Lomography’s Blue Hour Sessions to put spotlight on Singapore music and art scene

Lomography Singapore has just announced the Blue Hour Sessions, a 6-part series featuring collaborations with local bands and graphic artists with an aim to document ground-breaking work in the local music scene.

Drawn from the French expression l’heure bleue, ‘The Blue Hour’ refers to the time before nightfall when the sun slips from sight and the sky falls into a deep blue – traditionally, this hour of day is seen to hold special significance because of the possibilities for unexpected collisions, liaisons and delirium.

From 13 November to 14 April, the Blue Hour Sessions will take place on the last Saturday of the month, with each session turning the spotlight on collaborative efforts between some of the most exciting bands and graphic artists of our generation.

Expect live sets with visual and audio installations, as well as the launch of special edition EPs (limited to a first-run of 36 copies) featuring rough cuts, unreleased demos, analogue prints, and zine artwork by the bands and graphic artists themselves.

Other Sounds is proud to be official online media partner of the the Blue Hour Sessions as it aims to put the spotlight back on local bands and graphic artists.

Blue Hour Sessions schedule

23 November
Tiramisu x fFurious
.gif x M-D-R-N
7nightsatsea x Heider of SSYSTM x Allison Marie Low

21 December
MUON x William Chan of TMRRW
Bani Haykal x Kristal Melson x SUSEJ

18 January
HEIZENBERG x Brandon Tay of Syndicate
Dream State Vision x StudioKALEIDO

22 February
sub:shaman x Marc Gabriel Loh
Space Days x Afiq Omar of Syndicate

29 March
Pleasantry x FROMPAMM
ANECHOIS x Izyanti Asa’ari x Wu Jun Han
Ellipsis x Ban-Fam

3 May
Astreal x MAKE
MONSTER CAT x DO NOT DESIGN x Afiq Omar of Syndicate
Chöd x Philipp Aldrup
Zirconia (feat. X’ho + Yeow of Zircon Lounge) x WHITELABEL x Lasse Marhaug

Update (17/12/13):

The Blue Hour Sessions exhibition and live showcases will now be held at Home Club:

27 December
MUON x William Chan of TMRRW
Dream State Vision x StudioKALEIDO

17 January
HEIZENBERG x Brandon Tay of Syndicate
Bani Haykal x  Kristal Melson

21 February
sub:shaman x Marc Gabriel Loh
Space Days x Afiq Omar of Syndicate

28 March
Pleasantry x FROMPAMM
ANECHOIS x Izyanti Asa’ari x Wu Jun Han
Ellipsis x Ban-Fam

2 May
Astreal x MAKE
MONSTER CAT x DO NOT DESIGN x Afiq Omar of Syndicate
Chöd x Philipp Aldrup

*Dates and line-ups are subject to change

By Katherine Pollock

Identite: 10.3 – Sayonara Superboy

with Amateur Takes Control, I Am David Sparkle, Pleasantry, Silhouette, Cashew Chemists, ANECHOIS,  sub:shaman, Plainsunset, 7nightsatsea, Paris In The Making, [.gif]

Home Club
28 July 2013

Photos by Amali Effendy, Jared Rezel
(ATC photos by Joshua Loh)

Syndicate Subsessions presents Weish & Pleasantry x Fauxe

The Syndicate Subsessions will be showcasing Pleasantry, Fauxe and Weish for its second show of 2013. And for the first time ever, the Subsessions stage will play host to a collaborative set where Singaporeʼs current indie darlings, Pleasantry, will share the spotlight with emerging electronic producer, Fauxe.

Formed in late 2010, Pleasantry crafts and carves music out of each memberʼs disparate listening background. These traits that defined Pleasantry will be set against the textural electronic approach of Fauxe and vice versa. Fauxe has previously performed with Pleasantry, playing his remix of the band’s track ‘Window Gazer’ at the Pigeonhole’s benefit gig.

