M1LDL1FE are definitely here to stay! Based on the raucous EP launch last Saturday where a crowd of millennials packed into a room at an industrial park along Henderson Road, it appears that life is going to be wild rather than mild for this very popular indie pop quartet.
What’s the story behind that band name?
It was a combination of a few things, some of which were practical (Take Two is a name for so many things other than bands) but also, in our individual personal lives as well as within the band, we had experienced quite a few changes. Some of us got married and bought houses, John decided not to carry on with the band, some of us came out of long-term relationships and we have grown up in different ways. So naturally the music changed as well, the sounds in our heads and the things we wanted to say had changed. We had changed but at the same time felt more comfortable in our own skin than ever before, so we needed a name that reflected that.
Power of Pop have been big fans of the RetroPop connoisseurs Obedient Wives Club ever since their debut EP back in 2012. The quintet viz. YinQi (vocals), Cherie (guitar, vocals), Man (bass), Lennat (drums) and Keith (guitar) have fashioned a unique style mixing 60s girls groups with a lighter 90s shoegaze touch, that they themselves have dubbed “Spectorgaze”.
Melodic rock bands with an alternative edge seem hard to come by in the Singapore music scene at the moment. So while other media outlets will be promoting artists specialising in urban music and electronic soul, S-ROCK lovers can trust in Power of Pop to help you discover new rock bands out there.
Thus, we welcome you to the S-ROCK UNDERGROUND (yes yet another hashtag!) where we hope you will find heavier and edgier sounds – that do not compromise on melody or grooves – in our own backyard.
Rock quartet Gilded Edge has been getting attention viz. as prizewinners after less than a year together at the Singapore finals of Global Battle of The Bands 2015, making it into the Noise Music Mentorship for 2016 and releasing their debut single “Lone Wolf” recently. We got together with the guys – Alan Francis (Guitar/Vocals), Melvin Lim (Guitar), Afiq Yusof (Bass) & Julian Stewart (Drums) – to find out more about Gilded Edge: past present and future.
US punk rockers Anti-Flag makes their first appearance in Singapore on 13th December at the Aliwal Arts Centre. Singer/bassist Chris #2 took time out of the band’s busy touring schedule to answer our queries.
It’s a brave new (music) world as far as SA is concerned. Founded in 2010, the band takes its name from Northern Chinese dialect, 仨, which means three, as a tribute to their traditional Chinese roots though all three are Singaporeans.
When it comes to sharing his opinion about the local music scene, singer-songwriter Nelson Tan does not mince his words.
“The local media, be it TV, radio or print, needs to get out there and feature more local content and talent, instead of the same old few over and over and over again,” Tan declared, “we have many many good songs and great bands made in Singapore that deserve airplay and I feel that we have to give ourselves a chance to appreciate what we have here, not just the familiar names.”
Mark Bacino is a Pop Underground favourite whose music (featured in three albums – Pop Job, The Million Dollar Milkshake and Queens English) gets mentioned whenever rock journalists need to define the best power pop music out there. We talked to Bacino about the past (his acclaimed music), the present (his new single, “Not That Guy”) and the future…
Art is life. Certainly a truth that singer-songwriter essence (her real name) adheres to. On her new album – Black Wings – essence digs deep into her personal experience to create emotionally resonating material. Intriguing, no? We thought so and thus, via email, we endeavoured to find out more.
English singer-songwriter Ralegh Long’s new EP – We Are in the Fields – is a lovely pastoral rumination and very much a continuation of his well received Hoverance LP. Ralegh was kind enough to answer a couple of our queries regarding the new EP, via email.
Ever since it was announced that singer-songwriter Chris Collingwood would release a new album under the Look Park moniker, there has been speculation online about the status of Fountains of Wayne, the band with which he made his name. Via email, Collingwood touched upon this issue and how Look Park signals a new era of music making for him.
Seattle’s The Salt Riot released one of the most memorable albums in recent times – Dead Star – that lives up to the promise of what we call ‘The New Rock N Roll’. We connected with lead singer-songwriter and guitarist Julia Vidal via email to gain insight into this intriguing emerging band.
Vancouver quartet JPNSGRLS gave us Circulation two years ago – Power of Pop’s Album of 2014 – and new album, Divorce, proves that Circulation’s artistic success was not a one-off. We caught up with vocalist Charlie Kerr (far right, above) via email to talk about the stories behind Divorce.
Fans get upset when one of their favourite bands break up but nowadays it does seem that these breakups are more of a hiatus, and the band can always come back re-energised for that reunion tour. Add Copeland to the list! The alternative rock band (consisting of Aaron Marsh, Bryan Laurenson, Jonathan Bucklew and Stephen Laurenson) are not only back but will return to Singapore for their fourth concert. We caught up with Marsh via email.
There was a Farewell Tour and now Copeland is back. Why?
The band broke up in 2010. We all wanted to follow different paths, start new businesses, focus on families, and things of that nature. 5 years later, we all felt like there was still more we wanted to do with Copeland’s music.
