Thursday, 31 July 2014

Introducing Merchandise of IGNITE! Music Festival 2014

As a festival goer at the IGNITE! Music Festival, one will be bestowed with multiple numbers of perks. One of the perks would be the vast array of unique and quirky merchandise being sold ranging from skin accessories to lifestyle apparels.

What would be a better way to immortalize your IGNITE! experience than getting your hands on these amazing merchandise we have in store?

1. Clique Clothing

Photo Courtesy of Clique Clothing

A logo based company; Clique Clo SG is a local clothing store with a range of creative designs printed tees. Their minimalistic designed tees would have you wanting more. They will also be having a 20% discount for all their stock that will be on sale for the 2-day festival. What better way to shop and save some moolah at the same time?

2. Dottinghill

Photo Courtesy of Dottinghill

Dottinghill is an online design community and e-store that specializes in skin-accessories made to complement one’s outfit, events or moods. For everyone who likes to express themselves through the creativity of the art, Dottinghill’s temporary tattoos will leave you coming back for more. Now you don’t have to worry about bad tattoos, just worry about the next tattoo you want to get!

3. Klipsch 

Photo Courtesy of Klipsch Audio

Klipsch specializes in loudspeakers and earphone made for you not to just enjoy music but to feel the music. Music is an expression, and for some people, music speaks for them. Klipsch’s ear candies allow one to be with the music, alone amidst the noise surrounding them.

4. Macbeth

Photo Courtesy of Macbeth

Macbeth is a footwear and apparel company inspired by music and action sports lifestyle. That is not all; they are also 100% vegan! This hip brand is no stranger to the IGNITE! Village, and also known for their major discounts, Macbeth shoes are always selling out fast at IGNITE! Music Festival. Better join in line early to avoid disappointment!

5. Peonfx

Photo Courtesy of Peonfx

Peonfx is a lifestyle brand that started out with cycling inspired apparels and has expanded further to sell lifestyle products and accessories such as cruiser boards, leather products and pendants. They’re also selling Plainsunset’s The Gift t-shirt; you wouldn’t wanna miss that if you’re a fan!

6. Suave Clothing Co

Photo Courtesy of Suave Clothing Co

Suave Clothing Co is a street inspired apparel local brand that sells t-shirts, pullovers, sweaters, tanktops and caps. They’re all about reproducing culture onto their products. There’s nothing better than to don a piece of clothing that speaks culture. If you’re all about easy wear, then drop by their booth during the festival!

7. The General Store

Photo Courtesy of The General Store

The General Store is all about designs. They work closely with 39 brands that retail items ranging from apparels to accessories to shoes. What is more attractive than having multiple designs to choose from? Everyone loves a notebook that speaks their personality; and you don’t have to worry about having the same as your friend since there’s a variety of designs to choose from.

8. The Manhattan Pizza Co

Photo Courtesy of Danielfooddiary

They’re all about the pizzas, and more pizzas. This calls for a pizza party for all the festival goers! What better way to replenish your energy with yummy food for your tummy? What’s even better is that they’re really big!

9. UrbanProse

Photo Courtesy of UrbanProse

Urban Prose (UP) is a local brand that specialises in bags that is a combination of both aesthetics and functionality. If you’re someone who’s very organized, UrbanProse is definitely for you. Carrying a bag in style while not having to worry where your phone is placed; that’s the best thing ever for anyone who’s rushing from places to places.

There are many reasons to why you should come down for IGNITE! Music Festival and the merchandise is only a part of it. Amp up your street cred and raid the booths to buy all the steals available! To get the full IGNITE! experience, redeem your free coupons where you can enjoy discounts from the booths at the village!

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

IGNITE!: More Than Just a Music Festival

By Rachel Chua

IGNITE! Music Festival 2014 is more than just about rocking to good music; it consists of workshops and pre-performances as well. Read on to find out more.

This August 15th and 16th, expect popular acts like The Sam Willows, Charlie Lim, and Gentle Bones to take the main festival stage at IGNITE! 2014. However, if you want to listen to more obscure bands in the local contemporary music scene, give the fringe events a shot; featuring acts like Marc x Hashy, at a more intimate setting of “Chill at the Reel”. IGNITE! will also be showcasing uprising bands namely Koji, Arson and Kill Teddy at IGNITE! Your Senses happening on the 8th August, 4PM at the South Agora stage.

Last year, ORANGECOVE was one of the bands at IGNITE! Your Senses. This year, the band will be performing on the main festival stage itself. PHOTO CREDIT: IGNITE! Music Festival

Besides gigs, there are workshops created to help aspiring musicians nurture their passion in arts and music. Those interested in Electronic Dance Music (EDM) can head on down to the TRCC Lab for a Disk Jockey (DJ) Workshop led by DJs from the Electronic Music Production (EMP) IG. With workshops by prominent players in the industry, attendees can expect to learn more than a thing or two after the session. Renowned photographer Aloysius Lim will also be conducting a gig photography workshop for aspiring photographers, and Tim De Cotta will be sharing some tips on how to produce your very own EP.

There will also be a workshop by popular YouTube stars, Tree Potatoes, who will be sharing tips and tricks to aspiring YouTubers on how to be successful in the popular video sharing site. This workshop is the first of its kind in IGNITE!, and people should look forward to it.

