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Nov 232014
 

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2014 has been a very good year for made-in-Singapore pop music with more album/EP releases and more live performances to capture the imagination of the music-loving public. One significant factor has been the EP Grant administered by the National Arts Council which awards the sum of S$10,000 to a band/artist applicant for the cost of recording, production, marketing and launch of a 4-song (minimum) EP. This EP grant not only gives the successful band/artist the platform to share the music but also generates business activities for producers, recording studios, sound engineers and venues. In short, the grant has been a boon to the local music scene as a whole. Thus far, 15 such bands/artists have benefitted from this grant – including Celina Kimble, Gentle Bones and Gareth Fernandez.

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Fernandez’s debut eponymous EP was launched at The Barbershop by Timbre – a relatively tight venue (in terms of space) – but that didn’t stop singer Fernandez, his four-man backing band The MommaShop (Sikai Goh – Keyboards/Organ, Titus Ng – Bass, Anson Koh – Drums, James Lye – Guitar), three-man horn section (Daniel Chia – sax, Vignesh Mohandasan – trumpet, Deric Tay – Trombone) and a duo of backing singers (Tok Xue Yi & Andrew Mark Oh) from bringing the (Arts) house down with a scintillating display of sinewy soul-R&B prowess. The sound throughout was fairly competent when considering the challenge of a 10 persons on stage to deal with and there was hardly any issue with the sound that got in the way with a full and complete enjoyment of the show in front of us, the audience (which consisted mainly of hip and trendy twenty-somethings, include well-known local musicians like The Sam Willows, Joel Tan (aka Gentle Bones) and members of hot indie bands like Stopgap and Take Two).

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The show opened with the crowd parting like the red sea and the band making a dramatic entrance resplendent and looking sharp in their suits before Fernandez made his way to the stage. Drawing mainly from the songs off his debut EP and a couple of choice covers, it was all systems go right from the moment the Fernandez and band launched into a feisty Physical (also the opening track of the EP) which sounded more authentic than the recorded version when sans the cheesy electronic keyboards. When you consider how sophisticated the song arrangements tend to be, the talent and effort demonstrated by Fernandez and band was impressive.

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My personal favourite moments arrived with passionate renditions of Movin’ On and Northern Lights – songs imbued with the classic soul vibes of the 60s & 70s. The former had Fernandez engaging the audience with a call-and-response that all in attendance participated in whilst the latter brought the crowd to a collective emotional high (or low, depending on your perspective) with its fragile piano balladry and prayerful sentiment (“Come back home”). With well-worked covers from Allen Stone, Justin Timberlake and Sam Smith operating as appropriate fillers (in the absence of more original material), there was a welcome surprise with Heart Walls, an original explicably left off the EP – a suitably impassioned albeit heart-breaking rant about a severed relationship.

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And while it is accurate to pay due credit to the fabulous musicianship on display, the star of the show was Fernandez with his sparkling vocals, physicality, stage presence and casual banter, which won the hearts and souls of the rapt audience in a manner that would suggest that Fernandez deserves to showcase his promise and potential on bigger stages in the future.

(Originally intended for TODAY newspaper)

Photo credits: Cherlynn Lian

Nov 232014
 
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Inch Chua at SingFest 2010. Photo credit: JY Yang

WHERE ARE WE NOW?

I am often asked about how the current Singapore indie music scene compares to what we had in the past. It’s a valid question, of course. Since the 90s revival and subsequent economic depression, the scene has been growing at a steady pace in the last decade or so.

To assess how far we’ve come, we need only look at two factors. First, the improvement of the technical abilities, musicianship and songwriting capabilities of our artists/bands and second, the expansion of the fan base – the increase of awareness, acceptance and approval amongst Singaporeans for local indie music.

As important as the first factor is – aided by the number of music schools that have proliferated across the island – the challenge has always to build up a fan base at home for homegrown music. Whilst still not ideal, there has been a marked improvement in that area.

