Singing Their Stories

Tea with Pleasantry

By Clara Lock, photos courtesy of Pleasantry

Local indie pop band Pleasantry doesn’t just make music – they’re storytellers as well.

“Most of our lyrics are a narrative, a story by itself,” said bassist Isa Ong, who co-writes most of the songs with lead singer Samantha Teng.

Even as they craft stories of their own, the band looks to other storytellers as their muse. Milan Kundera’s The Farewell Waltz, a Czech novel about love and hate, inspired two tracks on their EP, Porcelain Lenses.

One of these tracks, Near and Dear, has been made into the band’s first music video.

“It’s about longing for someone you lost,” said Isa, “Someone who isn’t there any more.” The video, shot by a friend of guitarist Ahmad Ariff, is a dreamy sequence set in a forest, featuring two girls wistful about losing each other.

The status of their relationship is intentionally ambiguous. In the video, the back-story of these girls is never revealed. Some people think it’s about a lesbian relationship, and others see the friendship element, said Isa, adding that the band wanted people to interpret the story on their own.

The five-member outfit, which draws inspiration from Canadian indie pop bands Stars and Broken Social Scene, came together in late 2010.

Three of its members – Ariff, Isa and Samantha – left their former band Postbox to form Pleasantry with a new guitarist and drummer.

“Postbox stayed together for three years because of the friendship”, said Isa. But when the band’s creative direction strayed too far from it’s original twee pop sound, the trio decided it was time to call it quits, a conclusion both Ariff and Isa called ‘difficult’.

“Sometimes you have to know that music is a bit more important than friendship,” said Isa, though he is quick to add that they are still ‘good friends’ with their former band mates.

Starting from scratch has not been easy. The five, who are all undergraduates (with the exception of guitarist Adel Rashid, who is doing National Service), do everything themselves, from sourcing gigs to arranging interviews.

Photo Credit: Marilyn Goh

But it is a labour of love for the quintet, who toyed with names like ‘swans’ and ‘lovers’ before they arrived at Pleasantry. Explaining the meaning of the name, Isa said: “There is one sole pleasantry in each of our lives – to make music, to write, and to compose.”

And, of course, to tell their stories.

Campus has two Pleasantry posters to give away! Both posters come with links to download their EP on bandcamp. Simply answer this question: What is the name of Pleasantry’s first EP?

Email your answers to interns@campus.com.sg with your name and contact number. Contest ends 8th March 2012. Good luck!

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