One of the biggest names to make it out of the local music scene in the past few years is Gentle Bones. Although many used to refer to him as the Singaporean Ed Sheeran, his sound has evolved from the singer-songwriter trope and he has experimented with multiple genres, including indie and R&B.
Now, the artiste has teamed up with local producer and DJ Myrne, marking his entrance into the electronic scene. Signed to Diplo’s label Mad Decent, Myrne has also reached an impressive level of success in the past few years.
The two just released a joint album named B4NGER, so we caught up with them to find out more about the new project.
So how did you two join forces?
Myrne: We met on SoundCloud. He was already putting out a lot of stuff and one day I just reached out and was like ‘Hey can I put my spin on it’, his voice was really unique to me and I had never heard anything like it within Singapore. Then he released an EP and asked me to remix it. After a while, we realized that because we are in our respective worlds, him with the indie/folk/pop/electronic and me with the pure electronic/EDM scene, it would be interesting to just mix both of our skills.
What inspiration did you guys have from the local music scene here in Singapore?
Gentle Bones: Although it has always been a lot of international music, there is also a lot of music locally that inspired me. One artist Sam Rui who is actually on the album inspired me throughout the years, so I would give her quite a bit of credit in terms of the way I write now.
Myrne: For me, I didn’t know any big Singapore acts apart from him [Gentle Bones] because I was always focused on the electronic scene, and with Soundcloud, that brings you online to thousands of other people. Eventually I realized I was neglecting my home circle. I was looking abroad when I should have looked inside. So there are plenty of cool new acts that are coming out, like Jasmine Sokko, a good friend of mine, and of course Sam. So there is definitely talent in Singapore, I just wished I looked at it earlier.
What is the concept behind the digital landscapes that pop up during the music videos?
Gentle Bones: The artist goes by Howie, he has been doing these artwork for a while already.
Myrne: We felt like his work, the blown up bottle head, the big eyes, the anime-style characters, just summarized the Asian experience perfectly. Cute, but keeping it serious, edgy, morbid in terms of blood but in a cute way, it works out.
What is the concept for the B4NGER video?
Gentle Bones: It’s an exaggeration of what the song is about. And for that part of the music video, the song is about love, a declaration of love to somebody that is special. So to further exaggerate the song, we literally went in to stand in and declare our love.
Myrne: It’s pretty tongue and cheek, I mean the song is called B4NGER like ‘a good song’, but alos like ‘bang her’
Gente Bones: He came up with that one.
Why not 21 or 22 tracks? Nowadays artists put like 22 tracks so when people stream the whole album they will get more streaming revenue.
Myrne: I think it’s the opposite actually. Like 21 Savage has put up a few albums every few months, and no one is going to properly check out each track because that takes too long.
We’re not rappers, our instrumentals take more than five minutes to make so it’s very crafted to the vocal, it’s really specific. And we feel like with playlist culture and decreasing attention spans people would have gotten bored. So our direction with this album is that a lot of these songs are different, so these songs would get into very different playlists.
You wanted to be a war journalist and you study political science, so for you where does the link between politics and music come?
Myrne: I chose to study politics because I have seen a lot of great musicians bring a lot of awareness to a social issue once they have a platform, it could be female representation etc. and then you read the comments section in which they say “Stick to music, if you didn’t study politics don’t talk about it.”
So in the future when I talk about politics and someone says “Stick to music”, I can say I did study politics. And back to the platform thing, in the states, you have a president that is basically a talk show host, and it’s the same with musicians, people listen to you because of your music or your craft but if you have some good ideas that you bring to the table that you can showcase to a wider audience I don’t see why you shouldn’t.
Are there any issues in Singapore you would like to bring to your platform?
Myne: Yeah, for sure in the future. Singapore is the most interesting place to study politics because it exists but not really. It’s there but a lot of stuff gets covered. I wouldn’t want to say that there is no political culture in Singapore, it is just that the middle class is large here, and they are just not very active.
With the history of Singapore and other developmental economies, the focus is always on progress and more progress, economic development, there is not much on civil rights or arts and culture, and that is definitely something I want to bring up in the future.
What artists do you look up to?
Myrne: Gentle Bones! (laughs) Also for me it’s Diplo. I was producing for RL Grime in Diplo’s house, and I did an EP in his house in LA, and he’s a renaissance man, he just does everything himself, at music sessions he always sits in, etc. It’s great to be so connected with what you are doing because so many artists hide behind labels or get someone to manage their socials, which I don’t think is organic.
What do you guys think is an august man?
Gentle Bones: I would probably think of him [Myrne], stylish, clean, politically active, has got his opinions down.
What should we expect with the album?
Gentle Bones: I’m really proud of it. I think we came up with something that is quite fresh and at the same time while we were creating we knew we wanted to come up with stuff that was unfamiliar to us, and it resulted in a whole album.
Check out B4NGER on Spotify.