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Back in 2010, I recall kids rushing to the stage when Inch Chua opened at SingFest but then walking away when they realized that she was ‘local’. Contrast that to the generous reception of local bands at music festivals today, where bands like The Sam Willows (above), Gentle Bones and others have the acceptance of the audience. Not only that but many artists/bands have rapturous EP/album launches where pundits actually fork out cash to watch their local heroes.

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And what about Inch? She has gone from strength to strength – chasing her dreams in the USA (see above) and elsewhere, and those kids in 2010 are probably cheering her on, whenever she does play back in her hometown.

There is much to be optimistic about but we must not rest on our laurels. We still do not have enough opportunities for indie bands/artists to play on a regular basis.

My wish list for 2015 and beyond?

(1) Venues to have residencies for our bands to develop their own music.

(2) More local bands opening for foreign bands.

(3) A regional touring circuit be established for our bands.

(4) Local bands breaking into overseas markets.

(5) Original music no longer a dirty word to Singaporeans.

There is so much work to be done but these are exciting times for the Singapore indie music scene.

… still there’s more … 

Nov 232014
 

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A week away from the deadline for our Power of Pop – Spotify giveaway! A premium account (for 6 months) awaits. Submit your playlist of 12 favourite songs for 2014 to info AT powerofpop DOT com before 30th November to stand a chance of winning. In the meantime, follow us at Spotify and enjoy our curated playlists.

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Nov 232014
 

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Uber and Spotify partners? Seems like a strange bedfellows scenario, doesn’t it? How does it work?

Connect your Spotify account via the Uber app, request a ride, and when you get matched up with a Spotify-enabled Uber, simply select music from any one of Uber’s featured playlists or one of your own Spotify playlists within the Uber app. You can also jump to the Spotify app and select music from within the Spotify catalogue. 

When your ride arrives, your tunes will be playing on the speakers. You can also change what’s playing during your journey right through the Spotify and Uber mobile apps. It’s all there – your own music and playlists and well as specially curated Uber playlists.

To be honest, I didn’t try this but I did try Uber for the very first time. What’s Uber, now?

Uber is a technology platform that is evolving the way the world moves. By seamlessly connecting riders to drivers through our apps, we make cities more accessible, opening up more possibilities for riders and more business for drivers. From our founding in 2009 to our launches in over 200 cities today, Uber’s rapidly expanding global presence continues to bring people and their cities closer.

Yeah so basically, I got to the Uber-Spotify launch event by using the Uber app and I was able to track where my ride was via the app. Cool huh? The driver seemed to get a little lost along the way! Anyways, the ride was good fun mainly because my driver (see above) was an awesome conversationalist! A smooth ride and a tasty convo – what more could a Singaporean resident ask for? It is an excellent alternative to cabs. No money changes hands cuz the fare is charged directly to your credit card and the relevant info will be posted to your account, easily accessible on the app. Highly recommended.

Now to get that Spotify mobile app hookup going…

More info here and there.

Nov 222014
 

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Singer-songwriter Daphne Khoo will be performing at KEEPERS on Saturday, 29th November. Tickets are priced at $25 (with the Wonderland EP) & $20 and can be purchased from deetalk.peatix.com. All proceeds will go to the Singapore Cancer Society.

Also featuring guests Dee Kosh, Gareth Fernandez, Gayle Nerva and Nathan Hartono.

Nov 212014
 

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This just in…

Secret Sounds Asia presents Julian Casablancas (vocalist of The Strokes) with his latest side project JULIAN CASABLANCAS+THE VOIDZ, live in Singapore on Saturday, 10 January 2015 at The Coliseum, Hard Rock Hotel Singapore, Resorts World Sentosa.

Full Info

Tickets available from SISTIC on Monday 24 Nov, 9am.

