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Feb 242015
 

SongwritersNight3

Another great opportunity for artists to get their originals heard is the SGMUSO Songwriters Night. Now a monthly event, the re-launch kicks off on Saturday, 28th February at The Barbershop by Timbre. Featured artist will be Tim De Cotta X The Warriors with the open mic segment to showcase Fym Summer, JAWN, Hell Low and Ciao Turtle.

See you there!

Feb 062015
 

Esther Lowless_smDebra_sm

It’s the first Originals Sing @ Artistry on 11th Feb. A special one for me, personally, as the songwriters featured are distinct artists within the Singapore indie music scene.

Esther Lowless – I first met when she was fronting Indus Gendi – and whose musical career I have been following closely since then. Esther is also an award-winning actress and sometimes it does seem that there is no limit to what she can achieve with her talents. She released a well-received EP in 2013 – Strange Place to Meet – which was presented also as a short film, which you can watch below. A true artist.

Debra Khng approached me some time back to teach her about songwriting and last year she released her debut EP – Wolves in the Night. Debra has certainly come a long way with her unique pop-rock sensibility (Mariah Carey singing Tracy Chapman songs!) and it’s a particularly proud moment for me to present her at Originals Sing. One of the songs we worked on together remains one of my favourite of her songs. Check out the music video for “All of Me” below.

Support your local music scene, my friends – hope to see you pack out Artistry on Wednesday, 11th Feb from 8pm.

STAGEFRIGHT XVI

 MUSIC  Comments Off
Jan 172015
 

stagefright-xvi

I have a dream.

Of a Singapore music scene where the majority of venues feature Singaporean songs. Where Singaporean songs are given the same love as foreign songs. Where Singaporeans are not unduly prejudiced against a song simply because it’s written by a fellow Singaporean.

Yes I am biased. It’s true that I love Singapore music because it’s made by people I know and love. But I love good music even more. For Singapore music to be better, our bands/artists need more opportunities to play their own music. It’s common sense, really.

That’s where platforms like StageFright @ Artistry and the upcoming SGMUSO Songwriters Night come in – to give Singapore bands/artists that opportunity. Nobody is born as an adult – it takes time for a baby to become a child and to be fully matured – so it’s the same with musicians/songwriters.

Here are some of the songwriters that will grace the Artistry stage on Wed, 21st Jan – please come down and support us and help make my dream come true!

Continue reading »

Jan 092015
 

stagefright-1-1

Some may say that Singapore does not have a music industry but that it only has a music scene. But even that may not be wholly accurate. Step into any bar or pub with live music and chances are that you will hear a cover band playing Top 40 hits. That’s not a music scene, that’s an entertainment circuit. Singapore needs at least 50% (or more) of its live venues hosting original music but that would take a paradigm shift. Platforms like StageFright @ Artistry is a tiny step in the right direction.

So come on down on 21st January, when you can watch aspiring singer-songwriter Ashlyn Julia in action.

Ashlynjulia

“Drummer turned songwriter. A poet since her teens, she’s wondered a lot about life, love and humanity. One day, Ashlyn Julia discovered a newfound joy when she started to turn her poetry into tunes. From translating expression into beats, she now story-tells in rhyme and voice. Taking inspiration from the little and big things around her, her songs are tales of ups and downs in life. Some say she is too emotional, take a listen, and judge for yourself” is how Ashlyn Julia describes herself.

So if you want a Singapore music scene that can emulate the 70s New York punk scene or the 90s Seattle grunge scene, support your local artists!

Artistry is located at 17 Jalan Pinang.

 

Jan 082015
 

stagefright-1-1

I have been fortunate enough to participate in two assessment panels for NAC’s EP grant thus far and it’s clear that there are more and more talented artists out there in Singapore! And the fact that in the two years that I have been curating STAGEFRIGHT, I have never once repeated a performer means that the critical mass of singer-songwriters/bands is definitely expanding.

FDym_Summer

Fym Summer is a very promising singer-songwriter and I am happy to have her perform at STAGEFRIGHT XIV. Her bio is short but succinct.

“A bathroom singer-songwriter since 2004, Fym Summer, known for her raw, mezzo vocals and honest, narrative lyrics, is set to drop off her debut acoustic-based mini EP titled “Heart” (stylised as “Hevrt”) in January 2015.”

