You have got to hand it to Deon Toh and his merry band DEON. For the last couple of years, the singer-songwriter has built a steady following at home and made a life for himself and his band as touring musicians. Read what Deon has to say about his latest adventure in Toronto.
All things must pass. But this is not the end of the journey. Deon Toh shares with us his final thoughts on his Tokyo tour.
The tour is done but there are still one or two updates coming in from Deon Toh.
Latest update from Deon Toh in Tokyo.
Thus far, we’ve played at three different venues in Tokyo. It has been a real eye opener. Each venue brings a different vibe, and they specialise in different genres. We are lucky to carry the indie rock/pop flag; which has been suitable for the venues so far.
Finally, it’s showtime for DEON in Tokyo – share the experience!
Deon Toh is back with more thoughts about his time in the Land of the Rising Sun…
Support. When touring, my group tries our best to research on Singaporean music acts performing within our vicinity. We’ve played to venues packed with strangers cheering for encores; and also played quieter shows in venues with a little less than 10 people. Singaporean support remains valuable in foreign territory – whether it is to assist other acts with their merchandise sales, transport, loaning and sharing of equipment, or just to add warm bodies to the crowd; having a touch of home can make or break performances, and have a drastic effect on tours.
Missives from Deon Toh, now on tour in Tokyo. Here’s the first one …
There’s a myriad of reasons why music acts choose to tour; there are also reasons why music acts choose to tour for longer or shorter periods. I’m not going to pretend to know all of them, but what I can share with you are the unique experiences that my band and I soak in.
Singer-songwriter DEON has just released Oceans Remix, a free to download EP, available at various digital platforms.
The amount of new music releases in 2015 is staggering. And it’s basically impossible to be able to listen to everything out there. But when it comes to Singapore Rock, well then it is possible to almost do just that.
Thus, a justification for this list – our recommendations for those of you who have recently come aboard the S-ROCK train. Welcome to the rest of your life!
Tonight! DEON launches the superb album that is Oceans at The Substation. The lovely Theodora opens at 7.30pm!
It’s the perfect way to spend a Friday night!!
Peatix Ticket Prices: $25 for entry/ $45 for Physical CD Book & entry (Original Value $50)/ $60 for Physical CD Book, Lionheart T-Shirt & entry (Original Value $70)
Tickets at the Door: $30 for entry
… still there’s more …
It’s always a pleasure working with singer-songwriter Deon Toh cos the man is genuine, down to earth and serious about his art. His new album is one of the best I have heard in 2015 and thus, it was illuminating to pick his brains for the stories behind the songs. It’s really in-depth so buckle up!
What was the primary inspiration behind making Oceans a concept album?
As a songwriter, I’ve always viewed the creation of an album as the process of creating a standalone piece of work; a piece of art. I’m one of those musicians who still believe in coming up with a good 10 songs LP, and making sure that those songs make a collective statement.
As such, I did not craft singles and slap them together, but rather, I crafted an entire album. With that intention in mind, I dedicated myself to the challenge of coming up with something magical.
No disrespect or offense to musicians who launch singles, or demos, or EPs that are just a collection of unrelated songs (there’s nothing wrong with that); on my part, this was a personal challenge to push my songwriting limits and come up with a concept album.
The theme of circles and cycles seems alien to Singapore where the seasons remain constant – so is the music a product of travelling beyond Singapore?
I traveled with the intention of personal growth. I wanted to discover more about myself and see the world, and to understand the value of coming home better. Back home, life was changing at a rapid pace, with my graduation from university, evolving relationships, and aging parents. I had constant emotional and rationality debates, epiphanies. And at the end of everything, I walked away with a deeper understanding of myself.
What was the motivation behind incorporating post-rock and ambient electronica into your pop-rock sonic agenda?
During this period, my band and I had the privilege to witness one of the best musical performances during an Iceland Airwaves showcase at Canadian Music Week. We stumbled upon singer-songwriter, Asgeir, and fell in love with his brand of music. He incorporates loads of ambient electronica, which influenced us eventually.
