“Dive into dream worlds coloured by words and music, the creative outcomes of three collaborative projects between Singapore writers and musicians. Each interprets a dream in all its intimacy and duality, navigating through the blurry spaces of consciousness and the boundaries of conscience.”
Liverpool-based indie rockers Circa Waves have emerged as the next big thing on the UK music scene with a Top 10 debut album (Young Chasers) and a sold-out UK tour to boot. Taking the early Noughties indie boom (think: The Strokes, The Libertines & Arctic Monkeys) & re-packaging its shiny bright sound for today’s teenagers, Circa Waves have caught on like wildfire.
Truth be told, when I read the email about Dr Martens bringing the band on a South East Asian tour for #StandForSomething, I had not even heard of them! But a quick listen to Young Chasers, led me to conclude that it’s at least comforting that a real pop band playing real pop music is making waves (sorry!) out there in the pop wasteland.
Before their gig at Theatreworks last night, I was privileged to speak to Kieran Shudall (vocals, guitar) and Joe Falconer (guitarist) – the band is completed by Sam Rourke (bass), Colin Jones (drums). I must say that it was probably one of my most enjoyable face-to-face interviews since… the one with Travis last year (?) Well, you know, I’m an anglophile so chatting with British musicians is always a bonus for me. Check out the highlights of our conversation below.
Where do the songs come from? Your head, your heart or your groin?
Kieran – Somewhere in between the head and the heart, maybe the neck? In that area, collarbone. They’re a mixture of all things – contemplation, frustration – not many from the groin. Although there are some sex songs on the next record.
What is your musical philosophy?
Kieran – Be genuine, I think. (PoP – What does that mean to you?) It means, not compromising too much, always making music for yourself. If people like it, it’s because they like what you’re thinking about or talking about. You’re trying to write something cuz you love it.
Are you happy people?
Joe – Yeah. I mean, I’m not unhappy. It does sound like an upbeat record except for the lyrics…
Kieran – Well, I’m pretty upset with myself, most of the time.
Joe – I think that’s good. Who listens to songs with happy lyrics? Really.
Kieran – Like the Cure or The Smiths – some of the songs are major-y but they’re all about heartbreak.
(PoP – “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now” is a good example)
Kieran – Yeah, that’s spot on with our music. “Lost It” is major chords and quite happy but it’s about being fucking miserable.
(PoP – That’s the vibe I get from “Fossils”)
Joe – Guess it’s kinda like the equivalent of shouting into a pillow. A release. Y’know positive energy comes out of it.
Kieran – There’s a happiness and euphoria about telling people how miserable you are.
What do you hope to get out of life?
Joe – I don’t want to do anything I don’t want to do. Being in this band is the most fun ever. And if this all ends, then I hope that the next thing I do is like that — I want to do that everyday. I never want to turn into those people who literally dread waking up 5 days a week. Well, y’know, I feel like that has to happen but will try to avoid it as much as possible.
Kieran – I’d like to get to the point where I don’t give a shit about what people think of me. Just being content with my lot. Growing old and just being happy with the paper and a cup of tea. And that would be nice.
(PoP “When I’m 64” Kieren starts singing…)
Kieran – Yes, I would like to be content. 3 kids. House in Spain, house in Canada. Maybe an apartment in New York.
What is it like to be a band from Liverpool, which has such a rich heritage of producing some of the greatest bands ever?
Joe – It’s the sort of place where people encourage you when you’re doing well. ‘Well done. Go ahead lad’. Everyone wishes you well. Lots of people are still around – Zutons, Bunnymen, for example. It doesn’t feel like we’re that separate (from the bands that came before).
Kieran – It’s a very real place and people don’t tend to forget who they are and where they are from. It feels like you’re from somewhere with a real identity.
When you are playing on stage – what do you feel? What goes on in the head?