So get an advance preview of her upcoming EP on 21st January at Artistry (17, Jalan Pinang). Support made-in-Singapore original music!

… still there’s more …. 

Jan 052015
 

stagefright-1-1

The songwriters are the future of Singapore music. Make no mistake about that. STAGEFRIGHT is a platform for the songwriter and in its 16th edition at Artistry on Wednesday, 21st January, we continue in our support of the songwriter.

Cloud & Shadows aka Andy Philip has a elliptical concept of a bio. To wit,

“The absence of pain does not guarantee love.
But the absence of love can be painful and bitter.
Clouds & Shadows explores the realities of life, love and loss through music.
Giving voice to such personal experiences, it hopes to provide solace to the souls of others alike.”

Clouds & Shadows (Andy Philip)

Come and support your songwriters, Singapore!

Jan 042015
 

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This came out on Christmas Eve but better late than never as Cherie Ko hams it up as forlorn & neglected housewife on this official music video for “Oh, Louie”. The song is suitably retro and thus Power of Pop fans would eat this up ravenously and the video has sufficient cuteness overload as well. Sorted on all counts.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pastelpower
Twitter: http://twitter.com/cherieko
Instagram: http://instagram.com/cherieko

Jan 032015
 

Pre Order

Fuck ‘genre’ and let the music flow.

Certainly #sgindie quintet The Psalms gives that impression. Consisting of Kye, Isyraf, Mish’aal, 1G, Suhaili, there is a palpable excitement whenever one listens to this bewildering offbeat widescreen music which can be loosely defined by the absurd descriptor of “jazz metal”!

The debut full length – People Eating People – is an endless wonder of surprises and inverted expectations where groovy dissonance becomes tangible. Listening is believing, for sure. Check out the band’s album launch on 10th January at the Esplanade Outdoor Theatre where People Eating People will be in sale.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/epsalms
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/epsalms
Bandcamp: http://thepsalmssg.bandcamp.com/

… still there’s more … 

 

 

Dec 302014
 

Leslie-Low-Portrait

Singapore indie music as an art form is still fairly young. Even the National Arts Council has in the last couple of years recognized Singapore indie music as a viable art form deserving of financial support. Despite all this, Singapore has in the last twenty years seen true indie music artists develop their craft to such an extent that acceptance at home has inevitably followed recognition overseas.

Amongst them, perhaps singer-songwriter Leslie Low is most worthy of the accolade of ARTIST OF THE YEAR for all that he has achieved within and without the Singapore indie music scene in 2014 (and the two decades before that).

As a key member of Humpback Oak & The Observatory (and various other side-projects) and as a solo artist, Low has constantly been on the vanguard of indie-art-rock. 2014 saw not only the release of The Observatory’s Oscilla album but also the solo efforts Longing and No such thing as ghosts. In addition, with The Observatory, Low has also played the role of curator/event organizer – providing Singapore with insights into fresh musical forms.

We caught up with Low recently to get his thoughts on 2014.

PoP: It’s been 20 years since the release of Pain Stained Morning (Humpback Oak’s debut album), where do you see your current work in the context of that?

Low: I’ve recently been reminded that it has been that long. Was doing a tour of living rooms and had to relearn my older repertoire of songs, a lot of memories came flooding back, locked up in the dark corners of these old songs. It was daunting initially, drudging back all those moments of my life. Re-living all those experiences. It felt pretty emotional and cathartic as the tour went on. I guess I was asking for it. When No such thing as ghosts was made, there was a conscious decision to revisit the past. Even the microphone used was one of the mics I used to record with during the Humpback Oak days. So it sounded familiar to begin with. And easier to take that trip back in time. Over the years, I’ve tried different approaches mostly informed by the people I make music with or by whatever I was into in that point of my life, and also personal experiences and relationships that play a huge part in shaping the emotional content of the work. It seems to all lead back to the heart and the mind. How it makes you feel above and beyond what the words may mean on paper. I think that still remains true today.

PoP: You were very involved in the Singapore arts/music scenes in 2014, are you optimistic that the scenes will develop further in the years to come? If so why?

Low: I think we have no choice but to evolve and grow. That is the natural way. Putting a stop to it would be unnatural.

