Nanyang Technological University Cultural Activities Club
Feb - Mar 2010, Issue 20.
MICA (P) 175/12/2009
8 Modern Citizen 10 Giselle 11 Beauty & The Beast
12 JP 13 katncandix2 17 Mosaic Music Festival
26 West Grand Boulevard Interview
Nanyang Technological University Cultural Activities Club
Cover Credit: The Esplanade Co Ltd
We’re back! In this issue of ArtJam, we are going all music on you. 2010 is shaping up to be a great year for
music lovers as there will be a bunch of international acts making Singapore one of their stops in their Asian tour.
The Mosaic Music Festival promises to bring an exciting line up of both well-received performers from different
parts of the world, making the Esplanade the place to go to for an experience for your ears.
NTU Cultural Activities Club presents the Nanyang Arts Festival. Already in its 8th year, the organisers are going
to deliver two months featuring the best of what NTU can offer.
Keep those post secrets coming in! Visit www.ArtJampostsecret.com to share and see even more post secrets
(that are deemed too ‘wild’ to be published).
Jan - Mar 2010, Issue 20.
MICA (P) 275/01/2008
Maryam Mohamed Mokhtar
Xpress Print Pte Ltd
Tel: 6880 2881
This is a Publication of Nanyang Technological University Cultural Activities Club
To advertise with us or list your events in ART JAM, email us at email@example.com
where to find Art Jam
• All Junior Colleges • All Polytechnics • Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts • NTU • NIE • SMU • SIM
• Alliance Francaise AGF Theatre • DBS Arts Centre • Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay • *scape Youth Centre
• The ARTrium • The Substation • Victoria Concert Hall • Victoria Theatre • Aspire Cafe • library@esplanade
• National Museum • The Garden Slug
Download the softcopy of ArtJam at http://www.ntucac.com/ArtJam
Nanyang Arts Festival
Nanyang Arts Festival Calendar
Beauty & The Beast
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
+65 Indie Underground
Mosiac Music Festival
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Nanyang Arts Festival
the changes of
Text: Devika Shinde
Photos: Mervyn Chua
And the best place to see all these colours emoting and
expressing is right now, right here on NTU campus! Nanyang
Arts Festival (NAF) is back and in its 8th year, NAF 2010
brings to NTU ‘COLOURWORKS’ - a two month extravaganza
filled with vibrancy and vigour, beauty and brilliance symbolic of
Kicking off the two-month celebrations was the Festival Opening
Ceremony on 20th January at Canopy K outside LT1A in NTU.
Starting from 10:30am, the pre-opening featured the guest band
Seville. The official Opening Ceremony was abuzz with numerous
activities. It showcased the first ever sand sculpture in NTU and all
institutions, specially commissioned by JOOheng from Sandworkz.
Named Sandra, the pretty damsel highlights NAF’s theme for
the Festival - the use of sand to illustrate the multitude of ways
of presenting visual and performing arts. The day also kickstarted
the quest to set a Singapore Record for the ‘Largest Sand Art
Montage – Colourworks’. Award-winning groups like the NTU CAC
Salsa En Sync, Breakdance, NIE DanceFuzion, Chinese Drums and
Choir treated the audience to a blend of groovy dance steps, slow
soothing music and vigorous strong beats. Following that, a miniconcert
by the guest band – Aries Kaizer rounded up the official
ceremony. Throughout the day, NAF balloons dotted the campus
and each of the performances left everyone asking for more!
If you enjoyed the Opening Ceremony of NAF 2010, then you are going
to love the next two months on campus. NAF 2010 will be rocking,
As part of the bid for Singapore Records, NAF aims to collect a
whopping 1000 sand art pieces. Open to one and all, just look around
campus for the sand art booths and contribute your creativity to
assemble a giant montage of sand art pieces that NAF will display at
the Closing Ceremony. Be sure to be a part of the ground-breaking,
history making event and revisit your childhood as you enjoy making
limitless sand art designs!
NAF 2010 aims to explore art from different perspectives associating
each form with a colour and an emotion. So there is ‘Hot Stuff’, with
loud music, groovy dance moves and stunning visuals, ‘Green Week’,
where you explore how saving the earth can go hand in hand with
art and ‘The Deep Blue Scene’, the time when you can slow down
and explore the many facets of art that will set you thinking. In the
Green Week around Valentine’s Day, put all your creative juices to work
and challenge yourself to create gifts for that special one using only
recyclable materials! This art challenge with a twist promises to be
exciting and to give your gift a whole new different meaning of love,
not just for that someone special but for the world as well! So give your
love an exclusive ‘Green He(Arts)’!
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In the next two months, get ready to be mesmerised by the amazing
performances and concerts of the NTU CAC Piano Ensemble, Choir
and Chinese Orchestra. NTU CAC Symphonic Band will be having their
very own concert “Live in Singapore”, which will premier new works by
Mr Satoshi Yogisawa. In addition, CAC Special Projects, Impresario – a
nationwide talent search competition, Arts From The Heart (AFTH), Guitar
Ensemble and Joint Dance Concert will sure burn the stage with their
activities and performances!
Rocking the NTU campus will be various workshops teaching self-defence
techniques of Wushu, simple Photoshop techniques and Tap Dance
and Lindy Hop dances. Get a chance to be more creative with Balloon
Sculpting, Batik Painting and Handicraft making. Try your hand at Western
calligraphy and make your own Manga drawings! Rock out with the guitar
like a Hollywood superstar with Guitar Hero Jam and have a blast with
your friends. Vent your feelings and thoughts using colours and graffiti
during Graffiti Week. Relax and rewind with movies like Step Up, Fame:
The Movie, Wall-E, V for Vendetta and Inglorious Bastards. Join in the hall
performances and lunchtime performances of Taekwon-do and Wushu.
Never will there be a dull moment on campus!
Ending the festival on a high note will be the Closing Ceremony, held at the IMM Garden
Plaza. It will showcase all the festival highlights and achievements to NTU and the public!
The Closing Ceremony will be a concert-exhibition, featuring performances by external
bands and NTU arts and cultural clubs, such as CAC’s DanceSport Academy. It is also
the grand day when NAF will display the Singapore Record - Largest Display of Sand Art
Join NAF 2010 for a smashing good time right till 27 th March 2010! Look out for the NAF
calendar near Canteen A, pick up our informative event guide or just simply log on to www.
naf.sg. Feast your ‘sand-ses’ at Colourworks today and experience the magic of colours
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Calendar of Events
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Text: Maryam Mokhtar
Photos: The Necessary Stage
In its latest offering, The Necessary Stage provokes audiences into analyzing relevant
contemporary Singaporean issues, as it invites them to explore the journeys of three
women bound by circumstance, in Model Citizens.
Model Citizens, which runs from March 3 rd to 14 th at TNS’s Black Box, features a stellar
cast of Goh Guat Kien, Siti Khalijah and Karen Tan as three women facing their own
personal emotional and psychological struggles: an MP’s wife, a maid and her employer
The play chronicles the lives of the maid, whose lover has just stabbed an MP, the wife
of the MP, who struggles to keep up her brave front, and the maid’s employer, whose
attempts at re-connecting with her children have so far been futile. Model Citizens looks
at how these three women, whose fates seem intertwined, are forced to look to each
other as they search for comfort, solace and salvation.
Playwright Haresh Sharma and director Alvin Tan, in signature style, break language and
social barriers, in this presentation of a multi-lingual piece that tugs at the very heartstrings
we share regardless of race, gender and occupation: through an examination of the very
nature of human relationships.
