So much has happened in the one year that Hear65 has been in operation. So much fantastic Singaporean music has been released. Though our gaze is firmly on the blossoming future of Made In Singapore music, this time, we look back on the year we've had, to take stock and celebrate.
Below, we present our favourite moments in the Hear65 database, so far.
As, the authoritative festival celebrating Singaporean music, Baybeats has always outdid itself with its formidable lineups. But last year, the festival transcended itself in a notably tangible way.
For one, it was the site where an epic 35 acts unspooled their music into the ether. Recently reunited local heroes Caracal brought the noise with a new lineup, as did fledgling garage rock acolytes Knightingale. Then, there was the fact, that, for the first time in the festival’s history, hip-hop was included in the festival’s programming. At the Annexe Studio, Yung Raja & Fariz Jabba, Akeem Jahat, spat their body-blasting fire as Malaysian rap’s crown princess Zamaera held court at the arena. A Baybeats weekend is always one to remember – now, rappers could chime in on it, too.
Tabitha Nauser collaborates with Yellow Claw
2018 was a banner year for Tabitha Nauser. Her star power was put on full display, despite only releasing one solo, 'Rules'. Her next move was to collaborate with Dutch EDM heavyweights Yellow Claw on a song for the duo’s new album, New Blood: ‘Crash This Party’. The single has garnered over six million streams, with its music video garnering over five million views and counting. The track was also played at Electric Daisy Carnival in 2018, one of the biggest dance music festivals. Tabitha has paved the way for more Singaporeans and Asians to work with Barong Family, one of EDM’s most exclusive labels.
Bumper year for local music
Last year bore a bountiful cornucopia of music from the Lion City. Everyone had something to show and rightfully so. Across the spectrum of genres and trends, the best records boasted a musicality that was transcendent. From veterans such as Vandetta, who released a project with Nic Robertson under Soulful Ghosts, and Lunarin to emergents such as Sobs and Shye, the talent was beyond-obvious. Aside from local acclaim, a few shot to global recognition. Marijannah’s Till Marijannah earned a spot in Pitchfork’s 5 Stoner Metal Highlights of 2018 and Cosmic Child’s vinyl record for Blue earned a nomination for Best Album Artwork at the 2018 Abilu Awards.
Jasmine Sokko clinches Top 4 spot on Rave Now
Singaporean music has long been making an impact in China. But 2018 was proof that outside of the realm of swelling ballads, alt-minded and idiosyncratic electronic music from the Little Red Dot had a massive following in China.
Evidence of this came in the form of the supremely encouraging reception that greeted Jasmine Sokko during her head-turning performance on popular Chinese online reality electronic music show, Rave Now. Flying the flag for Singapore, the singer-songwriter and producer blitzed through the ranks of more than 70 teams from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Macau, Canada and Singapore, emerging as only female and Singaporean vying for the prize, which was the the honour of performing at Tomorrowland 2019. Finishing fourth in the finals, she proved that alternative Singaporean music more than has one foot in the door in China.
Joanna Dong’s first solo concert
One of the most celebrated theatre performers and jazz musicians Joanna Dong had an immaculate year in 2018. Her decision to participate in Sing! China gave her the big break in music that she deserved. Although she came in third in the competition, the exposure she received catapulted her to new heights. In the same year, she decided to hold her first-ever solo concert in Singapore, before heading off on an Asia tour. The initial one-night-only show became a two-night fiesta after the first show sold out quickly. She performed a slew of renditions of her favourite jazz tunes, as well as songs from her latest album So Here I Am. She took the audience down memory lane with various costume changes and songs which had shaped her jazz mastery.
Jacintha returns after 10-year hiatus
After a 10-year hiatus, jazz singer Jacintha Aibisheganadan released her album Fire & Rain, a tribute to rock icon James Taylor. During the decade-long break, Jacintha focused on motherhood and theatre, spending time with her son as well as working on acting with TheatreWorks.
The comeback album gives a new perspective on Jacintha, featuring a fresh new sound to reintroduce her to fans both old and new. Compared to her older jazz releases, Fire & Rain sees Jacintha breaking out of the box with this pop album. It sees American singer-songwriter Taylor’s music being reworked into a style that is uniquely Jacintha with the help of the Los Angeles record label, Groove Note. This album is undoubtedly a delight to listen to for both new and longtime fans alike.