Joe – The perfect show is when everything is happening automatically but at the same time you’re taking everything in. So you’re aware of the experience but you’re not distracted and you know something good is happening. The worst gigs are the ones when you can’t get out of your head. Your mind goes blank and you go off stage and it’s like it never happened. Those are the best gigs.
Kieran – Hard to explain when it’s really going well. Euphoric feeling – like having a constant orgasm really, on stage.
It did seem, from my perspective, when Circa Waves finally took the stage at 10pm – Riot !n Magenta opened with an invigorating set with Ginny Bloop bringing it! – that it was the young lasses in the audience that were the ones getting off – know what ah mean? Really enthusiastic crowd that did justice to the band’s energetic performance. Especially the kids that were cordoned off – underaged at an event with free booze – there was something for everyone, definitely.
Kudos to Dr Martens for another great #StandForSomething show (remembering the memorable night with Deap Vally last year). How about Nada Surf in 2016??? Pretty please???
Thanks to Andy Chua (Dr Martens) and Pardon My French PR (Sandra Cameron & Sharon Wong) for kind hospitality etc. All photographs by Jazreel-Anne.
Well, that’s done and dusted. As much as I enjoyed playing with The Groovy People (Patrick Chng, Ray Aziz, Nelson Tan and Josh Tan), I must admit that the whole experience was tiring – especially with the haze complicating matters. Still, it was seeing all the wonderful people come out to support us that made it all worthwhile.
If I needed to compare, the gig at Artistry was more satisfying, although it was fun to finally play on the Barber Shop stage. I don’t know what it is but overall it seems as if this whole music game has lost a little bit of its lustre in the last couple of weeks.
I guess you could say all the marketing and promotional efforts getting very minimal response has worn me down somewhat. You could say I am fed up with all the selling when folks aren’t buying. Y’know, after a while rejection takes its toll. But when you are in your 50s, it’s never ever going to be the same as a twentysomething no matter how good you think the music is.
That said, I am not hanging up my guitar anytime soon so too bad haters! It’s just that I am going to take it easy on the promotion and let things happen organically (whatever the hell that means in 2015!) and enjoy the rest of the year. I do have some ideas already for 2016 musically and we will see where I go with that but definitely the music will never ever stop. How could it?
I will be honest (when am I not?) – I first noticed Gayle Nerva in a tour video of I Hate This Place in Japan sometime ago and was struck by her effervescent personality. Then, it was her lovely voice and then her heartfelt ballads that got my firm attention. I have always believe that given a chance, her music would appeal to a mainstream pop audience home and abroad.
Well, glad to say that her new single “Pretend” is out – it’s a dark electro-pop number produced by Trick’s Marc Lian – and Gayle will be performing at the Esplanade Recital Studio on Saturday, September 5th. Tickets available from SISTIC. Check out the music video below.
Identical twins Wyatt and Fletcher Shears make up eccentric garage punk duo The Garden. The pair specialises in micro-songs that seldom to never reach the two minute mark. In fact, their last album – The Life and Times of a Paperclip – had a duration of 19 minutes. That said, the hauntingly jaunty new single “All Smiles Over Here” is almost three minutes! Whoa! New direction!
Kudos to Other Sounds for promoting these quirky and unique sounding little bands. Sleepwalker, is a brand new series of shows Other Sounds is organising in Singapore to bring a fresh and challenging new band to our shores every month this year from October to December. Sounds like fun!
Sleepwalker: THE GARDEN (USA) live in Singapore
with supports TBA
50 Lorong 17 Geylang
Sunday, 11 October 2015
Doors open: 8pm
$35 pre-sale / $40 door / $100 series bundle
I have always been passionate about having more female artists/musicians in our local scene. Certainly, one of the signs of a progressive music scene would be the number of talented and creative women operating within the same. Well, in very recent times, you basically cannot keep the women out of the local music scene even if you tried and the rise to prominence of Eugenia Yip (a.k.a. Ginny Bloop) is one significant milestone, for sure.
