Popspoken http://popspoken.com You seek, we speak: Culture with thought. Wed, 15 Aug 2018 05:09:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 https://i1.wp.com/popspoken.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/cropped-ps512.jpg?fit=32%2C32 Popspoken http://popspoken.com 32 32 59411642 The Taste of Water: Teasing of Heartstrings but More Risks Needed http://popspoken.com/arts/2018/08/the-taste-of-water-teasing-of-heartstrings-but-more-risks-needed Wed, 15 Aug 2018 05:09:17 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=62169
By Victoria Chen  Bound Theatre is back with their sixth production, The Taste Of Water, an original play written by Teng Zi Ying. The premise is simple: a pair of secondary school friends bump into each other at Changi Airport after seven years apart and reopen the gates to what was, and what could have…

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By Victoria Chen 

Bound Theatre is back with their sixth production, The Taste Of Water, an original play written by Teng Zi Ying.

The premise is simple: a pair of secondary school friends bump into each other at Changi Airport after seven years apart and reopen the gates to what was, and what could have been.

Presented at Goodman Arts Centre’s Black Box with a simple set comprising of a few boxes and door frames, the show has a muted colour scheme that could possibly look like a large body of water.

The Taste Of Water delivers pretty stage pictures and an unabashed use of the entire black box space. A hilarious classroom lesson is a highlight out of all the scenes, typically interspersed with movement sequences. And then, a prolonged journey in the middle of the show that takes place in complete darkness except for two torchlights.

As the cast shifts in and out of characters and spaces, it is clear that they know how to work as an ensemble, although more could be done to capture what is unsaid with the text. In fact, the show could afford to be a lot tighter with quicker pacing, perhaps by switching up the rhythm more frequently, and riding the ebb and flow of natural conversation. Director Wee Xuan Yi has a clear vision and he is certainly encouraged to take greater risks and push his actors further in order to achieve it.

Overall, the piece is warmly received. Laughter from the audience and thumping sound effects sometimes overpower the characters’ dialogue, but all in recognition of the fond memories of secondary school days—gossiping before class, skipping CCAs, first loves, and uncertain futures.

Bound Theatre’s latest production will tease your heartstrings, yet leave you unfulfilled, like that relationship which didn’t last beyond O’Levels.

Photographs courtesy of Bound Theatre 

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Baybeats Edition: Sangriento on Touring Tokyo and Growing Local Audiences http://popspoken.com/music/2018/08/baybeats-edition-sangriento-on-touring-tokyo-and-growing-local-audiences Tue, 14 Aug 2018 06:25:11 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=61961
Sangriento on touring Tokyo and their shift from cover music to originals.

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Metal meets experimental, Sangriento is a local band of five who have a diverse background of picking up their instruments of choice and somehow found each other to make music. Having had a couple of line up changes since formation back in 2011, this current line up will be rocking it out on the Baybeats stage this weekend.

The band has essentially been around for seven years now, so with new faces and their individual talents contributing to the making of music, has anything changed?

“Where there is original music involved, when there is a new member, there will be some sort of a new element. If you listen to some of Sangriento’s older works, before Christal (drummer) and I came in, it sounds very different,” shares Candice (vocalist). Han (guitarist) adds, “It was more rock.” Now, with Candice’s classical background, the band has taken on a newer direction and their musical pursuits have shifted.

It is also a funny thing that this new line up came together over a single jam session and “makan” afterwards, as Nic (bassist) casually mentions. It is no surprise though, for the entire band shares a very comfortable chemistry with each other and even in quiet moments, you can sense their cohesiveness. Everyone coming together to work on something bigger than themselves.

What are their thoughts on possibly making music overseas though, especially since Singapore herself does not seem to appreciate the talents and the work done here?

Rayne (keyboardist) gives her thoughts on this: “It all has to start from somewhere, so why not now and why not here? We can be envious of other bands out there, but if we think that the only way to make music is to be in a certain environment, then we are not doing justice to what it is. So yeah, let’s start from here.”

“I think you can just make music anywhere,” Han adds.

Nic: “Even if we can move overseas to make music, but what is the point? Because then it is no longer our music.”

Popspoken meets up with Sangriento to find out more about pursuing original songs instead of covers and why it is sad that we have to convince our own people to support local.


Popspoken: Share with us the shift from being a cover band in 2010 to pursuing original work after 2013?

Han: I‘ve always thought that writing and playing your own songs should be a goal to work towards. Since the band had been around for 3 years already, it only made sense to start doing that.

Nic: There is a much greater level of challenge. When you’re a cover band, as long as the songs are popular and you play them well, people will be interested. However, it is an uphill battle to draw audiences in for original songs. While I wouldn’t say it’s more rewarding, it’s an entirely different feeling playing your own songs than learning a song written by someone else.

Christal: I just joined Sangriento in 2017 – it’s my second originals band after starting out doing covers as well. There’s a lot more team dynamics when you’re writing with other musicians versus learning a track that’s already been crafted. Every band and musician I get to work with has their own style, which in turn brings out different types of creativity from me as well. That’s probably my favorite thing about original work, hearing new ideas from different people and challenging myself to come up with an interesting drum part to complement it.

PS: You have toured Tokyo a couple of times now. How were the tours?

Han: It was a fun experience. The sound and lighting at the shows were always great and they really take their music seriously. There was certain culture and system to the way gigs are done in livehouses that made it efficient and enjoyable.

Nic: The live house scene there is amazing. People are very friendly and warm and we’d be forever grateful for all the support we received from the local musicians. Another thing that was really cool was the afterparty and socialising that happens after each gig, you can really feel how it brings the community together.

Rayne: I was most amazed at the level of professionalism among the musicians, live house sound crew, lighting crew and managers. There were some nights that only had a handful of audience members but everyone still gave their all to put on the best show possible. Some musicians we met even brought their own bass amps and drums. Their commitment and work ethic is astounding and I feel that there is so much we can learn from them.

PS: What will you say to someone to convince them to listen to local music?

Han: I think most people don’t listen to local stuff not because they don’t like it, but because they’re not used to it, partly because it’s not spoonfed to them. If all the local radio channels removed one of Ed Sheeran’s songs from their playlist and replaced it with a local song, that would probably make a bigger difference than me convincing people. But I guess if I wanted to get someone to listen to a local band, I wouldn’t tell them it’s a local band. Just tell em it’s good music.

Nic: Also, local music gives you more opportunities to hear the bands live, and this is an entirely different experience from listening to recordings.

Christal: No harm checking out local artists and seeing if you encounter music that appeals to you. Not having to fly miles to see them live is definitely a plus point.

Rayne: I agree with Nic about the live experience. There’s something I do as a teacher – I simply play local music before class starts or during breaks, soon enough some students will enjoy it so much they’ll ask me for the artists. The music speaks for itself. #teacherprivilege

Candice: First I’d like to express how sad it is that here in Singapore, we still have to “convince” our own people to listen to local music, or really to support homegrown talent in general. It’s been 55 years since the British left, can we as a nation just get over our postcolonial hangover already? C’mon folks, self-confidence is sexay! Just because it’s foreign doesn’t mean it’s better, or even good. And a band, play or painting shouldn’t be written off simply because it’s local. There’s this bizarre phenomenon that takes place here, where an artist has to “make it” overseas before Singaporeans will give them the credit, or indeed even just the attention they deserve.

If you haven’t toured, the response is close to downright derisive. Go to pretty much any other country and they’re so proud of their own homegrown talent; it’s what’s local that gets priority. I’m not talking about government funding. I mean it’s the mindset of the local audience that really makes the difference.

There’s good music and bad music, and there is a crap ton of really good music being written and performed by Singaporeans. It’s unfortunate, but since the condition I talked about earlier still exists, I’m with Han on this one. Just let your friends listen to it, and don’t say anything. Just let the music speak for itself.

PS: How is Baybeats Budding Bands different from going through the Noise Mentorship back in 2015 for you?

Han: They focus on different aspects of being in a band. The Noise mentorship programme gave us insights on how to improve our musicality individually and as a band, while the Baybeats budding bands mentorship teaches us stuff outside of making/playing the music.

Christal: Coincidentally, I was in Noise 2015 with a different band! So far, Baybeats Budding Bands seems more about a holistic view of what it means to be a band in the music industry, whereas Noise was a more specific mentorship where we learned from individual mentors who gave us tips on how to craft our sound and performances, and shared their own life experiences on a more in-depth level. They’re definitely both covering important perspectives, and we’re learning plenty along the way.

Rayne: It is definitely an honour to be part of the two music mentorship programmes, and each has its own qualities. During Noise we had one mentor and he was very hands on with improving our musicality. On the other hand, for Baybeats we get to hear from more mentors and learn from their diverse experiences. Another thing about Baybeats is that we are part of a larger music festival. So we get to see and appreciate the behind-the-scenes hard work put in by festival organisers and crew.


Sangriento will be playing at this year’s Baybeats Festival that is happening from 17 to 19 August 2018!

They will be on for 19th August 2018, 6.30pm at the Arena (Esplanade Outdoor Theatre).

Photography credits: Darren ‘Merovign’ Tan

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Felix Cheong, Award-Winning Singaporean Author, Will Be Performing Music At The Arts House http://popspoken.com/arts/2018/08/award-winning-singaporean-author-felix-cheong-will-be-performing-music-at-the-arts-house Mon, 13 Aug 2018 07:57:15 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=62123
The Singaporean troubadour is back to poetry after nine years.

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Nine years after announcing his retirement from poetry, award-winning Singaporean writer Felix Cheong is back with his fifth volume, B-Sides and Backslides.

Due to be launched on August 31st, the 53-year-old’s collection puts together poems (what he calls “outtakes”) from his oeuvre over some 30 years, from juvenilia written as an undergrad, to previously unpublished pieces from his creative writing thesis.

Sources of inspiration for this collection include past relationships, his Catholic hangups, uniquely Singaporean behavior, and tributes to dead musicians such as Kurt Cobain, Dolores O’Riordan and David Bowie.

Accompanying his book launch will be a performance of his poems set to classical music reworked by two musicians, Mervin Wong and Natalie Ng; held at the Arts House at the Old Parliament on the same date. More details of the event can be found here.

Producer Mervin Wong

Pianist Natalie Ng

The title of his latest collection is a playful riff on the B-side singles of musicians who release an album of such material.

On why he has issued another poetry collection despite having “retired” from the genre, Cheong says: “I wanted to leave poetry but poetry has never left me. It’s like an old flame whose embers are still glowing even after nine years!”

Performance with Musicians

Since last December, Cheong has been jamming with pianist Natalie Ng and electronic producer Mervin Wong (collectively called Osmosis). Ng and Wong would suggest a piece, such as Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata or Brahms’ Intermezzo in A Major Op 118 no. 2, and Cheong would write poems to them.

“Alternatively, I would offer a poem I’ve already written, and either Natalie or Mervin would suggest which classical music piece goes with it,” Cheong says.

“Natalie (Ng) and Mervin (Wong) are also trying to spin their own takes of the classical music pieces – they would add flourishes or improvise lines not in the original score.”

The trio are also slated to perform at the Singapore Writers Festival in November and also next year’s Textures Festival in March.

Return to poetry

Since his fourth collection, Sudden in Youth: New and Selected Poems (2009), Cheong has not really stopped writing. He’s published a well-received collection of short stories, Vanishing Point (2012),  Singapore Siu Dai (2015) and more recently, a children’s picture book, Use Your Head.

On the cards are a slew of upcoming literary projects, ranging from two young adult novels, a children’s picture book, and an interview series.

B-Sides and Backslides

Still, Cheong still finds time for poetry – describing it as “his first love”.

“It’s a calling, I guess,” he says. “The muse must not be denied.”

Felix Cheong will be launching and performing B-sides and Backslides with musicians Mervin Wong and Natalie Ng at The Arts House at The Old Parliament on 31 August from 7 – 8 pm. Entrance is free. More details can be found here.

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Chillwave Producer Giraffage Is Returning To Singapore http://popspoken.com/music/2018/08/chillwave-producer-giraffage-is-returning-to-singapore Fri, 10 Aug 2018 03:14:52 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=62103
Soak in some good vibes with Giraffage.

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What’s good, fans of alt-EDM! Acclaimed chillwave producer Giraffage (real name Charlie Yin) will be making a triumphant return to Singapore’s shores next month.

The San Francisco native, who last played a set here in 2015, will be performing at Kilo Lounge this coming 8 September. He is supported by Jared Ryan Rezel, also known by his DJ moniker JRZ.

Riding high off the release of his 2017 album Too Real, this prominent synthpop producer is also known for taking sonic cues from acts such as Yellow Magic Orchestra, Haruomi Hosono, Soichi Terada, Interpol, and Radiohead.

Early bird tickets are going for S$35, Standard passes going for S$40 and door tickets are S$50. Tickets can be purchased here.

Singapore will be one of the four stops of his Asian tour.

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Bite Sized Beef: 5 Homegrown Restaurants to Celebrate a Supreme National Day in Singapore http://popspoken.com/wine-dine/2018/08/bite-sized-beef-national-day-sg-2018 Thu, 09 Aug 2018 07:19:48 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=62074
Our list of homegrown restaurants helps you celebrate National Day with authentic local flavours, so onward, hungry folks of Singapore!

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Happy National Day, Singapore! It is no secret that Singapore is an island of diverse and immerse food culture, so what better way to kick off our 53rd birthday’s celebrations than using the mouth?

From McDonald’s safe settlement in the Rendang Sedap Angus Beef Burger to ice cream parlour Tom’s Palette‘s quirky Chee Cheong Fun ice cream, these attempts only demonstrate how tough it is when trying to pinpoint an authentic local flavour. Our list of homegrown, up-and-coming restaurants helps you make that decision on your own— onward, hungry folks of Singapore!

Skyve Wine Bistro Serves Lavishly Affordable

Skyve Wine Bistro’s location is perhaps telling of its fare. Only a stone throw’s away from Anglo-Chinese School (Junior), the sun-drenched, vintage décor of the restaurant is perfectly at home among lush greenery and family. Brother and sister helm the place, with Executive Chef Jachin Tan serving up dishes that emulate his fondest memories of food, and founder cum sommelier Celine Tan pairing his creations to her extensive and affordably-priced collection. The all-day bistro’s name is a testament, where “Skyvers” from all walks of life can find respite over a good glass of wine and delicious food.

Our personal recommendation, the Truffle Mushroom Ngo Hiang is a flavourful vegan appetiser that will appeal to both camps at the table. The combination of brocollini and burdock root imbues the rolls with an addictive crunch. Their popular Lobster Sang Mee is local tze char fare served luxurious, topped with an array of seafood, egg drop soup on the side, and enough wok hey in the zup to be taken seriously. Maybe not as local but still deserving of its spotlight, the Semifreddo of Lime is an emerald-tinted dessert with blue pea flower caviar, each bite itself a refreshingly sweet end.

When? Now till otherwise specified
10 Winstedt Road Block E, #01-17, Singapore 227977

Playful Ding Dong Shows Where You Belong

Everything at Ding Dong is revealing of its playful, scintillating nature. The décor, a mishmash of gaudy posters, is a visual treat for the eyes, while their recently revamped menu unfolds to a clever cocktail “treasure map” across Southeast Asia. The restaurant is no stranger to the eclectic culinary flavours of Asia, frequently placing itself at the forefront of innovation when it comes to the Mod-Asian experience.

“The food at Ding Dong has always been about stirring the Mod-Asian trend pot, bringing in fusion flavours that bridge culinary cultures between the East and the West,” says Head Chef Miller Mai.

Embark on a truly Singaporean taste journey with Ding Dong’s rendition of Kuih Pie Tee, the Singapore Chilli Crab. The little spicy cups contain the well-loved crab at its finest: already spared of its shell. The Beef Short Rib, Buah Keluak, and Wingbean Salad steals the thunder from other mains with the daring flavour of buah keluak. Together with the incredible mouthfeel of tender Wagyu beef, the dish is what you would imagine Singapore to taste like: rich, earthy, and overwhelming. Riding on that note, finish off with the king of fruits, Durian Alaska— a house-made durian ice cream paired with fluffy pandan chiffon cake; and coated with an intricate, light caramelised pandan meringue that forms the outer shell.

When? Now till otherwise specified
115 Amoy St #01-02, Singapore 069935

Colonial Club Brings the Best Across the Singapore Strait

Whether it is longing, nerves, or designed for touchdown tourists, airport food has a propensity to be unremarkable. Enter Colonial Club, the 80-seater restaurant tucked beside the sports arm of Changi Airport’s Terminal 3, determined to beat present expectations through tasteful interpretations of our heritage. With a menu that pays tribute to Singapore’s history of colonisation, expect traditional Asian dishes that hail from different parts of Singapore, Penang and Malacca.

Highlights include the unassuming Roti Ayam, pan-fried French toast stuffed with tasty chicken meat fillings; when served hot and crispy, it is a savoury eggy treat for the mouth; and the signature Straits Nyonya Laksa with Soft Shell Crab. This dish is not for the light eaters as it enters the picture with a whole deep-fried soft-shell crab perched on the bowl of rice vermicelli swimming in thick, spicy rich coconut broth. To end, their homemade kaya brings all these elements together when spread on the slice of steaming, soft, shiok bread.

When? Now till otherwise specified
Changi Airport Terminal 3, Departure Hall, #03-33, 65 Airport Boulevard, Singapore 819663

Bakerzin Goes Red, White, Red & White

The sweetest messages come from the oven. Bakerzin recently unveiled their special creation for National Day: the Cempedak Layer Cake. Its festive appearance is marked by the alternating layers of red and white, with the former of velvety sponge cake, and the latter made from 100% fresh pure cempedak (jackfruit). The result is both sophisticated and delicate, almost reminiscent of traditional kueh lapis but with a twist of modernity—almost like our country’s unique stance.

When? Now till 12 Aug
Available at all Bakerzin outlets across the island

Creamy Boutique Ice Cream Blazes Ahead with Lava Treats

Another term for public holidays: stay-at-home day. If the temptation to curl up with a new drama series sounds familiar, Creamy Boutique Ice Cream is a great portable choice for those looking to fulfil both sweet and savoury indulgences. The new range of artisanal desserts is not only innovation, it is also highly photogenic, bringing Singaporean dishes together on a cookie. Crafted specially for the occasion, the Ondeh Ondeh Cookie paired with Milo Dinosaur Ice Cream will delight any 90’s child with a penchant for nostalgic treats. When the rich, warm gula melaka centre oozes out to meet the smooth breakfast cocoa drink, it is a match made in foodie heaven.

For those with adventurous palates (probably the same people who enjoy Chee Cheong Fun ice cream), the unorthodox Chilli Crab Cookie paired with Bread Toast Ice Cream is another National Day exclusive creation. The chewy black brownie cookie contains homemade, salty chilli crab lava, while the sweet ice cream balances it out— not bad for the first savoury lava cookie in the range!

When? The Ondeh Ondeh cookie is available till 9 Aug; the Chili Crab cookie till 31 Aug
139 Tyrwhitt Road, #01-03, Singapore 207557

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Baybeats Edition: Dreebsby’s not about the Exposure Dollars http://popspoken.com/music/2018/08/baybeats-edition-dreebsby Wed, 08 Aug 2018 10:35:10 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=61950
Dreebsby on the important questions, such as picking between dogs and llamas - if that's even possible.

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Always laughing and sharing jokes, Dreebsby is a music act that seems to brighten up the room with their presence. They are also full of fun facts, such as how Daniel Sid (Bassby) actually bought his first bass and rehearsed only a week before their Baybeats audition. Animated and full of energy, Sam P (Dreebsby) laughed, “And they (the judges) asked us, so how long have you guys been together? I was like, a week?”

And somehow we all got sidetracked by Daniel’s beard. (“I comb it and everything!” Daniel immediately says.) Similar to the beard, they all agree that the local music scene here has been growing and we are definitely going somewhere. It is the right direction, and with even more exposure and support from platforms that are able to garner views, it will help to further accelerate the scene’s growth and the general public’s awareness for it.

Would exposure dollars help in any way?

Daniel: “Well, if I really wanted exposure dollars, I will just turn to busking. It is also more fun.”

And with the scene growing, is there anything you would love to see more of?

Daniel and Sam chime in, “More big gigs and festivals.” Daniel goes on to elaborate, “I don’t think there is a shortage of people and talent. It is just about how the events are being put out there and marketed.” Apparently, what would also be helpful will be getting a Grab sponsorship. Or really, just easy access to transport.

Chris Yong (Hornsby): “Ever since then(the Grab takeover of Uber), drivers have been cancelling on me and it is tougher to reach my appointments on time.” Sometimes public transport might not be the best option either, especially when factoring all the equipment needed to be brought along for performances and gigs. It may seem like a small issue, but these little things add up over time so being a musician really is way more than just picking up an instrument and strumming a few strings.

Popspoken learns more about llamas, Sam’s dog Ollie and why they chose to launch in London instead.


Popspoken: So, according to Dreebsby motivation, why the choice between dogs and llamas?

Dreebsby: That’s Sam’s Doggo, Ollie. Sam’s mum organised for a family photoshoot and Sam asked the photographer to snap a couple of Doggo shots. Now Ollie is on Spotify and is the face of a Jumper line: the Doggo Jumpers.

As for the Llamas – who doesn’t love llamas? In fact, the lyric video of Out The Door is full of them. #copyrightfreevideos (Side note: there are a surprising number people out there who have spent a lot of time filming Llamas as a hobby.)

PS: How did you come together to form an act?

D: Dreebsby started off as Sam’s solo moniker for his songwriting and composition while in law school in the UK. While training as a lawyer back in Singapore he met Tommy, a full time cover musician, wedding singer and Chemical Engineering grad, through a friend. Once Sam qualified, he started a music company called Goose Infiniti (which Dreebsby is “signed” to – totally legit), teamed up with Tommy, recorded a couple of songs with Leonard Soosay, and they flew to London to launch Dreebsby in November 2017. Dreebsby spent 4 months in London releasing and playing its music with several London-based musicians.

2 weeks after returning to Singapore they were lucky to get Chris Yong on board Dreebsby, who had previously recorded trumpets for the Debut Single ‘Out The Door’. Mind you, he’s a classically trained Trumpeter…who is also an Orchestra Conductor… now in a Pop Act.

2 Weeks after that (and the week before the first Baybeats audition) Sam and Tommy caught singer-songwriter Daniel Sid (childhood friend of Sam’s Brother) at City65 Music Festival, who offered to play bass after finding out they were looking for one in the region.

Now Dreebsby is one big happy racial harmony advertisement.

And let’s not forget Brian Chia (from the Cashew Chemists) who jumps in from time to time on several instruments – he played the drums for the Synthesis studio recording and spanked bass for the first Baybeats audition.

The act now consists of:
Sam P (Dreebsby)
Tommy Dean (Beatsby)
Daniel Sid (Bassby)
Chris Yong (Hornsby)

Occasional member:
Brian Chia (Asian)

PS: What is ‘inspiration’ to your music?

D: Anything really. Musically it’s ideas that I think would sound cool together and would pair nicely with lyrics or a certain emotion. Lyrically it’s either something that I’m feeling or a series of thoughts I want to write about, that would probably pair nicely with music. Love and lust are a great source for both. In fact, thats exactly what the upcoming track ‘Cigarettes With Wine’ is about and is inspired by: love, lust, two girls I knew, a dance floor, and a drunken moment on a plane involving Love Actually. Musically it draws inspiration from the Chili Peppers, Daft Punk and Led Zeppelin. Then a dash of Dreebsby tossed in, in the form of a trumpet solo and outro instead of a guitar solo.

PS: Do you think in the world of social media and tech, we generally take musicians for granted? Why?

D: Not exactly. Social media and tech has definitely brought audiences, fans and musicians much closer together. A musician can now Intsa-Story the whole creative process and stream the countless number of hours that go into their craft…. or Insta-Story their Doggo in the morning. Fan engagement is at a whole new level so there’s arguably a greater awareness of the musician’s life. But at the same time social media and tech has changed the way we consume and produce music, and that has had a snowball effect on the whole industry. While it’s getting easier to produce music, the this digital revolution has made us a lot more ADHD. So you’ve got an increasingly enormous amount of content for an consumer base with a (generally) decreasing attention span, ourselves (guiltily) included.

PS: What do you look forward to for Baybeats?

D: The audience- no doubt!

PS: And a bonus question, correct me if I am wrong, but you are based off London as well as Singapore and how does this back-and-forth influence your music making?

D: They are two very different cultures and music markets, and so you get different experiences and perspectives from each. I think we’d risk generalising each place if we tried to be specific.

We chose to launch in London because it’s a global music capital – and it’s just bursting at the seams with countless talented people creating very diverse and interesting art – the buzz is unreal. And being out of out comfort zone and on the edge of uncertainty over there keeps us on our toes so we’re constantly trying to create.

