Dum Dum Girls – Too True

Back in 2008, out of an L.A. basement emerged Dum Dum Girls, a one-woman project from singer/songwriter Kirstin Gundred (who would soon be known by her more glamorous moniker, Dee Dee Penny).

Signed to Sub Pop in 2009, Too True is Dum Dum Girls’ third album and collaboration with producer Richard Gottehrer, whose previous credits feature Blondie and The Go-Go’s. As a result, it’s an album that would be equally at home featuring on The Breakfast Club, and pumping out of the living rooms of 2014’s hipster population.

Dum Dum Girls produces fuzzy lo-fi pop, complete with 80s guitar riffs, ambling and consistent drum beats and pretty straight-forward melody lines. Penny cites Suede, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Madonna, The Stone Roses and Patti Smith as her influences on the album, and this becomes clear pretty quickly.

For example, second track, ‘Evil Blooms’, echoes a late-80s Madonna, both in songwriting style and Penny’s vocals. Similarly, following track ‘Rimbaud Eyes’ – the lyrics referencing 19th century French poet, Arthur Rimbaud – has a distinct backing reminiscent of The Bangles’ power-pop.

Released as the album’s first single, ‘Lost Boys and Girls Club’ embraces those souls on the road to nowhere with a mellow melody and cutting lyrics. It essentially sums up the vibe of the album as a whole; it’s got a depressing edge to it, hinting at an artist who’s on a journey that she doesn’t quite get.

Other highlights include ‘In the Wake of You’, ‘Too True to Be Good’ and closing track ‘Trouble Is My Name’ – a sweeping conclusion to an album that is relatively slow-moving, but refreshing in its take on modern pop.

All in all, Too True is an interesting release, with a level of consistency that compliments each and every track. Though it’s not groundbreaking by any means, and doesn’t deviate all too far from previous Dum Dum Girls releases, Too True appeals in the way it is put together, with moody melody lines and unusual instrumentation echoing the lyrical content of mystery and uncertainty.


Listen to: ‘Rimbaud Eyes’, ‘In the Wake of You’ and ‘Lost Boys and Girls Club’

[youtube width=”457″ height=”343″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=coYvUvy7S7U[/youtube]

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By Eleanor Turnbull

The Devil Wears Prada @ TAB (28.01.14)

The Devil Wears Prada have come a long way since forming in 2005; their meticulously straightened hair is now shaved or side-parted, neon scene band T-Shirts replaced with denim jackets and dad sweaters. Almost 10 years since the release of their first record, the metalcore giants finally set foot upon our sunny shores.

The crowd consisted of the usual motley crue — hardcore kids with lyrics printed in varsity font strewn across their baggy t-shirts, the occasional teen with a Pierce The Veil tank on, and the older ‘Retired Scene Kids’, now decked out in office clothing or plain tees.

The queuing and tagging process was seamless, aided by the quick fingers of the Upsurge crew (and possibly the 9:30pm cut-off time for the promoter’s use the venue), and the show started without much significant delay about 15 minutes after doors opened.

The Devil Wears Prada held nothing back, lead yeller Mike Hranica stomping upon stage in a personalised football jersey and opening their set with the song ‘Gloom’ from their latest release ‘8:18’. The set consisted mostly of songs from their most recent releases Dead Throne and 8:18, keeping true to the band’s statement with the release of ‘Dead Throne’ that they would leave behind their older material — they played a total of two songs from their earlier releases, Assistant to The Regional Manager and Danger: Wildman.

Of course, there had to be an appropriate response in kind from the crowd — two-steppers and moshers abounded across TAB. The denizens of the mosh-pit seemed younger than the usual crowd observed at such concerts, and the distance that the barricades had set to the band seemed negligible as each song averaged about six kids clamouring on stage and landing gleefully into the welcoming arms of the crowd.

Knowing clearly the anticipation for their performance in Singapore had been almost a decade in the making, the band made the effort to hang out outside the venue after their show, and entertained every fan with a picture or a signed piece of merchandise.

