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Nov 172013
 

The Cribs Interview - Camp Symmetry 2013
2nd November 2013 

Power of Pop, along with representatives from other media, sat down with Ryan and Ross of The Cribs at Camp Symmetry two weekends ago, at a roundtable interview. It was conducted after their energetic, frenetic and rocking set at Camp Symmetry, and though the guys were tired and sweaty, they obliged us in answering our questions and were very fun to talk to!

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Oct 142013
 

In 2011, I interviewed White Lies‘ Jack Lawrence-Brown ahead of the trio’s debut performance in Singapore. However, the concert never happened. Two years later, I will be watching White Lies playing at a private event and thought it would be a good time to dig out the interview that never ran at TODAY for the sake of completeness.

KM: Congrats on the new album (2011′s Rituals), people usually say that 2nd albums are difficult ones, was it true in this case?

JLB: I think it wasn’t really the case. Maybe we were lucky or maybe it’s different for other bands but for us it was a much easier album to make than the first record and also a lot more enjoyable. It was a process we all really enjoyed getting into. And we were really worried about making a 2nd album but it actually happened quite naturally for us.

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Jun 282013
 

Screen shot 2013-06-28 at PM 02.49.03

The Dirt Radicals will perform at China One, Clarke Quay on Tuesday, July 2nd 2013. Ahead of its performance, Sam Cooper, the band’s guitarist/vocalist answered queries posed by Power of Pop via email.

What has the band been up to since the release of  … I’ve Got A Rad Feelin’ About This!?

We have pretty much just been touring and trying to promote the band as much as possible! We went to Taiwan, Indonesia and Japan a couple of times and have just been pluggin’ away in the UK.

In your bio, you describe Dirt Radicals as a “progressive punk rock band” – what does that mean?

I think the words ‘pop-punk’ or ‘punk rock’ have a pretty bad wrap in this day and age. Our new album isn’t either of those genres, and those genres tend to be pigeon-holed as easy, 3 chords and boring. We think our style is a bit more progressive than your stereotypical pop-punk/punk rock with more intricacies, and probably a better understanding of composition than most people expect from punk rock.

The Dirt Radicals is now based in the UK – what was the reason for the move?

We never really had a ‘base’ as Matt always lived in the UK, and Mas always lived in Japan. I think we just needed to put a name to where we were based so we could focus on a territory and not confuse people.

Tell us about the recording of the new album, Enter Destroyer.

- where was it recorded?

Enter Destroyer was recorded in different studios across the world, throughout 2012. Drums and Bass were recorded in Singapore while we were in town for a show in 2011. Guitars were recorded in Japan, and the rest (Vocals etc.) were done in the UK.

- who was it produced by?

We had so many different fingers in the pie over the 2 years that we were working on it, so there never was one producer on the record at one time. Ben Rosen from The Gunnery (Marilyn Manson/Unwritten Law/8mm) played a big part in a few of the songs like ‘The Greatest Depression Since The Great Depression’.

- how are the songs different from your debut album?

Enter Destroyer is just a lot better crafted i’d say! We took the time because we didn’t want to rush this one. We kinda felt like our first record was rushed! The songs are more aggressive, yet still approachable to people who don’t like ‘heavy music’ – if that makes sense? I’d say Mas did a great job on guitar parts, and I’m really proud of the melodies.

How do you feel about playing Singapore again? Any special memories about Singapore that you wanna share?

I don’t remember much from the last time we were in Singapore because I think we might have partied a little too hard. I’m a bit anxious about this Singapore show actually! It could be the only show in Asia we do for a very long time – so I want it to be a good one!

Enter Destroyer is out now! Buy at iTunes.

Tickets are $20 at the door.

Produced by SNOWBIRD PRODUCTIONS.
Official Venue : China One
Marketing Partner : The Linch Agency
Official Drink: Jack Daniel’s

Jun 092013
 

One more for the road. Stephen Wavves talks to us about the upcoming gig at Zouk with Mum and Shelves.

What is the first thing you’re gonna do when you arrive in Singapore?
Eat eat eat eat

What is the one fact that you do know about Singapore?
Singapore has a reputation of having incredibly strict policies….particularly regarding behavior. So we all have to watch ourselves and not get arrested.

What can fans expect from your performance in Singapore?
Our shows usually are pretty high energy. Lots of kids moshing and stagediving. The more the crowd gets into it the more we get into. We feed off the energy of each other.

What are you most looking forward to in Singapore?
Other than meeting the people who have common interests….its gotta be eating. I’m fat.

Do you have a message for your fans in Singapore?
Come say hi and bring us sweet Singaporean treats.

Tickets are available now on zoukclub.com at $80.
Doors open 7:30pm.

Jun 072013
 

Icelandic wonders Mum will thrill local audiences when they return to our shores on 15th June at Zouk, alongside Wavves and our very own Shelves. Ahead of the gig, we had a short and sharp exchange with Mum’s Örvar Þóreyjarson Smárason.

What is the first thing you’re gonna do when you arrive in Singapore?

I am going to have something to eat. I had amazing indian food there last time, so I am looking forward to that.

What is the one fact that you do know about Singapore?

I heard somewhere that you can’t chew gum on the street. It’s probably not true, but I like it because I really can’t stand chewing gum.

What can fans expect from your performance in Singapore?

They can expect to be surprised. Expecting the unexpected is a good way to spend the evening.

What are you most looking forward to in Singapore?

Playing the show is of course on the top of my list, but I really look forward to walking around and looking at all the huge buildings.

Do you have a message for your fans in Singapore?

Have fun, stay loose and play nice.

Tickets are available now on zoukclub.com at $80.
Doors open 7:30pm.

Jun 052013
 

An exclusive triple-bill of indie acts, featuring Singapore’s own Shelves, American surf-rockers Wavves and Icelandic
experimental band Múm, will be held on 15 June, 8pm at Zouk. Ahead of next Saturday’s gig, we got Shelves’ Noel Yeo to share his thoughts with us.

L-R: Robin Chua, Daryl Peh, Brian Koh & Noel Yeo

Can you talk about the recent personnel changes in Shelves?

