ALIVE & KICKING: THE GENTLE BONES EP LAUNCH

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By Nikita Wong

The usual hustle and bustle filled the streets along Orchard Road, by 6.30 pm approximately 400 fans were embracing the heat as they queued to catch the Gentle Bones (aka Joel Tan) Ep launch. As the doors opened, avid shutterbugs and fervent fans scouted for perfect vantage points to catch a glimpse of their idol. Held on the 30th of August 2014, TAB was teeming with mostly school girls who were die-hard fans of Gentle Bones. The crowd huddled together with approximately 700 over people within the room.

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Gracing the stage was none other than Samantha Rui, the audience was certainly deceived by her reserved and shy composure. Being captivated by her soulful voice that held a great semblance to Ellie Goulding everyone was left awe inspired. The forested graphics complimented the acoustic set up, often exuding a magical feel through her voice. It was an intimate performance as the crowd amassed together at the front of stage, and Samantha drew the audience towards her as she crooned to “All I Want” by Kodaline and “Blue” which was one of her originals. Despite the thick crowd, the vibe was generally relaxed.

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Known as Singapore’s version of Justin Timberlake, Gareth Fernandez had the girls bouncing off their feet as he interacted with them throughout his set. He sashayed, cooed and pouted coquettishly as he reminisced on his inspirations which dawned upon him for a few of his original songs such as “Subliminal Love”. Taking on Top 40 hits such as “Valerie” by Amy Winehouse and “Stay With Me” by Sam Smith, it was a reflex action for the crowd to groove to the sunny beats as they sang along with Gareth. His flawless runs and falsetto was spot on without any room for errors and it was phenomenal for a live performance.

Banners were being raised in the air as the crowd chanted Gentle Bones, starting off strongly the crowd echoed to “Settle Down”. Shattering the atmosphere with the remarkable guitar parts played by Wai Huin and thumping beats by Ritz Ang, Joel’s backing band complemented him. A mellow approach was taken too with his solo performance as he interacted with the crowd through his acoustic showcase occasionally inviting guest singers to join him for a song such as Joie Tan and Samantha. The duets were simply stunning as both singers harmonized for covers such as “Poison and Wine” by The Civil Wars and on “Undecided” which is an original song composed by Joel and Samantha.

Leaving the stage half way, many thought that it was an end. Encore was being echoed throughout the room as they sang in unison to “Until We Die” to beckon the band to perform once again which they did. The ending brought a tear within most fans as the band ended with “Elusive”, fans whipped out their hand phones as they waved the torches in the air and swayed away.

As the concert drew to an end, beelines were made by eager fans as they anticipated the meet and greet session with Gentle Bones and other musicians. Local bands are certainly on the rise and more people are willing to pay for local acts! Joel has journeyed a long way from where he first started out, his humble approach also draws his fans closer to him.

THE DIARISTS PRESENT LESLIE LOW (IN THE LIVING ROOM)

Photo Credit: Flee Circus
Photo Credit: Flee Circus

This is taken verbatim from the promo email: –

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Ahead of Leslie Low‘s highly anticipated solo release No Such Thing As Ghosts, The Diarists are putting together a series of small, personal shows to promote the album.

Cozy up in a living room, an independent venue or a workspace, in Singapore and Malaysia, Leslie Low will perform songs from the new album up close, as it’s meant to be heard. These performances create an emotional experience for both musician and listener, bringing music to fans and audiences in the purest, most intimate way.

Besides material from No Such Thing As Ghosts, Leslie will also be playing songs from his earlier releases.

If you would like to be part of this initiative, please contact us via email at thediaristsessions@gmail.com and in the meantime, enjoy this video as Leslie performs “Despair”.

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Stay tuned for more info

PoPINIONS

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MUSIC… OR NOTHING

Being involved in the music scene in Singapore is all about what one makes of the situation. Compared to a mere five years ago, there are many opportunities to fill your time with life-enriching activities. You just know where to look…

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On Thursday (21st August) I met up and interview Julie Edwards (above, left) and Lindsey Troy of LA-based blues-rockers Deap Vally and found them to be intelligent, beautiful women who knew exactly what they wanted out of life. Mightily impressed with them in that short space of time we chatted.