It really is a shame about the venue curfew though — the night somehow still felt incomplete, despite the band’s solid set of about an hour and the time they gave us after the show. It would have been great to have seen an opening act (and this is probably the only time we’ll ever say that we actually missed the anticipation usually felt during set changeovers), but live music is at the mercy of Singapore’s venues now, and it looks like we’re going to have to get used to taking what we can get.

By Louis Foo 

Licensing laws continue to hinder development in live music

Another live music venue has been affected by the stringent, outdated, and uncooperative laws that brought Little India’s Broadcast HQ to a close last November.

The newly renovated and recently expanded Gem Bar in Singapore’s hip Ann Siang Hill area has been forced to cease their regular evening programmes after authorities received complaints from neighbouring establishments.

The venue had only recently introduced a weekly music programme — including ‘Polished’ with Chris Ho on Wednesdays, and ‘Cuts’ with Darren Dubwise on Thursdays — but their Category 2 Public Entertainment license, which states that only the “transmission of recorded music without dancing by customers” is allowed, has led to a premature end to the events.

Licensing laws continue to hinder development in live music

But what defines the “transmission of recorded music”? George Grover best describes the flawed regulation in a statement written upon the closure of the venue, “We were very confused and confounded by the ruling that under our Category 2 license we could play a pre-recorded DJ set on a laptop, but if we wanted to employ an artist to play pre-recorded music (even using DJ technology on a laptop), this would be considered a live performance, and therefore was illegal under our license.”

A lot has changed in the music sphere in the 13 years since these laws were reviewed in 2001, and the regulations have become the single most difficult obstacle for venues simply looking to provide a positive platform for artist and punters alike to overcome. The saddest part is that each incident only serves to discourage potential venue owners from trying, while KTVs around the country continue to thrive.

By Melissa Yong

The Philippines’ Number Line Records: “It is what it is”

Siblings Micaela Benedicto and Michael Benedicto — more popularly known as Outerhope — along with their younger brother Bobby Benedicto, are the big bosses of the Manila-based independent record label Number Line Records. Started on a whim spurred by Bobby’s chance meeting with their first signed artist Multo in 2011, the label has found success introducing a whole new flow of music to the notoriously meager Manila music scene. 

Today, two of the three founders, Micaela and Michael, tell us about the label’s journey from its humble beginnings to unexpected and growing success.

Micaela begins by explaining how Bobby’s encounter with Allan Lumba, a Seattle-based Filipino artist who later became their first signed artist under the name Multo, led to the three of them starting the label. She says, “We heard his demo tape and thought it was really good. He wasn’t really part of the scene here, so we thought we could do something with him, like release something by him. That’s really just how the record label started.”

“That’s the main thing we look out for, not really their potential to succeed. It’s just stuff we like.”

After this, the three began looking into artists with projects popular through word of mouth — “mostly solo bedroom projects or electronica projects” (Micaela) —  and selectively built up a line-up for their first Number Line Records gig. That was where they met Jorge Wieneke of Similar Objects, who they quickly signed.

For the siblings, creating Number Line Records was, in Micaela’s words, “just like making a playlist”; the label is fuelled purely by the three siblings’ appreciation for great music, which in their case is defined by “stuff we believe in and think people should hear”. The label was built in the hope of promoting good music and encouraging artists who create new types of music “to show themselves, let themselves be heard” (Michael), regardless of their music’s marketability.

“I feel like a lot of the musicians in the Manila (music) scene are still in that ‘alt-rock’ type of genre,” Micaela says. “It sells more, definitely, [but] I think NL artists are a bit different.”

Michael adds, “That’s the main thing we look out for, not really their potential to succeed. It’s just stuff we like.” The majority of artists on the label “already had stuff out online (prior to being signed) anyway; it was just a matter of someone stepping in and saying, ‘Why don’t we promote this more?'”

“We’ve always been telling ourselves, the music here is just as good as any other, the rest of the world. And the more we make it just a Pinoy thing, the more we kind of alienate ourselves.”

