What better way to celebrate Singapore this August than to shower some of our local talents with love? Sift through our picks for gems to include in your rounds.
1 . Someone New by Hashy
Shedding her inhibitions was just part of the journey for Hashy; one that took her from acoustic renditions of Taylor Swift to, most recently, her very own single, “Someone New”. The Final One alumni has seen through some rough patches in her life, including a daunting prognosis of paralysis after sustaining major spinal injuries from a fall during a performance. Since then, Hashy has not only recovered from her fall but is also instilled with a newfound confidence for her craft. “I was always so worried about what people might think or I was always striving for perfection in my work, and ending up not putting it out because of my insecurities,” she shares, adding that the self-doubt and overthinking has cost her seven years of postponement when it came to her debut.
The long-anticipated release was a project birthed from a place of passion, made apparent by Hashy’s exuberance to tackle learning to lay down tracks and beats from scratch, on her own. “Someone New”, in her words, speaks about the entanglements of “being in a complicated relationship; but eventually learning to snap out of the push-and-pull because the game is no longer fun and worth the time”. The break-up tune comes packaged in a neat little bow that takes the form of chillwave indietronica; easy on the ears and therapeutic for the heartbroken soul. Pulling inspiration from her previous travels to the beloved beach clubs in Bali, the instrumental theme is reminiscent of elements from tropical beach house ambiences, topped with a little string-love from her husband-cum-guitarist Marc Than and bassist Alexander Wong.
RRILEY answers the call of self-love and empowerment once again, but this time she’s backed up by Jakarta-based Ramengvrl. Taking the ex-Sam Willow’s sophomore track “Mmm Bye” and injecting her own lethal shot of infectious swagger, Ramengvrl proved to be the perfect female-rapping counterpart to crown the empowering anthem. “I loved her feminine yet badass vibe and thought she really encompasses the “Mmm Bye” energy so I reached out to her about the feature, “ she agrees wholeheartedly, stating that working with Ramengvrl felt organic.
For RRILEY, making music that stood for independence and having the strength to be unapologetic stemmed from a place of experience. “Growing up, I always felt like I was different and never really fit in anywhere. I wished I had more female role models that I could relate with and look up to so I wouldn’t have felt like being different was a bad thing.” The track makes the perfect reminder for the empowered women, meshing the attitude of a pop banger and a promise to cut ties with the negativity in her life. “Mmm Bye” is set to join her upcoming EP titled “Alpha”; a six-tracker flag-off to a solo beginning for RRILEY.
“Where do I go to get further from myself”, questions Inch in the desolate slap of reality that is her new single, “Flags”. A convoluted, touchy subject reveals itself between the lines of snappy hooks and stripped composition, making its presence felt under her hauntingly beautiful vocals. The piece appropriately unsettles due to the nature of the issues at hand, edging it into the hazy category of political commentary that’s tastefully manipulated into a flowy melody.
Towards the end, rapper Shigga Shay hops on the waxing with a lyrical take of edgy liners, such as “You know they got the answers but they hiding, masking truth”. The track, however, isn’t just an interrogation of the system with no solutions—Inch has chosen to donate all proceeds from the single to HOME: Humanitarian Organization for Migrant Economics, in an effort to contribute to the migrant workers’ community during these precarious times.
Is the world truly ready for a new normal if the “old”, habitual normal was flawed in more ways than one?
4. Tonight by Gail Belmonte
Soul-pop songstress Gail Belmonte debuts with mellowed-out hip-hop number “Tonight”; a chronicling of optimism in the depths of bright-eyed infatuation across crisp beats. The sentiments of her introductory tune are delivered in a smooth, sensual vocal vessel, embodying nocturnal beauty and enchantment only found in the calm of the night. “Tonight” marks Gail’s first musical venture since The Final One, and it’s safe to say that she is kicking off to a good start.
