Great to know that life is still able to surprise me, even in this day and age. When I originally got in touch with JPNSGRLS regarding their performances at Music Matters Live ’14, all I was thinking about was getting an interview out of that contact. I seriously did not expect more than that. But from the moment, guitarist Oliver Mann recognized my name tag at the first day of the Music Matters conference (21st May) and introduced himself, it set off an unusual sequence of events where I would learn tons, enjoy awesome music and bond with four incredible young musicians!
Whenever we bumped into each other at the conference, we would have casual conversations that indicated that we had much in common in terms of music and passion and again, at this point in time, I was looking forward to watching the band perform at Fern & Kiwi that night, more than anything else.
I’ll be honest. I was blown away. The band was impressive live. Songs were sophisticated yet accessible and all four members were live wires on stage, but especially Charlie, of course. Already, I could tell that “Brandon” and “Tiger” were going to be firm favourites of mine. Crowd was not huge and were unfamiliar with the songs but it was a start. I congratulated the boys and left to another venue.
Later on at Beer Market, I finally got to meet lanky bassist Chris (who gave me a bear hug) and drummer (and cool dude) Graham and the bonding sessions began. Getting to know them as people over drinks made it clear that these young musicians were really down-to-earth ordinary guys, simply happy to be playing their music in Singapore.
1am at China One the next day was a strange slot but the band gave it their best shot. Dressed down in shorts (they always work out a dress code/theme for each performance, very important), they overcame the challenging sound and venue to entertain a fairly sizable crowd (considering the time slot). I was rather impressed by their professionalism, they took their craft seriously.
The band had two performances on Friday, 23rd May, the same night as the Made in Singapore showcase. I tried to juggle both and still managed to catch the boys. Of course! I thought perhaps that the Crazy Elephant gig was their best one at Music Matters Live. Charlie was particularly on fire and the crowd were totally into it – maybe that was the reason? Whatever it was, it was pretty memorable. New songs were played and deep album cuts (from upcoming debut full length, Circulation) as the boys treated the two performances as one 60 minute set! Excellent!!
Part two of that 60 minute set was at Beer Market for Canadian Blast as the band represented their country in this showcase. They did not disappoint as it was clearly obvious that they were building a fan base as more and more music lovers got to see them in action. My good friend (and ardent SG indie supporter) Kelvin Ang was sitting next to me and he seemed mesmerized! I know the feeling!! I rushed off and returned to hang around with the boys again – and we had even more fun talking and drinking…
Sadly, the good times had to come to an end. All things must pass and all that jazz. So determined to make the most of that time, I visited the band at their hotel room and caught a glimpse of their pre-show preparations, which was insightful to say the least. Also, I had the privilege to assist them on a very special video and fingers crossed that that works out! Together with label rep/manager/good guy Nick Whitcomb (a welshman now based in Canada), we brought the gear to Clarke Quay, had dinner and watched a packed house lap up everything JPNSGRLS had to serve. Now fans were singing the songs, screaming at every move and were totally into the band – all this only possible because the band worked hard to make sure that every previous performance had built up momentum to this success. The band stayed on to mingle with their adoring public and before you know it, we had one last picture and the adventure was over!
Suffice to say, the last four days were probably some of the best ever in my lifelong obsession with rock music. For this I want to thank Oliver, Charlie, Chris and Graham for being so open with me, for sharing their hearts and souls and their music, of course. They possess so many of the qualities of successful people and apart from their immense talent and charisma, have what it takes – I believe – to be an enduring success in the indie rock world. And so I wish JPNSGRLS all the best as they head on home with the promise that we might all meet again, sooner than expected! But that, my friends, will be another story altogether!
… still there’s more…
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