Thus, the record label naturally runs on minimal artistic constraints, where all their artists are given artistic liberty over their own music and its distribution. As artists themselves, the two encourage their artists to just be themselves. Micaela says, “We still operate like a normal label, it’s still business, but when we started this, it was more like a collective. Everything was for free in the beginning. It was not a profit-driven operation.” She adds, “You know, the music you come up with, it is what it is.”

The label has undoubtedly grown since then — originally created to distribute Filipino artists exclusively, the trio signed their first foreign artist just last year, the Berlin-based Brit, Honor Gavin. There was much contemplation on whether expanding the geographical boundaries of their artists was something they wanted for the label, but ultimately, the idea that good music should be free reigned above all.

Michael says, “It was never meant to be a push for nationalism. We’ve always been telling ourselves, the music here is just as good as any other, the rest of the world. And the more we make it just a Pinoy thing, the more we kind of alienate ourselves.”

“You know, the music you come up with, it is what it is.”

Even with all the success the label has seen, the Benedictos remain humble. Micaela gushes over how rewarding it has been seeing their artists thrive; “I think the response has been really good. Like last year we signed this new guy who goes by No Rome, he’s a seventeen-year-old guy and we just found him on the Internet — he was in another band and we found his solo stuff and thought it was awesome.”

She adds, “We signed him on and the response has been really overwhelming. Like oh my god, we made a star. And that’s a really good feeling. It’s not what we set out to do, but it feels good that he got a lot of attention. And I think it’s really encouraging, especially when you’re that young.”

By Celene Sakurako

Number Line Records is anticipating three major releases this year from Love in Athens, No Rome and Outerhope. Catch their latest news on FacebookTwitterTumblr, and Instagram.

Laneway Festival Singapore 2014

with Chvrches, Daughter, Frightened Rabbit, Haim, Gema, Jagwar Mar, James Blake, Jamie XX, The Jezabels, Kurt Vile, Mount Kimbie, The Observatory, Savages, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Vance Joy, Vandetta, XXYYXX, and Youth Lagoon

The Meadow, Gardens by the Bay
25 January 2014

Photos by Kenneth Lee

(Except for Mount Kimbie photographs, courtesy of Laneway Festival Singapore / Chugg Entertainment)

St Jerome’s Laneway Festival @ The Meadow, Gardens by the Bay (25.01.14)

There wasn’t a cloud in sight as the entrances opened to St Jerome’s Laneway Festival 2014. Since the festival landed on our shores in 2011, the weather has not been kind to attendees: the the inaugural festival earned the nicknamed “Rainway” and last year was blasted by sweltering 40° heat. But now in its forth year, the weather seemed finally ready to cooperate and bless Laneway with a breezy day of sunshine.

This year saw many changes to the festival– both in set-up and line-up. The grounds are sprawling now, extending backwards to make space for the new Cloud Stage. That meant there was plenty of walking to do, but it also meant there was no bleeding of sound between the two stages at any point: fantastic.

The line-up this year saw an influx of many girl-fronted bands, perhaps an indicator of the shift in the indie music landscape toward that direction. Moreover, this year also marks the first year in which Laneway Singapore has incorporated local acts. It’s an excellent initiative, although there have been some questions about the choice of bands. Indeed, there’s a huge emphasis on electronic and DJ sets this year with the Cloud Stage almost exclusively dedicated to the genre. Will this be a continuing trend in the years to come? We shall see.

The main stage’s sound seems geared toward projecting the sound at the hills where many festival go-ers set up camp. Unfortunately that meant a dilemma for the enthusiastic fans; sit back and have great sound or get up close and personal with their favourite band? Frightened Rabbit frontman Scott Hutchison had something to say about that: “To all those on the hill – Thanks for nothing!” Okay, so maybe we were just lazy about moving to the front with the mid-day sun beating down on us.

The crowd in front of the main stage grew noticeably larger as the day passed on and the temperature dipped. Unfortunately, though, the Cloud Stage never saw a substantial crowd throughout the day, even with the likes of Mount Kimbie and Jaime XX gracing the stage. Perhaps the problem was the narrow (but probably very literally Laneway-like) and flat standing area in front of the stage — you could hardly see a thing if you weren’t within ten metres of the stage.

