新加坡 Singapore Shoegaze, Dream Pop, a quick guide.

新加坡 Singapore Shoegaze, Dream Pop, a quick guide.

Singapore can boast of one of the most notorious Shoegaze bands from the 90's with Astreal. An inspiration, well liked around the globe, the band fostered inspiration of a new generation of bands that have developed over the last few years: Stellarium, Subsonic Eye, Pleasantry, Cosmic Child, Sobs and The Pagans.

We invite you to discover them and explore their music further in this quick guide to the Singapore Shoegaze and Dream Pop scene.

A big thank you to Nigel Lopez, from the local record label Middle Class Cigars, for his feedback on some silly questions.

And of course a big thank you to Shoegaze Japan Facebook group, that shares love for asian bands. I discovered most bands featuring in the guide there.

 

A few words on Singapore from Wikipedia

Singapore is a sovereign city-state and island country in Southeast Asia. Singapore's territory consists of one main island along with 62 other islets

Singapore is a global commerce, finance and transport hub. Its standings include: the most "technology-ready" nation (WEF), top International-meetings city (UIA), city with "best investment potential" (BERI), third-most competitive country, third-largest foreign exchange market, third-largest financial centre, third-largest oil refining and trading centre and the second-busiest container port.

38% of Singapore's 5.6 million residents are permanent residents and other foreign nationals. There are four official languages: English (common and first language), MalayMandarin and Tamil.

 

ASTREAL

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Astreal are They are one of the founding members of Asian Shoegaze.

Their social media presentation tells us that Astreal was formed in Singapore in 1992 with influences ranging from Shoegaze/noise bands, ambient soundscapes to electronica and rock.

Closer to home music columnist for the Straits Times and radio DJ Paul Zach described the debut album as "something that would ignite a bidding war between record labels". ‘Stay Awake’ was also aired on the local station FM 98.7 the same year, receiving frequent rotation on the playlist.

The song ‘Stay Awake’ was aired on the legendary UK-based John Peel BBC radio show in 1996

In 2006, several reviews have named Fragments of the Same Dead Star the best local release and it received airplay on Lush 99.5FM and 987FM. Astreal was also nominated in the Music category of the Annual Street Style Awards in 2004 and 2006.

In December 2011 after a long rest, the band got together in a show of support for BEAT!'s 6th birthday celebrations at Home Club. BEAT! is Ginette Chittick's indie rock party night. They have since gone on to play +65 Indie Weekend III at the Esplanade.

As 2017 approached, Astreal released their 3rd studio album 10 years after Fragments of the Same Dead Star. The new album titled LIGHT, coincided with their appearance at the illustrious Laneway Festival Singapore where singer Ginette DJed at back in 2011.

Astreal's line-up is:

  • Ginette Chittick (vocals, bass)
  • Muhammad Alkhatib (guitars)
  • Jason Ang (synths)
  • Joseph Chian (drums)

Astreal music work is:

  • LIGHT, Album, released January 2017
  • Fragments of the Same Dead, 2006. The album is a collection of 11 songs which can be described as a spacey hybrid of indie/electronica.
  • Ouijablush, Album 1996 
  • Chlorine Explosion, demo, 1994
  • Dive Gemma, demo, 1993 

 

STELLARIUM

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"You can describe Shoegaze music as noise rock or neo-psychedelic rock," said Az Kadir, leader of Shoegaze band Stellarium."

One of the pioneers, with unfortunately only one album (but a great one).

They released the following:

  • Stellarium, Album, released in December 2009
  • Disco Ditto (solo project of Stellarium's guitar pplayer, was released in July 2011

 

 

SUBSONIC EYE

Subsonic Eye is an alternative pop band from the hazy and rainy Singapore. Their sound combines the soothing algorithms of a digital synth, catchy guitar and vocal lines. Along with wielding pop melodies with restraint and embraces passages that drone on instead of build, they make the audience feel wistful nostalgia towards the memories they never even had. 

Best characterized by the quote, ‘Happy music for sad people’, they hope to share their music with as much people as they can and push through the struggles of being a band in a small count.

They were created in in 2015 by Daniel Castro Borces and Nur Wahidah when they met in school and realised they shared a love for the same type of music. They started just writing songs for fun that sounded like the bands they listened to. They since have played for shows such as Subculture by Fred Perry, Singapore Biennale 2016 at SAM, opened up for London based indie band Yuck, and more.