A big one! We say bye to Mel, who, you know, has been with me since Suchness, and hello to Daryl, whom we first met as our sound guy at Hood Bar. He essentially came up to us and said, hi, I’ve got your LP, which was great because that meant he knew our sound so we didn’t really have to brief him. But it is a dirtier, grittier sound he’s introducing to Shelves, which we all love.

Can we expect new material at the Zouk show?

Actually yes! We are often somewhat embarrassed to be playing songs not on our album. I mean, it was the impetus to get our debut recorded and released. We were playing too many songs not meant to be on the album. So now we have an EP in the works. Sort of. We know which songs, but new ones keep being added in. Might be an LP by next week.

Múm or Wavves – which do you prefer more and why?

I should start by saying that I love both. Caught mum when they were last here in Singapore. But Wavves is definitely closer to our hearts now, if not sound. Quite a dream to be opening for them, really. Ok, didn’t actually dream that, but if you told me a few months ago Shelves would be opening for Wavves, I’d be, yes, perfect, but how unlikely is that.

How do you feel about sharing a stage with these bands?

It’s an impossible line-up. Mum with Wavves? I didn’t think they had the same fans. Add to that Shelves? Read that for other parts of the tour the line-up was Mum, Wavves and British Sea Power. I feel like apologising. I would have loved to catch them.

What is in the future for Shelves?

We don’t really make plans. We even have a song about that, which going to be in our next EP/LP. Is that a plan?

Tickets are available now on zoukclub.com AND Event Cliquehttp://bit.ly/16NwTVS at $80.
Doors open 7:30pm.

Stay tuned for interviews with Múm and Wavves.

…still there’s more…

Jan 172013
 

This Friday’s Other Sounds launch party at Home Club will not only feature local indie popsters Obedient Wives Club and Lost Weekend but as an added bonus will be the debut Singapore appearance of Melbourne rockers ScotDrakula who are bound to entertain with its self-styled “red-eyed” soul music. 

We managed to get ScotDrakula to respond to a couple of our questions…

What motivates you to make music?

Playing music is pretty much the only thing that makes sense. The rest of life’s activity is motivated by a desire to make more music.

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Dec 242012
 
Photo credit: Anthony Scarlati

Photo credit: Anthony Scarlati

Engaging & Connecting with Rick Price

On 7 Dec, I found myself seated in the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory Concert Hall, waiting for an acoustic show to start. The setting was a lovely venue with great acoustics, and the stage held a Steinway piano, an acoustic guitar, a harmonica, a table with 2 bottles of mineral water, and a standing mic. After a short introduction, a man dressed in a shirt and jacket, wearing glasses and a hat walks onstage, and starts to play the guitar and sings. He moves effortlessly between guitar, piano and harmonica, and 20 songs later, he has me leaving the concert hall feeling like the world’s a better place. Who is this man? It is Rick Price.

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Aug 272012
 

Laughing It Up With Rivermaya! (by Jeanette Chin)

Last Saturday (18 Aug), I had such a fun time interviewing 4 members of Rivermaya at the Hard Rock Cafe Singapore, before their show got started. These guys are so playful, and they’re such a laugh to be with! As I was sitting down to interview Mark Escueta (vocals/guitar/djembe), Mike Elgar (vocals/guitar), Norby David (vocals/bass) and Ryan Peralta (drums/keyboard), they started asking me a whole bunch of questions instead, and got me thinking, “Hey, wait a minute here, so who’s interviewing who??” Very quickly though, they got settled in to answering my questions, punctuating their replies with lots of laughter, and before we knew it, time was up! They were out the door for their soundcheck, leaving me with a great big smile on my face, as I hit rewind on my voice recorder to listen to this…

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Aug 202012
 

Photo by Amos Wong

What do DJ Tiesto, Nas and Mike Angelakos of Passion Pit have in common?

Artistes of different genres, but all featured on one album – that is, the upcoming fifth studio release and fourth English offering by Nelly Furtado titled The Spirit Indestructible, due out for release sometime in the middle of September 2012.

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Aug 172012
 

If you are born in the 90s, chances are The Click Five would have been a significant part of your teenage life.

Now the frontman of the band, Kyle Patrick, is going solo. He says, “I’m trying to reinvent myself. As I grow older, their life gets into a pattern, and now I just wanna get out of the pattern. The band [The Click Five] is not splitting up. They have been really supportive about this [EP] and I am supportive of them [in productions and compositions they do] as well.”

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Jul 252012
 

Ella Crossland shares the role of Annie with two other girls, Katie Howard and Charlie Hall (not pictured)

A crowd of people dressed in rags and whatever they can find to weather the city winter gather. They pull tight amongst themselves and share whatever warm food they can find.

They speak and commiserate in equal misery. They sneer and jeer and they sing sarcastic plaudits to the former president for his part in driving the country off a fiscal cliff, into poverty and economic wreckage.

A little orphan girl tries to cheer them up.  Before anything can be done, however, the police crack down tight. This city must not tolerate its own uglier underbelly.

An account of the Occupy Wall Street movement from last year?

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Jun 282012
 

POWER OF POP’S NIGHT AND DAY WITH HOT CHIP

For one of their two stopovers in Asia – the other being in Tokyo, Japan, Hot Chip swung by our island for a one night only concert, that could very well be a one life stand affair for those who attended, and also those who had missed out.

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A1

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Mar 052012
 

Readers who grew up in the 90’s (like yours truly) would clearly remember the rise and fall of The Boyband: love-song-belting, fangirl-generating male singing groups that took the world by storm. One of the more memorable lineups was the hugely successful A1, originally comprising members Mark Read, Ben Adams, Christian Ingebrigtsen and Paul Marazzi. After their subsequent split in 2002 following Marazzi’s departure from the band, the individual members embarked on various career paths and musical efforts; but finally, in 2009, the remaining trio announced a comeback, with new studio album Waiting For Daylight releasing in Norway in October 2010. Since then A1 has continued to tour worldwide, and on February 28, 2012, just last Tuesday night, together with fellow boyband Blue and Jeff Timmons of 98 Degrees, they filled the Singapore Indoor Stadium with tunes both familiar and fresh, to the delight of the thousands of Singaporean longtime fans.

The day after the concert, I got the (enviable?) opportunity of speaking with frontman/vocalist Ben Adams in a roundtable interview at the Axis Bar and Lounge in Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Adams was a real joy to interview, full of enthusiasm and easy banter, with a nice bit of shameless self-promotion thrown into the mix, expressing his hilarious friendly outrage when he found out that two out of the three of us interviewers had not heard Waiting For Daylight nor attended the previous night’s show.