The first Hear65 stage at BIGSOUND2018
Spreading the good gospel of Singaporean music – regardless of genre and language – is the beating heart that fuels the endeavour that is Hear65. Last year, the platform linked up with the National Arts Council to take its mission abroad, to Brisbane, Australia, where BIGSOUND, the largest music industry conference and marketplace in Australia, is held. Not only was it an honour on our part to assist in Singaporean music chiming in Australia, having four of Made in Singapore music’s most vital voices showcase their charms in a foreign country made the labour of love infinitely more fulfilling.
Singapore’s first fully inclusive music video
Singaporean music took a a huge stride towards inclusivity when the National Council of Social Service commissioned Singapore’s first-ever fully inclusive music video, 'Fire In The Rain', as part of its ongoing See The True Me campaign. In February, the moving video was released and the result was nothing short of amazing. Three persons of disability were under spotlight: Vocalist Adelyn Koh, rapper Danial Bawthan aka Wheelsmith and pianist Joshua Allen German. All of them, as well as several others, proved that talent does not discriminate. In addition, Royston Tan, Don Richmond and ShiGGa Shay lent a hand in the production, composition and writing of the song and the accompanying music video. A lesson was taught to everyone since its release: “A celebration of abilities”.
Charlie Lim reworks ‘We Are Singapore’
In line with the National Day 2018 theme of ‘We Are Singapore’, new life was breathed unto the classic NDP song from 1987 of the same title. Homegrown singer-songwriter Charlie Lim reworked ‘We Are Singapore’ for the 21st Century ear. Produced by Charlie Lim, Evanturetime and Dr. Sydney Tan, new verses and modern sounds were weaved into the iconic patriotic tune.
Joanna Dong, Shak, Aisyah Aziz, Vandetta and THELIONCITYBOY, the latter who raps the national pledge, joined Charlie on the track as well as the music video. 31 years after Hugh Harrison wrote the original song, the remake gives a fresh new look at the song that every Singaporean is so familiar with.
20th Anniversary of 'Home'
Speaking of National Day songs, 2018 was also the 20th anniversary of the National Day Parade debut of the much-loved ‘Home’, performed by Kit Chan, written by Dick Lee and produced by Dr. Sydney Tan. From the moment it was performed in 1998, ‘Home’ has captured the hearts (and ears) of Singaporeans and became the NDP song. Since then, no National Day celebration would be complete without the participants singing “This is home, truly” at the top of their lungs.
‘Home’ has aged gracefully throughout the years, evolving over the years with several remixes made. From the JJ Lin performance in 2004, the Total Defence Day 2011 remake by MINDEF and the 2014 cover by The Sam Willows, it is clear that the song has played a huge part in every Singaporean’s lives.
The Shabir Interview
One of the brightest moments on the Hear65 feed was the Shabir interview. As a champion of Tamil music, Shabir is a flag-bearer of Singaporean music. There is an exceptionalism that runs through his ethos that has resulted in his craft and ardour being celebrated locally and internationally.
In our interview with him, we made it a point to affirm that Shabir has accomplished the impossible: He has been commissioned to work on the music for six Kollywood films in the span of two years. History will surely regard him as a bona fide Singaporean icon.
*SCAPE Youth Music Awards
The inaugural *SCAPE Youth Music Awards, organised by *SCAPE and Invasion Singapore, was held on 26 January 2019. Themed “Catching Feelings”, the awards celebrated Made in Singapore music and recognised local youth talents. With live performances by Charlie Lim, Annette Lee, Yung Raja and Fariz Jabba, the Youth Music Awards provided a platform for local artists to showcase their work and be recognised. 13 categories were introduced to depict the soundtracks to everyone’s lives.
Winners included (but not limited to) 'Check-Hook' by Charlie Lim (Fresh Vibe Of The Year Presented by DBS), 'Mustafa' by Yung Raja (Best Song To Party To), 'Manicenigmatic' by Caracal (Best Song To Rock Out To), 'It’s You' by Sezairi (Best Song To Fall In Love To) and 'Thursday' by Axel Brizzy and Marian Carmel.