Continue reading “PoPINIONS”

#sgindie

As we head into the 50th anniversary of Singapore’s independence, it does seem that our beloved local indie music scene is slowly gaining increasing general appreciation and acceptance. Last night’s Originals Sing @ Artistry featured two young bands that caught my ear at last year’s Baybeats auditions. It was exciting to witness how far they have come since then. Mannequins possesses a retro vibe that sets them apart from most alternative rock bands here but more importantly, their songs have a melodic vim that resonates with this classic pop lover.

Stopgap has definitely gone from strength to strength since missing out on the Baybeats auditions last year and have been playing gigs everywhere. The band performed at the first STAGEFRIGHT way back in February 2013 and last night at Originals Sing blew everyone away with an impressive set. The boys have a great proactive attitude and I can see them going far if the planets align nicely for them. Fingers crossed!

Pleasantry – “recycling musicians from active as well as inactive bands” – finally releases a full-length album, Synapses, which to these ears is one of the most complete summations of what indie pop offers us in 2014. Since getting a review copy yesterday, it has been on repeat (yeah, the entire album) and I am so impressed at how well it hangs together. But at its core is an understanding of how to emotionally connect with an audience with melody and instrumentation. It is simply gorgeous. The band launches Synapses (with guests galore) at the Esplanade Recital Studio tomorrow night (Friday, 22nd August). Tickets available from SISTIC. In the meantime, check out the lovely new single, “False Realities”.

… still there’s more …

IGNITE MUSIC FESTIVAL 2014

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What did Nikita Wong think of the 2nd day of the Ignite Music Festival 2014? Let’s find out?

Beaming coloured lights, cascading guitar licks and mellifluous vocals attracted the crowd at 5.30pm. The crowd was swaying in the breeze as they crooned away with the band. Concert goers were clad in casual wear to attend the outdoor music festival with beach mats scattered across the ground as they gathered to catch the band performing. Ignite Music Festival is held on an annual basis at Republic Polytechnic (RP). This year it was held from the 15th to the 16th of August 2014 in the evening.

Continue reading “IGNITE MUSIC FESTIVAL 2014”

AMATEUR TAKES CONTROL: ON THE WATERFRONT

Amateur Takes Control is pretty active for a nominally dormant band with a compilation record coming out next week and an one-off reunion show this coming Friday, 15th August at the Esplanade Outdoor Theatre. So if dynamic post-rock instrumentals are your thing, go check them out before ATC go on hiatus…

 

LATE NITE: SYNAPSES BY PLEASANTRY

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Pleasantry is back with a new album – Synapses – and the band will launch the LP on 22nd August at The Esplanade Recital Studio for the Late Nite @ Esplanade series. Tickets are priced at $25 and are available from the Esplanade Box office and SISTIC.

Watch the official trailer.

BANDWAGON: THE MUSIC MARKET

 

Gareth Fernandez Band (above) & The Sam Willows (below) by Sonia Yap.

By Nikita Wong

Vincent Van Gogh once said, “I dream my painting and I paint my dream.” Every form of success stems from an idea plotted into our heads. Founder of Bandwagon Clarence Chan was filled with such vision for himself to take the local scene to the next level. Hence he started Bandwagon. Bandwagon began on a small scale, over the years it has blossomed with a huge amount of support from the media and die hard concert goers. This year Bandwagon decided to take its event The Music Market to another level when Hard Rock Cafe approached them to host the event. The ultimate goal of this event was to bring the local musicians from the various online platforms to reality for avid concert goers.

Continue reading “BANDWAGON: THE MUSIC MARKET”

HOT BUZZ: GENTLE BONES – SAVE ME

We have been hearing a lot about Gentle Bones (aka Joel Tan) in the last nine months or so. I am digging the way Joel’s music has captured the imagination of our young people. It’s so exciting to witness! Joel himself is such a humble, self-effacing young man but dead serious about his music. I feel like I am living the dream vicariously though him! Truly amazing.