Singapore has mad prata so like… how can you not be inspired.


Dreebsby will be playing at this year’s Baybeats Festival that is happening from 17 to 19 August 2018!

They will be on for 18th August 2018, 6.30pm at the Arena (Esplanade Outdoor Theatre).

Photography credits: Darren ‘Merovign’ Tan

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Five Made-In-Singapore Music Videos To Check Out Right Now http://popspoken.com/music/2018/08/five-made-in-singapore-music-videos-to-check-out-right-now Wed, 08 Aug 2018 08:16:19 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=62040
Here's five music videos you should check out this National Day.

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Happy National Day week everyone! It’s that time of the year again as we hear perennial favourite “We are Singapore” being played for the umpteenth time.

But I digress. Within the past two months, heavy-hitters and rising up-and-comers in the music scene have upped the ante, releasing singles accompanied with stunning music videos.

Ranging from the likes of hip-hop upstart Yung Raja, evergreen post-hardcore rockers Caracal, to Rich Brian-like rapper The Azn Sensation, Singapore is none short of great music videos to watch when it comes to this National Day season.

We list a few made-in-Singapore music videos that have caught our eye and are proud to call our own. Majulah.

1. Caracal — Manicenigmatic 

This is one tough word to swallow. Manic-enig-matic. In layman terms, this means deranged and mysterious.

Why you should check it out: Ever since the departure of charismatic vocalist KC meals, the band has been in a state of limbo since 2015. A few replacement names were floated along the way, such as HRVST’s Melvin Ong, but nothing had been cast in stone. Fast forward to 2018, and the band boasts a new singer in Rock Rosette’s Rachel Lu and a new bassist/unclean vocalist in Tomgirl’s Trent Davis.

2. Disco Hue  — Can’t Be Mine 

Disco Hue yet impresses with yet another wild-but-creative video.

Why you should check it out: We’ve written features about this four-piece band before; and we’re constantly impressed by the strong storytelling and vintage aesthetics that accompany with their music videos. Maybe they could compete for the title of Singapore’s very own OK Go?

3. THE AZN SEN$ATION — Emoji

You’ll never look at emojis the same way again.

Why you should check it out: We have no idea where this Travis Scott/Wachowski brothers-looking character comes from, but boy are we digging this video.  This two-minute plus video is almost as crazy as it sounds: mini-baby grand pianos, psychedelic visions and life-sized emojis.

Music-wise, we’ve got to hand it to THE AZN SEN$ATION for balancing the parody schtick with hard flows and emotive vocals.

4. Nikhil Senan — Tribe (Feat. Hevina Kuar) 

We can’t tell if this is one or two music videos.

Why you should check it out: What’s good hip-hop fans! These past months, we’ve been blessed with not one, but the emergence of three sterling rap acts. Upstart Nikhil Senan’s smooth storytelling brings to mind the likes of legends like Common and Q-Tip. Accompanied by a beautifully-shot music video that pieces personal clips together, here’s one act to catch in the future.

5. Yung Raja – Mustafa

Yung Raja gives Jim Carey’s Riddler a run for his money.

Why you should check it out: Where have you been if you haven’t heard of rap prodigy Yung Raja? Ever since he appeared on Joe Flizzow’s 16 Baris, Raja’s clout has skyrocketed dramatically. In this video, Yung Raja rocks Jim Carey’s Riddler look, and raps about Singapore’s very own beloved 24-hour shopping joint, Mustafa Centre.

Happy National Day everyone!

Read these other articles on National Day in Singapore:

National Day Parade Theme Songs Through the Years

#OneNationTogether: 6 Singaporean-Centric Dishes To Properly Express Your Love This National Day

NDP Today, Elections Tomorrow? A Recap Of Singapore’s Good And Bad Sides In Its SG50 Year

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Baybeats Edition: Osr313 on their Masks and Schedules http://popspoken.com/music/2018/08/baybeats-edition-osr313 Mon, 06 Aug 2018 03:33:07 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=61959
Tried out five times and finally getting in, Osr313 shares with us their wisdom of staying in the scene for years.

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Featured image: Osr313’s Facebook

One of the biggest bands to play this year in terms of sheer number, Osr313 or ..On Surge’s Rhapsody! 313, has seven members in their band. For the interview, it was unfortunate that Dee (bassist), Nizam (drummer) and Zaifric (deejay) couldn’t join us. After all, it can be tough to manage schedules and the different priorities of everyone.

Hayat (screamo vocalist) shares a bit with us on this: “In terms of jamming, because there’s seven of us in a band, it is actually quite a challenge. It is an obstacle. So we will have to sacrifice certain things. For example for those of us working, we will either have to take leave or find ways to go about it. I think it is all about give and take, so that is how we manage to jam. We try to jam at least once a week, and when we have performances, we go for twice a week.”

“And longer hours,” chipped in Pat (rapper vocalist) and Hamif (guitarist).

Besides the organising of time and schedules, another criteria for their jamming sessions would be to have a big room. Just to make sure there is enough space and for the comfort of everybody.

A typical jam session for Osr313 would be to warm up, run through their performance set lists and time themselves to ensure that everything is done well and in reasonable time – including the time taken to set up. They also practice synchronisation and that is also why space is important. Bear (guitarist) reveals that they do synchronise movement to certain songs. Pat elaborates a bit on that, “We do practice but when we perform, it is more spontaneous.” Hayat agrees and goes on to share that no fixed choreography would be done.

Live performance is all about vibing with the audience and the energy would be different – moving from a jamming studio to a stage. There is also the pressure of being on stage and something more unique to Osr313: the stamina needed to perform with their masks on.

Hayat: “It can get hard to breathe in the masks and instrumentalist may find it hard to see their instruments.”

Then why and how did the masks come about?

Bear started donning on a mask first and with good reason: “I’d rather people listen to our songs than focus on our looks, so that was how it all started. But after a while, we realised that in a mask on stage, we will perform all out. It is different when you wear a mask. With the mask on, you feel free and you are the band Osr313. When we are off stage and we remove the masks, I am a father of one daughter and a husband.”

“The characters are different,” expands Pat, “We have gotten comments that when we are off stage, we behave normally – the behaviour, the talking and just a family man. But when on stage, we are all in character when our masks are on.”

Embodying the phrase that not everything is what meets the eye, Popspoken speaks to them to find out about their feelings of checking Baybeats off their checklist (after trying out for five years) and what else is in the works for them.


Popspoken: How do you think your band is different from the other local bands within your genre?

Osr313: We are different because we are enigmatic, we do things in an extraordinary orientation. In terms of genre, we didn’t want it to be called NU-METAL so we modify it and call it NU-VIGILANTE CORE.

That is a representation of what we are in the band and the music we play. All of us wear masks, we have dress codes, and we play a new wave of music about political philosophy, warfare, secret societies and personal identity.

PS: Share with us a bit of your band’s aesthetics – the masks you perform in, etc.

O: All of us have a unique mask to disguise ourselves and portray our inner demons. In terms of costume, we have a uniform for different performances so it’s not the same every time. This is to enliven and encourage people to see us play.

PS: If your music can change one thing in the world, what would it be and why?

O: Our music can change the perception of people. Metal music is not designed to be liked by most people, It elucidates itself by exclusion so we want to make metal music palatable because why not? It’s not an impediment for us and we recognize the full worth of doing new things.

PS: Describe your music in one sentence.

O: We sound like the Incredible Hulk drinking a bottle of Absinthe.

PS: Baybeats is a part of your bucket list, so now that this will be ticked off after July. what else are you guys gunning for next?

O: In the interim, we are doing recordings and we are planning to have our EP launch by end of this year with our metal counterparts from Malaysia and Indonesia. We will have the launch in Malaysia then if time permits, we will do one in Singapore. We are also focusing on exposure by performing in gigs and partake in competitions.


Osr313 will be playing at this year’s Baybeats Festival that is happening from 17 to 19 August 2018!

They will be on for 18th August 2018, 7pm at the Powerhouse.

Photography credits: Darren ‘Merovign’ Tan

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Popspoken Photography credit: Minatog 61959
IT’S THE SHIP 2018: A Day In The Life Of Livescape Group’s Creative Director, Darren Waide http://popspoken.com/events/2018/08/its-the-ship-2018-a-day-in-the-life-of-livescape-groups-creative-director-darren-waide Sat, 04 Aug 2018 07:51:35 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=62020
We interview Darren Waide on his craziest memory onboard IT'S THE SHIP, inspirations for stage design and what to expect in this year's 5th anniversary edition.

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Back for its fifth year sailing the open seas, IT’S THE SHIP has announced the official 2018 lineup and ship captain for the Phuket-bound voyage from Singapore happening this 4th to 7th November.

Cruising to the beautiful island of Phuket, IT’S THE SHIP is a globally renowned festival experience like no other. Shipmates can expect a variety of themed pop up parties, exciting artist-led side activities, and a multitude of surprises onboard the floating city.

Set to take place during a long public holiday weekend this year (6 November, Deepavali), the pioneers of the cruise music experience in Asia are about to turn up the heat and make sure this shipcation is an unforgettable and incomparable experience for all.

The 2018 headliners are Vini Vici, EDM bigwigs Cash Cash and Showtek, household trance name Paul Van Dyk as well as house DJ, Sander Van Doorn.

Anchoring the ship will be viral sensation turned rapper, BIG SHAQ – this year’s appointed captain. Check out the full line-up here, or the official playlist below:

In light of IT’S THE SHIP 2018, we speak with Mr. Darren Waide, Creative Director of the event organiser Livescape Group Creative on his day-to-day, inspirations behind his creative direction, and what to expect in this year’s 5th anniversary edition.

Creative Director of Livescape Group, Darren Waide.

POPSPOKEN: Hi Darren, introduce yourself! What do you do at Livescape and what does a typical day for you look like?

Darren Waide: Hi! I am the Creative Director at the Livescape Group, a father of 3, and a Sydney-native who has been living in Malaysia for the past 5 ½ years. My main responsibility is to make sure everything, from creation to execution, whether in TV production, set design, or the setup of an event, has a creative edge.

Besides changing nappies, serving milk, and cleaning up vomit at home, my typical day normally includes cross checking creative ideas, brainstorming sessions, and review meetings to ensure that every aspect of our flagship event, IT’S THE SHIP goes according to plan and to make sure the customer experience is always our top priority.

POPSPOKEN: What have you done at IT’S THE SHIP that you’re most proud of?

Darren Waide: That’s tough, there are so many! One great memory was when I helped move our 2016 ship captain, David Hasselhoff from his cabin to the stage without being mobbed!

On a serious note, I am proud that every year, our small team always does the impossible and works together to setup and dismantle the stage, with only a limited amount of time given. Not only that, every year, our team get to create a guest experience that keeps shipmates excited and engaged for 4 days straight! There’s definitely a lot of work involved but the hard work pays off when you see the shipmates having the best time of their lives!

POPSPOKEN: Tell us your craziest memory while onboard IT’S THE SHIP.

Darren Waide: One of my greatest memories was when the Livescape team and I had to relocate the Main Stage headlining acts to a brand new indoor stage due to bad weather all within the span of a few hours! The setup was crazy but the team managed to make it happen, all because we wanted to ensure all shipmates had the best experience onboard Asia’s Largest Festival at Sea.

POPSPOKEN: What makes IT’S THE SHIP unique, as compared to other music festival cruises?

Darren Waide: While there aren’t many music festival cruises in the region, we always ensure IT’S THE SHIP provides a unique experience for all guests. With an impressive music lineup, secret parties and fitness activities paired with luxurious comforts and 24-hour catering, shipmates are never short of options. IT’S THE SHIP is another great avenue for music fans to gather and meet with one another from all around the world, whilst getting a chance to enjoy close encounters with their favourite artists.

Each sailing features an island stopover, with this year’s shipcation taking us to Phuket. The stopover is great as it gives shipmates a chance to take a break from the activities onboard and recharge for the next chapter of the festival.

POPSPOKEN: You lead the creatives in setting the lights, sounds and stage setup of IT’S THE SHIP. Where do you get your inspiration from, and what do you have in mind as you design these sets?

Darren Waide: This is a massive team effort that involves myself, the production team, and the design team here at the Livescape Group and includes us working really closely with our suppliers and within the ship’s operation guidelines. IT’S THE SHIP runs round the clock for 4 days and 3 nights, so everything we do has to look amazing no matter what time it is!

The whole process doesn’t only involve lights and lasers, but also a mix of scenic elements, printing, and LED screens. The unusual challenge we face is scaling back our creative design approach because we only have 6 hours to set up, 4 hours to strike, a whole bunch of restrictions, and only a limited number of places to tie a stage onto a moving ship.

My inspiration normally comes from following global trends, seeing these trends and coming up with new ways to change them up and create something different. Everything created and shared pre-, during, and post-sailing including the graphic designs, posters, videos, websites, feeds, and everything onboard the ship work hand in hand, and are designed to make the experience whole.

Instagram Photo

POPSPOKEN: What we can expect at the 5th edition of IT’S THE SHIP this year?

Darren Waide: IT’S THE SHIP is a globally renowned festival experience like no other. Aside from the biggest artist line up we have ever announced, this year, shipmates can expect a variety of themed pop up parties, exciting artist-led side activities, and a multitude of surprises onboard the floating city.

Oh! Not forgetting the big reunion for our veteran shipmates who have been supporting IT’S THE SHIP for the past 5 years! We are about to turn up the heat onboard Asia’s Largest Festival At Sea, making sure this shipcation is an unforgettable and incomparable experience for all.

The festival’s early bird promotion is now open here for all shipmates with cabins going from as low as USD$423 per person. Cabin prices are inclusive of complimentary 24-hour dining, selected non-alcoholic beverages, and free usage of most of the ship’s facilities.

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Popspoken IT’S THE SHIP Singapore Reveals 2018 Ship Captain and Festival Lineup! 62020
Baybeats Edition: Glassmouth on the Addiction to Playing Live http://popspoken.com/music/2018/07/baybeats-edition-glassmouth-on-the-addiction-to-playing-live Mon, 30 Jul 2018 04:42:13 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=61936
Glassmouth about being an entity beyond individual identities and what makes live music great.

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Picking up their instruments out of practicality, such as bands needing a drummer or being able to scream better than sing, Glassmouth came together after getting to know each other through playing for other bands. The band first started out with a slightly different line up, founded by C (guitarist) and after a couple of changes, these will be the musicians that will grace the stage for Baybeats this year.

When the line up has to change, how does one know that the musician will fit in well with the rest of the band?

JL (drummer) shares his considerations, “Firstly we look at convenience – who is in our circle and plays the instruments that we need. Then secondly we look at technical skill and if they are up to par. Not that we play really difficult music, but if they are not interested in the genre, it will be hard for them to learn the songs. C has sourced for guitarists through the music forum Soft but many turn away when they listen to the kind of music we are playing because it is a pretty niche genre. So we prioritise those we know.”

R (vocalist) chips in: “The changes to our previous line ups are mostly our friends, people that we know who can appreciate the music that we are playing. So technicalities aside, even in performance we move aggressively on stage so they would need to be comfortable to adapt to that kind of playing style as well.”

But beyond all these, chemistry within a band is important though it can be an aspect to build over time. For Glassmouth, they believe that all their line up changes do share a sense of synchronicity in playing so they count themselves lucky. “It is just something that you know from the first jamming session, whether you will ‘click’ or not,” L (bassist) says.

Sensible and not overly concerned with the line that is drawn between being friends and bandmates, they just let it go and this has worked for them so far. Perhaps it is also the passion that they have managed to keep at for over ten years – each member having integrated music into their individual lives.

Even L who left the music scene entirely – selling off his gears and the bass guitar, even – came back: “For five years I stopped playing. Over that period, I did miss music, specifically playing live music. Playing live music is just different. It is this output that you get when you are on stage. It doesn’t matter if it is one person watching you or a hundred. When you get into the music, it is almost like the whole world doesn’t matter. It is a feeling you cannot get anywhere else. I think that is why I find it addictive, almost. So when I got asked to join Glassmouth, I didn’t want to miss the opportunity.”

Popspoken meets Glassmouth to talk about the way they approach music – from anonymity to the album art.


Popspoken: Talk to me about your aesthetic – trippy cover art and mainly going anonymous with your band member names online.

JL: The band isn’t entirely anonymous, but we rather not have us as indivduals, be the focus. We like to have the listeners associate our music with whatever images/emotions that it invokes.

R: We not only go anonymous with our names online, our faces were even blurred out with formal photoshoots. That’s because those are not important, those are also not the things to be focused on. Glassmouth is about the music and our art on stage.

L: I feel like Glassmouth is its own entity.

C: I designed it to make other people’s eyes hurt the longer they stare at it.

PS: Do you think the general impression of a typical musician in Singapore is accurate?

JL: There are many great bands and musicians in Singapore, but not enough platforms to showcase them and even lesser platforms to bring these musicians/bands together.

L: There’re tons of amazing bands, but sadly almost all of them treat it as a part-time hobby. I believe that with this current period that we’re in now, there are quite a number of avenues for funding or social platforms to release your music on for bands to actually pursue it properly and to at least hope to be self-sustainable if they’re able to market themselves right.

PS: How do you write your music – from lyrics to riffs.

JL: We think of a cool riffs and figure out the arrangement. Lyrics are not written with the riffs in mind and are inspired by various subjects.

R: I will usually create the melody of the screaming, after JL and C completes the instrumentals. I will keep recording down all the humming into different small parts on my iPhone and after I realised I ran out of ideas, I’ll scale down to those that best suited the song. I use Audacity to cut and combine all the different parts into a complete song and that will be the final version to be on repeat to fill in the words.

C: I get angry at life and then proceed to bombard the keyboard brutally with my fingers, complaining about how the Starbucks employee got my order wrong. I use random number generators for the tempo and bar count. No actual musical skill involved.

PS: Share with us what makes a great live music performance, by your standards.

JL: Bands that let the music take over and taking the stage with pure emotion.

R: Play at your 110% on stage, not just the playing and the tightness. How you present yourself on stage, what mood or feel you are creating, how you going to let the audiences leave with their jaw wide open.

Performance is not just about the right notes you strum or the right timing you hit on the snare but is like a theatrical play for the audience to be amazed by both audibly and visually.

L: When you just do your thing and be totally engulfed in the art that you are presenting sincerely to the people watching, be it just one person in the audience or a concert hall of 10,000.

C: A broken equipment by the end of the show and the crowd reluctantly clapping while looking confused.

PS: Does Baybeats help push underground music to the mainstream public for you?

JL: It definitely does. There are many music enthusiasts that attend Baybeats but aren’t aware of smaller shows. Baybeats opens up this avenue for bands to reach this audience.

R: We have seen heavy bands that played Baybeats before, who got more noticed and new followers and listeners. So as our music is even more niche than the usual metal or hadcore bands, hopefully the public will experience a different or fresh sound. Hopefully it will make them think: “Hey! This band is not bad!”


Glassmouth will be playing at this year’s Baybeats Festival that is happening from 17 to 19 August 2018!

They will be on for 19th August 2018, 7pm at the Powerhouse.

Featured image: Glassmouth’s Facebook page

Photography credits: Darren ‘Merovign’ Tan

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Popspoken Credit: Glassmouth's Facebook page 61936
Baybeats Edition: Trust The Chaos on the True Cost of a Song http://popspoken.com/music/2018/07/baybeats-edition-trust-the-chaos-on-the-true-cost-of-a-song Thu, 26 Jul 2018 03:30:41 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=61670
Trust The Chaos on the true cost of producing one song and being a part of Baybeats after their NOISE Mentorship just last year.

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From imitating their musical idols back in secondary school to finding each other and discovering their own voice, Trust The Chaos is a band with punk, metal and rock influences. Candid when answering the questions, it is evident that they all get along well – trying to nudge one another to be the first to respond to the questions and laughing nervously together when asked what they like about being a musician in Singapore.

But they believe that in the scene, there is a space for everyone – people are generally receptive to whatever you put out there and there will be an audience, no matter how small. They also mentioned how our diversity contributes to the music we produce here – with their multitude of influences, be it culturally or otherwise.

So why are audience sizes not growing beyond musicians themselves supporting other musicians, and people who are already fans? Where are the new faces?Li En (vocalist) offers a possibility, “International music is so accessible, so there might not be that need to look up local bands to listen to and to watch them play. I think more exposure is needed, but to get that exposure requires a movement of the entire community.” Jing (guitarist) adds: “We also have limited resources, because we fund many of these things ourselves – booking studios, gear, transport. So it depends on our priorities and where do we want to put our money into depending on the resources we have. If we want to market ourselves a bit more.”

But it also seems that wanting to market themselves is tied to how much they can afford to as well – in terms of dollars and time.

Alex (bassist) and Jake (drummer) chips in: time is money. “And just in terms of writing a song, it requires time. You cannot put a dollar sign on time,” Jing goes on, “It is an opportunity cost. The time you spend practicing, writing your parts, can be spent on other things. It is cost, besides the time of coming together to jam in the studio, recording the song, finding the right studio and producer… It all adds up.”

How much would be an actual cost of producing a song? “$300 to $500,” Nicholas (guitarist) estimates. And the rest of the band adds that this amount is just the base cost of production, not including time spent and other aspects we consumers find invisible to us.

Popspoken goes into the musical journey with Trust The Chaos, beyond the dollars and the ticking of minutes.


Popspoken: How did the band name come about?

Trust The Chaos: The name does sound counterintuitive, but we don’t take the name Trust The Chaos literally.
To us, it represents finding balance amongst the chaos. Finding a balance in our sound, to stay true to our alternative roots and continue writing music with heart and depth. We would want the sound to define the band, rather than the name to define the sound of the band.

PS: What drew you into this genre of music?
TTC: Alternative rock, nu-metal and progressive rock were the genres that we were exposed to individually when we were still impressionable teens back in the 2000s era. These genres played a definitive part in our formative years and stuck with us since then, so it felt natural for us to come together and create music in this genre of music.

PS: You did the Noise Mentorship last year, and now you are part of the Baybeats Budding Bands for 2018. What are some learnings you have taken away from the programmes?

TTC: We have blind spots to our weaknesses and areas of improvement as a band and individually. Through the guidance and mentor of esteemed professionals in the industry, we were given invaluable advice on our sound, song writing, band image and marketing. Some advice include writing melodic and complementary parts between the instruments instead of having individual technical and intricate parts that might not sit well within the song, making the band sound fuller as well as shaping our band image. These are advice that really stuck with us and would definitely follow us through as we progress forward as a band.

PS: What is another milestone the band has its eye on?

TTC: The next small milestone for the band would be to release our EP, together with an EP launch. This EP is a collection of songs that we have been working on and performing for the past year, thus they represent a culmination of the journey that we have gone on. A bigger milestone we have our eyes on would be to get signed by a label. Subsequently, we would also like to tour around the region playing shows.
PS: Is it easy being a musician in Singapore? Why do you think so?

TTC: It depends on what your expectations as a musician would be. If you are contented with putting out tracks on the internet, street busking, playing some ad-hoc shows here and there (and making a little pocket money out if it), then that would not be a problem for any musicians.

However, the difficult part would be maintaining the longevity of yourself/the band, growing your fan base locally and receiving the support to keep going. It is no news by now that local music will always be compared to international music, and there is the stigma/perception that local music is of a lower caliber.

International music also has the audience size and marketing dollars to reach out to a larger audience and it is tough for local music to fight for a similar level of accessibility to the music. Suffice to say, it would be difficult to earn a living in Singapore being a full-time independent musician.

All that said, it is getting better over the years though! More platforms and stages are beginning to cast a light on local music and allowing for local musicians to take centrestage (e.g. the recent launch of Hear65, local musicians on music festivals such as SingJazz and Laneway etc.) Progress is darn slow but surely steady.


Trust The Chaos will be playing at this year’s Baybeats Festival that is happening from 17 to 19 August 2018!

They will be on for 17th August 2018, 7.30pm at the Powerhouse.

Photography credits: Darren ‘Merovign’ Tan

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Here and Beyond: Promising Marriage of SingLit and Theatre http://popspoken.com/arts/2018/07/here-and-beyond-promising-marriage-of-singlit-and-theatre Wed, 25 Jul 2018 04:01:38 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=61921
Is this the start of an era where Singlit and Theatre will finally start to join hands?

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By Cheryl Tan, edited by Teo Dawn

Toy Factory’s Here and Beyond is a staging of the book and secondary school text, ‘Here and Beyond: 12 Stories’ published by Ethos Books and edited by poet and writer Cyril Wong comprising 12 short stories by local authors, many of whom have helmed the local literature scene – S. Rajaratnam, O Thiam Chin, Alfian Sa’at, Simon Tay, and Felix Cheong, to name a few.

