NO longer just a place for teenagers to skateboard or while away the time waiting for a movie at neighbouring Cineleisure to start, *Scape has transformed into a veritable breeding ground for local indie music talent.
Indie-rock band Stopgap, the latest in a line of local acts that have used the venue to further their musical career, will be launching their debut album Totems on Dec 4 at *Scape. The Sam Willows, Gareth Fernandez, and Nathan Hartono have all shot music videos at the location.
Drummer for Stopgap Eldad Leong said: "*Scape has been very supportive of us throughout our time as a band, and given us many opportunities to play multiple shows."
"Singapore definitely needs more venues like *Scape to support our music scene as we don't have many mid- to large-sized venues for acts to perform in," added vocalist for the band Adin Kindermann.
The Totems launch immediately precedes full-day music festival *Scape The Invasion featuring more than 20 local artists, with headliners such as Charlie Lim, Shigga Shay and The Lion City Boy. Stopgap will also be performing, along with other featured acts such as Take Two and HubbaBubbas.
The festival, spearheaded by *Scape and local content-focused market research and development house Invasion Singapore, is a wrap party of sorts for the year-long *Scape Invasion Tour. The music outreach programme, conceptualised a year ago, took popular local acts such as The Sam Willows and Gentle Bones to perform at 32 secondary schools and tertiary institutions.
Senior manager of marketing and communications at *Scape Daniel Lim said: "We wanted the tours to inspire youths to pursue their own aspirations by engaging in the various music programmes and facilities available for them. We actually had some principals gamely rocking with us too!" Hyder Albar, the founder of Invasion Singapore, used to be a full-time musician back in 2007, where he was the drummer for alternative pop rock band West Grand Boulevard.
He recalled: "We did a similar version of the tour at that time because we got frustrated that no one was listening to our music. Taking it to the schools was a good idea, but the key issue was that we were sponsored by private corporations, and their marketing direction changed year-on-year, so when they changed their focus from music, we weren't able to sustain the momentum."
Along with his business partner, singer-songwriter Inch Chua, Mr Albar decided to start Invasion Singapore, a company that works towards the promotion of local content to youth aged 13 to 25. Mr Albar, 30, said: "The reason our target market is within that age range is that we feel they haven't quite made up their minds yet. If I were to appeal to a youth, my chances of succeeding in getting through to them are much higher than if I were to approach an older person who already has existing preferences."
The music festival, complemented by the bustling *Scape Marketplace which will feature artisanal crafts for sale from over 30 vendors, is expecting to play host to 3,000 youths. The event will not be ticketed.
Mr Albar explained: "People will definitely buy tickets for big bands like The Sam Willows or Gentle Bones. But we want them to hear new acts too, and expecting someone to pay for something they don't know about yet is unrealistic."
The aim of Invasion Singapore is to make local music mainstream, or as mainstream as it can get. He said: "When you walk into a convenience store, or hop into a taxi, you're greeted by popular international music. I don't think it's that people prefer it, I think they've been bombarded with it, and when they're given the chance to listen to good-quality local sounds, they do buy into it."
Initiatives such as *Scape The Invasion, and *Scape Invasion Tours, he said, make it easier to reach the community and actualise programmes that will impact youths at an early enough stage. The Republic Polytechnic graduate commented: "Listening to local music isn't the rule, it's the exception. But we're hoping that with years of dedication through programmes and community-wide initiatives, (local music) will become the rule."
*Scape The Invasion will be held at *Scape from 2pm to 10pm. Admission is free. To register, and for more information, please visit www.scapers.sg/theinvasion