Whether you’re into hip-hop, indie rock, hardcore metal, electronica or R&B, you need to know about these talented homegrown bands, singer-songwriters, producers and artistes.
Filling your calendars with massive music festivals, gigs and concerts, and keeping the nights alive with raves, parties and more booze is one long bash we don’t want to end. But to keep you in the know with who’s who in the local music scene – both household names and the fresh talents who are making waves both here and abroad – we’ve rounded up 10 local bands, singer-songwriters, producers, and artists to you need to hear about.
No one could ignore the glorious comeback of homegrown shoegazers, Astreal, at Laneway Festival when the band surprised concert-goers with songs from its long-awaited album — and boy, did it sound monumental. Known for explosive live performances, as well as being one of Singapore’s first indie bands to be fronted by a female vocalist, Ginette Chittick, (pictured above) this veteran outfit’s signature discordant-yet-pleasing-to-the-ear sound is one to keep an ear out, because newsflash: Astreal is here to stay. For more Astreal buzz, we sat down and chat with bassist and frontwoman Ginette Chittick about motherhood and fashion.
With confidence carved from exposure through YouTube, this singer-songwriter has come into her own as a starlet who’s blazing the R&B scene. Take a few seconds to listen to Ffion’s 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.
Master of catchy lullabies (with a touch of dance from his latest single); soulful crooner; the man with velvet vocals; much has been said to describe Gentle Bones (aka Joel Tan). But strip away all those titles, and what you get is arguably one of Singapore’s most popular singer-songwriters with an uncanny ability to make fans – and we don’t just mean of the female variety – swoon at his feet. One for fans of Ed Sheeran and James Arthur and Gavin James.
Formerly a lukewarm singer-songwriter, Sam Rui has evolved into one steamy upstart who’s been turning up the heat in the scene. Her gooey, mawkish vocals have prompted 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.
A lot of what people love about Take Two – breezy and uncomplicated pop tunes, catchy enough for you to want to sing along – is present in M1LDL1FE (the band rebranded themselves after the departure of guitarist Johnathan Lim). From what we’ve heard so far on the recently released track, “Distraction”, this band is a little bit more polished, colourful and catchy guitar arrangements.
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 Jasmine 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
One word: incredible. This skilled local DJ has made his mark in the EDM World, fresh from performances at Ultra Miami and DJakarta Warehouse Project. He’s also recently released an album with Gentle Bones, and is scheduled to perform a set on Tomorrowland in July. See, we weren’t exaggerating when we said he’s incredible. Oh, did we mention? He’s also a full-time student at SMU. Mind blown.
While known for that NDP theme song 2016, this prominent local band is actually more famous in the Singaporean bar scene. Led by main vocalist Sara Wee, these talented musicians are known for being able to perform a wide range of songs, from jazz to rock to even soft acoustics. Catch them at Timbre, Wala Wala and Harry’s at Boat Quay as the belt out your favourite covers and originals from their hit album Settle The Kettle.
They may have found their lead singer on vine (what?!) but there’s been no looking back since then. These fab four are most well known for their tennis-themed debut single ‘Gotta Find You’ and they certainly bring a fresh mix of futuristic synth-pop and retro disco style to the local music scene. Disco Hue has been repeatedly compared to bands such as The Naked And Famous and CHVRCHES. You know what? We don’t disagree.
For more on Disco Hue, be sure to check out our little chat with this quartet.
He’s opened for Mayday Parade, and recently signed a contract with Warner Music Singapore, so you know JJ Ong is the real deal. The former frontman of JJ and the Paperplanes, this up-and-coming singer is venturing into the pop music scene, something he’s earned our respect for doing. In an interview, he also humbly stated that opening for Ed Sheeran is ‘a bit far off’. But at the meteoric rate he’s rising at, we think it could be a lot closer than he thinks.
Not the easiest name to spell, but one you’ll definitely remember. This local songbird has made waves in recent times, her smooth vocals described as being ‘as still and clear as water’. Her latest self-titled album is riveting, with an eclectic mix of jazz, pop and alternative tracks. Have a listen to the song ‘How Long’, which will no doubt awaken the hopeless romantic in you.
This Singapore Idol alumni is all about chill vibes, and a couple of funky tunes that will you grooving – à la the 70’s (also the crooner’s latest single). With boy-next-door charm, singer-songwriter Sezairi is no stranger to mellow acoustics and danceable pop tunes that are also packed with elements of soul and R&B. You can’t help falling in love with tracks such as ‘Fire To The Floor’ and ‘It Will Never Mend’ from his self-titled EP which was inspired by his wife – cue the awwws.