Meanwhile, singer-songwriter Weish, armed with her looper pedal and a treasury of cherished collaborations, will also helm the stage with her one-woman live-looping performance.

The two performances will be accompanied with live visuals from guest visual artist, Jun, who has previously collaborated with the likes of Monster Cat and The B Quartet.

Syndicate Subsessions ft. Weish & Pleasantry x Fauxe
Saturday, 1 June 2013
The Substation Theatre

Tickets are available at the door, at the Substation Box Office, or via email.

By Cindy Tan

Four bands to collaborate with legendary producer at Steve Lillywhite Production Week

The Singapore Music Society (SGMUSO) has just announced the four bands who will join five-time Grammy award-winning producer Steve Lillywhite in the studios next week for the Steve Lillywhite Production Week, an idea conceived by president of SGMUSO, Graham Perkins.

The four personally selected bands are folk rockers Monster Cat, pop group The Sam Willows, experimental band sub:shaman and newcomers Atlas; all of whom are relatively new but familiar names in the local music scene.

The bands will spend one day recording with Lillywhite before one of them is chosen to collaborate with and be mentored by the producer for the rest of the week. The three remaining bands will return to the studios with three additional producers who will also be mentored by Lillywhite, Roland LimDon Richmond and Jason Tan.

The Steve Lillywhite Production Week will conclude with SOUNDCHECK, another new initiative held by SGMUSO where Lillywhite’s selected band will perform.

Monster Cat
These five cats have quickly made a name for themselves shortly after their formation in 2010, playing several gigs in Singapore, touring Japan and the US, and performing at the Reeperbahn Festival in Berlin in 2012. Their debut release Mannequins is available on their website as a free download.

The Sam Willows
Formed in May 2012, The Sam Willows are one of the newest bands on the list. The soul-folk group have since released a self-titled EP and are supported by major record label Warner Music Singapore. The band has also appeared on national television with a performance at ‘Celebrate 2013’, Mediacorp Channel 5’s New Year’s Eve countdown event, and recently performed at a showcase at renowned music festival SXSW in Austin, Texas.

sub:shaman may have only made themselves known in the past few months but they are not newcomers to the Singapore underground music scene. The band includes members of established local band Pleasantry; and singer-songwriter Weish, who has performed solo as well as with MUON.

Formed in January 2011, indie-experimental band Atlas has just recently performed at the Mosaic Music Festival.

By Cindy Tan

Cashew Chemists EP Launch with For This Cycle and Pleasantry @ Beer Market (7.01.13)

After causing a storm through the local music scene with their infectious rock n roll singles, the boys of Cashew Chemists have finally launched their debut EP. And what better way to celebrate it than to “pack everybody in a small venue that sells beer”.

First opening act For This Cycle (aka Weiwen Seah), was accompanied by four lads to add more ‘oomph’ to his twinkly pop songs that are usually only played solo. It was a shaky start with overpowering drums almost drowning all the guitars, but they reached equilibrium and soon hearts were swoon by those sweetly harmonized vocals. ‘Never Crossed My Mind’ was completely improvised to fit that stage. It sounded bigger than its original recording, and every rise and dip of its melodies sounded even more amplified on stage. Vocals pierced through the cloudy intro of ‘Closure’, narrating his meaningful and storytelling lyrics to the people in front, who perked up when For This Cycle went on to cover Death Cab for Cutie’s ‘Cath…’. Saving the best for last with ‘For What Its Worth’, the initially lulling number was quick to shock everybody when the drummer swept a storm through his drums and backup vocals took centre stage, bursting out a vocal spectrum. What an awakening end!

