Baybeats Special: Up close and personal with Sub:shaman

Presenting Part Dos of our Baybeats Special !

Rojak takes the form of the genre-bending quintet, sub:shaman. Why rojak you may ask? To put it simply the members of this experimental band all have different musical influences and backgrounds, however they come together to develop a completely unique and distinguished sound. (Indeed mouthwatering goodness in a sound and we’re sure you’ll be infatuated with it too.)

Made up of members who are no strangers to the local music scene – we have Wei Shan of Muon, .gif and her one woman power act Weish. IsaO of Pleasantry, Sleep Easy and Amateur Takes Control, Syahadi of Windtree and Paris in the Making and to complete the band they have Hanis and IsaF on the bass and sound artist respectively. We got the privilege to catch up with them as they give us the knitty gritty details of the band, their experience working with Steve Lillywhite (OMG!) and more!

Hi guys! Firstly, how did the band form?

Hanis, the Isas and Weish met in university, and came together for a one-off gig a friend was organizing. We started jamming and enjoyed it too much to let it go, so we stuck with it. IsaO then brought in Syadie (who he has known for almost a decade) to play drums. We haven’t looked back since.

What made y’all try out for this year’s Baybeats Festival?

It was kinda on a whim. We’d been jamming and writing for quite a while, and started accumulating lots of material. At around the same time, we began to see Baybeats’ calls for submissions floating around online, so we just decided to do it. We weren’t sure we were ready, but thought we should just go for it, knowing that we had a lot to gain from not just the stage but also the mentorship.

What are your thoughts on playing Baybeats Festival? 

Having attended Baybeats every year for many years, we’re all really stoked to be part of the lineup this time alongside many of our local heroes and favorite bands from around the region. It’s going to be very different for us, playing to a diverse (and much bigger) crowd outside of the usual circuit of gig-goers, and we’re very excited to see what people think.

Like any other band that has been working hard to successfully break into the local music scene, what obstacles did y’all face during the earlier months/years? 

Well, we haven’t been around for that long, and we’re still not really sure if we can be considered to have “broken into the scene” either… In the first half a year or so, though, we weren’t really concerned with much else other than just writing and jamming together, playing the odd show here and there when they came along. It took us quite awhile to be happy with our own songs, and Syadie’s rhythmic madness blew a lot of our older material out of the water so we spent a fair amount of time just rewriting and restructuring things. Since we’ve “come out”, though, we’ve been very surprised and pleased at the progress we’ve made so far!

Which are your band’s greatest music influences? 

As always, it’s been mixture of what each of us listens to – from hip-hop to jazz to electronic stuff. Perhaps most prominently featured in our current sound, though, would probably be bands like The Mars Volta, The Omar Rodriguez Lopez Group, Zechs Marquise, and the occasional dash of Japanese math-rock in from time to time…

Where do you get inspiration to compose your songs? 

Dream states and real-world experiences inspire a lot of the stories behind our songs. We’ve always liked to think of ourselves as sound-makers more than anything else. In that sense, vibe is important to us because we always aim to express and convey through the sounds we make, just as much as the words we use.

If there were one phrase that could define the band, what would it be?

To be honest, we don’t think we’ve been fully able to define ourselves as a band. We’re still treading water, and seeing how deep we can go. So it is difficult for us to say what we are exactly. We do, however, revel in the process of things (making music, etc.) and being in that state of flux. We’ll make up the identity bit as we go along.

 If your musical sound were a scent/ flavor, what would it be?

This is an interesting question. We’ve always said we love the dark, groovy sounds like that smooth velvety dark chocolate you nibble absent-mindedly away in the middle of the night but with a healthy dose of vehemence and fire added to the mix. Plus, Weish is quite the chili padi too. So perhaps, a ChiliFlavored Dark Chocolate would best describe our sound.

Describe the band’s music making process.

Whatsapp has become a great tool for our music making process. Late night sharing of ideas via audio notes in the group chat would usually start the songwriting process. This leads to a throw down in the jamming studio to see where these ideas take us. The ideas constantly change and get restructured; depending on a particular band or group we’d been listening to or the general vibe we’re feeling at the time of writing the songs.

What was your experience working with Steve Lillywhite and describe what you guys as a band have learnt from the experience? 

It’s an honor to be selected by Singapore Music Society (SGMUSO) to work with Steve. The opportunity for a young band from Singapore to work with a 5-time Grammy-winning producer is the stuff of daydreams and fantasies. But there he was mixing our song on the fly in the beautiful Yellowbox Studiocontrol room; it was quite a surreal experience. Steve was really encouraging, and he advised us to continue pushing the envelope musically while still retaining pop sensibilities like catchy hooks or riffs that would stick in the mind of listeners. We were really encouraged by that and it continues to be a highlight in the band’s journey so far.

Fancy a little somethin’ somethin’ to get you hyped for their set? Well click on.. you know you want to. Also, here’s a link to our Syndicate Subsessions article featuring Weish and Pleasantry! (Click me.)

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Saturday, 29th. 6pm. Outdoor Theatre. Be there or be square.

Images c/o Google Images.


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