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.
Popspoken: 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.
Popspoken: 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.
Popspoken: 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