Singaporeans may favour international acts over local acts, but there is a wealth of talent to be found right on our sunny island. Our local music scene has never been more vibrant, with English radio stations playing homegrown music regularly on the radios, while the 2015 edition of the Laneway Festival will feature local bands as well. Here are 7 bands you should check out, and if you like them, catch them live!
Formed in mid-2012, The Sam Willows are made up of siblings Benjamin and Narelle Kheng, Sandra Riley Tang, and Jonathan Chua. Performing their own brand of radio-friendly indie rock, the band’s rise to fame has been nothing short of meteoric. They released their self-titled debut EP in October 2012 to great acclaim, and amassed more than a million views on their YouTube channel. Their soulful vocals, along with blues-rock inspired instrumentation, combine to make for easy listening. They have performed at international festivals such as the SXSW Music Festival in Austin, Texas, as well as local events such as the F1 Singapore Grand Prix. Keep an eye out for this band, they are on their way to even greater heights.
2. Gentle Bones
Gentle Bones is the moniker of Joel Tan, a singer-songwriter who has drawn comparisons to the likes of Ed Sheeran for his own style of folk-pop music. His self-titled debut EP reached #1 on the iTunes Singapore chart, and his singles “Until We Die”, “Elusive”, and “Save Me” also topped the iTunes charts. He has performed at events such as Music Matters Live 2014, and has penned a song for the upcoming 2015 SEA Games. At the tender age of 20, Gentle Bones is representative of the musical movement among the younger generation in Singapore.
Pleasantry is comprised of Samantha Teng, Isa Ong, Ahmad Ariff, Daniaal Adam, and Haziq Hussain. They have released 2 EPs, the Porcelain Lenses EP and Inhabit EP. as well as a full-length album, Synapses. Their songs showcase dreamy vocals, combined with rich instrumentation and varied song structures, that take the listener to another ethereal plane. They perform regularly at music events featuring other local bands.
Cashew Chemists describe themselves as ‘a rock band from sunny Singapore’, and their music does evoke feelings of that. Comprised of Yuji Kumagai, Brian Chia, Elliot Sng, and Zachary Chia, Cashew Chemists have drawn comparisons to The Strokes, with their dreamy vocals and surf guitar combined with bluesy bass. Their music will bring you back to the ’60s and ’70s, unlike the other bands on this list. They released their self-titled debut EP in 2013, and have performed at local music festivals such as Baybeats and IGNITE.
Riot !n Magenta’s music can best be described as soulful electronic psychedelic indie-pop (that’s a mouthful!). Comprised of Eugenia Yip, Hayashida Ken, Khairul Hashim, Sulaiman Supian, and Ritz Ang, Riot !n Magenta released their debut EP, titled R3BOOT, in 2013. Powered by Eugenia’s incredible vocals and Ritz Ang’s rhythmic beats, together with mellow synths by Hayashida Ken, their live performances are exciting and mesmerizing, as the author of this post witnessed when they opened for CHVRCHES recently. The band is currently busy writing and recording their sophomore EP.
Pronounced [dot jif], .gif is an electronic duo comprised of weish and din. With a sound reminiscent of The xx and Alt-J, weish’s powerful vocals, accompanied by din’s textured synths and rhythmic beats, are simplistic yet organic. While their songs are quite experimental, they will leave you hooked as their songs evoke shades of melancholy, yet with all the warmth that a synthesizer can create. They will be performing at the upcoming Laneway Festival, a real boost for the Singaporean electronic music scene.
The Steve McQueens are a jazz quintet who incorporate soul and funk influences into their tightly arranged songs, yet with freely improvised sections all over the place. Comprised of Eugenia Yip (Yes, her again!), Fabian Lim, Joshua Wan, Jase Sng, and Aaron James Lee, they have drawn comparisons to jazz and neo-soul artistes such as Theolonius Monk and Erykah Badu. They released their debut EP Einstein Moments earlier this year, and perform regularly at jazz nights throughout the country. Eugenia’s powerhouse vocals, reminiscent of Amy Winehouse, shine through, but just stop short of overpowering the groove created by the rest of the band.