Fresh artists and returning bands; there’s something new for everyone this month. Take a listen to our picks of the best local playlist refreshers.
1. You Are The Song by Chasing Daylight
A synth arp riff floods the sonic waves as we are reintroduced to Chasing Daylight in a fashion that could be described as the uplifted cousin of the recognisable theme in Netflix’s Stranger Things. “You Are The Song” marks the alt. Indie rock band’s beginning of a new chapter; an anthem of freedom from the heavy burden of expectations. To frontman Weichang, the song holds a vulnerable place in his heart. “Personally, it means a lot because I wrote it after a long two-year journey of recovery from my own struggle with performance anxiety.”
Shortly after the release of their self-titled debut EP, the band announced an indefinite hiatus. “I’m the overthinker in the band. For example, something we used to grapple with feeling like we didn’t “fit into” the local music scene.” Plagued by the afflictions of creative burn-out, Weichang had decided to set off for Japan on a journey of self-discovery and healing, while guitarist Hosea shifted his full attention to his job in the civil service sector. Two years on and the duo has reunited, following their reignited passion in what brought them together originally—music. Though the anxiety of being out of place still lurks in the shadows, growth has taught them to look past their worries and to focus on the songs and stories they had to share. “As a band now, I think we’re bolder and more adventurous with our sound and arrangements for this new release and subsequent ones.”
The members of Chasing Daylight may have found their ways back to the scene, but Hosea acknowledges the perils of going into music in Singapore. “It was definitely nerve-wracking to leave a career that is seen as so “stable”. But if I could be honest with you, this has been one of the most fulfilling things that I’ve done. With that in mind, this was still a calculated decision,” he confides in regards to quitting his day job to become a full-time musician. “My own advice would be: Ask yourself some hard questions, don’t rush it and take your time to grow,” Weichang offers his two cents to young artists who find themselves torn between the age-old dilemma of passion and security. “Some questions I found useful were: Do I love music or just the idea of doing music? Is my whole identity tied to my success as a “musician”? What is maybe another professional skill set I could develop alongside?”
The 80s-inspired “You Are The Song” is the first of these stories the band imparts with its listeners; a feel-good message encased in shiny retro nostalgia, achieved sonically with the careful selection of strings to go with its synthesizer counterpart. The band pulls inspiration from a number of revolutionary rock bands, such as The Band Camino, Smallpools and The 1975. Chasing Daylight is eager to be back after having left the scene for two years, revealing to Popspoken their plans to release yet another single before the year ends and an EP next year. “We’re also proud to have just released a side project called “Stories of Modern Anxiety” alongside the new single. It’s an intimate three-part interview series where we collaborate with our friends and partners from the Samaritans of Singapore, The Tapestry Project and the PleaseStay Movement.” The conversational series underscoring the issue of anxiety in Singapore can be found on their YouTube and Facebook.
If you’ve been searching for an electropop trip to outer space, look no further. Songwriter-producer PravOnTheLoose enlists the support of household local talent YAØ on “Searching”, a stylish telling of a soul-search. The duo’s ties date back to the days of secondary school, during which, as Prav fondly recalls in an Instagram post, had them exploring beats at tech retailer Challenger. They have certainly come a long way since their elementary endeavours into electronic production and has the polished single to attest for.
3. Keep My Distance by Tabitha Nauser
Possibly a double entendre-ic reference to the pandemic’s social ramifications, “Keep My Distance” is Tabitha Nauser’s first single of 2020. Setting itself apart from most of her repertoire of heavy production and finger snaps, “Keep My Distance” keeps it simple and stripped with digital keys and a Dua Lipa-esque message of putting yourself first in the aftermath of an unhealthy relationship.
MYRNE has had quite the year in 2019 and it does not appear he is planning to slow down anytime soon. The first Singaporean artist signed by Ultra Records has released yet another vibey EDM tune—“Splinter”, a flowing duet with Salem Ilese, most notable for her contribution to the TikTok community these past few weeks with the explosive audio “Mad At Disney”. The track is effective in transporting listeners to a time before the virus usurped our social lives and shuttered the clubs along the Quay. Phase Three could not come any sooner.
5. Loving Room by Aisyah Aziz
Exuding soulfulness and maturity is the multi-hyphenate Aisyah Aziz, whom you may recognise from the Dick Lee classic remake Fried Rice Paradise – The Drama Series, with her release “Loving Room”. Under the guidance of Korean production team OnePiece’s founder Yoon Sang, who takes on the role as a producer, the best of her unparalleled artistry and unique personality is funnelled into the jazz-influenced upbeat number. Vocal expertise aside, the quality of the track is evident in its production and sound.
