Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Music comes aLive!

by Nicole Ho

The fountain stage at Clarke Quay was packed with avid screaming K-Pop fans. PHOTO BY: Benjamin Ng Wei Jie

Music – everyone loves it, but no one really has the exact same music taste. Most people usually prefer sticking to their own music, but when it gets to the point where you’re sick of what you’re hearing on your playlist; it happens – let’s face it, how do you look for new music? Some people search through the endless ‘suggested songs’ list on YouTube while others put on a playlist from the web and see how it goes. But really how often do you find yourself skipping the song lists?

Music Matters Live has been around in Singapore for 5 years now where bands from all around the world take part, catering to everyone’s music likings and preferences over a period of 4 days. This year, bands from the Philippines, Nepal, Australia and even Russia – just to name a few gathered together where more recognised bands played on the main fountain stage at Clarke Quay while up and coming bands play at the bars.

Dominic Lau’s lively persona fit his role for the event to a tee, engaging the audience at just the right amount while at the same time hosting the event. It did not seem like a music festival at first – at 7pm, all the audience (or passers-by, at this point) could still see the logistics crew making sure all the equipment on stage works. As the programme progressed, the sky turned darker and colourful lights lighted the entire venue. More people strolled in to watch, all swaying their bodies with the music and head banging for the heavier sounding sets, whether they knew the bands or not.

The K-Pop fans would not be forgotten at this event. In fact, KPOP NIGHT OUT @ MML was meant just for the music lover! Held at every MML event since 2013, it is a segment which features bands from South Korea, each possessing their own very distinct sound. The crowd were fired up, with fans dancing and raving to the beat while the first band, Kingston Rudieska kicked the segment off. In the middle of their set, the power tripped, all electronics stopped working and the sound and lighting got cut off! However, the members of the band were able to overcome the adversity and used only their voices and instruments to hype up the otherwise awkward atmosphere, long enough for the crew to fix the issue. The crowd wasn’t fazed by the situation and kept on singing along. The other bands include Glen Check, Idiotape and all girl group Sonamoo.

As this was going on at the main fountain stage, there were acts going on concurrently at various bars along Clarke Quay. The crowd and atmosphere at these venues, despite having a smaller audience, were as happening as the main stage – fans of the artistes sang and jumped along to the music energetically and relentlessly.

Gentle Bones, a local singer-songwriter, was one highlight of this year’s event. He has come a long way, from playing at Shuffle and Paulaner at last year’s Music Matters, to acquiring the main stage this year. For his set, the entire space in front of the stage was packed with screaming fans, guys and girls alike. They were energetically screaming his name and “I Love Yous” were being shouted. After his set, the crowd scrambled to where he was, fighting for a position to be first in place to snag a picture with Joel Tan, the man behind the moniker.

The next time you’re looking for new music, be sure to look out for the next Music Matters Live event and have it marked down in your calendar (and get your friends to do that too). It is a fun way to explore music you would never thought you could like in a comfortable and familiar environment, and did we mention that the event is free, too? For more information about the event, log on to

From bars to Universal Music Singapore

by Rachel Ng

Home-grown local act Gentle Bones takes the Music Matters Live stage for the second year running, but this time, it’s a whole new different ball game.

Not So Elusive: Joel Tan, also known as Gentle Bones, commands a strong presence once he’s on stage. PHOTO BY: Rachel Ng

Last year, he packed out four bars during Music Matters Live (MML) in Clarke Quay three nights consecutively.

This time, he played on the main stage for the same event, to a turnout that was probably the sum of all the people who turned up at the four bar gigs in one place.

Taking the local music scene by storm, 21-year-old Joel Tan – or better known by his moniker, Gentle Bones – certainly had a blast of a year. He released his eponymous debut EP in August last year, had his own tour in Kuala Lumpur, and opened for American pop singer Christina Perri’s concert here in Singapore.

More importantly, he signed on to Universal Music Singapore this month, making him the second Singaporean artist to do so.