The post-rock aspect came out of listening to loads of music from local band Caracal. We are huge fans of the band, and also spent a short period traveling with them, it was fun.
As for my pop-rock roots, I still listen to loads of Rachael Yamagata, Brooke Fraser, and Coldplay, which always keeps me grounded to my roots.
When one listens to Oceans, it becomes abundantly crystal clear that for singer-songwriter Deon Toh, it’s all about the music. In this digital age, Toh has gone against the grain to approach the album as a viable artistic expression, like in the days of yore. There are eleven one-word titled tracks on this, his follow-up to the well-received Antiphobic, bookended by “Circles” and “Cycles”, which speak to the impact of seasons in our lives.
There is beauty, grace and strength in compositions like “Summer”, “Fall”, “Winter” and “Spring” where Toh is able to conjure the experience of the seasons, whether it is something physical or symbolic. The over-riding emotion might be melancholy but it is not defeatist but reflective. Whether it is in the piano harmonic structures, fragile guitar arpeggios, arranged percussion, ambient soundscapes or Toh’s falsetto, there is a deliberate intent to evoke a sense of longing and yearning in the presence of natural splendour.
It is a significant achievement that Oceans is an album one can (and MUST) listen to from beginning to end and then to start all over again. A gorgeous song cycle that once again sets the bar higher for Singapore artists to emulate.
In the meantime, check out the music video for “Summer” below.
Look out for the Power of Pop interview with Deon Toh coming soon…
DEON releases his 2nd album Oceans on 10th July.
iTunes pre-order will begin on 17th June, and physical copies of the album as well as the digital release of the album will happen on the 10th of July. A music video of first single “Summer” will also be released on 17th June on DEON’s Youtube channel.
Oceans was recorded by Leonard Soosay, and produced by DEON, Mindy Kon, and Leonard Soosay at Snakeweed Studios. The album was mastered by Scott Hull (Garbage, John Mayer, Snarky Puppy).
The album will be launched on the 10th July at the Substation.
As with DEON’s debut Antiphobic, Oceans is filled to the brim with melodic power but it’s clear that DEON has upped the ante with regards to production and arrangement as well as a conceptual thread that runs through the album. Review to come.
Connect with DEON.
Regular visitors to Power of Pop will be aware that my definition of “pop” is pretty wide. But of course, in the context of modern pop (read: vacuous) , that definition becomes somewhat irrelevant for my purposes. Also, if I say “rock ‘n’ roll”, most people will think of the 50s (read: dated) and so, sometimes I need to be uber-specific and say “country-folk-pop-rock” to describe the type of pop music that I love. Hope that clarifies. From that perspective, I wanted to share very specifically, the bands and artists in Singapore whom I feel fit that particular bill and hope that you’d discover some new music to love as well.
CHEATING SONS – JEFFERSON (LIVE)
Though still unreleased, this country-folk masterpiece always resonates with me whenever the band plays it – which in my view is not often enough!
Pick up the new Cheating Sons album from Bandcamp.
HANGING UP THE MOON – THE DIVERS
Sean Lam (aka Hanging Up the Moon) somewhat resists any attempt to associate his wonderful music with that of the past (which I appreciate) but seriously folks, this gorgeous music is highly evocative of early 70s folk-rock. And what is the problem with that??? Beautiful.
Available at iTunes!
I first came across Deon Toh as the drummer for Singapore indie rock band Flybar. But when the band split, Deon decided to get up from behind the drums and become a singer-songwriter. I had the privilege of spending time with Deon when he was a finalist in the NAC Noise-Timbre singer-songwriter programme, and I was the designated songwriting mentor. He passed me Letters, an EP of sorts which he rather humbly described as a ‘demo’, although it sounded very good to these ears.
