Jazz guitarist Andrew Lim takes an "artless" step forward

Jazz guitarist Andrew Lim takes an "artless" step forward

In Singapore's thriving, close-knit jazz scene, folks know Andrew Lim. The jazz guitarist has performed with plenty of beloved artists like Rani Singam, but has never stepped out to the main spotlight: until now. 

This Saturday, audiences will get to know Lim better when he performs Artless State, his debut show as bandleader, as part of the Esplanade's Jazz in July programming this year.

Find more info about the show here and read on to see what Lim had to say about his journey so far.

You’ve worked with Chok Kerong, Steve McQueens, Joanna Dong etc. What have some of your favourite experiences collaborating with fellow Singaporean musicians? 

The thing I enjoy most about working with people is the balance between making a stand on what I believe music should be but serving the vision as well. I’ve learnt immensely from having that mindset whilst dealing within the different situations I’ve been in through the years. With Kerong, I’ve learnt the value of being detail-oriented and his music constantly pushes me on what I’m able to technically execute on my instrument. 

Steve McQueens has taught me about navigating within a framework of disparate individuals who get very creative music out regardless. Joanna Dong’s market necessitates that I tone down a lot of my idiosyncrasies but in a way that doesn’t impair the depth of the music. All these only help in the expansion my my musical palette and consciousness. 

You’ve spent some years in New York, where you moved to in 2011. How has it been like working as a jazz musician there? 

It was an incredible experience and I still miss it intensely. To be immersed in a musical culture where its so steeped in history but forward thinking at the same time has truly been a blessing for me. A lot of who I am has been directly informed by the wisdom of all the great people I’ve worked with over there. 

Qualities like having high standards for yourself at all times, taking charge of a moment but only in a way that adds to a situation, being street smart. The experiences are too many to get into without going into hours of conversation. 

You’re now based in Singapore as an NAC scholar. How long have you been back, and how has it been like returning to the scene here? 

I’ve been back for two years already. Its been a struggle at first coming back here as I got so used to an artistic life that’s driven by constant external stimuli of your peers. I’ve since learnt to take more responsibility to create my own reality, which involves more work of course, but it’s been an education on self reliance and going on no matter what your environment is. 

That saying, I’ve been very heartened by an emerging scene of young musicians here that are actually working hard on their craft and they inspire me daily. Singapore has a small pool of musical talent and within that, I can say proudly that we have some world class bad-assery. I hope Singaporeans can start to see that. 

How has it been stepping into the role of bandleader for this performance? 

Bandleading is new to me as I was not really into telling people what they should do. However, I feel it to be a necessary process now as I grow into a stage in my life where I’m clarifying my own aesthetics. This leader thing is like a lab for me. I have to do it to find out what, and how to communicate the ideas I believe in as important. I’m taking a small step now but am commiting to this reality as being vital for my own musical development. 

What do you have lined up for this Jazz in July performance? What can we expect? 

It's just a few simple arrangements and originals that’s been sitting in the vaults. I am planning to record this band after playing a few shows to cement the music and vision. There are lots of talented musicians in the scene but I’ve asked this crew to play with me as each one of them just can’t help being who they are musically. And I really dig that. I don’t think you should expect anything except a bunch of musicians playing their stories at this point in time. It might be an artless night.