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"We wanted to do something that is slightly different and not just a DJ show." - Multi-instrumentalist Declan Ee (centre). With him are band-mates Tat Tong (left) and Jovany Javier
"I think that to break into the international market, it's important to have an international sound." - Malayalee singer-songwriter Resh (above) whose EP Who Am I? was produced by feted US musician Jim Beanz
"People think that electronic music comes without vocals and is very beat-oriented. But with this new wave entering the market, especially out of Los Angeles and New York, there's more of a balance between vocals and beats. With Softsins, I made sure there were vocals on each track." - Manfred Lim (above) on his new electronica-driven album Softsins

Making the cut

Move over, Sun Ho. Cracking the American pop charts doesn't require millions of dollars of "love gifts" as these three music acts reveal the secrets to their successful crossovers.
Dec 4, 2015 5:50 AM

Rock star ambitions for hit dance trio

By Dylan Tan

BANDS often break up over creative differences but that's not the case for dance collective Trouze, whose members all hail from different musical backgrounds.

Made up of two Singaporeans - ex-Navy-captain-turned-hit-songwriter-producer Tat Tong and serial-entrepreneur-and-DJ Declan Ee - plus American Idol Season 10 finalist Jovany Javier, their combined credentials include 50 Top 20 hits globally and collaborations with pop giants such as Santana, Pitbull, Paul van Dyk, Vaness Wu, Coco Lee, JJ Lin, Kit Chan and Paul Oakenfold, just to name a few.

Needless to say, their sound is a melting pot of musical ideas and things have gotten off to a flying start for the trio who mainly write and produce for others.

Earlier this year, Trouze found themselves in the Top 20 US Billboard Dance Album chart after penning half the songs on Canadian DJ-duo Project 46's debut album.

In October, their first feature single Age of Innocence - co-written with Grammy-winning songwriter Damon Sharpe (J Lo, Ariana Grande) - clocked up over half a million views on YouTube in less than a month.

They are now ready to take Trouze to the next phase: performing live as a genre-defying DJ-band hybrid act.

"We wanted to do something that is slightly different and not just a DJ show," says Ee, who is a multi-instrumentalist and one of the few Singaporeans to have spun at the famed Ministry of Sound nightclub in London.

The 33-year-old is also the co-founder of homegrown designer furniture firm Castlery. Trouze will make its live debut at the company's showroom this evening followed by a full two-hour gig later in the night at another venue.

Everything will be performed live with keyboards, synths and vocals; and the concept is to recreate the energy of a rock concert for a DJ show, shares Ee.

"We will be fusing all different genres of music from R&B to Rock to Pop over a broad spectrum of electronic music - (that is an) accurate reflection of the diverse backgrounds of the group!" he adds.

While Ee admits luck has played a part in Trouze's success story so far, teamwork is also key.

With each member based in different parts of the world - him in Singapore, Tong in Los Angeles and Javier in Miami - their networking opportunities have increased. Deals have already been set up for the Latin American market, which Javier is most familiar with, in the coming year.

It also helps that Trouze has no qualms about giving away most of their music for free. Every two to three weeks, they will post a track on their Facebook page.

"I don't believe in selling music - I'd rather my work be heard by the masses and look for other avenues to monetise it," explains Ee, "If you want to get traction,you need to keep creating content."

For more information,check or trouzemusic on Facebook. Trouze plays Castlery (2 Alexandra Road, Delta House) at 7.30pm tonight and then Trace Lounge (#01-03, 5 Magazine Road) at 11.30pm

Polished to perfection

By Avanti Nim

WHO Am I? That isn't just the name of Malayalee singer-songwriter Resh's new EP, but also a question he might ask himself after making drastic changes to his stage persona.

Formerly known as Reshmonu, the R&B singer whose real name is Hiresh Haridas now goes by a snappier moniker to tie into his new sound.

And that's not the only thing he cut short. Having had cornrows for nine years and "doing everything one can with them," he now sports a sleeker quiff which may have loyal fans doing a double take.

He explains: "I've been in the industry for close to 12 years, and I've done a couple of English albums, a Malay album and I've also dabbled in the Indian market. I felt it was time for a revamp, a more mature me. It was either cutting my hair or shaving it completely, so I quickly chose the former."

