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Does shoegaze music have a place in S’pore?

Ewen Boey
Profiling local bands & musicians
19 April 2011

Local shoegaze band Stellarium is a rare breed in Singapore. (Photo/ Stellarium)
Local shoegaze band Stellarium is a rare breed in Singapore. (Photo/ Stellarium)

Every first and third Wednesday of the month, Yahoo! MusicScene shines the spotlight on talented, up-and-coming Singaporean bands or musicians. This week, we speak to Az Kadir from local band Stellarium about shoegaze music in Singapore.

Have you heard about the shoegaze music scene in Singapore?

Less popular than indie music, shoegaze originated from Britain in the 1980s, and is named after a kind of motionless performing style. Artistes in this genre typically stand on stage and stare at the floor while playing.

However, this type of music is better-known for its pure, unadulterated sound as marked by loud, droning guitar riffs and bursts of distortion and feedback.

"You can describe shoegaze music as noise rock or neo-psychedelic rock," said Az Kadir, leader of local shoegaze band Stellarium.

Listening to their self-titled debut album, which was completely self-recorded, I was blown away by the constant assault of effects-driven guitar tones and booming drum beats.

It was like a tsunami of music, and I enjoyed the crashing of its sonic waves.

Watch their video, Chocolate & Strawberry:

Named after a 3-D star map, Stellarium comprises Fid on guitars, Mar on bass, Bach on drums, and Az on guitars and vocals. The band does not play full-time and each member has his own day job.

The front man admitted that when the band started out playing together, they did not put a label to their music. People later applied the shoegaze term to the group's music, as it showed the evident influences of noise rock and a bit of '60s sound.

Az told Yahoo! Singapore that they are happy to be the "alternative to the alternative" in Singapore's music scene, which is dominated by mainstream artistes and indie pop/rock acts.

"We have a bunch of local fans who follow us from gig to gig, but as far as mainstream appeal goes, we are a kind of a niche," said Az, who also stressed the point that having a small number of fans who sincerely appreciate an artiste's work is more important than having mass exposure.

"It's your integrity as a band (that's important). What is your purpose for playing music? Is it for sincere intentions or because you want to be a rock star?" he said. "It is a shallow thing we get with a lot of bands around here."

Stellarium is more concerned with their form of expression than the turnout for theig gigs. (Photo/ Stellarium)
Stellarium is more concerned with their form of expression than the turnout for theig gigs. (Photo/ Stellarium)

Regional take

In the region, Japan and Indonesia are hotbeds for shoegaze music, while small pockets of artistes that follow the genre speckle the rest of Asia.

Az is not much concerned with the public's reception to the band's music. "I'm more worried about my own expression, my own craft as a songwriter. I don't really care about what people accept or perceive, because I love what I do and I enjoy it," he said.

He noted though that the shoegaze scene in Indonesia is much more vibrant than in Singapore.

"Some of our biggest receptions were from Indonesia. The kids are really different. (It's) the culture. They just started dancing and moshing spontaneously," he said.

When quizzed on whether the band intended to play full-time, Az lamented the current state of Singapore's local music scene.

"There will be challenges for a full-time band playing originals, but as far as the scene in Singapore is concerned, it will take a few hundred more years before people realise there is talent in this country," he said.

"Everyone is busy working and trying to get success and (looking for) materialistic avenues to conquer. People just forget about culture and music."

Watch their video, Punkchet:

For more information on Stellarium's upcoming gigs and album releases, visit:

Stellarium Bandcamp
Stellarium Myspace
Stellarium Facebook/Updates/Latest News

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