Taking over the stage was the all-too-familiar Pleasantry — the band that has paved the way for a groovy kind of ambient and shoegaze rock to exist in Singapore. They teased eager fans with a minor soundcheck before mesmerizing vocalist Samantha took centre stage. Against the band’s loud and volatile drums, she was forced to strain her angelic voice, causing her to border on sounding a tad pitchy at times. Nonetheless, there is nothing not to like about this unwavering band that has won the hearts of many who will never stop singing along to their songs. It is always nice when the crowd sings back, and that must have been the most heartwarming moment for them. Things got even warmer for the crowd when the band striked ‘Near and Dear’, sending ripples through the crowd of hesitant dancers. It is always; I repeat, always, a pleasure to see Pleasantry again and again.

It was finally time for the stars of the night, Cashew Chemists, to suit up, and get up on stage. Honestly, with the amount of 60s vibe these boys ooze, female fans should really scream at the top of their lungs like they do in ‘That Thing You Do’. Cashew Chemists immediately captured the crowd and led everybody to surf into first song, ‘Not In Love’; and we were instantly reminded of why these boys gained almost instant recognition across our music scene last year.

There was never a dull moment throughout their set. ‘Common Equation’ invited everybody into a slow dance and the collective feeling was that we were falling in love, all over again. It was exactly how love-at-first-sight should sound like just after a long heaving sigh. ‘What’s The Matter’ stood as so much more infectious live, with the crowd eager to shout ‘We like you better when you / Rock n Rollllll…”. It all felt like Cashew Chemists was up there to celebrate a milestone when in reality, this was only their beginning.

The night was full of showing their gratitude for the local support they have been blessed with, and also to the band who had made Cashew Chemists possible, The Strokes. The crowd went mad when they covered ‘Someday’, a tribute that forged a stronger chemistry between them and the crowd.

Speaking of showing gratitude, it was a highlighting moment when Yuji’s lady and Cashew Chemists’ social media person, went on stage to receive a bouquet of flowers and a hug from Yuji, whom at that moment, probably broke the hearts of the many girl fans there.

Now that the formalities are done, the Chemists’ half-expected encore set saw Yuji and Brian playing an intimate acoustic set for ‘Run For The Sunset’ before the rest of the band joined in for a final stretch of rock ‘n roll with ‘What She Said’.

With such talent, charisma and welcoming smiles, it seems like these Chemists have brewed the perfect mix of star quality that the local scene really needs.

By Nurl Azlea

Kombi Sessions wrap up party @ Kombi Rocks (6.12.12)

It was five minutes past eight o’clock and you had just missed the last Kombi. It will take you a fifteen-minute cab ride from Kovan station, though it might feel longer than that because you had never been to the diner before. Finally slowing down along Yo Chiu Kang Road, you keep your eyes peeled for number sixty-six but it is the huge signage bearing the words “Kombi Rocks Diner” and beneath it: “By Koon Kee Restaurant Circa 1971” in a smaller font that tells you you’ve arrived.

Located on a street corner with four Kombis parked alongside its shopfront, the diner was like a little box with a missing face, replaced instead with a frame that served as both a ventilation system and doorway. The place was packed. People spilled onto the road and there were even more milling about on the other side of the street near the gas station.

Inside, the tables and chairs had been pushed aside to make ample floor space. Wall electrical fans cooled the diner, but nobody seemed to mind sparing a sweat drop or two. A screen had been set-up in the corner projecting a loop of the Kombi Session videos while the bands played. The only things that separated the room and demarcated band from audience were several strings of plain yellow Christmas lights on the floor. The audience respected this, and formed a skewed semi-circle around the band, sat with their legs tucked beneath them while others had no choice but to stand. The counter was tucked inside, on the far side, across the entrance, so anyone who needed to order a drink had to push their way through the thick of the crowd. Despite the large turnout, it didn’t feel stifling. The mood was overall, relaxed.

Sapporo Safaris, Pleasantry and Cashew Chemists had all been filmed by the Kombi Sessions crew and were invited to perform to wrap up their first season, performing in that order. It was an acoustic gig and hence, a fuss-free set-up but despite this, it felt like a full show from beginning to end — even though one of the bands lacked a member (Cashew Chemist’s lead guitarist, Brian Chia, is currently in the U.K. but it still very much a part of the band). Each and every band sang heart-warming acoustic renditions of their particular brands of music and made the sparse set-up work.

