[Interview] Gentle Bones

Gentle Bones

by Velda Wong

Gentle Bones’ (Joel Tan) dedicates his latest single, “You’re My Superhero”, to all the unseen heroes and shares this song with anyone who needs a Superhero during this trying period.  Campus spoke to Joel to find out more about what went on in his mind in the composition/production of this antepenultimate song in his debut bilingual album ‘Gentle Bones’. 

“You’re My Superhero” was released on all digital streaming platforms on 1 Oct and its music video was subsequently released on 4 Oct on Gentle Bones’ Facebook and YouTube Channel. There will be two more songs coming out after “You’re My Superhero”. 

What was the inspiration behind your latest single, “You’re My Superhero”? 

It’s a motivational ode to the everyday heroes around us. The superheroes I had in mind when writing this song were not actual superheroes but people I know who’ve exhibited many qualities and traits which I find very strong. It’s also a song dedicated to them and paying homage to the fact that everyone can be superheroes. It’s how we decide to step up to the plate that is most important. Real life superheroes manifest in different forms, choosing to don everyday clothing in favour of a formal or official recognisable suit. 

I wanted to share the message that even the smallest action can have the best effect on others’ lives, so don’t underestimate what a small act of kindness can do. Let kindness ripple!

Your brand evokes a sense of mystery. Care to share more about the reasons behind this? Why do you have a strong inclination on writing songs with a focus on the theme of Love?  

I like my privacy, that’s just me. It’s a personality-based approach towards my music and my brand. I enjoy making music relating to the theme of love as I see that as a part of life. I relish in making music on the theme of love and positivity, especially in uncertain times where we are left to deal with countless uncertainties which are unprecedented for the VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity – a catchall for “Hey, it’s crazy out there!”) world.

Personally, I make significant efforts to have my music affect things in a positive way, on top of entertainment purposes. 

How would you classify your music right now in terms of genre? A mix of R&B, jazz, folk pop? Is it an accurate reflection of your identity/personality? 

Hip-hop and jazz are two of my most favourite genres, and I try to incorporate these styles into my music right now. Sometimes, I also feel that instead of creating music just for general consumption, we can also create music for personal and collective enjoyment at the same time. 

I think sometimes some of us may struggle with imposter syndrome, but we need to be cognizant that for every piece of work that we create, we draw inspiration from everywhere. For instance, referencing the new body of work from an old body of work. The concept of identity is tricky, and the whole entertainment scene is leaning on to a more personality-based approach of personal branding for our music. 

Personally, I’m moving towards portraying myself as a genre-less artiste – it opens up the possibility for more referencing, more genres to play around with and to create my own sound. 

Do you have any personal favourites out of all your songs thus far?

“Better With You” and “You’re My Superhero.” My favourite collaboration song has to be “你还不知道?” (“Don’t You Know Yet?”) with Tay Kewei! 

How was it like collaborating with so many different artistes for this album?

I was always a fan of these artistes’ music that I’m collaborating with, so working with them, and with so many involved, gives us room to be more artistically fluid. This is what creating a beautiful work of art is all about, coming together to create beautiful pieces of our brainchild (work!). 

Any artistes you would love to collaborate with? 

I’m a big fan of Shy and YAØ, and would be happy to produce songs where we are both happy with and willing to put out. Also, with regional artistes from Indonesia, as well as BTS. 

There are two more tunes coming up, hopefully the listeners will like the music and we can go from there.