Electronica, jazz, rock, hip-hop… what is the Singapore sound? Get a glimpse by tuning into these new local bands, producers, and singer-songwriters
Gigging out everywhere from massive music festivals and underground concerts, to boozy bars and hipster cafes – with some even making waves through the Internet and other parts of the world – bands and musicians in Singapore are proving one thing: our local music scene is as robust and exciting as ever. By now, acts such as Charlie Lim and Disco Hue have become household names, but all these songsmiths started from somewhere. We’ve been listening religiously to tunes that have been rippling through the scene, and have compiled a list of rookie musicians that we’re certain have the means to become the next big thing. How’s the future faring for local music? Safe in the hands of these budding maestros and musos.
Formerly a lukewarm singer-songwriter with burgeoning potential, Sam Rui has evolved into one steamy upstart who’s been turning up the heat in the scene. Her gooey, mawkish vocals have evoked comparisons with the likes of UK’s r&b maverick, NAO, with whom she shared a lineup at this year’s St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival. This young crooner is definitely going places.
Bring together the smoky vocals of folky singer Joshua Tan (The Sets Band) and the silver-tongued rap game of Nicco Homaili (WhileTheKidsAreSurreal), and you have a superduo that’s also hot news. United, they fire out a double-dosed salvo of hip-hop and r&b, grounded by slick, shrewd production that The Weeknd would approve.
Bakers in Space
Who said guitar music was dead? These belligerent spaceboys are bringing indie-rock back in a big way, as proven by their newest bombshell of a single, “Fools & Liars”. Aggressive, head-banging breakdowns reminiscent of Royal Blood, a swagger-y bridge that The Libertines would love, and the vocal charisma of Catfish and the Bottlemen truly make these newcomers one to space out with.
Listen: “Fools & Liars”
Few can proclaim to have a debut single that scores the #1 spot on Spotify Singapore’s Viral 50 charts. That’s exactly what this electronica-dabbling wunderkind did with “1057” (pronounced “lost”) – pair bouncy synth melodies with Sokko’s smooth, hypnotic vocals, and you have yourself an instant classic. Some have dubbed her Singapore’s answer to Grimes – we don’t disagree.
You might’ve heard of the breakthrough success of retro synth-poppers, Disco Hue, in 2016. Now meet the electronic whiz kid behind it all, and his solo alias that’s been making ripples of its own. A talented video and music producer, THIEVVES will steal your attention with a sound delicately dipped in r&b and future bass – his sticky single, “Bout U” featuring Disco Hue’s Veronica, showcasing a perfect balance of both.
Listen: “Bout U”
Another standout from this year’s Laneway Festival, this supercharged quartet displays a sensitive side despite its beastly moniker. Ferociously fusing choppy math-rock rhythms with the unpredictability of jazz, this hard-hitting ensemble even uses saxophones to make a point – that there truly are no limits in music.
Wang Wei Yang shocked the scene when he ditched his alt-folk tendencies as the frontman of Monster Cat for this bewitching, electronic alias. His aesthetic is confusing as it is captivating – glitched-out vocal samples, labyrinthine beats, with other elements derived from obscure bass music and Chinese-influenced “Sino-grime”. Yet, he’s also the one responsible for producing Jasmine Sokko’s (see above) saccharine synth-pop gem, “1057”. A true chameleon, this dude.
Never mind lackadaisical covers with acoustic guitars, the chummy trio behind Pälty Sotatö (they seem to have obsession with Maccas too) shakes up the routine in a revitalising way. Made up of Melina Kymmie (The Great White Lark), Priscilla Chun, and Aaron Tan (ARNT), these three perform crystalline, synth-glistening reinterpretations of pop songs and indie hits, released as euphoric, bite-sized clips on their social media channels. We already can’t wait for their originals.
He’s been turning heads in the scene for a while now, and we reckon 2017’s the year this versatile electronic producer breaks out. Both an innovator and a role model – he’s currently the president of National University of Singapore’s Electronic Music Lab – Mitch Advent has just released his Valentine’s Day remix EP, that flaunts his muscle in future house and chill-step with catchy melodies galore.
Listen: “Save” (Mitch Advent remix)
With confidence carved from exposure through YouTube, this singer-songwriter now comes into her own as a starlet who’s blazing the r&b scene. Take a few seconds to listen to her enrapturing vocals, and you’ll instantly comprehend the comparisons with Banks. What we really want is to see this songbird break into the dance scene – her upbeat collaboration with Jeff Hue on the Diplo-esque “Over” is pure fireworks if you ask us.