Featuring some of the best theatrics in live music and alluring synth-pop gems, this local band is one of our most anticipated performers at the upcoming music festival
So here’s one thing you gotta know about the local music scene. Considering how close-knit the community is, it’s not uncommon to find one musician involved in a juggling act between two or more bands. For this homegrown synth-pop quintet, this paradigm applies to all five of them – comprising accomplished members from The Great Spy Experiment, Obedient Wives Club, The Steve McQueens, The Summer State and The Karl Maka. Yet despite their individual accolades, they boldly started from scratch in 2011, and took their time working their way up – eventually scoring a slot at Laneway Singapore 2016, thanks to a brilliant EP titled Voices (which we regarded as one of our fave local albums of 2015) and unmatched showmanship that always makes these trailblazers a delight to watch. We catch up with all five of ’em before the big show; get ready for a riotous conversation.
Hey fellas! Y’all made quite the impact in 2015, and now you’re one of the local acts slated to play for Laneway 2016. Do you reckon it’s testament to the adage that hard work does pay off?
Ken (synth): Hard work and a little luck goes a long way. We’re very fortunate to be where we are today.
Sulaiman (bass): The positive reception we have from organisers and fans alike is great!
Coincidentally, y’all will be sharing the stage with Chvrches yet again! Who’s the biggest fan amongst y’all? Or are there other Laneway acts that catch your attention?
Ritz (drums): The Internet and Thundercat; been waiting for this day far too long.
Sulaiman: Beach House. Caught them during the first Laneway; it was raining and it was emotional when they played “Walk In The Park”.
Eugenia (vocals): Thundercat and The Internet!
Khai (guitar): The Internet.
Ken: Battles for me. I love their cymbal setup.
What do you think are some common mistakes that musicians tend to do that prevent them from attaining success? Surely, with your combined experience in the scene, y’all must have some golden nuggets of advice?
Ken: Success is relative to everyone. I believe that having fun and enjoying what you’re doing is the most important thing.
Sulaiman: Being able to push through ideas and turning it into reality is also a form of success.
Khai: Staying hungry and pushing boundaries helps.
Ritz: I think one common mistake is losing the essence of actually playing music. I mean, after all, we do what we do to de-stress and not create more for ourselves.
All of y’all have your own individual pet projects as well. Does each of you keep an intense schedule to make sure that said projects, Riot !n Magenta, and your day jobs all don’t clash? It must be nuts.
Ken: It is really tough, but it always pans out somehow.
Sulaiman: Just do it!
Ritz: It is taxing, but I wouldn’t trade this for anything else. It’s what I’ve been dreaming to do since I was a kid.
Eugenia: It can be a struggle sometimes – when you’re running about from rehearsal to gig and on to the next project all the time, and you don’t get to properly digest the things that are happening around you, and have much less time for self-practice and stuff like that. But knowing that it’s about keeping a commitment that I have very willingly chosen to make helps put things in perspective when I start to feel burnt out.
How has the success from Riot !n Magenta fared (and felt) differently from your individual projects?
Khai: It is like comparing Katong Laksa and Hainanese Chicken Rice. I love both, though they’re drastically different.
Eugenia: Like he said.
We love how your sound isn’t just digitalised synth-pop; there’s still plenty of organic elements in the mix with live guitar, bass and drums. Is this aesthetic important to y’all?
Ritz: YES! It very important: to be able to put a human touch to certain types of music that’s thought to only be played through a computer is one of our strong points.
Eugenia: We just want to plug and play [laughs].
Have y’all ever had any stage hiccups or malfunctions that caused y’all to freak out while performing?
Sulaiman: The effects did not work during one of our gigs!
Ken: But that’s the beauty of playing in a live band! Happy accidents happen.
Eugenia: My nose was leaking so badly when I was gigging through a flu once; I had to run behind to blow my nose during the instrumental interlude. Not a pretty sight.
With so many members (as compared to how Riot !n Magenta first started out with just Ken and Eugenia), how long does it take to write, polish and produce one track? Are y’all perfectionists? Do musicians have to be?
Eugenia: It happens pretty naturally. We like to let the music grow into itself as we play around with it in the studio. It also helps that we’re perfectionists in our own little ways. It’s through that, that we can trust in the integrity of whatever that’s being created at any particular point of time, because you know everyone’s putting their best foot forward.
We’re aware that Eugenia writes her lyrics based on personal demons and fears. What are some irrational phobias that plague each member of the band?
Ken: Wife-o-phobia, and sleeping on the floor after she reads this.
Obviously, the chemistry between you guys seems really tight. Where and what are some bonding activities that y’all would recommend others should do in Singapore?
Eugenia; We hang out and do things together that families do. We swim, we eat… we overeat. We laugh, fight and hug it out after. We’re all family, first.
Sulaiman: Cycling and skating from East Cost Park to Marina Bay sands is one of the usual things we do.
Ritz: Our love for street fashion.
Ken: Finding the perfect fish head curry after a recording session. The one to recommend is Ga Hock along Upper Bukit Timah Road.
Catch Riot !n Magenta perform at St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival Singapore 2016; 30 January, 2016; The Meadow, Gardens By The Bay, 18 Marina Gardens Drive, Singapore 018953. Tickets now available via SISTIC; standard ticket: $180, group bundle of 6 tickets: $999. For further news, visit the official website.
You can find out more about Riot !n Magenta at their website.