ArtJam got Siti Khalijah and Karen to dish out some quick bites on the rehearsal
process and find out what it’s like to be part of an all-female ensemble, and
what all humans, not just women, have in common.
ArtJam: Siti, you play a unique role in Model Citizens.
When you first saw the script for the play, what was it
about your character that stood out for you?
Siti Khalijah: The fact that she’s very manipulative and a
pretty good actress! Even as I was reading the script, I
felt like I’ve been fooled by her a couple of times.
ArtJam: What is it like taking on the role of a maid?
Did anything funny or interesting happen during the
SK: I really enjoyed playing Melly because she’s very
‘happening’. She’s hardworking, loyal, confident and
knows how to have fun! And also because this show is
very multi-lingual (I’ll be speaking in Bahasa Indonesia,
Guat Kian will be speaking in Mandarin and Karen will
be speaking in Baba Patois and English), we have to be
extra attentive and really listen for our cue to enter with
the next line or blocking. So of course when we first
started out it got pretty crazy because we weren’t sure
and ended up panicking ourselves!
ArtJam: Is there a unique chemistry and energy that
exists with a female-only cast during rehearsals?
SK: Of course! We can go from talking about the script
and our characters and suddenly go into womenly
things like flabby arms and bulging tummies! But
seriously, I think the chemistry between the 3 of us is
really wonderful. We can connect emotionally and ‘feel’
each other when we’re performing.
ArtJam: Were there any quirks about your fellow
cast members that helped liven up the rehearsal
Karen Tan: I think the funniest would be the conversations
between Alvin, who speaks no Mandarin, and Guat
Kian, who speaks very little English. It’s panto at its
ArtJam: Karen, your role as the employer of the maid,
is one that a majority of Singaporeans can identify and
connect with. What was it like getting under the skin of
March 3 rd -March 14 th
3 – 6 & 11 – 13 March 2010, 8pm
6 – 7 & 13 – 14 March 2010, 3pm
The Necessary Stage Black Box 278
Marine Parade Road #B1-02 Marine Parade
Community Building Singapore 449282
Karen: Actually, I should qualify that I play a woman
who happens to employ a maid, as opposed to making
a Maid Employer a character type. Just like Siti plays
a woman who happens to work as a maid, and Guat
Kian plays a woman who happens to be married to an
MP. It actually makes a huge difference to how we see
My character is also a wife and mother; she reads a lot;
she’s effectively tri-lingual, speaking English, Mandarin
and Malay; she is bound to her family by love and duty;
she resents foreigners who make a lot of noise and
mess…and suddenly, she’s a person that many people
can identify with, and not just by women who employ
ArtJam: All three characters have their own struggles,
yet they seem to be tied by a common thread. Do
you think this emotional thread is characteristic of
the relationships between women, regardless of the
Karen: It’s easy to say that the women are united by
emotional grief and the ability to exact change in the
way men can’t. However, I like to believe that men
and women are born with the need to communicate,
no matter the circumstance. And we all find a way to
connect with each other. We really mustn’t let modern
theories and ideas rubbish that.
But this being theatre, then the situation has 3 women,
and their journeys to help each other, and in the process,
hopefully find salvation for themselves.
*Concession for students, senior citizens
and NSF. Prices exclude $3 SISTIC handling fee.
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Love. Beauty. Betrayal. Redemption.
This March, the Singapore Dance Theatre proudly
presents French ballet ‘Giselle’, which promises a
dark take on love with its tragic but romantic plot.
Since its Parisian debut in 1841, ‘Giselle’ has been the
oldest consistently performed ballet in the world, not
only due to its dazzling array of dance techniques but
also its artistic direction and its engaging plot. ‘Giselle’
is not only a classical dance act but also a blockbuster
ballet that deals with love, mystery, otherworldly beauty,
excitement, danger and death. Many critics have even
dubbed ‘Giselle’ as the ‘Hamlet of ballets’. In ‘Giselle’,
love is expressed with the abstract and subtle beauty
of body language.
Handsome nobleman Albrecht, is mesmerised by the
beautiful village maiden Giselle and disguises himself
as a peasant and promises eternal love to her. Yet,
unbeknownst to Giselle, Albrecht is already betrothed
to Bathilde, the Duke’s daughter.
Upon realising the heart wrenching truth of Albrecht’s
betrothal, and perceiving unrequited love, Giselle
throws herself upon Albrecht’s sword and dies. Upon
her tragic death, Albrecht comes to realise his true love
for Giselle and mourns at her tomb.
However, the plot does not merely end with Giselle’s
tragic death. Upon death, Giselle becomes a wandering
embittered spirit known as wilis, which exists to seek
revenge on unfaithful and deceitful men.
Will Giselle ever forgive Albrecht and embrace love once
again? Will Albrecht ever be able to convince Giselle of
Text: Victoria Chang
Photo: Singapore Dance Theatre
true love? Will this seemingly romantic and yet tragic
ballet ever end happily?
In charge of staging for ‘Giselle’ this time is Swedish
artistic director Janek Schergen who is currently
working in the Singapore Dance Theatre company.
Before working with the Singapore Dance Theatre,
Mr Schergen has been ballet master of the Pittsburgh
Ballet as well as Artistic Director of the Nashville Ballet.
With such an illustrious background in ballet, one can
be assured that ‘Giselle’ is in capable hands under Mr
Step out of reality and into this hauntingly beautiful
performance of a classic and unforgettable ballet set to
an evocative and lingering score with Singapore Dance
Date: 11 March 2010
– Fundraising Gala Performance and Dinner
12 to 14 March 2010
– Regular Performance Nights
Venue: Victoria Theatre
Time: 8.00 pm
Ticket prices: 11 March - $500, $250, $150
(Tickets are available from SDT office ONLY)
12 to 14 March - $88, $68, $48
(Through SISTIC and SDT)
We apologise that we are unable to admit infants
in arms and children below 3 years old. Children 3
years old and above will require a ticket for entry.
Tickets will be available from 4 January 2010
Beauty & The Beast
W!LD RICE’s Beauty & The Beast gives the
classic fairytale a local rubdown and unveils it with all the
flair that we’ve come to expect of their pantomimes.
Listening to the chatter of children and their party
clappers and waiting for the curtain to rise, I wondered
if the production could sustain the interest of both
young and mature audiences. It rises to the challenge
Beauty & The Beast coaxes its young audience into
the tale by engaging their participation. Karen Tan’s Ah
Ma Chao Chao opened the show by warmly initiating
the audience into their roles in driving the story and
connecting with the characters. At times, the effect
came across as a little too Blue’s Clues (“Where’s
____?”, followed by children excitedly shrieking “There!
Behind!”), but there were stellar moments where the cast
seized on to audience reactions and played off them,
cleverly ad-libbing to the laughter of the audience.
Alfian Sa’at’s script juggles the two audiences and
sizzles as a cocktail of laugh-out-loud moments and
references that pay homage to the big events of 2009.
In one scene, there is a cringeworthy Ris Low tribute that
plays out in the banter between Beauty’s two campy
sisters (think “boomz” and “half zebra half leopard
beegini”). In another, a conservative magician insists
Text: Nur Asyiqin
Photo: Sirius Art
she’s on page 73 (in the phone directory), a sly wink
at the Dr Thio Su Mien’s “I’m on page 73” declaration
during the AWARE saga.
