I was born on the 5th of April, 1985. For those who are interested, that makes me an Arian Ox–this means nothing to me though. Just so we are clear, I do not believe in numerology, astrology, palm or face readings, any and all manner of pseudoscience and woo-woos.
Now, as far as I can remember, my childhood was defined by: Toys, imagination, varying degrees of creativity, friends, some bickering, falling off bicycles then getting back up, a scar on my chin, console games, Magic: The Gathering, Lego(s) and desktop PCs.
I believe that luck and opportunities featured prominently in my life. On hindsight, my actions, intentional or not, had set me on this path. A large amount of time spent exploring varied interests inevitably sowed into me a thirst for knowledge and the will to experiment.
The Early Years
Like many, I went through the national-educational script. However, I stopped short of entering university.
I entered Huamin Primary School after kindergarten. In those days, I had no electronic devices of any sort to entertain or distract. I had books instead. I studied in the same school as my elder sister. In primary one, I read her primary three textbooks. I would go on to read her materials every year before the start of the semester even if I did not understand the content. Back in the day, books and cartoons were my entertainment.
At Huamin, I discovered Bookworm Club. My mum spent money on buying their short stories while I spent an inordinate amount of time reading and fully immersing myself in the adventures of the Bookworm gang. (Thanks, mum!)
More so than being a Bookworm, my dad played a pivotal figure in arming me with literacy skills–literally, despite not being educated himself. I’d sit on his lap after dinner and listen to him read passages from my textbooks. What an incessantly buggy kid I had to be! (Thanks, dad!)
Those days, the government instructed everyone to speak English. It was a national, social, literal mandate. My parents complied to the best of their abilities. My formative years were thus spent speaking, thinking, and writing in English. If my mum spoke to me in English, my mother tongue had to be English, right?
Suffice to say, my capacity to speak a complex language and listen to Mandarin dwindled in proportion to my growing ability to converse in the state’s lingua franca.
Some time between Primary and Secondary school, my dad bought a desktop computer. He showed me how to use the mouse and keyboard and connect to the “internet”. We used modems to “surf” the “web” at speeds measured by baud rates. Phone calls were very unwelcomed.
On The Desktop
The desktop computer was an important invention; It probably was the greatest invention of its era. Dubbed the PC, its interactivity unlocked several interests in my young mind. I discovered:
- Computer gaming on a Pentium Pro 133MHz. Minesweeper, Solitaire, SkiFree, Doom, anyone?
- Web design through rudimentary HTML. I hosted my site on a free account at www.freeyellow.com/jacklepop. I even named it “JacklePoP’s FunWorld”. I operated a geocities account: www.geocities.com/timessquare/chasm/2775
- Browsing bundled CDs that came with the purchase of a new PC, then sampling them.
The desktop computer would forever alter my life’s trajectory; Its mere exposure modified my psyche in ways immeasurable.
Education is Secondary
I entered the Express stream at Northland Secondary School. As my interest in reading waned, I launched into console gaming on the Sega Saturn and Sony Playstation, and online gaming on the desktop computer. I also made friends, 5 of which still remain in close contact till today. We even had a name for the group.
If the first decade of my life was marked by books, the next decade would be defined by games.
I did badly for my O-Levels. As a result, I could not select the courses I wished to attend–nevermind that I had no idea what I wanted to even do in the first place. Despite having three rows of courses to choose from, I failed entry in my choices.
So, I did the most logical thing then: Retake Os as a private student. Rather than studying, I spent that year playing computer games instead. No prizes for guessing how I fared the second time.
There was a faint light at the end of the tunnel though; I turned a B4 into a B3 in English Language. That has to account for something, right? I visited NYP’s and ITE’s student offices. I ultimately ended up applying for Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) at a friend’s behest.
Entering an arts school would alter my life’s trajectory again.
Fine, It’s Arts Then
NAFA accepted me in 2006 just days before I got drafted into the armed forces as an infantry. That same year, I deferred my enlistment with immediate approval over the counter; That had to be my first tensest moment.
I made friends in batch 1H of class 2006. Much fun was had. I majored in Advertising in the third year but gradually lost interest in it before graduation. I could not bring myself to craft advertisements to peddle goods for which people had no interest in. Steering people into consumerism made little sense to me too. Ultimately, working in an industry that celebrates awards for great ads did nothing for me.
Nonetheless, there are valid reasons for working in this industry; I was simply not cut out for it.
CMPB wasted no time calling me up for National Service. I donned a blue uniform instead of a green one. I got familiar with buildings rather than the jungles. I would then go on to serve the nation at the Basic Rescue Training Center (BRTC)–now known as the National Service Training Institute (NSTI).
I must say that my time spent gaming on the computer translated into a kind of technical prowess operating the desktop and accompanying softwares needed to support the operations of an entire company.
I still avoided the idea of grabbing a Degree. At this stage, idealism featured prominently in my life. So, why study when I had the freedom to do something else? I turned my sights to music.
Nearing the end of my two year period serving the nation, I harboured a dream of DJing and producing Drum and Bass. I picked up FL Studio, a pair of Wharfedale Diamond active monitor speakers, M-Audio and Korg midi keyboards and controllers. I sought to only arm myself with music theory many months before I recognised the dire need to ‘work a job that pays’.
I released music under the artist name: jacklepop.
Entering The Corporate World
I needed money. So I worked jobs. Once more, luck and opportunities would come my way. I appreciated the job offers that friends extended to me over the years. They looked out for me.
A Generalist Mindset
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