You crawled into my head; And I can’t get you out; As the years go by; The feelings never fade; I made a prison of those memories
The lyrics of Allen Ling’s recently released track ‘Remember’ align with the emotional depth of his earlier two songs regarding pathos and melancholy. ‘Straight Into Ocean’, ‘A Name in Your Book’, and now ‘Remember’, are part of a trilogy that is inspired by Allen’s personal life.
One may wonder, would Allen’s music have taken a different direction without the presence of pain and heartbreak? “Without tragedy and suffering, I’d probably be writing happier themed songs, danceable music and humorous songs that make people laugh out loud,” says Allen, adding, “But then again, I won’t need creative outlets to be happier or console myself if I’m already content. I wouldn’t be as driven to work hard to prove I am a worthy partner, friend and collaborator. I guess I have something to prove, but mainly to myself. So, if I’m satisfied with my life, I probably wouldn’t be motivated to create much music or share what I’ve composed.”
Business of music
Allen Ling, an American artiste of Chinese origin based in California, is a singer-songwriter, music-producer, entrepreneur, and comic book publisher. The collaboration with Dave Lopez, the lead guitarist and producer of the rock band Flipsyde, in 2016 drove him to pursue the trilogy of tracks. Allen expresses his gratitude towards Dave, stating, “If it weren’t for Dave, I wouldn’t be engaged in any of this. The pandemic disrupted various aspects of my life, and I consider myself fortunate that Dave and I had the opportunity to establish a musical collaborative relationship before that.”
Allen Ling and Dave Lopez met through a mutual friend and soon bonded over music and more. Says Dave, “I loved Allen’s energy and his love of life. He helped me write a song for my daughter and made it look so easy with lyrics and a bridge. I have the worst time using words, and Allen is a natural.”
Allen wrote the first two songs of this EP, ‘Straight into the Ocean’ and ‘A Name in Your Book’, around November 2018. While he wrote the lyrics, melody and chord progressions, Brian Mantia and Melissa Reese, who work and play for Guns N’ Roses, helped arrange and produce the instrumental tracks. Then came ‘Remember’ in 2023. “I was listening to an instrumental track written by Edmond Clare while sitting in the Soundwave Studio in Oakland, California. I thought I was healed from my breakup years before that, but evidently, I just buried the pain and moved on. Dave then helped with the production of the ‘Remember’ instrumental arrangements with Ed and then, of course, the amazing guitar solos Dave played.”
Allen is ready to broaden his repertoire to diverse genres. “I’ve been told I’m an ‘adult contemporary’, but I like many genres, including country pop, jazz ballads, and even light rock. I recently asked Piper Ferreira of Flipsyde to help with rap /hip-hop lyrics for one of my songs, and he agreed. So, it looks like I’m moving into hybrid genre versions of some of my songs,” he says.
It wasn’t a major style shift for Dave, who insists that there’s so much more to Flipsyde than rap rock. “Being a part of an alternative hip-hop group is all about collaborating in all styles of music. We delve into so much Latin and acoustic music; whatever we’re feeling, we never limit what we want to hear. I approached Allen’s music the same way. It’s pretty much a continuation of what I’ve always done with Flipsyde,” says Dave, who grew up admiring and imitating Santana and Jimmy Page, etc. “My old guitar teacher and best friend Jason Becker once told me not to get caught up with just playing scales and technique; you must live life to write about life. Life is what inspires me, ups and downs, and emotions drivethe melodies. I’ve always believed that, and I always keep that in mind. You have to practice and always keep your musical chops up, but the music has to reflect a feeling that only comes from living life, says Dave on the journey of Flipsyde.
On the Flipsyde
Flipsyde’s song ‘Someday’ from the 2005 album We the People has been immensely popular, with several guitar buffs playing it on YouTube. “I am proud of it. I still haven’t heard anyone play a Spanish guitar solo in the middle of a hip-hop song. I am proud of the music and its effect on people over the years. Our music always had a message of uplifting and inspiring people. I am happy at the impact our music has made in India. Last December, we played at the Orange Festival in Dambuk, Arunachal Pradesh, and the crowd sang all our songs. That was special, and I’m looking forward to returning and introducing my friend Allen Ling to the amazing music lovers in India. In all the tours I’ve done with Flipsyde, I don’t think there is any audience as passionate with their love of music as in India,” says Dave.
Allen says that the true essence of creating music lies in collaborative efforts. “I am a social animal, and working in a larger team of talented people is so much fun. I’d love to co-create music with an accomplished Indian or Asian artiste. That would be another desirable evolutionary step in my artistic journey,” says Allen, who, apart from having Chinese ancestry, does not have much influence of his native country. He says, “Travelling to and touring in Asia and East Asia will be important to reconnect to many related cultures on many levels. Dave and I are considering touring in India in 2024 and exploring Singapore and Indonesia as possibilities. I am excited about the future.”
Do Allen’s businesses help keep him grounded from the romanticised realm of music? My comic book publishing and creative company is similar to the nature of the music business and working with creatives. Making comics is a lot of fun but not grounding, and I also have to deal with some fascinating personalities in that industry. That said, running my physical therapy business and helping patients heal has been an absolute joy and makes me feel valued and relevant to people. It’s also a source of personal and financial stability, which most people in the entertainment industry do not have.”