Singapore musicians would be familiar with Mike Spinks, as Spinks has in recent years been instrumental in organising several open mics across the island, most significantly at the Hard Rock Cafe. Now, Spinks has taken the logical step of harnessing the online local music community to initiate the City65 Music Festival to be held on Saturday 15 April 2017 from 2pm. With City65 coming up very soon, we got Spinks to share with us his thoughts about the local music scene, his involvement and of course, the festival itself.
How did you get involved in the local music scene? And why did you?
My “involvement” in the music scene here evolved quite by accident. It just sort of happened organically. I was just looking for a place to play some music. I found an open mic at a cool pub in Little India called Prince of Wales so I showed up one day with my guitar, went on stage and nervously muddled through the very few tunes that I knew. It was so much fun that I came back every week as one of the jammers and eventually was asked to host the show. This is where my involvement in the Singapore music scene really began.
Can you set out what you are currently doing with Hard Rock Cafe?
Over the course of 3 plus years, our shows at the Hard Rock Cafe have evolved into more of a curated musician showcase than a proper open mic where people can just show up and go on stage. It’s more manageable if I can book musicians for a specific date and time. Many of them are writing some very good, cleverly crafted, intelligent music. After hearing these talented original artists over the years I decided to dedicate one night a month to them and showcase only original music. So I started a monthly show called “Made in Singapore – A Night of Original Music.” I’m privileged to be in the position to be able to provide a platform for these original artists.
In your view, what is the one main thing the local music scene is lacking?
Well now if we could crack that code it would be a major coup for musicians. Lately my thoughts on this have been less about focusing on the musicians, but more about the general public or wider audiences who consume music here in Singapore. There are those who follow the local scene, but we could do much better in terms of getting a larger audience.
How do you think we can achieve that goal?
I think some efforts should be made to create sort of an audience advocacy. And this isn’t entirely my idea, it comes from a recent conversation I had with Graham Perkins. Graham is a legend in the local scene here. Maybe we need to ask actual listeners who are consumers of music what they think. To answer your question then is that we should involve our audience and find out what they think.
How did the City65 Festival come about?
I had kicked the idea around to put on a music festival of sorts over the last couple of years, but the time just never seemed right. Initially I just wanted to have a big party to celebrate and fellowship with other musicians. Find a cool space where we could have a BBQ, have a few cool adult beverages, set up bit of a stage and play music. That grew into thinking “well, let’s just organise sort of a mini-festival for everyone.” Things got a little out of hand and now we’ve organised this music festival, albeit on a smaller scale compared to other massive festivals here. But we’re all about locally created music. Hopefully we successfully pull this one off and people enjoy the experience, we break even financially or at least keep our losses at a minimum and then grow it from there to an annual event.
Why should music lovers in Singapore come to City65 Festival?
We hope that this event will appeal a variety of people, not just music lovers. Although our mission is to provide an awesome day of great music for those who are music aficionados. I feel like we have curated some of the most talented young musicians in Singapore and a few more experienced artists as well. We’re focusing on creating an outstanding experience, not just for music fans, but for people who want to enjoy a day out with quality entertainment, good food and drink, a great outdoor atmosphere in a natural environment and socialise with their family and friends. And in the meantime introduce them to some of the brilliant music being created here in Singapore.
City65 Music Festival 2017 will take place at Tin Hill Social Kitchen & Bar, a five minute walk from the Sixth Avenue MRT station.
… still there’s more …