Even after seeing him live a number of times, it’s hard not to smile and sing along as he poured his heart out serenading his audience every time he performs. Opening his set with the moody ‘Settle Down’, one can hear the echoes from the crowd as he belts out the chorus – “Won’t you settle down, settle down, with me now, and forever?”

It brings to mind what Joel mentioned about this track a year ago at one of the bars he played at, before releasing his EP. Overwhelmed by the crowd’s support, I recalled that he said back then that this was a song he was immensely proud of, and that he couldn’t believe that he wrote it.

But this time, he’s not singing it to his fans. He’s singing it with them.

He followed up with the more original tracks from his EP, upbeat ‘Save Me’, ‘Lost’, and ‘Elusive’, which spurred a collective resounding ‘I, I’ echo from adoring fans, similar to what could be heard in the background of the song.

“Thank you guys so much for coming out tonight, I’m sorry for the short set, but this is for Music Matters 2015. Thanks so much for having us under this beautiful roof, and thank you guys for coming out and singing along,” said a grateful Joel as he started to perform his last song – the one that propelled him to success ‘Until We Die’.

When violinist Josh Wei started to play only the starting notes of the song, the crowd went wild. “Is anyone crying?” Joel cheekily quipped.

Partner-in-Crime: Violinist Josh Wei is a master of his craft, having played for acts like Gentle Bones and The Sam Willows. PHOTO BY: Rachel Ng

It is no doubt that ‘Until We Die’ is his most well-known hit. Halfway through, he took the mic and pointed it at the crowd. “Let the whole Clarke Quay hear you!” he said as it reached the chorus, and they did – or you could say, they sung… “until they die”.

We Will Sing Until We Die: Joel held his mic up for the crowd and sang the chorus of ‘Until We Die’. PHOTO BY: Rachel Ng

So what’s coming up for Joel next? He’s recently recorded a song for the upcoming 28th SEA Games, and would be heading to London for the SGMUSO Live Showcase alongside local acts Charlie Lim and Pleasantry.

With the amount of success he’s achieved in just a span of one year, one thing’s for sure – big things are definitely coming his way.

Glen Check wowed crowd at Music Matters Live 2015

by Nurul’Amirah Bte Amran

“Boundary Pushing" Glen Check: (From left to right) Hyuk-Jun Kang and June-One Kim had started Glen Check together after graduating from high school followed by Jeon-Yeol Ryu who joined the duo in late 2011. PHOTO BY: Iskandar Rossali/Photo Republic

Music Matters Live (MML) was back for the 10th time running on 20 to 23 May 2015 at Clarke Quay. The venue boasted bright lights and exciting music as seventy over bands from all around the world came down to Singapore to perform over the span of four nights.

This year’s line-up included acts all the way from South Africa and Russia to neighbouring countries like Malaysia and Indonesia. KPOP NIGHT OUT, a segment brought by Korea Creative Content Agency (KOCCA), brought in four South Korean talents like Sonamoo, Idiotape, Kingston Rudieska and Glen Check.

Glen Check, a South Korean Indie band consisting of singer and guitar player June-One Kim, bass and synthesizer player Hyuk-Jun Kang and drummer Jeon-Yeol Ryu, were part of the set list on the 21st.

True to their words, the band showcased brilliant visual aspects on stage while they performed five of their songs titled 60’s Cardin, Vogue Boys & Girls, Paint It Gold, Pacific and Anthem For The Wild Souls. Flashed across the huge LED backdrops were self-produced videos to accustom to the song’s respective mood and style.

For a fun and upbeat song like 60’s Cardin, the young boys had multiple graphics of a lone man in a tracksuit dancing to which their fans had mimicked the simple yet quirky movements. Meanwhile, Vogue Boys & Girls, a song which talks about youths featured a recording of Kim and Kang walking and playing their respective instruments against eye-catching and bright flashy background.

Noor Amalina Bte Mohamed, 24, had expressed her excitement upon seeing the band she has been an avid fan of since their debut. The pre-school teacher said, “Glen Check definitely did not disappoint my expectations tonight. The music and the visuals on stage, they were all exactly the same as what I have seen on videos online.”

