By Lindsay Wong
Singapore boasts a range of homegrown talent that sing in English, from Gentle Bones to Ffion to Lincoln Lim. There is no doubt that local musicians are on the rise, and many have toured overseas, attracting attention from international media. Here are just a few local musicians – from the well-known to the undiscovered – that you should have on your radar as they continue to make big splashes in 2020, especially after a successful and eventful 2019.
In the six years that he has been active in the music industry, Gentle Bones (real name: Joel Tan) has made numerous achievements, including landing a spot in the inaugural ’30 Under 30’ list by Forbes for entertainment personalities and being the first Singaporean music act to be signed by Universal Music Group.
Gentle Bones started his career by posting covers on YouTube in 2011 before releasing his self-titled debut EP in 2014, which charted at #1 on iTunes Singapore. Since then, he has continued to consistently top the charts with subsequent releases like ‘Until We Die’, ‘Settle Down’, and ‘Geniuses & Thieves’, and performed at solo concerts and festivals across the region. He has also collaborated with YouTube musician Kurt Hugo Schneider and frequently works with other local musicians like MYRNE. His latest single released on October 18th, ‘Smile For Me’, is an uplifting and upbeat song that aims to inspire self-love and motivation.
Jasmine Sokko is an electronic music singer-songwriter and producer, known for her trademark mask that conceals part of her face. She has had a very eventful 2019 after being the first Singaporean to snag the award for Best Southeast Asian Act at the 2019 MTV EMAs. This year, she also released ‘SHH’, her first Mandarin single.
Even though she released her first single ‘1057’ in 2016, she gained international recognition after appearing on the Chinese EDMreality competition show ‘Rave Now’. Jasmine was the only Singaporean on the show and finished in fourth place at the start of 2019. Her musical style is electropop, with her songs having an ethereal sound. Jasmine’s unique voice and addictive music makes her one of the most-streamed local female artists.
MYRNE is one of Singapore’s most prominent names in the EDM scene. He already has many milestones under his belt. After debuting in 2015 with his ‘Soft Sins’ EP, he caught the attention of Grammy Award-winning American DJ Diplo, who signed him under his record label Mad Decent. He was the first Asian artist to be signed to this label and the first Singaporean to ever perform at renowned EDM music festivals like Tomorrowland in Belgium and Ultra Miami. In 2019, he also became the first Singaporean to be signed to a multi-record deal with Ultra Records. Furthermore, MYRNE has worked with huge EDM artists Martin Garrix and What So Not.
Instead of starting out on Youtube like other local artists, MYRNE uploaded his self-produced music on Soundcloud, gaining more than 10,000 followers when he was in junior college. Even though he is a classically trained pianist, he taught himself the art of producing and DJing. His musical style blends future pop and alt-R&B. October 4th, 2019 marked the release of his first full-length album ‘In Search of Solitude’.
Since releasing her first single ‘With U’ in 2016, Ffion has showcased her emotive vocals by trying out different genres in her music. Born in the UK but raised in Singapore, she started out by releasing covers on Youtube. She made her breakthrough in 2016, releasing six singles two EPs in total. Her biggest hit ‘Personal’ has almost 2 million Spotify streams, and her debut EP ‘Bad Habits’ made her Spotify’s “Artists to Watch” in 2017. The EP’s sequel, ‘Bad Habits II’, was released this year, the singles of which were performed at the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix.
Ffion has successfully demonstrated her musical versatility by exploring different genres in her original music. Although Ffion’s first releases were R&B, she has taken on a new musical direction since 2018 with ‘Personal’. The tracks on ‘Bad Habits II’ have elements of pop which explores themes of youth and falling in love.
Formed in 2012, Disco Hue is a band that aims to be musically versatile. They have been in the spotlight since 2016, when they released their first and second singles ‘Gotta Find You’ and ‘I’ll Be Waiting’ respectively and their subsequent debut EP ‘Arcade’. 2019 was a monumental year for the band as they released their first full-length album ‘The Yearbook’ on June 28th. For the whole of July, Disco Hue was featured on Apple Music’s ‘New Artist Spotlight’. This year, the band performed locally at Music Matters Live, the National Day Concert at Gardens by the Bay, The Yearbook Secret Show, and overseas at HOT VOX in London.
Living up to their name, Disco Hue’s music is chill and has elements of folk and indie music. Their retro, electronic and groovy sound is accompanied by soothing vocals, creating tunes that are easy to listen to.
Since 2014, Gareth Fernandez has been part of Singapore’s burgeoning music scene, spawning hits like ‘Bit of Your Love’, ‘Drowning’ and ‘Let You Down’ after being influenced by Bruno Mars and Justin Timberlake. He is also part of an R&B quartet called ‘The Momma Shop’, who primarily post covers on YouTube. In 2018, Gareth was an artiste at the National Day Parade.
‘Bit of Your Love’ (2016), with over 1.2 million streams on Spotify, is a fun, feel-good anthem, which is a stark contrast to his more recent 2019 releases, ‘Drowning’ and ‘Let You Down’. The latter is a sequel to ‘Drowning’, both set around the theme of long-distance relationships. ‘Drowning’ had more than 300,000 Spotify streams after three months of release and enabled Gareth to be featured on the cover of Spotify’s “New Music Friday Singapore” playlist.
Lincoln Lim is a local alternative rock blues singer-songwriter who found fame after performing at BIGSOUND 2019 in Australia. He has been active in the local music scene for almost 10 years and started out by playing gigs at local pubs and bars as a teen. In 2017, Lincoln released his first single ‘Her’, which now has more than 200,000 streams on Spotify. Since then, he has released four more singles, with three being released in 2019 alone. Lincoln’s most recent single ‘Losing’ is an electronic folk pop ballad, focusing on nostalgia with the music video filmed in Tiong Bahru.
Lincoln’s sound is similar to the likes of John Mayer, Damien Rice, and Ben Howard. His next release will be his debut EP ‘Gravity’, coming out on January 3rd, 2020. The concept for this EP was adapted from Sylvia Plath’s novel ‘The Bell Jar’, with five original tracks.
Originally a quintet, the now-quartet Keisey is a local alternative pop-punk band. Their music is heavily influenced by Japanese and Western culture, mixing pop punk with other genres, giving them their “alternative” edge. The band is currently independent.
Although the members initially started with other groups, they started as a band in 2017 and have spent every December since then touring in different countries. Since 2017, they’ve toured Kuala Lumpur and Japan (Nagoya and Tokyo). This December, they had a mini Southeast Asian tour to Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia. Even though Keisey has a few singles (‘Four Walls’, ‘Sinking Ship’) and an EP under their belt, the group is still finding their sound.