SINGFEST 2010

SINGfest 2010: Day 3

The previous 2 days at SINGfest 2010 had generated a certain discontent within the S-ROCK community. The New Paper had treated the S-ROCK representatives for Day 1 (Inch Chua and the Metric System) with contempt when their reporter Germaine Lim described them as “one local band” – without bothering to even identify them! On Day 2, hip-hop Singapore band SIXX was bumped from their opening slot when Kanye West overran his soundcheck.

Thus it was left to the Great Spy Experiment to put things in perspective. Yes, those of us in the Singapore music community may be marginalized but that’s not going to stop us from making the best music we can and enjoying every minute of it. And so GSE proved. A short set it must be said but whoever bother to pay attention were rewarded with a rocking, jumping and bopping selection of GSE wonders. Newer tracks like Wasted and Lights dominated (as the band are prepping for their sophomore album) but as always it was the now-legendary Class ‘A’ Love Affair that got the crowd singing along. Listen without prejudice, boys and girls.

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BAYBEATS 2010: COSMIC ARMCHAIR

COSMIC ARMCHAIR is an Electronic Pop duo based in Singapore and its music has been distributed internationally. Cosmic Armchair’s unique brand of electronic pop music has been described as “Trance with a New Wave feel”. On their latest album, A Different View, Cosmic Armchair combines dance and future pop influences with thought-provoking lyrics and driving beats in 5 fresh and original Electronic Pop Songs. Cosmic Armchair shares its secrets about music making.

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SINGFEST 2010

Day 1: 3rd August 2010

Got to the Fort Canning Park at about 5.45pm to meet June and we joined the queue (there’s a queue?). Mostly kids of course, as the queue snaked its way to the “back” entrance. Organizers keep changing the entrance so I’m getting confused. Anyways, by the time we reached the field, the familiar voice of Inch Chua gave me a warm greeting.

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SOUND OUT SINGAPORE

Sound Out Singapore is a campaign against sex trafficking of young women and children in Singapore and Southeast Asia. The campaign is driven by the National Committee of UNIFEM Singapore, an agency of the United Nations that works to empower women and address inequalities. As part of this campaign Sound Out Singapore is working with The Body Shop in their global ‘STOP’ campaign. More information about the agency and campaign can be found at:

www.soundout.sg | Facebook | Unifem

Sound Out Singapore is looking for bands / musicians to contribute original tracks to the campaign to help ‘Sound Out’ against sex trafficking. The songs or musical pieces should either incorporate the bell – a symbol of the campaign, as an audio element, or contain lyrics reflecting the issue of sex trafficking and the ideas of liberation and emancipation from sex trafficking. The tracks can be in any genre and in English and other languages.

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HAPP’NINGS: 30th to 31st July

What’s up over this weekend in Singapore – Friday, 30th July to Saturday, 31st July 2010.

Friday

Inch Chua: Wallflower – An Album Launch Concert

Esplanade Recital Studio, 9.30pm.

Understand that tickets are almost all gone but you may want to check with SISTIC.

OOOM@SAM

Originals Only Open Mic, Singapore Art Museum (Glass Hall), 7pm

More info.

Trippy Factory Launch

Books Actually, 7.30pm

More info.

Home Club and the RSC present Identite

Home Club, 9pm

More info.

Pushin’ On | Keep Mixin’

Blu Jaz Cafe, 9pm

More info.

Hard Knocks

Hard Rock Cafe, 10.30pm

More info.

Saturday

The Roses @ SJI Carnival

SJI, 1pm

More info.

Home’s 5th Birthday with DJ Marky and Stamina MC

Home Club, 9pm

More info.

BAYBEATS 2010: CELINA

CELINA has held aspirations of becoming a successful singer-songwriter since weekly singing competitions at her grandmother’s when she was five years old. Armed with her 90s-style brand of music and her ability to translate the inspiration she receives from listening to an artiste into original songs, Celina hopes the experience of this showcase will bring her closer to her dreams.