When asked about what he, Read and Ingebrigtsen had been doing in the years between 2002 and the reunion of the band, the cheeky reply came immediately: “I’ve just been playing PlayStation!” Still, Adams was quick to assure us that they’d “always still been doing music even if it hasn’t been A1”. He also mentioned his “strange” experience on reality show Celebrity Big Brother in 2009. “It was weird! It was kinda fun with some of the people in there, because I love Austin Powers, and Mini Me was there with me, and that was weird, but it was great!”

Naturally, given the length of time that A1 have been on hiatus, one topic of conversation that came up was about growing up, or rather, growing older. “You’ve been known for your ‘pretty boy’ image in the past,” one interviewer asked, “Now that you’re older, what kind of image are you going for?” To which Adams had a suspiciously ready answer… “UGLY GIRL. That’s what I’m going for! Pretty boy to ugly girl!” Much to our amusement, he then proceeded to recount an anecdote of actually being ID’ed when he went to buy a pack of cigarettes for a friend (the minimum age is sixteen). “I’m thirty! I was dancing around the shop!”

Speaking of stories and experiences, Adams regaled us with memories of some crazy fan encounters, and of aww-inducing generosity from fans “especially in Japan”, for some reason. “People following us all over the world on planes and minivans for every show… and I think the craziest thing was when a fan came up to me, and we’d seen her loads of different places, and she’d been following us everywhere, and we’re like, Oh great, what’s your favourite song on the album? and she’s like, Oh I don’t have your album. I spent all my money following you around! … That was interesting.”  Well, judging from the reception they’ve got since their reunion, I don’t think they’ll have any shortage of such dedicated fans now that they’re back!

More questions and answers from the roundtable interview:

How are you finding Singapore?

I’m finding it amazing, you know I think when we were on our way here, ‘cause it’s been ten years since we’ve been here, we didn’t know if anyone would remember us really, so a bit of worry… then obviously seeing everyone at the show last night, people waiting for us at the airport, hotel and stuff, it’s incredible! Amazing, people really do remember us, and also seem to love the new stuff.

How is touring and sharing the stage with Blue and Jeff Timmons?

It’s been really fun. Ten years ago we’d done shows with Blue and 98 Degrees as well, so we’ve known each other for a long time. We all do very different shows. We don’t do any of the boyband dancing with backing tracks anymore, we brought a whole live band and play everything totally live, so we do very different shows, and I think it works out well.

What was it like, back together after seven years, standing on the stage like that after so long?

It was brilliant, I mean it wasn’t really a planned thing for us to get back together, we did one TV show over in Norway, and the reaction was so good that Universal wanted us to make an album, and then we went on to do sixteen sold-out concerts over in Europe. And it was just magic really; doing all our solo projects was really fun, but I think we all felt that we could have more fun together. It’s like when you watch a movie, you don’t really want to watch it alone, you want to watch it with someone, so things like last night at the concert, to be able to look over to Mark and Christian and go “wow, we’re doing this!”, it’s amazing, it’s much more fun.

Have you faced any difficulties during the comeback?

Not yet! Thank goodness. Some bands, it doesn’t work, and we’ve been really fortunate that everywhere we’ve been, people seem really responsive and really receptive, especially to the new music. And I think that’s because a lot of bands that try and get back together, they always used to rely on songwriters to give them the songs, and so perhaps when they’re coming back they’re not given the best songs, the best songs are given to the artists that are very big at the time. Whereas we always wrote our songs, we’ve written the new album ourselves, so we can just recreate ourselves, we don’t need anybody else!

What inspired you back then and what inspires you now?

…It’s a tricky thing. You gotta remember that the old fans that used to love us back in the day, they’ve all grown up too. So we don’t really have to think about trying to cater for them back in the day, we just do the music that we love to do. We all keep up to date, we’re inspired by loads of different stuff, music today, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, all of our favourite artists coming back, like Christian’s is Bruce Springsteen, Mark’s is still the Beatles… so I think it’s important to keep an eye on what’s going on and the trends of music, but still keep it A1 clearly, we don’t want to copy other people.

Any plans to release another album?

Yeah, sure! We’re always writing… I think as a songwriter you always think that your last song that you’ve written is the best one, so we’ve got lots of new best songs that we want to release, but we’ve got to obviously take it one step at a time. We’re very proud of Waiting For Daylight so we have to make sure that that gets its own life… You know the last time, we were so busy and we didn’t actually get to enjoy any of the success or any of the places that we were and stuff, so before we started this time, we were like “okay, if were gonna do this again, let’s take our time, let’s enjoy what we’re doing”, you know? Of course let’s be busy and stuff, but let’s not be too busy.

What message do you have for your fans in Singapore?

Thank you for your support, fantastic to be back here, hope you’re enjoying the new album. If you don’t have it, go get it! And we can’t wait to come back and do more concerts.

(Desiree Boey)

BOMBAY BICYCLE CLUB

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Jan 212012
 

Bombay Bicycle Club Interview - 15 January 2012

Indie-folk rockers Bombay Bicycle Club were in town a few days ago for The People’s Party festival, presented by Untitled Entertainment. I caught up with Ed (bass, left) and Suren (drums, right) with other media at the swanky (more like sweltering) Ku De Ta on a Sunday afternoon at Marina Bay Sands.

Touring Asia for the first time and being in Singapore, what has it been like?

Suren: It’s been very nice but to be honest, we haven’t seen much since we just got here yesterday. We haven’t seen much apart from the hotel, which is pretty mindblowing.

Ed: We can see a lot of it, and after this we’ll walk around before the show.

You have quite a solid fanbase in the UK, but were you surprised by the response in Asia?

Ed: Obviously we had some idea from Facebook that people wanted to see us here. It’s always surprising that on the other side of the world, people are singing back to you. I don’t think I ever really predicted that, and it’s really a big shot.

Watching your Shuffle video, it seems you guys really have a lot of fun on tour. Were you up to any crazy antics in Tokyo or even here?