These 12 stories, which deal with various issues or perspectives such as domestic abuse, the struggles of a domestic helper in a land of plenty, and the reduction of a man to merely his (mis)fortune, are tied together as snapshots of life on our sunny island.

The cast consisting of Irfan Kasban, Jolene Wong, Abby Lai, Rusydina AfiqahTimothy Nga, Tan Rui Shan, and Darren Guo display exceptional range and stamina, switching quickly from story to story. They all play characters who are usually heightened in personality and vary rather drastically in age. While the stories themselves were enough to hold an audience’s attention, the delivery of some were somewhat lacking though kudos to the actors for their versatility.

Several texts delivered had what felt like unnecessary breaks and pauses, which risked losing the audience’s attention. Pacing had a tendency to be draggy but was saved by quick transitions to the next story. Despite several portions of text getting lost largely due to actors perching atop relatively high vocal registers and the occasional mumbling, the cast in its entirety definitely showed proficiency as an ensemble. This was most notable in the creative staging choices used in Yeo Wei Wei’s Here Comes The Sun, in which one could not help but smile at the animal figurines wrapped in aluminium foil and an endearing whistling bird brought to life by Darren Guo’s puppetry.

Sound designer Louis Quek (also known in our music scene as Intriguant) does not disappoint. Each of the 12 stories is given a unique and captivating sound, opening with a drum-heavy track in the play’s first story, The Tiger by S. Rajaratnam. The more movement-based pieces, such as Felix Cheong’s True Singapore Ghost Story, consisted mainly of 10-15min of pure movement-based storytelling, and were largely coloured by Louis’ soundscapes, which worked hand-in-hand with Petrina Dawn Tan’s vivid lighting and set design, with each story having its own distinct coloured lights, and each transition and change in set, seamless.

Most importantly, Here and Beyond holds an important place in Singapore’s art scene namely because of its wonderful and timely crossover between the Singapore Literature (SingLit) and Theatre scene. As this is Toy Factory’s Associate Artistic Director Stanley Seah’s first piece of
work with the company, one cannot help but commend him on choosing to approach Ethos Books, one of Singapore’s leading publishing houses, with some notable others being Math Paper Press (a publishing house belonging to the local bookstore BooksActually), and Epigram Books.

In this pursuit, Here and Beyond is timely in reminding Singaporeans, especially younger members of our community, that SingLit is so much more than what Hollywood might choose to make blockbusters out of and that might gravely misrepresent not only Singapore to the world but
the literary scene within the confines of our own shores. Here and Beyond is more than it offers theatrically as a production, effectively extending the literature community into theatre and vice versa.

The SingLit and Theatre scenes are commonly seen as separate industries, but are two that should really be considered as one and whose artists and writers should continue to support each other. This production sets a fine example, and hopefully this play stands at the helm of an era in
which the theatre practitioners and writers make extended efforts to work together.


 

Here And Beyond

Date: 19th July – 28th July 2018

Venue: SOTA Drama Theatre

Time: Monday – Saturday, 3pm / Thursday, 4.30pm / Friday & Saturday, 8pm

Admission: From $50 (Concessions available. Get your tickets here.)

 

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13.13.13: Too Much of a Show and Tell http://popspoken.com/arts/2018/07/13-13-13 Tue, 24 Jul 2018 09:09:09 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=61910
From script read to the stage, 13.13.13 works almost like a show and tell - for better or for worse.

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13.13.13 by Shen Tan brings us way back to the time when organising weddings with aligning numbers for the day, month and year was fashionable. Or still possible, for that matter.

Held at 72-13, home of TheatreWorks, 13.13.13 is developed under TheatreWork’s Writers’ Lab – a programme in discovering and honing the craft of playwriting for emerging playwrights.

The 95 minute production follows the perfect arrangement of couple William (Thomas Pang) and Samantha (Sharda Harrison) – no marriage and no kids. But perhaps that is merely the surface of things, as secrets start to show themselves and unravel this image of perfection through promises made, insecurities surfaced and the very foundation of trust challenged.

Listening to 13.13.13 during the script read, the rhythm of text being voiced and the sense of time worked out perfectly – teasing out the nuances of the relationships between the four characters while offsetting the heavy themes addressed through humour. However, as a performance with set, design elements and acting involved, the text now becomes too explanatory.

With that, it diminishes the impact of director Tan Shou Chen‘s direction in his choice of making use of multimedia to aid the audience in visualising past memories and a holding on to the sense of time passing. By listening to what is happening on stage, while seeing it being played out on stage at the same time, seem double percussive without actually enhancing the points the play is trying to get across.

However, the actors Thomas Pang, Sharda Harrison, Jo Tan and Chanel Chan are charismatic in their delivery of characters. One moment that really hits home will be when Harrison’s Samantha discovers the ‘truth’ and has a heartbreaking meltdown with Pang’s William trying to salvage the situation. Perhaps the scenario presented is a little too close for comfort, but those words rang true and tugged at my heartstrings. I believed the honesty of that scene and its raw emotions; tears were definitely shed and I was not alone in that empathetic space.

With its focus on human relationships and in all its complexity, I hoped for more moments of interaction – off-screen and even during the transitions, beyond the reshaping of space and redrawing of boundaries through Chan Silei‘s set.

But technicalities aside, 13.13.13 is a play about love – platonic, romantic and familial – as well as the responsibilities that follow. It is a night you will walk out of, wishing to make that phone call or to hold that hand just a little bit tighter while your heart tries to make sense of the emotional ride you just went through.


13.13.13

Date: 19th July – 4th August 2018

Venue: TheatreWorks, 72-13

Time: Thursday – Saturday, 8pm / Saturday, 3pm

Admission: From $38 (Concessions available. Get your tickets here.)

*Advisory 16 (Mature Content and Some Coarse Language)

Photography credit: Crispi Photography 

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PANCHA – Flowers Don’t Bloom All The Time http://popspoken.com/arts/2018/07/pancha-flowers-dont-bloom-all-the-time Sun, 22 Jul 2018 03:03:41 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=61901
The third production of the PANCHA series, Flowers Don't Bloom All The Time touches on sexual abuse in a home.

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By Cheryl Tan, edited by Teo Dawn 

“You’re not a victim for sharing your story. You are a survivor setting the world on fire with your truth. And you never know who needs your light, your warmth, and raging courage.”- Alexandra Elle, author, wellness consultant and creative

Maya Dance Theatre (MDT) returns this year with the third instalment of their PANCHA series, Flowers Don’t Bloom All the Time. After the success of PANCHA’s second instalment in May 2017 – “When the flames blaze the caged body, I surrender; I am.” and, ‘Anwesha – Beyond the darkness!’, this next project aims to be a voice for people who deal or dealt with domestic and sexual violence under the choreography and direction of critically-renowned Artistic Director of MDT, Kavitha Krishnan.

PANCHA, a series of five dance theatre productions, draws attention to contemporary social issues centred around female archetypes in relation to nature’s elements – wind, fire, earth, water and space. In each of its previous PANCHA productions, MDT addressed important issues plaguing
society, including women in the patriarchy and the pain of mother who have lost their children at war.

This third instalment is centred around domestic and sexual violence and the element Earth, an element that Kavitha uses to draw parallels to the concept of groundedness, safety, security, and home.

“When the creation process began on the third element of PANCHA (Earth), the analogy of earth as home kept presenting itself. For me home is where we find the comfort of familiarity, it is what we know and where we feel safe. Unfortunately, this is not universal- for some, the home is where the most heinous acts are perpetuated by the people who were meant to keep them safe and protected,” explains Kavitha.

‘Flowers’ features both Singaporean and Indonesian artists and was conceptualised first in Singapore and subsequently was crafted in the Indonesian arts centre Rumah Banjasari, in Solo Indonesia, where artists in MDT Singapore visited Indonesian counterparts to develop this heavily- collaborative piece.

This August, the piece will open at Centre 42, a space familiar to regular theatre-goers as a performance as well as rehearsal space. Look again from the outside though, and this building goes beyond a conventional performance space, taking on its original function as a house. This emboldens the highly important sense of domesticity of the piece, which poses the question: what happens when we find ourselves used and abused by people we trust in a space that was supposedly safe?

This production aims be the voice to victims of such crimes who are often left traumatised and are further subjected to social stigma. They are left with several unanswered questions and the constant feeling of betrayal and guilt. As such, the practitioners at MDT spoke to senior counsellors
from the Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations (SCWO) and AWARE, who connected victim survivor Devika Satheesh Panicker with MDT. Devika shared her personal experiences and strategies to cope in the aftermath of abuse. Character inspiration and development for this piece include grown men, women, children, and the very poignant and often neglected narrative of how sometimes the ones who have abused us have themselves also been abused. This in particular adds another dimension to the heart-wrenching narrative of the cyclical nature of pain.

Holding fast and true to MDT’s beliefs of trans-cultural works and is built on the intermingling of different cultures and traditional art forms to produce one single product, this production prides itself in the many talents it has on board from Indonesia as well as Singapore.

Additional Programmes

Through this project, MDT hopes to create long-term impact and awareness on the subject of violence against women and children. To achieve this end MDT has organised several initiatives under ‘Project: Flowers Don’t Bloom, which will help continue the discussion through several activities ranging from film screening, talks, photographic and visual exhibitions.


‘Flowers’ will be presented as a site-based dance theatre production at Centre 42 between 15th – 18th August 2018. Tickets are available here.

For more information on the production of ‘Flowers Don’t Bloom All the Time’ as part of the Project: Flowers Don’t Bloom and its awareness initiatives, please contact Imran Manaff at 96352960 (Mobile) or Imran@maydancetheatre.org

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STF Double Bill: Review on When The Cold Wind Blows and G.F.E. http://popspoken.com/arts/2018/07/stf-double-bill-review-on-when-the-cold-wind-blows-and-g-f-e Fri, 20 Jul 2018 02:54:44 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=61874
STF 2018 brings men's experiences of the army and 'romance' to the forefront in this double bill.

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By Victoria Chen 

招: When The Cold Wind Blows and G.F.E. are presented in that order as a double bill for the Singapore Theatre Festival. Both touch on what could be defined as typical Singaporean male experiences—National Service and finding love in Geylang—but are stylistically different from top to bottom.

招, written by Neo Hai Bin and directed by Thong Pei Qin, carries the regimental energy of the military from start to finish. The audience follows Xavier (Joshua Lim) as he confronts—or avoids—the cause of his return to an alternate Pulau Tekong, where all exits lead back to the starting point. There he meets a Man (Joel Low), who speaks crisply and from time to time takes on various identities that Xavier encountered a decade ago during his enlistment. Both of them perform with a sharpness that clearly signals the shifts from conversation to recollection to exposition.

On the other hand, Chong Woon Yong, who goes solo in his self-written play, is much more fluid when transitioning between characters and scenes, and simply distinguishes between G.F.E.’s protaganist and his best friend with a lit cigarette, suggested via Chong’s straightened index and middle fingers. In this piece directed by Ric Liu, the man attempts to find love, or company, or relive the past through his encounter with the most sought after woman in Geylang, juxtaposed with his failed relationships. Yet this piece also falls into a regimen of its own, as Chong takes on the cycle of narrating then demonstrating, then narrating and then demonstrating again, rarely combining both.

Nonetheless, both pieces manage to break their patterns with clever staging. Despite its minimal set, 招 manages to surprise the audience at several points in the show; the first one thrusts the audience into full attention within seconds of lights coming up on stage.

At one point in G.F.E. Chong describes sending a text to his secondary school crush. It is undoubtedly a highlight of the show; “ooh”s and “aww”s ooze from the audience as Chong hangs a shirt (symbolising his teenage self) on a string, and it bumbles innocently towards a white dress hung in the middle of the set. As both pieces of clothing clash, the audience shrieks with delight.

All in all, both shows are outstanding for their mass appeal. It is no surprise that this double bill has sold out, seeing as they carry the right balance of head and heart to satisfy audiences that are either there to critique a performance or to be entertained for the evening. 招: When The Cold Wind Blows and G.F.E are neither Army Daze nor Pretty Woman. These shows approach common issues with a fresh perspective on male identity in contemporary society.


The Singapore Theatre Festival is on until 22nd July. Check out the festival guide here.

Photography credits: W!ld Rice

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Baybeats Edition: Indie/Dream-pop Coming Up Roses on Wormrot as Inspiration http://popspoken.com/music/2018/07/baybeats-edition-coming-up-roses Thu, 19 Jul 2018 08:03:15 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=61661
Coming Up Roses on being part of Baybeats Budding Bands 2018, and how they got roped into the local music scene.

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Though it has only been two years, Coming Up Roses has expanded from an acoustic duo into an indie/dream-pop quartet. They are currently working towards their first EP and now is on the final list for Baybeats Budding Bands 2018. And no, they are not named after Keira Knightley’s song.

Each with their own musical backgrounds, be it in classical training such as the piano or even Tap Tap Revenge, they fell in love with the craft enough to enrol themselves in school and pursue their own originals. This commitment even got singer Emily Sia picking up the bass last year.

However, they know of the struggles as Darius Oon (guitarist) puts it simply: “I don’t think that the local acts are inferior to the international ones, I think there is just a lack of knowledge. A lot of the mainstream audience are not aware of local music. There are some, of course, who go to every gig and that’s amazing but in the wider spectrum, many are still not that aware of the local music scene in Singapore.”

And with the closure of Lush 99.5 last year, local tunes played on air are decreasing as well. But when you chance upon a local tune, Bruce Tan (drummer) finds it inspiring.

“Usually I listen to the music first, and not just because they are local. It is just the fact that they are good, as simple as that. And to know that there are people of that caliber in the music scene, I just want to be like them. It is inspiring and puts things into perspective. That you have to work a lot more to be like that,” Bruce shares.

Still, it tends to be the same few bands that get their time on air and on stage. Does this mean that to be successful in some way, your sound will have to follow a certain trend and possibly try to sell out?

Lorenzo Romero (guitarist) weighs in, “No place to judge but if the band’s own creative direction that they wish to change, it is up to them. But I think selling out is an opinionated thing. Nobody can keep going on making the same sound. You wouldn’t really want to listen to the same band sounding the same the entire time. To each their own. If they take mainstream sounds as their own change in style, then go for it. An artist makes music for themselves, and they don’t do it for others.”

“Sometimes it is also about meeting requirements and having to sell when under labels, for example,” Darius adds.

Popspoken sits down with the Indie/Dream-pop band to learn about their upcoming EP and what to expect on their Baybeats debut.


Popspoken: What prompted the band to expand from an acoustic duo to a quartet?

Coming Up Roses: The main thing that prompted us to expand to a full band was a few songs that we had written that we thought would work better in a band format as opposed to in an acoustic act. While being an acoustic duo was fun, I think we always fancied being a full band and the opportunities that that path would open for us. Furthermore, it gave us a lot more freedom to experiment with our sound and to do things that would not be possible in a simpler acoustic format.

PS: How has it been preparing for your upcoming EP? Any unexpected experiences from the process so far?

C: Preparations for our EP is very much in its formative stages, and we’re mainly deciding which of our originals will be on this release, while recording several demos just to get a better idea of how they sound like in a recorded format as compared to how they sound live. In fact, we’ve even released a demo on Soundcloud to test the ‘waters’ and to see how people would respond to our music.

As far as unexpected experiences go, there aren’t many to talk about, but I do think that there are some valuable things we have learned from recording and from talking to other musicians we know. For example, we’ve consciously been trying to not model the recorded versions of our songs on the way we do them live, whether it’s overdubbed parts we can’t pull off live or some sounds and effects not heard when we play gigs.

PS: Share with us one local band that has inspired you, and why.

C: One local band that has really inspired us is grindcore band Wormrot. This might come as a surprise since our sounds are worlds apart, but we had the pleasure to see them live and we were completely blown away.

Furthermore, they are one of the current Singaporean bands that have actually achieved international acclaim, even getting the chance to play Glastonbury, which we’ll admit is a little bit of a dream of ours as well.

PS: Do you think the music scene is growing? How so?

C: We do believe that the music scene is growing. You can see that there has been a steady increase in the number of bands and the number of gigs in the Singapore music scene and there have been an astounding number of top-notch releases from local artists in recent years.

That being said, there still is much to be done for the local scene, especially in terms of viewership. I think that majority of Singaporeans and perhaps especially the youths in Singapore are not aware of the music scene and subsequently aren’t aware of local bands and music. Hence, the local scene remains relatively indie or underground and not as well placed in the mainstream consciousness as we think it should be.

PS: What can we look forward to for your Baybeats Budding Bands debut?

C: You can look forward to a dynamic performance that tells a story through our lyrics and through different sonic textures. We hope to bring dream pop and indie music to larger audiences and that they would come to appreciate and find interest in it as much as we do.


Coming Up Roses will be playing at this year’s Baybeats Festival that is happening from 17 to 19 August 2018!

They will be on for 17th August 2018, 7pm at the Arena (Esplanade Outdoor Theatre).

Photography credits: Darren ‘Merovign’ Tan

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Chinatown Crossings: More Than Just a Heritage Tour http://popspoken.com/arts/2018/07/chinatown-crossings-more-than-just-a-heritage-tour Tue, 17 Jul 2018 08:02:45 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=61872
A review on Drma Box's site specific performance that runs until August.

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By Victoria Chen

Chinatown Crossings by Drama Box spans across several decades and up to ten locations in Kreta Ayer, with only five actors (two of whom—Aadi and Toh Yun Woon—are barely in their teens) guiding the audience through the 150-min experience. One can already tell this promenade production is no easy feat, and yet director Koh Hui Ling and writer Jean Tay manage to tell the stories of Chinatown dwellers with utmost simplicity. With over a year’s worth of research distilled into three characters, Chinatown Crossings offers an intimate look into this part of Singapore’s history.

Depending on one’s preference, this experience might be too much of a heritage tour, however the production makes no attempt to hide the historical knowledge embedded in the text. In fact, the program booklet includes a map and further information about the areas visited in the show, to encourage audience members to continue their exploration of Chinatown in their own time.

Furthermore, the relationship that Kunalan (Pavan J Singh), Fong Cheh (Jodi Chan) and Ting Ting (Sabrina Sng) share is intricate and meaningful, not definitely more than a cheap strategy to contextualise and dramatise the content in their conversations. The audience (not more than 25 per night) get up close and personal with the characters and each other, as they weave through alleys, up and down narrow stairwells and overhear private conversations. This is ingeniously executed with the use of hearing devices that transmit whatever the actors say at a distance through microphones to each audience member. In addition, Ctrl Fre@k’s sound design layers ambient sounds that conjure images of the past, and they serendipitously complement those in real time. While news reports and info bites play during transit from one location to the next, there are also prolonged moments of silence that are poignant and convey the pleasure of just being present with the environment.

The biggest shame about Chinatown Crossings is that it has a limited number of spaces and only runs for a limited amount of time.


Chinatown Crossings

Date: 22nd June to 18th August 2018

Venue: Chinatown, Singapore

Time: 7.30pm

Admission: $68 (Currently sold out. But try your luck for tickets here.)

Photography credit: Drama Box

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Challenging Convention At Bound Theatre http://popspoken.com/arts/2018/07/challenging-convention-at-bound-theatre Sat, 14 Jul 2018 05:08:33 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=61790
Young, local, and autonomous.

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Two people collide again after years apart, and fall head over heels onto the possibility of their ideal love. They have one evening together to float through the drain of old memories and soak in new experiences. After this time frame expires, they must make a difficult choice.

We are told to pursue happiness. We are told to do what is morally right. But what happens when we are no longer able to reconcile what society wants us to do and what we want to do?

This August, local theatre collective Bound Theatre returns with “The Taste Of Water“, the group’s sixth production since their founding in 2011.

We spoke with twins and Bound Theatre core members Wee Xuan Yi and Wee Jia Yi about the history of Bound Theatre and the creative and administrative work that goes behind staging a production.

Wee Jia Yi (left) and Wee Xuan Yi (right) of Bound Theatre

On how Bound Theatre began

XY: Bound Theatre started in 2011 and we staged our first show in 2012. We were part of Commonwealth Secondary School’s Drama Club. When we graduated, we didn’t wanna say goodbye.

JY: So we had these 9 co-founders from different schools and of different ages, keen on creating honest, relevant theatre.

JY: And now, along with Seet Yan Shan and Teng Zi Ying, the four of us are the ones making the executive decisions.

XY: And we’ve defined our roles quite clearly, at least for this production. Zi Ying’s the scriptwriter, and she’s co-producing this show with my brother. Yan Shan’s handling the marketing side, and I’m directing.

JY: We call the crew “project-based members”. Of course, a few of them are longtime members.

XY: I guess Bound Theatre is a special platform where they, as youths, can get theatre experience.

On funding an independent theatre collective

XY: Ticket sales are our main source. We never ever make enough for us to roll the money over to the next show. There have been losses, sometimes we break even, and if we’re lucky, we get a slim profit margin —

JY: Every year we learn a bit more about business.

XY: This show is pivotal; we’re trying to work towards making it sustainable. We’re applying to the National Arts Council, National Youth Council fund, etc.

JY: The process is straightforward, but whether we get it is another thing.

“We would love for people leave the theatre arguing about viewpoints, bringing their own viewpoints and experiences.”

On “The Taste Of Water”

JY: With “The Taste Of Water”, we hope to engage people who are keen on having experiences not confined by conventional narratives and media. The play’s themes that are very relevant because future generations will only challenge traditional institutions, like marriage.

XY: We have cast members who realise midway through rehearsal that their character’s story is their story. I personally have experienced the concept of social contracts in relationships — wondering who’s wrong and who’s right. We would love for people leave the theatre arguing about viewpoints, bringing their own viewpoints and experiences.

JY: It’s also interesting because sometimes when you watch a character, you can make a rational decision easily. But that decision-making process becomes a lot more difficult when something similar happens to you in real life. That dissonance in the human condition is interesting.

On Working With Different Teams Each Year

JY: With Bound Theatre, each year’s group is very different. Each production comes on an almost fresh slate. We’re still learning; we pluck what we like from other shows and we try to apply it. The project members come with varying levels of experience. Some have not acted in years, some have just graduated from LASALLE, and we all learn from one another.

XY: My brother and I always say, wah, doing theatre in Singapore is very difficult, especially being autonomous, independent and young. But I think with each attempt we get a bit more confident in our art, our administration, and our marketing.


Get your tickets to “The Taste Of Water” here: https://tinyurl.com/thetasteofwater

Venue: Goodman Arts Centre

Thu, 2nd August
Afternoon, 3.30pm
$18 (Student/NSF)/ $22

Fri, 3rd August
Evening, 8pm
$20 (Student/NSF)/ $24 ​

Sat, 4th August
Afternoon, 3.30pm
$18 (Student/NSF)/ $22
Evening, 8pm
$20 (Student/NSF)/ $24 ​

Sun, 5th August
Afternoon, 3.30pm
$18 (Student/NSF)/ $22

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DWTB: Power in its Honesty and Movement http://popspoken.com/arts/2018/07/dwtb-power-in-its-honesty-and-movement Fri, 13 Jul 2018 04:24:03 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=61848
To bury the past and move on, DWTB is honesty in mind and body going through healing.

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By Cheryl Tan, edited by Teo Dawn

Bhumi Collective’s Singapore debut of ‘dead was the body till I taught it how to move’ (DWTB) is an earnest and personal performance performed by b-boy and actor Dominic Nah (Dom) and directed by Adeeb Fazah. Performed within an intimate in-the-round staging at Aliwal Arts Centre, DWTB holds audiences captive through a stirring narrative that writer Edward Eng has consolidated and cleverly inter-spliced with b-boy and dramaturg Michael Ng’s movement and dance direction. Heavily emotional but always truthfully vulnerable, the show reminds us of the power of honest storytelling, and how some stories do not simply pass or get lost in our personal histories, but are ones that we must continue to live with and confront daily.

DWTB is based largely on Dom’s struggle with a tumultuous journey trying to comprehend the acts and death of his late father while simultaneously pursuing his passion for breakdancing via a pilgrimage to the Bronx. The play itself is a gripping pilgrimage of a wounded heart healing, and what it means to cope. It is a brave confrontation about the parts of our lives we are ashamed of that still haunt us – one that requires a great deal of strength to confront the inherent darkness within that comes from having wronged and having been wronged.

The Actor and B-boy 

Dom easily impresses from the get-go with smooth moves on the stage-cum-dancefloor under Michael Ng’s direction. Movement-wise, this is a treat for both dancers and non-dancers alike. Transiting from narrative monologue to dance sequences – both of which delivered at varying levels of emotional intensity – Dom displays both passion and proficiency at the art of breaking. In one segment of monologue, he tells the audience about the history of breaking with the likeness of a child’s youthful excitement, awakening the very passions we have loved and lost so long ago. As this narrative is intensely personal, Dom lays bare not just his passion but lays down his pride and shows us how beautiful vulnerability can be in the face of struggle.