Emma Yong shines as the level-headed, strong-willed
Beauty. Her voice, as always, is amazing, soaring
through Elanie Chen’s musical compositions. RJ
Rosales’ Beast, though awkwardly endearing, ends up
being overshadowed by the rest of the cast. The other
characters elicited laughter through their expressions,
but him spending most of the show with a mask
concealing his expressions, placing him at a
disadvantage. For those who can stomach the camp
(and I ate it up), Chua En Lai and Darius Tan as Beauty’s
two over-the-top sisters are comedy gold. Flouncing
around stage on heels, and flashing their petticoats at
the audience, they brought catty fun to the show.
Hossan Leong’s direction makes Beauty & The Beast
a flurry of visual pleasure and well-timed comedy. The
costumes are eye-catching, particularly during the
opening and ending numbers where gowns and ruffles
fill the stage, the props are meticulous and the set is
well put together, and very effectively used. The forest
swings open to reveal the interior of Beauty’s house,
the Beast’s castle looms in the background and the
LED rose wilts and blooms, suspended over the rest
of the cast.
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M1 Singapore Fringe Festival 2010
Live Fringe Theatre: ‘JP’
Outrageous. Hilarious. Fascinating.
Japanese Theatre Group , Gumbo, definitely lived up
to its reputation of performing energetic, comedic and
colourful plays with a serious twist. Their play ‘JP’
was part of the line-up for this year’s Singapore M1 Fringe
Festival. Despite frequent injections of slapstick comedy,
the play turned out to be highly entertaining and thought
The actors opened the first scene with elaborate costumes
and equally dramatic make-up complete with huge grins
on their faces which brought about an almost frighteningly
cheerful contrast to the darkness of the theatre.
Throughout the play, the actors kept up with their
enthusiasm with exaggerated motion and extreme
expressions on their faces, causing the audience to laugh
uproariously. Actor Mitsuru Yanase portrayed egotism at
its extreme while actress Kayo Tamura portrayed female
promiscuity with such extremity that it resonated deeply
with the audience despite the play’s positive ending of
repentance and change.
Unlike most other conventional plays, ‘JP’ proved to be
extremely interactive. Members of the audience were
invited onstage twice to interact with the cast during the
play. Cast member Ryo Nishihara energetically exclaimed,
“Hi Singapore!” to the audience and shook hands with
members of the audience in midst of the play. Often, the
actors would directly question and address the audience
as well, allowing them to experience the emotions that the
cast was trying to portray.
Text: Victoria Chang
Photo: Iain Bond
Figurative language was often humorously translated
into literal acting as well. The cast was not inhibited
by the sexual themes of the play and gamely threw
themselves into their respective provocative roles.
While ‘JP’ was comedic due to frequent sexual
innuendos and exaggerated acting, underlying
the humorous front were themes that dealt with
the absurdities and inconsistencies in human
behaviour. Said cast member Yuko Nishimura
during the play: “Why do we hide and protect our
true selves? We are happy when we live in truth,
though it is difficult.”
Though the members of the cast had little knowledge
of the English language, ‘JP’ was painstakingly
performed in English. This use of English was
previously coined as ‘Japlish’ by critics due to the
heavy Japanese accent of the actors which added
to the humour of the play. Says Karo Tamura, who
both directed and acted in the play, “We wanted
to perform in English in order to connect with the
audience in a better way, rather than have them be
distracted by English subtitles.”
Indeed, “JP” proves that Japanese Theatre Group
Gumbo is one theatre group to watch out for in
the arts scene. One can definitely look forward to
experience even more of their quirky and meaningful
works in time to come.
M1 Singapore Fringe Festival 2010
Text: Samantha Soon
This year, the M1 Singapore Fringe Festival 2010 brings us Taiwanese folk pop duo, Katncandix2, for a twoday
show as a highlight of the festival.
The night began with a thought-provoking question, ‘What do you think dreams are?’ making the audience reflect
on their own ideals and lives. Their album title which is also the title of a song, “Little Flight”, was an apt beginning
to the concert as their music brought us into their very own ‘B612’, the theme of the concert.
Katncandix2’s music bears no resemblance to the sweet and airy cotton candy (a direct translation of the group’s
Chinese name). Together with SSJ, the band’s guitarist and lead vocalist, Ball, the duo brought us a night of
acoustic and original music with their eleven-song set. Ball’s natural vocals gave a fresh touch to SSJ’s melodies.
The charm of Katncandix2 thus lies in its ability to draw near to their audience, not only through the music they
make, but also through their stands on the masses’ ideals and principles.
As opposed to mainstream Taiwanese pop, Katncandix2’s music maintains a positive spirit, even when it sings of
heavy issues such as world peace and environmental protection, or even the usual theme of love. The double love
song in the set, ‘Girl’ and ‘Please love him for me’, sings of facing heartbreaks with an optimistic outlook, and not
to give up on love even when it fails.
What was unique about the duo, was that while SSJ, the main composer of Katncandix2’s melodies was quiet and
shy, lead singer Ball loved to engage with their audience in between songs, and she would talk about anything;
from stories behind songs, to the journey of their music career: how they started out as street performers to where
they are today, signed under a major record company under the support of Taipei’s Cultural Affairs. Katncandix2
is a testimony to the songs of encouragement they sing, ‘We are the same’, ‘Blossoms everywhere’ and ‘Lacking
of courage’, where they urge their audience to take an active step towards fulfilling
dreams they believe in.
The night ended with their original ‘Future?’ with visuals of environmental
damage, where they repeatedly sang ‘Do you see? This is not the future we
want’, advocating people to play a part in protecting our Earth. The concert
was brought to a perfect end by their debut single ‘2375’, imploring the
audience to never forget their earliest dreams and ideals.
A fresh take on Taiwanese pop
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Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
All eyes were clearly on Karen O, including the giant inflated
eyeball backdrop as she took her place with guitarist Nick
Zinner and drummer Brian Chase on stage as part of the
Yeah Yeah Yeahs. One of the most electrifying front-women in rock,
she did nothing but enthral audiences throughout the two hour
sold out set.
Her eccentric dance moves and stage antics kept audiences
guessing as to what she would pull off next. And this included
her choices of threads as well. Coming out for the concert opener
‘Runaway’ in bright, neon stockings and an equally colourful romper,
Karen O truly made her glow among the dim lighting. She got her
‘leather on’ in ‘Zero’ when she emerged with a heavily studded
leather jacket that spelt her initials at the back. She also worked
the crowd into a frenzy when she emerged in a long robe and an
elaborate headdress that provided a theatrical aesthetic that fit well
with O’s dramatic and somewhat unique stage performance.
The show truly started with a bang when guitarist Zinner played
the familiar wicked, crunchy riffs to the obvious crowd pleaser
‘Phenomena’ from Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ sophomore album Show Your
Bones. Although quiet and timid, which was a stark contrast to
the more flamboyant O, both Zinner and drummer Chase showed
off their individual talents especially with songs like ‘Date With the
Night’ and ‘Y Control’. While singing ‘Boy you’re just a stupid b***h
and girl you’re just a no good d**k’, O violently stomped on a black
box, releasing an intense shower of shiny red Y-shaped confetti
that dazzled the audiences with glee and awe.
Devoted Yeah Yeah Yeahs fans must have been delighted that
the set list equally covered all of their albums including Fever to
Tell (2003), Show Your Bones (2006) and It’s Blitz (2009) and even
played ‘Miles Away’ from their self-titled debut EP. The Esplanade
theatre morphed into a massive dance party with club-ready hits
such as ‘Heads Will Roll’ but the true highlight was during the
encore when Karen O melted the 2000-odd hearts with an acoustic
rendition of ‘Maps’. As she repeated the lines ‘Wait, they don’t love
you like I do,’ it is pretty clear the audience thought otherwise. One
can only anticipate the next time the New York indie superstars
step into our sunny island.