Since their debut in 2011, Glen Check has also been recognised by music critiques for their ability at changing their genres with every album release. Despite that, they are also still able to maintain their ‘indie-dance and electro-rock with a strong European influence’ colour in their self-produced songs.

Loh Wan Qi, 21, a student at SIM mentioned how Glen Check’s much collaboration with different artistes like Clazziquai is what makes the band distinct from the rest. She said, “Glen Check’s ability to show different sides of their music while still sustaining their original style is what kept me a fan till today. They are very dedicated to their music plus they speak fluent English too!”

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

K-Pop Night Out at Music Matters Live 2015

by Carlissia Kew

A New Experience for Sonamoo: It was the K-Pop girl group’s first ever overseas music festival, and the girls wasted no opportunity to interact with their fans. PHOTO BY: Benjamin Ng Wei Jie

As the Thursday night progressed into near midnight, the crowd at the fountain stage was visibly denser than before. Anticipation and excitement were evident in the air as everyone strained their necks to look out for the last K-Pop Night Out act. Preparing just backstage, the seven-member K-Pop girl group had already claimed their presence on stage. Without doubt, when the performance to their debut track ‘Déjà Vu’ commenced, a feeling of Déjà Vu washed over the audience – despite their rookie status, SONAMOO had already owned the stage with their unconventional girl group power packed choreography and beat – seemingly following in the footsteps of their label mate B.A.P.

“We are very honoured to be here. Thank you for Music Matters and thank you for coming here. And yes, we had chili crab tonight and we loved it," gushed the girls, who took some time out between songs to converse with the crowd.

Bringing a little twist to their set, the girls covered various songs, including their own choreographed dance version of ‘Want U Back’ by Cher Lloyd as well as Destiny Child’s ‘Stand Up For Love’, ending off their set with their second released song ‘Just Go’ that brought out the girly side of them.

Since its first ever appearance at Music Matters Live 2012 K-Pop Night Out, the event acts as a platform for interactions between K-Pop and the global music network. It has been a part of the music festival for 4 consecutive years, this time round having featured acts SONAMOO, Kingston Rudieska, Glen Check and Idiotape on 21 May at the Clarke Quay Fountain Stage.

The first K-Pop act to kick off the night was nine-member ska band Kingston Rudieska. The highlight of the night was when the stage and music blacked out all of a sudden while the group belted out ‘Give Me Some Love’. Without skipping a beat, the group maintained their professionalism as they regained their momentum to the beat of the song, followed by the undefeated crowd who spontaneously sang the song as one. The band was heavily influenced by first-wave Jamaican ska, ska jazz and other Caribbean genres such as reggae and calypso music. The whole idea of bringing K-Pop to the global music network was indeed achieved – people of all ages and races were feeling the beat in their bones as they grooved to the sound of trumpets and flutes – creating an infectious and funky atmosphere.

The two next similar acts checked off the list were synth-rock and electro-pop indie duo Glen Check, who is part of the Basement Resistance crew based back in Seoul, followed by electronic shoegazing trio Idiotape. Both bands were high on eye-catching backdrops and visuals and incorporated the elements of synthesizers, drums and/or guitars into their sets. The crowd certainly knew who they were, escalating into screams before they even kicked off their sets. Even for those who didn’t, it was hard to ignore the infectious and catchy beats coursing through one’s bones, which got the crowd clapping their hands together synonymously. Some of the songs Glen Check played were ‘Paint It Gold’ and ‘Pacific’, while Idiotape jammed out to ‘Melodie’ and more. Despite Glen Check being a South Korean band, the group actually produced songs in English due to both members influence of growing up outside of Korea.

With this year’s acts providing the audience with a fresh perspective on Korean bands, we could definitely expect the next one to kick it one notch up.

K-Pop Night Out with a twist

by Nur Fathiah Bte Razali

The Fountain stage in Clarke Quay transformed into a mini Korea for about three hours on May 21, 2015 with KPOP Night Out showcase as part of the Music Matters Live festival this year.

