Thursday, 3 July 2014

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!

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