“It is a way for me to get (these issues) all out in the open and neutralise it by laying it all out there,” Dom says, “I’m just trying to make a good thing come out of the bad. In the grand scheme of things, it is also getting through my own (story) so I can be in service of other stories after.”

The Direction

“Laying it all out in the open” was made possible by the nurturing support of Adeeb Fazah’s direction, reminding us how beautiful collaboration in theatre-making can be.

“I hope that audiences would be able to not just hear but witness Dom telling his story through movement – the very movement that helped him through the toughest of times, as well as the discovery and experience of the (hip hop) culture and the universe that makes b-boying,” Adeeb
says, “and that breaking is a legitimate, soul-enriching and life-affirming dance form, and something like this can be a platform and a superpower for someone who might grapple with the complexities and cruelties of life.”

The Storytelling

The play’s structure takes after a song (think 1h remixes of your favourite song on youtube you find yourself studying or doing work to): the narrative is the music, the dance comes at several designated music breaks, and each chorus is accompanied by a haunting flashback to what Dom
recalls of his past – childhood moments spent with his father. For playwright Edward Eng, what started out as  a work of fiction with biographical elements turned into the unravelling of a personal narrative during the conceptualisation process that required a shift in focus to tell Dom’s story as compellingly as possible.

“At heart, the writing was an experiment with bringing a kopitiam chat to life,” Edward says, “as opposed to a biography written months before an audience actually receives it. The kopitiam chat should be of the present and ongoing in order to bring a new sense of live-ness.”

Indeed, the most compelling thing about DWTB is its sense of continuation – that precisely because of the autobiographical nature of this play, there is nothing but truth in the storytelling, and what Dom brings to the stage is inevitably what he must and is still learning to live with in reality every day.

The Key Is In The Moving

A poignant moment in the play is the epilogue – a fast and furious dance battle resembling a b-boy dance-off where two breakers stand on either side facing each other. This breaking segment is longer than the others within the play, and there is something considerably different about it that is both disconcerting and that gives a note of finality – but not necessarily closure, to the play.

“Dom always said he wanted to do this piece because he wanted to bury his father and finally move on,” movement director Michael Ng says, “he was never able to do that with words. So this one’s a (breakdance) battle, and it allows for a kind of aggression within a liminal space – that feeling of wanting to eat the opponent alive just within that moment. Breaking holds space for that.”

But what audiences see is not a duel – we see only Dom breaking in that space facing demons only he can see in the best way he knows how. Perhaps then, it is true that we only really lose someone when they are gone. Death takes away, and what keeps them alive to us are the images and memories of them that we keep in our minds. In that final battle, we see Dom facing his not merely his father anymore, but his past, his memories, and ultimately, himself.


Bhumi Collective’s ‘dead was the body till I taught it how to move’ runs at Aliwal Arts Centre until this Saturday, 14th July. Get tickets here.

Photography credit: Adeeb Fazah

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Supervision: Security Cameras in Homes a Necessary Evil? http://popspoken.com/arts/2018/07/supervision-security-cameras-in-homes-a-necessary-evil Thu, 12 Jul 2018 05:13:43 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=61842
When does monitoring people through cameras get too much?

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Is privacy always a price one has to pay for security and preventive purposes? And if so, who has the right to say whose privacy should be sacrificed for the ‘greater good’?  Supervision by playwright Thomas Lim goes right into the heart of the issue through the lens of Jenny (Janice Koh), a working parent who hires an Indonesian domestic helper Yanti (Umi Kalthum Ismail) to care for her retired father Teck (Patrick Teoh) after he suffered a stroke.

Straightforward in premise, the play itself is anything but simple. Lim’s writing delivers the nuances of the trio’s relationship through their interactions with each other.

One moment Jenny is the one in control, giving Yanti strict guidelines on how to care for her father and threatening to fire her if anything goes wrong. In the next, Yanti is the figure who comforts Teck when his old age makes him question his own future – contrasting his prickly demeanour when he coerces Yanti into getting him the unhealthy foods Jenny banned.

The characters are fleshed out well – each with their own fair share of vulnerability on display, yet with enough fight in them to avoid a typical sob story trajectory. Drawing the drama from the ordinary scenes we ourselves as audience may find familiar.

Balancing the emotional tension without losing sight on the discussion of supervision and dignity throughout the play, the actors bring the text to life. You will be surprised how many persons I know came into my mind when the dialogues were going on. One poignant scene is when Jenny finally falls apart, speaking her mind to the father she loves – the tiredness of trying to meet his needs, the responsibilities on her shoulder and her well-meaning intentions that are unappreciated. And Teck, once again, quietly looking out the window with a face of disappointment and a realisation of the burden weighing heavily on his own shoulders. Then Yanti, out of sight and a scapegoat in this misfiring of love and care between father and daughter.

It is almost too familiar for comfort – and this is where the play succeeds. It urges the audience to take responsibility and have a stake in this discussion that is playing out in front of us.

The set design by Wong Chee Wai enhances the act of voyeurism done by us audience members. Porous walls around the various spaces in the home, even for the washroom and the bedrooms, we see everything. Perhaps throughout the whole show, the audience is the most guilty of supervising the characters – our eyes on them even when they are changing out of their outfits.

Light design by Tai Zi Feng guides our eyes through the home successfully, with black outs serving as ‘blindspots’ in camera lingo, since audience are seated on all four sides of the stage – all based covered and seen by multiple pairs of eyes. An additional layer to what multimedia designer Andrew Ng and Koo Chia Meng is going for with their camera footage and the films played?

All these technical aspects make me question about the framing of the narrative and how, perhaps, we always see what we want to see. A juxtaposition of watching film, where the camera frames the scene and dictates what the audience takes away visually, while for theatre, we see almost everything – dependent on our seat and what we deem is most important to us.

At the end of the play, I find myself empathising with every one of them. There is no right or wrong, as with every aspect of life. This is a layered experience, with all the elements of the stage working towards a show that will leave an impact on the subject matter of monitoring others and if trust is not enough in today’s world.

If there is one show you are hoping to catch this year for the Singapore Theatre Festival, let Supervision be the one. Thought-provoking and relevant to Singapore, with the rise in domestic helpers working here, invite yourself to be part of this discussion and leave with new perspectives gained from the other voices we don’t always get to pay attention to.


The Singapore Theatre Festival is on until 22nd July. Check out the festival guide here.

Photography credits: W!ld Rice

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Press Gang: Politics Behind Publishing the Political http://popspoken.com/arts/2018/07/press-gang-politics-behind-publishing-the-political Wed, 11 Jul 2018 09:58:09 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=61833
Too accurate a representation of the only newspaper in Singapore?

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By Victoria Chen, edited by Teo Dawn 

In Press Gang’s program booklet, director Ivan Heng writes in his message, “There will come a time when each of us will be called to do the right thing. And our answer will define who we are.” Clearly the message of the play, this quote is echoed by several characters throughout and mirrors society’s concern regarding current affairs in Singapore and the world.

Audiences enter LASALLE’s Singapore Airlines Theatre to a stage with a large backdrop that resembles a broadsheet newspaper with its name, ‘Singapore Times’. A tall stack of newspapers looms off centre like a pillar. No pun intended, but it is apparent that the stakes will be high. While there are multiple literal settings like an office, cafe or meeting room that come and go throughout the show, set designer Chris Chua also delivers something unexpected in its final moments.

Written by acclaimed playwright Tan Tarn How, the story is indeed sharp and revealing. The power struggle is evident between two deputy directors (Shane Mardjuki and Oniatta Effendi) as they work together on an assignment while vying for the Editor-in-Chief’s position. Associate Editor Tan Tong Soon’s (Rei Poh) position is a mystery throughout the show. The chemistry deepens between reporter Chua Kin Jek (Benjamin Chow) and journalist Kerin Khoo (Amanda Tee). Matters get complicated when Bhavan Muthu (T. Sasitharan) leaks information to rival writer Mariam Wong (Yap Yi Kai).

In spite of the tense circumstances that the characters find themselves in, there are moments of comedy that counter the otherwise hefty plot. The actors frequently receive appreciative laughter from the audience as they talk about censorship, nepotism, and most especially in describing Kerin Khoo, who happens to be a tongue-in-cheek representation of a certain figure in Singapore journalism.

Intelligent and cheeky metaphors underscore conversations amongst colleagues and friends, but the hardest hitting lines of the show may well belong to Aminah Sulaiman (Effendi) when she states matter-of-factly, “anyone can be President, because the President has no power”. Donning a tudung, Effendi superbly portrays a woman weighing the risk of staying true to her values while maintaining her leadership.

Perhaps multimedia elements, designed by Khoo Chia Meng and Andrew Ng, could be more purposefully utilised to enhance the plot’s progression. They are currently projected during blackout scene transitions that slow down the momentum of the show. This somewhat diminishes the sense of urgency and high stakes that one would find in a pressure-cooker environment like a newsroom, let alone one in crisis.

Press Gang is a play that boldly comments on the conditions and consequences of sharing inconvenient truths in a not-so-free press. Without a doubt, its themes are close to home and urge audiences to consider the price one has to pay for their choices.


The Singapore Theatre Festival is on until 22nd July. Check out the festival guide here.

Photography credits: Albert Lim K S

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Building A Character as an Indian Woman in Singapore http://popspoken.com/arts/2018/07/building-a-character-as-an-indian-woman-in-singapore Tue, 10 Jul 2018 04:24:09 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=61822
In her debut solo show, Rebekah Sangeetha Dorai captivates and challenges your perception of what being an Indian woman in Singapore really means.

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By Victoria Chen, edited by Teo Dawn 

Rebekah Sangeetha Dorai has stories to tell. In her solo show Building A Character, she worked together with playwright Ruth Tang and shares vignettes from her childhood, her ambitions, her memories of certain family members, of a plate of noodles and a tiger beer, of the shows she has done and the time she had her earphones in but overheard two receptionists talking about her before an audition.

And there are some things she shows, like the new condominium she dreams of being in a commercial for, but is unfortunately only looking for Chinese or Pan-Asian faces—whatever Pan-Asian means, she questions. Or when she as Lady Macbeth dangles her palm over a flame—the same palm that she uses to flag a taxi at night, because it is the only thing drivers can see apart from her eyes and teeth.

Power comes from her being able to laugh at herself, while making the audience think twice before laughing themselves.

Throughout the performance, Rebekah—or Sangeetha, depending on who you are—lures the audience into her history… and imagination. Fiction and reality are intricately woven together, leaving the audience to question if certain events happened or were dramatised, or perhaps both? But what remains evident is that Rebekah is in control. She decides which stories to revisit, what sensations to evoke, when to reiterate something that was mentioned fifteen minutes earlier, and what the audience gets to see.

One simple but powerful image is when she explains the difference between ‘Chinese lighting’ and ‘Indian lighting’ in the theatre. She describes herself as “ashen” in the former, but when she steps into the latter, murmurs of agreement ripple through the audience as they see her glow in amber.

In fact, each comment she makes about performing her ethnicity (“I know you like it when I do the accent”) is a reality check for her primarily Chinese and white audience. She jokes about the number of ‘r’s she has to add to her lines to make it “more Indian”, and the interchanging ‘v’s and ‘w’s for comedic effect—at the expense of the actor’s fulfillment for the audience’s ignorant entertainment. But Rebekah can do a multitude of accents beyond caricaturing the Indian auntie. She can even sing like Shakira or Rihanna if she wanted to.

But the question remains, where are the opportunities for her to do so beyond the occasional racial harmony video?


The Singapore Theatre Festival is on until 22nd July. Check out the festival guide here.

Photography credits: W!ld Rice

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dead was the body till I taught it how to move http://popspoken.com/arts/2018/07/dead-was-the-body-till-i-taught-it-how-to-move Mon, 09 Jul 2018 07:46:11 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=61796
Bhumi Collective is back this week with a solo show fusing b-boy and theatre together.

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By Cheryl Tan, edited by Teo Dawn

B-boy and theatre junkies rejoice! Bhumi Collective returns this week with the world premiere of dead was the body till i taught it how to move (DWTB), an electrifying fusion of theatre, b-boy, and hip hop.

“Just months ago I was sleeping over twelve hours a day. I don’t know if you’ve ever, but it’s like your brain and everything, everything’s perfectly awake, every other thing in the world is moving except this. The key is in the moving.”

The unexpected death of his father while he was away at university and b-boying. Later, a quest into the Bronx in New York City to meet the grandfather of hip-hop before returning home to begin a career as a teacher, like he’s some sort of Singaporean posterboy-superhero. That’s his story – Dominic Nah. Or not.

What exactly does it mean to ‘keep it real’?

Directed by Adeeb Fazah and produced by Mohamad Shaifulbahri, DWTB is a solo-actor show that grounds itself in an admirable and honest vulnerability. Dom realises that ‘being real’, though simple enough as a dancer, is not quite as straightforward in real life. In Dom’s life, ’being real’ is seems necessarily opposed to ‘ideal’, manifesting in bouts of uncontrolled aggression towards his peers, a constant, unusual impulse to steer himself away from success, and an unresolved hatred towards his late father.

DWTB is as much a theatre production that celebrates the art and appreciation of b-boy and theatre as much as it is a deeply personal journey bravely performed in truth and nothing but the truth by Dominic Nah, actor, dancer, and narrative conceptualiser. As Dom revisits his tangled biography, he invites us audiences on this journey of coming to terms with our own pasts, some heavily estranged and forgotten, some that we are ashamed of, but all of which that, when eventually confronted with honesty, we know make us the people we are today.


dead was the body till I taught it how to move

Date: 11th to 14th July 2018

Venue: Aliwal Arts Centre Multi-Purpose Hall

Time: Wednesday to Saturday, 8pm / Saturday, 3pm

Admission: $35 (Get your tickets here.)

 

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OnBorrowedLand: This Exhibition Revisits Sungei Road Market One Year On http://popspoken.com/arts/2018/07/onborrowedland-2018 Wed, 04 Jul 2018 14:58:10 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=61764
For one weekend, experience what cannot be stolen from the legacy of the Thieves' Market.

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Once a rent-free hawking area, the Thieves’ Market was christened for the stolen goods that were peddled there. After being halved in size in 2011 to make way for the construction of the Jalan Besar MRT station, the open-air market finally bade goodbye to visitors on July 10 last year.

In the year since, vendors have shifted to lock-up stalls in hawker centres islandwide, including Chinatown Market and Golden Mile Centre. To help the vendors cope with the exodus, the National Environment Agency has halved the rents for their first two years of operations, though not all relocations were smooth-sailing.

While the demands of urban planning and redevelopment override most considerations here, eight decades of heritage do not go so gently.

Image: Brendan Kor/OnBorrowedLand

This weekend, the “OnBorrowedLand: Sungei Road Market” art exhibition hopes to celebrate all that the market has contributed to our city, as seen through the eyes of the participating artists.

Organised by six creatives, all of whom are young undergraduate Singaporeans, the exhibition aims to commemorate the one year anniversary since the market’s closure.

Through the eyes of these young budding artists, the group hopes to spark a conversation on the importance of conserving lesser-known heritage sites, and allow Singaporeans to cultivate a better appreciation for the market’s legacy.

Some of the artists involved in this passion project include documentary filmmaker OKJ, painter Brendan Mayle Kor, performance artist Celine Ho, and photographers Sebastian Chin, Crispin Tan, Akai Chew and Ketan.

Image: Crispin Tan/OnBorrowedLand

In total, 15 young Singaporean creatives will showcase 11 collaborative works exploring various themes involving Sungei Road Market.

In a press release, the team mentioned the importance of reminding Singaporeans of our local culture and history, priceless capital that is “quickly fading away in our fast-paced city”.

“At the end of the exhibition, we hope to have been able to successfully remind Singaporeans of their responsibility in preserving their heritage, and be able to successfully celebrate the rich culture our country is made out of.”

For one weekend, revisit what cannot be stolen from the legacy of the Thieves’ Market.

OnBorrowedLand: Sungei Road Market” Art Exhibition

6th July 2018 to 8th July 2018 (Friday – Sunday)

1:00PM – 9:00PM

The Substation

45 Armenian Street, Singapore 179936

Facebook Event page here.

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Header Image: Sebastian Chin/OnBorrowedLand

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24-Hour Playwriting Competition: Working the Script with Tony Perez http://popspoken.com/arts/2018/07/24-hour-playwriting-competition-working-the-script-with-tony-perez Wed, 04 Jul 2018 06:50:33 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=61769
The annual 24-Hour Playwriting Competition is back this year. Situated at Haw Par Villa, here's some tips to counter the pressure of those statues' intense gaze at you through the night.

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By Eugene Koh 

With TheatreWorks’ annual 24-Hour Playwriting Competition just around the corner, eager playwrights all over Singapore are preparing themselves for the seemingly impossible challenge of writing a play in exactly a day. Organised by TheatreWorks as part of their Writers’ Lab Month programme and conducted by Tony Perez, the workshop Writing Site Specifically gave those who were really ‘kiasu’ with the one-page cheat sheet for the competition. During the session, participants learned the basics of dramatic writing, an introduction to human psychology, and tactics specifically for the 24-Hour Playwriting Competition.

Personal pro-tip: watch out for the participants who went through this workshop; we are armed with tricks of the trade under our belts!

Tony Perez kicked off the workshop with two ‘strange’ exercises, as he calls them. The first was to walk around the venue of Haw Par Villa for fifteen minutes while suspending judgement amongst the kaleidoscope of fascinating creatures in concrete and curious travellers, suspending. After sharing our findings with one another, Perez noted that the  exercise was to break our individual frames of reference to the world and to penetrate the frames of others. Rather than intellectual or creative, the exercise was supposed to be more spiritual in nature.

The second exercise required us to imagine and draw out our ideal writing room. I created my room with an anti-gravity cloud that replaces my bed. After sharing our individual creations, Perez connected the exercise to the Hebrew word ‘davar’, meaning ‘word’, ‘thought’ or the real ‘object’ itself. Visualisation prevents the playwright from thinking like a cinematographer and allows for a better sense of the playing stage.

Furiously scribbling down notes, we went into the next segment of the workshop: the actual writing. Perez starts off by encouraging participants to draw from our own personal mythologies and stories close to our hearts for their plays. Writing out our plots for our potential plays, Perez gave tips on fundamentals of dramatic writing. In summary, a solid dramatic piece consists of a premise, where a story moves from an initial state to a final state. This change happens because of something big, like a death or separation.

The play should begin as close as possible to the climax, and at least one character must prevent another character to get what they want. With respect to characters, Perez gave participants the lowdown on the basics of human psychology.

Going back to the 24-Hour Playwriting Competition, Tony Perez dropped a few hints in tackling the time pressure and stimuli provided in the competition. Perez suggested bringing at least three ideas ready before the start of the competition, each complete with the premise, narrative and conflict. He also suggested that the stimuli should be incorporated and weaved into the premise of the play, finding a symmetrical pattern the stimuli can provide and working on it.

As the four-hour workshop drew to a close, a tip from Tony Perez lingers. One last heads-up to readers who are now interested in joining this year’s 24-Hour Playwriting
Competition: “Leave the postmodern movement to novels and short stories and out of drama”.


The 24-hour Playwriting Competition 2018 will be held at Haw Par Villa this year, from 14th to 15th July.

Date: 14 – 15 July 2018
Time: 4pm – 4pm
Competition Categories: Youth: 15 – 18 years old Open: 19 years and above
Registration Fees: Youth: $40 Open: $55
Registration deadline is extended till 8 July 2018. Email writerslab@theatreworks.org.sg to register.

For more information, click here.

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The Lion King Musical In Singapore: A Backstage Tour http://popspoken.com/arts/2018/06/the-lion-king-musical-in-singapore-a-backstage-tour Sat, 30 Jun 2018 04:08:29 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=61748
Tickets are selling fast - Lion King fans, Mufasa to get seats to watch this multi-award-winning broadway musical.

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THE LION KING international tour has just arrived in our Singapore shores, and the cast has taken their excitement to Instagram on gala premiere night.

Seen by over 90 million people around the world and winner of over 70 major international theatre awards, this spectacular musical brings together one of the most innovative creative teams on Broadway.

With Beyoncé, Elton John and Hans Zimmer part of the cast for the remake of Disney’s animated film The Lion King (2019), we’re paying attention to the stellar cast of The Lion King Musical as well.

Singapore audiences will be treated to extraordinary performances by a talented and diverse international cast from around the world.

The cast of fifty-one is comprised of the cream of THE LION KING performers, including veterans of the acclaimed London, Las Vegas, Australian and Hamburg productions.

Here are some great posts by the cast of The Lion King Musical on the night of the Singapore gala premiere:

Jonathan Andrew Hume, reappearing to reprise his role of Simba after his last Singapore leg in 2011:

Instagram Photo

Noxolo Dlamini as Nala, Simba’s playmate and lover:

Instagram Photo

Here is Ed, the laughing hyena, played by Mark Tatham:

Instagram Photo

The queens of Pride Rock:

Instagram Photo

Finally, young and grown-up Simba racing onto the stage for curtain call:

Instagram Photo

Check out The Lion King Musical’s official feature on their cast (note: may differ from the cast to perform in Singapore):

THE LION KING will run at the MasterCard Theatre at Marina Bay Sands until 26 August 2018.
Prices are from SGD$65 – SGD$230.

Tickets can be purchased at MarinaBaySands.com and all SISTIC channels.

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Popspoken Mufasa and Scar - THE LION KING - Photo by Joan Marcus © Disney 61748
Reads: SQ21 – An Oogachaga Publication by Ng Yi-Sheng http://popspoken.com/culture/2018/06/reads-sq21-an-oogachaga-publication-by-ng-yi-sheng Mon, 25 Jun 2018 07:28:57 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=61167
First published a decade ago, SQ21 is recently republished - a reminder for what it stands for and the continuous fight for equality in love.

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Mirroring the Singapore Airlines Flight 21, SQ21 is a publication also known as Singapore Queers in the 21st Century. Perhaps a shared common goal of pushing past boundaries set for them – be it geographical or laws – and pursuing possibilities until they are made reality. The 181 pages in the book consists of interviews as well as portraits of ordinary Singaporeans who identify as queer.

Sincere and everyday, the book gives you a slice of each individual’s life. The book gives you what big scale events may not always be able to provide – the one on one connection built upon stories, empathy and going into personal hardships and triumphs. This read serves as a way to understand someone beyond the superficial assumptions of one’s sexuality. Touching, heartwarming and ultimately hopeful, the text shows us a side we all can empathise with, because of how similar we all are – the want to know ourselves, to love and to feel safe.

Popspoken finds out more about this particular reprint from Kenny Leck, who runs BooksActually and Math Paper Press.


Popspoken: It’s been 11/12 years since the first edition of SQ21, so why another edition this year? 

Kenny: For me it is question of making sure the book continues to exist year-in, year-out. When it was first published nearly 12 years ago, am guessing 1,000 t0 2,000 copies were printed. In such a manner, only a maximum of 2,000 people will have come into contact with the book in a theoretical sense. As a book that is meant to educate, and widen perspective, a number of 2,000 is grossly insufficient, especially when the book goes out of print. So reprinting a new edition is to serve this purpose. After all, the battle has not been won. The need to widen perspective is an ongoing work that none of us can shirk away from.

PS: Do you think the significance of SQ21 has changed from when it was printed then, and now? 

K: I think there is definitely more room for a decent conversation now. The arguments that goes to and fro can become heated, especially in the online sphere but it is precisely these arguments that bring the difficult issues out into the open, and enable a discussion, no matter how polemic or limiting it can be.

PS: Share with us the choice made to have the interviewee’s portraits shown at the end of each piece. 

K: The choice of showing their own portrait photo is one of the bravest thing that were done by the individuals in the anthology given that this was nearly 11 – 12 years ago when attitudes towards an LGBT individual is definitely not as accepting as now. I think the idea is to show the person that has come out as an LGBT individual that he or she is just like anyone of us. Where we have families, we have relationships, we have good days, and bad days, we are just simply human beings, LGBT or not.

PS: Is there a possibility of new interviews being done to add to these published stories from 2006? 

K: There were discussions on this. Maybe we can explore doing an “updated version” of SQ21 with new stories from new individuals.

PS: Why is representation important?
K: Representation cuts across all awareness, perspectives, and prejudices. Without representation, you can’t even begin to talk of what is the issue at hand? Representation provides a level playing field for anyone or everyone that has a vested interest in the issue that is being pursued.