PoP: From a third party perspective, 2014 seemed like a very good year for the Observatory and yourself – how was it for you? Are you personally satisfied with what you have achieved this year?

Low: It has been quite a long year of changes, ups and downs. It was an emotional roller-coaster to say the least. Despite all the difficulties, we still managed to finally release the songs we have been developing for about a year culminating in our 6th album, Oscilla. That felt good after we released it. My ears were shot by then from mixing. Our buddy Johnny Sarcophagus recorded us in our own rehearsal space. We could just focus on the playing in the comfort of our own space. We also toured twice this year with new band mates Wai and Cheryl, and it was Dharma’s last couple of tours with us. Still we managed to gain some ground musically and grew into our own as a new unit. I feel quite fortunate to be able to do this actually. Touring is a fairly recent thing for me, and as much as I enjoy staying put, being on the road chases the blues away, constantly slipping into the cracks of time.

PoP: Looking back, what were the highlights of 2014 for you?

Low: The recent Flux and Formlessness Tour with The Observatory was a highlight for me. It was gruelling with a lot of driving and train hopping but with the material on Oscilla, the highlight has always been playing the songs live. It’s probably the first album that I hardly listened to after it was mixed, other than checking the masters, because gigging the songs live has been a much bigger preoccupation. On the side with my solo stuff, it was a pleasure to have worked Jeremy, Tini and the Diarists team. It was quite an experience finally getting to meet different circles of people, friends in their cosy living rooms. It’s the closest I’ve come to touring Singapore.

PoP: What have you got planned for 2015? Anything you’d like to announce at this point?

Low: Hopefully a new record with this current line-up with Yuen Chee Wai, Cheryl Ong, Vivian Wang. January will feature two of our continuing projects, Anitya // Skandhas and Otomo Yoshihide & the Playfreely Ensemble and Far East Network (FEN) coming up. In February, we will be heading to Japan for a mini-tour with our friends from MOE.

Dec 262014
 

20 Os Artistry - 1

I experimented with 20 Originals performance events earlier this year at a local outlet, which was not perfect but was a good platform to push the novel idea that original music made in Singapore needed to build a fan base in order for the local indie scene to survive.

The biggest difficulty was as usual, getting people to attend. I always laugh when folks describe me as a ‘legend’ cos if that was true I would not struggle to get people to my gigs (especially when the admission is FREE). So that’s the reality — nobody really gives a fuck about original music in Singapore, and in particular, mine.

Of course, that’s a generalization – a sweeping statement. Sure, there ARE people who dig my music, even if it’s a minuscule group. There are people who pay ‘lip service’ – flatterers who maybe believe that they can get something out of me in return. But these are the same people who NEVER attend any of my gigs. So there you go, actions speak LOUDER than words! You know who you are! Aha!

But I digress. Despite the challenges, I plod on. Ultimately, I believe in myself and my music, even if the world does not. And that’s what it’s all about really. Perhaps it’s self-delusion – so what? At least, I know that the handful of people who do turn up on Saturday for this event are truly the people who do believe in me and my music. And for that, I am eternally grateful and that little encouragement drives me to keep moving forward.

So, here’s the deal. Two sets of 10 songs each. The first set will concentrate mainly on the 90s (and mostly ‘love’ songs) and the second set will focus on newer material (mostly ‘hate’ songs) and will also see the debut of four new songs that will form the bulk of my upcoming 2015 EP. See you there if you’re interested. And oh yeah, NO FUCKING COVERS!

More info etc – https://www.facebook.com/events/740476162667896/746885612026951

... still there’s more ...

 

Dec 212014
 
Caracal-Live

Photo taken from the Caracal Facebook page.

Pride. I guess that was the emotion coursing through my veins as I watched Caracal deliver a set full of passion, dynamism and yes, even fun last Thursday at the launch of the new album, Welcome the Ironists, at the Substation.

The sold out concert attracted many familiar faces from the indie music scene but it was encouraging to see strange new faces, evidence that the scene is also appealing to newcomers, a very good sign.

I first caught sight of the band during Baybeats 2007 and it’s safe to say that Caracal is a totally different proposition as we come to the end of 2014. As they have grown older, the music has become slower and deeper, with tidy references to 90s grunge (Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Screaming Trees et al) cementing the band’s burgeoning reputation.