Well, more good news as the pre-orders for Joel’s upcoming debut EP has placed the release at #1 on the iTunes charts (release date – 19th August)! If you haven’t already, pre-order now! Get your tickets for the EP launch here. In the meantime, watch the music video for the new single – “Save Me”. It’s a good time to be a #sgindie fan!

#sgindie

Now that was a music weekend to remember! I had been under the weather for a while and it was good to finally catch #sgindie gigs again! But before the gigs, I attended an intriguing (albeit ultimately bewildering) meeting with the local arts community and had a quick chat with Vivian Wang and Leslie Low of The Observatory. I did learn that the proximity of timing between the new Oscilla and Leslie’s own new solo LP was borne out not of design but of circumstances. Not that I am complaining… the more, the merrier…

Continue reading “#sgindie”

NELSON TAN + AMANDA TEE: DOUBLE EP LAUNCH

Two for the price of one, you might say. This coming National Day, Nelson Tan and Amanda Tee will be holding a joint launch for their new respective EPs at Hood Bar. CDs will be on sale at the door; $20 for both EPs or $15 each.

Listen to Nelson’s latest single “Time” (ft. Amanda Tee)

Listen to Amanda’s new single “I Can Feel You”

RSVP

HOT BUZZ: TAKE TWO

If you’ve been reading Power of Pop, you’d be aware that I fucking HATE the post-punk revival cos it’s overstayed its welcome already – I mean, it’s 2014 already so can we get to the 90s alt-rock revival?!?!?!? So logically, I should get annoyed with the very idea of Take Two – clean cut boys who got that post-punk revival formula down to a science!

But you know what? From the first time ever I heard the band (Paddy, Johnathan, Peng Sing, David, and Jeryl) from outside the hall at SGMUSO’s House Party event – all I could think was – “Fuck, that’s catchy” – seriously folks, it’s pretty difficult to not simply love the music of Take Two and I have heard them live enough times to make a concerted effort to do so but have failed miserably…

So now, I understand that Take Two are opening for Travis come 1st August at the Star Theatre and I could not be any happier. The lads deserve this totally. The band is so entertaining live – assured and comfortable on stage with songs that will get your adrenaline pumping. Believe me when I say, that this is one opening act you should not miss – whether you’re a fan of 90s mope-rock or not!

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THE OBSERVATORY: OSCILLA ALBUM LAUNCH

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Art-rockers The Observatory return with a new line-up and a new album. Founding members Leslie Low, Vivian Wang and Dharma are joined by SA’s Cheryl Ong on drums and Yuen Chee Wai on electronics/synths for this latest chapter of the band’s amazing journey.

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Oscilla will be released in various formats – a limited colour vinyl release alongside regular black vinyl LPs, CDs and for the very first time, a limited run of cassettes with free download – on 15th August, which will be supported by two performances on 15th and 16th at The Substation.

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GENTLE BONES: EP LAUNCH

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“I aim to satisfy myself musically and if it happens to relate to the masses I cannot be more than ecstatic. because nothing is more fulfilling than to have people adore the songs that you first came to fall in love with.”

Gentle Bones has come a long way since releasing his debut single “Until I Die” in mid-December last year. Steadily building up a loyal fan base through a subsequent follow-up single “Elusive”, well-received music videos, maturing live performances and genuine grass-root buzz, the affable young singer-songwriter has made his mark on the Singapore music scene.

And there’s more to come, as Gentle Bones launches his debut EP at TAB Singapore on 30th August supported by Samantha Rui and Gareth Fernandez. Tickets now available at http://gentlebones.peatix.com/

The EP will be on sale via iTunes on the 19th of August 2014 and limited autographed physical copies will be available online at http://gentlebones.bigcartel.com.

RSVP

HOT BUZZ: LESLIE LOW – NO SUCH THING AS GHOSTS

Leslie Low released an instrumental album earlier this year which flew somewhat below the radar for most #sgindie fans. But now Low is back with an album of ‘proper’ songs that absolutely nobody should ignore. Based on the tracks previewed at Bandcamp, the album – No Such Thing as Ghosts – is typical Low fare. Meaning that it is sophisticated indie folk songwriting of the highest order expressed purely via voice and acoustic guitar. The Observatory frontman releases the album in several formats in September. Find out more.