This year was a little different. Korea Creative Content Agency (KOCCA) who presented the showcase focused more on indie music from their local region than K-pop.

Kingston Redieska kicked off the showcase with upbeat Caribbean genres including reggae. The nine-piece ska band is winning hearts of Korean fans with foreign music and has appeared on some of Korea’s biggest stages.

A trio act called Glen Check won over the hearts of the crowd with their electronic live music, singing primarily in English. This band did not limit the genre of their songs nor the visuals used during the show. The crowd could even follow the simple dance shown on the screen as the band played the music.

Idiotape came up next with another set of electronic music with an exception – there was no vocal. The trio’s synth-driven rhythms were influenced by Korean classic rock from the 1960s and 70s which had the crowd dancing that night.

The fourth and last act for that night was highly-anticipated by the teens in the crowd. Sonamoo, a K-pop girl group that just debuted five months back stole the show. Kicking off the act with their debut song, Déjà vu, the crowd began to hype up.

Sonamoo had more to offer. Members High.D, D.ana and Newsun did a cover of Becky G’s Can’t Get Enough. The main vocalists of the group, High.D and Minjae blew the crowd away when they belted a cover of Stand Up For Love by the Destiny’s Child. Their act ended on a cheerful note with their song, Just Go.

The fact the showcase had free admission was another factor that lured the crowd in and something existing fans were definitely appreciative of.

Wei Si, 19, an avid K-Pop fan, said, “Usually when they come, we need to pay about $200 in order to see them. But for this, it’s free and we can also get to know more people with fans of other acts.”

Taken by Take Two

by Rachel Ng

Take Two returns once again for Music Matters Live and delivered a set that proved why they are among the rising local artists in Singapore.

Take Two for the Team: David Siow (left), Paddy Ong (middle), Jeryl Yeo (behind Paddy), and Johnathan Lim (right), and Tan Peng Sing (far left, not pictured), played at Shuffle Bistro Bar for Music Matters Live 2015. PHOTO BY: Rachel Ng

“Anyway, we’ve got one more song for you. That’s okay, right?” said the effervescent Paddy Ong, frontman of local indie-pop rock band Take Two, as he closed his set at Music Matters Live 2015. That’s definitely okay, Paddy.

Playing to a full house at Shuffle Bistro Bar in Clarke Quay, the quintet has definitely moved up the local music ladder after gaining much recognition ever since they formed in late 2012. Their recent acts included opening for legendary Scottish band Travis, winning the NOISE 2014 Music Mentorship Programme and releasing their new EP, Pairs.

The group sat on the stage with David Siow on bass, Tan Peng Sing and Johnathan Lim on guitar, Jeryl Yeo on drums, and frontman Paddy Ong. Together, they emitted a youthful, enthusiastic vibe with a wonderful chemistry. It was easy to miss it if one was not observant but I caught many moments where they looked at each other, playing and smiling to themselves.

Fresh-faced and lively, they gave off the most whimsical energy and had impeccable coordination, which was enjoyable to watch.

Pleasure in Performing: Guitarist Johnathan Lim had a constant smile on as he performed. PHOTO: Rachel Ng

There must be a reason why the day after I heard Take Two live, I got on my phone and bought their EP on iTunes. Opening their set with one of their tracks, ‘Addiction Affliction’, I was instantly impressed. They followed with tracks from their EP, ‘In Your Arms’ and ‘Always Been Right Here’, ‘Luna’, and included a cover of Interpol’s ‘C’mere’ and Last Dinosaurs’ ‘Honolulu’.

They cited Last Dinosaurs as one of their inspirations on their Facebook page, alongside well-known indie and alternative artists like Bombay Bicycle Club, The Wombats, and Two Door Cinema Club.

If there was one word to describe their music, it would be ‘infectious’. In particular, all the tracks from their new EP have a distinct sound to them and they honestly just make you want to start tapping your feet to the beat of each song.