… still there’s more …

Nov 202014
 

Gamechangers

 

The Singapore music scene is growing! There is little doubt about that. Songwriter-producers Tat Tong and Roland Lim are two individuals that I have been following for some time now. These gents are talented, committed and fun to be around with – they started with the same tools as everybody else but by sheer determination (with relentless belief) have managed to carve out successful music careers. The collective experience they have amassed so far merits closer examination and in December the pair offer this opportunity to fellow musos in Singapore with the Gamechangers: How To Produce and Release #1 Hits workshop. Don’t miss this!

More details here.

Nov 192014
 

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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 142014
 

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This year’s Music Matters Live was the best yet! On a personal level, I had an absolute ball and met up with many great bands viz. JPNSGRLS, Love X Stereo, Buffalo Sunn and many others. Significantly, MML’14 provided an important platform local bands as well – with Gentle Bones, Take Two and others taking full advantage.

And… Music Matters 2015 promises to be even bigger and better! So bands out there, this is your chance to get on board. Apply now!

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Nov 122014
 

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Squeeze was without doubt one of the seminal bands of the 80s post-punk era, combining elements of pub-rock and Beatlesque pop-rock to produce a highly melodic and intelligent brand of pop music. Glenn Tilbrook – whose distinctive tenor graced almost all the best Squeeze songs – will be playing a “one-night-only” show at Hero’s (69 Circular Road #01-01, Boat Quay). Tickets available from www.dashtickets.sg now!

Tilbrook has a new album out called Happy Ending and its chock full of the well-constructed, sophisticated pop that Squeeze was legendary for. Check it out!

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Nov 062014
 

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Last but certainly not least, Verhaal!

Verhaal are a Rock Band formed in Singapore in 2014. Before joining the band, the members had already played on several bands , performing on numerous events/occasions. The band consist of Jeslynn (Vocals), Dominic (Bass), Dedry (Guitar), and Marcus (Drums). The band enjoys writing radio-friendly tunes, incorporating diverse style of Rock and Pop music to their works.

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Oct 302014
 

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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

Oct 292014
 

Khairul

What I liked about Khairul Ridzwan was that he had the balls to approach me at Artistry and asked whether he could play! So let’s find out more about him, shall we and make sure you come down to check out his original music.

Khairul Ridzwan is an aspiring artist born in Singapore. He started playing the acoustic guitar since the age of 14 and eventually progressed to singing a few years later, Khairul has written and performed several original and cover songs. Occasionally, you can find him busking during weekend nights along the streets of Singapore or playing in local cafes. Currently studying Diploma in Music and Audio Technology in Singapore Polytechnic, Khairul aspires to be an original singer and songwriter, evoking feelings from his stories to touch his listeners.

… still there’s more …

Oct 292014
 

EdSheeran

Popular singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran‘s concert in Singapore was sold out in 8 hours, we are told. That’s 5,000 plus tickets! Impressive numbers indeed. Considering the prices of those tickets, that simply demonstrates the buying power of young people here for a premium international entertainer.

Does this mean that the demand in the Singapore concert scene is still very strong? Or is this kind of fan fervor reserved for hot ticket items like Sheeran? Time will tell. If you didn’t get a ticket, you will have to make do with a video, for the time being.

Oct 282014
 

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Next up in STAGEFRIGHT XV @ Artistry — Yap Wei Chiang!

Wei Chiang is currently an aspiring singer-songwriter and college student. Whenever he’s not busy studying, trying to get to lectures on time, playing Ultimate Frisbee or Dota 2, he spends his time ruminating on life, love and what it means to live growing up in Singapore. Writing since 15, most of these personal experiences find their way into his songs; songs which he hopes are honest and relate!

Artistry Cafe is located at 17 Jalan Pinang. RSVP at Facebook.

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Oct 272014
 

The fifteenth edition of Artistry’s curated original music showcase takes place on 12th November from 8pm. Power of Pop will highlight the six artists/bands who will be featured. First up, Eliah Leong.

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Eliah Leong is a 23 year-old Chinese-Philippino, who was born and bred in Singapore, and speaks proper Singlish. Eliah started singing when he was 7, picked up the guitar when he was 15, and wrote his first proper song when he was 18. Eliah has written about 10 songs ever since, and his vocal style is evolving continuously as he discovers and learns to sing new songs. He enjoys a wide variety of musical genres.

