our EP first because it’s actually long overdue. It’s been in the works for three years! I think playing at Urbanscapes this year is definitely a huge milestone that we’ve covered, and we’ve only been recently active again.
Vans Musicians Wanted 2017
Actually, this entire thing was one crazy trip, because I really didn’t expect us to get chosen at all- and we were playing alongside really, fucking power bands like Youth Portal, Lukarts, SouthChinaSea and we were just like.. Shit! Singing “la, la, la” on stage!
Apparently, the reason why we made it through to the finals is that our sound is not common. It’s different from the rest of what they were listening through at the time, and they liked that, I guess! Our only downfall was that we didn’t play live enough, so we weren’t as tight,
Are there any local or international acts that you’d like to collaborate/play alongside with in the future?
I’d love to play with the same line-up as the Vans Musicians Wanted people again! If I could collaborate with anyone, maybe a local band I’d pick would be Ryotjones! I love them… But they’re too good for us! They have that sound that I like- imagine if Court 10 had a brass section with Reuben on the keys… Damn! We’d be like Sly and The Family Stone.
I’d also love to work with Mac- Mac Demarco, but he never replies any of my tweets… I just wish good morning all the time every morning but… It’s okay la. I’d obviously love to work with The Beatles if they were still alive but yeah.
Could you share a story about your most memorable gig or band moment?
I guess I’d say that our band trip up to Cameron Highlands, and I had only gone with just Francis and Chan. We really bonded and got a lot closer. Cameron’s to me is a very personal place, and I’ve always had a soft spot for it. When we were up there, we just spent a lot of time writing songs. We did more scriptwriting there.. (Francis and Ian used to make short films together)
Is there anything you’d like to change or wish to see from the local indie scene?
I would love to see more people like Moja Husni from Alam Bunyian/Shuuna and Joshua Ganesan from SOAP in the scene- because these two people actually go out of their way to include and accommodate to everyone within the local scene. I feel that they are an example to be followed in terms of professionalism and acceptance of upcoming talents within our industry.
We heard that you have plans to release an EP by January 2019! Could you please tell us a little about it?
The EP is long overdue and we’ve been working on it! We’re just having a hard time finalizing a lot of our mixes and recording some of the songs that we’ve played live, but yet to properly record. It’s called “Cigarettes, Sandwiches and You”- because that was all we ever consumed back then when we studied in SAE. You’ve heard most of the songs already, but there will be a few surprise tracks that you’d be looking out for!
What can your fans and new listeners expect from your EP?
All i’m going to say is, that it’ll be best heard during a nice sunset, or when you’re lying down on a couch.
Is there anything else you’d like to Say? (heheh)
Thank you for everyone that’s been so accepting of our music, and thank you for giving us a chance to showcase our stupidity on stage.
We love you guys and we will one day… win a Grammy.
If you’d like to catch them live, you can head on over to their Urbanscapes gig on the 15th of November at Rumah Urbanscapes! To keep up with more news regarding Ian.F & Court 10, check out them out on Facebook, Instagram and Soundcloud.