You are here
Music festival boom
Celebrating homegrown works
LAST year's Sing50 mega concert is set for a sequel of sorts with Singapore Rhapsodies, a new annual music festival that will showcase and celebrate homegrown music.
An initiative of the Sing50 Fund - which originated from the event last year organised by The Straits Times and The Business Times, in celebration of Singapore's 50 years of music heritage - the three-hour extravaganza will take place at the end of the month in Sentosa.
Tan Tee Tong, director of The Rice Company Limited, a not-for-profit organisation which manages the Sing50 Fund, says: "The festival came about as a continuation of the Sing50 concert ... The organisers wanted to sustain the momentum in promoting Singapore works among local audiences, and perpetuate the drive for creativity among local musicians."
The inaugural concert edition will put emerging local acts and artistes with new works in the spotlight.
On the bill are fast-rising talents like indie guitarist-songwriter Charlie Lim, who released his critically acclaimed double EP Time/Space last year; and Nathan Hartono, who made regional headlines recently as a contestant on Mainland Chinese reality show Sing! China.
The latter's performance was praised by Mando-pop stars Jay Chou, Harlem Yu, Na Ying and Wang Feng; and Hartono is now Chou's protege on the programme.
There will also be familiar faces in the line-up like Singapore Idol alumni Daphne Khoo and Sezairi Sezali; and the show will feature a diverse range of music from pop, fusion jazz to indie and R&B from artists like Ling Kai, Raghajazz, Gareth Fernandez and the Momma Shop.
There are also plans for new and established musicians to collaborate so as to encourage a sharing of experience, knowledge and exchange of creative energy.
Ruth Ling, music director and founder of independent record label Red Roof Records, who is co-directing the concert with theatre director and Sing50's creative director Jeremiah Choy, says: "We have paired Art Fazil with Take Two because they come from a similar background of playing in original pop rock bands. Art has decades of international performing experience, and Take Two will bring in their youthful energy. The musical result will certainly be surprising, which is what we would like to showcase."
But Singapore Rhapsodies is also more than just a concert as music lovers can expect to picnic and revel in the carnival atmosphere at Sentosa's Palawan Green. Off-stage, homegrown art market vendor Togetherly will curate a fanfare of local food and artisan crafts.
Mr Tan explains: "As a festival denotes the idea of a celebration by the community, for Singapore Rhapsodies, beyond just the music, we have an arts market to add on vibrancy, creating a special occasion for music lovers to celebrate our own talents in a fun filled, high energy setting."
- Singapore Rhapsodies - The Concert will be held on Palawan Green at Sentosa on Aug 27 from 6.30pm. Admisssion is free.
A power-packed weekend of music
By Dylan Tan
ONE of Singapore's oldest and most-loved multi-genre music festival, Mosaic, has been rebooted.
Organised by Esplanade Theatres on the Bay, it originally ran from 2005 as an annual 10-day event for a decade. It will now make a comeback in a more compact format called Mosaic Music Weekend next month.
Featuring ticketed and free performances plus talks, the fest will run for four days, with each dedicated to a particular genre of music: jazz, singer-songwriters, electronic-pop, and indie-rock.
The line-up includes chamber pop darlings Lisa Hannigan and Patrick Wolf (playing a double-headlining show); Korean electro-synth group Idiotape; local singer-songwriter Cherie Ko's new band Tomgirl; and Japanese jazz pianist Hiromi.
Programmer Melissa Poon says Mosaic Festival's original format was stopped in 2014 because 10 editions in, the festival had achieved its goal of growing Singapore's "live" music scene.
But even during the two-year-hiatus, Esplanade continued to use the Mosaic brand to stage standalone shows by artists like trumpeter Arturo Sandoval, keyboardist Herbie Hancock, guitarist Pat Metheny, vocalist Rufus Wainwright, and acoustic rock guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela.
"We were taking the opportunity to observe and to recalibrate - to see how we can better serve the evolving needs of our artists and audiences, and add depth to a scene that is already well-served by commercial music presentations," Poon explains.
The return to a multi-day format - albeit a condensed one - will allow music-lovers to have an intensive and "power-packed experience", adds the 26-year-old.
The diverse line-up also stays true to the Mosaic spirit of music discovery and re-discovery, of both familiar and new artists. Some acts like Hannigan and Wolf are playing here for the first time, while others like Idiotape and Hiromi have performed here previously.