Furthermore, you get a sneak peek to the main event. Student Nadia Al-Insyiraah, 19, went for all of the IGNITE! fringe events last year when she was in year 2. This was what she shared of her experience, “I thought that the fringe events for IGNITE! were great! They had IGNITE! Your Senses stage as well as Band Competition and it’s like a preview of what’s coming up for the main IGNITE! stage.”

When asked whether she would recommend the fringe events to others, she exclaimed: “Of course! Especially for those who are going for the festival, going for the fringe events kind of escalates your excitement for the main stage!”.

With such exciting activities and events taking place for IGNITE! 2014, start looking forward to Republic Polytechnic's very own music festival, and get involved from beginning to end from the 4th to 16th of August! Get more information on our Facebook page, and don’t forget to redeem your coupons to enjoy discounts when shopping at the IGNITE! Village.

Reigniting the Passion for IGNITE! Music Festival!

By Christina Liang

Come August, IGNITE! will be back once again to set the crowd on fire at Republic Polytechnic (RP). Being in the seventh year, this annual festival has definitely grown into a national music event. With six successful runs under their name, this year will definitely be no exception. Over the two day music extravaganza, concert-goers can look forward to performances by a tantalizing lineup of cutting-edge local artists.

August 15 
Day one, will feature a star studded line-up of local favourites Charlie Lim, The Sam Willows and ShiGGa Shay. The crowd can also expect to see familiar faces like Aspectrum, ORANGECOVE and 53A, who are back to shake up IGNITE! once again. In addition, having created some of the best earworm anthems of 2014 and having had a dizzyingly successful year, Gentle Bones, Stopgap and wyd:syd, who will be having their virgin performances on this year’s IGNITE! stage are definitely acts to look out for!

August 16 
Day two, will only get more exciting with veterans of the local music scene, Plainsunset and Caracal rocking out on stage. Be prepared to be mesmerized by the melodious rhythm of Pleasantry and rock to the electrifying songs from Bear Culture. Next up, ANECHOIS who has been shaking up the music industry locally and internationally will keep us dancing the night away with their tunes. IGNITE! goers can also look out for regulars from past years, Republic Polytechnic’s very own bands from Interest Groups (IG) Jammerz Arena and Replug. Get ready also to be blown away by the winners of IGNITE! Band Auditions who will be making their debut performance to the public on this year’s stage.

The IGNITE! Village is set to be the most happening village of all time will many interesting booths set up just for you! PHOTO CREDITS: IGNITE! MUSIC FESTIVAL

IGNITE! Music Festival Village
The fun does not stop there, the IGNITE! experience would not be complete without visiting the IGNITE! village. Get a new look by donning yourself out with merchandise on sale from Clique Clothing, Suave Clothing, PeonFX and Macbeth or get some temporary tattoos from Dottinghill. Once you are happy with your festive look, get a picture of you and your friends for keepsakes when you head down to the photobooth by Aww Snap! Merchandise from UrbanProse will also be on sale, so that you can now carry your laptops and cameras in style. And if you are hungry from all that excitement Manhattan Pizza Co. will be there to fill some tummies and give you the extra energy for more head banging and crowd surfing. Don’t forget to redeem your free coupons to enjoy discounts while shopping at the Village!

IGNITE! will be held on August 15 and 16, so what are you waiting for? Mark your calendars and get your dancing shoes ready!

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Local Arts Scene: What does the Little Red Dot have in store?

By Herlyani Rahman

Where our local arts scene is concerned, there has always been a stigma that our local artists are not good enough. Frankly speaking, I was bought into that perspective too, preferring to credit international artists as my role models and to pay no heed to the arts scene in Singapore.

My involvement in theatre works, as miniscule as it may be, has helped me understand just how difficult cultivating your name as an artist, or simply, a brand, is. I may have the thirst for all the creative pursuits life has to offer me, but I turn down all the ones that have been offered to me right here at my very doorstep.

I know, I know. What a mistake I have made this whole time.

It has been a long time coming, but the wide variety of talented homegrown musicians at the Made in Singapore showcase at Music Matters Live 2014, held at Paulaner Wirtshaus Clarke Quay on 23 May 2014, clearly challenged the notion of how lacklustre our arts or music scene in Singapore is- because it is evidently far from it. I will have to admit that I was incredibly embarrassed to have arrived at the festival with such a mindset.

The Made in Singapore showcase presented local acts such as Gareth Fernandez, Sezairi, Ming Bridges and Take Two, along with 20-year-old Joel Tan, who goes by the moniker Gentle Bones, as the opening act for the night.

As mentioned, I was already extremely jaded from the beginning and with the sheer number of females in the audience waiting anxiously for his set to begin, it was hard not to conceive the idea of teen heartthrob Justin Bieber in my mind. He’s got the style, he’s got the swag, but does he have the talent?

Arguably, Justin has a whole team of producers and sound engineers backing him up, but where Gentle Bones is concerned, ‘talented’ alone simply does not cut it to describe him. He is a performer. And an all-rounded one at that. Completely at ease on stage, he skillfully captivated the audience throughout his entire set with his smooth vocals, incredible stage presence and star quality.