To purchase the book SQ21 and to find out more, look it up here.

BooksActually also has a Shophouse Fund to finally purchase a permanent space to house its books. Read more here.

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Bite Sized Beef: 5 New Restaurants & Deals For Those In Singapore This June Holiday Season http://popspoken.com/wine-dine/2018/06/bite-sized-beef-june-2018 Fri, 22 Jun 2018 18:17:30 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=61710
Here is a list of new restaurants and the latest deals to help you decide where to spend your coin and satisfy your appetite.

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With so many choices when it comes to eating in Singapore, it is no wonder that some of us opt to stay in this little island throughout June.

Although the end of the month is fast approaching, we have curated a list of new restaurants and the latest deals to help you decide where to spend your coin and satisfy your appetite.

Neoteric, Sensible Asian Cuisine at Yellow Pot

Sleek. Sensual. Sensible. These are the terms demarcating the striking black and gold silhouette of Yellow Pot, a new Chinese restaurant located at Six Senses Duxton. The restaurant focuses on the wellness adage: balanced living and healthy eating. Yellow Pot strives to do better by, well, offering better. Simply said, we not only have an alternative to paying the greasy, heaty price of flavourful wok-hei dishes, we might also be seeing a new chapter for Asian cooking. Aside from the exotic, stylish underground atmosphere, the dishes showcase healthful, organic and sustainably-sourced ingredients from local or regional markets.

Highlights from the menu begin from the ubiquitous Chilled Organic Vine-ripened Tomato, a single, juicy red gem infused with plum and micro herbs. Presented in small but mighty chunks, the Wok-seared Organic Grass-Fed Beef Tenderloin is a classic prepared superbly. Cooked on low heat for a prolonged period of time, the result is tender, robust meat with the addictive tingle of crushed Tellicherry peppercorns and Himalayan salt. The Steamed Kühlbarra Barramundi with scallion-ginger pesto is perhaps the dish that embodies the restaurant’s philosophy. It is thoughtful, innovative and layered, allowing the freshness of the fish to elevate the unpretentious broth base. If this is the path taken by Chinese cuisine, save us a seat.

When? Now till otherwise specified
88 Duxton Road, Singapore 089540

All Fun & Fromage At Latteria Mozzarella Bar

A long bar stocked with fine Italian cheese of all varieties, shapes and sizes sourced directly from Italy— it appears as if someone read our wish list. Situated at the corner of Duxton Hill, Latteria Mozzarella Bar puts a generous, fresh twist bound to galvanise any cheese aficionado. Pair creamy burrata, ‘buttered’ in Italian, with tropical sides such as pumpkin, tomatoes, and eggplant. If that’s not enough, enjoy it smoked, enveloped in crispy batter, or even as stracciatella , a shredded mixture of cow’s milk mozzarella and fresh cream tossed with vegetables of varying verdure. Bring it up a notch with their curated selection of Italian wines and cocktails, in particular, an extensive 72 vino selection and you will be humming the opening notes of “That’s Amore” in no time.

When? Now till otherwise specified
40 Duxton Hill, Singapore 089618

Stay Numb with Qi – House of Sichuan

The best burns come served in plates, or in this case, a big china tub of fiery roasted spices. Qi – House of Sichuan, previously awarded One Michelin Star for 3 consecutive years since 2016 in Hong Kong, makes its local debut at the Marina Bay Financial Centre. The Sichuan dishes are crafted to represent the seven flavours of Sichuan: spicy, aromatic, sweet, bitter, sour, peppery, and salty. While their Hong Kong restaurant serves the Chilli Dungeness Crab, the Singaporean outpost serves a Chilli Fried Sri Lanka Crab. Our verdict? Do not miss this humongous scarlet treat.

Although its signatures showcase different shades of red and orange, there are a few outstanding dishes that completely escape the spicy range. Look out for the Bang Bang Chicken in Spicy Peanut Sauce, a smooth and salty rendition of a classic Sichuan appetiser; and the Sugar Glazed Ginger and Scallion Beef, which has a marvellously crisp sugar-glaze coating each beef cube. Whether you are a lover of spicy or sweet food, Qi is the sort of place where you get to fight it out because no pain, no gain.

When? Now till otherwise specified
8A Marina Boulevard #02-01, Marina Bay Link Mall, Singapore 018984

When Food Begets Sinfonia Ristorante

There are two occasions where rebranding is necessary for a restaurant: when publicity is bleak and when publicity is bare because of the restaurant’s generic name: FOO’D (By Davide Oldani). Now known as Sinfonia Ristorante, its focus on contemporary Italian-fusion cuisine is a refreshing break spearheaded by Chef Simone Depalmas, the previous executive chef at Sopra Ristorante in Jakarta.

Off the new menu, the Truffle Chicken Liver Brûlée is a grand-slam special for its aromatic, creamy chicken liver pâté balanced with leek puree, different types of wine, truffle, and crisp sugar crust. For something more unique, the Frog Leg is an adventurous attempt into Italian tempura: succulent French frog legs paired with a sour sauce concocted from milk, vinegar and lemon. If you are guilty of having a fickle mind when it comes to dessert, then The Mandarin will delight because it not only looks incredibly similar to the fruit, it is filled with mascarpone cheese, fresh orange juice, and then topped with chocolate crumble.

When? Now till otherwise specified
#01-01,11 Empress Place, Victoria Concert Hall, Singapore 179558

Lawry’s Celebrates Sterling 19 With Festive Menu

Here’s an oldie but goodie— serving up prime ribs roast and giant Yorkshire puddings for the last 19 years in Singapore. The majority will be familiar with Lawry’s The Prime Rib for reliable, refined roast, and hearty sides. For the whole of July, there will be a special four-course gustatory experience featuring an ensemble of old and new flavours.

The Appetizer Sampler is an exquisite presentation of West meets East: start with chicken gyoza lined with wasabi mayo, followed by a succulent Hokkaido scallop, and seal the deal with seared foie gras. Opt for the Truffle Rosemary Lamb Rack if you are craving for a change; it is done surprisingly well with a pink centre and no gamey flavour. With every order of this exclusive menu, seafood lovers can also look forward to a creamy oven-baked Lobster Thermidor for just $19, turning the meal into a Surf & Turf indulgence. Be sure to leave space for the irresistible citrus medley of desserts, a construction of Lemon Meringue cake and Yuzu ice cream.

Lawry’s 19th Anniversary Menu
When? 1 till 31 Jul
$118 onwards per person for a four-course menu
333A Orchard Road #04-01/31 Mandarin Gallery, Mandarin Orchard Singapore 238897

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A Concrete Foundation: How This Artist’s Cement Creations Help Fight Prejudice and Plastic Waste http://popspoken.com/arts/2018/06/3oddducks-artas Thu, 21 Jun 2018 07:37:14 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=61650
The founder and artist behind 3 odd ducks is inspired by issues as hefty as the concrete she deals with.

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“I wanted the children to know that if you are given the ability to help others, you should. The world doesn’t revolve around us, and no matter how small the help may be, we shouldn’t hold back.”

Vanessa Kumar is the founder and artist behind 3 odd ducks, a nascent project inspired by issues as hefty as the concrete she deals with.

The 27-year-old is currently an intern at Triple Eyelid Studios, a team of young designers working towards environmentally sustainable design. Inspired by the “tonnes of waste materials discarded from job sites”, the studio aims to up-cycle discarded industrial waste by transforming them into functional furniture.

It’s hard to tell with the polished pieces on display, but Vanessa only started on these cement creations when the year began.

“Every family has their fair share of problems. Our parents and I have to care for my nieces and nephew due to my sister’s marital problems. With all the frustration and changes we make to our lifestyle, I slowly came to realise that things don’t always go our way. It’s how we deal with the circumstances that’s most important.”

Instagram Photo

“After I left the financial industry in December 2017, I decided to do something I really like and listen to myself a bit more. That’s why I decided to start 3 odd ducks, with the name inspired by the three children.”

“My nephew is 6 this year, and my twin nieces are 3. I started to introduce them to 3 odd ducks when I realised that they took their surroundings for granted. A plastic spoon to them is just a spoon, and they threw it away very easily. I wanted them to be aware that plastic can be recycled one way or another, or to reduce using plastic altogether.”

“I use 3 odd ducks to teach my nieces and nephew about recycling and to interact with them more. For example, I use plastic in some of the pieces I use as the mould to cast the cement. I get my nieces and nephew to help me in collecting all these recyclable plastics.”

“We have a lot of interesting conversations from there. ‘Ah yi, can I use this to cast?’ ‘Ah yi, can I use this to make a toy?’ They are learning about different materials, they are learning about what can be recycled, they are learning how reduce waste.”

“We’ve made toy cars out of tissue boxes, this concrete Lego man out of a jelly mould — it brought a lot of joy to them. It taught them that they don’t always have to buy toys outside. If they use what they have, they can have a lot of fun as well.”

“For the kids, the more I interact with them, the more I realise that there’s a lot to learn from them. How they think, how they see the world, it opened my mind to a new perspective – we shouldn’t always harp on the negative things, but rather, look at things from a brighter side.”

Vanessa is determined to use 3 odd ducks as a conduit to aid ex-convicts through the Yellow Ribbon Project.

“A portion of sales will be donated to charity (the Yellow Ribbon Project). I’ve always felt that it’s everyone’s responsibility to give back, so donating part of the profits came very naturally. I also wanted the children to know that if you are given the ability to help others, you should. The world doesn’t revolve around us, and no matter how small the help may be, we shouldn’t hold back.”

“I plan to use the website as a platform where ex-convicts can share their stories and also to sell products that are being made. With 3 odd ducks, I hope to help them unlock their second prison and integrate back into society.”

This June, Vanessa will be among 15 lineup artists at ARTas 2018, a free art festival that showcases the works of emerging artists in Singapore.

“I think young people should be more fearless when approaching art. Art is not just for those who studied at Lasalle or SOTA. Art is everywhere around us. You could start from as small as a craft idea that you see on Pinterest that you would like to try, just go for it!”

Since its inception in 2016, the annual art festival ARTas has been featuring young, emerging artists from various disciplines, gathered from a public open call.

Some 300 guests are expected at ARTas 2018, happening 30 June. From 1PM – 6PM, guests can enjoy performances by local singer-songwriters Vivien Yap, Stephycube, Irwin Zephyr Tan, and more.

Also available are free workshops in calligraphy, embossing, and coaster marbling, guided by young artists Jaime Chua and Barnabas Chua.

“With this year’s ‘work-in-progress’ theme in mind, we hope all who visit ARTas 2018 will feel like they are able to explore, in the same way that we the planners are exploring,” said Michelle Liew from the ARTas 2018 organising committee.

“I hope art is that channel that allows everyone to ask questions and find answers.”

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Find Vanessa’s work at www.3oddducks.com

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Framed, By Adolf: Can The Artist’s Beliefs Be Separate From His Art? http://popspoken.com/arts/2018/06/framed-by-adolf Sat, 16 Jun 2018 03:20:25 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=61654
Following up to Starring Hitler As Jekyll And Hyde, we take the discussion of politics and art a step further. Can you remove an artist's actions from his art?

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By Victoria Chen & Edited by Teo Dawn

Framed, By Adolf intends to explore the possibility of discovering Adolf Hitler’s artistic genius, and how the revelation of an incredible painting by the dictator could possibly rewrite art history and German history. However, this production by The Finger Players is not a lesson in history, art or philosophy. Instead, audiences are taken on a journey of a young Jewish man who attempts to present to Hitler a painting he bought from the Fuhrer long before he rose to political power. This story is narrated by The Seller (Serene Chen), who introduces herself as the Jewish man’s granddaughter, as part of her attempt to sell the painting that she has inherited.

What a story it is, indeed.

Following Starring Hitler As Jekyll And Hyde staged in 2016, Framed, By Adolf is its second instalment. Taking the questioning of art, politics and possibly ethics one step further.

The script, written and directed by Chong Tze Chien, is filled with action that is vividly coloured by hope, despair, tenderness and cheek. Offhanded comments by various characters offer precious moments of humour throughout the devastation of the war, and adds intimacy to the relationship not only between characters, but also between actors and the audience, who laugh appreciatively at the play’s subtle commentary on society’s contemporary attitudes towards art, consumerism and morality. The story is told with clarity and simplicity in spite of its various twists and turns. There is truly not a dull moment in this production as it travels across space and time to uncover the significance of this imaginary artwork.

The action begins with all the actors standing silently in a line across the stage as stage crew hand them their props, hence establishing that there is no attempt to conceal that this is ultimately an act of storytelling. Complete with shadow puppetry as a visual element to changing of scenes, the performance bares itself as what it is – with no intention to ‘suspend one’s imagination’ but rather, constantly urge the audience to challenge their perspective of reality and the current beliefs of society.

Slowly, they transition into character, then they take their places and the show begins.

Each actor takes on a major role and other various characters, except for Joshua Lim, who plays the antagonist, The Victim. While he no doubt has a strong and consistent physicality in his performance, his portrayal of an autistic man from young to old could certainly afford more nuances. At times, Lim’s character comes across as buffoonish and caricatured, but perhaps the absurdity of his circumstances and dialogue is already sufficient in presenting him as someone who thinks and speaks differently, without his condition being overtly demonstrated. This is a contrast to Timothy Nga’s portrayal of The Auctioneer, who moves with efficiency and is comfortable with stillness. Despite not being seen onstage as much as other actors, Nga still exudes an undeniable stage presence that allows him to direct the audience’s attention towards or away from him at appropriate moments. Special mention also goes to Serene Chen, who as The Seller simultaneously balances vulnerability and power.

The performance is for the most part tightly woven together. Although actors may trip on their lines enough times to warrant a mention, the highly intriguing plot, together with Darren Ng’s cinematic sound design and the intricate puppetry of Myra Loke and Ang Hui Bin, saves the show. Their subtlety and manipulation of the audiovisual elements help to ground the performance beyond its absurdity and larger than life circumstances.

Framed, By Adolf is intelligently crafted, and a pleasure to watch and experience. Whether audiences are interested in history or not, this show certainly does not bore.

Framed, By Adolf

Date: 15th – 17th June 2018

Venue: Victoria Theatre

Time: Friday & Saturday, 8pm / Saturday & Sunday, 3pm

Admission: From $35 (Concessions available. Get your tickets here.)

*Advisory 16 (Mature Content and Some Coarse Language)

Photography credit: Tuckys Photography 

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We Ask 3 Authors What It Means to Be A Queer Singaporean Author in 2018 http://popspoken.com/lgbtq/2018/06/we-ask-3-authors-what-it-means-to-be-a-queer-singaporean-author-in-2018 Wed, 13 Jun 2018 01:00:51 +0000 https://medium.com/p/ef165a976467 We Ask 3 Authors What It Means to Be A Queer Singaporean Author in 2018
"Singaporean queer literature is no longer in its infancy: it is already quite developed. Many local readers are also accepting of LGBTIQ persons."

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We Ask 3 Authors What It Means to Be A Queer Singaporean Author in 2018

Today, words create and uncover worlds.

Literature is increasingly forced out of its vacuum — becoming a pool of alternative resource, tangible support, and an invitation to acknowledge and accept diversity in a multitude of forms.

As part of a collaboration with BooksActually, we heard from three authors what it means to be a queer Singapore author in 2018, as well as their reading habits, journeys, and the power of language.

What does it mean to be a queer Singaporean author in 2018?

Tania De Rozario, And the Walls Come Crumbling Down

Photo from: Igloo Melts

I guess that really depends on which definition of “queer” we are looking at. Is the word an identity marker that encompasses all writers who are LGBTQI? Or are we looking at queerness as a concept charged with cultural and political potency? Is “queer” an opposite of “heterosexual”? Or an opposite of “heteronormativity”?

A gay writer engages in queer culture and politics via public platforms will have a very different experience of Singapore from a gay writer whose primary literary focus is writing about the Merlion. Don’t get me wrong — I am not saying that one person’s work is more worthy than the other. What I am saying is that I am not sure there is one singular answer to this question… even though it is definitely a question we should continue to ask.

Ng Yi-Sheng, SQ21: Singapore Queers in the 21st Century

Photo from: Buro247

I think it means very different things for different people! I’ve got queer Singaporean friends writing fiction, poetry, drama and non-fiction in English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil; they’re young and old; male, female and non-binary; out and closeted; published and unpublished. The experience isn’t uniform at all.

I’m a mid-career, 37 year-old, gay male English language writer in multiple genres. I’ve got a deep interest in activism and history. So. for me, being a queer Singaporean author right now means that I’m able to see myself as part of a vibrant literary tradition: one that includes G. Selva’s transgender-themed Tamil play Akka (1991), Johann S. Lee’s gay novel Peculiar Chris (1992), Eleanor Wong’s lesbian drama trilogy Invitation to Treat (1993–2003), Alfian Sa’at’s gay poetry collection The Invisible Manuscript (written 1999, published 2012) and JY Yang’s genderqueer-themed science fiction books The Tensorate Series (2017).

Singaporean queer literature is no longer in its infancy: it is already quite developed. Many local readers are also accepting of LGBTIQ persons. This means that writers are becoming increasingly edgy and unconventional in our explorations of queer issues. Examples include Ovidia Yu’s play Hitting (on) Women (2007), which describes lesbian domestic violence, and Amanda Lee Koe’s short story Siren (2013), which imagines a transgender sex worker who is the child of a mermaid.

At the same time, we’re fighting Singaporean laws and policies, which continue to deny us very basic rights: gay sex is illegal; positive depictions of queer people are censored on TV; trans people are still subject to discrimination at work and at school. So there’s still a place for very simple queer stories, like Cyril Wong’s The Last Lesson of Mrs De Souza (2013), which protests homophobia through the tale of a schoolboy’s suicide.

What’s really cool, however, is that thanks to social media, young people are coming out and forming communities earlier than ever. I’ve met some wonderful young writers via Singapore Poetry Writing Month, and they’ve shown me that there’s still a lot of energy in queer writing.

Basically, I’m trying to expand the possibilities of local queer literature, while being aware that very basic stories of acceptance and oppression must still be told. And I’m trying to be a decent mentor for folks younger than me, so that they too can enrich the scene.

Daryl Qilin Yam, Kappa Quartet

Photo from: Twitter

I believe a queer Singaporean writer needs to understand that life is and can be meaningful. That life is and can be tough too. That life is relentless, and unsparing, while somehow joyful. That we all need to brace ourselves for it, for whatever future that may befall upon us in time to come. That we must remain honest. That nothing will ever stay the same. That we are and have to be in control of our own lives, even when it feels like we are not — even when it is proven that we are not, and never will be.

That all this and everything is ridiculous. That life gave us all two parcels — one with joy, and another with grief — and that life has somehow given us the ability to translate both into words. And that, to quote Joan Didion: we all need stories in order to live.

What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

Tania: I learned a lot about the power of language growing up in a very religious household where you could not use god’s name in vain, where talking about how you were sick was equated to “claiming the illness for yourself”, where everyone’s lives seemed to revolve around a single interpretation of a single book, where people believed that you could cast demons out of people if you used the name of god correctly. I never believed in any of that. However, all of that did make me aware of the fact that words had power, could shape attitudes, could shape lives.

What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters?

Daryl: This is a very interesting question. In my experience, the only person I have ever used to form a character is myself. That character is Kevin, in my first novel, who comes to realise the depth of his monstrosity in one chapter, and allows himself to be transformed by it by the chapter’s end. Is that a cruel way to treat oneself? To that I say I owe myself some measure of kindness.

[cont.] Some have remarked surprise in the way I’ve allowed Kevin to become a monster. Others have also noted how the kappa plays a function too, in representing a kind of queer, marginalised, disenfranchised member of a largely homogenous society. I’ve had a few messages thanking me for writing the book, even, so I would like to feel in some encouraged by what I have done, and will continue to do.

What’s your favourite under-appreciated novel?

Tania: I’m not sure. I’m really wary of making assumptions regarding what mainstream attention is (or not). I mean, once we move beyond the Dan Browns of the world… isn’t everyone else considered slightly less than mainstream? Sometimes, books which are very much appreciated in one place, might be very under-appreciated in another. For example, I know that Monique Truong’s novels (I particularly enjoyed Bitter in the Mouth) and Ruth Ozeki’s novels (I enjoyed All Over Creation) are not necessarily widely read here, but I know that they have a good audience in the US. Do those count?

Yi-Sheng: Tricky question. But, since last year I’ve been telling everyone about Kevin Martens Wong’s Altered Straits (2017), which is an incredibly intelligent Singaporean science fiction novel featuring NS boys riding genetically engineered Merlions and a really hot gay romance.

Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?

Daryl: I’ve been very lucky, I think, with all of my recent reads, fiction and non-fiction which have made vital steps towards shaping my understanding of how we as human beings constantly frame our realities. I’m currently reading Carmen Maria Merchado’s Her Body And Other Stories, and am literally in the midst of the strange and exhilarating forty-page story consisting nothing but the episodic synopses of long-running procedural drama. Before her book was Yann Martel’s High Mountains of Portugal, Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, Jeff Vandemeer’s Area X trilogy, and the omnibus of Joan Didion’s collected non-fiction.

Subscribe to Prout’s Telegram account for more updates of LGBTQ+ news and events in Asia while keeping your profile hidden from public: t.me/proutapp.

We Ask 3 Authors What It Means to Be A Queer Singaporean Author in 2018 was originally published in @proutapp on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Citizen Dog: Strange Stories Brought Alive With Skill and Precision http://popspoken.com/arts/2018/06/citizen-dog Mon, 11 Jun 2018 07:54:11 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=61637
Poetic in language and visually striking, Citizen Dog comes through in its theatricality despite some misses.

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After Citizen Pig’s 2013 debut, the all-new Citizen Dog by Oliver Chong and Liu Xiaoyi had a three day run at the Victoria Theatre. Done in poetic Mandarin with English subtitles, the performance holds its audience members captive through its heavy text as well as stunning visuals. Though confusing at times and too text-heavy to follow, especially when too many voices are speaking at the same time on, the show definitely has its merits.

Inspired by Liaozhai Zhiyi, which is also known as Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio, Citizen Dog is a theatrical storytelling of supernatural and human beings – be it their desire, corruption or the inherent darkness living within them. There is a literary hermit who is abused by a corrupt official, who eventually rents out a room to a foreign lady. Then you have a middle-aged widower hiring a young tutor to help his son, who has yet to graduate after more than 20 years.

With two narratives running parallel to each other, Citizen Dog challenges what reality truly is. Can more than one version of the truth exist? What constitutes an illusion? Does it matter if one is a man, ghost, fox or demon?

The Set and Lights

As trippy as the text itself, the set by Oliver Chong is captivating and overbearing on its own. Symmetrical with identical prints covering every surface area possible, it resembles an optical illusion. Against the black stripped down stage of the Victoria Theatre, it exudes a sense of mystery and a menacing nature – a foreshadowing of the characters’ fates right from the beginning perhaps.

The lights by lighting designer Lim Woan Wen enhances this aspect of the set by using bold colours such as purple, blue and other cool colour options. Drawing as far away from naturalism as possible, the lights remind or even confuse the audience (in a good way) with what we would like to hold onto as reality or not. This keeps the questions the show hopes to ask its audience at the forefront of the mind, while witnessing the ridiculous events unfold in front of our eyes.

The Actors

The cast is technically amazing. Using mime for the opening and closing of doors, working with rhythmic changes in scenes as well as on a slightly tilted stage, the cast are clean and precise in their gestures – never missing a beat. Actresses Jo Kwek (character Xiao Cui), Li Xie (character Ah Xiu) and actor Alvin Chiam (characters Wang Tai Chang and Bai Jia) share strong stage presence and play out their characters’ quirks generously.

Playwright and actor Liu Xiaoyi though, took it even a step further by portraying his character transitions between  Mr Pu and Wang Yuan Feng with grace and confidence. The moments may not last more than a minute, but the physical metamorphosis is intriguing to watch – the beauty is in the details after all.

The Dog 

Most fascinating out of the entire show would be the dog, brought to life by puppeteers Ann Lek, Darren Guo and Trey Ho.  The trio managed to get their bodies and voices to be in sync with one another – maintaining that illusion that the dog is but one entity. Though it took a while to get used to, the puppeteers eventually faded into the background – which is why they are dressed in the same patterns as the rest of the house – and you only see the dog barking, whining and being the keen observer of all things strange within those four walls.

The Finger Players have another performance coming up this Friday. Check out Framed, By Adolf here.

Photography credit: Tuckys Photography

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I Used A Metal Straw For A Week and Now I Notice Plastic Waste Everywhere http://popspoken.com/opinion/2018/06/metal-straw-week Sat, 09 Jun 2018 14:19:42 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=61062
If we pride ourselves on being a little red dot, let's make sure that our plastic waste is proportionately minuscule.