Subsonic Eye line up is:

  • Vocal/Synth: Wahidah
  • Guitar: Daniel 
  • Guitar: Jared
  • Bass: Spencer
  • Drums: Lucas

Their first release is:

Strawberry Feels, album, April 2017

They plan to release their next album before the end of 2018.

Their record Label is the tasteful local Middle Class Cigars.

 

COSMIC CHILD

Founded in 2013, Cosmic Child released one album in 2016 and thought it would be the last. Their Bandcamp page tells us: 

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"This is a collection of songs from when i first started playing guitar till now. We hope you enjoy it as much as we hated making it"

Then, unexpectantly, in 2018 a second album (a great one too) was born. 

"After finishing our debut album, untitled, we swore we would never make another one. To be honest, we never expected anyone to listen to the album that was shat out in a week. People started sending messages about our music and stuff which was insane to us (still is). Fast forward to today, we are somewhat a real band playing shows. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you. 

Blue is the condensation of these two strange years comprising of people, relationships and heavy emotions. We promise it took more than a week this time. We hope you enjoy it. "

Cosmic Child are:

  • Bo - Guitar, Vocals
  • Daniel - Guitar
  • Joanne - Bass, Vocals
  • Zhe Ren - Synths
  • Genevieve - Drums

Their musical work is:

Their record Label is the local Middle Class Cigars.

 

PLEASANTRY

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According to their Bandcamp page, Pleasantry "was conceptualized and formed in late 2010.  Recycling musicians from active as well as inactive bands, the quintet crafts and carves music out of each member’s disparate listening backgrounds.

Drawing inspiration from dreamed-up scenarios based on real-life scripts, compositions showcase simple lyrical tones offset by the accompaniment of rich instrumentation and varied song structures."

Pleasantry's lineup is:

  • Samantha Teng - Vocals 
  • Isa Ong - Vocals, Bass, Guitar, Ukulele 
  • Ahmad Ariff - Guitar, Bass, Keyboards 
  • Adel Rashid - Guitar, Bass 
  • Haziq Hussain - Guitar, Vocals 
  • Daniaal Adam - Drums, Percussions

If you want to know more, there is a good article on them Here.

Their music work to date is:

  • Porcelain Lenses, EP, released in February 2012
  • Synapse, Album, released in August 2014
  • Pleasantry and Starry Eyed Cadet Split EP, released in May 2015

 

SOBS

Sobs is a Singapore-based bedroom pop outfit born out of a fondness for off-kilter and playful melodies, Sobs embodies a kitsch, yet instantly relatable charm through honest, straightforward and quintessentially pop songwriting. Driven by snappy, gleaming guitar lines and unassuming yet endearing vocal delivery, their songs tell everyday stories steeped in a characteristically lo-fi fashion.

Sobs’ debut release, a 5-track EP titled Catflap is inspired by the distinctive guitar-centric arrangements of 90s indie pop artists like Liz Phair and the twee eccentricities of contemporaries such as Frankie Cosmos, Girlpool, Jay Som and Alvvays. 

Its lead single, Girl, combines breezy verses with immediate, punchy guitar lines that punctuate a story of love’s inevitable highs and lows as one navigates the uncertainties of adulthood. 

The album is a patchwork of real-life experiences, fantasies and melancholy rom-coms sewn into a diary of songs on life’s frustrations, affection, intimacy, a neighbour’s dog, and Singapore’s non-existent ocean.

"Catflap collects real-life experiences, fantasies And melancholy rom-coms sewn into a diary of songs on life’s frustrations, affection, intimacy, a neighbour’s Dogg, and Singapore’s non-existent ocean……." 
 

Their record Label is the great local Middle Class Cigars.

Sobs are :

  • Celine Autumn 
  • Jared Lim 
  • Raphael Ong

So far they have released one EP, Catflap, in June 2017 from which this song comes from:

Their next album is scheduled to be released on June 2018.

 

THE PAGANS

There is another band worth mentionning, The Pagans. Thanks Vernon for bringing them to my attention.

They were formed in 1992 with:

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  • Morris (vocals, guitar),
  • Edward (bass),
  • Rick (guitars),
  • Edwin (drums)

The only worthwhile material online is this review on their 1993 album, Stereokineticspiraldreams
(Tim Records/Odyssey Music Pte Ltd 1993). 

They also have released a EP in 2010, Hideway.

Unfortunately they are not on social media or the usual streaming plateforms. One may hope it happens someday.

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