Text: Jennifer Dhanaraj
Photo: Jonathan Kwa
Text: Jennifer Dhanaraj
Photo: Jonathan Kwa
With light coming out of a strange contraption made up of five megaphones strapped onto his back, Patrick
Watson and his band walked into the crowd singing the first encore piece ‘Hearts in the Park’. This is just
a taste of Patrick Watson’s sold out live performance at the Esplanade Recital Studio; experimental and
avant-garde but yet at the same time, fun and playful.
Patrick Watson, whose band is named after him, opened the concert with ‘Fireweed’ that perfectly showed off his
lush vocals, which included his heavenly falsettos as well. Every bit of the musical mad scientist that is so often
used to describe him, Watson ran around the stage from the piano to the megaphones to the perfectly utilized
digital loop machine. The digital loop pedals enabled Watson to beautifully recreate in a live setting the complex
layering of vocals so exquisitely achieved in the band’s studio albums especially ‘Wooden Arms’ (2009).
Despite the band being named after him, Watson certainly did not steal any attention away from the other three
members. The chemistry between the band members was palpable during the performances as they engaged in
playful on-stage banter in between songs.
Especially impressive was percussionist Robert Kuster who was able to create a myriad of sounds with the use of
various objects. Kuster showed off his skills in ‘Beijing’ where he expertly clanked on different metals that included
pots and pans. We can definitely imagine the sounds of Beijing with the help of Kuster as Watson sings, “It was
the sound of the city/Speaks to me”.
During ‘To Build a Home’, the studio was transformed into a pitch-black room. Not being able to see a thing, the
audience grew completely quiet as they were fixated on Watson’s rich, quivering and ghostly vocals that were
accompanied by the beautiful piano chords.
Taking advantage of the wonderful acoustics at the recital studio, Watson performs an acoustic version of ‘Man
under the Sea’ as he engages the audience to sing the line ‘Just me, the fish and the sea’ repeatedly but in different
The best part of the concert had to be when Patrick Watson came out for another encore announcing that they
wanted to try out an improvisation that was reserved for the occasional fun audience. He asked the audience
to shout out random phrases that the band would then piece together to produce a song right there and then.
Phrases like ‘The mating habits of ants’, ‘Boy in Blue’, ‘Pitch Black’ were thrown at the band. Clearly impressed by
the imagination of the audience, he declared that Singapore had the craziest ideas ever. Bassist Mishka Stein along
with Angell and Kuster immediately started playing their respective instruments and surprisingly, it all came together
seamlessly. Watson then joined in and strung the phrases that were thrown at him in such a coherent manner.
It was a privilege to witness the songwriting process of the band and it was at that point where one could see
exactly how tight the band was, with regards to their musicianship. The concert soon ended and it really, did feel
like the most intimate, whimsical and surreal dream.
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Text: Audrey Lim
Photo: Universal Music Singapore
Music: +65 Indie Underground
Released last December, the 3-CD compilation offers a selection of
some of be the best tunes in the local music scene since the ‘80s, more
specifically, the rock and indie scene. +65 Indie Underground frees itself
from the restrictions of any subgenre of rock music and manages to
balance well-known bands such as Electrico and Force Vomit alongside
lesser known but still, talented bands. Taking the place of song lyrics in
the CD booklet is instead a write-up of every band that is featured in the
CD, a thoughtful move for listeners.
The variety of sounds in disc one ranging from pop-rock to indie to instrumental rock provided an
accurate indication of what was to come in the following CDs. Listeners unfamiliar with instrumental
rock will find themselves intrigued by the sounds of Amateur Takes Control, Muon and I Am David
Sparkle; all of whom deliver this relatively unexplored genre excellently in the first disc. “April” by
Analog Girl and B-Quartet’s “Personal Space” both had an eerie but mesmerizing quality about
them. However, “Personal Space” was especially outstanding musically as it started out with a
simple accompanying melody which slowly grew heavy and jarring, but slowed back down just in
time to a quieter and simpler tune. Aspidistrafly closed the first round with the soft but haunting
tune “Red Toe Nails” that whetted my appetite for more. The first CD is an excellent listen and will
most likely resonate deeply with the younger generation of rock music listeners as it features local
favourites such as The Great Spy Experiment and Electrico.
With songs like “The Girl From Katong” and “Siti” the second CD was characterized by distinctly
Singaporean sounds. While merit should be given to the second CD for having maintained
consistency in the sounds, it eventually grew tired on the ears halfway. Standout tracks have got
to be Plainsunset’s “Find A Way” that carries an addictive tune with catchy lyrics that go “I have to
find a way to keep myself from thinking of you” and Sugarflies “What About” helmed by a female
vocalist. Stompin’ Ground injected a much needed heavy vibe with their song “Tunnel Vision” into
an otherwise tame offering in the second disc.
The third disc offers a rare listen into the early days of the local rock scene starting from the ‘80s.
“Circling Sqaure” by Humback Oak opened the last disc with a melancholic tune and equally
wistful lyrics. Instead of suffering from ear fatigue, it only served to heighten my anticipation of what
was to come in the following tracks. The range of genres hinted at the diverseness of local bands,
and provided hints of the roots of local rock music. From laidback country rock (The Noame), to
trash punk (Nunsex) to electronic and experimental (Convent Garden), it was an honor to be able
to listen these pioneer bands. Convent Garden’s electronic tune is still musically relevant today,
perhaps best exemplifying how music transcends everything, almost. Zircon Lounge’s “Guide
These Hands”, as well as Daze’s “Sexy Little Boy” showcased the deep, hypnotizing and rich
vocals that lure listeners into a trance.
Granted, +65 Indie Underground may appeal to only a small segment of the market but this does
not discredit the compilation as having a solid collection of quality songs. What this compilation
does on a bigger scale is to offer Singaporeans a glimpse into the local music scene and what
it has to offer; that is, a myriad of brilliant bands. Listening to the CDs is like taking a walk down
Singapore’s rock music history and witnessing its evolution from the early ‘80s till today. In fact,
at the very end of the whole journey, I cannot help but smile with pride at how far the local music
scene has progressed. The recognition and acknowledgment given to the local music scene is
epitomized by this compilation.
If this does not make you run down to the music store to buy this compilation, this should:
“3 CDs for the price of 1! Cheap leh!”
+65 Indie Underground is available at all major music stores and available for online purchase at
www.getupmerch.com. Special thanks to Universal Music Singapore.
Mosaic Music Festival
bumper crop of talented artistes from all over the world are set to
touch down at our sunny island for the upcoming 10-day Mosaic
Music Festival at the Esplanade. They will be joining local talents to
give performances representing a diverse range of music genres such as
Alternative Rock, Reggae, Jazz and even Tango. Music lovers are in for a
treat! ArtJam features five artistes performing at the festival.
Prices with an * have a special concessionary discount for students, NSF and senior citizens.
Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds
Text: Cherie Thio & Audrey Lim
Photos: The Esplanade Co Ltd
When: 12th March 2010 @ 7.30pm
Where: Esplanade Concert Hall
How Much: $40*, $60*, $80, $100, $120
American musician Kenny Edmonds will open the Mosaic
Music Festival with a bang on the 12th of March. His name
might not ring a bell but you probably would have heard
his R&B or Pop tunes on the airwaves before.