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BAYBEATS 2010: RUDRA

RUDRA is a well-known name in the South East Asian Metal scene. The band was formed way back in 1992. Since then the band has never looked back or stopped its activity in the Metal scene. The band evolved from being a humble Death Metal band to the ‘founders’ of a new metal genre called Vedic Metal. To date RUDRA has released 5 full-length albums which have won critical acclaim in different parts of the world. The band gets to the point…

Why make music? Because it’s the only invisible thing that transcends all racial, national and religious boundaries.

When did you start making music? In 1992

What is the most important thing about making music? To trust one’s emotions when writing it.

Where is your favorite place to make music? The bedroom.

How do you keep making music? I don’t need to keep making it. It just flows uninterruptedly.

Catch RUDRA at Baybeats 2010: 10.45pm 21st August at the Powerhouse.

Myspace | Baybeats

BAYBEATS 2010: ELEKTONE

Created in 2006, ELEKTONE has been busy guesting for notable visitors to Singapore shores such as Jens Lekman, DYKO, IGO, Goodnight Electric and Montag. Codenamed de_selecta, themes of the ELEKTONE sound is intimately pegged to the love+hate/forgiveness+revenge equation. Coupled with their computer-aided manipulations, crying guitars, coaxing synthpads and a stable of beats, ELEKTONE has progressively made significant changes to their ‘live’ setup to streamline their bedroom creations into forms of realism.

Why make music?

Zulfadly: To stay sane. Some people do other things to stay sane e.g. Fishing, dancing, gambling. Making music makes a lot of sense to us cos it moves us, be it physically or senti-mentally.

Eswandy: I think we have gained a lot from just listening to music; from there the inspiration drives us to make our own. The act of creation keeps us excited about the future, the act of performing keeps us excited about the now while the act of listening helps us to understand the hidden and the past.

Azman: Music is a universal language & without it, there will be no joy in this world.

As the Tower Records slogan goes “No Music, No Life” and Nietzsche’s “Without music, life would be a mistake”, it’s important to keep it going. No one should stop!

When did you start making music?

Zulfadly: I was 12 years old when I picked up the guitar and started making my own music. Before that I had learnt to play the keyboards and electone organ from my uncle Rahim who used to play for that 80’s band Tokyo Square.

Eswandy: I was in school at 16 years old, writing my first song about my mom on a guitar. I got inspired after listening to Soul Detergent by The Stoned Revivals, that super band from Siglap, Singapore. They made me believe Singaporeans can actually make good music.

Azman: Haha never really keep track of it, maybe when i was 19 or 20?

What is the most important thing about making music?

Zulfadly: Having the freedom of expression

Eswandy: I find musicians very odd personalities who are at best underutilised here in Singapore so opportunities working with these strange but brilliant people is just priceless and very, very important to me.

Azman: Most importantly, to be sincere of what’s coming from the heart. Also nice melodies that will stay on people’s head for a long time.

Where is your favorite place to make music?

Zulfadly: On the bed 😉

Eswandy: In the bedroom 😉

Azman: No particular spot really and strange but true, you’ll think of some of the best melodies in the toilet!

How do you keep making music?

Azman: I don’t really make it a point to “make” music, though making music is a beautiful process.

In fact I think I “play” music more than i make music. But for me, listening to old school classics such as funk, soul, rhythm & blues can get me inspired to make new music all the time.

Zulfadly: The 3 of us are quite into music technology in our own terms. With technology driving a lot of how they make musical instruments these days, I feel this can help in making sure we keep making music. How can you stop technology?

Eswandy: Yup, technology to me definitely makes it even more interesting. Even more difficult for us not to make music! But on the other hand passion has never stopped human beings from doing what they want or are good at. We would want to do this all our lives but can’t say too soon cos we understand that sometimes priorities change over time for different people. Personally my reference point has always been M.Nasir who successfully moved from Commonwealth Crescent to Kuala Lumpur and responsible for almost all the hit songs in Malaysia. Not forgetting Ryuichi Sakamoto, still making great music and in the forefront of cutting edge music even though he’s a senior citizen now.

Catch Elektone at Baybeats 2010: 5.30pm 21st August at the Chillout Stage (Concourse).

