When we say indie music, we generally know what kind of musicians we're referring to: the poor ones, not the Bon Jovi ones, without all the glam of Hollywood.
I?know "indie" is short for "independent", but when you comes down to it, what does that really mean? Indie musicians are proud to call themselves Indies, I guess, in a way not unsilimar to how the American Indians are proud to call themselves American Indians. It's a heritage, a way of life that has focus not on society, but on self. (Considering I am so egocentric, I may want to convert.)
The whole concept of "indie" is to stay out of the demands of society and make a sound that you like, for yourself, that you feel is your sound. Obviously, this whole teenager-like kind of idealism is not exactly a hit today. We're really 40 plus years too late for the whole "be true to yourself" kind of thing, but some people still believe that it exists.?Well, rather than tell them to "move on", Think applauds these retro-appreciative people, who still embrace the culture of Bob Dylan's time, and we tell you a bit more about them.
Vertical Rush was formed in 1998 by a group of kids who wanted to play for their secondary school's year-end concert as a one-off performance. Fronted by Esmond and Joe, and backed up by Raymond, Gabriel and Leo on guitars, Jack on bass, and Daren on drums, this group of friends began doing covers and drawing influence from bands such as DC Talk, Switchfoot, Gin Blossoms and Jars of Clay to name a few. What resulted was a brand of music which combined the friendly sounds of pop music with the stylings of rap and funk.
As word of this brand of pop music got around, the band received greater opportunities to play at various venues around Singapore. Vertical Rush went on to play at places such as the Youth Park, Boat Quay and Tanglin CC. Then after some major changes in the group, close friends Shaun and Ian were invited to play bass and guitars, to fill in for upcoming gigs and for an upcoming demo recording session.
After completing the demo, Vertical Rush was offered a full-length album recording deal by uprising local sound engineer Steven Cheong. They went on to record their debut album, Songs for the Girls we never dated. Shaun and Ian also became permanent members of the band.
After lead Ian left to pursue his studies abroad, in June 2004 Marcus Wong, formerly of local punk favs Pension State and indie outfit Chocolate Tiger was asked to replace Ian permanently. This line-up addition gave Vertical Rush's music more of an "edge", and accelerated a very evident musical transition.
Combining the infectious melodies of pop music, with the raw energy of rock, their own brand of "indie - pop / rock" has made them one of the most promising bands in the Singapore music scene. Their unique sound has given them a very strong sense of acceptance among many different fans of local music.
Electrico is a band from Singapore playing melodic guitar-based rock 'n' roll with great pop hooks and a touch of class. Five people whose music deftly traverses styles and genres, alternating between lush, mellow textures, funky grooves, driving feet-tapping-happy rhythms and frenzied rock explosions, playing tunes that were born from their hearts but that lodge themselves in your head.
In 1996 David Tan, Keith Colaco, Desmond Goh and William Lim Jr decided to form a band to entertain punters at their church food and fun fair. This was "Electric Company". However, they felt that they needed a rhythm section to do what they wanted to do most. Rock.
They found it in Desmond, who was a guitarist in his own right, but forced to play bass with the 6-string slots filled, and William, a friend of Dave's sister who is truly an amazing drummer.
With a common vision to play to screaming fans in Japan firmly in place, Electric Company embarked on 3 years of ups, downs, break ups, broken strings, mosh pits, national service but most importantly rock and roll. With an intense gigging schedule, big and small; publicity, bad and good; and a couple of releases on compilations, Electric Company eventually made a name for themselves in the scene.
But eventually they disbanded, until David Sassoon joined them to form Electrico. Their first few session led them to feel they needed a keyboard, and they found a performer in Amanda Ling.
Electrico is one of the few bands that are truly an indie success, with one album under their name for now, but more to come. Their success is something that you hope will inspire the music scene in the country to further heights, despite the lack of appreciation by our countrymen.
Consisting of Ave on vocals, Ben on drums, Juan on bass and Fairoz on guitar, Bathroom Acoustics (BA for short) formed on 26 June 2004 and fronted by Ave, then a first year undergrad at the NUS faculty of law.
Bathroom Acoustics plays sadly beautiful emo (which means songs that drive you to kill yourself, no? Joni Mitchell sounding songs, more like) and already have two definitive original songs, "Red Poppies" and "Black". Ben is serving his national service with the police force, Juan is a Mass Communications student at Ngee Ann and Fairoz is a regular with the Police Force.
The band was born when Ave decided that instead of criticizing how other people sang, she should practise what she preached and form a band of her own so that she could apply her own perfectionist standards on everyone else. She found their original drummer, Helman, on soft.com.sg, and recruited Fadhly whom she knew way back in her Junior College days. She also found Juan through the ad she posted on soft.com.sg, and the rest, as they say, is history. After many changes in line-ups, being sorely disappointed by a number of musicians who came and left, Bathroom Acoustics played their first show at Kovan Interchange with Helman, who then left the band amicably to pursue his solo percussion career, with the warmest of wishes from everyone else. Helman was replaced by Ben, who also plays for the Leaven Trait (there's moonlighting even in an indie band?).
The band is still rather new, and being new to the scene, people tend to take them less seriously. But BA seems to be doing well, and they hope to move towards creating more original songs and gigging more intensively in the near future.
Obviously, this is not an entire list of indie bands in Singapore; if I had to make a full list, I'd run out of pages, and time, and patience too (see our trek through the history of electronic music in page 28). There are so many teenagers who need to rebel and find their own voices (not just because of a development in their voice boxes either), do we consider them ""indie" too?
Still, do keep a lookout for these local bands, they have potential to succeed and enter the mainstream culture, and then they become a generic band which you can again ignore and move on to a new indie band. Clever?