Look out for reviews and interviews related to this release soon…

#sgindie

After the heady month of local gigs that was June, the #sgindie goodness continues to flow. So heads up on a couple of shows coming your way in the coming weeks. 

Red Kite & Beer Market have earmarked four Sundays in July as Original Sundays with an intriguing lineup of #sgindie bands for your viewing and listening pleasure.

Continue reading “#sgindie”

LOST WEEKEND – ON A SUNDAY / ABOUT FOREVER

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There is always something one can take away from ‘classic’ pop songwriting. Whatever the era or the ‘genre’ classification, somethings do not change viz. memorable melodies, familiar chord progressions, soulful vocals and of course, an indefinably cool vibe.

To have seen Lost Weekend grow from that tentative pop group I had witnessed at last year’s Baybeats auditions to the confident music makers evident on this brand new double-A side single has been eminently satisfying.

“On a Sunday” will appeal to all lovers of indie pop – whether or not they are old enough to know the meaning of “C86” or simply as a ‘genre’ that gets attached to hipster music festivals – with Rachel’s sultry vocals and Jonny’s Fannies-inspired guitar solo the prominent hooks.

“About Forever” is yet another track that recalls the glorious pop music of the 80s, substantively of the kind that the likes of Elvis Costello & Squeeze would regularly churn out i.e. with enough soul-R&B elements to keep things interesting. There is a groove driven by Mark’s bass work and Zj’s drums that totally underpins the song perfectly.

Two prime examples of matured songwriting that bodes well for fans of well-crafted song-oriented indie pop. Bloody essential! Get the single now from Bandcamp!

BAYBEATS 2014: DAY THREE

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Inevitably for me, Day Three of most year’s Baybeats tend to be a little anti-climatic. After the hustle and bustle of the first two days, fatigue sets in and it has not been uncommon for me to sometimes entirely miss Day Three. So with that in mind, I decided to focus on the performances going on at the Chillout Stage (the Concourse) and found the experience thoroughly enlightening!

Pitch Feather delivered high gloss renditions of its excellent debut album – Mountains and Tides – singer Alberta Leong has an appealing voice that embellishes the band’s luscious take on 70s folk music that very quickly endeared them to the rapt audience. Considering this was the band’s very first live performance, there were nerves and a couple of errors but nothing fatal. Would love to see Pitch Feather develop further in the local indie scene.

.gif provide a polar opposite to Pitch Feather’s rustic warm tones with an electro-pop set that once again showcased the vocal talents of Weish. It was instructional as usual to see Weish construct ambient sounds from her vocals to utilize backings for the songs. Far from being cold constructs, the songs seemed vaguely personal as colours and shapes filled the room (figuratively, of course).

Pixel Apartment (aka Jordan Chia) was a sheer delight – both soulfully and intellectually. Operating his one man band (complete with video!) with the main focus on grand piano, Jordan provided a pleasing set which showcased his skills with electronics as well as songwriting. That said, perhaps the high point was Jordan’s wonderful cover of “What Sarah Said” (Death Cab for Cutie) sympathetically played on the piano. Yet another local musician with loads of talent!

And that was Day Three for me. Well satisfied with the slate of promising local musicians enough to believe that the future of the Singapore indie music scene is indeed bright! Thanks again to all the cool people I ran into today and once again to the Esplanade for putting together another first rate Baybeats Festival!

… still there’s more … 

BAYBEATS 2014: DAY TWO

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Typically, I find that the second day of Baybeats is the best of the Festival. I guess it’s part of the programming being on a Saturday and all that. But for me personally, it was day of discovery as well as pride in our local musicians (now, that’s a cause I really get behind!)

It began with lunch with Sean and Dee from Ssighborggg – two expat Americans making a name for themselves in the Seoul indie scene. As always, with music people there is an inexplicable connection that I never take for granted. Fun-loving and humble the duo might be but dead serious when it comes to their music as proven with their distinctive set later that night. One of the most unique aural experiences I have ever had. Kudos!