There is usually the perception or idea that the people who survive and succeed in the entertainment industry either start their training young, or were simply born to shine; but for someone who has no prior musical background, Gentle Bones would most likely stick around with us, maybe until, who knows, he dies? (pun intended, guys)

Music Matters Live 2014: The Big Break

By Rachel Chua

Music Matters Live (MML) is part of All That Matters, which covers the digital, social, sponsorship, and music aspects of the music industry. It is the only event in Asia that does so, and applications to play in the festival are pouring in from all over the world.

No-holds-barred: Korean singer Lim Kim rocking the fountain stage. PHOTO CREDITS: Nadia Al-Insyiraah
With over sixty bands performing more than 170 shows simultaneously in venues all over Clarke Quay, MML is undoubtedly one of Singapore’s biggest music festivals. But behind the stage is a conference that offers so much potential for aspiring bands.

It features speakers like Daniel Glass of Glassnote Records, the same company that houses names like Two Door Cinema Club and The Temper Trap in their current roster. Amongst other noted speakers, there is from The Black Eyed Peas as well. The conference serves as a platform for people in the industry to network and discuss about music- and it should come as no surprise that it that is one of the criteria for bands to get chosen.

“The bands need to be ready to network, and the way we select them is that they can actually go up to people, and introduce themselves. So everyone that you see on the fountain stage, we think will do quite well in Southeast Asia,” explained Sammy Shirra-Moore, Festival Manager of Music Matters Live 2014.

The approach that the conference uses is more business-to-business, with the bands speaking to labels, potential sponsors, and promoters. The festival then helps to showcase the bands to consumers. This is why All That Matters is an all-rounded game plan for a band’s music to be discovered.

Applications increase by the year, and over 300 artists applied for this year’s festival, hoping for a shot at stardom. Either way, bands that play at Music Matters Live stand to gain; be it fans, sponsors, or getting signed, as in the case of Kevin Lester. The musician recently signed with’s new label, BMBX Entertainment, and the producer-cum-rapper is looking for more acts to sign. He spent three hours just at the Made in Singapore showcase, where local acts were performing.

Through the use of conferences, live streams on YouTube and a festival, MML is catapulting artistes into the limelight at an international level. The bands come here using their own funds, and All That Matters provides them with an access to a pool of high delegates from the industry.

Aside from these delegates, the festival also attracts thousands of people over the four days, and they are all potential fans for these bands. Sammy shares how this works.

“Maybe they came to see K-pop Night Out, but they pick up the map, and they go, ‘Okay, it’s free, let’s go check out Endah N Rhesa from Indonesia.’ And you know, they leave with that song in their head, or they buy some merchandise, and they join their Facebook page or Twitter.”

Canadian female duo, Sidney York, consisting of band mates Brandi Sidoryk and Krista Wodelet, also shared why Music Matters Love is a good platform for artistes and producers to come together.

“It’s such an international festival. Singapore itself is an international city; there are so many people from so many different cultures and Music Matters Live seems to have embodied that. We can’t spend all our time in Canada, going to Canadian festivals, meeting other Canadian bands. This is the ideal festival for us to come and meet bands not only from Singapore, but from other countries as well, and it’s been great."

Bands got the chance to mingle with each other and talk about future collaborations together. Sidney York, for instance, told us to look forward to one in the near future with popular local indie band, The Sam Willows.

“We’re crazy about The Sam Willows! We did a show with them yesterday and we’re filming some collaboration with them tomorrow before we leave.”

Another initiative, Music Matters Academy, was launched in 2011, where bands that didn’t get to perform at the festival undergo the mentoring of people from the speaking panel, like and Benjamin Kheng from The Sam Willows. These mentors give advice to the bands, while key speakers like Brian Message and Daniel Glass, who run labels and management companies, tell the artists what they’re looking for when they sign someone.

“What’s really great is that I’ve seen bands apply four years ago, and then now they’re playing on the fountain stage because they’ve actually gone through the mentoring. And yeah, they got rejected a couple times, but they come back and suddenly they have a lot more followers, a lot more gigs,” Sammy revealed.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Tough Kid on the Block

By Fion Chua Yi Ting 

From meeting a fellow countryman across borders to recruiting a member from a rival band, Bamboo Star, not quite the greenhorn anymore, nearly seems to have been through it all- third year into its debut since May 2012.

Powerhouse Vocals: Wolf Red, lead vocalist and lead backing bassist (right), photographed with Terrish, lead guitarist, lead rhythm guitarist and lead backing vocalist (left), during Bamboo Star’s set in China One at Clarke Quay on 24 May, 2014. PHOTO CREDITS: Fion Chua Yi Ting

An average night in China One would have been spent soaking up the old-world Shanghai charm and oriental glamour of the dimly-lit interior while either having a shot or two at the bar, or chilling with company, playing pool together.

However, this night in the quaint bar at Clarke Quay was different.

A group of four guys was hurriedly preparing for their set under the bright stage lighting, plugging in instruments’ jacks, testing the microphones and readjusting their positions. After a couple of minutes, all of them had completed their preparations. Everything was in place and after a short greeting coupled with smiles for the customers who had gathered around the low-set stage with drinks in hand by then, the quartet started off their set with the first number.