Since then, Deon has gone from strength to strength, releasing a well received debut album, Antiphonic, and impressing overseas audiences at music festivals in Canada and the UK. Deon is in the process of completing the recording of his sophomore effort and will be heading to Canadian Music Week once more in May. But before then, local music fans will get a chance to give Deon a proper send-off at Originals Sing @ Artistry this Thursday 9th April. $10 cover.
Ariane Deborah will kick off proceedings at 8.30pm.
Only one contender for PoP Album of the Year. JPNSGRLS epitomizes the best hope for the continuing history of Rock ‘n’ Roll even as the tsunami of prefabricated pop threatens to wipe our beloved music off the face of the earth. Nothing remotely hipster-ish about Circulation and thank GOD for that! Find out why below!!
For me, this year’s Baybeats is all about people. Watching aspiring musicians grow into great bands and artists and getting the response and acclaim that they so richly deserve. Wishing the very best for them on stage as they take another step towards fulfilling their musical dreams.
Last night, I was so happy to see Stopgap open the Powerhouse performances with an assured set. I recall first seeing them at last year’s auditions and rooting for their progress but alas one wrong song choice and they were booted out (yes I was pissed off!). But kudos to the band for learning from that experience, getting onto the Noise Mentorship Programme, making it on the second attempt (YES!) and generally having the best possible attitude in doing their best in our music scene. So yes, their moment in the spotlight was fully deserved! And I believe there’s more in store for these boys!!
Over at the Concourse, DEON did what he did best – deliver sparkling pop-rock with a refreshing honesty – Deon Toh is as real as it gets! Getting to know Deon at the Noise-Timbre Singer-Songwriters thingy a few years ago was a genuine blessing and am so pleased at how far he has come since then. Still the same down-to-earth guy, you must really check out his full-length album Antiphobic!
Jaime Wong! What a voice! What great songs! Like Deon, I first met Jaime at the same Noise-Timbre thingy and in her unassuming, deprecating manner she has grown by leaps and bounds. An awesome talent and I really cannot wait to listen to her debut EP when it comes out in the next few months.
Kudos to The Esplanade for giving Singapore bands and artists this amazing showcase! Long may Baybeats run!
… still there’s more …
Which bands/artists will Power of Pop be focusing on during the next three nights of Baybeats 2014?
STOPGAP | Powerhouse 7.30pm SPHAERAS | Arena 8.00pm DEON | Chillout Stage 9.15pm
JAIME WONG | Chillout Stage 10.15pm GIANTS MUST FALL | Arena 10.15pm
ENEC.E | Chillout Stage 5.00pm LOST WEEKEND | Arena 6.00pm BANI HIDIR | Chillout Stage 7.00pm
SSIGHBORGGG | Arena 8.15pm LIGHTCRAFT | Arena 9.15pm INCH | Arena 10.30pm
PITCH FEATHER | Chillout Stage 5.45pm .GIF | Chillout Stage 6.45pm
PIXEL APARTMENT | Chillout Stage 7.45pm MONSTER CAT | Arena 9pm
Have a great Baybeats weekend!
Three years ago, I first met Deon Toh (second from left, above) when he was a participant in the Noise-Timbre Singer-Songwriter Program and I was the resident songwriting mentor. Since then, DEON has gone from strength to strength and has played all over the place, including last years’ Canada Music Week. This year, DEON has extended his overseas stint to include the UK (London and Liverpool) as well and will play at the International Pop Overthrow Festival. Backing him will be Lim Jie (guitar), Mindy Kon (Keyboards), Stasha Wong (bass), and Jovin Lim (drums). Before leaving our shores, DEON will also play a couple of local gigs (see poster below) so make a date with DEON in the next couple of weeks.
Look out for DEON’s new album, Antiphobic, to be released in June 2014.
This piece was originally meant for publication in TODAY but due to miscommunication, it never was and so I decided to post it here on Power of Pop.