Ed: I’m not sure if it counts as crazy, but we had some time off after show in Japan, and we were going sightseeing. We thought if we come this far away from home, we might as well try to experience as much as we can, so we always tried to see the city. The Shuffle video is basically us walking around Amsterdam and Berlin partying and stuff, just us trying to make the most of being in a cool place.

What are your plans immediately following this tour?

Ed: Immediately we’re spending a week in Tokyo, in fact we might go from Tokyo to Russia then to Kyoto.

Suren: Then we go home, and have an American tour coming up, so we’ll start getting ready for that. This is the first time we’re doing an intensive tour, since we haven’t done that much touring. We’ll see how it goes, we might end up killing each other!

Since you have been touring non-stop intensively, how do you cope with that? Are you guys on the verge of going insane?

Suren: Yeah I think we’re going insane!

Ed: We just try to take the most from every place we go to, I think that really helps because it gets you away from hanging in the band because we get to see new cool stuff and that helps a lot. Exercise is also a good, like swimming.

What is your favourite memory of the tour so far?

Ed: I would say being up here is pretty mindblowing, you can see the whole of Singapore from here. It’s one of the nicest places I’ve ever stayed in my life. I think this is the coolest thing on the tour so far.

Suren: Indeed.

Did you have any idea that you would become this big or did you have any big dreams?

Ed: I never really thought about it, we were just four people at school!

Suren: It sounds really cliché but we just “go with the flow” and even now I don’t think we dream of being a massive band. We just see what happens and are just having fun, really.

You guys began your music career at 15, so how did you juggle school and music?

Suren: It was kind of tough at times, but to be honest the band took a backseat while we were at school. It was just something we did for fun in our spare time. We made a decision that we wanted to finish our school education and work as hard as we could.

Ed: It worked out really well because we could build the band really slowly, play gigs on the weekends and tour when we had time off from school. We could get the band to the point where we wanted it to be without it being really big and having people look at us.

Were you guys the rock stars of the school?

Suren: There were actually quite a few bands at our school, there was another band in our year called Cage And Dance Party, and they’ve since split up. They were much bigger than us while we were at school and took a different approach. They went for it quite quickly. They didn’t have the time to build up but tried to get as big as they could while they were at school. They even signed a record deal while we were at school, whereas we wanted to wait.

Ed: And we can see which one is better now!

Suren: There was also another guy at our school who is now writing songs for Mika I think? He seems to be doing pretty well for himself. I don’t know how there were so many bands from the same school.

You guys have released an album every year since 2009, so what are your plans for this year?

Ed: I don’t think we’re going to do another album, but I think we might need a little time off. For the first two albums, we didn’t tour as much as other bands would. As soon as we finished one, we were straight onto making the next one, which is why we haven’t been out here.

For the new album, Jim Abbiss was the producer, who also produced your debut album with Ben Allen and your frontman Jack. What was the dynamic between the three producers? Is there a reason why Ben was chosen?

Suren: Basically we worked with Ben on the more electronic sample-based songs, and we thought he would produce them pretty well. We did worry whether the album would end up coherent, since it was produced by three sets of producers, but we did get them mixed by the same guy, who tied the album together quite nicely.

Ed: I’m a huge fan of Ben Allen, and he produced some of my favourite records last year, three of them actually. He’s a very prolific guy.

How is it like to have a change in your music direction on the second album and then back to electronic music on the third?

Suren: It was always our intention to go back to that electronic sound for the next album, and the second album was kind of a little diversion. We just wanted to put it out for our own pleasure really, and our label back home wasn’t sure about releasing it, but it blew up into a thing we didn’t expect and managed to get into the Top 10 in the UK, which was very unexpected. It took on a life of its own.

How long did you take to record A Different Kind of Fix? Was it a smooth process and can we see any B-sides from the album?

Ed: We only did one B-side in the album recordings. We literally had the songs we wanted to put in the album, and dropped one off that has already been released. So we’ll have to record some more, because we have more songs that we didn’t record that we would like to do. It took just under a year to record the album, and we started in September 2010. It was bitty, as we would do a little bit of recording and Jack would have some time to write more songs, then we would book some more time and record some more songs. Since we had different producers like Ben Allen, we only had blocks of time. It was kind of three recording sessions over a period of six months.

You guys have played many festivals, and are even playing one in Singapore. Do you prefer playing at festivals or having your own concert?

Ed: I prefer playing our own concerts, but festivals do have their charm as well. We’ve done many festivals in the UK, and it’s completely different. You play to a lot more people, and the people in the crowd may not necessarily know who you are. They’re kind of passing by or have been recommended your music and you have to work very hard to win over the crowd, whereas at your own show they’re there to see you and they know what to expect. But we get to play with really cool bands and that’s always lovely. On this trip, we’re playing with Metronomy and The Naked And Famous, and that’s always amazing. That’s my favourite part of festivals.

How did your song end up being featured in the Twilight movies? It’s also one of the songs written earlier, is there any reason why it didn’t end up being the lead single of an album?

Ed: We had it a long time ago, and I guess we just submitted it or someone submitted it for the Twilight soundtrack. The soundtrack stands apart from the movie; even Thom Yorke has a song on it. The version on Twilight is actually the demo version recorded in Jack’s room, not the album version. We always knew it would be the lead single on the album, before Twilight. That was always the intention before Twilight. Suren actually went to watch Twilight, and the song was in the background for a few seconds.

Suren: I actually took my whole family to watch Twilight on a big trip, and it was a letdown, because the film wasn’t very good and you couldn’t really hear our song at all, so it was disappointing.

Lucy Rose has been part of your album and the live line-up, are there plans to include her in the future in any of your albums?

Ed: She’s been on tour with us for a while, but she’s not here in Singapore. She’s recording her own solo album, which means she might be around less because obviously she’s going to concentrate on that. But we’ll have her when she’s free!

Looking back since you guys started, would you say your sound now is really representative of who Bombay Bicycle Club is?

Suren: I don’t know if we really know what Bombay Bicycle Club is, since all our albums have been very different from each other. We just made music that felt right at the time, simple as that. So this album best represents us now.

(Melissa Ng)

Much thanks to Sarah and Alan from Universal Music!

ZEE AVI

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Nov 292011
 


Zee Avi could be, and just may very well be, the biggest export to the international music platform from this corner of the world – Asia.

