One hardly hears about a bilingual rock band in Singapore, which is one of the reasons why Monochrome is catching some attention with the release of their debut album, Music Mantra.
Formed in mid-2008 by singer Alia Wong, 24, and drummer Darren Wee, 25, the independently released album contains five English and five Mandarin songs.
Alia told inSing.com, “At the start, we thought that fusing English and Chinese styles of composing will be a rather experimental thing to do, so we just gave it a shot.
“And indeed it was fun and we even get to play for different occasions and festivals.”
The other members are guitarist Mike Mirucki, 21, bassist Rel Siu, 20, and keyboardist Lim Ming Swin, 22.
“Mike is from Poland, and having spent years in Singapore, he picks up Mandarin a little here and there. And he actually knows some Hokkien, too!” said Alia.
Music Mantra also features guest appearance by popular duo Jack and Rai. Darren only realised that Jack was his neighbour when both their bands performed at an event.
“Our album is a fusion of East and West in the alternative rock mould but collaborating with Jack and Rai certainly brought a refreshing touch to our usual style!”
Apart from Jack and Rai, Monochrome has also received help from another unlikely source. The band applied for Noise Singapore’s Music Apprenticeship Program last year and was selected to be under the guidance of Plainsunset’s frontman Jon Chan.
Alia is grateful for the experience and explained, “Jon is always sharing tips and his experiences, and being someone who has made a name for himself, he humbly shares with us what he has learned.
“This certainly helps us a lot as we know ahead some of the tried and tested methods, which saves us time and effort. Thank you, Jon!”
Not just passionate about their music, Monochrome also has a heart to bring joy to the less fortunate and disadvantaged. The band started its own Heart Rock movement to perform at old folks' homes and orphanages.
To date, they have played at least 10 charity events and at children’s homes and old folks’ homes.
All proceeds from the sale of Music Mantra at their upcoming live shows will be donated to Club Rainbow (Singapore), a charity committed to helping children and youths suffering from a range of chronic and potentially life-threatening illnesses.
“We’ve performed quite a bit at various homes and orphanages. We’ve been giving our time but not money so this is a chance for us to do that. Children are innocent and we would like to contribute and help in some tangible way,” said Darren.
Catch Monochrome ‘live’ at the various dates and place:
27 Feb 2010, 3pm - Jurong Point 1, Center Stage
28 Feb, 3pm - Jurong Point 1, Center Stage
5 March, 8pm - Esplanade Outdoor Stage
6 March, 1pm - The Heeren Fountain Stage
7 March, 3pm - The Heeren Fountain Stage
13 March, 9.45pm - Roomful Of Blues, Princep St
19th March, 9pm - The Hard Rock Cafe Singapore