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For all the shit we’ve given influencers here at Popspoken, we can’t deny that genuine interpersonal marketing still has its effects on consumers.

That’s why, after many years of ignoring Earth Hour (it’s a cute idea), I found myself sipping a pint of IPA through a metal straw in a sports bar at Tanjong Pagar, looking every bit an environmental warrior.

It only took an eco-conscious friend and his persistent Instastories about weather patterns and how we’re killing penguins to change my mind.

I’ll backtrack. Metal straws may just be the latest fad, and I’m not the most fiscally conservative when it comes to fads and impractical buys.

At the Singles’ Day online sale last November, my friends and I picked up fish slippers for $6 and wore them together. I still stand by my purchase, because look:

6160b+XeWXL._UY395_

But I was determined that with every straw I haughtily declined, the Earth would be a better, healthier place, and those penguins would live to see another day. How those events are linked, however, I didn’t fully understand.

I gave myself a week with my metal straw, drinking everything I could through it, save for hot soups and water. I also named it Strawie, thinking I would be less likely to lose something I had an emotional attachment to.

Monday

I DIDN’T BRING STRAWIE OUT. Being a vainpot (with fish slippers, obviously), I switched bags and left the straw, the fate of the penguins, and this article’s respectability at home.

We’re off to a great start.

Tuesday

Lunch showed me how mindless our straw use could be, as I excitedly ordered a ginger ale to begin this week of environmental heroics. I yakked about how penguins are my new passion project to tepid response from friends.

Said enthusiasm disappeared faster than our polar ice caps when our drinks arrived… with straws.

Plucking that yellow plastic straw out of the glass and replacing it with Strawie felt like a tone-deaf attempt at environmentalism. Kinda like setting the air-conditioning at 18°C to fight global warming.

I washed Strawie with my tears after lunch.

Wednesday

Hump day and I’m convinced that I’ve done nothing for the penguins. I ordered a teh-o kosong bing, because the government says sugar is evil. This time, I make it clear to the uncle taking my drink order that do not want a straw. I didn’t blink while saying that and may have scared him a little.

Ignoring yet another yellow plastic straw in my friend’s glass, cheers to the one penguin saved!

+ 1 – 1 = 0

Thursday

I’ve upgraded Strawie’s resting place from the plastic packaging it came in (the irony is not lost on me) to an IKEA ziploc bag. I plan to reuse this bag, so calm down.

Over lunch I realised that my takeaway meal of ayam penyet and Old Chang Kee gyoza involved more disposable plastic than the tiny straw I’ve cut out from my plastic use.

A sobering moment with all that disposable plastic in the background.

Friday

I’m drinking beer through a straw. In public. At a bar.

Was it strange? Of course it was strange.

Did I get judged by the boisterous lady boss, who savagely emasculated a guy on a date at the next table by referring to him as “ah boy“? Sure I did.

Was it embarrassing? Yes, but not doing my part for the environment is even more embarrassing.

But this was honestly extra af. Who drinks beer with a straw? 0/10 would recommend.

For the penguins!!!

This is the part where we drive the point home that straws are evil. Except, I learnt about how Singapore has grappled with its plastic waste problem for years, and how being eco-conscious is an uphill task.

I learnt that metal straws are a commitment, not unlike remembering your phone and keys when leaving the house. They are also easy to misplace — I foresee my forgetful ass leaving Strawies behind at least once a month or more.

I learnt that despite my efforts at using a metal straw, disposable materials have become so common that I am blind to my own usage. Plastic bags, plastic utensils, styrofoam packaging — these easily outweigh the tube of plastic that I refuse.

Singapore has a mounting plastic waste problem that we would prefer to ignore. Singaporean households disposed of about 1.67 million tonnes of waste in 2017, according to a life-cycle assessment study published by the National Environmental Agency (NEA) earlier this year.

Of this, about one-third consisted of packaging waste, which included single-use disposables such as plastic bags and food packaging.

In 2015, Singapore’s domestic recycling rate was 19 per cent, placing us below other developed economies like the United Kingdom and Taiwan, where the household recycling rates in 2013 were already at 44.2 per cent and 42 per cent, respectively.

Granted, this may be due to the high proportion of citizens who live in high-rise apartments, like HDB flats, using plastic bags to dispose of wet refuse.

The ease of acquiring plastic bags here could also be a factor. Most places in Singapore hand out plastic bags for free. In contrast, blue garbage bags are sold at convenience stores from NT$1 (4.5 cents SGD) in Taiwan.

Taiwan citizens are expected to separate their trash into non-recyclables, kitchen waste, and recyclables, which can then be recycled at designated pick up areas.

But I also learnt that local brands are beginning to see the urgency of Singapore’s plastic waste issue. Local food court chain Koufu set a national record in March this year by having 198 people enjoy their drinks with bamboo straws simultaneously.

Held at Koufu at Singapore Management University (SMU), the record-setting feat accompanied the launch of the chain’s No Plastic Straw initiative. Koufu at SMU has since eliminated the use of plastic straws entirely.

Image: Koufu

Globally, furniture giant and Swedish cultural ambassador IKEA announced last week that it will phase out all single-use plastic products from its stores and restaurants by 1 Jan 2020. This includes plastic straws, plates, cups, freezer bags, bin bags, and plastic-coated paper plates and cups.

It’s one thing to applaud businesses that boldly decide to cut an item off their expenditure in the name of environmentalism (not unlike Apple’s courageous removal of the headphone jack from the iPhone 7), but it’s another to expect that a solution to these issues will appear the harder we ignore them.

If we are to quit our reliance on plastic straws cold turkey through a hard ban, substitutes like metal or bamboo straws may be the nicotine patch we need.

If we pride ourselves on being a little red dot, let’s make sure that our plastic waste is proportionately minuscule.

How prepared are you for the last straw?

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A portion of this article has been reproduced with permission from The Nanyang Chronicle.

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Singapore Art Book Fair 2018: The Hype In 5 Facts http://popspoken.com/arts/2018/06/singapore-art-book-fair-2018-the-hype-in-5-facts Fri, 08 Jun 2018 04:26:00 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=61587
Singapore Art Book Fair is back this 2018, and here's 5 new facts about its revamp.

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The annual Singapore Art Book Fair is back this year, with its 5th edition. Supported by the NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore, Hotel G Singapore, RJ Paper and Currency Design, the fair this year has gone through a revamp. Still specialising in contemporary art books and curated zines, the multi-day festival is open to the public.

Here’s a quick rundown on what’s new about this year’s edition:

  • Singapore Art Book Fair is now independently run
    SGABF is fully independent for the first time in five years. No longer associated with or receiving financial aid from any  bookstore, company, organisation, or institution, the festival has discovered a newfound freedom – be it design, branding and what the festival should be about. What does it take to be an Art Book Fair that should be on par with major names like New York Art Book Fair and Tokyo Art Book Fair? This year’s fair aims to prove that space limitations shouldn’t hinder the curatorial quality of the fair itself, and will keep growing in this direction for years to come.
  • New hashtag (#SGABF2018)
    Since 2013, Singapore Art Book Fair has always been abbreviated as SABF, or #SABF. Now, it is known as SGABF to celebrate its independence and refreshed branding.
  • Addition of Zine Room & Library
    Teaming up with Squelch Zines, SGABF will be presenting the Zine Room & Zine Library to provide a platform for local zine makers to exhibit and sell their works. The open call has been documented on Squelch Zine’s Instagram account (@squelchzines) for the past month or so. Fairgoers may browse through an archive of zines handmade by artists and creatives in Library, and make purchases from various zine exhibitors over at the Zine Room.
  • Categorisation of exhibitors
    Instead of the previous year’s curation of exhibitors that may seem placed within the space at random, SGABF hopes to curate a more thematic experience for fairgoers.  This is to provide a more conducive buying experience by placing magazine makers, publishers, art book makers and artists, without taking away the cohesive spirit of book makers altogether.
  • Critical Thinking
    Are art fairs really only about “Insta-worthy” stuff and “aesthetically pleasing” works? SGABF looks to move away from this notion by taking it a step further – to provoke a sense of critical thinking and discourse. The challenge here is to maintain its relevance while strongly encouraging a growth and maturity in the consumer’s cultural palette. Look out for exhibitors such as DECK, Foreign Policy Design Group, Atelier HOKO, Bangkok Art Book Fair and more. Major publishers such as onestar press and e-flux journal will be part of the NTU CCA Singapore programming at SGABF as well.

Singapore Art Book Fair 2018

Date: 29th June – 1st July 2018

Venue: NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore

Time: 12pm – 8pm

Admission: Free for all, Open to public

To follow up on SGABF, check out their website, Facebook and Instagram. We will see you there when 29th June comes round!

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The Rise And Rise of MYRNE: The First Singaporean DJ To Perform At ULTRA Miami, Tomorrowland http://popspoken.com/music/2018/06/the-rise-and-rise-of-myrne Wed, 06 Jun 2018 07:03:12 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=61541
We're giving away 3 pairs of ULTRA Singapore 2018 GA passes to 3 Popspoken readers!

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[ULTRA SINGAPORE 2018 GIVEAWAY]

We’re giving away 3 pairs of General Admission ULTRA SINGAPORE 2018 passes to 3 lucky winners who:

a) Fill up this Popspoken survey form, and
b) Subscribe to our Telegram channel.

Only entries submitted before 10 June 2018, 2359hrs will be considered. Winners will be announced via our Telegram channel on 11 June 2018.


It is a great year to be Manfred Lim, or as the world knows him: MYRNE.
Just this year alone, he released a collaborative album with local singer-songwriter Gentle Bones, played at ULTRA Miami 2018 and is about to play Tomorrowland 2018 in Belgium this July.

We speak with the DJ – Producer – SMU undergrad since his return from Miami, with his thoughts on his exponential success in his music career, his musical breakthroughs and on his upcoming mainstage set at ULTRA Singapore.

POPSPOKEN: Congratulations on performing at ULTRA Miami this year! Was the experience different from how you expected?

Thank you! It was everything that I hoped for. From watching legends play their music to thousands online to being there myself playing a small part left a huge mark on me. One thing that surprised me was that there was a lot more fireworks than advertised.

POPSPOKEN: Last year, you told POPSPOKEN it’ll be amazing if you could play at Tomorrowland, and this year you’re announced to be in the line up for Tomorrowland 2018 this July, making yourself the first Singaporean to play for the iconic music festival in Belgium. That’s amazing! How are you taking it all in?

It’s surreal too! The festival did their job booking fresh acts for the festival, now it’s my responsibility to throw down and curate my music to new audiences. I’m taking it in my stride.

Instagram Photo

POPSPOKEN: Earlier this year you and Gentle Bones launched a collab album, “B4NGER PROJECT”, could you share with us one musical breakthrough you experienced in making this album that you’re really proud of?

I’m very surgical with my mixes, owing to dance music being very methodical and formulaic. For this album, we went with something more experimental – leaving unnecessary overtones in samples untouched, letting myself make more mistakes when I record, running his vocals through guitar amps, etc. It really shifted my view on how I’ve been making music for a while.

POPSPOKEN: Some aspiring producers in Singapore find it difficult to meet a like-minded community of producers here. How did you find your community, as you told POPSPOKEN in 2016?

I just went online – I laid out what I was searching for through uploading demos and remixes online, and like-minded producers from all over the world naturally gravitated. I also involved myself in founding and working with labels in the search of new producers (e.g. Daruma, Sola.) I made a lot of friends.

POPSPOKEN: Tell us a day in the life of MYRNE.

[rife with sarcasm]

Usually I’d start the day with a few meet-the-people sessions, in order to better understand the needs and problems in our community. Thereafter, I’d take a walk in one of Singapore’s many parks to assess the health of our flora – I sometimes spend time planting several trees if I find foliage lacking. Finally, I’d buy a coffee or two from my HDB coffee-shop and return to my jumbo Yishun flat to make some music.

POPSPOKEN: What is your biggest music pet peeve?

It’s always annoying when I see an artist with a distinctive style, sound or genre totally jump ship and put out a pop record that sounds like it could have been made in any random Scandinavian studio. There’s a lot of dance-pop records that have distinctive sound and flavor – like collaborations by Skrillex, Diplo, and Madeon, etc. with their vocalists.

POPSPOKEN: What can we expect from your set at ULTRA Singapore 2018? Would you be playing any songs off B4NGER PROJECT?

I love that project to death, but it has a time and place – thousands of ravers equipped with waterbags aren’t looking to hear sultry tongue-in-cheek pop. But for fans of the project – there’ll be a surprise in store.

POPSPOKEN: Lastly, how would you like MYRNE to be remembered?

I have no idea where my professional life will take me, but I appreciate having the same qualities as who I was before being into music to bleed into any ‘legacy.’ I’m just an ordinary dude with a strong work ethic that doesn’t take anything too seriously.

Instagram Photo

Ultranauts can now purchase tickets for ULTRA SINGAPORE 2018 from $185 SGD onwards.

To buy tickets please visit: https://ultrasingapore.com/tickets/2018/.

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Reads: I Want To Go Home – Wesley Leon Aroozoo http://popspoken.com/arts/2018/05/reads-i-want-to-go-home Mon, 28 May 2018 04:28:34 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=61078
First in our series of Reads, we feature Wesley Leon Aroozoo's I Want To Go Home in a review and interview.

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Simple yet poignant, I Want To Go Home by Wesley Leon Aroozoo is a glimpse into the strength of human resilience and how love may manifest itself in times of crisis. About crossing borders and to share a man’s loss, love and sheer determination to reunite with his wife.

I Want To Go Home – the very last text message Mr Yasuo Takamatsu received from his wife Yuko before losing her to the tsunami during the Great East Japan earthquake in 2011. Since then, he has been diving every week in search of her to honour her. Inspired to share his story under the title bearing the words of Yuko, the book is a journey from Singapore to Onagawa to meet the person himself and walk a small part of journey with him.

The book comes with both English and a Japanese translation, with photographs taken from the week-long trip taken by author Wesley, translator Miki Hawkinson and photographer/videographer Jonathan Chan.

I am unable to read Japanese, so I may only speak about the English – unable to share about what has been gained or lost in the act of translation, if any nuances carried better in whichever language used. However, the novel touches me beyond words and brings out my emotions to be part of this journey. Despite the specific circumstances the book presents, its ability to draw out memories and hold a connection throughout the entire trajectory. At the end, I feel I have a gained a friend and that I have lived a life outside of myself – a renewed sense of heartache and admiration for the strength of Mr Takamatsu.

Popspoken interviews the author Wesley, who also made a film with the same title, to find out more about the makings of I Want To Go Home.


I Want To Go Home Photo 1

Popspoken: What drew you towards this story of Mr Takamatsu and Yuko?

Wesley: In 2014, I read an article online on the Daily Telegraph about Mr. Takamatsu. The article was about how he dives into the sea every week to search for his wife whom he lost to the tsunami. I was very moved by his story and found his dedication to be very inspiring. At that point in time, I didn’t know what I wanted to say to him if I had the chance but I felt a great need to reach out to him to at least tell him that he is an inspiration. The need grew greater and it led me to tracking him down. After three to four months of following leads, I managed to acquire Mr. Takamatsu’s email contact but was informed that he didn’t speak English.

It took me a little more time but I eventually found a translator, Miki Hawkinson from Melbourne who was keen to help. What followed was communicating with Mr. Takamatsu over email for over a year.

Through our communication, I felt his story was greater than what was covered in the online article and I decided to write a novel about him and to produce a documentary about him as well. My hope for the novel and documentary was to reach out to more people and hopefully they can be inspired by Mr. Takamatsu, just like how he has inspired me.

PS: Share with us why you settled for this sort of narrative style for I Want To Go Home, with references to your own thoughts, instead of focusing purely on Mr Takamatsu? 

W: During my time in Onagawa, our conversations were all documented and I noted down my experiences during the stay. Coming back to Singapore, it took me a while on figuring out how best to approach writing the novel. I chose having my own thoughts into the book as I felt it was a comfortable and relatable direction for the reader to learn about Mr. Tamatatsu. Much of what I might feel, would be similar to a person who does not live in Onagawa.

Another reason why I chose to have my own thoughts was because I wanted to share how Mr. Takamatsu has inspired me as well. During my time in Onagawa, I was about to get married a month later in Singapore, so the idea of ‘love’ and what one would do for love was something on my mind. It was a time when I was thinking a lot about my wife to be and our life ahead together. I also would ask myself, if I was in Mr. Takamatsu’s shoes, would I dive in the sea every week for a loved one? This was a question I was curious to find the answer to.

I Want To Go Home Photo 2

PS: How were the featured photographs selected, out of the many taken throughout the trip?

W: The photographs were taken by the cinematographer who came with me to Onagawa. His name is Jon Chan and at that time he was my student in LASALLE College of the Arts. The chosen photographs were selected by me and Kenny Leck of Math Paper Press.

PS: Even though you don’t speak Japanese, a Japanese version comes together with the English one. What’s the significance in that?

W: The main reason why there is a Japanese translation is so that Mr. Takamatsu can read the book. The other reason is my hope to share the book with the Japanese speaking community internationally which unfortunately has been difficult.

I Want To Go Home Photo 3

PS: Out of curiosity, are you still in touch with Mr Takamatsu after all these years? How is he?

W: Yes, I constantly keep in touch with him via email. We chat about twice a month. Mainly now our conversations revolve around me sharing updates about our project and him sharing updates about his diving trips. He still dives weekly in the sea and is fine.

I would love to visit Mr. Takamatsu in Onagawa again next year with my wife and spend time with him.

PS: Has embarking on this journey impact you in any way?

W: It has on many different ways. Learning from him and understanding why he dives in the sea has taught me to not be afraid of what you believe in even when nobody believes in you. It reminded me of the power of love and the mountains it can move. Mr. Takamatsu taught me to appreciate your loved ones and do the best you can for them. Mr. Takamatsu has moved my heart and I hope people who read the book will be moved as well.

Casual Group Photo (L-R Miki Hawkinson, Yasuo Takamatsu, Wesley Leon Aroozoo, Jonathan Chan)

Casual Group Photo (L-R Miki Hawkinson, Yasuo Takamatsu, Wesley Leon Aroozoo, Jonathan Chan)


To purchase the book I Want To Go Home and to find out more, look it up here.

Photography credit: Jonathan Chan

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3 Reasons Why Singapore Is Ready To Celebrate LGBTQ+ Progress http://popspoken.com/lgbtq/2018/05/3-reasons-why-singapore-is-ready-to-celebrate-lgbtq-progress Sun, 27 May 2018 08:29:58 +0000 https://medium.com/p/2cec59123e62
Pink Dot, Singapore’s annual pride gathering for the LGBTQ+ community and its allies, is back for a 10th run this July and we are excited!

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Pink Dot, Singapore’s annual pride gathering for the LGBTQ+ community and its allies, is back for a 10th run this July. Who would have thought that the event would have had a decade of success so far?

For the LGBTQ+ community in Singapore, progress is still a mile away. Societal progress has caught up with a new generation of millennials who understand the value of inclusivity, but old-school political think still prevents the city-state from being fully realised as a cosmopolitan nation.

Past ambassadors from Pink Dot’s past nine events are coming together to represent this year’s ambassador lineup (Photo: Pink Dot SG)

After 10 years of Pink Dot, the country has progressed and is ready to celebrate it on July 21, Pink Dot Day. Here are 3 reasons why:

1. Singapore’s businesses celebrate inclusivity

Red Dot for Pink Dot is the sponsorship campaign to get local companies to show their support for diversity and inclusivity (Photo: Pink Dot SG)

Last year, a record 120 Singaporean-owned companies passed more than $200,000 collectively to sponsor Pink Dot after the local government blocked foreign entities from sponsoring the event.

Speaking to The Straits Times, sponsors said their move showed how their companies believed that diversity and non-discrimination was the way forward.

For companies who wish to make their mark in support of inclusive practices in the workplace, visit this year’s sponsorship drive Red Dot for Pink Dot here: http://www.reddotforpinkdot.com/.

2. Singapore’s youth don’t really think being LGBTQ+ is a thorny issue

Ask Thasha, who created a popular petition to get teen flick Love, Simon to be rated NC16 instead of the R21 rating the government’s film board gave the movie due to homosexual content.

To sum up sentiment that watching films with homosexual content would turn straight people gay, Thasha’s friend said this:

Watch Thasha and her friends talk about their thoughts regarding the petition and their stance towards non-discrimination in Singapore:

3. Singaporeans are still celebrating through inclusive events

LGBTQs are turning up in droves to a slew of events that have sprouted in recent times by local event organisers, showing the celebratory spirit and diversity of the community.

LGBTQ+ meetup and support platform Prout has been covering these events on Telegram, with updates twice a week on LGBTQ-friendly happenings in Singapore and the Asian region.

More than 15 events will be held as part of a month-long festival in the lead up to this year’s Pink Dot event (Photo: Pink Dot SG)

This Pink Dot, more than 15 private events — held independent of Pink Dot — will be held as part of a month-long festival in the lead-up to the event. Pink Fest will encompass various events for diverse audiences such as:

  • Talk: Please Mind the Gaps, by IndigNation
  • Walk This Way — Queer Chinatown Guided Tour, by Oogachaga
  • Rainbow Families Brunch, by FOC Sentosa
  • Word, an LGBTQ+ literary festival by BooksActually, at The Fabulous Baker Boy Cafe

A full list of these events can be found at https://pinkdot.sg/2018/05/pinkfest-line-up/. (And you can bet the community will be celebrating because no matter what anyone says, we will turn up and we will celebrate.)

RSVP for Pink Dot 2018 here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1963198140663569.

Subscribe to Prout’s Telegram account for more updates of LGBTQ+ news and events in Asia while keeping your profile hidden from public: t.me/proutapp.

3 Reasons Why Singapore Is Ready To Celebrate LGBTQ+ Progress was originally published in @proutapp on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

This article 3 Reasons Why Singapore Is Ready To Celebrate LGBTQ+ Progress appeared first on Popspoken.

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Meet Mannequins, Four St Pat’s Boys Bringing Back The Golden Age Of Rock And Roll With New EP “Four” http://popspoken.com/culture/2018/05/meet-mannequins-four-st-pats-boys-bringing-back-golden-age-rock-roll-new-ep-four Sat, 26 May 2018 07:32:27 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=61004
"The only thing that seemed to matter back then was music, and nothing else."

This article Meet Mannequins, Four St Pat’s Boys Bringing Back The Golden Age Of Rock And Roll With New EP “Four” appeared first on Popspoken.

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Being brought up in the infamous all-boys St. Patrick’s school, mischief and notoriety runs rampant in the veins of the members of Mannequins Singapore.

Darren John Aw, Gabriel Christopher Lim, Russell Andrew Clunies-Ross, and Timothy Lloyd Bracken fell in love with the same rock bands growing up.

They spent most days after school (occasionally skipping school) covering rock songs at a nearby jam studio in Katong.

Their music is inspired by the greats – Led Zeppelin, Queen, Beatles, Nirvana and Foo Fighters. Their new EP, “Four”, features dynamic guitar riffs and a steady beat, and are reminiscent of popular alternative rock tunes from the 90s when they grew up.

Sunbird” is an anthemic rock song and is named after the street adjacent to Gabriel’s estate. The lyrics capture the essence of the friendship that the band shares, and is intended to evoke a feeling of nostalgia in the listener.

Misery” enchants the listener with a catchy, relatable heartfelt singalong tune. It is a song about Darren’s close friend, who was going through a bad time in his life. Despite the amount of support received from those around him, Darren’s friend seemed most comforted by his own sadness, his own misery.

I’ll Stick with You” is a punchy four-chord blitz. It is a love song which was inspired by a comic strip that Darren saw about the reproductive cycle of anglerfish, and talks about sticking with someone for life.

Wrong Side of the Sun” ushers in the EP with an explosive combination of gritty vocals and old-school punk stylings, climaxing with a classic rock guitar solo. The song conveys Darren’s frustration with the lack of pop elements in their music. The lead singer was always skeptical that the band would be able to attain international recognition due to the genre of music they played.

POPSPOKEN speaks with the boys of Mannequins, who played at Baybeats in 2013, more about the return from their hiatus how they’ve grown since.

Mannequins Singapore

POPSPOKEN: What have the members of Mannequins been up to since playing Baybeats Festival in 2013?

Baybeats 2013 opened many doors for us. We played many shows prior to our hiatus when Gabriel had to enlist in 2014, followed by Bracken soon after. At that point, Darren already completed national service while Russell was still in Poly.

During the 4 year hiatus, Darren was perfecting his songwriting while studying in NUS, Gabriel was somewhere in the jungles of Brunei and found a full time job in design after completing national service, Russell is now almost done with national service and was pursuing a degree concurrently, and Bracken started an awesome punk rock band called Bouncy Castles.