Myspace | Baybeats

NOISE TAP 2011

How time flies! TAP is back and yes, I’ve signed on as mentor for one more year (although I’m not quite sure why I’ve been excluded from mentoring bands though). I’ve enjoyed the previous TAPs immensely and am thankful for the relationships established with my apprentices viz. Rachael Teo, Nick Tan, Celina Foo and Narisa Chan. Every single one of them has done me proud. Click here to apply – closing date is 29th August.

And by the way, before its announced formally, Narisa has signed up as a KAMCO Music Artist! Exciting…

…still there’s more…

BAYBEATS 2010: FISHTANK

Fishtank’s unique punk-ska sensibility was fresh, immediate, weird and exquisite – a cacophony of melodic intricacy tempered by a quirky, childlike enthusiasm. 2001’s albums Souvenir Novelties & Party Tricks hurtled towards jaded, unsuspecting music fans at warp speed. This is what Fishtank thinks of making music…

Why make music?
Becos we can’t make good prata so we try to make good music. So far, we are still trying…..

When did you start making music?

Fishtank started making music as early as 1997.

What is the most important thing about making music?

The feel, groove and everything that has to do with making your body move….

Where is your favorite place to make music?

Funny, ideas tend to come up when we are in the toilet

How do you keep making music?

By being alive and mentally well……

Catch Fishtank at Baybeat 2010: 7pm on 20th August at the Arena (Outdoor Theatre)

Myspace | Baybeats

BAYBEATS 2010: COCKPIT

Cockpit’s showmanship at Baybeats 2010’s audition proved that age ain’t nothing but a number as they won over a new legion of fans. Fusing storyteller-esque lyrics & theatrical arena rock posturing they were part compelling, part entertaining. Comprising of Johnny Danger (Vocals/Guitars), Sludge (Vocals/Bass), the Collapse of Uncertainty (Drums) and Psyence Fyktion (Vocals/Guitars) these rock opera-tistes are indeed a force to be reckoned with this Baybeats 2010! Johnny sings the making music blues, tongue embedded firmly in cheek!

Why make music?
We make music to bring the power and fury of Rock and Metal to the mewling, unsaved masses. It is the divine will of the Gods of Metal that we cleanse the ears of all who have been tainted by the demonic clamour of mass produced music.

When did you start making music?

As individuals, each of us have been making music for over a decade, each hearing whispers of the sacred Call, but yet stumbling about in darkness, direction-less and blind. In the winter of the Year of Tumultuous Repetition (2008), we four were finally brought together in a blaze of hellish flame to begin our evangelical mission of Rock.

What is the most important thing about making music?

To be true to our inner creative voice, to be true to the Spirit of Rock and Metal and to have harmonised guitar solos as much as possible. Oh wait, that’s three things. To have harmonised guitar solos as much as possible.

Where is your favorite place to make music?

In the Sanctuary of the Gods, hidden far beneath the halls of Valhalla, down the Stairs of Pain, before the Fountain of the Damned, 3rd door on the left, next to the vending machine. If you see the elevators, you’ve gone too far.

How do you keep making music?

Through constant communion with the Gods of Rock and Metal via their sacred channels of Guitar Hero, Rock Band and copious quantities of fermented wheat, barley and potato beverages.

Catch Cockpit at Baybeats 2010: 7.30pm 20th August at the Powerhouse.

Myspace | Baybeats

BAYBEATS 2010: DUXTON PLAINS

Duxton Plains comprises of Adil (drums & vocals), Iman (bass), Zan (guitars) & Sulaiman (guitars / vocals). This Singapore band’s fusion of frenzied riffs, insightful lyrics is often juxtaposed with the positive splendor of metal, emo & hardcore (to name a few). But never at the expense of catchy melodies & pop-infused lyrics. The band shares with us their insights in music making.

Why make music?

We want others to feel & enjoy what we have felt listening to others music. Be it sad, dirty, happy, horny, itchy, sleepy, whatever that makes them feel how much we enjoy playing the songs that we’ve composed =D

When did you start making music?

We first started making our own originals when we were back in school with the stress of studies inflicting damage to our brains =) which was a good thing.

What is the most important thing about making music?

To just let it be fun. Technical yet audibly pleasing, entertaining yet effortless. Nowadays people make music too seriously and too determined for some kinda mission or something. Sometimes we forget music is just supposed to be fun, enjoyable but still it doesn’t hurt to have an ideology. Like ours would be to have fun and positivism =D

Where is your favorite place to make music?