FAIRCHILD/DEON | Home Club | 3rd Jan 2014
That Singapore is now a premier regional hub for high-end music entertainment is a given. But perhaps what needs further development is for Singapore to provide an avenue for up and coming foreign bands to cut their teeth at our smaller venues so that home audiences might enjoy these performances in a more intimate setting. Bring local bands into the equation as opening acts and the opportunity for healthy cross-pollination arises which can only benefit music lovers everywhere. Thus far, the likes of Beach Fossils (USA), The Cairos (Australia) and Mac Demarco (Canada) have made their way to our smaller stages and it is a promising trend that hopefully truly takes off in the immediate future.
Short notice but for indie pop fans, this is the perfect start to a musical year that should not be missed. The first Identite of 2014 brings together Aussie outfit Fairchild and local heroes DEON. I will be covering the event for TODAY so I hope to see you there!
Some news and happenings from the little red dot.
DRU CHEN – FALL ASIA TOUR
In anticipation of his upcoming second single “Turnaround” from Intentions
EP, Dru Chen and his soulful 6-piece band will return to Singapore to perform two shows, followed by two more in Malaysia and the Philippines.
Earlier this year, at Mosaic Music Festival in Singapore, Dru released the EP’s lead single “You Bring Out The Best In Me”. The funky anthem has since been picked up by radio and bloggers internationally, and it’s accompanying über -energetic and dance-friendly music video has garnered 17,500 views.
During a two-month tour across Australia (including headline shows in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane), Intentions EP completely sold out! After printing a second batch of CD’s, Dru will continue touring Singapore, Malaysia and Philippines in the Fall of 2013.
The tour will kick off on August 30 at Night Festival. On September 6, Dru will perform at MAAD Sounds. His backing band includes Adam Shah (Muon), Gareth Fernandez (Kings SG), Tok Xue Yi (Huckleberry Friends), Weiye Tan and Tony Shen. The tour also brings Dru and band over to Malaysia and the Philippines, with singer-songwriters Carlos Castaño and Brisom.
Complete with blazing guitar solos, shimmering keyboards, soulful harmonies, beat boxing, and a tight rhythm section, don’t miss Dru Chen as he brings his trademark pop-savvy funk & soul to Singapore.
Dru Chen Fall Tour Dates:
Aug 30 – Night Festival, The Substation, Singapore
Sept 6 – MAAD Sounds, Red Dot Museum, Singapore
Sept 13 – The Bee, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Sept 14 – Secret Show, Penang, Malaysia
Sept 27 – 19East, Makati, Philippines
Sept 28 – SaGuijo, Makati, Philippines
DEON TOH INDIEGOGO CAMPAIGN
After a year of working out new material, DEON is on the cusp of completing his debut album Antiphobic. A culmination of his past two years as a solo artist in the Singapore scene, Antiphobic is the cathartic release of stories that have surrounded the people closest to him. Be it an ode to love, an exposition on the stubborn permanence of blood ties, or a rousing call for self-worth – the album is a pill. It is an antidote of positivity against the fears that have at one point or another unaffirmed the belief in love, its power to heal, uplift, and conquer all.
The indiegogo campaign is essential in helping DEON complete the album and fulfill a lifetime worth of dreams. Since releasing demo Letters, DEON has gone on to grace such major stages as Canadian Music Week 2013, Baybeats 2012, the NOISE Singapore Showcase and many more. The erstwhile drummer of the now defunct Flybar is looking make imprints on the regional scene with his own brand of brilliant song-craft.
However, Antiphobic requires the support and help from as many as possible. Pledging will help us push through the final hurdle to finish the album. Funds will go directly to production, mastering, and packaging costs that will help make Antiphobic a reality.
Please visit http://igg.me/at/deondebutalbum for more details.
…still there’s more…
Local folk-pop artist DEON has been invited to play at the prestigious Canadian Music Week 2013 this 21st March. Part of the crop of talents taking their music into foreign ground, DEON will be representing Singapore alongside local bands Inch Chua, The Sam Willows and Eli T.