This 10-times Grammy winner has written songs like “Take
A Bow” for Madonna and “End of the Road” for Boyz II
Men. Other famous acts he has written and produced
songs for include Whitney Houston, Fall Out Boy, Kristiana
DeBarge and Mary J. Blige. Not only has he won Grammy
Awards, but he has also earned the public’s stamp of
approval. His songs have been a huge commercial success and have sold a whopping 500 million and
counting units in singles and albums sales.
Having 125 of his songs making it to the top-10 R&B and Pop hits all over the world is indeed no mean
feat. Kenny Edmonds has definitely left his mark on the music scene as an iconic songwriter and music
Kenny Edmonds has also proven his mettle as a musician, with 11 solo albums to his belt. Coming to the
Esplanade to perform with his trusty guitar, audiences can expect to hear a repertoire of contemporary
R&B tunes and acoustic rock songs in his smooth dulcet vocals.
He even has a stretch of Indianapolis highway dedicated to him, christened the “Babyface” Highway.
What else can you ask for? This Friday concert on the 12 th of March will be the best way you will ever
start your weekend.
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When: 16 th March 2010 @ 8pm
Where: Esplanade Theatre Studio
How Much: $40*, $60**, $80, $100
Dinosaur Jr is an alternative-rock band that hails from
Massachusetts, USA. Bursting out on the music scene in
1984, the band has Murph on the drums, Lou Barlow on the
bass and J Mascis on the guitar.
With legendary Kurt Cobain as one of their self-professed
fans, Dinosaur Jr’s music has elements of rock and punk.
They were known as the pioneers of their genre in the mideighties.
Their almost deafeningly loud music with trademark
guitar noise gives their songs an unmistakable distinctive
This band shocked fans when they reunited in 2007 after an
unhappy breakup 20 years ago. Nevertheless, their music seems to be better than ever. Their latest album
“Farm” received glowing reviews from critics. One magazine went so far as to say “How Dinosaur Jr. came to
be this good - arguably better than their late 80s/early 90s heyday - shall remain a glorious mystery”.
Rolling Stone wrote “Dinosaur Jr. set the standard for convulsive indie-rock guitar fireworks in the Eighties.
Incredibly, the band’s original lineup - guitarist J Mascis, bassist Lou Barlow and drummer Murph - hasn’t lost
a thunderous step.”
This is one band you should be looking out for.
When: 17th March 2010 @ 7.30pm
Where: Esplanade Concert Hall
How Much: $40*, $60*, $80, $100
If you were me and unknowingly visualised the singer Pink
when you read Pink Martini, then the both of us could not
be more wrong. Pink Martini is a band or ‘mini-orchestra’
of 12 international players on instruments such as violins,
the harp, guitar and drums. They are also joined by lead
vocalist China Forbes.
Undoubtedly as talented as Pink, China Forbes is also
their chief songwriter. Pink Martini is an all-rounded band
that plays many genres and they are supported by China
Forbes’ chameleon-like voice. From heavy French love
ballads to quiet and angsty Japanese songs, she changes
the tone of her voice to suit each different song perfectly.
Pianist and bandleader Thomas Lauderdale formed the band in 1994. Although the band was formed
in Portland, Oregon of North-Western America, they are not the average American band. Made up of
international singers from all corners of the world, they play songs in almost every language. This includes
Arabic, Japanese, French and Portuguese.
It’s like a United Nations meeting, with music instead of talk.
Their music perspective is to show an alternate side to America. Rather than familiar iconic American
symbols such as McDonalds, Starbucks, and Hollywood representing American commercialism culture,
Pink Martini’s American symbol is the Statue of Liberty. They want to show the melting pot culture in
America, with the patchwork of different races living together in the same country.
So don’t forget to book Pink Martini on the 17 th of March!
The Go! Team
When: 17th March 2010 @ 7.30pm, 18th March 2010 @ 10pm
Where: Esplanade Concert Hall
How Much: $40*, $48* (on show date)
Two of their videos are featured on YouTube – “Doing it
Right” and “Milk Crisis”. The Go! Team might sound like a
cheerleader group and the opening bars of “Doing it Right”
is scarily reminiscent of a High School Musical tune.
But don’t be fooled, because their music is in a different
genre altogether. Borrowing elements of rock, their music
is made up of mostly guitar, drums, Hip Hop rap and
interestingly enough, Double Dutch chants. Double Dutch
chants are the chants that little kids repeat as they swing
two long ropes in opposite directions while other kids skip
rope. The most prominent movie that featured Double Dutch
chants was Disney’s “Jump In!” starring, ironically enough,
High School Musical alumnus Cordin Bleu.
Band leader and creator Ian Parton formed the band to create music with elements of guitar and Double Dutch
chants simply because those were his favourite things. The Go! Team is now a sextet, a mixture of British and
Japanese musicians from both genders. Based in the UK, they debuted in 2004 with “Thunder, Lightning,
Strike” and followed up with 2007’s “Proof of Youth”.
The Go! Team is your way to go if you like happy and catchy songs. Their loud, joyful and fun-filled tunes
that are perfect for parties will soon be echoing at the Mosaic Music Festival so catch them for an amazing
When: 19th March 2010 @ 9.30pm
Where: Esplanade Recital Studio
How Much: $30*
Shugo Tokumaru cannot be more different from most
well-known Japanese artistes in Singapore. Unlike
Ayumi Hamasaki, Arashi and such, Shugo Tokumaru’s
style is probably more similar to Jason Mraz’s breezy
and quirky songs.
Shugo Tokumaru debuted in the year 2004 with his
album “Night Piece”. His songs are influenced with
elements of Folk and Electronica music. What makes his
music so uniquely his is that he makes use of all sorts of
instruments like guitar, melodica, banjo, flute, toy piano,
drums and everyday items like ashtrays.
Self-proclaimed to play over 100 instruments, Shugo is as different as you can get. Through the different
items used to combine with Shugo’s gentle vocals, the overall effect is deceptively yet charmingly
lighthearted and warm.
Despite being little known in Singapore, Shugo Tokumaru is an indie sensation in his home country
Japan as well as the United States and Europe. Before flying to our island for the Mosaic Music Festival
performance, he will be going on a music tour to UK, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Spain in January.
His music has also earned warm reviews in Rolling Stone and other music publications.
Shugo records almost all of his music by himself with his Mac computer, and painstakingly records
himself playing each instrument separately. In his live performance at the Mosaic Music Festival, the
audience can expect Shugo singing all his songs while strumming his guitar in a 5-man band. Mark your
calendar for the 19th of March and get your tickets quickly because they are selling out fast!
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Mosaic Music Festival
ArtJam: Why is your music described as Indonesian
Ras Muhamad: Reggae music has many styles and
sub-genres; you have the “Roots” that was popularized
by legendary artists
such as Bob Marley,
Peter Tosh, the
You have “Lover’s
Rock” that is
tunes, then there
is “Dub Reggae”
more on ambient
such as reverbs,
delays and echoes
with little or no
vocals at all. The
most recent style of
Reggae is Dancehall,
born in the late
1980’s. Some call
this style “Ragga” or
to the vocals being
closer to “rapping”
with a series of
melodies and a
(rhythm), two kick
drums on the 1st and 2nd measure and a snare hit on the 4th measure.