The latter, for instance, returns to Singapore after last playing the festival in 2012, but the effervescent Japanese jazz pianist will be performing this time with her new band The Trio Project, which features Grammy-nominated bassist Anthony Jackson and ex-Toto drummer Simon Phillips.
Likewise, Ko is also no stranger to followers of local indie music as she is the guitarist for Obedient Wives Club and fronted the now-defunct all-girl electronic group Pastelpower. Mosaic Music Weekend will mark the "live" debut of Tomgirl, a new duo she has formed with Australian musician Ted Dore.
Poon explains that featuring a different genre every day will enable the audience to experience the richness of each and give them a more well-rounded experience: "A wonderful thing about music is that even within a single music genre, so many variants, interpretations and syntheses stem forth from it - for example, with jazz, you've got straight-ahead jazz, Latin jazz, vocal jazz classics and so on."
The current plan is to make Mosaic Music Weekend a regular fixture in Singapore's "live" music calendar though things could evolve.
"While we're just introducing the weekend format this September, future editions of the weekend could explore specific themes, ideas or genres more deeply, feeding audiences' interest and curiosity about the ins-and-outs of the music industry and its artists," Poon reveals.
- Mosaic Music Weekend runs from Sept 1-4, 2016 at Esplanade. For full line-up and ticketing details, check www.esplanade.com/mosaic
Full-on Miami vibes come to Singapore
By Sue-Ann Tan
LOCAL Electronic Dance Music (EDM) fans, your prayers have been answered. The full-fledged two-day long Ultra music festival is coming next month, making Singapore one of 14 other locations worldwide that will host the prestigious EDM event.
The Ultra brand was founded in 1997 and it remains one of the world's most prominent music festivals with its flagship event in Miami, Florida. In March, it celebrated its 18th anniversary by hosting some 165,000 people on the Miami waterfront.
Ultra Singapore is set to boast similar vibes with it being staged at Bayfront Park at Marina Bay, complete with a background view of skyscrapers against the sky, just like Miami.
A scaled-down, single-stage indoor event called Road to Ultra was held at Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre last September, but this year Ultra Singapore will have three stages, each offering a different style of dance music.
The Main stage hosts EDM royalties such as Axwell Ingrosso, DJ Snake, Afrojack, deadmau5 and Kygo; the Live stage offers a diverse range of live bands, pop and rock acts and electro-pop names like NERO and Far East Movement; while the Resistance stage features more techno and deep house tunes.
Altogether, the line-up includes around 40 artists who will play to a diverse audience that is expected to come from as many as 40 different countries. Alex Chew and Raj Datwani, executive producers and partners of Ultra Singapore, say Singapore was chosen as the "hub for Asia" so that people in the region did not have to fly 30 odd hours to Miami or seven hours to Korea where another edition of Ultra is also held.
"There are lots of Ultra-nauts in the region who would never have gotten a chance to experience the festival if we didn't bring it to Singapore," they add in a joint reply to BT.
They single out millennials in particular as experienced and focused consumers; and add that the Ultra experience is not the same as going out to a club or attending a solo show.
"As producers, we try to create a unique experience that is definitive of our brand: Not just the acts, but in creating a unique ambience - from the website to the bar, the drinks, admission waiting area, the different tents, and the stages and sounds - the appeal is in the experience that the festival can provide you while you are enjoying music from your favourite acts and DJs."
The Ultra brand is also different because its founders treat it as "a family business" and has expanded it to every continent bar Antarctica. Say the duo: "This sense of family extends not just to each edition's teams, but also to the artists too. There are a number of artists (like Skrillex and Martin Garrix) whose growth you can track alongside Ultra appearances. Even Avicii has just done his last two Asia shows ever with Ultra: This is what being part of the Ultra family is."
- Ultra Singapore runs on Sept 10 and 11 at Ultra Park, 1 Bayfront Avenue. For ticketing and line-up information, check www.ultrasingapore.com
Mingling with stars onboard a ship
By Sue-Ann Tan
ELECTRONIC Dance Music (EDM) festival It's The Ship gets a very apt captain this year with Baywatch star David Hasselhoff set to join the line-up of the four-day and three-night vacation cruise and music extravaganza.
Held onboard one of the world's largest 15-deck cruise liners, festival-goers will be spoilt for choice with 66 artistes performing over multiple stages. All this on top of checking out the casino, duty-free shopping promenade, iceskating rink, mini golf course, and 17 bars, clubs and lounges on board the vessel which will sail from Singapore to Penang and back.