The prime examples being “God Damn Tree”, “Divergence” and “Entrepreneur” where the band displayed an unprecedented emotional heaviness. But the highlight for me was probably when singer KC Meals dedicated “Given Breath” to all the band members’ parents – a touching moment that resonated.

Another high point – the encore that included crowd favorite “Cheers to Love” when audience and the band truly become one. Yet again, a spine-tingling memory to cherish. All told, a thoroughly satisfying rock experience. Kudos.

Thanks to Kitty Wu Records for making this review possible. 

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/caracalnoise
Twitter: http://twitter.com/caracalnoise
Instagram: http://instagram.com/caracalnoise
Website: http://www.caracalnoise.com

Dec 052014
 

f99fcad7-bf0e-434d-8f6d-fd2d8cfc5cec

It’s here – the official music video for the title track off Caracal‘s amazing new album. The unconventional music video breaks up the song a little at the beginning but delivers a strong narrative and includes a little twist at the end for good measure. Kudos to all concerned.

Check out also my 5-star review at TODAY.

Nov 302014
 

NickCHIM

Forget about how small Singapore is or how you need to sing in the native tongue in order to play overseas, singer-songwriter Nicholas Chim has broken all these rules to find acceptance in Germany!  Well, don’t just take my word for it, check out his Tour Diaries below.

Official Site

Nov 282014
 

GBones

 

“If you build it, they will come”

How to improve the local music scene? By building fan base. Once the numbers are there, then the promoters will come to you. Case in point: Gentle Bones (aka Joel Tan). Ever-increasing fan support has now had promoters looking to add to their audience numbers by having the popular artist open for foreign acts.

Thus, on 10th December, Gentle Bones will open for Us the Duo at Kallang Theatre and on 27th February 2015, Joel will support Christina Perri at The Coliseum. This is exciting news and signs of a developing local music scene.

Get your tickets from SISTIC.

… still there’s more …

Nov 192014
 

f99fcad7-bf0e-434d-8f6d-fd2d8cfc5cec

KittyWu Records has announced that Caracal has launched the pre-order for their forthcoming studio album Welcome The Ironists at iTunes. Listeners can pre-order the digital album on iTunes and receive an early download of the exciting new single “Welcome The Ironists”.

The new album was recorded and produced together with the band’s longstanding collaborator and dear friend – Singapore’s leading music producer and sound engineer, Leonard Soosay of Snakeweed Studios (The Great Spy Experiment, I Am David Sparkle). The album was mastered in Canada with João Carvalho of João Carvalho Mastering (Sloan, Buck 65, The Weakerthans, Death From Above 1979).

The full album is slated for release on 18 December 2014 and will be available in both physical and digital formats. Caracal will launch the album at The Substation on that night. Look out for the music video on 5th December at the band’s YouTube Channel.

Nov 132014
 

RethinkAIDS

Always an exciting prospect to catch some of the brightest indie rock talents in Singapore but when the event also serves to raise awareness of an important cause then, the reasons to attend increase! With a fairly varied lineup as well, Rethink: AIDS promises to be an exciting #sgindie day out. We got in touch with organizer Jared Rezel to find out more.

PoP: How does a music event raise awareness for a cause?

Jared: Music fans tend to connect to their favourite artists via their music. The bond between the audience and performer is hence strengthened through their attendance at live music events. As the bands perform at this event, they will be constantly promoting our cause through their songs and shoutouts, strongly conveying our message to the audience and ultimately succeeding in raising awareness for our cause.

PoP: In what ways are you asking people to “Rethink AIDS”?

Jared: We never actually wondered what we would do if we found out our friend has AIDS and decided to think more about this issue. Most of us realised that we’d probably avoid these friends for fear of contracting this disease. However when we look at the facts, there is no risk at all unless we were planning to engage in some sexual activity with these friends. Hence we want people to rethink the facts they know or think they know in hope that they would ultimately rethink these subconscious stereotypes they place on the people suffering from AIDS. Most AIDS campaigns are all about the ‘safe sex’ aspect especially what we learnt back in sex ed classes in school, hence we felt that our event could influence youths to relate more to the social side of AIDS.

PoP: How should the public attitude towards AIDS change? What should it be instead?

