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Apr 162015
 

Ragnarok

Am not much of a theatre-goer but my main interest in covering Ragnarok has always been the fact that Esther Lowless would be acting and singing her original compositions within the body of the play itself. A unique opportunity to catch Esther in an entirely different creative environment.

According to its press release, “Ragnarok serves to confront its audience with difficult questions about issues of identity, power and illness that have evolved within the global gay community” but what makes the play ambitious is the concept of using Norse mythology and the apocalyptic myth of Ragnarok as an allegorical device. Of course, to appreciate this, one would need to understand Norse mythology to begin with and it’s much more than that hunky God of Thunder in the Marvel movies (and yes, the next Thor movie is sub-titled Ragnarok as well)!

So I reiterate that the purpose of this review is not really to evaluate the merits of the play per se, although I did find it intriguing if somewhat overwrought with the performances uneven. Instead, I focus on Esther Lowless. She plays Hel (in Norse, mythology, a being who presides over a realm of the same name, where she receives a portion of the dead), the bartender and musical performer at gay bar, Asgard. Her role is mainly as a passive observer and commentator (through the music performances) although Hel does have her moments as agent provocateur.

The key challenge for Esther is that Hel is on stage throughout the entire duration of the play! Thus, there is no break for Esther whatsoever! In that respect, she performs admirably combining her acting with musical performances superbly with wonderful new songs that imbue the play with much gravitas and emotional resonance. Some of my favourite moments – when the cast joins with Esther for bizarre singalongs – the play takes on the tone of a cracked musical – unsettling but transcendent at the same time!

There are 3 more performances of Ragnarok. Saturday 18th is sold out but tickets for tonight and Friday night are still available at time of press. Don’t miss this #sgindie music lovers!

Get your tickets from http://www.skinnedkneeproductions.com/productions-ragnarok.html

Apr 112015
 

JaimeWong

I first fell in love with the music of Jaime Wong back in 2012 when I mentored her for an afternoon as the winner of the Noise-Timbre Singer-Songwriter Programme. The song that did the most damage was the atmospheric “Skin” and spending time with this down-to-earth easy-going talent was a pleasure. Thus, it was no surprise to me when Jaime won the Noise Singapore Award a year later because once this unassuming young lady is on stage, she tends to draws everyone watching into her melancholy world of broken hearts and lost love.

So I was thrilled to receive her new EP this morning in the mail and instantly fell in love all over again with her music. I guarantee that this four tracks will be on endless repeat once you get hold of the EP (and I wager you would want to). Apart from the shimmering “Skin”, it’s impossible not to be mesmerised by the luscious “Shame on You,” the slightly bouncy “To Lost Love” and the yearning country-folky “2:32 am”.

Yet another winner in an already grand year for Singapore music. Essential.

JWEP cover

 

Jaime’s debut EP will be available for pre-orders this coming Monday, 13/04/15 on iTunes. Pre-order and get an immediate download of “Skin (Wekkit Remix)”, exclusive for digital release.

 

… still there’s more … 

Apr 102015
 

CheatingSons

Regular visitors to Power of Pop would be aware that I managed Cheating Sons effectively from July 2011. Fact is I am no longer managing the band so I can say with a clear conscience that their upcoming sophomore effort is worth the years it took to put it together.

Good news is that the first single – “Honeymoon” – has just been released today and you can pick it up at Bandcamp. “Honeymoon” is 60s pop goodness channeled through the sensibilities of Roy Orbison and Teresa Teng and it’s textural complexity will give fans and newbies a good idea of what to expect when the new album drops.

… still there’s more … 

Apr 072015
 

SOHAPPYGIG

 

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.

Support local!

Apr 062015
 

DEON

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.

Web http://www.deontheband.com/
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/deontheband
Noisetrade http://www.noisetrade.com/deon
Twitter: @deontoh
Instagram: DEONTHEBAND

Apr 062015
 
Photo by Fandy Razak

Photo by Fandy Razak

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.

Continue reading »

Apr 032015
 

An interview with one of Singapore’s finest, The Great Spy Experiment, for the STASIS 10 event. From 2007.

GSE

Do I really need to introduce this band? Suffice to say that GSE is/was the band of 2007. Take it away…

2007 was a good year for GSE – any particular high point that sticks in the mind?

Fandy: The US trips definitely and of course the release of the album after sooooooo long. The album marks a milestone in our otherwise mundane lives as rockstar wannabes. heh.