This was Bamboo Star’s fourth and last performance at Music Matters Live 2014, but none of the members showed any signs of waning energy or enthusiasm, from beginning to end and even after the set came to a close.

On the band’s sentiments about performing at Music Matters Live 2014, Terrish, who plays multiple roles as the lead guitarist, lead rhythm guitarist and lead backing vocalist, exclaimed, “This has honestly been an outrageous experience. It’s been one of the coolest things we’ve ever done; to have a band like us come to Singapore, with all these fantastic musicians and really big names. The level of musicianship is so insane; I’ve never actually known that Asia has such talent and to bring us all together to play at these venues, at these shows, to meet one another- it’s been amazing. I cannot describe this event [well enough].”

“We’re absolutely thrilled and just astounded that we even got here,” added Wolf Red, lead vocalist and lead backing bassist of the Hong Kong-based hard rock band. “This is an amazing opportunity; it’s the first time we’ve flown into Singapore and we really love it.”

As my conversation with the band went on, one thing became clear- the four musicians were brimming with zeal and the vibes emanating from them were strikingly positive. That was a common trait that was both easily seen and felt, despite the differences in their outer appearances, be it Wolf Red’s large, black-lined eyes and straight hair in a matching inky shade or, say, lead bassist Duff’s shoulder-length curls (mind you, he’s the ‘hairstyle inspector’ of Bamboo Star, according to the band’s Facebook page).

“It’s a very trend-driven market [in Hong Kong] and we’re really just trying to chase our dreams in that particular city,” imparted Wolf Red, with determination.

What, then, drives their artistic direction and musical style? What makes Bamboo Star, well, Bamboo Star? Was it simply the passion they possessed that has been providing them with inspiration and keeping them going?

According to Terrish, the members of the band grew up listening to similar genres of music but were well-versed in backgrounds varying from rock to progressive metal.

“You put it all together and you create something a little bit different; that’s what we want to do. We want to create something that represents what we feel and what we represent as a band - not as individuals - but together,” he went on to say with a heartfelt smile.

As for what serves to inspire Bamboo Star musically, it is apparently the straightforward concept of music being a means of expression for the four, besides their influences growing up and the ways in which they had learnt music.

Terrish continued, “We draw inspiration from a lot of things. It’s not necessarily even music. We almost feel like we can create music out of anything. Inspiration is just what we feel, what we do every day, how we live and what’s important to us.”

Echoing his fellow counterpart’s perspective, Wolf Red said, “It all comes from everyday life and a very honest place inside of us. Everyday experiences, from relationships to friendships to even something like a cup of coffee. What does the coffee mean? What meaning does it hold for us and for the society that we grew up in?”

The band’s name, Bamboo Star, alone, is already a clear enough indication of that. Translated to Cantonese and pronounced “jook-sing”, the two seemingly simple words come together to mean Chinese people with Western backgrounds- basically a description of founding members Wolf Red and Terrish.

Despite being brought together by a common love of music, Bamboo Star did not actually start out the way all of us know it to be today. There were additions and member changes throughout the journey, together with a pinch of fate; Wolf Red and Terrish actually met by chance in a guitar store in Hong Kong while the latter was playing a piece by Guns N’ Roses “phenomenally”, recalled the former. Who knew?

“I think this band represents not just us, but that Asian music is progressing beyond Asia, or just Hong Kong. It’s really global now,” concluded Wolf Red.

Do not forget to keep an eye out for Bamboo Star’s first EP within the next few months! Keep up-to-date with their news at their official website, or check them out at their Facebook page ( and Twitter (

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Married Musician Duo takes Their Love to the Stage

By Nurul Jannah Bte Ismail

Married couple spills the beans on their style as musicians and performing for Music Matters Live 2014.

Not many people have the best of both worlds when it comes to balancing their work and love life. However, for these two musicians- Endah Widiastuti and Rhesa Adita- both 31 years of age, they are more than lucky to be able to live in these two worlds and that is – music and love.

Hailing from the suburbs of Indonesia in the South of Tangerang, the married couple has been playing music together for a decade now. Going by the name of Endah N Rhesa, the duo shares a passion for music and, of course, undying passion for each other.

They have been known to bring out music that is a fusion of folk and ballad. For a more organic ‘feel’, they include many different entertaining styles to interact with their different audiences.

Endah conveyed, “When we play music, we see it as our playground so we can put this and that together. There are many parts and styles. That’s how we develop our music. So it not only sticks to one influence. There are many genres mixed together.”

“He influenced me in many ways. And so, I also influenced him with the different genres I did. So it is kind of mixed up now with many stuff. It’s kind of like mashed up.”

Not only do they have to work alongside each other, but they also have to inspire each other musically.

Before their debut, Endah used to sing genres closer to rock and also played the electric guitar. However, ever since collaborating, Rhesa, has influenced his wife to make music leaning more to blues, besides playing the acoustic guitar to deliver a different sound.