The enigmatic vocalist is making a name for herself fronting TWO critically acclaimed acts viz. The Steve McQueens and Riot !n Magenta, and whilst there is no denying the strong musicianship of the men behind her in both bands – there is also little doubt that Ginny is the star of the show whenever she steps up on stage. Fresh from a triumphant Japanese tour with The Steve McQueens, Ginny lit up the proceedings at the Ignite Music Festival 2015 with her idiosyncratic stylings. With her aviator shades and tie-dyed top, Ginny looked (and sounded) like a rock star – the consummate stage performer holding court. Considering how Singaporean musicians are generally awkward on stage, Ginny is a rarity and utterly mesmerising in performance – once you are hypnotised by the Ginny Bloop experience, it’s never enough. Seriously, folks.
Has been a while since I have seen The Good Life Project in action and the presence of three ladies in the septet (singer Pamela, bassist Stasha and violinist Kim) has always spiced things up. Not that the guys are slouches in the instrumental department with Sano, Naz, Intriguant (Lewis) and Ritz (subbing for Boey) more than able to pull their own weight. Considering the sheer amount of talent that resides in this group, I am still mystified at the fact that they remain somewhat obscure in the scheme of things in the local scene. Their pleasing blend of sophisticated jazz-funk-R&B-pop-rock is a recipe for mainstream success, with as much as potential for overseas acceptance as that currently received by The Steve McQueens. At Ignite last evening, they owned the stage, oozing class and dynamism from start to finish – they deserve so much more! Here’s hoping we will see and hear more from the band in the months ahead.
So The Little Giant (aka Hilary Yang) was one of my last NAC Noise mentees last year and the problem with listening to a song in its embryonic form is sometimes it’s hard to accept a radically different version. Thus it’s the case with “You Got Some” which in typical Hilary fashion has something to do with the male obsession with sex. This first single from Hilary’s debut EP – “Let’s Just Be Honest” is now a bit of a rockabilly number which I have an issue with – Hilary’s vocal delivery becomes quite garbled with the increased tempo and God knows it’s all about her lyrics. But the saving grace is this wonderful lyric video (by Annie Hung – well done with the male sexual metaphors!) which sets out the lyrics before your very eyes whilst you hear the song and voila! Problem solved.
The Little Giant “Let’s Just be Honest” EP Launch
Friday, 4th September 7pm
BluJaz Cafe (3rd Floor) 11 Bali Lane, Historic Kampong Glam, Singapore 189848
(With special guests, The MadHatter Project & Anise SG!)
$15 advanced tickets available at : thelittlegiantEP.peatix.com
$20 tickets at the door (subject to availability)
$30 ticket + EP at the door (subject to availability)
Wow! This happened! Quite out of the blue and somewhat under the radar, Allura has dropped a new EP after disappearing for SIX years!
I won’t lie – listening to the 1832 EP is akin to a religious experience! The musical sophistication displayed in these new recordings is a wonder to behold certainly.
“Rain” is an interesting amalgam of pop with experimental musicality, “Loose Change” is an intensely emotional diatribe and “Cold*Player” is an intriguing piece that deserves a couple of plays to fully soak in.
Kudos to Aaron, Mark John, Inch, Matt and HQ for putting this wonderful gift together – it’s been too fucking long!
And that’s not all, Allura reunites for a live performance at this weekend’s 100bands festival on 8th August at 8pm!
You know the drill. Here comes an anecdote about the first time I experienced one of my favourite bands. That’s me, consistent!
A Baybeats audition a couple of years back at a room in Lasalle. One of the band members was very late. Jokes were circulating about him being ‘lost’…
Not very helpful when the name of the band is Lost Weekend. The band eventually did the audition but were naturally fairly rattled. But there was something inherently valuable in the songwriting that prompted me to check the band out online and I was sold based on the demos I heard online.