I ‘m a “Roots” artist but I wanted to experiment with
“Dancehall Music” and explore the sound because
I found that no one in Southeast Asia was properly
creating Dancehall music the right way. At worst
Text: Audrey Lim
Photos: The Esplanade Co Ltd
For the upcoming Mosaic Music Festival, Club M.I.A will feature rising talents from Asia
who will be bringing a variety of music genres such as reggae, hip hop and rock to
the our shores. The three artists are Indonesian dancehall-reggae artist Ras Muhamad,
Taiwanese hip-hop band Kou Chou Ching, and Thai funk-rock band Apartmentkhunpa.
ArtJam speaks to them to find out more.
Dancehall music was relatively unknown and unfamiliar in
Southeast Asia and sometimes mistakenly categorized
as “HipHop and R&B”, many misunderstood that
artists like Sean Paul and Shaggy are Reggae artists
themselves. So, I
wanted to step up and
introduce Dancehall to
Southeast Asia without
forgetting to respect
the Jamaican people
but I know that I cannot
“copy and paste” the
whole style because the
Asian flavor has to be
there, I need to make it
ArtJam: Is there
Indonesian in terms of
your musical style?
Most of my Dancehall
compositions are in
minor and vocalized by
chanting and eastern
melodies, which are
influenced by traditional
I personally feel that
lyrics have to be mostly
in “Bahasa Indonesia”,
our official National language. In my song, “J-Town
Rock”; I wanted to paint an audible picture of the hard
and street life of Jakarta. The melodies of this tune
are clearly eastern and the vocals are in a “Betawi”like
traditional chant that goes “HEY JAKARTA
METROPOLITAN! /HEY JAKARTA KOTA IDAMAN!”.
It means “Jakarta Metropolis and the city of dreams”,
a far reach where many had their hopes and dreams
broken by the harsh reality of this colossal metropolis,
the chorus of this tune is reminiscent of the street
chants of the Betawi people, the original people
of Jakarta. Other examples would be “Runaway”
and “Hot like Fiya” both of the tunes are in eastern
melodies. So there are 3 distinct characters for
Indonesian Dancehall, language, vocalized chanting
and the melodies.
ArtJam: Where do you draw inspiration from?
Ras Muhamad: I draw inspiration from life and my
environment. My parents inspire me, my friends inspire
me and the struggles of the Indonesian people inspire
me. I admire those who live for others and stand
up against injustice, their fighting-spirit and bravery
motivates me to be more than an entertainer, that
music is not just mere entertainment but a platform
of social change and uplifting humanity. World leaders
that still inspire me to this day include the 1st President
of Indonesia Sukarno for social justice, independence
and the building of character of the Indonesian nation.
Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia for tolerance, unity,
the brotherhood and goodwill of the human race. And
Comandante ‘Che’ Guevara for equality, self-sacrifice,
courage and determination. I try to channel their
ideas, philosophy and vision through my music and
live performances without overstating it. Their fightingspirit
is my spirit.
ArtJam: You were raised in the US, how does that
influence your take on music in terms of sound and
the lyrics that you write?
Ras Muhamad: Being raised in the U.S. broadened
my mind for music, I had many influences from Hip-
Hop and rock but I found “my calling” with Reggae
music. Something about the Jamaican ‘riddim’ that
hits the heart and soul, we call it the “vibez”, intricate
and yet so simple. Music reaches all nations, color,
race and creed. So my vision of music is to bridge
and communicate my homeland and the world. The
Indonesian people’s cry is “MERDEKA!” meaning
“Freedom!” therefore I must be free to create my
music the way that I feel like making with no limitations
by outside powers such as the Indonesian music
industry. I pride myself on being an independent
artist, not relying on record sales or major labels. I am
free to collaborate with whom I choose; I am free to
create and direct the music that I want therefore no
one can steer, commercialize and change the sound
productions that I wish. I rebel against that old way of
thinking that every kind of music has to be produced
in a “Pop” standard and formula.
ArtJam: Your songs mostly deal with subjects like
“corruption, social injustice, political leadership and
humanity”. Why is it that you choose to sing about
such serious topics?
Ras Muhamad: Music especially Reggae music is
reality music, I think that music has to reflect reality
and the state that we are living in. It is my duty as
a Reggae musician to be a voice of the younger
generation, a voice of the people and a musician of
the people; also a defender of the oppressed, the
poor and the downtrodden. I do not choose to sing
about corruption and injustice, it’s just that I feel that
is necessary as a musician to convey the people’s
feelings. The economic gap in Indonesia is widening
day by day, the saying “the rich are getting richer and
the poor are getting poorer” is still relevant. We need
to raise awareness and provoke thinking socially as a
ArtJam: Is there any message that you hope to bring
across through your music?
Ras Muhamad: My message in the music is simple,
love and peace. But how can you have peace without
justice? All you’d have is anger and frustration, when
the poor has no right for education, social welfare,
better healthcare and wages; music needs to play a
part to raise society’s awareness of living conditions,
to lift us all out to a better and just world. One way
to build that world is to work collectively and have
oneness of humanity’s struggle.
Ras Muhamad 21
art jam 22
ArtJam: What does Kou Chou Ching mean?
Kou Chou Ching: Kou Chou Ching, literally translated,
actually symbolizes a farmer working hard at harvesting
his crops. However, it has a darker meaning which can
be interpreted if you understand the Hokkien dialect. We
deliberately played around with the language as we are a
group that creates and composes songs using different
languages. Linguistics is a deep and profound subject.
Through the textured meaning in our group name, we hope
that everyone will be able to seriously look at the existential
purpose of every language and break the existing social
hierarchy in languages.
ArtJam: One very distinctive quality about your music is
the mixing of old and new sounds; like using traditional
instruments while rapping. Why is this style of particular
interest to the band?
Kou Chou Ching: Sampling is an important technique in
hip hop music. Producers and musicians in America are
very influenced and inspired by the tunes that they have
grown up with, mainly blues, funk and soul music. Through
hip hop, new life has been given to that genre of music,
allowing them to gain acceptance today. Similarly, we are
using traditional music from Taiwan to create a style of
hip hop music that is distinct to Taiwan because we like
traditional music and we hope that everyone will look at
them seriously and love them. Through sampling, we hope
to eject youth into the music and to provide an avenue
for youths to regard the so called ‘traditional music’
ArtJam: The band blends traditional sounds like “Nan-
Guan” with popular music styles. What is a “Nan-Guan”?
Kou Chou Ching: Nan-Guan is a type of traditional music.
Compared to the more boisterous Bei Guan, Nan Guan
is relatively softer. It originates from Quanzhou in Fujian
Province and is often used when making offerings to the
Gods. We often joke that Nan Guan is equivalent to the
jazz music of Taiwan, but of course, not in terms of music
theory. The music that we extract from Nan Guan usually
has a graver tone and style, which is more similar to the
Trip-Hop of western music.
ArtJam: Do you find it challenging
having to blend traditional “Nan-
Guan, Taiwanese Recital Chants,
Taiwanese opera, Hakka Eight
Notes, Taiwanese and aboriginal
songs with Hip-Hop, Reggae and
other popular music styles”
Kou Chou Ching: We faced a lot of
problems when we first started composing,
as our education in Taiwan did not include any
contents on traditional Taiwanese music. When we
were young, we learnt the western musical scores and
style of music, thus we spent a lot of time accumulating
information and fumbling through. In addition, due to
the influence of western music, majority of Taiwanese’s
traditional music has also been altered to different
degrees. The most well preserved music is actually
music from before World War II, but most of them are not
obtainable from the market. Most of what we have been
able to collate are versions that have been re-recorded
or revised and a large portion do have varying degrees of
disparities from the originals. Moreover, as this is a new
form of music not done by others before, we do not have
anyone to learn from either. Traditional Taiwanese music
is also unlike western music which usually has a scale. In
contrast, most of traditional Taiwanese music has a high
pitch. One can arguably say that it doesn’t have a low
pitch at all. Therefore, we need to add in a suitable Bass
Line, and at the same time, make sure that we do not
destroy the original style of the traditional music. It is also
hard to sample these music as the traditional music does
not have a 4/4 beat (i.e: it does not hav ea regular tempo).