They ended their set with single ‘Ariel’, which is about finding love on an MRT. It felt almost too familiar with the lyrics - seeing someone that’s caught your eye while on your way to school in the train. “That fleeting moment when you make eye contact with someone and your mind starts drifting away - perhaps you should go talk to him/her right now, before they all alight,” their YouTube description for ‘Ariel’ read.

You’ll soon be seeing them at Baybeats 2015 and they’ve also been announced as one of the 25 artists to perform for Lush 99.5FM and Radio’s 50 Songs for 50 Days which started on June 1st.

With so many accomplishments, they have already made a name for themselves in the local music scene, and we hope to see more of them in the years to come.

Monday, 25 May 2015

The New Beach Boys

by Christopher Parwani

Filling In: Jeremy Neale (left) and bass player Charles Sale (right) who filled in for Corey Herekiuah who was unable to make it for the show.
PHOTO BY: Iskandar Rossali/Photo Republic

Many bands this year in Music Matters left the audiences banging their heads to the beat of the drums and singing along to lyrics. One band however, brought the crowd back to the 60’s.

The Beach Boys influenced band, Teen Sensations, performed at Music Matters for the first time and shook things up with the surf rock genre that was sure to bring memories back to many of elderlies. They performed original songs entitled ‘Peruvian 60’, ‘Surf and Sway’ and many more. However, as their band name suggested they were bringing it to the teenagers of 2015.

“We are kind of like torch bearers for another generation of surfers,” said Charles Sale, the fill in bass player of the band.

Back to Basics: The vinyl records that the band gave out for free at their performances if you were to approach them. PHOTO BY: Christopher Parwani

The band surfed up bars at this year’s music festival like Beer Market, McGettigan’s and Barber Shop just to name a few. They also gave out their very own vinyl records to anyone who approached them.

In addition to their upbeat funk and vintage gifts to their audience, the band performed in blue and white striped shirts that complimented the 60’s aura. The atmosphere was an epitome of throwback for adults who grew up listening to The Beach Boys and a fresh groove that many of the adolescents enjoyed as well.

Boon Hui, 18, a gig goer, said, “They sounded very vintage and cool. I found myself swaying my head side to side while listening to them. No wonder my parents loved bands like The Beatles and The Beach Boys.”

Teen Sensations was formed in the summer of 2012 in their hometown Brisbane, Australia. The members, Jeremy Neale, Yuri Yuri Johnson, Corey Herekiuha and George Browning were friends for years, dating back to primary school. The four of them had one thing in common and it was their love for The Beach Boys. After high school, Teen Sensations was born.

The band is currently working on their debut album, Great Hits and after which they would be exploring new material and sounds. “I feel that it’s up to us (Teen Sensations) to carry on the legacy of Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys,” said Jeremy, the lead singer.

Raw, funky and definitely, Wicked

by Nur Illazabella Bte Yusni

Hitting the Notes: Idham Budiman, frontman of Wicked Aura took the spotlight for their third song of the night at Paulaner.
PHOTO BY: Nur Illazabella

Wicked Aura might be new to some but this 12 piece band has performed and made their name across the European and Asian countries. Known for their punk rock batucada band, they hit this year’s stage at Music Matters Live (MML) for the very first time.

A home-grown percussion band, it is made up of members from all walks of life with different stories to tell but shares the same passion – music. They debuted their first album, Louder than Light, which was released in 2008 and is now working on their second album, Beginning The End.

Performing on the third night of MML, they were scheduled to perform at two places in Clarke Quay for the night, Beer Market and Paulaner. They kicked off the night at Beer Market and ended their gig at about 2 am at Paulaner.

Nicolas, 23, a student, said, “I was looking forward to go for MML this year because of them. I always enjoy watching them busking.”

Despite half an hour delay, Wicked Aura’s frontman, Idham Budiman engaged and enlivened the mood with some of his jokes and small talks with the crowd while the band was setting up.

Nur Allisa Bte Mohd Halim, a third-year New Media student in Republic Polytechnic said, “Although they started late, it was still a really good show. It is almost impossible not to dance.”

