By Lwin Mar Htun
Five local musicians who perform together as the band named ‘Empty Pocket’ have produced their very first album, ‘Tawgyi Tan Mha Sar Ta Soun’ (A letter from the Tawgyi Prison) last September 9. The band ‘Empty Pocket’ was founded by friends Chit Min and Thura who had been making ukulele music together since 2013 when they decided to take it more seriously and start a band.
Front man Chit Min sporting a long, curly hair style atop a small body frame said, “When we first started Empty Pocket, we were just doing it for fun and our songs were distributed between friends only.” He added that, “After 2 years, we had already written many songs and we thought about releasing an album.
”Their very first album was released last September 9 and included a total of 17 tracks.
Thura, Empty Pocket’s guitarist explained how they chose their band name: “We still need to learn more about music so that means we are not fully professional yet. Resultantly, we still need to work on our other talents and do things to make a living. And the phrase, ‘Empty Pocket’ is loveable name - that’s why we chose it as our band name.”
Empty Pocket uses ukuleles as their main instruments and they combine the ukulele sound with other instruments like guitar, bass, harmonica, a Cajon box among other instruments.
The two vocalists – Chit Min and Thiri -- also play guitar and ukulele. Thura primrily plays ukulele but often swaps it for a guitar during a performance. Min Khant is the Cajon player and Ko Paing compliments their sounds with his bass guitar skills.
“We also have our special guest friend Ko New who occasionally joins us. He plays guitar, bass, Cajon, tambourine, harmonica, shakers, kazoo, flute and so on,” said Chit Min. Every song of Empty Pocket uses different instruments so when asked what genre the band consider their music to fit into, they don’t want to give a title for their music style. “We don’t stick to one type of music and we can’t easily say what kind of music we produce. I think there might be a name for our music,” Chit Min said. He added that, “I think we’re most similar to acoustic.”Even though they use many different instruments, they always work well together and get along well.
“When we are producing a new song, every band member takes their different responsibilities and we consider each member’s music, lyrics or idea so the result comes from all of us,” said Thura. Some of their songs include only one or two lines for a whole track but their audiences seem happy with that. “The message we want to say is communicated perfectly with those one or two lines so we believe we don’t need to add other lyrics or words,” Chit Min said.Listening to their album can open their listeners’ minds to different music tastes, he said. “Most of our songs are different from other typical music and songs. That doesn’t mean our songs are special – we will never attack any other music style but you can feel how different ours is from others when you listen to our album.”
Yangon audiences were already quite familiar with Empty Pocket’s music before the album was launched because they played many times at various ‘open mic’ events at Yangon’s galleries and bars. “We didn’t prepare anything special for those events. We didn’t take it too seriously. We don’t have any other special feeling or experiences. We stopped performing for about two years because we were all busy in our private lives,” said Chit Min. After a two-year hiatus, they began to play again and quickly realized that they already had a good collection of songs so they decided to release an album. Their music style is unique for Yangon and they also have a strong element of fun in their songs and performances. They enjoy the fact that their audiences come from very varied backgrounds.
“Even though they come from different backgrounds, they become one during our concerts and forget who they are and what their position is while having fun. That’s exactly what we want,” Chit Min said. They didn’t expect anything from their album. They just wanted to release a collection of songs they have been playing.
“Everybody wants to see the good final result of their work which they put a lot of effort into so we are ok with our own audiences and having fun with Empty Pocket’s songs,” said Chit Min.