Australian indie folk star Vance Joy opened the festival to cheers from the crowd. We heard snippets of confusion (“Who is this guy?” and “What is Vance Joy?”) towards the beginning of his set, but the 2,000-strong crowd who had entered the festival by this time embraced it soon enough. Strumming his ukelele for part of his easy and fittingly afternoon set, the band closed with their hit single ‘Riptide’, which would, the following day, land him the #1 spot in Triple J’s Hot 100. The 23 year-old might have seemed like an odd choice to kick things off, but what better way to set a high bar for the rest of the day?

Things heated up (both literally and figuratively) pretty quickly with the lo-fi dream-pop atmosphere of American dreamers Youth Lagoon. Their songs turned into totally different animals live as a four-piece, providing an interesting contrast to Vance Joy’s up-beat, soulful sound. Partly the super (overly?) efficient stage changeover, and partly just the nature of the band’s music and their energy on stage, it could have been a better idea to have pushed them to a later time slot when the crowd would have warmed up a bit for the intensity of the four-piece.

Aussie indie-rockers and Laneway Festival alumni The Jezabels came out just as the sun was at its peak, and it wasn’t a minute too soon. The band’s high-energy performance got the crowd grooving, and finally kicked everyone out of neutral gear with the sun beating down on them. Much to the delight of the crowd, they played a few songs from their upcoming album, including latest single ‘Look Of Love’ alongside Jezabels classics ‘Hurt Me’ and ‘Endless Summer’, as well as one or two oldies from their first EPs. Lead singer Hayley Mary’s voice is absolutely stunning, with an incredible range and execution that has performer written all over it.

Psych rock band Unknown Mortal Orchestra‘s set offered a nice change of pace: their lo-fi jazzy licks, combined with a beautiful summer day, and a 3.30pm time slot (nap time!) made us want to lie down on the hill and laze the afternoon away… which might well have been the point.

Another highlight of the festival, Scottish indie rock outfit Frightened Rabbit put on one hell of a show. “Perfect festival music!” could very well sum up their performance. The band transitioned effortlessly from mellow and jazzy numbers to thumping snare beats with upbeat guitar melodies. Their accents as much as their music proved alluring to the crowd, who slowly trickled from their afternoon laze to the front of the stage. When asked later, frontman Hutchison admitted that the band did write songs with audience participation in mind — and it was clear that that had totally payed off on the day.

Laneway is a great opportunity for local bands to play alongside international headliners and get some proper exposure to the masses of festival-goers, and local act The Observatory totally proved their place as the only local act with a slot on the main stage: their spacey, ambient sound was a stark contrast to the rest of the bands playing that afternoon, and provided a refreshing change of pace as the sun started to set behind us.

Unfortunately, this didn’t reflect in the crowd. Perhaps The Observatory’s brand of space rock just wasn’t to the taste of the punters, or (more likely) the poor turn-out is symptomatic of our disdain for most things local? Kudos especially to Vandetta and Gema, who had the added difficulty of pulling the crowd over to them at the Cloud Stage, a challenge even for the more widely-known international acts. It is so awesome that Laneway decided to include such great local acts in the line-up, if only we were as willing to give them a chance.

All-girl, punk-revival rockers Savages oozed so much cool it was almost scary. Frontwoman Jehnny Beth recalled the iconic Siouxsie Sioux as she howled her way through the set, not a single hair or piece of clothing out of place. There was something hypnotic about the whole set: tom-heavy beats, killer bass, smoldering lyrics… it was hard not to get lost in Savage’s brand of contemporary punk.

Next up were the sisters of HAIM, who took most of the audience completely by surprise with their polished performance. The trio are so effortlessly comfortable on stage, and, moreover, they really know how to rock: their brand of poppy rock is often compared to Fleetwood Mac’s for its airiness and effervescence, and that sound translates beautifully to a festival atmosphere. Seguing into what almost felt like an impromptu jam session, they went all out noodling on their guitars. At one point, the youngest sister, Alana, jumped off the stage to shake hands and hug eager fans in front of the stage.