After working so long and opening for acts such as The Black Eyed Peas and Alicia Keys, the Malaysian crooner figured he was ready for a more global audience. He believes the key for aspiring international artists is to take it slow, or risk being a one-hit wonder.

He says: "You have to pay your dues. It's important not to get over-excited about the possibility of becoming a world-famous artist. What you should do is find yourself first - find your sound, your comfort zone, and your turning point. Then look at getting out there."

Helping with his fresh sound is internationally recognised producer Jim Beanz of Sunset Entertainment, who is more recently known for his work on hit TV drama Empire. Resh had sent out some feelers via email to producers from around the world, and Beanz was the first to express interest.

"I think that to break into the international market, it's important to have an international sound. It's also important to work with trendsetters who are still creating new trends. That's why my collaboration with (Beanz) was such a good fit," says Resh.

Upon returning with eight completed tracks, he signed onto Universal Music Singapore's label. His first single Half The Man from the six-song EP produced by Beanz is currently being played in Malaysia, the Philippines, and even reached #13 on the US Top 20 radio programme, a syndicated chart show.

He recalls: "Working with (Beanz) was quite nerve-racking because you walk into his studio and you see all these plaques on the wall. It's easy to start wondering if you're going to measure up. But as it happened, it all fell into place."

Having controlled almost every aspect of his music up till then, Resh was understandably nervous about handing over the reins to someone else, before realising they were cut from the same cloth.

Resh says: "I thought it would be difficult at first, but seeing how (Beanz) is just as much of a perfectionist as I am, I knew it would be okay. It was also important to remember that he's from a market that's predominantly older than all the other markets put together, and the American music industry is so well-developed that the methodology and approach are different."

As to working with Beanz again, Resh responds with an emphatic "Hell, yes!"

Resh's EP Who Am I? is available for sale on iTunes

Changing face of electronic music

By Avanti Nim

MANFRED Lim isn't your average soldier boy. With only a week to go before he finishes his army stint, he's already looking forward to the next chapter of his life. And indeed, why shouldn't he?

The 20-year-old was recently signed on to music label Mad Decent, which is spearheaded by world-famous electronic producer Diplo. Having started dabbling in music production three years ago, Lim received an email a few months ago from Mad Decent's music director Paul Devro and was understandably, a bit sceptical.

He recalls: "I uploaded a bootlegged remix of a Skrillex and Diplo song called To U on my SoundCloud account. It was just floating around the Internet until he reached out to me, asking if I had any more songs. Big labels turn down small artists all the time, and if the songs provided aren't up to mark, they just stop replying."

"But," he adds: "It was a huge opportunity and I knew that if the deal didn't go through, I'd still have five solid songs I could use in the future."

The result of that was Softsins, Lim's debut five-track EP. The sound is a mixture of Jersey club, future bass and deep house, and represents all the influences he's had in his production journey.

He says: "I really enjoyed making the album because all the tracks are so diverse. I didn't find myself getting bored at any point because it was all so new to me."

Although he hadn't been actively scouting for major labels as he felt his music needed a lot more work, he always knew he wanted to break into the overseas market. He explains: "My mentality is that it's better to be a small fish in a big pond than a big fish in a small pond because you're surrounded by people of high-calibre, which definitely helps your craft."

His advice for young producers looking to do the same is simple. "Instead of trying to copy the sounds of artists you admire, find your own. Don't do what's already been done. Find a niche, untapped sound. That's what helped me the most."

While he's been trained in Classical Piano till Grade Eight, Lim had no real knowledge of music production until he downloaded and started playing around with production software on a whim.

He says: "I was just messing around with beats, but after a while, my friends started telling me I sounded professional. So I decided to put more time into it."

Lim currently puts in five to six hours a day working on both his own songs and techniques to improve his craft. He does all this in his home studio, "which isn't much - just a pair of monitors, really". He plans to spend the nine months before he starts his Social Science degree at SMU focusing on his music, and trying to correct misconceptions about the electronic genre.

Lim says: "People think that electronic music comes without vocals and is very beat-oriented. But with this new wave entering the market, especially out of Los Angeles and New York, there's more of a balance between vocals and beats. With Softsins, I made sure there were vocals on each track."

For more information on Myrne, and to listen to his music, please visit