Saiful: Ditto. But there were also a couple of local gigs which won’t be forgotten for a while, like TPRawks (TPRiots!), Lime Sonic Bang, ZoukOut, Junk Launch, etc. This year we’re starting to see more and more people dancing and singing along at our gigs, and that for me is a huge highlight. We’ve also met some really wonderful people along the way, fans who’ve become friends because of our common passion for music. Yup, it’s been a good year indeed.

What plans does GSE have for 2008?

Fandy: A music video, a concert, several marriages hopefully and a second album.

Saiful: Several marriages?? In one year?? Haha.. Not likely. But the rest, for sure. And if possible, a regional tour for fans in neighbouring countries.

What can fans hope to see from GSE at Stasis 10?

Fandy: The usual champagne fuelled orgy lor.

What expectations do you have for the local scene in 2008?

Fandy: I expect more bands to surface from the abyss, each one better than the one before. I also think there will be more opportunities for bands to showcase with a lot more support from the media and people in general.

Saiful: I’d like to see our local bands break into television. Also, there are a couple of albums due our next year that I’m really looking forward to – I just hope that the general public would show their love for local bands and go out and buy these albums.

Which band are you looking forward to see in Stasis 10 and why?

Fandy: B-quartet. Why? Do i need to say why??

Saiful: Same, but I will say why. Because they’re brilliant.

Now, we understand that GSE will be playing again very soon – in June in fact …

… still there’s more … 

Apr 032015
 

Democracy-sleeve-back

It’s a bit surreal to be writing about these KAMCO Music re-issues. Simply because both releases came out more than 20 years ago! It’s seems unreal to think that two decades later, I am able to make them available to the world in a manner that was impossible in 1993/1994. Does the world really need these re-issues, probably not but it’s not about that. Rather it’s more about the historical significance of these releases in the context of my life and that of the Singapore music scene.

For me personally, as a musician who grew up in 70s Singapore when rock ‘n’ roll was suppressed by the authorities, it was difficult to conceive of a local music scene that would accept my original music but thankfully that happened in the early 90s (in my early thirties) with Democracy and Love. That scene now appears to be light years away from where we stand now – and thank GOD for that too! Listening to the music now brings upon me waves of nostalgia and if any of this resonates with you then you can head on down to the various links below and I appreciate your support for all these years.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the kind souls who helped to make Democracy and Love whatever they might mean to folks now – Tony Makarome, Patrick Chng, Ben Harrison, BOSS Studios, Odyssey Records and of course, Eric Khoo.

iTunes

Democracy | Love

Amazon

Spotify

Democracy | Love

… still there’s more … 

Mar 182015
 
Photo credit: Teck Io

Photo credit: Teck

Whatever the genre, nothing gets more attention in a song than a powerful, distinctive female voice. Dedicated music fans should be familiar with Eugenia Yip from her vocal antics with jazz-rockers The Steve McQueens. However, Ginny (as she likes to be called), also fronts electro-outfit Riot !n Magenta, ably backed by Hayashida Ken (synths), Khairyl Hashim (guitar), Sulaiman Supian (bass) and Ritz Ang (drums).

R!M have been somewhat under the radar despite having played Baybeats 2011, launched a debut EP – R3B007 – at Esplanade Recital Studio in 2013 and even opening for CHVRCHES last year. But no doubt that will all change with the release of the new EP, Voices.

The four tracks available on Voices reveals a mature sonic agenda that continues to channel a strong trip-hop-soul vibe that highlights Ginny’s idiosyncratic vocal stylings and melancholy lyrics that emphasise the damage that relationships inflict on humans.

“Love is not supposed to be a chore” (“CTRL”) and “I can’t unhear the things but you said it” (“Told You So”) – words that put the songs in perspective, heartfelt emotions hard to ignore. Supported by pristine electronic beats and ambience, it is so easy to be swept away by the music on this EP. Not to be missed.

Connect with Riot !n Magenta

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/riotinmagenta
Twitter http://www.twitter.com/riotinmagenta
Soundcloud https://soundcloud.com/riot-n-magenta

Mar 162015
 
IEHAC

Daniel Sassoon, Nelson Tan, Sujin Thomas, Jordan Cheng, Amanda Ling

One of the perks of being a rock journalist is getting advances of new releases and it’s even more satisfying when you get a chance to listen to cutting edge rock music that is made by good friends as well. As regular visitors to Power of Pop will be all too aware, I have been a rabid fan of In Each Hand a Cutlass since the early days and whilst guitarist extraordinaire Daniel Sassoon (Livonia, Electrico) has always been the band lynchpin, the musicians Sassoon has surrounded himself with over several lineup changes have always been some of the best in the business.