Throughout the gig, there was always a genuine symbiotic relationship between the performers and the audience. Whether we were hooting and howling or clapping along to songs, and even participating in the normally difficult to orchestrate sing-a-longs, the night was a testament that a real love for local music continues to exist.

Two particular moments sealed the deal for the night being one of the year’s noteworthy performances. One was when Pleasantry vocalist Samantha surprised fellow band member Isa Ong with a birthday cake and the audience very gamely sang Happy Birthday. For a moment, we weren’t just a bunch of strangers watching a gig, we were all his friends.

The other moment was when Cashew Chemists invited members of Pleasantry and Sapporo Safari to join them towards the end of their set, performing a mash up of  one of the band’s singles, ‘Common Equation’, and The Morning Benders’ ‘Excuses’. We too, sang along and felt their camaraderie. Here were three young bands discarding any facade that sometimes exists amongst musicians, banding (pun intended) together to give a full performance. It was encouraging to see other musicians in the room, like a lone Pinholes member, as well as Patrick Chng, who, as a member of Kombi Sessions, expertly supported the talent by helping them engineer and mix the set-up that night.

Something about the gig felt momentous, as if every person in the room had been summoned to converge at this pleasantville: a heart-warming moment in local music history to remind those gathered in that spot, how music is evolutionary — all bands and musicians who came before had left things exactly the way they left it so that the wave upon wave of musical mongrels might belong in their own right.

By Cat Cortes

Playing Favourites: Lennat Mak

Lennat Mak has her finger in a lot of pies, with a pretty interesting career in the music industry so far as an intern, writer, producer, and drummer of one of Singapore’s current ‘buzz’ bands Obedient Wives Club. Her latest project, the Kombi Sessions, is an original take on live video sessions, featuring Singapore indie bands playing in real-life, moving Kombis. Find out more about the ‘rock goddess‘ and her dream ride, childhood dreams and nightmares… about pedigree cats.

What was your first stint in the music industry?
I started out as an intern with a music channel. I was bumming around after graduation, trying to “find myself” and decide what to do. One day, I happened to chance upon a job ad for editorial interns on the music channel’s website. I applied, got in and a few months later, I signed on full-time as a music journalist, covering all sorts of music related stuff.

Along the way, I also worked for a drum festival, Gibson Guitar Singapore, a major music label and did freelance writing for a few music publications. Right now, I’m back at the music channel full time, again! There’s no escape, it seems.

What do you love most about working in music?
I love that I’m around music all the time and I can’t imagine myself working on anything else. There’s no business like the music business.It’s always good to keep an open mind and be objective to all kinds of music.

And one thing about most people working in music is that they are nary your boring 9-5 people who talk about commonplace things — they are all so passionate about what they do. I love being around passionate people who have firm beliefs and strong viewpoints.

What did you dream of doing when you were a kid?
I wanted to open a restaurant and be a chef. But of course, as I grew up, I discovered that my culinary skills are almost non-existent. I still can’t cook to save my life. On the contrary, I think I mastered the art of cleaning the dishes just to make up for it.

“I love that I’m around music all the time and I can’t imagine myself working on anything else. There’s no business like the music business.

You’ve driven around in a few Kombis now… what’s your dream ride?
I would love to have that yellow 1970s Baywindow Kombi featured in Little Miss Sunshine. It was a common goal among my friends for a while after the movie came out; just so we could go on a road trip and reenact the “no one gets left behind” scene. Now, I would love to own a Kombi and use it as a touring van for the band.