Lovers at Work: Endah N Rhesa talks about how they inspire each other while joking on the topic of working together. PHOTO CREDITS: NADIA AL-INSYIRAAH BTE ISMAIL

The collaboration definitely poses a challenge when it comes to being professional in their work at times. However, for Endah and Rhesa, that does not stop them from doing what they love, and with who they love.

According to Endah, she revealed that both of them are “control freaks and perfectionists”.

“I think it’s very good for us to measure and challenge ourselves. If we want to make an album and make music, we have to measure our skills. And it is easy for us because as husband and wife, there are no hard feelings.”

For Rhesa, working with his wife is fantastic.

He added, “We have communication 24/7 so we can talk about music anytime. It is an interesting life that not many people have.”


By Lee Joon Lei

Come for the handsome Pewdiepie lookalike, stay for the breathtaking show.

Embodiment of Enthusiasm, Energy and Everything Else: Vocalist, Charlie
Kerr, during their set at KURO, a bar at Clarke Quay.
“A band. Not pornography.”

The description on JPNSGRLS’s (pronounced “Japanese Girls”) Twitter page might leave some wanting, but one can be forgiven for thinking those two things are one of the same. After all, although a show from the indie-rock quartet is hardly objectionable material, it can’t help but share some of its qualities. It is visceral, it is often viewed in the dark - and it sure is addictive as heck.

Don’t believe me? Then you probably weren’t at their performance at KURO, one of the many bars at Clarke Quay, on Saturday, 24th May 2014.

We were surprised at the number of hands that went up when the band’s vocalist, Charlie Kerr, asked the crowd if they had seen them play before. The funny thing is, Music Matters Live 2014 was their the reason for their very first trip to Singapore, meaning that the gaggle of screaming fans that sardined the front-end of the stage most likely saw them play as recently as the night before, and were already back for their next gig. (Did I mention they were addictive as heck?)

Such is the magnitude of their appeal- with every show, the Vancouver-based quartet adds ardent members of the crowd to their ever-growing fan base- and it is happening at a rate that surprises even the band itself.

Drummer, Graham Serl, said, “The reception we have received in Singapore has been A-MAZING. I’ve never had this many people ask to take pictures with the drummer before. It’s been insane.”

“I could understand seeing a band I like perform once a month or something, but some of them just saw us perform yesterday and they’re already back tonight. I’m blown away to be honest,” Guitarist, Oliver Mann, mirrored the sentiments of his fellow band mate.

Harkening to indie-rock’s halcyon days, the band delivers a tantalising switchblade of progressive nuances and catchy hooks that endear themselves quite nicely to fans and critics alike. Their sound struck me as a mixture of Arctic Monkeys and Fall of Troy, with Christopher deCinque’s stage presence. Take that formula and give it the right mix, and it results in what the lucky audiences at Music Matters Live 2014 got - a firecracker of a show that blows you away, then makes you come back for more.

An accent of the band is definitely the charisma of vocalist Charlie Kerr, lookalike of renowned video game commentator on Youtube. Drawing influences of seminal frontmen like The Mars Volta’s Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Julian Casablanca from The Strokes, he has developed a spellbinding stage persona that will no doubt become the band’s hallmark. Prancing and shuffling about the modest stage like a champion stallion, he works the crowd expertly with his magnetic presence. Together with bassist and partner-in-crime Chris McClelland, their on-stage enthusiasm brims with artful tendencies and rhythmic vocal tangents. Thoroughly bewitching - as many of the band’s fangirls would attest.

While the duo may have stolen the show, guitarist Oliver Mann also deserves special mention. In a performance filled with flamboyance and finesse, he sat back and ran the show with technical impunity, exuding the quiet confidence of a stage veteran and pumping out impeccably infectious riffs that had a slew of musicians thinking, “Why can’t my guitarist do the same?”

His acute technical ability, coupled with Serl’s rock-solid timekeeping, creates a firm sonic platform that allows the other half of the band to flourish theatrically without sacrificing the band’s overall cohesion. The pair’s shrewd musicianship was, at least for me, the most impressive part of the performance.

The guys from JPNSGRLS weren’t just good musicians. They struck us as the nicest guys too with how accommodating they were to their fans - taking photographs, making small talk and just generally hanging out with the many that stayed on to meet them after their set. Also, they took time to step away from their adoring fans to allow us (the journalists) to do an interview with them (and believe me, they were swamped).

Speaking with both humility and grace, they were quick to heap praises on the local music scene that took to them so well during their short stay here.

“Singapore’s been great to us, the fans here have been the most loyal ones yet and we are so thankful for the reception we’ve received,” said Charlie. “Some of the bands are great; we saw Take Two the other day and they gave an awesome performance. The singer didn’t sing a bum note. We can’t wait to come back here as soon as possible,” he added.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

A Ying(hao) to our Yang

By Lee Joon Lei

Despite its initial obscurity, Singapore’s “only Chinese Heavy Metal band” is starting to warm up the local music scene with its unparalleled concept.

Young Yet Traditional: Ying Hao, the frontman of namesake band Yinghao sings in a bar at Music Matters Live 2014. PHOTO CREDITS: MARCUS MARK RAMOS

Let’s face it, the hardest part of starting a band is most likely trying to find a workable yet unpretentious band name that doesn’t shortchange your lofty ambitions. And over the years, there has been a whole slew of tragic examples to take heed from. Some names are clumsy and generic, while others run like forgettable tongue-twisters that leave rookie emcees scratching their heads.