Anywhere and whenever it just pops into our heads.

How do you keep making music?

Just let it flow naturally and not to try too hard at it. Not forgetting the respect for each of our influences of our respective favorite genres.

Catch Duxton Plains at Baybeats 2010: 9.30pm 20th August at the Powerhouse.

BAYBEATS 2010: THE ZOZI

Singapore band The Zozi play “comedy rock”! Inspired by musical luminaries such as Morrisey to Ramlee Sarip, the Zozi’s upbeat tunes & simple comic-esque lyrics have never ceased to put a smile on many a punter’s face. Infusing a surf punk attitude with neu-bohemia rock, The Zozi have performed their songs about their daily lives at gigs such as Radioclash ‘08 and last year’s DiskoPapan held at Cloth and Clef, Kuala Lumpur. Proving that these live wires are an act not to be missed. Naz provides the answers…

Why make music?

Music is like a dessert of all activities. With more toppings comes good music.

When did you start making music?

2005. When 3.0MP camera phones were popular in the market.

What is the most important thing about making music?

Rhythm. Because without it, your music will go haywire.

Where is your favorite place to make music?

Toilet, beaches, quiet room.

How do you keep making music?

Listening to music of different genres and get inspired. Believing in ourselves and have the strong passion to carry on.

Catch the Zozi at Baybeats 2010: 6.30pm Powerhouse, 22nd August.

Myspace | Baybeats

SINGFEST 2010

Midas Promotions has announced that if you want to catch all three days of SINGfest – coming in early August – you can do so by buying a three-day pass for $405. Individual day passes cost $175 each.

Tickets are available via www.sistic.com.sg or call 6348 5555. Prices are not inclusive of SISTIC booking fee.

BAYBEATS 2010: SUCHNESS

Suchness once ruled the airwaves in the mid-1990s when “Spellweaver” was voted Best Local Song by popular radio station 91.3 FM. Plans to record its full-length debut came to an abrupt halt when frontman Noel Yeo (Vocals/Guitar) left for studies overseas. Now the four-piece returns with its unique brand of energetic, guitar pop for one night only, fourteen years after its last performance. Noel tells us all we need to know…

Why make music?

I enjoy making music. One of those things in life that feels right. No ifs or buts. There’s no compromise. The music could be horrible, but it feels pure inside.

When did you start making music?

Probably in 1991. It was Matthew Sweet’s Girlfriend album that made me think of writing. In fact, the first song I recorded on my four-track recorder was “Winona”.

What is the most important thing about making music?

I guess for it to be accurate to what you want to express rather than try sing or be someone else. It’s a constant effort.

Where is your favorite place to make music?

No favourite place. Out of circumstance, I make or write mostly at home in my study, because there’s where my guitars and amps are at. I have tried with Mel, my guitarist, to go outdoors, near parks, to try write or rehearse, but it gets really uncomfortable. Humidity is like the enemy of creativity, or any sort of thinking for me. I sweat a lot.

How do you keep making music?

I actually stopped for close to a decade and only got back to it recently. Now I wonder why I hadn’t been playing for so long. I was not alone. Most in SUCHNESS haven’t played in a while. So when Baybeats asked if we were keen to play a set, I was doubtful everyone in the band would be up for it… but everyone was! Guess we were all happy to be playing together again. Even for one night only.

More information about Suchness can be found at http://www.substitute.com/bands/suchness.html.

THE ROSES

THE ROSES Traveller (Self-released)

When I received this latest single from The Roses, I honestly did not expect Traveller to sound like it does. Gone is the quirky crunch of Apple of My Eye, to be replaced by an introspective, Joy Division/early Cure-channeling pop-dirge, mixed in with slide guitar to boot, to keep things interesting.

Well, color me impressed again! The vocals are also miles away from the mischievous persona of Apple of My Eye, instead we have this melancholy Ian Curtis wannabe instead. But it works!