Tell us some funny stories from shooting the Kombi Sessions!
We have to improvise a lot during filming. In Episode 2 for Pastelpower, Cherie and Adel improvised their “gangsta” fist bump and it caught on with everyone else. Check out Episode 3 with Pleasantry and Episode 4 with Sapporo Safaris (trailer here!) and see if you can spot the same fist bump.

Aside from that, I also love how all the bands featured on Season 1 make references to each other and do various collaborations on the side. If I list out the references, it will probably be too much of a spoiler. So, best for the audience to discover themselves!

We’ve heard that you’re a keen long boarder! Where do you usually skate?
I love longboarding! I picked up skating back in December 2010 and I’m actually one of the ambassadors for Longboard Girls Crew in Singapore. I do a lot of long distance cruising from East Coast Park to Changi Village. Sulaiman (OWC bassist) brought me to skate around the Marina Bay Sands area once and I fell in love with the awesome night scenery there.

I also did a charity long distance cruise from East Coast Park to town with Khai and Mag from the Great Spy Experiment and some other friends. It was a really fun and rewarding experience.

What’s one instrument you wish you could play and why?
The piano. It’s melodic and percussive at the same time. I actually learned a bit of guitar and bass before I picked up drumming. Along the way, I also wanted to learn the violin, trumpet, gamelan and so many other instruments. I guess drumming still holds my interest more.

Suddenly, all these indie bands like Obedient Wives Club, Cashew Chemists, Pep Talk, Pleasantry and Sapporo Safaris are coming up. If you ask me, I really do feel that all these bands make up a very strong current wave in the small local music scene that we have.

Who is your all-time favorite record label?
Third Man Records. The White Stripes is my all-time favorite band and has really influenced me a lot musically. Jack taught me a lot about how to appreciate good music and why it is important to have a romantic notion for music. And he is such a visionary in everything he does, from his musical direction for his own bands, to recording style to how he runs his own label.

I’m actually hoping to start a boutique record label releasing 7″ split vinyl singles in 2013 — in the vein of how Third Man Records does things.

What would you like to see more of in the music scene here?
To have a really collective music scene. If you look at all the past great music scenes from Seattle, Detroit and Atlanta, you will find that all those movements came about because you could discover a whole load of good bands from the same geographical area.

I still take delight that Bradfox Cox from Deerhunter did a fist bump with me when we were talking about the Atlanta music scene and how great The Coathangers are and the fact that he designed their first LP cover. He seriously takes pride in his own local music scene and fellow bands. I want to feel the exact same way he does!

And it’s this very same observation, among many other reasons, that propelled me to produce Kombi Sessions. Suddenly, all these indie bands like Obedient Wives Club, Cashew Chemists, Pep Talk, Pleasantry and Sapporo Safaris are coming up. If you ask me, I really do feel that all these bands make up a very strong current wave in the small local music scene that we have.

“[Bradford Cox] seriously takes pride in his own local music scene and fellow bands. I want to feel the exact same way he does!”

Granted, as it is, the sub-genres have always had a very strong community of bands that support each other. Music discovery shouldn’t just stop at one band.

Cats or dogs?
I’m really not an animal person. But there’s a pedigree cat named Thom at Thom’s Loft, which belongs to Alan Bok, OWC’s producer for the second EP. Despite me not being a big fan of animals, Thom has sneaked into my heart without me realising it.

There was a period when we had not been rehearsing so I didn’t see Thom for the longest of time. And guess what? I had a nightmare about the cat, woke up traumatised that I had to text Yinqi (OWC vocalist) immediately for counseling. It was horrible. Not the best of times.

Favourite Instagram filter?

What philosophy/quote/motto do you live by?
I love this quote by the character Penny Lane in my all-time favourite movie, Almost Famous:

“I always tell the girls, never take it seriously. If you never take it seriously, you’ll never get hurt. If you never get hurt, you’ll always have fun. And if you ever get lonely, just go to the record store and visit your friends.”

But lately, I’ve been going on non-stop with, “No regrets. Just love!”.

By Melissa Yong