Singapore, like many of its Asian city counterparts, slants in favour of mainstream pop music with at least some digging required to unearth the aspects of the city’s music scene which aren’t ‘top 20’ material.

However in recent years the metropolis’ underground and indie music communities have started to grow in notoriety.

Through support from local indie record labels like KittyWu Records, Wake Me Up Music and Straits Records local artists have been given the chance to get their music out into the public domain and the Singapore music scene has benefited immensely from this.

Even the large amounts of mainstream dance clubs are being contested by a growing contingent of locals putting together club nights that promote diverse quality music. Nights such as Pushin-On, Mugic Soundsystem, Syndicate and KiloWatt Soundsystem all offer alternative options outside of Singapore’s much-infested regular clubs.

Rockstar Collective is another night, although instead of DJs it brings together up and coming local indie and alternative bands.

The metal music community in Singapore is also experiencing an upturn in growth much in thanks to tours from international acts such as Slayer and Iron Maiden.

While there is little support from mainstream media metal acts have utilised social media with a rapid increase of bands beginning to form as new avenues open up.

However Singapore’s music scene today is much different from the 60s with some regarding the decade as the city’s golden ear in music.

At the time sold out tours and screaming fans was a common occurrence. While today fewer bands are signed to labels.

The government is trying to revitalise the local arts sector with over four million dollars spent in the years prior to 2012 on the local music scene.

The funds were used for talent development, overseas promotion, participation and profiling as well as opportunities for collaboration and showcase.

The government’s support of the local music scene has provided local musicians with a ray of hope.

A place like The Esplanade, which hosts three music festivals, gala nights and supports multi-genre music making, demonstrates the best the Singapore music scene has to offer.

While hoards of tourists seek out Singapore for its shopping there is no reason why you won’t find a venue, which features quality local musicians, to experience the city’s nightlife after a long day of searching for sales.

Singapore Festivals/Conferences

St.Jerome’s Laneway Festival
The Australian music festival continues to expand internationally while the Auckland event began in 2010 and the Detroit version is set to feature in 2013, Laneway was first held in Singapore in 2011. Each year it continues to grow with the 2013 event attracting 10,000 punters by featuring such acts as Alt-J, Bat For Lashes, Gotye, Tame Impala and Yeasayer. The change in venue to The Meadow at Gardens by the Bay proved a successful move with the location providing a beautiful backdrop to the music.

First held in 2002 this spans genres from folk to metal over three days in June. It has grown considerably since its inception with 70,000 punters catching 35 bands at the Esplanade. The event, which features local and international acts, is free to the public. There are three main stages while interview sessions are also held at the Observation Deck. Acts like Anberlin and Jebediah have played in the past.

Timbre Rock & Roots
This event is a two day evening festival which brings together some of the most respected musicians from around the globe. Artists like Bob Dylan, Imogen Heap and Buddy Guy have all played since the festivals inception in 2010. Held in March the 2013 lineup was one of Rock & Roots best yet with acts such as Robert Plant, Paul Simon, Rufus Wainwright and Bonnie Ratt all performing.

Singapore Record Stores

Redpoint Record Warehouse, 80 Playfair Road,
Boasting nearly 70,000 records, the store also has almost 10,000 LPs that celebrate past eras such as the 60s to the 90s. While CDs are also for sale the vinyl selection is organised into sections such as ‘Chinese’, ‘Classicals’ and ‘Singles’. While the price varies don’t expect to find many pop acts stocked here. Fans of house and techno records should also be pleased with the cheap selection of such records. As the home of one of Singapore’s largest record collections vinyl hunters in the city should stop by Redpoint first.

Vinylicious Records, 35 Selegie Road Parklane Shopping
Other than boasting vinyl releases, that includes classics and rarities, from 40 years ago Vinylicious also stocks DJ equipment and sometimes even 80’s stylized clothes. In fact the establishments love of the 80s extends beyond the clothes with retrospective parties held on occasion. The store also imports a great selection of new releases with plenty of deluxe editions on offer.

Hear Records, #01-39 Burlington Square 175 Bencoolen Street,
This record establishment claims itself to be a ‘music lifestyle store’. It is the local provider of Music Hall turntables and Electronic and Art Vinyl. The store is home to both new and used records with a particularly good selection of jazz LPs for sale. Rare vinyl is also offered at reasonable prices amongst a high quality array of records.

Singapore Music Venues

Crazy Elephant, 3E River Valley Road,
With the back wall decorated by graffiti this venue is one of the city’s best places to catch live music. Rock and blues musicians make up the core of the live music offered with bands performing every night except Monday. Sunday nights are jam night where punters are given the chance to join in. International blues artists like Eric Burdon, Walter Trout and Rick Derringer have all played here before. However the real attraction of Crazy Elephant is the local bands that have made this venue the respected institution that it is.

Timbre @ The Substation, 45 Armenian Street,
The music section of the Timbre group has four respected music venues under its banner with this establishment being the pick of the crop. The outdoor venue allows for a relaxed ambience with up and coming local acts providing the soundtrack for the evening. The Substation is the perfect place to unwind after a long day of either work or exploring with the inclusion of local Singapore bands an added bonus.

Wala Wala Café Bar, 31 Lorong Mambong,
This venue is a two story bar which combines good food, drinking and live music. Bands and comedy acts perform in the upstairs area nearly every night. For 15 years Wala Wala has served fans of alternative rock with some of the best local acts. Happy hour acoustic music is provided from 7-9pm while the establishment closes at 1am most nights and 2am on Saturdays.

Singapore Acts You Should Check Out

Monster Cat – Soundcloud
Taking their name from a feline specimen with supernatural abilities in Japanese folklore, this four-piece play emotive folk rock. Their debut release, Mannequins, landed last year with its success allowing the group a spot on the 2013 SXSW lineup. Listen to their track ‘These Hands’ below.

The Sam Willows – Soundcloud
This soul-folk four piece may have only just released their debut self titled EP in October of 2012, but they’ve already amassed more than 100,000 Youtube views and toured across North America. Headed by the siblings Benjamin and Narelle Kheng with their friends Jon Chua and Sandra Riley Tang making up the rest of the outfit, listen to their song ‘Nightlight’ below.

In Each Hand A Cutlass – Soundcloud
With this instrumental acts debut album, A Universe Made Of Strings, dropping in 2011 the band have supported the likes of Bombay Bicycle Club, The Naked And Famous, Metronomy and The Jezabels. Comprised of esteemed musicians from Singapore’s music scene the outfit mix ambient, post rock and metal elements to forge a progressive sound.

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