Discovered on YouTube by Patrick Keeler, the drummer of The Raconteurs, who passed along the video link to then-The White Stripes manager Ian Montone, the whole story ends up with Emmett Malloy (one-half of the directing talent duo The Malloys) signing her up to Brushfire Records, partly owned by Jack Johnson.

This Malaysian talent has definitely come a long way, and is in no way slowing herself down. And if you think her musical journey just ends right there, she already has two full-length albums under her belt, with her latest offering Ghostbird charting at #129 on the Billboard Hot 200 Albums Chart.

Interviewing – or rather chatting – with Zee Avi is an all new experience for me. For one, she is really humane, in her mannerism and her responses, and it feels like she doesn’t have to put on a front to gather more attention or buzz around her; she isn’t trying too hard, simply put. Her answers were direct, and her voice is thickened with her deep Malay roots across the border and even at a point, she may have accidentally used Singlish!

The only downside to the interview was that the venue, TAB, was blasting relatively loud music throughout the interview. Not a fault of anybody’s, of course, but it doesn’t really helped that Zee is a relatively soft-spoken person, in her petite kind of way.

Below is the interview, and thank you to Universal Music Records for arranging this. Do check out Zee Avi’s latest album, Ghostbird, which is already out in music stores.

Roundtable interview with Zee Avi

Legend
Q Question,
Z Zee Avi
Kevin Kevin Mathews
CJ CJ

*Transcript from recording of roundtable interview held on Monday, 21st November 2011. The actual words used may vary from the text below, but the meaning and the most and best appropriate words had been used for those that were unclear of.
Q: You’ve got lots of fans in SP [Singapore Polytechnic], and they’ve been coming up to us with questions. We’ve actually sort of got rid of those that have asked for your number.

Z: 323… (obviously, teasingly giving out a fake number)

*laughter all around

Q: One of your fans asked how old were you when you actually decided that you’d do music?

Z: The day I got the e-mail from the record label. That is a serious answer.

Q: How did you decide on which musical genre you’d go into?

Z: I didn’t, and I still don’t. I actually don’t have a genre. People asked me what my style is, and I tell them I don’t know. My style is I don’t have a style. I think it allows more freedom, as an artiste and a songwriter to… “let’s see if you’re okay to it”. You don’t want to restrict yourself…

*

Q: We actually heard that you write a lot of love songs. What kind of guys do you like, material wise?

Z: (lets out a girly, flirtatious outburst) Ooooh! Haha. You know, when I was younger, your criteria and your preference is like, I want someone who is big, who is mysterious… After a while, when you get older, you realize that, you just want someone with a good heart, warm, a good conscience and a good smile.

CJ’s intervention: I heard you said older, but you’re not that old now.

Z: That’s what you think. Good surgeon.

Q: Everyone has a shower song. What about yours? Do you listen to your own song and go, ooh nice song?

Z: (begins singing live) Torn between two lovers, feeling like a fool. Mary MacGregor’s Torn Between Two Lovers.

Q: What inspired you to write Kantoi? Was it based on a breakup and a true story?

Z: It’s based on my friend’s story. I was just talking about that just now. It’s been a while since I revisited that writing process, which was one of the most incredibly fun writing process I’ve ever had. She was hanging out over at my house, and she was like (exclamation in Malay), and I had a ukulele in my hand, (Semalam I call you, you tak answer). It was a fun kind of jokey song.

Q: You are very sure that it’s not yours?

Z: I’m very sure.

Q: Why the name Zee Avi?

Z: My name is Izyan, and it gradually turned into Zee. It’s just 5 letters, people, and now it’s 3. And Avi is an abbreviation of my last name (Alirahman), because anything more than 3 syllabus is a mouthful, apparently, in some countries. And I actually just found out recently that Zee means sea in Dutch. So if you put an E at the back of Avi (Avie) means sea of life.

*
Q: Are there any craze for K-pop bands that you are crazy with? Any closet love for K-pop bands?

Z: I used to listen, back in ’98, there’s a girl band named S.E.S. I know that they are a Korean girl band (begins singing). But K-pop, no. But recently I went to Korea, and they were telling me about this band called 2PM? It’s like 12 of them or something?

Q: No, 6.

Z: Oh, really ah?

Q: That’s a really small size for them.

Z: Yeah, cannot make football team.

*

Q: Your concert here in Singapore, what would you like your fans to take away or understand from it, cause obviously your fans had heard your album quite a few times,  so the actual performance – what would be the difference?

Z: For me, I find that the real creativity lies in live performances. Luckily for me, my band – it’s nice to work with actual artistes and not just actual musicians. And we work together, we collaborated together, putting together this kind of force, putting more life to the songs, live performance wise. What I want my fans to take away from that is whatever they choose to take away with them, I hope that they take it away with a smile.

Q: Your album is written over in the US. How will fans in Asia and Singapore relate to songs with inspirations from over there (US side of matters)?

Z: Yeah, but it’s universal! I mean, how do you relate to I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor? How do you relate to Never Say Never by Justin Bieber? Or Spice World by Spice Girls? As long as it has a universal message that people can take away and people can relate with, I think the key ingredient to that is to still have sincerity of some sort in your music and in your words. And people watch movies from other countries, people read stories from other countries, and it’s a matter of transporting as a storyteller. It’s a matter of transporting someone through your words, to where you were and what you were feeling at that time.

Q: Obviously the album is pretty fresh in Asia. So how far after this tour will you be thinking of getting intergradation for new songs for another album?

Z: Cause I already have it in me. It comes in spirits, it’s sporadic. The intention of writing new material is there, although I feel that Ghostbird is still taking its nice little slow pace to show itself to the world, and I am still dawning them in the best light I can, and sort of enhancing it and sharing it with the world still. New material definitely comes about and pushing.

Q: Could you give us some specific examples as to what they are?

Z: It’s quite premature to talk about. Two years ago, I was like, my second album is going to be bleak, and then this comes up. I always say a lot can happen in an hour, let alone a year. So you never know.

Q: So nothing is concrete yet?

Z: No.

Q: A different tone from the second album?

Z: Well, probably. You know, it all comes with experience, it all comes with lessons, it all comes with obstacles that I’ve really been through and learnt, so the growth in that may be different. If I were to tell you something really concrete, then it may be something really different… then. I don’t know, techno.

