Landing on a fresh sound in the mosaic world of pop is no easy task, but Evanturetime’s proclivity towards collaborating with other artists keeps bearing fruit. From last summer’s sleeper hit “Vultures” (with Linying and Charlie Lim) to his own take on The Weeknd’s “Starboy” with Jasmine Sokko, listeners have invariably -positively- responded to the producer’s ability to make music that moves people.
On “Sober”, this approach has not changed – only the end product. Combining the pop sensibilities from all three songwriters, the result is a outrageously catchy pop piece that still bears Evanturetime’s signature restraint in production. “I wanted to marry Ben (Benjamin Kheng) and JX’s pop songwriting approach with Nathan’s jazz crooner tendencies. I thought it might be fun to get them together and blend all that pop songwriting goodness with some quirky sounds and beat choices that they wouldn’t normally try in their typical pop setting,” Evan notes.
With Benjamin Kheng and JX coming off the back of The Sam Willows’ recent hits (“Save Myself,” “Keep Me Jealous”), and Nathan Hartono’s Sing! China success not far behind in memory (where he was handpicked by mentor Jay Chou, no less), getting the four boys into the same mental environment was not going to be easy; they managed it with the (unexpected) help of a childhood game. “We spent a lot of time playing Street Fighter before I managed to get everyone in the same headspace but it was really fun overall and I think the music definitely reflects that,” Evan said, recalling their brainstorming process.
Though the song title may recall alcohol-imbibed heady nights, the songwriting was approached with anything but. Each artist brought his own tangent to the lyrics, but all of them found common ground in the idea that reaching for real honesty in love was a difficult endeavour. “Love is inherently a selfish endeavor, and much of it is a do-si-do of taking from your lover. We’re not painting a very glossy picture of a modern relationship; sometimes you’ve got to demand pieces of that person, and all this talk is very hard to be done when sober,” Benjamin Kheng said.
Recalling threads of Usher, R. Kelly and Blackstreet, BABA NYZA was inspired by a palate of late 90s/early 2000s-influenced RnB sounds during the production of “The Afternoon” – which proved to be a fitting foil for confronting the angst-ridden lyrical themes straight on. Little details however, like the grumble of the sub-bass and the sprinkling of organ stabs, shows an artist who is not merely satisfied with going ‘Ctrl-C-Ctrl-V’ on a preset.
Fanning the flames of a cheating relationship, “The Afternoon” is a raw pen-to-paper moment of lyrical honesty from the point of view of the cheating party. Described by BABA NYZA as a story of “uncontrollable and guilt-inducing lust,” the RnB track unpacks the murky emotional entanglement between cheating on a loved one with someone one can’t seem to get enough of.
Singapore has a fresh challenger to its nascent electronica scene. Well not so new – FERRY is no stranger around these parts, starting well-respected indie band Giants Must Fall (as lead singer and songwriter) and joining Riot !n Magenta (as guitarist). Having tested waters with a tastefully-sparse remix of TOMGIRL’s Heartbeats, FERRY steps out on her own terms with “Words.”
“Words” is a song that most can relate to, even the most linguistically-fluent among us – the struggle of not being able to fully articulate what we really want to communicate. Here, the oxymoron (and ability) of the songwriter then, is the enduring ability of music to reach out where written language fails, and in doing so, becomes its own language. This formed the basis for the song, as FERRY notes –
“I had nothing to write about, nothing I wanted, needed or could say. Which was strange given that my usual songwriting process bordered on having something to say. Whilst I could musically express all my emotions, lyrically, there was nothing I could say about it. So in frustration I said to myself, ‘I have nothing to say’ and that kick started the idea for the song.”
Directed by Raphael Michael Ong, the music video takes this idea further, drawing out the song’s languid lyricism and luscious production. Awash in surrealist visual grammar, “Words” MV ultimately encourages the listener to embrace the gaps we call silence. A self-reflective, over-analysis of her character and inner workings, “Words” sees FERRY using words to best describe that suffocating feeling of ironically not having enough words and that perhaps, at the end of day, it’s better to say nothing at all.