Since then, Lost Weekend have gone from strength to strength and the much-anticipated debut album is upon us. Produced by Roland Lim (Sync Studios), the new album (based on the 4 tracks previewed) sound exactly as classic indie pop should sound. Sophisticated ‘retro’ melodies and edgy instrumentation with attitude – presented with sympathetic production values.
The band have decided not to release the album in the physical CD format, and will instead focus the delivery of their music in a digital format. Working with local design firm fFurious, Lost Weekend will offer download codes for their music through their merchandise, including a t-shirt and a special pop-up card. Check out the music video for the infectious “Mornings” below.
Joshua Radin will perform live in Singapore for the first time on 4 Sep 2015 at 8.30 p.m. at Esplanade Concert Hall. Tickets at $88, $68 & $48 will be available through www.sistic.com from 9 July 2015 (internet booking starts at 9 a.m.)
Here’s a Power of Pop/Spotify playlist of what to expect from Joshua Radin come September. Enjoy!
The China Blue Experiment describes itself as a “blues/pop fusion band with wide reaching influences, eclectic styles and troublesome personalities”, which demonstrates that if nothing else, the duo of Darren Forster and Gordon Cant has attitude in spades. Should be fun to check ’em out! Words by Darren Forster.
Why is it important for you to play in Singapore? It represents a great opportunity to take our product to an international audience. We would like to the opportunity to (hopefully) impress the wonderful people of Singapore and beyond and would hope that we could establish ourselves in a way that means we can return regular and share our ever evolving musical experience.
Lydia Low kicks off her Singapore tour tonight at Originals Sing @ Artistry. Joie Tan will be opening the festivities at 8.30pm. Cover charge is $10, proceeds to be shared between the artists. Lydia will also be selling CDs so please bring money!
In the meantime, you can listen to her album Wrecked till Further Notice at Spotify.
Kyoto based alternative rock band tricot announces their Hip Step “A N D” Jump Asia Trip 2015, returning to Singapore for a one-night-only show at The Substation on Sunday 31 May.
All-girl math-rock outfit consisting of three diminutive Japanese ladies sounds like an unusual proposition but tricot is indeed the real deal. A concept that sounds like its worth the price of admission already.
On 6 June, House of Riot – home to Singapore’s well-loved independent acts, Charlie Lim, iNCH, and The Great Spy Experiment – presents an ambitious live show in homage to made-in-Singapore music, at The Esplanade’s grande dame The Concert Hall.
#sgindie music at the Esplanade Concert Hall? Somewhat unprecedented but surely the potentially record-breaking triple bill stands perfectly placed to do the deed.
Tickets for the Riot show are now on sale at SISTIC, and priced at S$50 for normal admission; S$40 for students and NSFs.
I know when this exhibition was first announced, there was some criticism about the ’50 years’ bit, considering that: –
1. The Quests‘ “Shanty”, the first ever local pop hit, was released in 1964 (!) and
2. when you subtract most of the 70s and the early 80s (when rock music was suppressed by the authorities) fifty years become a stretch
BUT you will appreciate that in order for the exhibition to get the appropriate funding some concessions needed to be made towards the whole SG5o business. Whatever it was called, the fact remains that the funding has allowed the organisers to put together a fitting tribute to Singapore rock, such as it is. Well, this is Singapore so the ends will justify the means.
In any case, the exhibition opens tomorrow (8th April) at the Substation Theatre with three S-ROCK bands viz. The Oddfellows, THE PINHOLES and Riot !n Magenta performing from 8pm.
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.
Singapore indie music fans know Esther Lowless as an iconoclastic and talented artist but may be less aware that Esther is also an accomplished and versatile actress as well! Besides appearing in Mediacorp dramas, TVCs and theatre plays, Esther is also going to try her hand at comedy in Singapore Stripped (at Paulenar Clarke Quay) where she plays opposite Crispy, the Talking Cock as they strip away Singapore’s artificial, shiny façade to reveal its comical dark side (not our words)!
We understand that the first two shows (tonight and Saturday night) are sold out but you can get tickets from the remaining shows from SISTIC.