Q: How do you differentiate yourself with artistes that you have been compared with? How will you see yourself different from these other artistes?

Z: The difference is we all experience things differently, and  we all choose to feel certain emotions differently, we choose to embrace different situations differently, we are all very different. Being compared to any other artiste is inevitable, because people always want a sort of comfort, to know that they can relate with this person. But, as an artiste, we are all out there to create, to have a sense of authenticity and originality within itself, and I find that everything has been done, just it matters how differently you do it, and being compared is flattering, very, very flattering, to be in the same cycle as those artistes, I would never in a million years dream this night would be… and now my name is here (right beside all these other artistes), written down. I just feel that we all have our own voices.

*

Q: How much does your native culture influence your music making, besides the obvious songs in Malay?

Z: People always ask me that, what is it being Malaysian, or being Asian, mean to you? And I am like, everything! I was born and raised here, therefore my upbringing  had a lot to do with it, therefore my mentality had a lot to do with it, as well as being abroad, and travelling around and meeting different people from other cultures kind of chizzles that down a little bit, and sort of altered and is custom for me. That has a lot to do with… just because I sing in English, that’s it; but the way that I think and the way that I feel is definitely from the lands which I came.

Q: If your time as a musician has come to an end  (touchwood, literally, Zee touching the wooden table) which would be your proudest moment?

Z: My proudest moment  – well, I hope by the time I have a long list of it, but for now, I think, just sort of seeing my parents in the crowd and seeing how proud they are of my achievements, because all of this – like my family and I have been waiting for a while to figure out what am I supposed to do, but when the whole thing came together, they’re like okay, now they know why I’ve got my eccentricity and it all makes sense now, and my proudest moment would be to see the pleased faces of my parents.

Q: How was the process of making Ghostbird like? Did you already have the sound in mind or was it very go-with-the-flow?

Z: It was go-with-the-flow, much like everything I do. Half of the songs were written in Brooklyn, and then the rest of it was written in Florida, Everglades, in the Sampath. It’s a very contrast feel, so you have the hustle and the bustle of the city, and then you have the stillness and the calmness of being in an open environment in the water, so I was left alone with my thoughts for a while, and that made everything very smooth, and flow really nice.

*

Kevin: You are actually living the dream of many Asian artistes, having a US label and so forth. Do you have any advice for people in the same position with that kind of aspirations?

Z: My advice would just be keep doing what you do, and again I can’t stress this enough, I think the 3 main ingredients that I find worked for me as an artiste are honesty, simplicity and sincerity, for sure, and do not have any expectations. I mean, I am aware that people try very hard to just sort of be out there and to be noticed, but a part of the manifestation of it is to just to do it because you love doing it, and not because it is something that you strive for. And if you work hard enough, someone, somewhere out there will hear your call, and it will definitely be your destiny. So I think a part of that is definitely to just keep doing what you’re doing, because of passion and reason.

CJ: We are writing for Power Of Pop. So you are part of the Asian music scene as well…

Z: Am I?

CJ: Sort of.

Z: Yes!

CJ: In an international kind of way. So what’re your views of the Asian music scene in the big picture (international music scene), and how do you fit in?

Z: Well, how do I fit in? I never fit in before, anywhere, haha. I think the Asian music scene is so vast, and there’s just so many different, you know… it’s definitely quite advanced, if you ask me. Like with the K-pop, and then you have the traditional singers. And you have girls like Joanna Wang from Taiwan, who’s like doing her own thing now, and you have Thao with the Get Down, Stay Down from the States as well. And you have Dengue Fever, who’s this Cambodian group and amazing, amazing. You know, it’s very tasteful at the same time, and I think how I fit in there is just to bring the way that I was brought up, which is to be courteous and considerate, and aware of my surroundings; and at the same time, being warm and welcoming to whoever is around me. Through artistry, it allows me as an Asian woman to have more freedom in expressing myself.

CJ: Share with us something that you face while you’re pursuing this musical journey , like something difficult or an obstacle or something.

Z: Yeah, it’s a huge industry, and everybody knows everyone, and it’s a small world in this industry, but the challenge is just knowing how to feel another person to see if the vibe is well. For me, I embrace everybody just the same. Secondly, when you’re on the road and everything’s amplified, what would take much slower in real time, so you have to grow up really fast. For me as well, I have never been in this industry before, and you have to learn really fast, mental strength. And third is being away from home. Like sometimes it’s hard, because when you’re on the road, you don’t want to eat at Denny’s all the time, you don’t want to go to Waffle House all the time. I want my belacan and my nasi lemak!

CJ: What’s your outlook of life in general and what’s your next goal?

Z: My outlook of life is that life is a grand reception of oneself. Life is your own party, and it’s how you make it.

CJ: So what’s your next goal perhaps, after this album Ghostbird?

Z: After this album, I hope that I would be blessed enough to still be doing this. And hopefully, I will have a third album under my belt, in my belt, or under.

CJ: It’s highly likely that you would have a third album.

Z: Ah, I hope so, haha.

CJ: Any covers that you would like to do next, because you have been doing covers for a while – You had covered Interpol, and you had covered Morrissey. Who would you like to cover next?

Z: There’re so many covers that I would like to do, but I respect the artistes so much that I don’t want to touch them anymore.

CJ: Just one that you would like to touch?

Z: Um, probably a Malay song, like it’s been done already, but I would like to have my take on it, and it’s Getaran Jiwa by P Ramlee. You know Getaran Jiwa? P Ramlee? Okay, check it. (Proceeded to spell it out for the courtesy and stupidity in me) It means fluctuating of the soul; it’s about deep passion for music and melodies.

*

(while an interviewer prepares himself and his mobile phone for recording, Zee teased him on how he has got some tweets and someone BBM-ed him)

Q: This is the third time you are in Singapore, I understand, first time was a concert in Timbre in 2009, and in 2010 it was a showcase in Stereolounge. So how do you feel about coming back to Singapore again, for your very third time?

Z: It’s great. I have been waiting to play Singapore for a while now, cause everytime I come back, the audience are so… you know, like the exchanges of energy that we have when I’m on stage, and they’re just sort of projecting, so it’s like a mutual love, and that’s one thing that I love about performing in Singapore. And you know, Singapore is like up there with Tokyo, a lot of great artistes come by here, that doesn’t come by Malaysia. Being here, to play here is like an honour. Our neighbouring countries.

