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Shades of red: Interview with Riot !n Magenta

By Patrick ChngEvents - 06 April 2015 12:00 AM | Updated 08 April 2015

Shades of red: Interview with Riot !n Magenta

Multi-instrumentalist and producer Hayashida Ken (formerly of electronic pop duo Karl Maka) got together with vocalist Eugenia Yip to form Riot !n Magenta for Baybeats 2011, the annual indie music festival organised by the Esplanade in Singapore.

Two became three when they recruited Khairyl Hashim (The Great Spy Experiment) on guitar and recorded their debut EP, ‘R3B007’, released at the end of 2013.

The band has since evolved sonically with the additions of drummer Ritz Ang (The Summer State) and bassist Sulaiman Supian (Obedient Wives Club).

In November 2014, Riot !n Magenta opened for Chvrches at The Coliseum at Hard Rock Hotel in Sentosa to a fabulous response. And things are definitely on the up for the quintet as they put out their latest EP, ‘Voices’, on 23 March 2015.

We caught up with Yip to talk about the new release, the boys in the band, and opening for Chvrches.

When and how did you and Ken meet and what made the two of you decide to form a band together?

We met through a mutual friend, Esther, who was looking for an electro pop act for Baybeats back in 2011. I had just finished college, and I remember meeting Ken at Sunshine Plaza for the first time. It was very interesting to meet a fellow musician completely different from the musicians I had met and grew up with in school. We both thought it was going to be a one-off thing, but it turned out to be something much greater than what we had initially imagined it to be. Writing, recording and performing with Ken was something that felt natural because we hit off well as friends. 

When and why did you both decide to add more manpower?

For me, it was more of a "Why not?" kind of thing. Ken and Khai (Khairyl) have been longtime friends. Ken and I were having a songwriting session at my home a few years back, and Khai came over to pick some gear up. We hung out and jammed a couple of tunes. Khai is awesome, so we proposed to him and he said yes. 

What does each of the members bring to the band?

Riot !n Magenta (from left): Sulaiman Supian, Ritz Ang, Eugenia Yip, Khairyl Hashim and Hayashida Ken | Photo: Riot !n Magenta

We were going to do a live set at the Esplanade Recital Studio at the end of 2013, and were looking for a drummer. The first person that came to my mind was Ritz. We've worked together on a couple of shows before, and had become really good friends over the years. There was just something about him that fit the bill really well: he plays awesome drums, and has such a great vibe about him. So we proposed to him right before the show, and he said yes.

Sulaiman joined us a bit later after Khai was tasked with finding us a bass player since Ken wanted to free up his left hand to cover more sonic ground with the synths. The man is super chill and wicked at what he does. 

What was it like opening for Chvrches?

Opening for Chvrches felt very surreal. We had been under the radar right from the start, and I wasn't quite sure how the crowd was going to react to us. But as soon as we started the set, we were blown away by the amazing love and support we received from them. It was so much fun playing music that we had written over the years to such an appreciative audience.

I remember getting Ritz to take off his shirt during the set. That was funny because he was really shy about it but we were, like, "Come on, lah! You work out so much... Let them enjoy your muscles, please!" And also because… why not, right? So he did, and the universe rejoiced. I remember receiving so much positive energy from the people around us that night. It was very overwhelming, in an extremely warm and fuzzy way.

Congrats on the release of your third and latest EP, ‘Voices’. Is there a story behind the title?

Thank you. Well, ‘Voices’ is the title track of this release. I wrote the first words during a break at a studio located at a shophouse in Dunlop Street. Like most things I write, ‘Voices’ was inspired by a very special group of people I've met and interacted with at a certain stage in my life.

It is about being honest to your demons and fears, because these struggles will never go away until you decide to face them squarely in the eye. You know how these things come in waves and you might just feel so terrible about yourself and make negative emotional decisions in a split second that you can never take back.

I wanted to write a song to not only acknowledge those moments of intensity, but also to recognise that ultimately, love is the highest power, and love will always emerge triumphant.

What were some of the challenges you faced when writing or recording the EP?

I would say that choosing which songs we wanted to put into the EP was a challenge. We've been writing collectively for close to four years now, and it took us a while to decide which songs we wanted to focus on for the release of this EP.

It's available on vinyl, too, a format that has seen a revival in the past five years or so. It is not cheap to press on vinyl... why did you decide to do it?

We decided to press on vinyl because there's just something oddly romantic about holding the vinyl in our hands. Also because it's so hard to find a CD player around these days. We've pressed 300 copies and it felt like my heart dividing into 300 parts and then putting them up for sale. 

What are your hopes for the EP?

I hope this EP opens more doors for us to do what we love: write, record, perform. 

Riot !n Magenta’s music can be bought online here

So Happy - 50 Years of Singapore Rock

So Happy - 50 Years of Singapore Rock

Date Apr 08, 2015 - Apr 17, 2015

VenueThe Substation Gallery