The Funk Division take the stage at Clockenflap 2018
Written by Kunal Dadlani
Through the #TakeTheStage competition held by Cathay Pacific, some of RCHK’s very own students were provided with the opportunity to perform at this years Clockenflap festival.
Aspiring performers were required to submit a one-minute audition video on an online survey. Each performer would be judged on their technicality, originality, and entertainment value. Through this short and strict audition process, auditioners were selected to perform at the festival. Performers would take the stage at Clockenflap, and based on their performance they would once again be judged by the organizers. The same criteria were used again, except now a public voting system was utilized. The final winner would receive round-trip tickets to Tokyo, where they would be able to attend the Fuji Rock Festival 2019, from July 26th to July 28th.
After submitting an audition video on the online survey, RCHK’s very own student band, The Funk Division, was selected to be one of the final performers and were set to perform on the first day of the three-day festival.
The band was shocked that they had even got through the initial audition process, explaining that their “audition video was so bad and rushed”. Ryan Yu, the band’s pianist, revealed that the audition video was recorded on the very last day, as they only found out about the competition about a week before the deadline. He explained, that it had been delayed for a while, because “there were doubts within us [the band] whether auditioning would, in the end, be worth it”.
The band had previously had a core lineup of Karan Dadlani (guitar), Teruki Chan (bassist), Ryan Yu (pianist), Kunal Dadlani (drummer), and Year 9 student, Ruben Japp (saxophone). Weeks prior to the audition, the band had invited their fellow Year 12 student, Maisha Maryam, to sing for them, initially intending to let her perform with them for band’s College Fair performance.
When finding out about the potential Clockenflap performance, the band consisted of six members, and they were even further discouraged when they discovered that they would have to kick out one of their members.
“There was a limit on how many people could actually perform [five], so we needed to temporarily kick one of our members out, meaning we also needed to learn a new song,” ranted Karan.
Ryan explained that they wanted Maisha to perform with them, and kicking her out was not an option. They “didn’t want to perform an instrumental song” and instead wanted to “perform a song with vocals, that the audience could sing along, or clap to.”
Other issues The Funk Division faced included their CAS weeks (which started on November 10th for the drummer, Kunal Dadlani), the knowledge that the band would have to learn a completely new song, and that their possible performance would only be five minutes long.
Eventually, on the deadline day, the band decided to just try and go for it. If they got through the audition process and were allowed to perform - they would.
The band unanimously agreed to “temporarily kick out” saxophonist, Ruben Japp, and the group quickly organized to record an audition video. In the late evening of Monday, the 29th of October, The Funk Division’s audition was finally submitted.
Two days later, on Halloween, the band received a phone call, confirming their performance. The Funk Division was beyond shocked, but also ecstatic that they had actually gone through the audition stage. However, a sudden hitch in their plan was unveiled later on the same day when more details about the performance were shared. The band would have to perform acoustic, as there would not be any storage space for a drum kit, keyboard, or guitar amplifiers.
“We were suddenly put under a lot of stress,” Teruki stated simply when asked about the collapse of their original plan.
Ryan was especially frustrated by the change, as there was no exact acoustic variation for his instrument of choice - the piano. Kunal easily changed from the drumkit to the cajon, while Teruki and Karan just switched from electric to acoustic. However, Ryan found himself without an instrument and was forced to play tambourines and shakers, whilst providing backing vocals.
However, the change in instrumentation also meant that the band had to learn a new song. With only one week to go, until the date of their performance, the group had to adapt to their new instrumentation and learn the new song. After some experimentation, the group finally decided “Virtual Insanity” by Jamiroquai, a song the band (excluding Maisha) had performed at Jie-Jie Day earlier in the year.
Karan revealed that there were once again doubts playing in the back of their mind in the days leading up to the performance.
“We were busy with assessments and preparing for our CAS week, and learning a completely new song, was just too troublesome for us at some point,” he explained. “In the end, we only decided to perform, just because it was Clockenflap.”
Now, nearly a month later, the band reflects on the performance. The Funk Division admitted that the performance had gone better than expected, but that there was still some dissatisfaction.
“I didn’t really like the performance,” Ryan said, admitting that the performance was not organized very well. “I feel that the song wasn’t very suitable,” he explained, and added that “the fact that [we] weren’t provided with the instruments [we] wanted, was a major buzzkill.”
Apart from their slight dissatisfaction, they still felt proud of their achievement. The group had earnt support from both the staff and students at RCHK.
Since Clockenflap, the Funk Division has performed at ‘Rock On!’ at Jockey Club Ti-I College, at the RCHK annual College Fair, at the Winter Concert on December 6th, and at Beleza 8.0 on December 8th. Before the Christmas holidays, the Funk Division will be performing at the December Assembly on the last day of school.