Q: So how would you compare Singapore’s music scene and the music scene in Malaysia? Are they like parallel?

Z: I think they’re sort of parallel. I have a lot of friends who are in bands, and they roll around the same circuit like the Singapore bands as well, when they come over there, they are all buddies, and when they come over here, they are all buddies. But I think Singapore has an advantage in a way in terms of music, because there are more opportunities here, I find, in terms of venues, events – you guys had, like Laneway, and so many different types of festivals. I think, when was the last time I followed my friend, One Buck Short, to this festival at Esplanade, a couple of years ago. Was it Beats (corrected to Baybeats by the rest of us)? You guys had that, and you invite Malaysian bands as well, like all good in the hood man.

Q: You were discovered on YouTube by the drummer of The Raconteurs, Patrick Keeler. For artistes, if there wasn’t YouTube and this technology, do you think you would have made a name for yourself without technology?

Z: Well, one thing is going to be my conclusion, is that you can’t fight progress. It’s just inevitable that we will eventually evolve into, like an evolution that will have technology as a necessity. For me, technology, especially the Internet. The cool thing about 2011 – I can’t stress this enough – is the fact that we do have all these outlets on the Internet, like Soundcloud, Bandcamp and YouTube, the power is given back to the artiste, and they are allowed to display their music, their gifts without third parties. So you can still do that, with the help of the Internet, which is basically how I did it. I mean, I did it without any intention of it being a marketing or a promotional tool, but I know of a lot of other people who had gotten discovered through MySpace, because it is there. The Internet is like this huge treasury chest, so many jams, and now people know where to look. And you just look for the jam that speaks to you, and you pick that up. Now record labels are looking for artistes through the Internet, or not even record labels at all! Sometimes you gain followers just by being there, and they are following you – and everybody’s on Facebook now, and Twitter. At the same time it is cool, because there are no filters, no walls in terms of you and your appreciators.

Q: How do you find the food in Singapore?

Z: Gooooood. I haven’t had ayam penyet yet, so I’m gonna get my fix tonight! But I’ve had nasi lemak from Forum (The Shopping Centre).

CJ: Is it up to standard, to Malaysia’s standards?

Z: (silence, dodgy eyes)

(laughter all around)

CJ: I see.

Z: Well, we all stem from the same seed anyway, we all use the same spices, so it was pretty delicious.

Q: Any other food you are looking forward to try in Singapore?

Z: Chilli crab.

Q: They don’t have chilli crab in Malaysia?

Z: Got, but not the same lah!

*

Q: What’s the best time you are inspired to write music – is it when you are having your breakfast, or on your bed, or?

Z: It usually happens at night, at around 3am, or in the morning when I have my coffee, if I have my instruments. But sometimes it also happens at the most random of times, like when I’m on the plane, and I have the melody in my head, and I just write down the words that come with it. It’s sporadic. But before I used to do it in a routine when at night, and in the morning when I wake up, it’s something that I look forward to.

[cj]

Thanks to Universal Singapore for setting up the interview.

TROY CHIN

 COMICS  Comments Off
Oct 242011
 

Singapore comic book artist Troy Chin is launching LOTI (Vol.3) during the Singapore Writers Festival 2011. We caught up with Troy to get some of thoughts about the latest edition of LOTI.

What can fans expect from LOTI Vol. 3?

Expect more shenanigans from our pooch patrol as they navigate the third term of the school year. Loti Vol. 3 expands on the existing story with the chapters Sofie’s Diary and J Takes Flight, two specials not found in the daily strips that will change the way you view the original strips.

Can you describe briefly what LOTI is about for folks who’ve never read it?

Loti is a four-panel comic strip depicting childhood and schooling life in Singapore through the eyes of an eight-year-old. During his adventures, he finds a puppy in the neighbourhood and begins to discover what it means to be happy, and prompts the same question in the people around him.


What inspires you to continue to create comic books like LOTI?

Loti is really special to me. It allows me to write about all the stuff that little kids get to enjoy at that age, something that we as busy adults tend to forget or brush off. Loti is about the joy of waking up in the morning wanting to experience something new. It is a series that I feel if readers give it the time (whether they’re seven or seventy), they will eventually understand why personal happiness is not really that difficult or complicated to achieve.

What are your plans for promoting LOTI Vol. 3?
For the launch, there’s going to be a limited edition paper model kit of the eponymous puppy that will be given away with every book purchased. This is the beginning of a new project that I would like current fans to get involved in and hopefully bring in new readers to the world of Loti.

Can you give us more information about the upcoming book launch at SWF 2011?
Loti Vol. 3 will be launched at SWF 2011 on Sunday, October 30, 11:30am to 12:30pm at the Festival Pavilion, SMU Campus Green. Admission is free!

Official Site

THE WANTED

 MUSIC  Comments Off
Sep 212011
 

A Roundtable Interview with The Wanted

Whoever came up with the band name of The Wanted should be heavily rewarded.

Indeed, The Wanted is clearly wanted, more so specifically, by the female breed. I arrived at this conclusion the moment this roundtable interview setting was in place, and the interviewers were seated altogether – that was when I realized I was the only male out at sea. I had almost instantly thought that Melissa (a fellow Power Of Pop contributing writer) would have been more appropriate to have reviewed this.

That said, it is easily understandable why The Wanted is so hotly demanded. Most obviously, they are young, tanned, charismatic, witty and in a boyband – probably ideal candidates in a girl’s wet dream (Do girls have wet dreams? – Kev). The lads had officially released 5 singles to date, with their debut All Time Low and the recent summer pop anthem Glad You Came reaching the coveted #1 spot on the UK Singles Chart. Their next single will be Lightning, and their second studio release will be due out on the 7th of November. Surely, they will be looking forward and hoping that the success of their previous single will repeat itself in history. Only time will tell.

Admittedly, their songs do catch on in a personal level, for instance when I’m feeling down, hitting rock bottom and asking myself for a pick-me-up (All Time Low); or the abandonment of contagious pop fun (in the video for Gold Forever), and the recent dirty pun-related song, which can easily have a double meaning (Glad You Came).

