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New local acts take flight in StageFright
BUDDING musicians these days can go online and post their own videos, except that they're also competing with footage of kittens acting cute and people falling off their new hoverboards for clicks.
Thank goodness then for StageFright, the original music showcase curated by veteran local singer-songwriter and rock critic Kevin Mathews to promote aspiring acts.
Held at Artistry and now in its third year, the upcoming edition features yet another diverse line-up of musicians, including Japanese folk-pop singer Hiroki Sunayama.
"Hiroki is not the first foreigner at StageFright - we've had folks from USA, UK & South Africa as well - typically they are expats," says Mathews.
He explains, "My criterion is original music made-in-Singapore and not nationality."
Sunayama, who goes by his first name on stage, grew up in Australia and started performing there before moving to Singapore about two years ago. Playing songs in both his mother tongue and English, the 34-year-old aims to bring a bit of his homeland everywhere he goes.
"When I performed Japanese songs in Australia, you could see the language barrier being broken down with the happy faces in the crowd so I try to bridge Japan and the rest of the world with my music," explains the naval architect whose influences include Ben Harper, Bruno Mars, Jason Mraz and John Butler Trio.
Besides playing solo, Sunayama is also the guitarist of The Stringz, which incidentally is part of next week's StageFright line-up as well. The fusion-pop trio includes Elvin Lau and his Japanese wife, who play the shamisen (a three-string guitar) and Shinobue (bamboo flute) respectively.
Lau says the six-month-old group, which busks regularly on Orchard Road, hopes to introduce music lovers to traditional music by putting their own modern spin on it.
Mathews admits The Stringz is "something new for StageFright" because unlike the other acts, their music might not sound as contemporary; plus they play mostly covers - their repertoire includes a mix of evergreens such as Country Road as well as anime songs from the Studio Ghibli films - instead of originals.
Also in next week's line-up are indie acts Mt Spencer and Wan from the band Oligarchy, which is currently in the midst of recording its first full length album.
Girl power will also be on display with singer-songwriters Yeow An and Skye Soon being the roses among the thorns.
The latter is a self-taught guitarist who has been performing her brand of acoustic indie pop at open mics and posting videos on YouTube for the last two years.
A full-time tutor, the 24-year-old says her songs are inspired by things around her - "I even have one about the haze from last year" - and she expresses her feelings through her "direct and straightforward" lyrics.
Likewise, Yeow An is not afraid to wear her heart on her sleeves. "I write when I'm upset and when you're emo, you just 'vomit' out these songs," she laughs.
The 27-year-old hasn't looked back since penning her first song in Secondary Two when she was bored in class one day and unlike most of her peers, she works with music daily as a freelance producer at her own production company.
The irony is even though she has written and recorded for her clients, Yeow An hasn't put any of her own songs on tape.
All that could change soon for the songwriting and music production diploma holder after StageFright: "I definitely want to record my own stuff so that's in the pipeline."
StageFright XXII takes place at Artistry Cafe on Jan 20 from 8pm