Emerging indie producer DSML and award-winning acapella group The Apex Project’s Jean Seizure do the honours of producing the closing chapter of Zendyll Studios’ MAJULAH WEEKENDER, a five-part online video series pairing local producers and artists together for a collaborative original song centred around the theme of the Circuit Breaker. “Refund 2020” is almost self-explanatory on its own; an ingenious concept of drawing parallels between a year of back-to-back turmoils and the toxicity in a relationship. “The year starting out promising and ending up becoming a huge disappointment felt kinda familiar,” shares Jean on her thought process behind the inspiration.
It seems that the pair have had quite the experience with production. “I don’t know how many lemons we had, man. The song was completed way quicker than expected because we had very similar thoughts on how to go about creating this track,” she reveals. “In the end, the team had to find ways to keep us entertained for two days—like come up with an impromptu whacky music video.”
But when life offers lemons, this producer-singer duo fires back with a chill-hop pitcher of indie-electro goodness to douse the flames. “So why, won’t you tell me why we got a handful of empty spaces?” Jean muses against the M1LDL1FE bassist’s dark beats that lay the groundwork for the perfect apocalyptic setting.
The real question, however, is whether hitting the reset button on this year would be more beneficial than detrimental to society. “In an ideal world I’d like a restart in a scenic part of the world living the #vanlife, but if I’m bound by the current reality, I do welcome harsh truths—like the true irrelevance of some of our skills and how only the fittest survive.” DSML quips, injecting his brand of realism. “If you’re just gonna be/sound like everyone else, what are you living for? Find your niche and work it hard. Then again, don’t listen to me, listen to someone successful.”
7. What Fools Do by Sarsa Kailas
As far as debut tracks go, “What Fools Do” is an impressive introduction to the world of Sarsa Kailas. It’s made up of jazzy piano bits that tinkle cool against her controlled melodies and unravel the woes of dejected dreams. The track itself does a remarkable job in setting the mood; framed with the sounds of crashing waves that channel the despondency of confiding into the sea breeze late at night—it’s clear that the rising starlet pays attention to detail.
If soundwaves could paint pictures, Wovensound’s newest drop “Sickleberry Sunset” would be of the back of a convertible speeding down a barren highway daubed in hues of orange and red; a number on your playlist that will take you back to fond, carefree memories that serve as your own personal accompanying music video. Ihasamic, SHAK, Raina Sum & Andrew Marko carry the bars of this one—the final mix sees through a mesh of their personalities, yet retaining the consistency of its theme. “Sickleberry Sunset” sets the tone of Wovensound’s six-tracker, subsequently dropping next summer.
9. Song For The Underdog by Annette Lee
Actress-director, singer-songwriter Annette Lee may not seem it, but the universe had the odds stacked up against her when she was a child. “I was never the cool kid, definitely not a rich kid, my family was dysfunctional, I was constantly falling ill; the list goes on.” Today, Annette has directed critically-acclaimed films and put out two of her own EPs, finding herself writing “Song For The Underdog” as a testament to keeping her head up in a losing battle.
The fight song builds up like a workout playlist staple—dejected beginnings before a drum fill kicks in to signify the victorious turn of events on a pounding rhythm as Annette’s voice rings out clear with motivation, ending in a lethal shot of endorphin. As an EP, “Song For The Underdog” is a collection of encouragements, more so to herself, but also to anyone who finds themselves in unexpected pits of darkness. “I definitely find myself in moments where I lack motivation or get very self-critical, and in those times encouragement is important to me. These moments of encouragement often come either in direct words of support from friends or through stories and testimonies of others.”
Despite finding her footing in the world and realising her goals, Annette isn’t excused from the harsh uncertainties of the world. “I had to cancel a physical EP launch I had planned for right before Circuit Breaker, which was a real bummer. But throughout the Circuit Breaker, I am grateful that I managed to perform in a number of livestream shows, including Esplanade’s Baybeats and Mediacorp’s Home Together. Most of the shows I performed in were actually livestream charity concerts because as much as it was tough to be an artist in that period, I was blessed to still be having a full-time job. I wanted to do my best to give back in whatever way I could from home.”
10. Extinct by Dreebsby
Dreebsby dims the lights for the highly-anticipated debut EP “2AM” and the sultry “Extinct” is its bitter closure. Void of the typical Dreebsby lightheartedness, the shadowy number reveals an unfamiliar side of the usually-carefree musician through ominous basslines and a straight beat. “Extinct is pretty different from the stuff I usually put out and is a really personal track,” he states in an Instagram post announcing the final single. Best listened to on the dancefloor with a fractured heart and alcohol in your system; nothing good happens after 2AM.
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