Despite its origins as a Melbourne-born celebration of music, St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival’s annual Singapore edition continues to raise the stakes with line-ups that curate artists from all corners of the world. To our delight, recent years have shown that there’s no shortage of purpose-pushing sounds in our own neck of the woods, with homegrown and regional music finding permanency in the yearly outdoor affair. With local musos like .gif and Cashew Chemists, and neighbouring flag-bearers that include Hong Kong math-rockers GDJYB and The Philippines’ indie darlings Cheats, getting prime spots at the festival’s main stages, Laneway 2017 is set to feature more Asian acts than ever. Get to know some of the familiar and fresh faces we’ll be nodding heads to at Gardens by the Bay.
Before shoegaze came to be a common pursuit among Singaporean musicians, Astreal had been dolling out the kind of fuzz-fuelled riffs and reverb-dripping vocals that cemented My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive in the history books since as early as 1992. After a three-year hiatus, the local shoegaze legends are making a triumphant return with a spot on the Laneway 2017 line-up and a third album due for release in the coming months. Be prepared to be softly lifted up before bring thrown down with the force of an atomic bomb by the group’s transportative wall of sound.
Fans of toy instrument sounds found on Kraftwerk’s Pocket Calculator Fantomas’ Suspended Animation will have a field day witnessing Bottlesmoker in action. Hailing from Bandung, Indonesia, the duo not only makes use of glockenspiels, toy phones, and even the Nintendo DS to inject a playful twist on their brand of experimental indietronica, they also create their own custom instruments. Leave your prejudices about cut-copy electronic music at the door – these fellas will be producing sounds you’ve never heard before.
While artists like Dragon Ash and King Giddra have championed rap music for years within the Land of the Rising Sun, KOHH is finally taking the red-and-white flag to exciting international heights. Making his name known beyond Japan’s borders after nonchalantly spitting verses on Korean rapper Keith Ape’s infectious “It G Ma”, KOHH is no novice in reinvigorating his country’s dwindling hip-hop scene, with four albums under his belt to date. Most recently appearing on releases by Frank Ocean, Dumbfoundead and J $tash, KOHH represents a new generation of rapper that isn’t afraid to bring his native tongue to English-speaking audiences.
Sam Rui (SGP)
This young R&B starlet became the talk of the town after unveiling her seductive single, “Better”, and – at least on Singapore’s shores – made everyone miss Meghan Trainor’s single of the same name, released on the same day. Bearing the power to transport listeners with hushed vocals over spacey, minimal soundscapes, Rui’s persistent songwriting efforts and femme fatale persona make her a force to be reckoned with and has quickly established hers as one of the hottest female solo acts to look out for this year.
Stars and Rabbit (IDN)
Regarded as the artistic soul of the Indonesian island Java, Yogyakarta is home to a vibrant music scene that fosters everything from hardcore punk communities to the extreme reinterpretations of traditional Javanese music. While Stars and Rabbit occupy the milder end of the spectrum in comparison to fellow “Jogja” residents Senyawa, the duo commands no less attention when bringing their experimental voyages to the stage, seamlessly going from soothing, whispered valleys to emotional, climactic ruptures of noise.
While they share the same name as Marc Bolan’s legendary glam rock group, the Singapore-based four-piece’s sonic explorations couldn’t be further from their now-defunct British counterpart. Formed by members of avant-garde instrumental outfits Anechois, Sphaeras and Amateur Takes Control, T-REX’s frenetic blend of cross-genre influences can span psych rock and jazz to metal and noise rock within single compositions. While their time-signature-hopping grooves can be hard to nod your head to, rest assured that your senses will be pummeled into submission.
Wednesday Campanella (JPN)
Japan has a well-deserved reputation constantly always pushing musical boundaries, notably within genres like noise rock, while inventing completely new(and bizarre) genres like danger music. So, it’s no surprise that a group like Wednesday Campanella continues to deliver music that surprises the listener. Bringing a quirky take on traditional house grooves together with vocalist KOM_I’s high-pitched staccato vocals that are comparable to Die Antwoord’s Yolandi Visser, the trio takes influences that sound like they’d never work on paper, and produces an exciting and fresh sonic signature. Although the group’s two male members remain behind the scenes for live shows, KOM_I has enough bottled-up energy to command a crowd on her own.
St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival 2017 hits our shores on January 21 at The Meadow, Gardens by the Bay. For tickets and more info, visit singapore.lanewayfestival.com.