MICappella’s encounters with drunk guests, bodyguards and possessive fans

We get the home-grown vocal band to spill on their various adventures and mishaps while on tour

(L-R) Eugene Yip, Calin Wong, Juni Goh, Tay Kexin, Goh Mingwei, Peter Huang
(L-R) Eugene Yip, Calin Wong, Juni Goh, Tay Kexin, Goh Mingwei, Peter Huang
19 Jun 2017

(L-R) Eugene Yip, Calin Wong, Juni Goh, Tay Kexin, Goh Mingwei, Peter Huang

Photos: Tammi Tan, MICappella
Video: Charlene Chong, Goh Wen Kai

When six-piece Singapore vocal band MICappella showed up for our interview last Thursday, all of them were sporting brightly-coloured locks that we learned were just touched up the day before.

“Tomorrow we’re shooting the music video for our upcoming single ‘Bu Pa Ji Bai’, and on the 22nd we’re heading to Malaysia for our very first ticketed showcase in Kuala Lumpur!” shared an excited Tay Kexin, who is the younger sister of singer Tay Kewei. The soprano joined the group in 2015 and is their newest member along with Goh Mingwei, who sings bass.

Ever since their formation in 2009 (after winning second place in the Chinese edition of televised singing competition The Sing-Off), MICappella has gone on to make waves not just on local soil, but also in places as far-flung as Europe and the United States. In fact, they recently won first place at the inaugural Moscow Spring A Cappella Festival in Russia, where they were the only Asian contenders.

The secret to their success could be that they didn’t treat the event like a competition at all. “We just went there to have fun, experience new things and perform for a new audience,” said Juni Goh, the group’s tenor. “We put all our focus and energy into delivering our best performance without thinking so much about [winning or not].”

This was a completely different scenario compared to their days on The Sing-Off, which Juni later described as “a very stressful and level-up phase” full of practice sessions, arguments and crying. Thankfully, they don’t think they’ll ever repeat those dreadful interactions again unless they take part in another major contest, but even then, “We already know each other and our respective duties very well so there’s very little necessity for friction,” said Peter Huang, who does vocal percussions.

After the concert in KL, MICappella will be gearing up for their Singapore gig on November 4 (more details to come later) and then begin work on their new album. More adventures await.

In the meantime, read on as we uncover interesting tales from MICappella’s many travels, including the time they performed for five sleeping people, got star-struck by a K-pop girl group and more:

The group members once outnumbered their audience members
The group members once outnumbered their audience members
19 Jun 2017

The group members once outnumbered their audience members

It sounds like a performer’s worst nightmare, but MICappella laughed good-naturedly while recalling the time they performed for five reluctant listeners – who eventually got so bored that they fell asleep (and didn’t bother to hide it).

“We were invited to sing for a community workshop in China, but nobody came!” Juni recounted, as the others started chuckling at the memory. “The organisers felt so paiseh (embarrassed) that they got a group of uncles playing ping pong in the corner to come and watch us, but they were so bored and unimpressed that they fell asleep halfway through our second song without even being discreet about it!”

While the band understandably found the situation quite ridiculous, Kexin clarified that they weren’t angry or offended. “It was funny! We were trying not to laugh while singing,” she said, while alto Calin Wong added, “We took it as a rehearsal for our next concert.”

When the audience wasn’t sleeping, but wasn’t listening completely either
When the audience wasn’t sleeping, but wasn’t listening completely either
19 Jun 2017

When the audience wasn’t sleeping, but wasn’t listening completely either

In more audience shenanigans, the group recalled the time they were putting on a showcase that was arranged by the Shanghai government for retired farmers. Before the show even started, the enthusiastic crowd already started banging on the door, demanding to be let in.

“It was so scary!” exclaimed Juni, before joking that the seemingly passionate concertgoers probably just wanted to quickly enter to enjoy the air conditioning and comfortable seats.

He might not have been completely wrong: when the show finally started, Kexin told us that she noticed most of the people furiously knitting sweaters while chatting with their friends. We guess that still beats a sleeping audience any day, though…

A listener once fainted in the middle of a performance
A listener once fainted in the middle of a performance
19 Jun 2017

A listener once fainted in the middle of a performance

When asked to share any horror stories from performances, Mingwei brought up an incident that happened in Australia with a loud “bang!” and clap of his hands. The rest of the group quickly understood his reference and took turns to elaborate.

“We were in Tasmania for a music festival, and at the end of every evening, there’s a singer’s lounge where anyone can volunteer to go on stage to jam, so we went up,” Peter began. Kexin continued, “We were performing a song that I wrote for the very first time when we saw this man slowly walking towards the stage; we thought he wanted to join us to dance or something, but he suddenly fell backwards with a loud ‘BANG!’”

According to Calin, the gentleman was probably drunk, and an ambulance was soon dispatched to the scene. “It doesn’t sound scary when we talk about it now, but back then it was quite frightening because he was old and big-sized, so we weren’t sure if he was okay or not,” said Mingwei.

Thankfully, they spotted him two days later at the festival – and performing on stage, no less! Whew

That time they were star-struck by Girls’ Generation
That time they were star-struck by Girls’ Generation
19 Jun 2017

That time they were star-struck by Girls’ Generation

Although none of the MICappella members are particularly huge fans of K-pop, they admitted that they were rather dazzled during a brief encounter with Hallyu wave queens Girls’ Generation.

“We were at the Hong Kong Asian-Pop Music Festival and there were a lot of popular Asian artists there, including Girls’ Generation,” said Juni. “They walked past us once and we were just like, ‘Wow…’” “One of them brushed my shoulder,” said baritone Eugene Yip with a grin.

And speaking of brushing shoulders, Peter could barely contain his embarrassed laughter when he remembered the time they took a picture with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, “I very naturally put my arm around his shoulder (before the picture), and as soon as I touched him, I felt someone violently yank my arm away!” But the very on-the-ball bodyguard quickly apologised to Peter afterwards.

Which member has possessive fangirls?
Which member has possessive fangirls?
19 Jun 2017

Which member has possessive fangirls?

As every K-pop fans knows, every group usually has a “visual” member, who is typically the best-looking (or at least most eye-catching) person. Although MICappella doesn’t have an official one, they quipped that Eugene could be their de facto “visual”, given his popularity with the ladies.

“I think a lot of girls like Eugene; even my own friends always ask me, ‘Eh, who is he? He’s cute leh!’” said Juni, pretending to be annoyed, while Calin added that she has also been asked to introduce Eugene to her gal pals.

Eugene even has the possessive fangirls to go with his unofficial role. “I had a friend who flew to Shenzhen from Singapore to attend our concert there, and during our autograph session, she gave me flowers,” he said. “When she left, two fans accosted her and scolded her, ‘Why did you give Eugene flowers?’” Ooh. It’s not just Korean oppas with the crazy admirers.

Juni, however, was not amused. “This is called a [humble] brag,” he said with a shrug, as the others laughed in amusement.

MICappella strikes a
MICappella strikes a "silly" pose, as we instructed
19 Jun 2017

MICappella strikes a "silly" pose, as we instructed

What happens when you ask MICappella to pose
What happens when you ask MICappella to pose "sexily"
19 Jun 2017

What happens when you ask MICappella to pose "sexily"

MICappella performing in Moscow
MICappella performing in Moscow
19 Jun 2017

MICappella performing in Moscow

Watch:
MICappella tells hilarious stories from performing around the world!

MICappella is performing in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on June 22, 8pm at Timbre@The Row. Tickets are priced at RM60 and are available on their website.

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