POPSPOKEN: There is never a perfect time, but is there any reason in particular why you chose to make this return this year?

Our schedules started to align sometime in 2017. We had many good runs since Mannequins started in 2010, but we always wanted to have a “physical” product and felt that now would be a good time to finally record an album as we didn’t have the ability to fund it previously.

With the EP’s release, we now aim to bring our music further and hope to eventually represent Singapore internationally.

Mannequins "Four" Album Art

POPSPOKEN:Why the ken dolls in the album art “Four” EP?

The album art for “four mannequins” was to be taken at face value. The idea to use the four mannequins as the album art came after we settled with the album name being “Four”. We first settled with the four songs that best represented Mannequins.

At that point of time, those four songs clocked in at four minutes each. It was four years since we last played, and also our social media links had always used “four mannequins” in them. Gabriel tied it altogether with our concept of “four”, and decided that it was best represented by four mannequins. We are already in the works with writing new materials for the band and planning for a full-length album.

Maybe you’ll see 10-12 ken dolls on the next album art.

POPSPOKEN: Take a trip with us down memory lane – what do you miss most about playing together back in secondary school as St Pat’s students?

Secondary school marked the beginning of our journey as musicians, both individually and as a band. We were practicing, watching live videos, learning and sharing new skills, and discovering bands that would shape our music later on.

We were in very different bands – Darren and Gabriel in a Red Hot Chili Peppers cover band, while Russell and Bracken in a Muse cover band. We joined forces later, united by similar tastes in Rock music and never looked back.

The teachers in St Pats were very encouraging and supportive of our creative expressions, and even provided us with opportunities to perform in school.

We definitely miss our daily recess talking about music, and jamming after school. Those were the carefree days, which is probably what we miss the most – the only thing that seemed to matter back then was music, and nothing else.

POPSPOKEN: There are many impressive punk (alt?) rock bands in Singapore right now. What’s so special about Mannequins?

The premise of Mannequins is that we celebrate youthfulness, energy and passion in the form of good ol rock and roll. We pay a deep homage to the great bands such as Led Zeppelin, Queen, the Beatles and more modern bands like Foo Fighters and Weezer in our craft.

Our taste in rock deviates slightly from convention, and that translates into another breed of music – it’s an infrequent occurrence for four millenials to have a shared appreciation in the oldies.

The Mannequins sound is reminiscent of the 90s and we love incorporating catchy melodies and harmonies into our songs: we try to find a way for our audience – fans and first time listeners alike – to sing along, feel involved, and to feel personally connected with our music.

Mannequins at Baybeats 2013

POPSPOKEN: What can we expect from your EP launch show?

If you’re wearing socks, get ready for them to be rocked off. For those who haven’t experienced rock, this is a great time to start!

Come for a good time, cheesy banter, and great music. We’ve also got a fantastic lineup of bands that will be performing with us – the exact details will be out in a few weeks time.

And of course, a wide variety of merch is going to be available: everyone’s going to have something to take home with them to remember us and all the other bands by.

After this milestone, you can also expect more from Mannequins over the next year at the very least. In the meantime, mark your calendars for the 23rd of June.

POPSPOKEN: Lastly, how would you like Mannequins to be remembered?

We’d like to be remembered as earnest, fun-loving individuals that had a penchant for writing and playing great songs.

It’d also be great if people would remember us as that rock band from Singapore, the one with members that were all so closely knit. But ultimately, our aim is to connect with people and to bring rock music back into people’s lives.

Just like how West Grand Boulevard, Caracal, and Allura inspired us to kickstart our musical journey, we hope that our passion and drive will do the same – we’d be extremely satisfied knowing that our music contributed to building a platform for the generations to come.

Mannequins EP Launch 23 June

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For more information on Mannequins’ EP launch show, please visit their Facebook event page here.

Keep culture journalism alive, at just the price of a kopi. For a little bit more, get access to exclusives and a monthly gift box. Donate at patreon.com/popspoken

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Refreshing DBS’ Image Through Digital Innovation and Lifestyle Initiatives http://popspoken.com/events/2018/05/refreshing-dbs-lifestyle-initiatives Wed, 23 May 2018 17:47:40 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=61030
DBS stays ahead of the pack by shedding its stuffy corporate image as an incumbent and embracing the digital wave.

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Global banks these days are shedding the stuffy corporate image as incumbents and embracing the digital wave. It has become a necessity to win over the hearts and minds of consumers who are constantly glued to their handphones by redesigning the digital experience, or risk getting left behind.

In its efforts to cement itself as an Asian market leader, local bank DBS has since launched a plethora of initiatives in line with their new “Live More, Bank Less” mantra. From implementing technology to making banking effortless with the touch of a phone, kickstarting online communities, organizing offline experiential events, sparking collaborations with cultural mavens and more.

Facebook community, TwentyXThirty, led by Alvin Lim of Alvinology.com, is regularly updated with news bites and how-to guides to keep millennials engaged. Want to learn how to negotiate for a salary increase or try your hand at being a coffee barista for a day? Time to bookmark this page.

DBS Marina Regatta coming up this weekend and the next is jam-packed with activities fit for the family. From obstacle courses such as “Battle Bay Extreme” powered by Under Armour, PURE yoga sessions, creators market by Mahota and more – your leg muscles will be sore just from traversing the bay area.

You can even score a selfie with poster-boy Joseph Schooling as he savours local delicacies like Nasi Lemak whipped up by his mother. Limited sign-ups available so grab your tickets now at $15 a pop.

JosephSchooling-DBSMarinaRegatta


Featured image: Mr Sabotage at DBS’ Live Fresh booth at ZoukOut 2017

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Ultra Singapore 2018 To Be Headlined By DJ Snake, Above & Beyond and Afrojack… Again http://popspoken.com/music/2018/05/ultra-singapore-2018-headliners Wed, 23 May 2018 11:57:30 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=61010
All phase 1 headliners for 2018 already headlined for Ultra Singapore? Baby I swear it's déjà vu.

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ULTRA SINGAPORE is slated to return for its third instalment on 15 and 16th June 2018 at ULTRA Park Marina Bay Sands, but fans have noticed that headliners this year are strikingly similar to previous editions.

It’s a déjà vu moment for Ultranauts as Above & BeyondAfrojack and DJ Snake return to the Main Stage this year, as they all did in 2016.

Nicky Romero and Steve Angello were lineup highlights for last July’s ULTRA SINGAPORE 2017. DJ Snake was just in Singapore last December for ZoukOut 2017.

MYRNE, who is the first Singaporean DJ to perform in ULTRA MIAMI in 20 years of the festival’s history, will also be returning to  ULTRA SINGAPORE.

So what’s new this year, other than a seemingly repetitive lineup?

There is an inaugural debut of Miami’s signature Worldwide Stage, and we’ll be seeing first outings of artists like RL Grime, NGHTMRE + Slander, Illenium and JOYRYDE in Singapore.

Ultra Worldwide Stage

Ultra Worldwide Stage

Here is ULTRA SINGAPORE’s lineup compared to 2018 editions of Hong Kong and Korea, the only 2 stops in Asia with its lineup announced for 2018:

ULTRA SINGAPORE 2018 LINEUP ULTRA KOREA 2018 LINEUP

ULTRA HONG KONG 2018 LINEUP

Here’s to hoping the next phase(s) of lineup announcements for ULTRA SINGAPORE 2018 will be more than a déjà vu moment.

In the meantime, here’s a recap of what went down at last year’s ULTRA SINGAPORE:

Ultranauts can now purchase tickets for ULTRA SINGAPORE 2018 from $185 SGD onwards.

To buy tickets please visit: https://ultrasingapore.com/tickets/2018/.

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Keep culture journalism alive, at just the price of a kopi. For a little bit more, get access to exclusives and a monthly gift box. Support us at patreon.com/popspoken

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ONE Championship: One Super App To Conquer MMA With Asian Values http://popspoken.com/culture/2018/05/one-championship-super-app Fri, 18 May 2018 03:20:13 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=60895
Mixed martial arts fans rejoice: the new ONE Super App is here to deliver high-quality content behind a headline price tag of free.

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Mixed martial arts (MMA) fans rejoice: there is a new ONE Championship Super App in the ring and it is here to deliver high-quality content behind a headline price tag of free.

The formidable ONE Championship mobile app, available on both Android and iOS platforms, anticipates the title bouts happening during “ONE: Unstoppable Dreams”. Fans who are unable to make it to the actual match happening at the Singapore Indoor Stadium later today will have the option of streaming the fights live on the app.

Besides being a digital content platform, the super app plays a crucial role in ensuring that the MMA outfit in Asia expands globally. Going mobile is a strategic move by the giant sports property to position themselves outside of Asia while still showcasing Asian virtues—in contrast to the UFC-dominated West, explained Chatri Sityodtong, Chairman and CEO of ONE Championship.

“The thing that makes ONE Championship different from any other organization in the world, is that we want to build and unleash martial arts superheroes to ignite the world with inspiration, hope, dreams, strength, and courage. Our heroes are role models not only in the cage, but also outside the cage,” he said.

“This historic event will be seen around the globe as it will be aired by the biggest television networks across Asia and the world. It will also be available for free through the ONE Super App. Witnessing a great display of martial arts action is now at your fingertips.”

In addition to real-time telecasts of matches, local fans can delve into a series of e-commerce perks powered by the Singtel Group. Merging their mobile wallets and carrier billing services to e-commerce features within the app, Singtel Group has stated that their subscribers can expect exclusive or early access to premium sports content, ticket discounts and invites to VIP events at ONE Championship matches.

“Content, particularly premium sports content, delivered over our advanced network is one of the key pillars of our consumer strategy,” said Arthur Lang, CEO of International Group at Singtel.

“This is why we will also be exploring ways to develop and deliver exclusive martial arts content to not just customers in Singapore and Australia but also our regional associates in Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, and India. Sports content is a big winner with our consumers, with millennials comprising a large part of our customer base.”

ONE: Unstoppable Dreams
When? 18 May, 7pm to 11pm
$28 onwards per ticket (Ticket information here)
Singapore Indoor Stadium, Singapore Sports Hub, 2 Stadium Walk, Singapore 397691

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The Finger Players: The Political Nature of Art http://popspoken.com/arts/2018/05/the-finger-players-2 Wed, 16 May 2018 03:30:48 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=60882
Presenting The Finger Players' 2018 season, we interview Chong Tze Chien, Oliver Chong and Liu Xiaoyi on the political nature of art.

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With the shifting of power in international politics and underlying issues finally surfacing, it is no surprise that the 2018 season of theatre company The Finger Players is charged with challenging the status quo.

Citizen Dog is an absurd tale inspired by Chinese literary text Liaozhai zhiyi. It reflects real world problems within its surreal dreamscape – questioning desires and showing it in all its glory. Framed, By Adolf is a follow-up to Starring Hitler As Jekyll And Hyde – it dives into the truth about falsehoods, injustice and historical whitewashing through the possible sale of a painting done by Adolf Hitler himself.

Popspoken interviews the scriptwriters of both shows Chong Tze Chien, Oliver Chong and Liu Xiaoyi to pick their brains on the relationship between politics and art. And to find out why they decided to present these works back-to-back.


the finger players Citizen Dog 1

Popspoken: Does art influence politics, or does politics influence art?

Tze Chien: The relationship between the two (politics and art) can be best described as a marriage fraught with tension. Art is always in a constant dialogue with the politics of the day, while the latter is a reluctant but domineering respondent who dictates the terms. Politics is about maintaining the status quo; Art seeks to question it, and if necessary, destroy it. But it is in this clash between this odd couple that gives birth to the notion of truth, offering stories and lessons that resonate across time and history. Perhaps in this light, their symbiotic relationship is one that is necessary and inevitable. 

Oliver: ART – inspires – PEOPLE – steers – POLITICS – informs – ART –

PS: Is desire always a bad thing?

Oliver: Good or bad, we all have desires. Is our existence a bad thing?

Xiaoyi: It’s desire that drives our actions and our surviving. Perhaps, we are not complete without desire. On the other hand, it’s desire that brings us pain and fear. It forms the tragedies of our existence. Desire is neither a good thing nor a bad thing. Desire is a part of this world. It’s part of human being.

PS: Why Liaozhai/Hitler?

Tze Chien: I have always been fascinated with Hitler as a character and phenomenon. My interest got piqued further when I found out that he was a failed artist who publicly lamented that he would rather paint than to be a politician. When his power was secured, he commissioned artworks, museums and theatres, and ensured that there was endless stream of arts events, even when the allied forces had reached the borders. His goal was to turn Berlin and Germany into an artistic state, a beacon of the arts for the world. In his case, politics and art seem to make a Happy marriage. But on closer examination his idea of art was also closely linked to and informed by his politics and this is when art is defanged and rendered as propaganda. This collusion of art with politics spurred me to write the plays on Hitler and the holocaust.

Oliver: At different stages of my life, my interpretation of Liaozhai changes. From a good scare when I was a kid, to a critique on society in my teens, to an empathy for the human conditions and our primary afflictions that are greed, anger and ignorance now. I have been waiting for this chance to write an interpretation of it for the stage for years. It seems the time is ripe now as I have gathered enough age. This incredible collection of almost five hundred stories written more than three hundred years ago is still so relevant. I am so confident that it will remain relevant for three hundred years more that I wish I could write an update of my interpretation of it 10 years from now.

Xiaoyi: Just like any other cities, under a seemingly ordinary surface, Singapore is full of absurdity and nihility of human life. The main characters of Liaozhai are foxes, ghosts, immortals and demons, while the stories are focused on everyday life. This contradiction created great dramatic tension. Through borrowing this tension, we attempt to describe and explore the misery of life, and hopefully seek for the possibility of solutions.

Visual ArtistVisual Artist

PS: In today’s climate of political turmoil and uncertainty, what do you think art can do?

Tze Chien: “Framed” sheds light on the duplicity of art in today’s climate of fake news and convenient truths. In the play, a seller seeks to sell a Hitler painting and the story behind it to vindicate her Grandfather, a Jew who was tried as a nazi for owning this Hitler painting in the war tribunal. The story of the play unfolds as a psychological thriller to unravel the “truth” behind the painting (and the Grandfather’s real identity). 

There is a greater “truth” to be found in theatre because it presents multiple opposing views, rather than a skewed one. 

Art reveals more about ourselves and our realities today because it doesn’t pretend that the answers we need are simple and literal. 

Theatre is this very medium that questions the clashing “truths” between characters, and the audience is privy to a bigger picture that emerges from the contradictions and conflicts.

The sum of all these experiences lived vicariously through the characters on stage helps audiences arrive at a greater truth for themselves. 

Therein lies the value of art; it doesn’t prescribe; it speaks to your heart and mind to arrive at an answer that is complex and multifaceted, and you recognise it. 

Lies and fake news are self-serving and prescriptive. Art is the opposite of that. 

The world is complex; so are the answers to life, and art reflects that. 

“Framed” is built on that assumption.

Oliver: In the art mirror, we see our virtues and vices reflected back to us in their true shape: that is the art’s moral function. The art i believe in, does not propagate because artists are not politicians or activists. Art questions and inspires people to ruminate. We, the people, can then decide to steer politics towards more or less turmoil and uncertainty, for humanity to progress or regress, which in turn informs art. For me, humanity can only progress and the world becomes a better place when we can understand the importance of art. Through art we learn to appreciate the finer things in life, to have compassion, to realize that material is not our only or most important need. 


the finger players citizen dogthe finger players framed by Adolf

大狗民 Citizen Dog

Date: 8th – 10th June 2018

Venue: Victoria Theatre

Time: Friday & Saturday, 8pm / Saturday & Sunday, 3pm

Admission: From $35 (Concessions available. Get your tickets here.)

*Advisory 16 (Some Mature Content and Coarse Language) 

Framed, By Adolf

Date: 15th – 17th June 2018

Venue: Victoria Theatre

Time: Friday & Saturday, 8pm / Saturday & Sunday, 3pm

Admission: From $35 (Concessions available. Get your tickets here.)

*Advisory 16 (Mature Content and Some Coarse Language)

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Anticipation of One: Exploration of Multiple Selves http://popspoken.com/arts/2018/05/anticipation-one-exploration-multiple-selves Fri, 11 May 2018 08:44:03 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=60817
Anticipation of One - A visual and musical collaboration between SA x NADA x Brandon Tay for SIFA 2018.

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Enter the Play Den of Singapore International Festival of Arts 2018‘s Festival House and you will find yourself surrounded by the performers of Anticipation Of One. They have their eyes closed and their stillness of body encourages you to look around the space. The oblong space is transformed into a smaller and more intimate space, with all the seats gone. us as audience are to stand right in the middle of the space, body to body and bags on the floor. Atmospheric music plays and before long, media artist Brandon Tay‘s graphics come on screen to greet us. And the show begins.

Anticipation of One is an audiovisual performance that explores the converging of multiple selves. What happens when multiple pasts, presents and futures come together in the form of an artistic collaboration.

anticipation of one

It is slow to start. Each musician take their turn to share with us their exploration of sound with instruments they master. From SA the collective, you have Natalie Alexandra Tse on the guzheng, Chinese zither, Cheryl Ong on percussion and drums and Andy Chia on the dizi, Chinese flute. NADA‘s Safuan Johari on the sound console – manipulating sounds and keeping the rhythm going while Rizman Putra is the centrepiece of the room. Dressed and painted entirely in white, eyes closed and still, the moment his voice escapes his mouth surprises us all.

anticipation of one

Audience members start to seek rest on the floor as the music tries to build up gradually, as each musician take turns to occupy the space with their individual sounds. The repetition did not seem to help, and swaying to the music simply did not cut it after the second round of playing starts. However, as the modulations of all the various instruments come together, audience members naturally follow the beats with their bodies. Be it head banging, moving and shuffling of feet. The room starts to move. The atmosphere and excitement in the room starts to pick up as the musicians all come together to create something – together.

Tay’s graphics start to distort even more as well. Bodies and faces vibrating to the music, spinning on screens and eyes soullessly looking out at the rest of us standing in the room. The faces seem to model after the performers themselves – bearing facial similarities yet express themselves in ways of such separation and detachment. I am most fascinated by the visuals – how strange they all seem but somehow are able to connect with me. It is almost as if my heart and mind are able to understand this story – if there is one – though placing them into words is a struggle.

When the ending finally came, the experience feels too premature to finish. Perhaps the initial establishment of what’s going on took too long and the sense of gratification with being in a live performance did not come across as strongly as it could have. With all that is said, I applaud the use of this space to experiment and to share it with an audience. I look forward to more of such works – after all, if we only permit ‘success’ then how far can we really go?


1984 SIFA-2018

The Singapore International Festival of Arts 2018 will be happening from 26th April to 12th May 2018. Check out what else the festival has to offer here.

 

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The Dark Despair of OCD Love http://popspoken.com/arts/2018/05/dark-despair-ocd-love Tue, 08 May 2018 07:29:30 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=60808
Guest writer Patricia Tobin reviews OCD Love, a dance performance shown for Singapore International Festival of Arts 2018.

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By Patricia Tobin 

It begins with a tick. Then a tock. Faster than a working clock, more like a hyped up metronome. Or maybe more like the beat of a heart falling in love – fast, rushed, on adrenaline. OCD Love starts with a hushed, ticking percussion as Rebecca Hytting performs a solo dance of angular limbs and arched backs. She is singular yet uncertain, a fitting beginning for a piece that leans into the obsessive and compulsive.

Inspired by Neil Hilborn’s spoken word poem “OCD”, OCD Love bears a manic, repetitive behaviour. There is the mirroring of movements, though this often dissipates. For short periods, there are synchronised performances by the six-piece. Then, one member drifts away. And then, it repeats again, with some variation. The repetition at times, can be painful or slightly tedious, but the anxiety never fades. The five performers lead, toy, ignore and play with Hytting, exhibiting a quietly frenetic, feverish energy.

ocd love

Choreographer Sharon Eyal deliberately conveys a slightly unsettling horror in highlighting the dancers’ physicality. The ensemble, at times, moves awkwardly. Mario Kakizaki reaches for her ankles and walk backwards. Keren Lurie Pardes’ backward bends and flailing arms are deliberately ungraceful; there is a struggle in trying to communicate with her body. The group attempts to connect with each other. They point, shout and embrace, but they never quite succeed in forming a close bond.

Thierry Dreyfus’ lighting, too, draws attention to the physical. As the light hits the dancers’ bodies, every detail of muscle and skin is on display. When Darren Devaney’s and Shamel Pitts’ sweaty, heaving chests are puffed up, every crevice and curve of their torsos are presented under a stage light akin to the lighting of a specimen at a museum – almost artificial.  At one point, the ensemble cover their face with their hands as the light dims. Living may be easy with eyes closed, yet there lies a cold dread in the emerging darkness.

ocd love

Lastly, sound artist Ori Litchtik expertly presents a rich tapestry that boosts the themes of OCD Love. Litchtik’s score never pauses, taking the performers on a journey of still moments to intense rhythms. The ensemble dance to shrill strings, a reverbating cello and big brassy orchestral drums. Gon Biran moves to pulsating techno beats, an insistent rhythm that underlines the piece’s fervent, ritualised behaviour.

In OCD Love, Eyal’s choreography holds a muted nervous energy that takes refuge in dark spaces. It can be haunting, almost nightmarish. OCD Love relishes in this elaborate ritualisation that comes with a need to curb anxiety, though it often comes back stronger. The relief is only temporary.


1984 SIFA-2018

The Singapore International Festival of The Arts 2018 will be happening from 26th April to 12th May 2018. Check out what else the festival has to offer here.

 

Photography credits: Regina Brocke

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Music Production In Singapore: A Heart To Heart With Homeground Studios http://popspoken.com/music/2018/05/a-heart-to-heart-with-homeground-studios-music-production-in-singapore Mon, 07 May 2018 08:45:58 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=60590
"I intend to use Homeground Studios as a platform to bring the music production standard in Singapore comparable to UK, America, China and South Korea."

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“You don’t need to fly to some Scandinavian country to write an album”, said Singaporean artist MYRNE in a recent interview with Bandwagon.

A young duo behind a Singapore-born studio could attest to that.

Founded in 2016, Homeground Studios was conceptualised in Singapore, by Jason Gelchen, to provide a space for artists to feel comfortable as they push their own creative boundaries.

Their portfolio, within a year of its inception, already ranges from artists including Gentle Bones, Jasmine Sokko, The Boris Suit (from Jakarta) and Villes, to brands like LAZADA, Puma and Bridgestone.

In 2018, the studio welcomed composer MJ (short for Ming Jie) to the team.

Now a dynamic collaboration between the two, Homeground Studios is committed to achieving their clients’ aural vision with a thorough musical and technological knowledge of production and curation.

POPSPOKEN chats with the duo from Homeground Studios to talk about the inception of their home studio, why they chose to pursue music production and some music matters closest to their hearts.

POPSPOKEN: Introduce yourselves! Who is Homeground Studios, and when did you start producing music?

J: My name is Jason Gelchen and I’m the producer, recording and mixing engineer of Homeground Studios. I started producing music when I was 18, while I was pursuing my Diploma in Music & Audio Technology. The spark for production was lit after I listened to Swedish House Mafia and tried to emulate their music. That curiosity branched out into learning how to produce different music genres and even bands.

MJ: I am MJ, one-half and partner of Homeground Studios. I met Jason prior to the studio’s inception as a performing artiste in local rock quintet ‘VILLES’. At the same time, I enjoy film & TV music and have written and produced works for short films and advertisement campaigns since.

POPSPOKEN: How did the idea of a studio come about? Was it intentional or accidental?

J: Completely intentional! Before I created Homeground, I went through many stints under different music producers. I saw how music artists could have their tracks and careers at the mercy of any producer with sketchy work ethics or practices.

Instagram Photo

POPSPOKEN: You guys have worked with the likes of Myrne, Gentle Bones and Jasmine Sokko. How was working with each artist like?

J: Each artist has his or her own little quirks and different music tastes. Jasmine is more soft-spoken and open to different ideas whereas Gentle Bones & MYRNE know exactly what is the vocal sound they wants and need me to achieve it or build on it.

I got to challenge myself daily by tackling the different demands each of their tracks entails. For example, I felt that Jasmine tries to invoke feelings of melancholy with her music. Thus, I keep that in mind when writing vocal melodies and harmonies with her. Gentle Bones, on the other hand, would be looking for vocals with more of a Pop influence but blended in with RnB style rhythms. This would require more focus on the main vocals and less on harmonies in general.

POPSPOKEN: Are you guys doing this full-time or on the side? If it’s the latter, how do you balance this with work?

