Hit Replay

Published on 26 August 2017

Rediscover Singapore’s rich musical heritage as today’s musicians reimagine the hits of yesteryear, at this month’s final showcase of The Great Singapore Replay.

By Pamela Ho

INTO THE GROOVE Musician/producer Tim De Cotta (above) hopes TGSR can access multiple entry points to get Singaporeans involved and excited about local music. (PHOTO: Henzy David)

Jukeboxes. Tea dances. Home-grown bands. Screaming fans. The 1960s were the Golden Age of Singapore music. It was an epochal time when local bands had recording contracts, strong followings in Singapore and Malaysia and even beyond, and the draw to pack concert halls.

While Singapore’s Baby Boomers recall those halcyon days with wistful nostalgia, younger Singaporeans are probably clueless about this slice of our musical heritage, let alone the songs that rocked a generation. The same, however, could be said of Singaporeans in their 30s and above with few familiar with the current music scene and the explosion of talent that’s rocking this generation.

So, what if we could find a way to bridge these two generations? What if we could get 10 established musicians of today, pair them with 10 up-and-coming musicians, and let them collaborate to reimagine Singapore classic hits from the 1960s to 2000? And then create a platform to bring it all together in one joyful, feet-thumping music-fest?

Enter stage left, Pop-Up Noise: The Great Singapore Replay. Since July, for those who have been following this collaborative journey through weekly webisodes, 16,000 Singaporeans have voted for which 10 Singaporean classic hits they want to hear remade. On 9 September, all the hard work will finally come together in a final showcase at Clarke Quay Central.

HIGH NOTES

GIRL POWER At just 22, Joie Tan has created a name for herself as a singer-songwriter, releasing her debut single ‘Stay’ this year. (PHOTO: Temasek and National Arts Council)
INTO THE BLUES With his blend of folk and blues, JAWN has played on international stages, including Byron Bay Bluesfest and Melbourne Music Week. (PHOTO: Temasek and National Arts Council)

“While the point of The Great Singapore Replay is to promote the history of Singaporean music, the idea is also to capture the now and the future, to document the scene’s vibrancy, to reinject life and shed new colour,” says Tim De Cotta, a home-grown musician and producer, and director of Getai Group, a creative arts curation agency that works with the National Arts Council and Temasek to manage this unusual musical project. “In pairing the artists, we considered their music styles, personalities, and the synergy the pairing could create.”

Take Sara Wee, lead singer of local band, 53A, and emerging artist, Joie Tan. The two have known each other for years, but this is the first time they’re collaborating on a project. Their task: to remake Humpback Oak’s ‘Circling Square’. “The fact that it’s two girls working on it already gives it a totally different perspective,” says Wee. “Without giving away too much, I’d say we’re doing a lot of vocal harmony on it, and experimentation on what we can do with the voice.”

It’s also a new collaboration for neophyte artist Theodora and Ginny Bloop of The Steve McQueens. Despite their vastly different styles, Theodora counts Bloop as one of her idols. “She offers so much perspective and covers the ground I’m not accustomed to traversing. Under the mandate of remixing a song we didn’t choose, we’re forced to work with a genre, sound or style we may not be comfortable with. This stretches me to go beyond my comfort zone. I’m committed to exploring an outcome before deciding if it does or doesn’t work.”

For multi-talented musician, JAWN, who plays the guitar, melodica, piano and banjo, and who is paired with local band M1LDL1FE to remake Dick Lee’s ‘The Mad Chinaman’, the biggest challenge was rallying behind the songwriter’s intent. “I was a bit apprehensive at first because it seemed like a caricature,” he reflects. “But I began to realise that there was a process of reclamation going on, and he employed these musical idents in an intentional way. Also, this intentional repurposing of classics grounds us firmly in the Singaporean genealogy of music. The Great Singapore Replay grafts us to that family tree.”

THE BIG PICTURE

Eddino Abdul Hadi, meanwhile, may be involved in The Great Singapore Replay as a musician, but as a music journalist with The Straits Times, he takes a broader view of its impact in Singapore. “I think it’s important to recognise the rich diversity of original pop and contemporary music that has existed in Singapore since the 1960s. We need to acknowledge the many talented musicians and songwriters who have worked hard over the years to make songs that are quintessentially Singaporean, that could not have been made anywhere else.”

While he’s paired with local band Spacedays to remake ‘Jane’ by KICK!, Eddino is also founder of Force Vomit, whose song ‘Siti’ is being reimagined. “I’m looking forward to hearing The Betts and Joshua Tan’s take on ‘Siti’. I’m sure they’ll have their own unique spin on it,” he says, adding that he’s especially excited to see the reworked songs performed live. “It’s one thing to hear the studio version, but hearing the musicians play the songs live is an experience that’s hard to replicate.”

FRESH FINDS

The final showcase runs from 4pm till late. Each emerging artist will perform a 30-minute set. “If you can’t stay the whole stretch, I’d say check out the artists on YouTube or Spotify, pick one you like, and go down for that. You can always catch the others another time!” Wee advises. “Just going down and showing your support, whether it’s 10 minutes or two hours, will mean a lot to us.”

“The whole idea of The Great Singapore Replay is to access as many entry points as possible,” De Cotta says. “It’s not a very targeted campaign in that we’re not just going for a certain demographic. We want to access as many layers of Singaporean society as possible. Whether people are there to support a friend or to check out an artist, there is a high chance they’ll discover something new because they will be in an environment where they will just be hit by the music.”

The final showcase of The Great Singapore Replay takes place at Clarke Quay Central, 9 September, 4pm till late. Check out artist pairings or watch the webisodes at www.thegreatsingaporereplay.sg.

POWER PAIRINGS

10 emerging musicians. 10 established musicians. 10 Singapore classic hits, reimagined.

PHOTO: Temasek and National Arts Council
PHOTO: Temasek and National Arts Council
PHOTO: Temasek and National Arts Council
PHOTO: Temasek and National Arts Council
PHOTO: Temasek and National Arts Council
PHOTO: Temasek and National Arts Council
PHOTO: Temasek and National Arts Council
PHOTO: Temasek and National Arts Council
PHOTO: Temasek and National Arts Council
PHOTO: Temasek and National Arts Council
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