Scottish electro-pop outfit CHVRCHES were clearly the act a lot of people had been hanging out to see: almost straight away they had people singing along and clapping to their catchy dance tunes. Frontwoman Lauren Mayberry may look cute and quiet, but when the music kicks off, she transforms into a completely different woman– charismatic and formidable, her voice is at once fragile and triumphant against the beats of her bandmates.

The beautiful weather, amazing line-up, inclusion of local acts, and  addition of a third stage meant Laneway has truly made good on their promise of a bigger and better festival for 2014 — and we can’t wait to see what they have in store for us in 2015.

By Joel Teo

The Caulfield Cult pay tribute to Plainsunset’s 10th anniversary of The Gift

Last month, Plainsunset announced the release of their 10th Anniversary limited edition collector’s EP, celebrating 17 years as a band and ten years since the release of The Gift.

As well as five re-recorded tracks of the band’s favourite songs from The Gift, the EP includes a bonus seven-track, digital-only release that contains covers by musicians who have been influenced or affected by Plainsunset in some way.

One of those bands is Singapore’s The Caulfield Cult, whose lead singer Nick Wong can’t emphasize to us enough the band’s importance not only to him, but also within the history of Singapore music.“It would be ignorant beyond belief if the word “Plainsunset” wasn’t mentioned, ” he tells us.

“I believe I first saw them at Baybeats 2007. It was more or less my first real exposure to independent music from Singapore, and it was also around the time I’d just started playing in bands.

“The reaction that Plainsunset got from the huge crowd was huge and that really took me back. I was surprised that alocal band was being given that much attention, and that pretty much opened a can of worms for me,” he tells us.

We’re pretty excited to be premiering The Caulfield Cult’s acoustic cover of ‘Closure’, a stripped back and slowed down version of one of Plainsunset’s usually energetic, pop-punk gems.

Available in blue and yellow vinyl, as well as a limited run of 100 cassettes, Plainsunset’s limited edition collector’s EP will is available now from 29 Cornflakes.

The Gift track list:

Side A:
1. The Season Is Still Open
2. Quiet Time
3. Julia

Side B:
4. Photos Of Us
5. Girl On Queen Street
6. Checking Email

The Gift Covers track list:

1. Checking Email – The Dirt Radicals
2. Regina – The Sam Willows
3. Do I – The Summer State
4. Closure – The Caulfield Cult
5. Photos of Us – Nicholas Chim & Aarika Lee
6. Girl on Queen Street – Nothing to Declare
7. Directions – Inch Chua

Fans can also catch the band live when they perform The Gift live in its entirety at TAB next Saturday, 8 February.

Plainsunset performs The Gift
Saturday, 8 February 2014
$15 (pre-sale), $20 (standard)

Tickets are available now.

By Melissa Yong

Jagwar Ma cancels Laneway Festival Singapore appearance due to injury

At the eleventh hour, Sydney-based electronic duo Jagwar Ma has cancelled their appearance at Laneway Festival Singapore.

Organisers were informed that the last-minute cancellation is due to an unfortunate injury suffered by lead vocalist and guitarist Gabriel Winterfield, who was informed by doctors not to take the long-haul flight here.

All is not lost however, as one half of the duo, Jono Ma, will take over the band’s slot with a DJ set, which organisers say will be “a special treat because it is not something he is often seen doing”.

Laneway Festival co-founder Danny Rogers assures festival-goers that this year’s festival will continue to be a great show, adding, “To our Singapore fans, sorry for this inconvenience; we hope Gabriel will make a healthy, speedy recovery. I also want to thank Jono for offering to DJ as a replacement. I’ve seen him behind the decks, and you can definitely expect a laser-coloured melody of epic proportions.”

Check out the full line-up here, and the most recent addition of local acts here.

Laneway Festival Singapore 2014
The Meadow, Gardens By the Bay
Saturday, 25 January 2014

Tickets are available now at eventCliQue.com and SISTIC.

By Melissa Yong

First impressions: Lush 99.5 — ‘Your Indie Music Station’

On the first of January this year, Lush 99.5FM spontaneously rebranded themselves as ‘Your Indie Music Station’.