As a result, we need to listen to the music a lot of times
before we can find a suitable portion to sample.
ArtJam: Any musical influences?
Kou Chou Ching: We are heavily influenced by Japanese
DJ Krush. He infuses a lot of Japanese traditional
instruments in his compositions and this is also what
inspired us to try out this style of music.
ArtJam: What can one expect at a Kou Chou Ching
Kou Chou Ching: This will be our first trip to Singapore.
Taiwanese Hip Hop music might be a stranger to
Singaporeans who may be more accustom to a number
of pop musicians. What we will be bringing is a different
kind of Hip Hop music. Through our music, you will be
able to experience a lot of the messages that we bring
from Taiwan and we hope that everyone will be able to
enjoy what we have prepared.
Kou Chou Ching
Club M.I.A. featuring Ras Muhamad, Kou Chou Ching & Apartmentkhunpa with DVJ Azz
When: 20 th March 2010 @ 9.30pm
Where: Heineken Music Club
How Much: $30*, $38* (on show date)
(* with one complimentary drink. All patrons must be above 18 years old)
ArtJam: What does your name mean and why did you choose that name?
Tul Waitoonkiat (vocalist of Apartmentkhunpa): Apartmentkhunpa is actually a name of an apartment building
in Bangkok. We accidentally saw the building while we were eating noodles. I do not know the reason why we liked
this name but it was just something that sounded catchy.
ArtJam: How would describe your music as?
Tul Waitoonkiat: Our music is very old fashioned. We love rock ‘n’ roll but each member comes from different
musical background. To make it easy, we call our music “old school rock ‘n’ roll”.
ArtJam: What can one expect at an Apartmentkhunpa show?
Tul Waitoonkiat: Truthful storytelling and music improvisation with long solos done in a very old fashioned way)
but if you don’t understand a word of our songs you can still be driven by our raw guitar sounds and danceable
ArtJam: Why did you guys decide to play for Mosaic Music Festival?
Tul Waitoonkiat: We think it’s a good idea to go to Singapore to share our music with new audience, and hopefully
we can make new friends
ArtJam: The band sings about a wide range of topics ranging from “politics, ancient myths, philosophy, fashion,
Bangkok nightlife, and music business to pop culture”. Where do you draw inspiration from?
Tul Waitoonkiat: I write the songs to cure my depressions and sorrow. I think my inspirations come from the
need to feel comfortable with myself, every time when something bothers me, I’ll write it down on paper and try to
transform those negative thought into something that I can enjoy. For me songwriting is a form of psychotherapy.
23 art jam
art jam 24
2010 is starting to seem like a really good year for music lovers in Singapore. Having international
acts like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Green Day, Muse, just to name a few, grace our tiny shore with
their performances at the start of the year, the upcoming months can only get better! In this issue,
we sass out must see acts at the annual Mosaic Music Festival and preview upcoming concerts in the
month of March, oh yeah!
Paramore Live in Singapore:
7 th March 2010
Before Twilight catapulted the young band into
mainstream success, Paramore, hailing from
Tennesse, USA, was already making waves in the
rock music scene. Needless to say, all the girls
wanted to be like front-woman Hayley Williams,
while the boys dreamt of getting it on with her.
Paramore consists of Hayley Williams (main vocals),
Josh Farro (lead guitar/backing vocals), Jeremy
Davis (bass guitar), Zac Farro (drums), and Taylor
York (rhythm guitar. The Grammy nominated band
is set to rock the stage at the Singapore Indoor
Stadium come 7 th March 2010 (finally!).
Ticket prices are S$68, S$88 and S$108, exclusive of
Text: Audrey Lim
Photo: Midas Promotions
Imogen Heap Live in Singapore:
29 th March 2010
Having earned the reputation of being somewhat of
an indie goddess, Imogen Heap is bringing her own
unique brand of indie, electronic tunes to Singapore
as part of her Ellipse tour. The twice Grammy
nominated artist will be performing on the 29 th of
March 2010 at The Esplanade Concert Hall. Since
learning how to play music from a young age, Imogen
Heap has dabbled in many musical projects; one of
her most recognized projects was being part of the
British electronic band, Frou Frou. Interesting fact:
She plays instruments like the keytar, the hang and
the array mbira. So be smart and grab your tickets
before they are gone.
Ticket prices are S$68, S$88, S$108, S$128 and S$148,
exclusive of booking fee.
Text: Audrey Lim
MAKE LOCAL YOUR FOCAL
RCGNTN, which stands for the word recognition,
is a website that is dedicated to promoting
local talents who are, more often than not,
constantly being sidelined by mainstream media
channels in favour of established foreign acts.
The notion of Singapore talents being inferior
to their Western counterparts is not only passé
but also ignorant. While some may choose to
despair at the lack of support given, Samantha
Lo and Lu Yawen have channeled their energy
into creating RCGNTN. The website is seeing a
growing number of contributors who write about
topics ranging from music to architecture and
culture. So if you feel fervently about our local
talents, send in your articles to them and you
could be part of the team. Indeed, RCGNTN
walks the talk and its promise to promote local
talents applies to all areas, not just music and
art. When we asked them what constitutes to
‘talent’, they replied: “An individual passionate
in the craft who will strive to perfect it in their
own vision, no matter the consequences and
obstacles they face. That deserves recognition.”
Well put, we concur.
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West Grand Boulevard is
a local band that’s been
around for the last five years.
Comprised of members Jude
Lee (Bass), Bryan Gamboa
(Vocals), Syed Hyder (Drums)
Erik Evangelista (Guitars) and
Dharma Sadasivan –
(Guitars/Vocals) this 5-person
band has been around the
circuit long enough to have
acquired a healthy fanbase.
Known for their lively,
energetic gigs, adrenalinepumping
alt-rock beats, and
subsequent mosh pits, WGB’s
earned the heavyweight
street-cred that makes
them a band to reckon with.
Text: Abha Apte
Photos: West Grand Boulevard
ArtJam: Which genre of music would you say your work belonged to, and
what are your major influences?
Dharma: We were all always absolutely sure that we didn’t want to label our
music as a particular kind. If I’d to answer that I’d say we don’t belong to any
particular genre, because we don’t want to limit ourselves by being slotted
into only one category. I guess our fans, though, would say we’re alternative
pop-rock. But then we’re still growing as a band and we hope our musical
style evolves continuously. And one of the main reasons being in WGB is fun
is because of the freedom we allow ourselves, by playing exactly the kind of
music we feel like playing, without giving in to genre classifications.
Jude: As for musical preferences - I like metal, Dharma was a classical
violinist, Erik’s into ska-punk – we have different inclinations, but a lot of
similar tastes which our music’s influenced by. The Foo Fighters – they’re a
huge inspiration; they’re an amazing band.
ArtJam: How long have you all known each other and how did you meet
and decide to form a band?