If there’s one inescapable truth about local band names, it would be that there will always be at least one on the set list that is embossed with some obscure French or Latin shorthand that most people have trouble pronouncing, let alone understand.

Some laugh these names off. While other, more concerned parties lament the Eurocentric adoption of Western languages and express worry for the country’s traditional cultures that are fast-diminishing at the hands of our generation.

And it is with this sense of urgency that 23-year-old Tan Ying Hao embarked on his latest musical project, a Mandarin and Hokkien metal band whose conventional sound is infused with that of traditional Chinese instruments.

Formed in October 2013 and going by the confident moniker of Yinghao, the singer has been turning heads of late with his audacious brand of music that breaks the monotony of a Western-dominated genre.

“Preserving my Chinese roots is something that is huge to me, and the band’s language and sound are a reflection of who I am. As a songwriter and musician, I think that it would be more interesting and fresh to others if we brought out our own ‘unique difference’, expressing them in our music, rather than sticking to the same formula all the time,” said the frontman of the band.

Citing bands like Testament and X-Japan as influences, the band marries the accessibility of radio-rock with the technical freedom of 80s-influenced heavy metal, allowing the technically gifted bunch to switch between soaring guitar runs, dizzying drum fills, and that signature oriental vocal-style that has been getting them unprecedented attention.

Casper Francis, the band’s keyboardist, commented, “I wouldn’t say that singing in Chinese or Hokkien gives us an advantage in the conventional sense, but I guess it does help people remember us easier. They might not remember our names but they will remember us as the band that sings in Hokkien because that’s what sets us apart.”

Because of this, Yinghao has enjoyed a fairly great start to its musical endeavours. Apart from the successful launch of its debut ‘Black Panther’ EP earlier this month, the sextet has also played at Music Matters Live 2014 and appeared on local Chinese radio station, Capital 95.8FM.

“It was encouraging to see 100 supporters turn up to show their support during the album launch; it was a hard-rocking, head-banging session and we had a lot of fun!” remarked Ying Hao.

He added, “The radio station wanted to interview us as they found the concept of our band and the fact that we have a Javanese Guzheng player very interesting. It’s nice to see the Chinese stations supporting local Chinese music and we were very flattered by their interest.”

But it has not always been smooth-sailing. Because of their unique musical approach, the band feels like they might have been overlooked for certain shows, with some organisers unwilling to gamble on the pulling power of this new concept. However, they remain optimistic that these teething problems are only short-term.

“We may have missed a couple of opportunities due to the nature of our band. Perhaps people need a bit more time to get accustomed to our brand of music, and we hope that we will get more opportunities as time passes,” expressed Nathan, the band’s bassist.

It may have only been mere months since its inception, but Yinghao is already looking towards the future. And with the band’s unapologetically oriental name and mandopop-esque album art, there'll be no prizes for correctly guessing where the band plans to be headed next.

Ying Hao stated, “We are looking at expanding into markets like Taiwan, Hong Kong and China, where they are more accustomed to mandarin. We see our future fans as a good mix of those who like old school rock and those who are into Chinese music.”

The Peak is Nearing

By Rachel Chua

Garnering more than 100,000 YouTube hits on his single ‘Until We Die’, singer-songwriter Joel Tan, also known as Gentle Bones, is one to watch out for in Singapore’s local music scene. We had a chat with the rising star after one of his gigs at Fern & Kiwi.

All (Gentle) Smiles: Joel with his violinist, Josh Wei, at his cosy acoustic set in Shuffle Bar. PHOTO CREDITS: NADIA AL-INSYIRAAH

Many would think that Gentle Bones is the name of a full set band. Only those who are familiar with the local singer-songwriter, Joel Tan, would know that the ‘band’ consists of just him. Just like other curious souls, we jumped at the chance to ask why he chose the name ‘Gentle Bones’.

But apparently, there is no reason behind it.

“I created it when I was 16. It doesn’t make much sense, but the whole idea was to make Gentle Bones meaningless, so that I wouldn’t hate it in the future,” Joel admitted that he is someone who tend to hate things pretty fast and it was brilliant of him to decide on such a name, if we do say so ourselves.

The 20-year-old musician has been highly successful in his musical career to date, clinching the #1 spot on the local iTunes Chart for his first single and the top five for his second one. Still, he remains modest about his accomplishments so far.

“Oh, I’m still too busy to take it in. Ever since “Until We Die” came out, it’s been a roller-coaster ride, so it’s been crazy but I’m really honoured to have even one person come to my show and sing along.”

We spoke to one of his fans that turned up for his set at Fern & Kiwi, Diane Toh Yun Jing, 18, and asked her what she loved about his music.

“His music is just very chill, and although all his songs have the same feel, it’s still somehow different.”

With fans like Diane supporting the local music industry, it is no wonder that it is booming right now. Plus, the social stigma about local music being subpar is slowly ebbing away, with local acts stepping up their game to make a name for themselves both locally and internationally. Paving the way for newcomers are bands like The Great Spy Experiment and Electrico, who are known as some of the pioneers of popular local music.

