Profile: The Great Spy Experiment

Published on 26 May 2015

Homegrown indie band The Great Spy Experiment have left their mark on the Singapore music scene. And now, they must take a bow.

BY Daphne Ong

Take five talented Singapore musicians, add equal portions indie, rock and dance influences, put everything in the creative blender and press play. The result, is of course, The Great Spy Experiment, homegrown heroes in the local music scene.

The quintet emerged on the scene in 2005 and have released two albums to date: Flower Show Riots (2007) and Litmus (2013). A regular on music and dance festivals like the Esplanade’s Baybeats as well as ZoukOut, The Great Spy Experiment have also showcased their music in London and New York City (as part of Singapore Day), and have performed at the famed South by Southwest Music Festival in Austin, Texas.

The group comprises lead vocalist and guitarist Saiful Idris, drummer Fandy Razak, bassist Khairyl Hashim, guitarist Song, and keyboardist Magdelene Han. Collectively, they conjure sounds of rock and dance, with audible influence from British rock, largely written and arranged by frontman Saiful, who is also a mentor with Noise Singapore, a National Arts Council initiative that helps young people discover and nurture their creative talents.

Performing aside, the band is driven by higher goals. “We wanted to do more than play music,” shares Saiful. “We wanted to change the face of Singapore music, doing what has never been done before by Singapore indie bands. A lot of what we’ve done is about trailblazing.”

Even during difficult periods, it was their passion for music and maintaining the growth of the local music scene that kept them going. One of their best-loved memories was playing at Baybeats 2012, says Saiful.

“This was a time when we were keeping a low profile and didn’t play a lot; the band wasn’t in a good place — life getting in the way and all that. We took a chance at Baybeats and played all new, unreleased songs from our [then] upcoming album.” The gamble paid off. The crowd loved the songs, dancing and chanting the band’s name. “Their response and connection kept us going.”

Sadly, this June will see the band play their last show. Changing life priorities and a dip in creative productivity in recent years led to this decision. The Great Spy Experiment will play their final gig at the Esplanade Concert Hall as part of a triple-bill performance also featuring Charlie Lim and Inch Chua. As the members prepare to take their final bow, what are they proudest of after 10 years in the limelight? Reflects Saiful, “Seeing how the scene has grown and knowing we have played at least a small part in building that scene.”

A Triple Bill: Charlie Lim, iNCH, The Great Spy Experiment take to the stage 6 June. Tickets are available at here.

Scroll Up