Bryan: We’d all been playing in different bands, actually, before WGB was
formed. Our previous lead – Daphne Cook – and Jude knew each other
since they were what, fifteen? And then they sort of started playing together.
Syed joined us recently on drums and Bryan on vocals. As far as deciding to
form WGB, we had sort of started playing together for fun.
Jude: We didn’t even have a proper name in the beginning. But after a while,
the five of us had gotten pretty settled it, and WGB just fell to place.
ArtJam: How was your experience right when you had just begun your
music career? Was it very hard breaking into the music scene?
Jude: This is a funny story, because we never really thought we’d get to
where we are now. And things were crazy when we started, because first
we used to jam together, and then we hooked up with organizers and things
Dharma: Our sound engineer, Leonard Soosay, he’s a brilliant
guy. He helped us out a lot. And then suddenly we were playing
shows back to back. It was crazy, and really hectic, because
we’d finish one show and we’d have to leave and pack up to
reach the next one, and this used to go on continuously. But
getting a break was something we hadn’t planned or expected,
and since then it’s been good, though maybe a little slow.
Jude: It’s taken five years to release this new album, but
the sound of it’s really huge, it’s a lot of growth since we first
ArtJam: You’re releasing a full length album this year, right?
And it’s your second album?
Bryan: Yes, that’s right. We’re five years old now, our first
album was called ‘Waiting for You’, we released that four years
ago in 2006. We’re going to be releasing our second album
very soon now. We’re almost done with it, actually, and it’ll be
out in the next, what, three weeks?
ArtJam: Can you tell me a little about your new album?
Dharma: Content-wise, it’s quite different, from our old album.
It sounds really, really fresh. It deals with a lot of very diverse
themes - there are some political themes.
Jude: Yes, Dharma’s the one who can get political subjects
right without going too far into things.
Dharma: And then there are themes of social perspectives, of
positivity in life, of death – this album is about a lot of different
things, and they mainly centered around human condition.
ArtJam: How would you describe your growth from your first
album – “Waiting For You” to the one you’ve just come out with?
Jude: We’ve changed a lot since we started out and made
that album, we’ve become so much more mature. I think that
this new album reflects that, lyrically and otherwise.
Bryan: When we started out things were different, but after
such a long time of being together we’ve all grown as persons,
and we’ve definitely let this influence the album. So yes,
maturity is the one thing that’ll be most evident if you check
out our new album.
Dharma: But it definitely has that energetic, loud, dancefriendly
feel to it. We’ve always wanted to make music that
we really believed in, regardless of anything else, and we think
we’ve achieved that pretty well here.
ArtJam: What are the main themes or topics of most of your
Dharma: Well, it depends. Our first album had a track I wrote
for my ex, another Daphne wrote for her ex. It had this breakup
feel going on. But we still retain the loud, catchy sounds and
work them into our songs. And with our new album, things
have gotten amazingly fresh, it sounds huge. There’s no other
word for it.
Jude: I think we sound much better, and so much bigger.
The long break definitely helped us get a very new feel for
ArtJam: Which tracks to you perform most at shows, and
which ones do the crowds respond to the best?
Jude: DKNY, without a doubt. It always gets the energy going,
and somehow the crowd always responds the best to that.
Now We Will is pretty popular too. Come to think of it, the way
people react with the name DKNY is funny, because we never
really had a meaning for it. Dharma decided to call it that, and
he has no clue what it means, either!
ArtJam: Which were your best and worst stage performances
Jude: Philippines, it’s got to be Philippines. Philippines and
Baybeats, actually. Everything was fantastic, and the crowds!
Dharma: The crowds there actually appreciate what the
music’s all about and there’s so much energy; they were
fabulous places to play at. And the worst, well, we’ve had
some bad experiences, with technical failures and stuff, but
nothing really stands out as awful.
Jude: We’d played in NUS a long time ago, for example,
and that was pretty bad. It was an acoustic set, and Bryan’s
microphone stopped working, Dharma had problems with the
equipment. And then there was this one time when Bryan – he
gets really into it when he sings – he was doing this spin and
he just toppled over, it was hilarious. So yeah, we occasionally
have moments like these.
ArtJam: Other than being part of this band, what other work
do you do?
Dharma: I’m studying law in SMU right now, actually, I’m
a grad student there. I used to do research before, for this
health care company. Jude teaches guitar at Timbre Music
Academy, Bryan works at an events firm. Syed’s actually a
businessman, you could call him that. And Eric, he’s into
ArtJam: The best thing about being a locally well-known band?
Jude: I don’t know about that, ‘well-known’? (laughs) But we
always thought that the best thing we could achieve as a band
was people liking us for WGB’s music, not its band members.
Compared to some other bands, perhaps, we’re all pretty lowkey,
and being known for our work instead of our personal
lives or anything like that – it’s the best appreciation we could
receive. And I dare say that we might have even achieved this
in a way.
27 art jam
art jam 28
ne of Singapore’s best kept secrets is Doinky Doodles,
a cosy shop found at 33 Bali Lane. Selling a diverse
range of handmade items from T-shirts to postcards
under one roof, it is a shopping haven for the shopper with a
taste for quirky designs with a unique twist.
A few streets away from Bugis Junction, Doinky Doodles is
located on the second floor of a shop house. Local designer
Weng Pixin, 26, is the brains behind this humble shop. Having
studied painting at LASELLE College of Arts, Pixin has been
sewing her own toys since she was ten. She created the
Doinky Doodles label in May 2008 and explains to ArtJam the
meaning behind the quaint name.
“It was invented after a series of frantic and fun text messaging
with a friend. Doinky is a made-up word to describe the fun
and colourful nature of my works, and Doodles represent the
drawings, sketches and random ideas that come to me before
every fresh creation.”
Vastly different from your usual department store selling only
mass produced items, every product in Doinky Doodles is oneof-a-kind.
Her passion for creating her designs and pieces can
be seen in her dedication to complete every item by herself.
Yet, all her fantastic works share one thing in common. They
exude creativity, positivity and fun. If you are feeling blue, this is
the place to go for an immediate lift to the spirits. The moment
you open the door to the staircase, you are immediately
greeted by cheerfully painted animals on the walls. The warm
atmosphere in the shop with happy colourful items surrounding
you will certainly bring a smile to your face.
Playing in the sandbox
with Doinky Doodles
Location: 32 Bali Lane (2 nd Floor)
Contact: 6292 2248
Text: Cherie Thio
Photos: Doinky Doodles
When asked how she comes up with design ideas, Pixin says
that imperfection makes up a big part of her inspiration.
“Imperfection embraces the fun and freedom in art making.
There’s room for mistakes, there are no rigid rules to abide by.
Everything is made up. Art making should be fun, like playing
with mud in the sandbox.”
She adds that the individualized faces on all her plush toys
are inspired by various kinds of personalities, “from cartoon
characters… to any intriguing individuals you see while walking
around the neighborhood.”
She is not only a talented designer, but one with an environment
cause to boot. Seeing it as a “duty to be as environmentallyconscious
as possible”, every product is made using recycled
materials. Even product labels and shop promotional leaflets
are printed on excess paper left from printers.
Pixin also believes in giving back to the community. Whenever
she has wholesale orders, she liaises with the Mother-&-
Child Project that gives women from disadvantaged families
Doinky Doodles is the perfect place to shop for a unique
present for a special someone or the decoration to liven up
your working space while you are studying. If you cannot find
anything to suit yourself in the shop, you can also make a
custom order. What more are you waiting for? Head down to
Doinky Doodles for a different shopping experience now!
29 art jam