The absolute highlight for me was the performance of my former NOISE mentees ENEC.E at the Concourse and naturally I was emotionally invested. Just so you know, it was love at first sight with the songs and sisterly harmonies of Lisa and Michelle when I heard them at Thunder Band Slam and I have been a fan since. The stripped down environment suited them somewhat with more emphasis on vocals and ‘feels’ (as the kids like to say) – I must confess that I welled up quite a few times during their spine-tingling set (“Ghost”, “Satellite” & “Crystallized” OMG). Magic!

Lost Weekend – like a few budding bands – had to handle rejection the first time it tried out but the group never gave up and came back stronger. I liked the eclecticism within the band’s early 90s alt-rock vibe and certainly Rachel did her best to capture the crowd’s attention – which she did. Some of the banter was a little awkward, and the band could have been tighter but my feeling is that Lost Weekend is a work-in-progress and that once they hit their stride, they are going to take some stopping. Mark my words!!

Now what can I say about Bani Hidir? I still remember marveling at his drumming skills with the immortal B-Quartet back in 2007-2008 (barely 20 years old) and then falling in love with Page (wherein he sang and played crunching power chords) but last night he impressed the Concourse audience with a set that showcased sophisticated songwriting, mad skills and a boyish confidence that charmed us all! Backed only by the impeccable Naz on piano, Hidir blew everyone away with his seemingly effortless display! So glad that he will be releasing an EP of his new material very soon. Best!

One regional band I was really looking forward to was lightcraft (Indonesia) and they certainly did not disappoint. It was basically unadulterated 90s shoegaze with a hint of the post-punk revival peeping over the reverb-drenched soundscapes. Heavenly! Frontman Imam was intense and driving the band forward with 150% commitment – some of his banter was really emotional and despite the odd technical hitches, the band melted my face many times over. With an epic new song – “The Art of Acceptance” – sweeping me away with waves of white noise I was hypnotized! Best part was that after the show, Imam came up to me and passed me the band’s latest CD – Colours of Joy – humbled! (Glowing review to come…)

Somehow it all came full circle with Inch. My very first Baybeats in 2007 was spent very much hanging out with Allura and living the experience through the eyes of someone like Inch. Hard to imagine how much she has grown up to become the very person she said she would be way back then. Amazing. PoP readers will know how much I loved her sophomore solo effort Bumfuzzle, and “Dear Paramour” had me in tears with the chills running down my spine (not to mention, new song “California”). With a crack band of musicians behind her, Inch ruled the roost and had the audience eating out of her hands – again all I could feel was pride and gratitude for being given the best view in the house for the ongoing development of our indie music scene!

Once again, this post has been personal and confessional and well, nostalgic but honestly I don’t give a fuck. It’s my website and I’ll cry if I want to…

My final word on Day Two goes to Leonard Soosay. Again, I recall chatting with him at that 2007 Baybeats Festival and regret certainly not spending more time with the man since then – he is truly one of the leading legends of our indie music scene when you consider the sheer number of bands and artists he has shepherded in his time as one of our top producers and I really enjoyed our short but insightful chat last night. Something I hope to rectify in the near future – what say you, Leo???

… still there’s more …

 

 

 

BAYBEATS 2014: DAY ONE

For me, this year’s Baybeats is all about people. Watching aspiring musicians grow into great bands and artists and getting the response and acclaim that they so richly deserve. Wishing the very best for them on stage as they take another step towards fulfilling their musical dreams.

Last night, I was so happy to see Stopgap open the Powerhouse performances with an assured set. I recall first seeing them at last year’s auditions and rooting for their progress but alas one wrong song choice and they were booted out (yes I was pissed off!). But kudos to the band for learning from that experience, getting onto the Noise Mentorship Programme, making it on the second attempt (YES!) and generally having the best possible attitude in doing their best in our music scene. So yes, their moment in the spotlight was fully deserved! And I believe there’s more in store for these boys!!

