The Dirt Radicals at Baybeats 2011. Photo: EY Budding Photograher Shane Chong / Esplanade
Singapore’s biggest annual alternative music festival is upon us once more!
Baybeats 2012 celebrates 10 years of rocking independent music, and has been showcasing an eclectic mix of folk, pop, rock, metal, punk, hardcore and electro since its inception.
With a host of local and regional bands poised to set the Esplanade alight from 29 June to 1 July, Baybeats 2012is the perfect opportunity for music aficionados of every genre and preference to converge and enjoy an auditory experience.
Well renowned for nurturing home grown talents, Baybeats 2012 is no different this year. We take a look at 5 Singaporean bands that we reckon will steal the show!
The Sound: A post-rock explosion in the sky; progressive, metal and ambient elements coalesce to create an instrumental sea of both tranquillity and chaos.
The Story: Singapore’s undisputed super group, In Each Hand A Cutlass (IEHAC) features the who’s who of our local music scene: indie rock guitarist Daniel Sassoo, keyboardist Amanda Ling (Electrico), drummer Jordan Cheng (Rafe) and bassist Nelson Tan, a veteran of the professional music circuit.
Despite only having been around since 2009, the band has already garnered much media interest and performed in high-profile concerts such as The People’s Party in early 2012, alongside the likes of Bombay Bicycle Club, The Naked And The Famous, Metronomy and The Jezabels. IEHAC’s debut full-length album ‘A Universe Made of Strings’ was a hit as well, cementing their place as the ‘Best Band of 2011’, as voted by ‘Juice Magazine’. With a sound as sprawling and dynamic as its name, In Each Hand A Cutlass lives up to its claim of being a “soundtrack to the cinema of the mind”.
As stickman Jordan puts it, “We don’t have any vocals. For us, it’s really a case of letting the music do the talking. We’ll definitely take you for a ride, I promise you that.”
Catch In Each Hand A Cutlass at Baybeats, Sun 1 July, from 9.30pm at Powerhouse (The Edge).
The Sound: Previously boasting pensive, acoustic tunes juxtaposed with cheerful electronica, Inch Chua is returning to her indie-rock roots with her latest musical direction drawing influences from Radiohead, Mute Math and even female Japanese rock and roll star, Shiina Ringo.
The Story: This petite singer songwriter is going places. Since becoming the first ever Singaporean to be invited to appear at the prestigious SXSW festival (2010) in Austin, Texas, Inch Chua’s star has been on the rise. From performing at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games (YOG) to being appointed spokesperson for National Environment Agency’s Eco-Music Challenge, she is an ambassador of sorts for local music.
Her debut record ‘Wallflower’ was well received and she has capitalised on that momentum, opening for international artistes such as Vampire Weekend and Katy Perry, and is currently recording her sophomore effort, ‘The Colour Wheel’.
Now shuttling between here and Los Angeles, this talented multi-instrumentalist is making sure she is will be in town to give fans a powerful performance at Baybeats … and maybe even a preview of her upcoming release!
Catch Inch Chua & The Metric System at Baybeats, Sun 1, from 7pm July at Arena (Outdoor Theatre)
The Sound: Girl-fronted fuzz-pop. Their brand of ’60s ‘Spectorgaze’ (self-coined, we might add) is reminiscent of current indie pop bands like Best Coast and Cults. Think dreamy vocals and sunshine melodies.
The Story: No, they’re not related to the Malaysian religious group of the same name. But this quintet’s penchant for irony and charming wit is evident in both their band name and music.
Founded late last year and consisting of YinQi Lee on vocals, Cherie Ko and Keith Tan on guitars, Sulaiman Supian on bass and Lennat Mak on drums, these relative newcomers experienced almost immediate success with their self-titled debut EP landing a place on indie music arbitar SEA Indie’s Top 10 Southeast Asia’s Best Indie-pop of 2010-2011 list! It is testament to the band’s ability to deliver shimmery, summertime gems doused in hypnotic reverb. Singer YinQi surmises this lo-fi sound in a phrase. “We’re running music from the past through a noisy filter.”
We can’t wait for their set and the band is thankful for the opportunity as well. “It’s definitely great to be part of a music festival with such a long running history,” says YinQi. “Baybeats showcases diversity, so it’s a good starting point to find out what’s relevant musically across the local and regional shores.”
Catch Obedient Wives Club at Baybeats, Fri 29 June, from 7pm at Arena (Outdoor Theatre).
The Sound: Youthful pop-rock stylings coupled with an old-school rock ‘n’ roll flavour. They cite The Strokes and Little Joy as musical inspirations and there’s no denying the Julian Casablancas-like swagger that permeates through the band’s repertoire of songs.
The Story: The proverbial new kids on the block, Cashew Chemists are one of the final eight auditions bands who earned a chance to undergo a mentorship programme with prominent local industry players such as Patrick Chng (Oddfellows, TypeWriter) and Eddino Hadi (Force Vomit, Straits Times music reporter)
Frontman Yuji Kamagai recounts the experience. “It’s been a dream of mine to perform at Baybeats ever since the first Baybeats festival I attended. It’s so crazy that we’re just here right now learning from the best.” Brian Chia (guitars), Elliot Sng (bass) and Zachary Chia (percussion) complete the four-piece line-up.
With their demos ‘Winter Sun’, ‘What She Said’ and ‘Road Trip’ attracting favorable reviews for their hip-swaying, smooth-listening catchiness, their current music is a far cry from the band’s heavy metal past. These cunning Chemists are eschewing conventional hipster norms by placing an emphasis on solid songwriting, and this is displayed with much aplomb through Yuji’s Brendon Urie-worthy vocals.
“Baybeats is probably Singapore’s biggest own music festival and a great place for budding musicians. We’re looking forward to performing in it,” gushes axeman Brian. Fresh, prepared and itching to impress, this band should definitely be on your radar!
Catch Cashew Chemists at Baybeats, Sat 30 June, from 7pm at Arena (Outdoor Theatre)
The Sound: Dark and decidedly moody, MONSTER CAT’s brand of alternative folk-rock will ignite intense images in your mind and lush melancholy in your heart. Their haunting sonic musings hark back to the early days of Smashing Pumpkins and Fever Ray, but make no mistake, this is a listening experience that’s as disturbingly unique as it is profound.
The Story: MONSTER CAT’s appeal is their persona. There’s just something alluring and mysterious about the band’s ambitious image and music. Deriving their name from the ‘Bakeneko’ (a supernatural, shape-shifting feline from Japanese folklore), its members each adopt cat alter egos of their own: Hentai Cat, Psycho Cat, Black Cat, Copy Cat, Zen Cat and Paper Cat.
Quirky pseudonyms aside MONSTER CAT’s 2011 EP ‘Mannequins’ is anything but humorous; carrying themes of love lost and conflicted identities. Tracks like ‘Initiation’ and ‘Underwater’ serve as an uncomfortable examination of the human dichotomy, chilling and suspenseful in its execution.
We wait with bated breath for a full-length album, and if the band’s recent performance at The People’s Party is any indication, gig-goers are in for a mesmerizing evening.
Catch MONSTER CAT at Baybeats, Sat 30 June at the Chillout Stage (Concourse) 8.30pm and 10pm and Observation Deck (Library@Esplanade), 5pm