Hasselhoff, who shot to fame with sci-fi TV series Knight Rider, will emcee, host a gala dinner night and appear throughout the vessel at various activities. Other international artistes on the bill include Far East Movement and Andrew Rayel, and local talents like Celeste Chen and Shigga Shay.
Muhammad Iqbal, group CEO of The Livescape Group that organises It's The Ship, believes music festivals like this are getting popular because of the diverse line-ups and sheer number of acts each boasts. "Economics-wise, it represents greater value-for-money for the guest, because for the same ticket price as a solo concert or slightly more, fans are instead able to see between 10 to 15 acts on average," he explains. "In addition, festivals also allow the fans to discover new and different genres of music."
It's The Ship's novelty also comes from it being staged on the sea. The water-borne festival is Asia's largest EDM cruise festival and the world's second largest. "It's The Ship is essentially a cruise holiday with a music festival component to it," Mr Iqbal points out. He adds: "Unlike festivals on land, there isn't really a back stage because we are all essentially on a ship, so there's nowhere to go. Interacting and engaging with the artistes themselves becomes a norm, and we organise activities involving the artistes and our guests together."
Compared to when It's The Ship first started, Mr Iqbal sees the competition getting stiffer, but welcomes it because it makes them "constantly figure out new ways to pioneer new experiences for our guests". Homegrown nightlife giant Zouk, for instance, has recently brought its clubbing concept out into the open water with Zouk At Sea which is housed on a 18-deck liner.
Mr Iqbal says he is expecting 3,800 guests on board the ship this year, from as many as 55 different countries. He observes that foreign guests make up 30 to 60 per cent of their numbers at previous editions of the festival. Depending on cabin types, the price of a cabin varies from US$700 a person for a four-person interior cabin to US$6,000 per person for the best cabin onboard, the Royal Suite.
It's The Ship costs The Livescape Group millions to organise but Mr Iqbal notes that they still record healthy margins. "What's great is that we are a pioneering brand in the Asian market and intend to capitalise on it by always offering a great experience," he says.
- It's The Ship departs from the Marina Bay Cruise Centre in Singapore on Nov 4 and returns from Penang on Nov 7. More information is available on http://www.itstheship.com
An island music event that's exclusive, eco-friendly
By Sue-Ann Tan
THE sun, sea, sand and music - these elements go together to make up the Sunny Side Up Tropical Festival, a two-day boutique music and cultural event taking place at Bali's award-winning Potato Head Beach Club next weekend.
The venue was named one of the best vacation spots in the world by Conde Nast Traveller and is set against the scenic backdrop of a tropical beach.
Organised by Ismaya Live and Potato Head, Sunny Side Up is limited to 3000 people, making it a highly exclusive experience for festival-goers. "We want to ensure the festival is at capacity yet there's still room to actually enjoy the music and have a dance rather than feel like you are being pushed in like sardines which some festivals do," explains Dan Mitchell, creative director at Potato Head.
The bill includes international headliners, cutting-edge artists and DJs including Mark Ronson, Disclosure and songstress George Maple. Previous performers include Ellie Goulding and Azealia Banks.
Sunny Side Up is also extending its festival to two days instead of just one like both its previous editions. Christian Rijanto, co-founder of Ismaya, and Mr Mitchell, explain this will allow them to "invest better in terms of production and experience" and also give the headline acts the room to play for a "substantial amount of time so people get the full experience".
To differentiate themselves from other festivals, Sunny Side Up emphasises that it is an island tropical festival - a quick getaway from city life to lush beachfronts. "Bali is one of the most magical places in the world. The culture is beautiful and it's very unique in the way that the island still holds on to its ancient traditions and yet has developed into a very modern tropical paradise with contemporary venues like Potato Head Beach Club which is now recognised all over the world," Mr Mitchell notes.
Sunny Side Up also makes an effort to be eco-friendly, as the stage set-up and bars will be made from locally obtained and sustainable resources. Last year, the material used was bamboo which was then recycled for other purposes, while this year the organisers plan to work with recycled materials as much as possible.
"Acting responsibly is something that is in our DNA, and we always are conscious when doing any events or projects to ensure we are acting as responsibly as possible, both in keeping Bali clean and taking strides forward in our sustainability programmes," Mr Mitchell quips.
- Sunny Side Up Tropical festival runs on Aug 13 and 14 at the Potato Head Beach Club in Bali. For more information, go to www.sunnysideupfest.com