Artistry Cafe is located at 17 Jalan Pinang. RSVP at Facebook.

… still there’s more …

Oct 252014
 

JoieTan

Singer-songwriter Joie Tan, with her debut single “Stay”, wants the romantic feelings expressed therein to be shared with like-minded listeners. Inspired by her own personal emotions regarding her real life boyfriend, “Stay” is a simple plea in song from a girl to a guy who she wishes will stick around. Check out the heartfelt music video below (with its When Harry Met Sally vibe).

Purchase “Stay” from iTunes.

Oct 172014
 
Photo credit: Koh Nguang How

Photo credit: Koh Nguang How

Yeah I borrowed the “I REMEMBER SG” motif – it’s valid and appropriate in the context. I have been thinking for quite a while that it is time to document the beginnings of the Singapore indie music scene (SGINDIE) and probably the easiest way to do so would be to get quotes from folks who are able to ‘remember’ (SGINDIE) and present them in this new PoP feature.

First off, I asked Patrick Chng (The Oddfellows, TypeWriter) about when the SGINDIE scene all began.

“For me it started with the No Surrender gig at Anywhere pub in ’87, organized by BigO. The vibe was just electrifying. It was packed. It was the first gig that BigO organized. It was featured in BigO too I’m sure. There was a bootleg cassette released too by Joe (Ng) for BigO. Two songs for each band.”

BigO (Before I Get Old) was an indie rock magazine (Singapore’s first) that championed Singapore indie music in the late 80s/90s. The magazine stopped publishing in the early 2000s. It still exists as an online zine.

“The line-up at No Surrender was Joe Love & The Hoodlum Circus, Earth Medicine Band, Don Victor, The Nonames, Opposition Party, Corporate Toil, Zircon Lounge (pictured above). Back then the crowd was tough… you get booed or jeered at if they don’t like you. Corporate Toil were heckled and jeered throughout their set cos their experimental electro music didn’t appeal to the audience who were more into guitar-rock. I guested on guitar on Corporate Toil’s last song… a cover of Joy Division’s “Exercise One”. Before I came on, I was thinking to myself, “OH SHIT.” Played with my back to the audience. HAHA!”

There you go, our ground zero is 1987. I am hoping for this to be a catalyst, a starting point of discussion about SGINDIE. Please get in touch (info AT powerofpop DOT com) if you have anything to contribute concerning that special epoch in our history.

… still there’s more …

Oct 162014
 

Flaming Lips SG

The Flaming Lips are coming back to Singapore! Four years ago, the Lips thrilled us with a wildly psychedelic show but omitted to play a single track from my favourite Lips album – The Soft Bulletin. Well, hopefully, the band can remedy this in December at The Coliseum! Tickets go on sale this Monday (20th Oct) 10am at http://tickets.eventclique.com/thegathering.

… still there’s more …

Oct 152014
 

 

SINGLED OUT

From 17th October 2014 to 6th January 2015, tcc – The Connoisseur Concerto is proud to present Singled Out – an art exhibition conceptualised by creative agency fFurious, and developed in collaboration with events organisation art-management.com, and Thunder Rock School. This exhibition will see 50 local designers and artists transforming vinyl records into pieces of artwork that will be on display at tcc ‘The Gallery’ at 51 Circular Road. The artworks will be up for auction where all proceeds will be managed by Thunder Rock School, who will be setting up a music education outreach program specifically catered to financially disadvantaged children.

Of special mention would be the artists-musicians (or is that musicians-artists?) e.g. Alan Bok (TypeWriter), Amanda Keisha Ang (No Pantz), Andy Yang (Cheating Sons), Ginette Chittick (Astreal) & Yee Chang Kang (TypeWriter). To keep the musical theme going, here’s a mix that KidG put together especially for the occasion.

Singled Out (Mixed By KiDG) by Kidg on Mixcloud

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