Ambient Rock Band Plate Believes Music is a Team Effort

Plate is a five-piece band that plans to bring their take on ambient rock to the Baybeats Stage this weekend. Interestingly enough, the band was initially formed out of a need for a live show set-up that underwent multiple revisions until it settled with these five musicians. Now, they have new songs in the works and work together creatively to jam and perform.

Having gone for workshops through the Baybeats platform, there were a few that really stuck with them. “I really enjoyed the tour planning workshop with Iman’s League. I think it is very relevant to what a lot of bands aspire to do and they were informative as well as honest with their experience. Very genuine. I really appreciated that,” keyboardist Joel shared before he disappeared for a while with an urgent need for the washroom. Multi-hyphenated (vocals, guitar, bass, keys, cello) musician Zhong Ren said, “I feel like I took a bit of everything, from production to tour planning to live sound, among others.”

Guitarist and vocalist Zheng Ping elaborated, “I particularly enjoyed the live sound workshop. It was sort of a reality check in a way, and humbling, whereby we recognise that when we play live, the sound guys are very important people. They make us sound good. It gives me a newfound respect for people working behind-the-scenes and most audiences may not realise that it is not just the band who’s making this performance sound and look good. It is a team effort.”

Addressing the music industry as a whole, drummer Gabriel found the Baybeats programme holistic and helpful. It was beyond making music, touching on aspects such as selling and promoting music as well. Besides picking up tips and techniques, they found industry friends as well. Bassist Sebastian told us, “We met likeminded musicians across different genres and we can all hang out to chill. It’s nice to have this sense of belonging to a local music community. We even spoke about how we can organise some shows in the future together and it would help to push local music further.”

Chill and laid-back, the band answered some other questions Popspoken had ahead of their set on their curious band name and the preparation they have done for the stage.

Popspoken: Why the name Plate?

Zhong Ren: It’s a musical term, which is a type of reverb. Given that our music has an ambient or atmospheric quality to it, I thought it would be fitting. It’s also simple enough to catch on.

Popspoken: What does ‘music’ as a form of expression and art mean to you?

Zhong Ren: Music to me is a language, a form of communication. What’s very interesting about it is that it doesn’t have time for small talk or bullshit. It’s a lifetime condensed into a few minutes of song. You can express a whole spectrum of emotions or the vastness of infinity within in a few lines.

Zheng Ping: I feel that music is something very personal. It has the magical ability to understand, heal and complete a person without making any demands.

Gabriel: Music to me is a universal language, able to connect with people of different cultures and ethnicities.

Popspoken: Share with us one of your favourite memories as a band, that encourages you to keep at it.

Zhong Ren: Honestly, this whole Baybeats thing has given us a very good excuse to hang out nearly every week. In the past year before May, we really didn’t meet because there weren’t any gigs coming our way and I felt kinda defeated. But in the last couple of months it’s been really nice hanging out and having beers, a lot more than we ever had.

Zheng Ping: Downing beers as a band before shows and both Baybeats auditions.

Popspoken: What are some other skills besides musicality do you find important in making music here in Singapore? 

Zhong Ren: If one has ever tried to DIY a gig here, you know that you can’t do it without connections. You need people that you can learn from or that will help you with marketing, design, photography, etc..

Zheng Ping: Strong networking and marketing skills to push your music out to the masses.

Gabriel: It is important to adapt and be willing to learn new things to complement one’s skill set.

Joel: Punctuality and accountability. Half the battle is SHOWING UP, and showing up on time. A saying I’ve learnt from an older (very established) musician is “if you’re on time, you’re already late”. Other professionals have voiced similar sentiment through different means too.

Popspoken: Lastly, how are you preparing for your Baybeats set?

Zhong Ren: Besides making sure our set is tight, we’re bonding with one another, having fun, and finding ways to constantly promote our band, such as through this interview.

Zheng Ping: Personal/band practices and having fun in the process.

Gabriel: Practice, rinse and repeat.

Joel: Going to get physically in shape to put on a high energy show. The mental and physical facility/capacity to put on a show whose energy translates to the audience’s experience is highly underrated. And until you’ve had to play only three songs to an already dancing crowd that demands to continue dancing, you won’t realise how much effort goes into putting on a full-length concert.

Plate will be playing at this year’s Baybeats Festival that is happening from 23rd to 25th August 2019. They will be on for 25th August 2019, 7pm at the Arena (Esplanade Outdoor Theatre).

Photography credits: Darren ‘Merovign’ Tan

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