As a result, opportunities to perform on stage have been popping up from companies who are looking to recruit local musicians. Even Joel himself has benefitted from this.

“A lot of companies are more open to recruiting local acts for their performances, so that’s a real plus. Plus, I think the listenership as well; they’re way more open to listening to local bands,” he said.

Joel has been working on his music since 2012, and being a perfectionist, he only chooses the best for his fans. And it seems that his hard work is paying off when he proved his popularity by filling up Paulaner Wirtshaus for his opening set at the Made in Singapore showcase. Most came down specially to see him perform, and the venue resounded with voices singing along to two of his most popular songs, “Until We Die” and “Elusive”.

He also performed new tunes like “Settle Down” and “Lost” from his upcoming EP, which will be released this August. Bonus tracks will be included when you purchase it, so definitely look forward to that!

A Ballad of Awesomeness

By Marcus Mark Ramos

Brothers On Stage, Brothers Off Stage: ORANGECOVE has stuck with each other for almost a decade already, through thick and thin, all the possible ups and downs along the way. PHOTO CREDITS: MARCUS MARK RAMOS

Offstage, these four chaps would immediately come across as a high-spirited, friendly and playful bunch. On stage, this disposition does not deviate one bit – they interacted with the audience, sang their hearts out and jumped non-stop while they rocked out the stage.

“The crowds that jump and sing with us are the best. They make every musician's dream come true,” said Kenneth, the lead vocalist of ORANGECOVE.

Charisma, co-ordination and flair are the reasons why they were so well-received by their audience at Music Matters Live 2014.

With influences like All Time Low and We The Kings, the quartet possesses a pop-punk and chord-driven sound which perfectly matches their persona. If there had to be a Singaporean Alex Gaskarth, Kenneth would probably be the one.

Throughout the night, they performed their biggest hits, such as I CAN DANCE, YOU CAN DANCE and LA LA LADIES NIGHT, which naturally hyped up the crowd as they got on their feet and started moving to the beat.

It’s not easy for any band to stay together for long, but ORANGECOVE has been inseparable for a remarkable eight years. Being a musician myself, it somewhat made me wonder, “What’s their secret?”

Kenneth mentions that there’s none to it – just pure dedication.

“We do almost everything together. We do have quarrels here and there, but at the end of the day, we see each other as brothers, play music together and mostly importantly, work as a team. At the end of the day, it’s the fruits of our labour that puts a smile on our faces and keeps us going.”

They possessed an admirable sense of camaraderie and trust which was not taught, but developed through their years of friendship and mutual dependence instead.

When ORANGECOVE was first established, they were young and inexperienced, but they were ambitious. It was almost seven years ago when they started performing at free mini concerts and charity shows, mostly playing simple acoustic covers of tracks from their own favourite bands. Today, the beach-loving bunch are living every local band’s dream, playing their own music at large concerts and events such as *SCAPE Confessions, 2XU Compression Run and TONES 2014.

And of course, there’s Music Matters Live 2014. Here, it was their first time playing alongside the numerous bands that had flown in from all over the world.

“It’s amazing to see all the international and local acts playing together at one concert. It’s really an eye-opener for us,” exclaimed Alvin, the lead guitarist.

Through their incredible journey, they’ve also inevitably warmed up to the other fairly well-renowned local bands as well – some of which got their own chance to be part of the large-scale music festival.

  “We had the opportunity of playing amongst so many other great local bands like our friends- Asian Chairshot, WYD:SYD, Gentle Bones and Take Two, which makes it really awesome,” added Kenneth.

These pop-punk aficionados possess just about every trait that makes a successful band, and I for one can’t wait to see what they have to offer in the near future.

Be sure to catch their EP release on June 29 2014 at one of the biggest alternative music festivals, where you can see both local acts and their foreign counterparts perform: Baybeats 2014. You won’t regret it!

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

"Electrolove" for Singapore

By Nadia Al-Insyiraah

Named Best Untapped Newcomer at the Calgary Folk Festival, Sidney York, an indie pop duo from Canada – no, they are neither from New York nor Sydney – popped by the sunny island of Singapore for Music Matters Live 2014. The unexpectedly bright and chatty girls, opera singer Brandi Sidoryk and bassoonist Krista Wodelet sat down with us and shared how they met and what they thought of this year's festival.

SIDNEY YORK: Krista Wodelt (left) and Brandi Sidoryk were in town for Music Matters Live 2014 held at Clarke Quay. Photo by: Nadia Al-Insyiraah

Back then, flight attendant Brandi Sidoryk was looking to recruit a bassoonist for her band when she encountered her soon-to-be music partner’s sister in an airplane.The two girls who lived parallel lives eventually met and that was when they realised that they had so many things in common.

“It’s really funny that we didn’t meet before that. We did a lot of the same things: grew up in Alberta before we moved and did a lot of similar activities in music as kids. We even ended up going to the same university in music school, but never met! So, we had a thousand mutual friends but somehow, my sister was the random encounter that brought us together!” stated Krista.

What began as a long-distance music-writing collaboration soon resulted in two individuals coming together to form a duo.