Jared: Most people know the dangers of AIDS or rather HIV and they know that they want to avoid it as far as possible. However, it’s that avoidance and some misunderstanding that has led to stereotyping people with HIV/AIDS as well. We want people to know the facts & the dangers but at the same time, not treat the people with it any differently. Basically, we want people to remove the links between AIDS and friendship, since sex isn’t a requirement of friendship.

PoP: What do you hope attendees will take away from Rethink: AIDS?

Jared: Besides enjoying music and introducing more people to local music, we hope that they at least gain new perspectives towards AIDS. Ideally, we hope that they would change their attitudes towards people with AIDS and treat them as normal people.

PoP: Can you explain the process behind the selection of the bands?

Jared: We wanted to find bands who were rather current and had a pull with different groups of people hence reaching out to a variety of people. We were not so worried about the genre, for example, AVA. When people see a post hardcore band, they usually think like these guys are rebels. But seeing them standing for something good fights for our cause even more.

More info here.

Oct 302014
 

dragonconcert_poster

Awaken the Dragon is a community art project surrounding the last two remaining Dragon Kilns in Singapore. The project aims to invite 3000 members of the public to participate in making a collective sculpture made from clay and fired in the Dragon Kiln.

The concert is part of the Awaken the Dragon Festival that’s happening from 17-23 November. There will also be demos and workshops by local ceramic artists, arts & crafts stalls, food and drink vendors.

The Observatory, Obedient Wives Club, Stopgap, Lost Weekend and The White Trip Movement will be performing on 22 November from 6:30pm. Admission is free.

For more details on the Festival, visit:

https://www.facebook.com/events/717111341705189/
http://awakenthedragonkiln.wordpress.com/about/
https://www.facebook.com/Awakenthedragonkiln

THE SPIDER SESSIONS

 MUSIC  Comments Off
Oct 092014
 

According to its press release, The Spider Sessions came about as a response to a lack of paying gigs for musical artistes in Singapore. Which is in itself, an excellent cause, of course and the folks behind this initiative should be commended.

Apart from organizing more paid gigs for indie bands, “the Spider Sessions aims to build a strong community, holding networking sessions prior to events in order to allow featured artistes to build rapport with each other as well as to facilitate pooling of fan bases. Similar avenues will be provided for the audience to interact with the artistes both during and outside of the events”.

Which is also to be applauded as the sense of community within the local music scene can definitely be built upon. The inaugural event will feature boxchild, Koji, Knightingale and Orange Cove. Ranging from melodic hard rock to grunge to pop punk, these bands represent the lesser-known albeit up and coming modern pop-rock scene in Singapore.

Venue: Pink Noize
Date: Saturday, November 15th 2014
Time: 7 PM to 10 PM
Ticket Pricing: $10
(inclusive of a complimentary non-alcoholic drink)

Oct 092014
 

The best part of being in Singapore? The availability of awesome #sgindie music at my doorstep! MAAD Sounds has going for it two main things – a wonderful selection of S-ROCK and the presence of the effervescent Andy Yang – artist, musician & all-round fun guy! This Friday, MAAD Sounds returns with four exciting indie rock bands – The Psalms, MONSTER CAT, Spacedays and Ellipis! Don’t miss this!! Check out the music below and will see you tomorrow!

… still there’s more …

Sep 232014
 

Here’s a lively soul pop number with a fun video to boot! It’s awesome to see tons of familiar faces from the local music scene in the video as well (but what about moi?). That sense of playfulness is nicely contrasted with Gareth’s (and band’s) sophisticated image – y’know the suits etc. The song itself has a catchy horn(y) motif and chorus (though the song title seems a bit of a mouthful). Am glad to announce that Gareth’s debut EP will be dropping soon and the launch will be held at Barbershop at Timbre on 22nd October. This suave boy is going places so better get in on the bottom floor before take-off. Tickets available from http://garethfernandez.peatix.com/

… still there’s more …

Sep 052014
 

4.10pm – 5.50pm Hollow Threat
5.50pm – 6.30pm Cultures
6.30pm – 7.10pm False Plaintiff
7.10pm – 7.50pm Straight Forward
7.50pm – 8.30pm 7 Nights At Sea
8.30pm – 9.10pm Tell Lie Vision
9.10pm – 9.50pm Exhibitors