IEHAC’s debut A Universe Made of Strings was a powerhouse in its own right but seems almost like a kindergarten school outing when compared to the new album, The Kraken. As dynamic as those individual tracks were, they cannot hold a candle to the cohesive ambition displayed on this astounding work. Helmed by the legendary L.A. producer Brad Wood, there is a consistency running throughout the LP that compels the listener to sit entranced for the entire duration, breathless at the wonder and awe that the music evokes, somewhat effortlessly.

As its centrepiece is the mammoth title track, broken down into four parts, for easier consumption. “The Kraken” is almost a treatise on rock music itself, finding ways to incorporate diverse strands of the best rock styles that have inspired millions over decades. Once again, this is progressive rock in the best sense of that term – not merely a genre identifier but a statement of artistic intent. Equal parts post-rock, prog-metal and psych-rock, this epic number brings the unwary listener across dimensions, a witness to interplanetary warfare and the birth and death of galaxies! One never questions the lack of lyrics for even a micro-second as the music speaks volumes.

If the album only contained “The Kraken”, it would already be worth the price of admission but add to that the power and majesty of tracks like “Ouroboros” and “Heracleion” and the picture is perfect. Essential but you already knew that.

IEHAC launches The Kraken on 24th April 2015 at the Esplanade Recital Studio. Tickets available from SISTIC.

In the meantime, listen to the first single “Satori 101″

Connect with IEHAC online

Web http://www.ineachhandacutlass.com/
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/IEHAC
Twitter http://www.twitter.com/IEHAC
Bandcamp http://ineachhandacutlass.bandcamp.com/

Mar 152015
 

Here’s a review from February, 2003.

ForceVomit

FORCE VOMIT Give It Up For The Trustfund Rockers

Force Vomit viz. Nizam, Dino, Neng & Wan Vomit, requires some explanation for music fans unfamiliar with the peculiarities of Singaporean indie rock. Force Vomit position themselves somewhere between the punk pop of the Ramones (hence the ‘family’ names) and the colloquial Malay brand of Western rock called ‘Mat Rock,’ Force Vomit bring an alternative sensibility to what is very much mainstream Malay rock vernacular. Except that the ‘Mat Rock’ Force Vomit deals in, is more of a 60s variety, incorporating elements of Dick Dale surf rock, the Shadows’ slick instrumental rock and Buffalo Springfield folk rock into their approach.
Make no mistake, this is distinctive stuff and something many outside of South East Asia would be totally unfamiliar with its angles and perspectives. The melodies may be a tad clichéd and at times too common for comfort but Force Vomit attacks its chosen targets with verve, aplomb & yes, tongue firmly in cheek. How else could one describe such passionate guitar dynamics as found in “Liberator,” “Siti,” “Johnny Levitate,” “Aisakos Don’t Die” & “The Kids Don’t WTF”?
Guaranteed to screw up every conception one might have of what modern Western rock may achieve, let these mischievous sonic anarchists thrill, amuse and entertain you.

Mar 152015
 

CharlieLimBeep

Last night, spent time with Charlie Lim & the Mothership (and twenty plus lucky fans) as the band recorded a live in-studio performance at The Analog Factory. Organised by BEEP Studios, the idea was to provide a unique listening experience, where the music would be crystal clear courtesy of inline earphones courtesy of Aurisonics. Look out for the video to be uploaded soon!

Mar 152015
 

It’s certainly heartening to see Singapore Rock (or S-ROCK) finally begin to get its dues in its hometown in 2015. It seems that suddenly everybody in Singapore loves S-ROCK! Well, that’s an exaggeration of course but we have come a long way from 2005, to say the least. But whilst it’s great to see all and sundry jumping on the bandwagon now (including an app by that very name!), I just want to put on record that Power of Pop has been supporting S-ROCK for over 15 years and we will never ever stop! So, here’s your S-ROCK flashback for today. Enjoy!

ff2

THE FIRE FIGHT
Big Music for the Golden Age

“Our vision and mission is such that we want to change people with our music, in a sense to bring people together and to learn how to love. Music is something that engages every individual’s emotions, very directly in fact. In this way, we can have very personal contact with the listener, even without them being in our presence. That’s what we hope our songs can do” – Josh Tan

As a mission statement, I’d wager that there are precious few corporate entities, never mind fledging Singaporean rock bands, that can boast such vision, such singleness of purpose. But that’s exactly what the Fire Fight is all about. Believe it!

Continue reading »

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
 

185f2b41-fd0d-4da8-a15c-924d8522eaba

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.