Imagine a mix of Adele and Michael Buble and you’ll arrive at this budding singer-songwriter. One of our favourites, Becka was trained as a classical pianist, and now sings an upbeat mix of jazz, pop and soul. With lyrics inspired by the complexities of life, this petite talent even released a Mandarin album recently. Have a listen at her hit song ‘20 seconds’, there’s a reason why it was projected onto the Merlion.
Making his way into the music scene with a whole lot of soul is up-and-coming singer-songwriter Jarrold. Inspired by his own poignant life experiences, Singapore’s very own John Mayer brings his unique blend of folk and pop that is guaranteed to tug at all our heartstrings. His debut single ‘Sliding Back’ is a heartfelt rendition on faith and values. Ladies and gents, this is one talented young artist!
The best way to describe Charlie Lim’s music would be a roller-coaster ride. This gifted musician has a repertoire of songs from melancholic vibes to electro-pop and this extensive range is showcased in his latest release TIME/SPACE – a split album containing two collections of songs. Unsurprisingly, his velvet voice of his has already secured him gigs at huge events such as SingJazz and even Clockenflap. If you’re lucky enough to catch him live (tickets sell out quickly), you’ll be rewarded with an intimate journey through a rainbow of melodies. This is one local artist you want to keep on your radar.
The Analog Girl
Initially a bedroom project, Mei Wong (better known as The Analog Girl) has charmed music lovers everywhere with her sweet lo-fi sounds of synths and tape recorders, evolving into Technicolor, electronic dream pop over the years. Her latest album release, Golden Sugar Crystals, includes the tracks ‘What You Are Showing Me Is A Fantasy’ which was handpicked by Apple Music for the ‘Best of the Week’ playlist, and ‘More Than You Know’ which was played on BBC Radio 3’s Late Junction with Nick Luscombe show. Catch her work her magic live with Australian psychedelic band Pond in November!
The Sam Willows
From acoustic folk-hued music, the band has evolved to embrace new styles, instruments, genres and direction by keeping up with musical trends. This allowed The Sam Willows to progress, and to also not deviate too much from their roots in pop. And it’s as if the band is uncannily well-read in pop culture, fine-tuning even their aesthetic cues to what is most prevalent now. The music video for their latest EDM-infused single ‘Keep Me Jealous’ have garnered over 300,000 views in 3 months on YouTube, and the numbers keep growing, proving that these guys are definitely masterful in the art of trendsetting.
It’s hard to put a pin on iNCH – she’s a musician, actress, all-round artist, co-founder of Invasion Singapore; sometimes all of the above, all at once. The La Salle College of the Arts graduate fronted indie bands Auburn’s Epiphany and Allura prior to her solo debut, which landed her an offer to be the first Singapore solo artist to perform at a major music festival in Austin, Texas: South by Southwest (SXSW). Check out the new music video for iNCH’s track ‘Simple Kind of Life’ (above) which pays a homage to nostalgia with its arts & craft props, old-school filters, and feel-good cheesiness.
No, the origin of the band name isn’t some long story, it’s solely because lead singer Celine likes to say the word ‘sobs’ as a response to many things. This relatively new trio is known for their pop-indie style, made unique with capricious guitar riffs and the distinctive voice of Celine (think Melanie Martinez and Lana Del Rey). Our favourite song from their EP Catflap has got to be ‘Girl’, trust us, it will be on your Spotify top hits in no time!
Can you get any more Singaporean when you’re known as THELIONCITYBOY? This true blue Lion City boy (aka Kevin Lester) is a cool brew of rapper, producer and music activist. The homegrown hip-hop artist is not only one of the city’s hottest acts, but has made a name for himself at SXSW 2013 in Austin, as well as Canadian Music Week in Toronto. And it doesn’t end there. THELIONCITYBOY was also the brainchild behind the track featured in Starhub’s campaign with LIONSXII, which allowed him to team up with hometown football legend, Fandi Ahmad.
Let’s kick the list off with this homegrown grindcore band that took the London Underground sans seats metal stage at Glastonbury Festival 2017: Wormrot. The loudest three-piece metal-heads are the first Singapore band to ever perform at the British music festival (also one of the biggest and most prominent in the world), and share the same stage as death metal legends Napalm Death. Recently signed to British metal label Earache, Wormrot released its third studio album Voices in full hardcore punk and metal glory, and is streaming via Vice’s music channel, Noisey.
Post-metal band Radiant Archery burst onto the metal scene in Singapore with a hypnotic, instrumental set that is loud and heavy, but surprisingly quite enthralling – a perfect balance for a non-vocal showcase. Their style of music is undeniably an interesting one, packed with hard, distorted riffs and high-energy drums, which pretty much makes having roaring vocals redundant. The Baybeats alumni has recently released a split EP with Indonesia’s ENSENA which is bound to blow your brains out with its amplified hard rock sound.