Over at the Concourse, DEON did what he did best – deliver sparkling pop-rock with a refreshing honesty – Deon Toh is as real as it gets! Getting to know Deon at the Noise-Timbre Singer-Songwriters thingy a few years ago was a genuine blessing and am so pleased at how far he has come since then. Still the same down-to-earth guy, you must really check out his full-length album Antiphobic!

Jaime Wong! What a voice! What great songs! Like Deon, I first met Jaime at the same Noise-Timbre thingy and in her unassuming, deprecating manner she has grown by leaps and bounds. An awesome talent and I really cannot wait to listen to her debut EP when it comes out in the next few months.

Kudos to The Esplanade for giving Singapore bands and artists this amazing showcase! Long may Baybeats run!

… still there’s more …

 

#SGINDIE

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Some weeks back, Celina Kimble launched her new EP at the Arts House and whilst it was a fairly short set – it was full of Celina’s typically emotionally powerful songs backed by a competent band. All told, it was a solid performance by Celina and band. The word is that Celina will be selling her EP at Starbucks outlets and will be doing a couple of performances there as well. Stay tuned for more details.

Continue reading “#SGINDIE”

BAYBEATS 2014: ENEC.E

I remember the first time I saw Enec.e (pronounced “Enecdote”) in performance, I thought to myself that they were the perfect fit for Baybeats. So I am pleased as punch to see that that my instincts were spot-on! But then again, I am slightly biased, as Lisa, Michelle, Alek and Shafiq were my Noise mentees in 2013 and so am righteously stoked for them and for the people lucky enough to listen to their wonderful music at Baybeats 2014!

Why should fans check out your performance at Baybeats?

Alek: Because we have new material and even we are really excited to share them with you guys!

Why are you excited about playing at Baybeats?

Shafiq: It’s our first time playing in such a big music showcase so it’ll be fun to see how much we freeze up on stage between songs. Haha!

Why do you think you were selected to play for Baybeats?

Michelle: ENEC.E has an inverse exuberance in it’s music, portraying dark vibes in lyrical proses to give our listeners a slight push off the edge of their seat as they find relations with the songs. I guess that’s why we were selected?

If you had to choose just three bands to watch at Baybeats, which bands would they be and why?

Lisa: To be honest, that is a really difficult question because there are so many bands that I want to watch! But if I were to narrow it down to 3, then I would say Monster Cat, Stopgap and Wyd:Syd! I tend to prefer big sounds and full-band arrangements, so, as these guys are going to play at the bigger stage with highly professional crews and topnotch sound system, I’m pretty sure the experience would be a lot more memorable than what I have had!

When and where are you playing at Baybeats?

We will be playing on 28 June at 5pm and 8pm at the Chillout Stage! See you guys!

 

#SGINDIE

So let’s take a look at what’s hot in the Singapore indie music scene right here and now.

On the heels of Gentle Bones’ exciting and appealing brand of pop, we have Kai who has produced an EP of clearly radio-friendly tunes that should have no problems winning more than a few #sgindie fans. Kai himself is an accomplished beatboxer and also a member of the acapella group Vocaluptuous so one is guaranteed of superior vocal quality, which is indeed the case. I personally find “Goodbye” and “Better” (though its chorus is reminiscent of “Falling Slowly”) interesting and both should offer pop fans a couple of earworms and hooks. Definitely a promising start!

More #sgindie to check out…

Continue reading “#SGINDIE”

CELINA KIMBLE

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I have been blessed to have been a part of the Noise Mentorship Programme for the last six years. Always thankful to the National Arts Council (NAC) for their kind invitation (and to Patrick Chng for the recommendation) for the opportunity to give a little helping hand to young artists and bands on their musical journeys.

I remember the first time I saw Celina Kimble during the auditions and being struck by her spunky attitude and chirpy disposition although she was wearing a flannel shirt and singing a dark tune about Kurt Cobain! Her early songs were pretty angsty affairs with a rock flavour which I truly loved. She did very well during the mentorship period – getting to play at the Youth Olympics and even Baybeats 2010, and had a song selected for a special music video as well.

Continue reading “CELINA KIMBLE”