Musician Ken Stringfellow finds inspiration in Asia

Wed Feb 10, 2010 3:26am EST
 
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HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam (Reuters Life!) - Singer-songwriter Ken Stringfellow, best known for his work with R.E.M. and as a member of The Posies and Big Star, is touring Asia, exploring and experimenting along the way.

Stringfellow, who arrived in the region in December to promote the new album of his band, THE DiSCiPLiNES, has performed in the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Taiwan, as well as Vietnam's commercial hub, Ho Chi Minh City, where Reuters caught up with the Seattle-based musician.

Q: How did it happen that you're playing in Vietnam now?

A: I had an offer to come to Singapore and Malaysia to support the release of my band's album. I figured since I was coming all that way I should add some shows in some places I haven't visited before and my contacts in Malaysia introduced me to people who introduced me to people.

Q: Internationally, Vietnam isn't known for its music scene so why did you choose it? A: I wanted to discover the country, music is my avenue to interact and communicate with people.

Q: People here are usually subjected to cover bands, how did they react to your songs? A: Yes, it was really easy for me to blow some minds! What I saw was, yes, cover bands, and foreigners who were doing well here by playing that kind of thing or playing something typically "American" but old timey -- jazz, blues, this kind of thing. So, for what I do, which is totally on another plane, I had the city to myself, in a way...

So, the thing that makes my show special in any context is how personal it is. I'm not a "performer" giving a "concert." I make the audience, the concert, everything, just one thing, no wall between. And I think the intensity of my original material makes it something hard to ignore even though it's unfamiliar.

My show is also quite quiet, you know, people are used to having loud bands in their face, and I do the opposite -- you have to lean in to hear it, which takes it from being background noise to being foreground noise. So, perfect timing for me to show up in Ho Chi Minh City in 2010. They were hungry for something new.

Q: Are you exploring any new music horizons here or in general?   Continued...