The year is almost done but .gif (viz Weish & Din, above) probably delivered one of the best ways to see out an amazing 2015 for Singapore music with its debut album, soma. Here’s what the dynamic duo thought about what the year was all about…
People often think that pop music needs to divided into different genres and generations and never the twain shall meet. But artists never think that way. It would be fair to describe Swedish-born Berlin-based electronic music producer and DJ Axel Willner (aka The Field) as part of the modern day pop scene & fail to appreciate the fact that Willner is inspired and influenced by music from all genres and all generations. Critics may have labelled The Field under the ‘minimal techno’ genre but throughout his career he has resisted been pigeonholed to such an extent that he has utilised different monikers (Eg. Cordouan, James Larsson, Loops of Your Heart, Porte and Hands) to escape the straightjacket of critics’ and fans’ limited expectations.
As part of the effort to promote The Field’s performance at Neon Lights Festival at 6.15pm, we had an email exchange with the forward-thinking artist.
It’s been three years since The Sam Willows released its debut EP. Since then, the quartet (Jon Chua, Ben Kheng, Sandra Riley Tang & Narelle Kheng) have gone from strength to strength, developing into arguably the top pop group in Singapore and signing for Sony Music Singapore.
I caught up with Jon, Ben, Sandra & Narelle recently at the official press event for the release of their first full-length album, Take Heart, and found them to be the same down-to-earth, earnest, fun-loving group that I met in 2012, except now with a major label backing their music.
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.
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.
I remember the first time Eugenia Yip caught my eye. This is what I wrote in a live review in TODAY, a few years back.
Riot !n Magenta is a relatively new duo consisting of singer/songwriter Eugenia Yip and keyboardist/producer Hayashida Ken and proved to be a totally different proposition. Yip is a dynamic soulful vocalist and managed to coax members of the audience to come to the front of the stage to groove to Ken’s contemporary-sounding beats. What the songs lacked in terms of conventional tunes, Yip make the most of with the range of her voice and her sultry on-stage persona. Certainly, the duo holds much promise for the future.
Now a quintet, Riot !n Magenta have a new EP out – Voices (I reviewed it here) – and will be playing at the So Happy: 50 Years of Singapore Rock exhibition opening at the Substation Theatre on the 8th April alongside The Oddfellows and Pinholes.
But Ginny (as she likes to be called) is at the centre of attention – whether it be fronting R!M or her other amazing band, The Steve McQueens. So I thought it would be awesome to get Ginny to respond to some of my queries and she obliged! Enjoy…
Are the new songs about relationships? Even damaged ones?
They’re mostly about personal realizations, or things I experience and feel for very strongly. I wrote “Voices”, inspired by the strength of three women I look up to very much. Nothing inspires me more than the giving of unconditional love, even through the toughest of times. The new songs are a little darker, a little older. “Running” was written about the process of letting go of a past made up of regrets, or even happier times that you struggle to forget, because they tend to remind you of what you’ve lost, but in an insanely more painful way. It is about finding happiness from forgiveness, both given and received.
A fabulous double bill awaits rock fans when Jagwar Ma joins The Flaming Lips on 1st December at The Coliseum. So here’s an email interview we did with the former’s Gabriel Winterfield and the results were good fun, as you will soon discover.
PoP: Last time out, you had to cancel a performance at Laneway Singapore – could you share with us what happened?
Gabriel: I tore a ligament in my knee, and was unable to perform or travel. Very sad. I’ve been waiting to get another chance to play Singapore ever since.
I love the early Squeeze records but my favourite is probably Sweets from a Stranger (1982). Although lumped together with all the other 80s ‘new wave’ bands, Squeeze were/are basically 60s pop revivalists with erudite lyrics/sophisticated melodies being the main emphasis. Check out a video of the band playing “Points of View” below.
Formed around the songwriting nucleus of Chris Difford (lyrics) & Glenn Tilbrook (tunes), the duo were hailed as the Lennon-McCartney of their era and deservedly as well. Following Squeeze’s second breakup in 1999, Tilbrook embarked on an acclaimed solo career. Tilbrook will be performing in Singapore at Hero’s on 29th November and I caught up with him via a short phone interview.
Here at Power of Pop, we emphasize substance over form, artistry/creativity over genre/styles and champion the right attitudes over cynical media manipulation. PUP fits the bill perfectly. Its eponymous album is a shameless celebration of edgy pop-rock music with energy and melodies to die for! Power of Pop caught up with the band via email and vocalist/guitarist Stefan was kind enough to answer our queries.
POP: How did PUP get together?
Stefan: The other 3 guys have known each other forever. Zack and Nestor grew up on the same street. They were playing around town in a few shitty bands and I was in a shitty band as well. Eventually we got bored of those projects and decided to band together to form a slightly less shitty but still shitty band called PUP.
PoP: What is the best thing about being PUP?
Stefan: We’ve had the chance to travel the world the past year. It’s been incredible. Getting to play music with your best friends every night in different weird places is the best thing in the world. And sometimes you get to play with your favourite bands and that’s cool too.
PoP: Why should anyone listen to PUP?
Stefan: You probably shouldn’t. But if you do it’ll be because you’re bored.
PoP: How do decide which song gets on the album?
Stefan: We wrote a bunch of songs, and just chose our favourite ones. We weren’t trying to choose ones that sounded the same or worked together or anything… We just wanted the 10 songs on our first record to be the best 10 songs we’ve written.
PoP: Would you wanna play in Singapore?
Stefan: Of course! that’s another adventure for us.
Hopefully we’ll get to see PUP in action in Singapore sooner rather than later! In the meantime, listen to PUP (the album) now.