In the lead-up to Baybeats 2015 happening 26 – 28 June, Popspoken will be featuring acts on this year’s lineup!
The local music scene has certainly picked up in the last year or two, with local bands now almost a
dime 10¢ a dozen. But in the midst of this budding industry, four-piece band stillsunrise sits comfortably in a class of their own.
Having released their debut EP “Colours in Black” back in March (and to a sold-out crowd at the Esplanade Theatre Studios, no less), the quartet is set to play at this year’s Baybeats Festival, a celebration of local music held over the weekend of 26- 28 June 2015.
With The Final 1 finalists Glen Wee and Yuresh Balakrishnan on vocals, Winston Koh on keyboards, and their secret weapon Johnson Cheung on the violin, stillsunrise delivers a smooth folk sound like no other. Anchored by two leading voices, the band’s originals show a consciousness of musical counterpoint through clever arrangement, especially on Johnson’s violin.
The EP also features lots of ambient noise like doors opening and footsteps, giving the compilation a cohesive brand in the header and footer tracks “Introduction” and “Outro“, while maintaining the idea of a casual jam session – almost like you’ve just accidentally walked in on the band having a songwriting sesh.
You can catch stillsunrise playing at Baybeats on Day 1, but here’s a quick interview we had with them over email:
Firstly, how did you guys meet?
Winston: Glen and Winston are family friends, they know each other pretty much by default since they were toddlers. Johnson is Glen’s neighbour. They used to play soccer when they were growing up. Yuresh and Glen were both from Temasek Poly. Acquaintances back then, to buddies: during the local singing competition (Channel 5’s) The Final One, and after.
Yuresh: We met through common interests but Glen was the glue that brought us together.
How did the name “stillsunrise” come about?
Glen: stillsunrise is derived from the idea of capturing still images that encapsulates our daily lives, and in our daily lives we all have shared one common experience, which is the sunrise we see everyday. Hence the name, stillsunrise.
Yuresh: We wanted a name that embodied our beliefs and stillsunrise is like capturing a moment, which is what we feel about our music.
Who are your personal musical influences, both local and abroad?
Yuresh: I don’t have too many main influences. The person who first got me into music was my mom as she used to sing to me everyday. As for artists. I listen to every thing from Percy Sledge to Matisyahu.
Johnson: As I play the violin, I’ve been introduced to a lot western art music from young, so that’s pretty much my foundation, but nowadays I listen to other stuff in my free time. Names like Keane, Bon Iver, Don McLean and The Beatles are some of my favourites, just to name a few.
Winston: A few artists I really enjoy listening to are John Mayer, Coldplay, Damien Rice, Norah Jones, The Beatles, Jason Mraz.
Glen: Well I would think I once drew a lot of influence from the old tracks my dad used to put on during road trips like The Beatles, Bee Gees, Robbie Williams and George Michael. But now I’ve gravitated towards people like Frank Ocean, John Mayer and Matt Corby , folk singers like Lisa Hannigan and Bon Iver are some of my favorites too.
If you could describe stillsunrise’s musical style to a new listener in one random word, what would it be?
Do you guys have a specific routine before playing a live performance?
Glen: I try to have a cup of warm coffee if I can because it really helps warm up my vocals – not recommended with milk though – black always works for me.
Johnson: I like to stretch, ‘cos I do get rather excited and nervous to play so stretching helps me calm down and keep everything flowing.
Winston: I try my best to CALM DOWN.
Yuresh: I try getting a little jog around. Get the blood flowing.
Supporting local music: What would you tell young Singaporeans about the SG music scene?
Glen: The scene is definitely growing towards a more refined stage of what Singapore music can conjure up after all the years of drawing influences from other cultures. But the world is slowly getting diluted, having so many cultures mixed together, it kind of allows local music to stand on par with the rest of the world despite its lack of a concrete definitive culture.
Yuresh: The only way music can thrive in Singapore is with local support. No one is too big or small for this country and if someone has something to express, they should let their heart sing.
Finally, what is one hawker dish you would miss the most if you were away from Singapore?
Glen: Definitely Sambal Stingray!
Johnson: Good old chicken rice from Serangoon Ave. 2! (We tried Googling this but got no results…)
Winston: Roti Prata
Yuresh: Chicken rice!
Catch stillsunrise at the Baybeats Festival on Day 1 – that’s Friday, 26th June 2015 – at 7:15PM and 9:15PM @ the Chillout Stage (Esplanade Concourse)!