5. 見習男友 by Marcus Lee
Bilingual artistes are a dime a dozen across the country—it is the effortlessness in said versatility that puts Marcus Lee a cut above the rest. The former Sing! China contestant frequently uploads acoustic covers of pop hits in both English and Mandarin, amassing a respectable fanbase that taps on the pulses of both genres. In “見習男友”, or “Pursuing Love”, Marcus offers a compelling proposition—a probationary shot at taking on the role of a boyfriend to a romantic interest. The single goes against the grain of conventional Mando-pop hits with elements inspired by K-pop music for a fresh, contemporary vibe, tied together with bright electric strings for flavour.
6. I Don’t Wanna Go by Perk Pietrek
Endorsed by EDM moguls such as Skrillex and Marshmello, Singaporean DJ/Producer Perk Pietrek is well on his way to the big leagues. Following up to “Hyper Beats PT.1” is act two of the exclusive beat pack, opened with the whirring sounds of “I DON’T WANNA GO”. The laid-back minute-long tasting forgoes gaudy arrangements and keeps it simple, almost in a microhouse-style. Elements of hip-hop beats accent the house track, packing a satisfying punch on a chill-hop 4/4.
7. ADHD by Jaye
Attention, Depression, Hit and Dip, is what Jaye’s latest single “ADHD” stands for. There is more to the quirky title than at first glance, as the alt-pop Avant-garde elucidates, “Attention can lead to depression, we likely fall to our vices to numb the pain and can only pray that one day we muster up the courage to dip out of that dire situation.” Jaye translates his visionaries into a hybrid of keyboard tinklings, bass and drum structures that set the stage for his message of keeping the focus on aspirations.
In Bandersnatch-esque fashion, the sonic trip is accompanied by a corresponding visual one; a choose-your-adventure music video that unfolds in four parts, consisting of varied ending depending on the path survived vicariously through Jaye’s mind. The decision seemed fairly obvious to him, “I have always felt like life was a game, so naturally I wanted to portray that.” Following the lead of his prior releases, merchandise proceeds from “ADHD” will be donated to a charity of Jaye’s choice—SPARK, a local non-profit parent support group for ADHD, as a childhood diagnosis fits him with understanding and empathy for kids who require adequate support from parents.
8. Please Don’t Leave by Andreah
“Dedicated to all those who have left”, Andreah captions beneath her newest release, “Please Don’t Leave”. The stripped-down track opens with simple, lightly plucked chords that frame a timely tribute to the lives who bore the brunt of the pandemic. Throughout, Andreah keeps genuine with overflowing emotions in time with steady strumming, alternating between tender vocals and orotund belting that emphasises on the dynamics of the heart-rending pop-ballad.
9. Every Minute by ZIONN
Multi-disciplinary producer ZIONN returns with an Electro-pop addition for the late-night drives playlist. Powered by glitzy synths, “Every Minute” is a showcase of what the HE1ST bassist does best—pop-inflected productions with all the charms of troubled youthful emotions. The downtempo banger has only been gaining ground since its July release, already gracing a variety of local and regional official Spotify playlists.
10. HEAVY by Estelle Fly
Estelle Fly has our backs for a dose of feel-good uplift with the drop of her third single under local music agency Zendyll. “HEAVY” flirts with the fine line between the coyness and the courage to desire for childlike infatuation. “My favourite parts of “HEAVY” are the elements that gave a very subtle nod towards the concept of time (e.g. the ticking sounds),” she shares. “It’s the incredibly subtle details like that that I immensely appreciate and I can only credit this to the writing team.” The blushing aural fantasy is aesthetically and thematically consistent, working with Estelle’s dainty tone around the shapes of kittenish verses and a remarkably catchy hook.
Breaking out of the stiff Japanese idol-mould that came with being with girl group Sea*A in 2013, Estelle hasn’t looked back in terms of creative freedom and individuality. Besides publishing original music on her platforms, she has found herself a particular connection to her fanbase on TikTok, where supporters can look to interact with and get to know the incredibly talented and adorable chanteuse.