J: Homeground Studios is my full-time job now. I spent last year doing this under the radar, while enlisted, at home in whatever time I could spare at night. I think I barely slept more than 3 to 4 hours a night, even on weekends, and didn’t take any holidays.

MJ: I personally do dabble with on-set production affairs for film and corporate advertisements. It is always good to put your eggs in different baskets at the start and knock off that 18-20 hour hustle whilst you still can. Juggling and balancing work is not an issue.

Instagram Photo

POPSPOKEN: In your opinion, can anything be improved about the ability and accessibility of music production in Singapore?

J: I think in ability, with other producers like FlightSch and Evanturetime, Singapore is definitely at a level where I can proudly say that we do not lose out regionally in South-East Asia in music production.
I think accessibility is more of an issue. Unless you compose your own music as both a music producer and an artist, there aren’t many platforms covering those who work behind the scenes. It’s hard to find anything online on the people who produce or mix and master the Extended Plays (EPs) and Albums of our local acts and that needs to change.

MJ: Someone I look up to once told me, “Be a man of possibilities, not limitations”, and I am trying to adopt that unto everything I do. Take on the necessary research; always attempt to grow horizontally as well vertically. Learn the business framework for music and it’s economical climate here in Singapore as well as regionally, even internationally. Most consumers these days would like to make a one-stop destination for their needs so it is always good to consider services outside composition. This may include audio post, sound design etc.

POPSPOKEN: What advice would you give to budding music producers?

J: Being budding music producers ourselves, we feel your pain. My advice is to not be afraid to work for free initially to build your portfolio. But know your worth once you’ve done so. When I first started, I did a lot of cheap or free work to build my portfolio fast because I had none. But once I felt I had enough under my belt, I started charging higher. You will lose clients at first when you do this, but the ones that remain truly value your craft and those are the ones to keep. Additionally, if you are putting out good work, more clients will come eventually. You just have to tough it out and be patient.

MJ: I think learning to trust your judgment as a music producer, telling your artistes and clientele what works and what is rubbish is definitely vital. At the end of the day money has been invested and you are entrusted with the capability to make assertive decisions. Acknowledge this privilege in collaboration with full transparency and open communication.

HomegroundStudios

POPSPOKEN: If you could choose one problem to solve in the music industry, what would it be? How would you go about solving it?

J: I definitely would want to solve the way artist earn their revenue, especially with the current issues on streaming.
With Spotify and Apple Music gaining more ground in our daily music consumption, streaming will be, and probably already is, the main way artist will make money from their tracks. However, with Spotify paying $0.00437 per stream (Source: bit.ly/KIB_stream), to earn minimum wage in SG, an artist would need 336,842 plays per track. That’s insane!

The solution, in my opinion, is that music artists need to realise that this streaming problem isn’t going to change. It’s better to spend time and resources into building your personal brand, as endorsements will be the new way to make ends meet, besides live shows. I see that the future of music artists is to become brands and to use their music as their brand-building tool. This might sound sad and foreboding, but unfortunately we have to adapt to the changes that comes with time and improvements to technology.

MJ: I don’t think I want to ask for too much here, but I think it would be a great start for everyone within the industry, regardless of craft, to discuss and communicate about projects in well-crafted emails, establishing every terms and conditions before commencement. It’s always good to hash things first instead of getting awkward halfway through the production phase. You would be surprised the encounters we’d been through thus far.

POPSPOKEN: How do you want “Homeground Studios” to impact Singapore’s music industry?

J: I intend to use Homeground Studios as a platform to bring the music production standard in Singapore beyond regional and to an international level, comparable to the standard of the United Kingdoms, America, China and South Korea. Whether that takes years or decades to be achieved, I’m always up for a challenge.

MJ: I intend to position Homeground Studios at the forefront of modern film & TV music. There is a lot to learn from the infrastructures available in other countries, but we have very talented musicians and performing artistes who I believe are ready to take on the spotlight, creating our very own Singaporean movement.

Homeground Studios is a home studio located at 9 Happy Avenue Central, Singapore 369962. Visit www.homegroundstudios.com for more details!

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Temporal: A Subtle Rebellion Of Music And Lights http://popspoken.com/arts/2018/05/temporal Mon, 07 May 2018 07:41:04 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=60734
Intriguant and Flex come together to create a space for freedom within the confines of The Chamber within The Arts House.

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Singapore International Festival of Arts transformed The Arts House into its anchoring Festival House. Making use of its various rooms to create different experiential worlds, it invites audience members back every night to connect, discover and relax among art. Temporal by Intriguant and Flex is one such performance held at the Festival House.

Held on 4th May at 8pm and 10pm, Temporal is a manifestation of time – the collision of past, present and future within the confines of The Chamber. It showcases original music by the musicians coupled with Flex’s lighting design to create an immersive audiovisual showcase. For an hour, you will experience pulsing lights glowing in sync with the atmospheric beats Intriguant performs and you might even find yourself grooving along.

temporal

As a performance, it is a simple installation of music and lights coming together. Relaxing and a slow gradual build in modulations, the music is perfect for winding down after a long day in the office while still encouraging you to dance along – let go of your inhibitions and let your body do the talking. The lights are fascinating at first. They remind me of glow sticks due to their fluorescent colours and they effectively light up the space. Coupled with theatrical fog, the once Parliamentary Chamber is transformed into a club.

temporal

After a while though, the lights became tiring on the eyes and I could not really identify if the lights are reacting to the music. The design feels slightly generic past the second half and it was not apparent if the lights are to play a role as an installation or just an accompaniment to the music. It makes me curious as to what concept is applied to the lights and what experience it was trying to give to the audience.

temporal

Besides the main elements of the show, being atmospheric in nature, the audience members are as much a part of the performance as any other element. Whether it is loud chatter or using of cellphones or dancing, everything either adds or detracts from the performative experience. I guess it is simply the risk you have to take, especially when performing in a space as intimate and limited as The Chamber.

But I must say that the choice of space made a big difference, and is almost a bonus to the performance. Can you imagine having a club-like scene being held at The Chamber – with seats and name plates of ministers and all the history that comes with it? It is like a rebellion of sorts. To have this freedom to experience local music and design in a space of historical significance, it is incredible and maybe this may go to show how much we have moved forward as a country to reclaim the right to create and to share the stories we want to talk about – one show at a time.


1984 SIFA-2018

The Singapore International Festival of The Arts 2018 will be happening from 26th April to 12th May 2018. Check out what else the festival has to offer here.

 

 

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Irina Kolesnikova & Konstantin Tachkin on the “Perfect Package” of Swan Lake http://popspoken.com/arts/2018/05/swan-lake-interview Sat, 05 May 2018 06:20:16 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=60691
The story of a Russian theatre impresario and a prima ballerina.

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At 7am, her body is poised for the first round of stretching. After a full half an hour, she treats herself to a light snack, then back to a series of rigorous training until after midnight.

Training may begin early in the morning for many dancers, but if you are Irina Kolesnikova, the prima ballerina of the St. Petersburg Ballet Theatre, it never really ends. Married to the theatre’s founder and impresario, Konstantin Tachkin, the Russian couple has a four-year-old daughter who is also training to follow in her mother’s pointe steps. From 8 to 13 May, Kolesnikova will grace the stage of The Theatre at MediaCorp to showcase the acclaimed classic Swan Lake.

Odette & Prince with Swans v1 lrg edited

Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake is distinctly unlike the film Black Swan, a thriller adaption with Natalie Portman sprouting feathered wings at the end of a supercharged pirouette. The performance harks back to the original German fairy-tale, showcasing unrivalled “white acts” denoting young Prince Siegfried’s relationship with the Swan Queen Odette, tracing their trials and tribulations to their heart-warming reunion. With its spectacular and dramatic ballroom scene, sublime music and deeply moving story, it remains a ballet that towers over the rest.

We speak to the duo to find out more about the art of ballet, history of the company and culture, and their impression of Black Swan.

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Hello Tachkin and Kolesnikova! Tachkin, what were some of the driving forces behind the founding of St. Petersburg Ballet Theatre?

KT: From a purely business point of view, the market is driven by demand. At the same time that I first became aware of the ballet art, I also became aware of the demand for tickets which was made quite clear to me in my capacity as a manager for a tourist company that hosted tourists to St Petersburg.

Arriving guests to our famous city would first ask, “Where can I get tickets to see the Russian Ballet?” So first, I was driven by the business side of the enterprise, then I realised that I actually loved the art form. I enjoyed the music, admired the scenery and costumes, and I was in awe of the talent and dedication of the dancers. It was a perfect combination: a desire to own my own business and a love for what I was doing.

Given your background in Russia’s elite special forces, are there any aspects of ballet that are as intensive that audiences might not be familiar with? What do people not know about the world of ballet?

KT: Ballet looks so easy—that was my first impression. But then I realised that a soldier and a dancer have one major thing in common: Discipline. The ballet art is one of discipline, not just on stage but off stage as well. I remember my life as a soldier. I was never “off duty” [and] it’s the same with dancers. Yes, there are performances several times a week, but the profession is an everyday profession. Dancers are always “on duty”—diet, training, physical fitness, never a moment of weakness.

How far has the art scene in Russia changed since two decades ago?

KT: In one way, not much change; in another way, great change. Our Russian government still subsidises major companies, such as ballet, drama, opera and the likes. But it has also allowed the growth of private enterprises. Some have damaged the image and prestige of Russian art, others have survived to increase the demand and love of the arts. I consider my St. Petersburg Ballet Theatre to be a company that provides a great stimulus to the growth of the love for Russian ballet. [We] insist on quality before profit as we receive not one cent of subsidy, yet we survive and add to the rich tradition of the Russian ballet art.

Kolesnikova, how long have you been dancing and when did you start?

IK: I started formal ballet training at the age of 8. Prior to that, I was a figure skater and then a Rhythmic Gymnast. My dance training was a really serious step, not as a hobby, but a deliberate decision to dedicate my young life to the art of ballet.

A typical day in a prima ballerina’s life will look like…

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IK: Oooh…I love to sleep in. But class (training class) is usually at 10.30am. So, I get up early at around 7am, spend 30 minutes stretching my legs, back neck and arms. [I have] a cup of tea, maybe some porridge then off to class. After class, I probably have some rehearsals, by mid-afternoon it is time for my “big” meal of healthy food: fish, salad, maybe some berries. Then off to the theatre for a warm up, makeup, costume, and performance. After a show, I like to take it slowly. Maybe a light meal and then to bed by 1am.

Of course, at the same time, I must fit in my duties as a mother. My daughter is four years old. She is an angel and never demanding, but still, I always make sure that I have time for her. SHE is the most important thing in my life.

What are your favourite steps/moves to perform?

IK: 32 fouettes, and I’m really good at them. My fouettes are a major part of my Swan Lake performance.

Which of your performances has left a lasting mark on you?

IK: [It was] 2014 in Istanbul, I returned to the stage after the birth of my daughter. It was a milestone in my life. I was a ballerina again and a mother too. It was a personal and momentous moment in my life.

Are there any drastic changes to family routines?

IK: Every mother knows that once you have a child, life as you knew it has changed forever. My routine as a dancer has not changed. I just have two routines, going at one as a dancer, one as a mother. I make it work with the help of my husband.

What do you wish you’d known before you started dancing?

IK: I had no idea how demanding my career would be, the denial and the physical pain. But I’d not change a thing.

Did you both see Black Swan? Was ballet portrayed correctly in Black Swan?

No, the movie was absolute rubbish. Nothing like the real life of a ballerina. We laughed all the way through and all the way home.

What is it about Swan Lake that makes it a classic?

KT: It’s the perfect package. Choreography that lasts for almost 120; an unmatched musical score by the master, Pyotr Tchaikovsky; the opportunity to see a beautiful story danced by lead dancers who actually get to act and show emotions through the dance; and a “wrapping” of beautiful scenery and glorious costumes. Honestly, what more could you wish for?

The St Petersburg Ballet Theatre: Swan Lake
When? 8 to 13 May, 7.30pm (Thurs, Fri, Sat); 2pm (Sat); 1pm (Sun)
$75 onwards per ticket (Ticket information here)
The MES Theatre at MediaCorp, 1 Stars Avenue, Singapore 138507

We have 1 pair of tickets for our readers to experience The St Petersburg Ballet Theatre’s Swan Lake for themselves. Interested? Head on over to our Facebook to join the giveaway!

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This article Irina Kolesnikova & Konstantin Tachkin on the “Perfect Package” of Swan Lake appeared first on Popspoken.

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1984: Detached and Untouchable View of The Now http://popspoken.com/arts/2018/05/1984 Thu, 03 May 2018 04:48:17 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=60648
Opening the Singapore International Festival of The Arts, 1984 took the Esplanade Theatre all through last weekend. Here's our review of the production.

This article 1984: Detached and Untouchable View of The Now appeared first on Popspoken.

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This is 1984 and Big Brother is watching, but is he really if you don’t even know who it is? Or is who even the right question to ask?

1984 by George Orwell, a new adaptation created by Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan, is the opening theatre show of this year’s Singapore International Festival of Arts under newly minted Festival Director Gaurav Kripalani. Held at the Esplanade Theatre, this is the Southeast Asian premiere of the production.

Helmed as a literary masterpiece, this stage production brings to live the terrifying future Orwell foresaw – manipulation, extreme surveillance and the changing of culture through restrictions and censorship. The audience is invited to experience this world together with Comrade 6079, Winston Smith (Tom Conroy) as he thinks a thought, writes a diary, falls in love and fights to be part of a revolution.

As a book itself, 1984 is already a powerful piece of work. With mere words, Orwell takes us into this dystopian (or shall I say modern) world and leaves everything else to the readers’ imagination. To bring this on to the stage, would other elements of the production be able to bring out other nuances and convince us that this stage production is worth its weight in gold?

1984_8_credit Andi Crown

In this production, I am most captured by the use of visual elements to inform the audience of this world. The set by Chloe Lamford takes us back to a place of history – something familiar yet untouchable. The wooden shelves and walls with its hidden doors unveil to us as the play progresses. For a moment, the room seems to suggest a study or library of sorts only to be transformed into a strain station with the simple use of smoke. Deceivingly simple, the set frames the production into a box-like structure before the walls peel off its facade to reveal what exactly is hidden within its core.

Almost like a visual interpretation – a dissection – of the text’s themes all by itself.

However, perhaps due to its strobe lighting placed on all four sides of the stage, I feel detached from the production. Whenever the light flashes, I am reminded of my being physically away and outside of the box or world created for me on stage. I am a viewer of its horrendous acts of cruelty and manipulation, yet unmoved by what is happening. It makes me feel uncertain and I wonder if that is the intended effect of this particular choice in lights and staging.

1984_2_credit Andi Crown

Among the arresting visuals and the clever choreography of movements, the acting by the cast took a backseat in the grand scheme of things. The pacing for the first couple of scenes, especially with the repetitions, caused the rhythm to slow down without sufficient emotional or tension build up. That eventually served a weak foundation to keep building upon its terror and desperation for freedom. So the ending felt almost forced and abrupt.

I could not connect with the characters and it feels almost like I am watching a slice of history, with nothing at stake. Which is unfortunate, considering the political climate, Big Data and the use of surveillance today.

1984 is as relevant as ever in this day and age to be discussed and thought about. Especially with the world of Black Mirror slowly becoming a reality for various parts of the world, I appreciate the work for highlighting the themes we should start to pay more mind to. However, is there an additional value in bringing the text to life on stage? That, I am still not sure.


1984 SIFA-2018

The Singapore International Festival of The Arts 2018 will be happening from 26th April to 12th May 2018. Check out what else the festival has to offer here.

 

Photography credits: Andi Crown

This production of 1984 is a Headlong, Nottingham playhouse and Almeida Theatre production, presented by Singapore International Festival of Arts, and GWB Entertainment in association with State Theatre Company of South Australia. 

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This article 1984: Detached and Untouchable View of The Now appeared first on Popspoken.

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33 Singapore Drag Queens Taking The Country By Storm http://popspoken.com/lgbtq/2018/05/singapore-drag-queens Wed, 02 May 2018 05:29:44 +0000 https://medium.com/p/add6d6bb9735
Singapore drag queens are taking the country by storm and they are ready to slay.

This article 33 Singapore Drag Queens Taking The Country By Storm appeared first on Popspoken.

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Drag queens have been around for decades, from the Stonewall riots to RuPaul’s Drag Race, being the front and centre of the march for LGBTQ+ equality in the world. (The first signs of female impersonation went back some two centuries ago.)

Ever since the art has exploded onto the television screen and social videos due to the birth of reality TV competition RuPaul’s Drag Race, a legion of drag queens have since spawned and taken over the world.

In Singapore, a country still grappling with LGBTQ+ rights, a band of fearless, talented Singapore drag queens have debuted — showing what it means to live life with pride, confidence and colour.

Here are 33(!!!) Singapore drag queens that are on our radar for being the changemakers of our time:

[This post has been edited with comment: See the addendum at the bottom of the article]


Before you begin scrolling, here’s a brief message from us at Prout. For updates every Monday and Thursday on LGBTQ+ news and events in Asia, join our Telegram group while keeping your profile private and discreet. Join us at t.me/proutapp.

Get fortnightly updates on Prout, an upcoming meetup and support platform to help LGBTQs find their tribe and receive support: bit.ly/getprout

Visit Prout at proutapp.com.

Now, on with the show.


1: Vanda Miss Joaquim (@yourstrulyvandamissjoaquim)

2: Vyla Virus (@vylavirus)

3: Miss Chili (@misschilisg)

4: Mona Kee Kee (@monakeekeeonline)

5: Arya Dunn (@arya.dunn)

Instagram Photo

6: Kemora Kucinta (@kemorakucinta)

7: Salome Blaque (@salomeblaque)

8: Farrah Shamrock (@farrahshamrock)

9: Mika Vogue (@mika_vogue)

10: Becca D’Bus (@beccadbus)

11: Eva Le Queen (@eva_lequeen)

12: Yeastmonster (@yeastmonster)

13: Ms Fanservia (@msfanservia)

14: Miss Dahlia Rose (@missdahliarose)

15: Lily Elle (@fuzzley)

16: Anna Stacia (@officialannastacia)

17: Gina Gemini (@ginageminisg)

Instagram Photo

18: Noris (@noristar_narcisso)

19: Layla On Fire (@laylaonfireofficial)

20: Xanado Phlox (@xanadophlox)

21: Russell Fierce (@russellfierce)

Instagram Photo

22: Rhea Borne Eve (@rheaborneeve)

23: Ms Carla Dee (@mscarladee)

24: Tiara Sorrel (@tiarasorrel)

25: Eriana Conda (@eriana_conda)

26: Eliza Imanelly (@elizaimanelly)

27: Eyvabella Donna (@evyabelladonna)

28: Tanuki Starz (@tanuki_starz)

Instagram Photo

29: Ms Shazam (@msshazam)

30: DeEnormouS (@iamdeenormous)

31: Rima Supple S (@rima_s)

32: Sammi Zhen (@iamsammizhen)

33: Jaye Toh (@jaye_toh)


Addendum:

We are heartened at the strong reception to this article from the community of Singapore drag queens. Changemakers is a column on Prout’s Medium page where we take a look at LGBTQ+ people around Asia that are changing the face of queer culture today.

We originally intended this piece to feature some of the newer queens, but thought it would be good to place some of the veterans who have been a key part of the community. Some of these other key figures which we are happy to include in this list are:

Kumar
Amy Tashiana
Salmonella
Fariz Spears
Lisa Dolmat
Jeffrey Jayjay
Helda
Elnina
Sherry
Jada Jade Rodriguez

We thank those who have noted the omissions and would like to reiterate that the list is not exhaustive.

P.S. One of the defining moments in drag culture in Singapore came with the existence of Boom Boom Room in Bugis Village — check out this video for more:


Changemakers: 33 Drag Queens That Are Taking Singapore By Storm was originally published in @proutapp on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

This article 33 Singapore Drag Queens Taking The Country By Storm appeared first on Popspoken.

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Dragonflies: Xenophobia a Result of Fear, Apathy and Survival http://popspoken.com/arts/2018/04/dragonflies Mon, 30 Apr 2018 05:34:37 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=60638
With Stephanie Street's Dragonflies showing again, we interview actresses Fanny Kee, Elizabeth Morse and Shona Benson to find out what the show means to them.

This article Dragonflies: Xenophobia a Result of Fear, Apathy and Survival appeared first on Popspoken.

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Commissioned and first staged by Singapore International Festival of The Arts 2017, Dragonflies by playwright Stephanie Street is back as part of Pangdemonium‘s 2018 season. Talking about Brexit to the politics of Donald Trump, the play is about protecting family amongst a changing environment of conflict and crisis.

The audience will take a glimpse into the world through the eyes of Leslie Chen. With politics and climate change spurring the world he knows into ruin, he flees England and moves back to his birthplace, Singapore. The sudden change forces him to confront what home actually means – geographically, culture and family.

Popspoken shares an interview with actresses Fanny Kee, Elizabeth Morse and Shona Benson to find out more about the show, and what Dragonflies mean to them.


dragonflies DF_GROUP4681

Popspoken: Describe what you understand of “home”.

Fanny Kee: Home should be a sanctuary. A place of peace where one can escape from the stresses of life.  For me it is not dependant on having family around you.

Elizabeth Morse: People. I come from a relatively large family, and we moved around quite a bit growing up. I am what some may call a third culture kid. Mom is from Hong Kong and Dad is from Vermont in the US, and we were raised around South East Asia. So, it’s not that certain places, or houses, or countries don’t hold hold a special meaning, but I always feel truly at home whenever surrounded by my husband, family and friends.

Shona Benson: Home is where my family is, it’s never been anything to do with bricks and mortar.

PS: What does Dragonflies personally mean to you?

FK: Strength yet fragility.  It is a thing of beauty.

EM: An opportunity to work on an original play with a theatre company that I have great respect for. Dragonflies is especially dear to me because it marks my first theatre job offer since graduating with my Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Arts 4 years ago. I am so honored and grateful to team up with some of Singapore’s finest to bring back to the stage this grippingly beautiful story.

SB: Dragonflies is a scary look at a possible future, playing to many of our worst fears and nightmares. I love the symbolism with the insect too, a tiny creature that seems so fragile yet is so strong, clever and resilient.

Dragonflies_SIFA_0037

PS: Share with us your ideal version of the future.

FK: A world where compassion is priority to the world leaders, and not just economics.  Where differences are embraced and used to enriched.

EM: I would love to see strong families. Marriage and Family are the building blocks of any community and society, and if as a human race, we can find out how to fight against all that threatens Marriage and Family, I think there will naturally be a positive effect on communities, governments, nations and eventually, the world.

SB: A belief that being different is good and kindness is the norm.

PS: Why do you think some people are xenophobic?

FK: Survival.  A primal instinct to preserve what we have .  Change is scary and stressful. We fear the unknown.  And we tend to be economical in our energy expansion….like finding the most direct route to a place, so it is easier perhaps to just reject what would take time and energy to know.  And with diminished resources, I fear xenophobia will increase.

EM: I think fear of the unknown plays a huge part in xenophobia. And for those of us who do not experience xenophobia, I think it’s important to gently come alongside those who do, and help them focus more on what they appreciate and respect, rather than what they fear and don’t understand.

SB: Lack of empathy and no desire to understand other cultures; a fear of an unknown.

Dragonflies_SIFA0013

PS: Climate change is rapidly destroying the earth, and you have only two items to spend the rest of your life until the planet wipes out. What would you pick?

FK: If the world is to end, whatever I take will not matter much.  

EM: My husband, of course! No, he’s not an item – haha – and we’d be escaping together anyways. So I guess my two items would be my Bible (I’ve had one for as long as I can remember), and my Klean Kanteen water bottle.

SB: I wouldn’t ever want to escape, I couldn’t leave my family behind.

PS: Do you believe humankind can move to Mars if Earth doesn’t work out?

EM: I personally have no interest to live on Mars. Earth is my home (loosely using the “term” from question one), and there’s much to be done here. But I suppose, for the right people, it could be possible?

FK: No.  We can barely keep our planet whole and safe, I doubt we’ll get our act together to reach that far.

SB: No, the process of evolution means we are made for Earth. Something might be able to live on Mars but I can’t believe it will be human, or ‘live’ in any sense of the word.


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Dragonflies by Stephanie Street 

Date: 18th May – 3rd June 2018

Venue: Victoria Theatre

Time: Tuesday – Saturday, 8pm / Saturday & Sunday, 3pm / Sunday, 3rd June, 8pm

Admission: From $30 (Concessions available. Get your tickets here.)

 

Photography credits: Crispian Chan

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This article Dragonflies: Xenophobia a Result of Fear, Apathy and Survival appeared first on Popspoken.

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