As the artist manager with Wake Me Up Music, Joseph Roberts Cinco has been involved with Singapore indie music scene since the 1990s playing guitar for various bands.
Although he’s still performing, he’s also moved into artist management and organizing shows. One of his other roles includes being the head honcho of SQNC – a new startup that’s organizing this weekend’s Tesselation: One gig featuring Pinoy rockers Typecast and other acts from Malaysia and Singapore.
Taking a little time out from his busy schedule, Joseph sat down with inSing.com to talk about the inspiration behind the event and what he hopes for local music in the future.
How long have you been organizing gigs?
Since 2001 when we started The Rockstar Collective. We were pretty much doing it in a ‘guerilla’ manner, putting up shows at Jamming studios, random places, and then at Home Club. A couple of years ago I became a part of Wake Me Up Music and have organized a few shows with them as well. This (Tesselaton: One) is pretty much my first venture into doing shows on my own, well, with my partners Matthew Lim and Rebecca Lincoln.
What's the idea behind Tessalation:One?
Without a lot of platforms for regional and local bands to share the same stage, there has been a lack of exposure of Singaporeans to the wide smorgasbord of regional artists that have been making an impact within their respective scenes. SQNC was formed and self-funded with the intent to bridge the gap and provide opportunities for regional and local bands to share stages in hopes of promoting regional ties with the respective music scenes in hopes for future SEA events on large scales.
Tesselation: One is the start of our foray into the regional scene, bringing us closer to very talented bands both locally and regionally.
Has there been an exchange of Singaporean and Pinoy bands?
The exchange has been growing steadily, with the doors here opened wide for amazing talents from Philippines like Urbandub, Typecast, Sandwich, Chicosci, Up Dharma Down, Faspitch, Rico Blanco and Rivermaya, to name a few! But our main intent is to work with regional organizers to give our bands opportunities to play overseas as well.
If I wanted to make money, I could just bring in US bands without an exchange. But what we are trying to achieve is to create a barter trade of sorts, like I bring your band here and provide them a few shows, you do the same for our bands. And when I say ‘our bands’, it doesn’t just involve bands we are working with, or bands from a specific label. This venture is for everyone. It took three people from different backgrounds to form SQNC out of a similar goal, to make local and regional music and arts accessible to Singapore and the rest of the region.
How has the response been for Singaporean bands in the Philippines?
It’s been pretty decent, but as with every venture out of the country, follow-up is the most important factor in securing a familiarity from the targeted audience. Plainsunset, Electrico and A Vacant Affair are probably the more familiar names in Manila, having done tours, radio interviews and having a much broader media exposure there. A Vacant Affair had something of value going on their side: They managed to tour the provinces (Bacolod, Dumaguette and Cebu) during October 2009’s Siege Tour, organized by our good friends from Tower Of Doom. I am David Sparkle has played Manila as well, for the annual A-Fest event and Bhelliom recently played one of the biggest metal festivals in Philippines, Summerslam (by the wonderful people of PULP Magazine).
For people who are not familiar with Typecast, what can they expect from the gig?
Intensity and honesty. I rarely see bands that play their hearts out. And these are shy people, mind you. But onstage, they are by far one of the most exciting regional bands I’ve come across.
Do you think a gig circuit in Southeast Asia is possible for indie bands?
Even if it wasn’t, it’s the only thing that we can have going on with an optimistic sight of opportunity. In the US, it’s always easy to tour, just book a bus or van and drive your way from coast to coast. SEA is a bit more of a challenge, and it’s not just the physical layout of the countries. Bodies of water that separate the countries are but one of the hassles that we have to face; everyone has their own thing going on in their respective countries. Being known for its sponsorships, Singapore enables the capitalisation of sponsors, which strengthens our position in what we hope to achieve. In a couple of years, we'll be able to work out something, starting small but steadily growing into something greater than what we had in mind.
About Patrick Chng
Forever young at heart, Patrick Chng loves going to gigs and checking out Singapore bands. He has also been playing in bands since the late 1980s, writing about music and being an important mover and shaker in the Singapore indie music scene. When he's not checking out or playing gigs, he's at home playing with his guitars and updating his Facebook.