The sweet and summery flavours of Singapore’s favourite daytime party collective, Ice Cream Sundays

The sweet and summery flavours of Singapore’s favourite daytime party collective, Ice Cream Sundays

Initially conceived by schoolmates Daniel O’Connor and Jake Camacho (who DJs under the alias Toppings) after an inebriated night out back in 2015, Ice Cream Sundays (ICS) has since grown from a hazy drunken idea into one of Singapore’s biggest and most popular collectives. 

Starting from intimate house parties in 2016, the humble and hardworking crew - also made up of core members Meltem Acik, alongside resident DJs Muto and Bongomann - have steadily expanded to helming massive events at unusual landmarks such as National Gallery, Gillman Barracks, Haw Par Villa and Tanjong Pagar Distripark, among others.

In an urban landscape where parties typically mean late nights at clubs, Ice Cream Sundays’ daytime, outdoor shindigs have proven to be a wholesome and refreshing change of pace for Singapore’s electronic music scene. Their bright, balmy, disco-inflected vibes have certainly caught on - leading to a bigger and bigger following, and overseas bookings for their talented selectors to play at major festivals like Shi Fu Miz in Hong Kong and Wonderfruit in Thailand.

In anticipation of the fourth edition of their flagship series, Haw Par Thrilla, organised in collaboration with kindred spirits Darker Than Wax (DTW) - we caught up with Daniel and Bongomann to take stock of the crew’s sweet and summery flavours.

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It’s been five years since we caught up with ICS, and eight years since you started this whole thing. Looking back, what've been your takeaways from your Ice Cream Sundays journey?

Daniel: Working with a team of incredibly talented and dedicated people you love, to create memorable experiences for others, and for ourselves, is pretty much the best thing ever! It’s what keeps me motivated after all these years. We’ve had so many special bonding experiences together, off the back of what we do, and those will be what we remember the most in the years to come.

It’s also been really important for us to constantly evolve, whether that’s by adding new members to our team from time to time for a different voice or perspective, or working with different venues, artists, creatives and event formats - we like to challenge ourselves and make sure things never get stagnant. 

Finally, timing is everything. I think we’ve (almost) always taken the right steps at the right time in our journey, being patient enough to wait until we’re really ready to deliver on a new concept, but not too patient that we miss the window for what we do to resonate with people, and that’s why we’re still around eight years on, with a lot more left in the tank.

Beyond Singapore, you guys have been touring a lot over the past few years as well. What’s been the most memorable overseas festival or party ICS has graced?

Bongomann: Shi Fu Miz last year was really fun, and a great way to tie things in with our Sunda Festival partner Florian Melinette, who is on the Shi Fu Miz team as well. We love intimate festivals and the size of Shi Fu Miz is just perfect. 

After that, playing at the Forbidden Fruit stage at Wonderfruit on the Sunday was a lovely way to cap off a big 2023 for us all. Most recently, Jake and I played at Nokal in Manilla and Emel Rowe (who we met at Shi Fu Miz) opened up for us with such a good disco set. We’ve really been enjoying these regional link ups!

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Speaking of, the ICS team was integral to huge events such as The Last Mile and Sunda Festival. Has that sense of ambition and scale rubbed off on ICS parties too (or is it vice versa)?

Daniel: The end goal has never been to scale the events in terms of attendance, but to continue to challenge ourselves, to keep doing things that feel fresh and exciting, both for us and the people that attend. Also to ensure we’re being true to what we set out to achieve, which is ultimately to bring people joy through music and live experiences. The fact that the events have gotten consistently bigger in scale is more to do with the fact that our base costs for running these events has gotten so much higher over time, especially as we’ve gotten more inspired with the creative elements of our productions.

Having said that, getting comfortable running events of the scale we’re at now with ICS definitely gave us the confidence to try other, more ambitious concepts like Sunda. That was the most challenging thing I’ve ever worked on and without that foundation, and the support of a growing extended team of people that we’ve grown to love working with, and who we trust so much, it would have been impossible for us to make that leap. 