On being called a boyband

They feel okay at being called a boyband, and explained: “It feels more boyband here actually. People always say, “do you mind being called a boyband”, which is a weird question, because the genre of music we’re in, which I think in the UK, people think (of it) as more pop than boyband. But here, it feels like we’re getting mania.” They further elaborated: “It’s better than being called a girlband (laughter all around). I guess, it’s part of history, we’re part of something that started with The Beatles and… I mean, now we’re in a boyband, and when I die, I would have been in a boyband, and I’m kinda proud of it.” It’s no wonder their official website’s definition alternates to “ladband” instead.

On possible future collaborations
“I would really like to work with Nicki Minaj. We know about K-Pop recently, and we can’t dance to save our lives, so I would love to do one, maybe with a girl band (Super Junior was funnily brought up here, but The Wanted seemed to have no freaking clue that they are an all-male band, and the ladies interviewers didn’t correct them and were just laughing along), where they are like all perfect, and we’re just sorta stumbling around after them, terribly. We can sing, and they can just dance and do harmonies. Unfortunately, we are the opposite of K-Pop, we’re not polished, and we are terrible at synchronized things, cause, c’mon, look at us.”

On the long-term, far future
One of the best answers in the interview has to be this: “in time, you’ll realize, and that we’ve already realized, that this won’t last forever. So we’ve accepted it that way, that it won’t last forever.” They had made reference to Take That, which recently reunited and have a very successful comeback, and had expressed hopeful outlook in the future; but it was nice to see and know that the lads knew about this [the short term careers of pop groups] and accepted reality.

The Wanted – Max George, Siva Kaneswaran, Nathan Sykes, Jay McGuiness and Tom Parker – were very nice, humble and with no air throughout the interview. The band had demanded that we move ourselves closer to the band for a more intimate session (as they had felt the intimidating vibe of the atmosphere in the room and the gaping distance between us and the band). The interview felt like home – yes, they may already be pop world’s next big thing, but most importantly, they are humane too. Siva even negotiated and fought for more questions to be answered and extended interview time with their management, even though it was clear that they were running short on schedule time for the day before their home trip. It was a pity that most of the questions raised weren’t really directed at music, but merely just girl, Singapore, food and fan talks.

As this post wears itself out, I will bob out with some of their music ringing in my head (before it’s all forgotten and faded away). Until then, I wish The Wanted all the best, in a big big (pop) world, like Emilia once sang.

[CJ]

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Jul 292011
 

NEON TREES INTERVIEW | 26 July 2011

I met up with Neon Trees when they were in town earlier this week, along with other media. They performed with We Are Scientists on Tuesday night at Fort Canning. The band was extremely sincere and nice to all the fans and media they met, even remembering those who met them at MTV World Stage Malaysia as well.

It’s your first time in Singapore, so what have you guys been doing since you arrived?

Tyler: We’ve went to Newton Hawker Centre, and had good food!

Branden: The grilled stingray was really good!

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Apr 272011
 

Maroon 5 “Hands All Over” Concert Press Conference In Singapore

25th April 2011

It was imaginary hands and definitely eyes all over the 5 tall lads striding into the press conference room – James Valentine, Jesse Carmichael, Michael Madden, Matt Flynn, and especially so the case for frontman Adam Levine, noticeably the most recognizable and popular member of the collective named Maroon 5.

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EMPRA

 MUSIC  Comments Off
Mar 102011
 

Full text of the email interview with Sanny Veloo (of EMPRA) that formed the basis for the TODAY piece. Thousand apologies for the typo error, the name of the debut single is Like A Runaway and NOT Like A Runway (which has it’s own implications!) Anyhoo, extra lashes for yours truly tonight methinks (or maybe less?)…

What do you remember being the best and worst times of being in the Boredphucks in the early 90s?

The best time for me was watching some TCS variety show and Gurmit Singh was interviewing Zoe Tay and he asked her, “Eh Zoe, you know right now got this local band write song about you?” and Zoe Tay laughed and replied, “I know lah my Engrish not very good lah!”. That was pretty cool cos I knew then Boredphucks had left its stamp on Singapore culture forever. But it would preferred if writing a song about Zoe Tay got me a date with her instead!

The worst time was when the Boredphucks got banned and it came out in the papers. It was pretty cool at first cos our CD ended up outselling the Backstreet Boys because we got banned. But Honestly dude, I was more afraid of what my father would say then what the police was gonna do to me the next day.

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THE WANTED

 MUSIC  Comments Off
Feb 182011
 

Interview with The Wanted

I met up with The Wanted together with representatives from other media outlets for a roundtable interview, with the band very relaxed (not a trace of jetlag) and munching on Skittles, even offering some to us. We took turns to ask questions throughout the interview, which resulted in a great variety. Tom and Jay were clearly the chatty ones in the group, especially Tom. The youngest, Nathan, seemed the most shy, staying in the back most of the time.

What’s your impression of Singapore so far?

Tom: Beautiful!

Max: The people are so nice.

Tom: We came out of the restaurant this morning, and five people were saying “thank you very much” and they queued up to say “have a nice day”!

Jay: In UK you think “Where are all the trees? Where’s the sun? Where are the smiles?”

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Jan 272011
 

Australian indie rock festival Laneway makes its debut in Singapore in a few days’ time (Saturday, 29th January). LA band Warpaint is one of the bands playing and here is the transcription of the phone interview I did with drummer Stella Mozgawa late last year and formed the basis for my TODAY article.

Who is the big David Bowie fan in the band?

I think we all are in many ways. I can definitely call myself a big David Bowie fan. He is a staple for musicians these days. He is so popular and so influential, and yet so credible. We’re all big lovers of his music.

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Jan 262011
 

TypeWriter plays at the Esplanade Recital Studio this Friday, 28th January and it’s an event not to be missed. Tickets available at SISTIC. Power of Pop caught up with TypeWriter’s Yee Chang Kang to find out more…

2010 was a good year for TypeWriter – what were your personal highlights?

The biggest highlight would definitely be getting our album out! It feels just wonderful to be able to finally hold a copy of the finished product in my hands. On top of that, performing together with Jon Auer of The Posies for Baybeats last year would be another one. Writing our last 2 songs for the album, Sunlight Takes Over and That Deepest Blue, and hearing how both songs have come alive and materialized, along with my bandmates – that’s definitely a great highlight too!

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