SINGAPORE – With the pandemic affecting their shows and plans overseas, musicians in Singapore have turned to writing new songs and recording albums over the past year.
Veteran singer-songwriter Ramli Sarip’s new album is his first to be released in Singapore since the mid-1980s, while the latest album from independent pioneers The Oddfellows is their first since 1992.
By the end of the year, pop singer Gentle Bones, one of the most popular artists in the local English music scene, will be releasing his first album since his debut eight years ago.
For Ramli, 69, his 23rd album Rasa (Feel) would not have materialized without the pandemic.
Since the mid-1980s he has spent most of his time organizing concerts and working on music projects in Malaysia and Indonesia. Unable to travel since February of last year and with rare gigs, he has focused on working on new songs with Singaporean musicians such as guitarist Addy Cradle, percussionist Riduan Zalani and bassist Din Safari.
Gentle Bones, real name Joel Tan, says he’s been more productive with new music since having had to cut back on gigs and travel. Previously, he had only released EPs and singles.
“To be honest, the album wouldn’t have existed without this whole situation right now, because it forced me to focus on what I could do, which was making music in a confined space, ”adds the 27-year-old. .
A strong supporter of musical collaborations, he has not only worked with other local artists such as Benjamin Kheng, but has also worked online with regional artists such as Taiwanese singer Karencici and Filipino singer Clara Benin.
For the members of The Oddfellows, music has become a comfort in these trying times. Many songs on their new album, What’s Yours And Mine, were inspired by life during the pandemic.
Guitarist, singer and songwriter Kelvin Tan, 57, said: “The idea behind it all is that during Covid-19 everyone suffers, it’s everyone’s experience. connection, we are experiencing this together. “
Singer-songwriter Lewis, who is based in the US and recorded his album in Nashville, had to adjust marketing strategies for his second album, Michigan / Missinghim, which was released in August.
Not being able to play the new songs live in front of an audience has been a challenge, says the 25-year-old.
“Usually live broadcasts help me promote my new projects and connect better with my listeners, but the new normal became live broadcasts. It was definitely a tough adjustment. There was no one left. in the audience to laugh at my bad jokes and give me clues as to whether I was doing a good job or not. “
Singer-songwriter Gareth Fernandez, who started working on songs for his debut album Lost In You before the pandemic, has been forced to innovate. Instead of a live gig to kick off the album, released in August, the 31-year-old filmed and produced an online docuseries.
“In order to be able to produce a quality product while ensuring the safety of the team, we had to do a lot of planning, nightly after-work meetings, full days of recording and filming, transportation and installation. DIY (DIY) accessories, sets and lights. And the list goes on. “
Ultimately, musicians have their part to play in a pandemic-stricken world.
Joel Tan says, “We shouldn’t negate the fact that we as artists can contribute to the collective struggle that is going on right now. This is what I think my fellow artists, producers and I have been trying to do. do as good. “