Simple but bloody effective. Everything is in their proper place – arrangements, instrumentation and that guitar solo is close to perfection. Sorry if this all sounds hyperbolic but there’s so much promise and potential here (these boys are 16!), it’s scary…

Check out The Roses at http://www.myspace.com/therosesrockwithyou.

You can download Traveller here and let me know what you think…

BAYBEATS 2010: BASEMENT IN MY LOFT

Basement In My Loft is a power trio, still trying to find a comfortable genre. Comprising of the vocalist / guitarist Adrian Jones, Bassist Zhong Ren and adding some beat clout is Mr Lightning. Drawing influences from a gamut of bands like Fugazi to Neil Young, Johnny Cash to The Jam summing up their sound as “Beat-writer’s spiritual melodic grunge grind” would come close. Nuff’ said, so Listen. Engage. Change something.

Frontman Jones gives us the skinny on BIML’s method in their madness.

Why make music?

Music has the power to turn the grey to colour. To turn the mundane meaningful. To make the river run from the sea to the mountain. Life is the backdrop to music.

When did you start making music?

Young. Our singer used to sell his songs in the school yard aged 10. Our bassist is an accomplished cellist, guitarist & songwriter and he’s 18 years old now. Our drummer still young has toured most of Asia with a rock band.. But music is ageless timeless and without a care for who should make it and when…

What is the most important thing about making music?

Making sure that the meaning is portrayed through the instruments, the words, the vocals, and the overall band should form a giant boxing glove to hit the audience with, who in turn will hit & shake up parts of their lives with that boxing glove (only taken off), and having listened to change things.

Where is your favorite place to make music?

On the MRT, in the living room, in the studio, on a bike, in a foodcourt, when drinking tea, when drinking beer, music is on the mind at every second. Making music starts with the intention to make it. without that, there is no music to speak of.

How do you keep making music?

Songs are in all our heads each day when we wake up – a gift from the dream writers to us all… how many people do something about the song gifts? only those who see the melody in life and can’t live without it. How can you NOT keep making music? to not make music is to die in mediocrity, to die an empty death of (for lack of a better word) ordinariness…

Catch Basement in my Loft at Baybeats 2010 on 21st August at 8pm at the Arena (Outdoor Theatre).

Myspace | Baybeats

POWER OF POP CONFIDENTIAL

Welcome to the latest instalment of Power of Pop Confidential (formerly S-Rock Confidential) wherein I review music specifically submitted for analysis.

HUMMING KITTEN Fix/Here They Come (Demo)

Reviewing the two submitted tracks from Singapore outfit Humming Kitten, I cannot help but think that if you told me that the two songs were performed by a band from the UK, USA or Iceland, I wouldn’t know any better. Not a judgement just a fact.

Listening without prejudice, I would say that I really dig both Fix and Here They Come. There is a distinctively cool 80s British post-punk vibe about them combined with a very current lo-fi underground outlook. Trawling influences further back I would opine that Fix owes a great debt to the Jesus and Mary Chain and of course, the Velvet Underground whilst Here They Come reminds me stylistically of David Bowie’s “Heroes”.

There is a very knowing use of the “right” references in terms of the arrangements and instrumentation (basically electronics) and minimal guitars. Sorry if I’m being cynical here but if I played Singapore indie fans Fix and Here They Come and claimed that they were either by the xx or Big Pink, both tracks would go down very very well.

Along with The Roses’ Apple of My Eye, Here They Come is one of more exciting new Singapore songs, I’d had the pleasure of listening to in 2010. You read it here first.

Find out more about Humming Kitten at www.myspace.com/hummingkitten.

POWER OF POP CONFIDENTIAL

Welcome to the latest instalment of Power of Pop Confidential (formerly S-Rock Confidential) wherein I review music specifically submitted for analysis.

QUASIMODO And She Said/So Close To Me (Demo)

Quasimodo is a Singapore band that has been around for almost five years. I’ve seen them perform live a few times and they are a band that I’ve always felt show signs of potential but have been let down by poor execution, one too many times.

Both submitted tracks are quite retro, very 60s pop-oriented with strong melodic lines. I mean, either track could be on a Singaporean 60s music compilation and you wouldn’t know any better. This can cut both ways. It’s refreshing and yet arguably also too derivative for comfort.

