Born and raised in a typical middle-class family in Singapore, Felix trained privately to play classical violin, while playing trombone in his secondary school concert band. At the age of 17, he was one of 6 Singaporean representatives at the Sydney Olympics, performing in the combined Olympics band. While reading Jazz Composition at Berklee College of Music in Boston, USA, Felix picked up the double bass, which has now become his primary instrument. He also plays the steel pan and electric bass guitar.
Since returning from the USA in 2008, Felix has established himself as a musician of note, performing and recording for many diversely different bands including gypsy jazz trio “The Lost Tribe” and world music outfit “Qilin Group” touring internationally and performing at festivals like Java Jazz and Singapore International Jazz Festival. As a bandleader, he has put together groups to capture authentic sounds from eras through thoughtful arrangements, like “The Shanghai Jazz Club” and New Orleans-style septet “Sidewalk Orleans”.
Known for his unconventional instrumentations that carry a distinctly Asian flavour paired with contemporary Western sound, Felix navigates tradition, change, and a confluence of cultures. In his most recent venture, 'The Straits Ensemble', he's delving into Singapore's rich musical heritage, creating a collection of compositions centered on the concepts of 'diversity' and 'relationships'.
These pieces are performed by ensembles featuring an array of both folk and Western instruments. Taking inspiration from The Silk Road Project, Felix is driven to communicate culture through his compositions, performances, and educational endeavors.
In 2015, Felix recorded his debut album “Seeing Sounds” of his original compositions with his 10-piece band, The Imaginary Forces, which drew praise from his contemporaries and support from the National Arts Council of Singapore. Felix’s work has been presented at international music festivals and his pieces “49 Days” and "Light a Thousand Candles" were selected to be featured as part of the New Music Workshops 2017 & 2019 International Jazz Composers’ Symposium organized by the International Society of Jazz Arrangers & Composers (ISJAC) in the USA. Felix presented his original work ‘49 Days’ at the 2017 ISJAC clinic facilitated by Grammy Award-winning composer Billy Childs and "Light a Thousand Candles" at the 2019 ISJAC clinic facilitated by Grammy nominees Bill Frisell and Ron Miles.
Felix produced, composed, and arranged singer-songwriter Dawn Wong's 2016 Mandarin contemporary jazz album 'Marco Lopo', later touring Taiwan and playing at Singapore festivals as music director. With its distinct nanyang flavour bearing hints of the multicultural metropolis of Singapore, this collection of original tunes drew inspiration from innocence and the imagination to create a world where rabbits can captain ships and vegetables dance the samba—more details at https://www.dawnwong.sg/marco-lopo.
In 2023, Felix was commissioned by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra to compose a piece for the Temasek Foundation Singapore Symphony Orchestra National Day Concert, at the Esplanade Concert Hall. His piece, Pasat Merdu, featured cultural composition elements from the Chinese, Malay, and Indian music cultures in Singapore. Watch here.
Felix currently heads Pasat Merdu, a non-profit arts organisation championing intercultural arts. He holds an adjunct position at LASALLE College of the Arts, and mentors young composers in his own time. Felix also runs a ceramic studio, Weekender Worker, where he explores traditional craftsmanship from a contemporary perspective.
In his other life, Felix runs a pottery studio, WeekendWorker by ByFormation, with his friends.
Tan Wei Xiang