The three-hour time difference between Toronto and Calgary was never an excuse for Sidney York to produce subpar works together. They would write songs in their iPhones, transfer it to Garage Band and email each other back and forth. Plus, they would fly a four-and-a-half hour flight every two to three weeks to meet and get their songs done.

It was unusual for sure, but they mentioned that collaborating always came very naturally to both of them and they find it very easy to write together.

“We don’t sit down and say ‘we’re going to write songs together.’ We just did.”

This was the first time the duo visited Singapore and they were delighted to receive a very warm reception. They sang praises for the country and their fans, even mentioning that the artists from the Singapore music industry that they met have been “very welcoming”. When asked to pick their favourite acts that they had watched perform at Music Matters Live 2014, Brandi exclaimed that they are extremely in love with home-grown indie band, The Sam Willows, besides Season 3 Singapore Idol champion, Sezairi.

“Our friends who came over to Singapore last year told us that we need to meet The Sam Willows. We had a show with them yesterday and they were amazing! And for Sezairi, he is just the sweetest. We caught a few songs of his on the main stage too and he seems like such a great guy,” chirped Brandi.

The talented duo took the Fountain Stage of Music Matters Live 2014 on the 24th May, garnering a crowd of fans and passer-bys who was obviously charmed by their tracks. They flashed their instruments such as the ukulele- and for Krista, the bassoon, providing a refreshing visual due to the more obscure nature of these instruments as compared to, say, the guitar and the likes of it.

When asked for advice to give to budding musicians, the pair encouraged them to “just go for it”. They also mentioned that the music industry is known to be tough and “it is all about making a long string of fortunate mistakes to fully unleash one’s potential.” It takes a brave heart to be a risk-taker, but, like many other artists, Sidney York admitted that it was particularly challenging to get to where they are at today.

They can closely relate to rookie musicians who are afraid to let people listen to their music. There was a plethora of reasons, such as the initial fear of failure and rejection that held them back from taking up music as a career, but they strongly believed that it was important to push through all the challenges in order to reach success, or, at least- to where they are right now.

Jaw-dropping Juveniles  

By Marcus Mark Ramos

Not Quite Juvenile: French band, Juvenile, may be a new kid on the block but their presence on Clarke Quay’s fountain stage certainly didn’t give them away. PHOTO CREDITS: MARCUS MARK RAMOS

Standing together in cliques, the crowd seemed like mere groups of curious onlookers before French electronic-pop band Juveniles stepped onto Clarke Quay’s fountain stage on 22 May 2014. But when the opening riff to their first song ‘Through the Night’, blared out from amplifiers, the crowd instantly eased up and swelled to an enthusiastic collective that filled Clarke Quay’s main square to the brim.

This being the first time that the unique sounding quartet had charmed Singapore with their scintillating performance, the response they received came as a pleasant surprise to them.

“This is the first time we’ve ever been here, and people actually checked out our name. Some people who came down and saw us said they knew us even before today’s show, which is amazing,” remarked Jean Sylvain Le Gouic (JP for short), the band’s lead vocalist.

Hailing from a northwest region in France named Brittany, the band is currently on its world tour. They have brought their addictive sound and catchy tracks to various places like China, Hong Kong, and of course, Music Matters Live 2014 in Singapore.

The band stood out not because it was the only band that originated from France, but because of its nostalgic synth-pop sound, which one would usually only hear in cheesy love songs from the ‘80s.

That didn’t matter, though- the French band’s sumptuous synthesizer and keyboard textures were awesome, and it definitely attracted the crowd with ease.

On the night of its performance here in Singapore, Juveniles performed infectious tunes such as Truth and Strangers, tracks which had no difficulty making everyone want to simply let loose and groove to the beat – which was exactly what the masses did.

Just watching the band from amongst the crowd, one can’t help but notice JP’s voice. A departure from the tenor-dominated vocal style of the genre, Jean’s boisterous vocals swells over the electrifying synth-driven soundscape of the band. With a distinctive baritone vocal style which was particularly soothing and bewitching as it echoed throughout the vicinity, his melancholic lyrics didn’t matter one bit. He could have strung incomprehensible sentences together and I would still be allured.

With such an interesting sound, one of the things that I wanted to find out the most was their inspiration. Just what was it that motivated them to proceed in such a bold direction? It wasn’t easy, but I managed to catch up with JP for a mini interview just before the band left the venue.

When asked about his influences, this was what he had to say, “Well, it’s funny you should ask. Just three days ago, I was with Andy Rourke, the bassist for The Smiths. I told him that he was a very big influence for me. The guys from The Smiths, they did something new back then. Morissey is clearly a big vocal influence for me.”

But of course, the biggest game changers in the indie scene during the 1980s: The Smiths. You could easily spot the similarities between JP’s singing to that of the legend that is Morissey.

When asked about his thoughts on the local music scene, JP had nothing but praises. One that stood out was how he described Singaporeans as “curious” – a trait that serves foreign bands well, when the latter is invited to perform here.

Without even two years under its belt, Juveniles has already garnered millions of YouTube views and also created a name for itself in the French music scene.

Needless to say, the band’s raw talent and passion for music will only further surpass expectations all over the world in the long run.