Playing four songs in total, it was exhilarating as they had the crowd grooving from the start till the end.

Alfian, a 29-year-old freelancer said he came with his friends to enjoy the night. “I came here to have a couple of drinks with my friends and also to check out MML,” he said.

Alfian added, “I’ve never heard of them but man they are good. I’ve never come across a band like them before. They are the kind of bands that makes you move from your seat because it is impossible to stay still. I hope to see more of them and bands like them in Singapore. ”

The B-Side of Pinas

by Ariani Adam

From 20th to 23rd May, four Filipino prides took on Music Matters Live 2015 and wowed the crowd with another side of Filipino music – from electronic music production to acoustic and even pop rock.

Not the Norm: Soul singer Abby Asistio is an Alopecia Awareness Ambassador who gained mainstream recognition after auditioning for the first season of The Voice of the Philippines where she performed bald, proving that her condition was by no means a limitation for her to pursue her dreams. PHOTO BY: Ariani Adam

Belting notes, high power performance and power house vocals. These are the typical stereotype of a Filipino singer. Belting notes, however, is not the only way a Filipino vocalist can show off their talents. Artistes like BP Valenzuela and Abby Asistio are the epitome that it is not necessary to have vocal chords like Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey to be named “a good singer”. Indie and rock bands Farewell Fair Weather and Save Me Hollywood also showcased the zest of Filipino music throughout the four nights of music.

With the opportunity to perform at several venues in Clarke Quay, the four artistes had the chance to not only reach out to new fans but also other musicians from all over the world; exchanging experiences and knowledge. Because of the conferences put in place during the festival, Music Matters differs from other music festivals happening in Singapore, giving budding artistes a platform to learn more about the scene.

Abby Asistio, a Filipino pop soul singer/songwriter, knew about Music Matters Live from a friend who participated last year. She said, “It’s really great to be exposed to what’s happening in the scene, and with this whole experience, it’s not only about performing but also the conferences that we learn from.”

19 and Thriving: 19-year-old electronic music producer/songwriter BP Valenzuela wowed the crowd with her amazing set of laid back electronic music, different from your usual dub step music. PHOTO BY: Ariani Adam

BP Valenzuela, whose electronic music was inspired by her life and Manila city itself, shared the same thought. She said, “It’s not just a festival. With the conferences I’ve been attending there’s a lot going on. It’s surreal because I’m here and I get to connect with other artistes globally.”

With the varied music scenes in Philippines, independent artistes like them would always be posed with challenges but that never stopped them from excelling in their crafts. BP Valenzuela had the opportunity to share the same stage with international artiste, Kimbra – and Abby Asistio gained mainstream recognition after her audition at the very first season of The Voice Philippines.

Indie Flavour: Farewell Fair Weather showcased the other side of Filipino music at Crazy Elephant in Clarke Quay. PHOTO BY: Ariani Adam

Farewell Fair Weather, an indie band, serenaded the crowd throughout the festival with their laidback music – of which is not common in the Philippines. Mic Mic Manalo, the vocalist of the 5-piece band said, “This whole experience has been an eye opener for us and it really helps independent musicians arrange and organise themselves to understand more about marketing, branding and advertising the brand.”

“As a Filipino artiste, it’s really great that we’re encouraged to step out of our little box in terms of what music we’re supposed to create and how we’re supposed to present ourselves. It’s really a huge platform for us to be unique and show our talents without any boundaries or limitations of what an artiste is supposed to be or look like,” Abby Asistio commented.

Despite the limitations, the Filipino music industry is making the efforts to support independent artistes like the four who participated in Music Matters Live this year. Even in Singapore and any other countries, the beginning of the road is always tough.
Mic Mic Manalo offered advice to budding musicians just like them. She said, “Be really patient and truthful. Be passionate about what you do even though it’s really hard to get to where you want to be.”

Passion is certainly an inspiration. Budding musicians, you know what to do! Strive on and we’ll see you on the flipside.