My Suzhou: Robert Dy Campillo, Musician and Music School Owner

By Ned Kelly, February 24, 2018

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My Suzhou is a That's series when we ask a Suzhou-based somebody to tell us about their life.

Robert Dy Campillo was playing a solo gig in Singapore in 2005 when he received an offer to work with a group in Suzhou, so he got the band back together and headed to China. They proved to be so popular that he has opened a music school to pass the groove on to the next generation.

How did a Filipino band find living in Suzhou when you first arrived?
We did not like living here at the beginning, so the plan was just to save some money to buy plane tickets home. Our first contract only lasted three months, but fortunately Harry’s Bar offered us work afterwards. I say fortunately because but it turned out to be a fun experience playing for the Suzhou crowd, so that few months at Harry’s Bar became nine long years.

Where can you guys be found these days?
We are currently working at Feeling Bar 188. Too Match, our band name, has been together for over 20 years, and performed in most Asian countries. We even played in Belgium as a guest band for a special event.

For people who have not been to Feeling Bar 188, what can they expect?
We have a good mix of foreign and Chinese costumers, and because of that we mix up the style of music to keep everyone satisfied. Fridays and Saturdays are most crowded so we play party music until 2am. Sundays we do acoustic sets to relax after two nights of rock and roll. Tuesdays we do a lot of country and blues. Latin on Wednesdays to fit the Ladies’ Night theme. And then classic rock on Thursdays to warm people up for the weekend.

How did your music school Strums come about?
I used to go house to house teaching guitar. Most of my clients were the kids of people I met in the bar. I was very fortunate to have a kid called Ray Warth Jr as one of my first students. He was only about 8 years old, but happened to be a natural talent. He became quite famous in Suzhou, and that brought me a lot of new students.

The only problem with that was it got to a stage where I could not handle it on my own anymore, so I decide to train some teachers and open Strums. Everyone is welcome, from kids to adults, and we offer piano, guitar, drums, ukulele, bass and vocal lessons from beginning to advanced level.

How would you describe the music scene in Suzhou?
When Too Match arrived in Suzhou there was so little going on musically, but now there is music everywhere. It is more competitive, but there are more choices for people, which is a good thing.

Finally, what is it that makes Filipinos such musical people?
Thanks to the Spaniards, they taught us how to play and sing.

Find Too Match playing at Feeling Bar 188. To find out more about music school Strums add them on WeChat (ID: StrumsMusic).

Read more My Suzhou.

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