And She Said is very straight-ahead pop out of the Cliff Richards & the Shadows songbook. A bit too much so perhaps a little bit of variation in the chord structure and a slightly more modern “indie” approach may make it palatable to today’s kids. Yeah, it is arranged in a manner you might expect but a little too predictable and ultimately in danger of becoming boring. The melody is strong and to exploit this, maybe the instrumentation and production could be mucked around with to make it more exciting, for example, elements of electronica?

So Close To Me begins with a cliched Phil Spector beat and is a 60s-styled ballad that the girls back in the day would probably be swooning to. There are excellent dynamics to build dramatic tension and suitable lyrics to boot. Big problem – there is no proper chorus to speak of! There is a nice moody pre-chorus but the song never moves up and on from there, when that would be the perfect opportunity for the song to soar.

To sum up, there is tremendous promise in the tunes here and I really believe that with some work, these songs may become memorable ones. Overall, the vocals would need polishing (especially in the backing vox) and in general, re-writing and re-arrangements may be necessary to bring the songs beyond the ordinary and mundane.

Listen to both tracks at Quasimodo’s Myspace

If you wanna be featured on PoP Confidential, drop me an email <info(at)powerofpop(dot)com> with a song or two for my analysis.

POWER OF POP CONFIDENTIAL

Welcome to the latest instalment of Power of Pop Confidential (formerly S-Rock Confidential) wherein I review music specifically submitted for analysis. This will cover bands/artists without an album or EP for review.

THE ROSES – APPLE OF MY EYE

Every once in a while, you hear a song that basically takes your head off and you’re left wondering what the hell just happened?!!!

Well, Apple of My Eye is one of those songs. Best part yet? This gem comes from three 16 year olds in Singapore! Consisting of Dillon Keshvani (vocals, guitars), Eugene Soh (bass) and Kumarr (drums), the Roses distill the coolest part of late 80s/early 90s alt-rock/grunge in this sub 3 minute instant classic.

Deceptively basic, the song runs through various riffs and patterns that suggest garage punk, jazz-blues and hard rock leanings whilst expressing delicious non sequitur ravings – “Oh my god, this is insane. There’s no balance left, in my brain!” so the chorus goes… Add to that insane changes in time signatures and what you have is a track you need to keep on repeat. Constantly.

Frankly, I’m rather astonished by the control and maturity displayed by a band this young. The potential is mind-boggling – can the Roses live up to all this hype and expectation? I certainly hope so…

Check out the Roses at Reverbnation and a video of Apple of My Eye below.

POWER OF POP CONFIDENTIAL

Well, here we go… the first instalment of Power of Pop Confidential (formerly S-Rock Confidential) wherein I review music specifically submitted for analysis. This will cover bands/artists without an album or EP for review.

MUSICALSIN I Just Wanna Be Myself (Demo)

It took a while longer than I thought but I finally received a submission from Nicholas Wu. Nicholas is a singer songwriter and aspiring musician who is from Singapore (Asia). According to him, he’s been writing music for a long while, and been trying his hand at doing simple production work at home with Logic Pro. He records under the name, Musicial Sin and his music can be found at musicalsin.com

Recently, Nicholas released a song – I Just Wanna Be Myself – which I will now analyse.

The track opens with a guitar (which to these ears sounds out of tune), with an introduction that recalls Deep Purple’s Child In Time! As the verse begins, it has all the trappings of a soft rock ballad, including Nicholas’ hushed vocals. In an interesting twist, there is a jazz-feel to the pre-chorus with a call-and-response vocal arrangement.

However, once the chorus hits, the melody line is cliched and does not offer too much to remember it by. From then on, the song pattern repeats without much variation. From then on, the song would greatly benefit from more arrangements. Due to that, the song seems to wear out its welcome very quickly.

The song has potential with perhaps a better choral tune and a tightening up of the arrangements. Check out the demo below.

Do you agree with my song analysis? Comments, please.

Thanks to Nicholas for having the cajones to make the submission! I hope the analysis is helpful to him and I wish him all the best with his musical endeavours. Is there anyone else who would like his/her/their song analysed in the same manner. If so, please write me – info(at)powerofpop(d0t)com.