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.
Hideaway reconciles spiritualist themes of mortality and renewal against a electronic-acoustic soundscape that belies the album’s lyrics. For Jean, Hideaway was written as a salve during a time of struggle and convalescence fromillness. Recounting the journey, Jean notes –
“I was diagnosed with kidney disease at 24, which catalysed a subsequent loss of things over the next 5-6 years in the areas of work, relationships, and lifestyle. I lost the ability to do the things I love, like make music and travel; at times, even walking, eating, and speaking was difficult, leading to long periods of social isolation.
In that secret place, away from the world – I met my raw, barenaked self, stripped away from the things I valued and which defined me at that point. I came face to face with who I really was, and let erupt the storm of emotions and questions I’d bottled inside for a long time. ”
Listeners have already experienced ‘Crowns’ (which quickly surpassed 100,000 streaming plays within the first couple months of release) and ‘Walls’ (produced by Cascine artist et aliae and featured former-The Steve McQueens saxophonist Fabian Lim). Three new songs in the album complete the circle. ‘Dandelion’ (also produced by et aliae) is about pressing on and being radiant even in the harshest conditions; ‘Blooms’ pens an honest conversation between the writer and God, confronting disappointment and finding fragile hope in the beginnings of spring; ‘Hide Away’, the title track, is about finding significance in the process – being in one’s own secret place, in the winter of the soul, to heal.
To mark the launch of Hideaway, Jean will livestream a performance on Facebook from a secret location on Saturday28 October 2017 at 8.30pm. Opening the event will be sets from talented singer-songwriters JAWN and Stacy Tan. Fans can catch the Facebook Live via Jean’s page from 8.30pm onwards on 28 October.
After more than a year out, indie/alt-rock quartet Newton Circus are announcing a new EP, On & On. The album title is a meditation of the human journey, from death to life, from simple to significant. Whether it’s songwriter Kenneth Ong describing wanderlust in ‘On & On’ or of life’s fragility in ‘Love You Like That;’ from facing the death of a loved one in ‘Twilight’ to an appreciation of time in ‘Birds,’ the album will uniquely interpose itself with the listener’s own experiences. As Kenneth Ong notes about ‘Love You Like That’ in particular –
“Love you like that was written about the experience of having a newborn and the uncertainty and fragility of life. Originally it was written for my first child — every parent loves their child but for me it took a while because her character only showed after a few months. But I think this song should also go to my second child, because of the difficulties we had – it gave the song additional meaning for me.”
The album cover, a film photograph taken in Portland, Oregon (United States), conveys the album’s theme of genuflection, of being able to draw reflectively from the different experiences in life.
Produced by Colin Ong (also Newton Circus guitarist) and Kevin Foo (Beep Studios – Linying, Charlie Lim, The Sam Willows), and mastered by award-winning Danish mastering engineer Holger Lagerfeldt. The creative process of making the album also saw the band experimenting yet embracing their own individual sonic identities –
“For those who have followed us over the years, I think in this EP you can tell that the collective is really coming together. It’s been really interesting: we wanted to let David’s electronic elements seep more into this EP, especially in Birds and Love you like that. For me personally, I’m a product of the 80s and 90s and I think we are starting to hear that now.” – Kenneth Ong
“The single’s threads of influences recalls their predecessors like Amy Winehouse, Robert Glasper, and Erykah Badu, the result is still undeniably, unquestionably The Steve McQueens.” Stereofox
“Singapore’s The Steve McQueens refuse to be pedestrian; they don’t live in the transient or the touch-and-go. Swerving between cool seduction and gripping magnetism, they aim to light the world up with their brand of self-styled neo-vintage soul-funk.” FMS Mag
“Singapore’s neo-soul outfit deliver a wonderfully bliss, jazz-inspired cut.” Mystic Sons
TERRAЯIUM is at once a reflection and a realisation – the band spent two years crafting an album that would draw upon their individual and collective experiences during the time. The album is a blossoming of artistic purpose, the fruit of soul-searching metamorphoses – the planted seed fully grown. And along with it, a new sound that promises to take listeners on an aural head-trip to the proverbial moon and back.
Of the 10-track album,“Hephaestus” and “Sun” are currently in rotation and garnering their share of critical attention and plaudits. Outlets like Stereofox, FAME Magazine, Sphere of Hip Hop, FMS Mag, Mystic Sons and more (expanded press quotes below) have already noted the band’s unique jazz-soul stylings and pleasantly warm sounds. Having completed a recent circuit of major iconic festivals in 2016/2017 – like Japan’s Summersonic, Indonesia’s Java Jazz, Korea’s JARASUM Jazz Festival, the Singapore International Jazz Festival and the Melbourne International Jazz Festival – The Steve McQueens are ready to unleash the highly-anticipated sounds of TERRAЯIUM to the world.
Accompanying the new album will be The Steve McQueens’ first multi-city Japan tour from 17 to 24 October 2017. The Steve McQueens will be making appearances in Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and Yokohama.