The announcement was made via Lush’s Facebook page where the station’s Creative Director, Georgina Chang, wrote, “from the feedback you gave us previously, the sound of Lush will be what you want. Starting next Monday 6th Jan, you will hear a discernible difference in the music, energy and elements.”

MediaCorp, self-declared leaders of media in Singapore and owners of Lush 99.5 (as well as 12 other radio stations), now describe Lush as “Singapore’s only indie music station, playing radio-friendly quality music for the discerning and sophisticated listeners in Singapore.”

The station’s insistence on indie-ness being pushed from all fronts has provoked cynicism: can a station owned by a company named MediaCorp really be ‘indie’? The whole thing is tinged with corporate insincerity. Does Lush care if they look disingenuous when they say “Indie is independent” and then play Nina Nesbitt‘s inane cover of ‘Don’t Stop‘ which was recorded for an ad for some British department store?

Part of their rebranding has included bringing in a number of new DJs including Rosalyn LeeLee has worked for MediaCorp-owned 987FM for the past eight years.

In an interview with Channel NewsAsia, Lee said: “We [Lush] represent the subculture, we represent the alternative… We’re going to play like music from The Roots’ era, going to hear Pearl Jam, The Strokes, like really good sh[it] that you won’t hear on any radio station in Singapore!”

If a veteran DJ like Lee genuinely considers bands like Pearl Jam part of some subculture of cool new music heretofore unheard of in Singapore, we should all be genuinely concerned. How could a music professional regard Pearl Jam as anything other than one of the biggest rock bands of all time?

Pearl Jam is not indie, not alternative and (my god) certainly not part of any contemporary subculture. Not that there’s anything wrong with that: Pearl Jam is fine. Insanely popular and successful. But they’re not alternative. Dads have Pearl Jam on their iPods. Again, nothing wrong with that. But also, nothing alternative about that. They are literally one of the best-known and best-selling rock bands of all time. Same goes for The Strokes: they are a mainstream, platinum-selling rock band. And The Roots are on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon every damn weeknight! Lee’s examples of alternative bands is quite frankly, poor, because they are not alternative bands.

Perhaps though, we can look towards relativity as one of Lush’s reprieves — as the only station on the Singapore airwaves currently playing remotely non-mainstream music outside of the chart hits, it has shown that it is willing to take risks that none of its fellow corporate-run radio stations have dared to do.

Also, what does ‘indie’ even mean these days? It no longer represents its literal definition as “independent” in the modern context; certainly, it no longer represents the sound of bands simply independent of major labels. Today, the word has simply become a residual category used to describe anything beyond the Top 40. But should we be expecting more from Our Indie Music Station?

Ultimately, the majority of music being played on Lush is not really anyone’s idea of ‘indie’, but — and this might be Lush’s greatest reprieve — this indie version of Lush is still very new: it’s been less than a month. It’s easy for us to be critical and skeptical (yep, see above), but this thing has only just started and while it may not be great right now, it might eventually become good.

If Lush want to earn their title as our indie station, there is a lot they can do. In fact, there are some pretty good things they have done already which suggest there is some hope. Lush has started adding tracks by local artists to their playlists, and more recently, had Camp Symmetry‘s managing director, Tim Kek, co-host and share his favourite songs (including music by Slowdive and Broken Social Scene) as part of a regular segment called the Lushlist (billed as “an artist hosted and curated playlist of tunes”).

Similarly, their partnership with Laneway Festival is a step in the right direction. Lush can support the alternative music scene in Singapore with the continued support of these type of events, and by also getting behind smaller shows — the ones that really capture the indie spirit of our music scene on a whole ‘nother level. All it really needs to do now is actually play alternative music: take even bigger risks. There is nothing to stop it from creating a distinctive voice in Singaporean media and becoming a great platform: all they need to do is commit to what they’ve started.

Stream Lush 99.5FM here.

By Katherine Pollock

What do you think of the new Lush? Let us know in the comments below.

Vance Joy: “If I knew how to do it, I’d do it every day”

Vance Joy appears initially to be a bit of a myth emerging from Australia — much in the same vein of fellow rising stars Chet Faker and Flume; it takes a bit of digging around to find out what the deal actually is.

