Singapore is well known for being one of the most economically developed countries in Asia (and not only). Positioned 5th globally in Human Development Index and having equally high rankings in education, healthcare and level of employment, all these would make anyone wonder if playing hardcore punk there is only a result of fashion and western mimetism or if there is a deeper reason behind…
Having visited and spend time in the country myself, I would say that the answer is not straight-forward. Singapore may have high economical and social achievements but these are a result of a strong leadership model who is applied through a set of strict rules and media control. So playing hardcore and punk in Singapore (despite the absence of any direct political association or clear message in it) can be actually a thing and for sure will not guarantee you popularity and commercial success. Therefore we cannot talk about fashion here.
At the same moment, Singapore is one of the most stable and safe countries I have been to and this makes it one of the most boring. Being a youngster who has access to an almost perfect education and an almost sure employment future, you definitely need something else to exhaust your natural energy. And such thing can be only hard and violent music…as long as it does not have any “dangerous” political association. I have observed the same situation in former communist countries like Czechoslovakia. Satanic Black metal bands like Master’s Hammer, could play without any problem as long as their message remained both anti-religious and non-political.
Food for thought, on how dangerous punk rock and generally hard music can nowadays be or if it is just a safe exhaustion-valve for the young generation…
The first release of this post comes from Fuse, an all girl band who play Old-school hardcore. They have just released their first digital promo which contains 3 songs with a total duration under 5 minutes and I have to express that I am impressed of how mature and well digested their hardcore sounds. Fuse belong to a generation who came into contact with hardcore mainly through the Internet (I cannot really imagine that many US and European hardcore bands have managed to reach Singapore - for various reasons) and this for me is another argument against the various types of Luddites who preach about the isolation that modern technology has brought into today’s society. The promo is offered for free download through their Bandcamp page and is definitely worth downloading and checking out.
Second release is a benefit compilation from 9 local Singaporean bands. As written in the beginning of this post, playing hardcore and punk in Singapore can be a thing and a good description of the challenges that the local scene faces is included in the details of the release. At the same moment, this description is an excellent display of the spirit and the solidarity with which the local scene addresses these challenges :
In recent years, the Singapore punk scene has witnessed the loss of all our dedicated independent and supportive spaces. This has left us in a difficult position, as independent DIY spaces are tantamount to the survival and progress of any punk community. A dedicated DIY space caters to the socio-spatial needs of the subculture, and provides an environment for organisation and interaction, without the difficulties of conforming to the expectations of mainstream culture. We have recognised the lack of DIY spaces as a predicament to be addressed with utmost urgency, and have taken up arms to pursue a solution. This is where we need your help. Starting with a small music studio, we intend to build a space which is to be shared and maintained amongst a set group of bands and their members. This space will function as a co-op, a rehearsal room and occasionally a live venue for small-scale studio shows (30-40 pax). Situated in a commercial building next to Surface Noise record store, the not-for-hire studio will not only provide the bands involved with a space to rehearse, but a conducive environment in which to organise and meet. All participating bands will be contributing monthly to the maintenance of the space, eradicating the need for the studio to subsist on venue hire. A dedicated, self-funded DIY space could also ideally mean having the capacity to pay touring bands that come through Singapore, and to organise more effective benefit shows when needed, amongst other advantages for the punk community as a whole. As of August of 2017, we have attained the keys to the bare unit and are currently working on the acoustic treatment of the room. According to quotations by contractors and material cost, we would need to raise quite an amount in order to effectively soundproof the room. This involves, among other things, constructing another layer of the wall to the top beyond the false ceiling since it is hollow and building another wall near the door. On top of sound treatment, the added purchase of a PA system would leave us at roughly $4000SGD ($2930USD). In view of our intention to maintain use of the space for as long as possible, we would like to ensure that not only does the sound treatment of the room last, but our activities not affect the neighbouring units. Surface Noise has already fostered a positive relationship with the surrounding businesses since its opening, and we aim to preserve that with the addition of our space. With this information, the following bands involved in the space would like to call for monetary contributions in solidarity with Project 416, to aid in setting up the space: Daily ritual, Lifelock, Planet caravan, Adhara, Lubricant, Fluke, Abrasion, Reyerta, SIAL, Rataa. Any monetary help, whether big or small, will go a long way into what we see as an incredibly exciting development in Singapore’s punk community. Contributors would also be supporting, in invaluable amounts, to the development of the participating bands’ growth. Thank you! For paypal contributions you can buy (by clicking on 'Buy now ' or pay more if you can) our digital benefit comp through our bandcamp site. the comp features all the bands from the Project 416 collective. project416.bandcamp.com
Going into the musical details of the release, we have 9 bands coming from a wide spectrum of hardcore and punk. From Discharge-style (notice also the compilation cover) D-beat (Sial, Life Lock, Rataa, Lubricant, Fluke) to Power-violence (Abrasion, Reyerta) and from Crustcore (Adhara) to 77 Punk (Daily Ritual), Project 416 showcases perfectly the quality and the diversity of the Singaporean scene. All bands and tracks in this compilation are excellent and the 8 SGD (approx 5 Euros) that this compilation costs will contribute to a great cause. Please purchase it from here :