Don’t Miss A Beat Of Singapore’s Homegrown Music

Diving into Singapore’s music landscape has never been easier or more exciting than now. Here’s a quick guide to navigating homegrown sounds and get your music motor running.
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Image courtesy of IGNITE! Music Festival

Get In The Know

Just as the Internet has made it easier for artists to get their music out, it has also made it simpler for listeners to find them. Playlists on streaming platforms like Spotify are great resources for discovering made-in-Singapore music. Temasek Polytechnic design lecturer Foo Say Keong, who is part of the punk rock band Johnny Shameless & His Minions, says in this Internet age, “everything is already there” to be discovered. He uses Facebook to follow local bands and music event organisers.

National Arts Council (NAC) officer Wu Jianping, who drums in the band King Kong Jane, says: “With the strong emphasis on online marketing today, young musicians are becoming savvier in creating online content and publicity material to engage their followers.”

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Bandwagon covers events such as Vans Musicians Wanted Singapore Showcase, where local bands compete for cash prizes and a chance to perform at music and culture festivals overseas. Image courtesy of Bandwagon

Online publications like Bandwagon also provide extensive coverage of local and international artists, highlighting must-see live shows. Bandwagon’s editorial-meets-streaming portal, Hear65, will clue you in on who to listen to and where you can watch them perform.

Get Behind Girl Power

Gender equality may be a hot topic overseas, even in the music world, but here in Singapore, it seems there has never been a better time for women to march to the beat of their own drum. With a slew of Singaporean solo artists and female-fronted bands gracing the airwaves both at home and abroad, girl power is loud and proud in the Lion City.

Sobs

Translating the adolescent daydreams and poster-plastered walls of our youth into toe-tapping tunes, lo-fi bedroom pop trio Sobs have garnered a dedicated following in only a short matter of time. Led by catchy guitar lines and saccharine vocals, the band’s magnetism on stage often sees audiences leaping as if they were in a mosh pit, by contrast.

Discover more on Spotify.


Jasmine Sokko

Singer-songwriter Jasmine Sokko wears many hats – both figuratively and literally – but her role as enigmatic performer is what most captivates. Conjuring moody, melancholy songs with themes of loss and loneliness, her electronic soundscapes are complemented by her android-like presence, coming together to form a multi-sensory trip.

Discover more on Spotify.


Disco Hue

Channelling the technicolour allure of the ’80s and the bombastic signature of the ’90s, some could argue that Disco Hue does it better than those who lived out those decades. Combining syrupy synths, funk-driven guitars and infectious vocal hooks, the young quartet is wholly invested in reinterpreting retro sounds, right down to what they wear.

Discover more on Spotify.


Lion City Rap is Roaring

Having permeated the mainstream among our Western counterparts, rap and hip-hop have similarly found a firm footing in Singapore.

Like local rap pioneers Sheikh Haikel, ShiGGa Shay and THELIONCITYBOY (who have all appeared in National Day songs), today’s champions of Lion City hip-hop have an entrepreneurial, ground-up attitude – and plenty of lyrical dexterity, featuring liberal use of local vernacular and slang in their raps.

Yung Raja

Having whet rap fans’ appetites with witty Tamil-infused remixes of chart-toppers such as Lil Pump’s “Gucci Gang” and Cardi B’s “Bartier Cardi” in early 2018, Yung Raja exploded onto the scene with much fanfare. Taking American rap’s obsession with consumerism and turning it on its head, the pink-haired sensation exemplifies his talent on the latest banger, “Mustafa”.

Discover more on Spotify.


Writers' Block

Adopting the concept of collective thought championed by the likes of A Tribe Called Quest and Public Enemy, up-and-coming trio Writers’ Block is a melting pot of influences, lyrical themes and style. Comprising rappers Slick Bobby, Syd $afari and M.C (aka Mark Candaliza), the young outfit packs a potent punch with their modern take on the boom bap aesthetic (kick drums and snare) in hip-hop.

Discover more on Spotify.

quote
Our work in the Public Service relies a lot on connecting with the communities we serve, and I believe the arts can certainly help us do that better by creating conversations, provoking thought, and in turn allowing communities to come together.

What's Next

DJ Adrian Wee at an EATMEPOPTART party, held at Tuff Club, and an EMONIGHTSG event at the Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay.
Scarlet Avenue performing at Music For A Cause, a music festival organised by social enterprise Love Action Project and supported by the National Youth Council.

The latest music production software and equipment are giving musicians greater freedom to create music in their own time and space, says Jianping from the NAC. He has seen a rise in solo artists and electronic producers in recent years, compared to bands. “These changes have allowed musicians the space to experiment, and as a result, we get to enjoy really amazing music by different types of music acts.”

As a public officer, he’s also observed more public agencies integrating their campaigns or projects with lifestyle components such as music. “Our work in the Public Service relies a lot on connecting with the communities we serve, and I believe the arts can certainly help us do that better by creating conversations, provoking thought, and in turn allowing communities to come together.”

Meet the Community

DJ Adrian Wee at an EATMEPOPTART party, held at Tuff Club, and an EMONIGHTSG event at the Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay.
DJ Adrian Wee at an EATMEPOPTART party, held at Tuff Club, and an EMONIGHTSG event at the Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay.

Enjoying music from the comfort of home is one thing; enjoying the experience with like-minded listeners takes it to another level. With a wide range of specialty music nights in Singapore, there’s something for everyone when it comes to sharing great music.

EATMEPOPTART

As Singapore’s longest-running club night, you’ve probably been to an EATMEPOPTART party without even realising it. Serving up indie rock and pop anthems since 2004, founders and DJs Adrian Wee and Robin Chua (who also go by weelikeme and KiDG) eschew pop currency to bring guaranteed body-shakers onto the dance floor.

Follow EATMEPOPTART on Facebook for the next party.


EMONIGHTSG

There was once a time when revealing your love for “screamo-emo” bands like My Chemical Romance would be met with sniggers. These days, EMONIGHTSG makes it okay to sing “I’m not okay”. Throwing back to the heartfelt tunes that defined the ’90s and ’00s “emo” aesthetic, this monthly celebration of all things alternative draws music lovers together to relive the glory days, free of judgement.

Follow EMONIGHTSG on Facebook for the next party.

Tip

Design lecturer Say Keong also recommends Baybeats, Singapore’s largest alternative-music festival, which has run for more than a decade. “That’s a good start because it’s a free event consisting of many genres,” he says.

Only the Tip of the Iceberg

“What I love about the music scene is seeing artists from 5-10 years ago stepping up to help the younger generation of musicians,” says Jianping, who has worked on the Noise Music Mentorship over the past six years.

“Many established musicians have taken on the role of mentors to nurture the future generation of our music community. Hopefully this culture will continue, and I am sure the future of the music scene will only get brighter with time.”

There are many more artists, genres and parties to be explored. Now that you’ve had a taste of what Singapore’s brimming music scene has to offer, perhaps you may even be inspired to start making some noise of your own.

quote
I believe the arts can certainly help us do that better by creating conversations, provoking thought, and in turn allowing communities to come together.
  • POSTED ON
    Oct 15, 2018
  • TEXT BY
    Trent Davis
  • ILLUSTRATION BY
    Brenda Lim
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