They embody that awkward crossover between ‘indie’ and the mainstream, whereby one brave soul has to throw caution to the wind to actually get their songs played on commercial radio, which, when they are successful… will be played the shit out of — and it’s all been worth it.

Over in Australia, James Keough’s (aka. Vance Joy, in case you missed it) single ‘Riptide’, from his debut EP God Loves You When You’re Dancing, entered public consciousness overnight, cropping up on commercial radio and TV advertisements. If you’ve been to Australia recently and you don’t know the song, you surely need to get out more.

When I spoke to Keough this week, he didn’t quite appreciate my ten-second analysis of his career. “I don’t think I’m an overnight success… my song has been really popular so I’ve got onto people’s radars very quickly because of that,” he says.

The assumption is easy to make. He’s gone swiftly from playing pub-gigs to festival-gigs, but he doesn’t seem daunted by this stark difference. “You kind of rise to the occasion in terms of more people [being] there; if there’s good energy, then you kind of just feed off it”.

But how can someone possibly have time to complete a law degree, play VFL (the semi-professional brother of AFL) and put together a pret-tee rad EP? Be not mistaken, he’s worked at it.

“It took me a few years to pump out a decent song… a song that I’d written completely myself.”

Over years. “I feel like it took me a while to hone my skills to a level where I was producing songs that I was happy with,” he tells us. “The first few songs that I wrote in high school were pretty average… I thought it was really easy, and that’s always a sign that you’re not any good.”

“It took me a few years to pump out a decent song in about 2009… a song that I’d written completely myself.”

Years and years, in fact. “I sat on ‘Riptide’ for a while — I had the first couple of lines in like, 2007, and I wasn’t really taking music seriously at all. And then it kind of resurfaced and I had the chorus in my head and started putting words to it… and it all finally linked together in 2012.”

Clearly, Melbourne’s indie-folk man-of-the-moment has had a big 18 months. In 2013, he was signed to US label Atlantic Records, who he describes as “really supportive of my creative needs”, with a unique ability to spread his music far and wide (bonus!).

He’s not fazed by the weight of influence held by the big labels, though. “I think if you have confidence in your abilities, you’re not going to allow anyone to tailor you or tell you what to be,” he says.

This is reflected in his attitude toward the release of his debut album. “There’s still a little bit to do, not heaps, but important bits, little things… It’ll be done when it’s done, and no sooner.” He laughs, and I get the impression that in terms of Keough’s music, the only timeframe that matters is his own, true to his word.

Last year also saw him tour with Bernard Fanning and the “deadest legends”, Big Scary. He says, “I grew up listening to Bernard Fanning – that’s a cliché thing to say – ‘I grew up to this shit, I grew up to this band’ – but I literally did listen to Powderfinger growing up”.

He also played to his biggest crowd to date last year, at Australia’s Spendour in the Grass Festival in July. “That was crazy, that was so good. In terms of a big moment, it felt like a big moment.”

“I think if you have confidence in your abilities, you’re not going to allow anyone to tailor you or tell you what to be.”

And now, another big moment. This weekend, Vance Joy hits the Little Red Dot for two days, in order to play Laneway Festival. As a Laneway virgin (and having never touched down in Singapore), Keough has a few things to look forward to, including a line-up he can get pumped for. “I’m excited for them, and about them. And all around them,” he tells us.

2014 is looking equally as exciting for the 25-year-old. Though he says he dreams of taking baths and burning incense to pass his time, the reality looks to be a bit further away. He’ll be touring, writing, touring, writing — and maybe he’ll find time to fit a good book in there one Sunday.

Today, he’s hot property; though the exact formula of the success of ‘Riptide’, God Loves You When You’re Dancing, and Vance Joy so far is a mystery to even the man himself. “If I knew how to do it, I’d do it every day.”

Here’s hoping he gets a clue soon, because we think it could turn out pretty well for everyone.

By Eleanor Turnbull

Vance Joy will perform at St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival Singapore this year on 25 January 2014 at The Meadow, Gardens By the Bay.