While the music is always great, the liveliness of ICS extends beyonds the DJs on the decks. Could you describe the importance of stage design, lighting and visuals to your events?

Daniel: We have this amazing platform that we’ve built over so many years and we feel it’s important that we use it to showcase other types of creatives, not just DJs. We love the challenge of taking over blank spaces and working with their specific features to transform them into something special for the day. It’s something we’ve invested more into over time, and we’ve been so blessed to work with such talented and driven creatives, and people we call friends and family. Shout out to Clare Chong, Jaymi McManus, Jennifer O’Connor, Myles Ziebart and Bryan Kang - those who dream up these ideas and turn them into reality.

One of ICS’ signature events is Haw Par Thrilla. How did the series come to be?

Daniel: I remember hearing about the Noise Invasion Festival that happened there back in 2017, and I was amazed that a place like Haw Par Villa was open to hosting music events. I hadn’t even thought about the place since going there when I was a young kid, and that really planted a seed for me.

At the time though, we were still in our first year as a collective and definitely did not have the chops to be taking on such a beast of a venue, so slowly it sort of just disappeared from our minds until one day, almost two years later, I happened to be driving past, and seeing that iconic entrance kind of sparked the idea to do something there again. I contacted them, fully expecting not to be taken seriously, but eventually we heard back and lined up a meeting with the management team there. There was an openness, but also an equal amount of scepticism, so it took three long meetings to earn their trust, but eventually we found common ground and got the green light to host the first party with the legends at Mugic. The rest is history!

Haw Par Thrilla has always found ICS teaming up with other crews, both regional and local. Why is this spirit of collaboration crucial to ICS, and this party in particular?

Daniel: The spirit of collaboration has always been really important to us, and we’re proud to have worked with so many local collectives, including Darker Than Wax, Mugic, Revision Music, and The Council, as well as a growing roster of regional ones, which so far includes Shi Fu Miz and Rainbow Disco Club

First and foremost, the local collaborations are about having fun doing what we love with collectives that we respect musically and connect with on a personal level. It’s also a great opportunity to bring different crowds together and, in doing so, build a more cohesive local music events ecosystem over time. On a more regional level, it’s really about trying to connect different music scenes, which we’re so happy to see has been happening more and more post-Covid. The Shi Fu Miz collab ultimately gave birth to Sunda Festival, so you never know what can happen as a result of bringing like-minded groups together until you try.

As for Haw Par Thrilla in particular, the fact that there’s always been a collaborative element was actually not by design, but we love being able to share these experiences with other collectives and their audiences, and it’s just become a feature of every edition.


Haw Par Villa’s Culture Courtyard has been Haw Par Thrilla’s home for years. What makes this venue special to you guys?

Daniel: It’s so well set up, with its multiple “zones”, for the different ways people like to enjoy our events, meaning we can create different spaces for different energies, whether you’re there to dance all day or just soak in the atmosphere for a couple of hours. There also just isn’t really any place in the world that I’ve seen like Haw Par Villa, and we feel very fortunate to still be doing events there five years on, especially given so many of our past venues have closed down or are no longer available to use for events. While we enjoy switching up venues too, we love that there are a couple that have become more familiar ICS home grounds, and this is definitely one of them. Having that familiarity with the space also allows us to refine and evolve creative ideas from previous editions, rather than having to reinvent the wheel each time.

Last year’s event featured unusual B2B pairings between DTW and ICS DJs. What can we expect at Haw Par Thrilla 4?

Bongomann: The idea is similar but we’re really switching up the slot times with this one. We don’t publish set times but you can expect a first-time pairing at peak time, and a different closer from our last collaboration.

Finally, what’s next for ICS?

Daniel: We’re in discussion to hopefully close the year with a first-time regional collab here in Singapore, and are also exploring new event formats that, if all goes well, will see us lean a bit more into the live music space. We’ve also got some announcements coming up very soon on our plans for Sunda this year and next year, so lots in the pipeline that we’re getting excited about!

Haw Par Thrilla 4 takes place on Saturday, 22 June at Haw Par Villa’s Culture Courtyard. Tickets are available here.