November 09, 2022
Forty seconds into “Air Guitar” and vocalist Celine Autumn is already delivering a type of hooks that latches onto one’s mind and doesn’t let go. Pop is etched into Singaporean trio Sobs’ DNA; the album cowl and tagline (“the sound of pop music from Sobs!”) are redolent of ’90s shibuya-kei stylish, whereas strains of indie pop, jangle, pop punk, and synth-pop converge within the file’s sound.
“We simply love pop,” says Raphael Ong. And on Air Guitar, every member brings their very own manifestations of that love. Autumn’s childhood obsession with 2000s Disney Channel anthems mingles together with her newest hyperpop songwriting as Cayenne: “Once we first began Sobs, Cayenne wasn’t a factor but,” she says. “After Cayenne, I observed one other facet of me, and now I write extra cohesively in each tasks making an attempt to attract influences from either side.” Jared Lim, alternatively, brings to his productions a mix of Kero Kero Bonito, Crying, and “I don’t wish to say it, however Weezer.” And Ong is the group’s resident digger, trawling the Web for the uncommon shibuya-kei ephemera and scouting the present-day indie pop scene in Asia for his label Middle Class Cigars.
Chatting over a video name with the simple rapport of a band whose major mode of working is on-line, they inform me of the band’s origins on the Web. “In 2016, I posted on soft.com.sg and simply listed some artists I appreciated,” says Autumn. “It’s type of like a music Craigslist, and the slogan of the place is ‘It’s Music in Singapore.’ Isn’t that fairly a dope slogan?” provides Lim. He reached out, despatched some instrumentals, and the 2 initially shaped a short-lived mission “that was like dangerous digital music,” says Autumn.
“Jared and I truly met at a CHVRCHES live performance,” says Ong. “We have been large CHVRCHES followers, we might queue up at 5pm for a present at like 8pm each time they got here.” Connecting on-line, Ong heard of Lim and Autumn’s indie pop aspirations and wished in. They put out Catflap in 2017, a bed room pop affair as cozy as its cowl implies. Full-length Telltale Signs adopted the subsequent 12 months, with greater preparations and stay drums. After which there was a four-year silence.
However they have been removed from inactive; moderately, they have been painstakingly assembling and iterating the file that might deliver them, lastly, to the US. “There’s solely a lot that we will do in Singapore,” says Ong. With a scarcity of mid-size venues and a smaller home market, being a musician within the famously conservative city-state might be robust. With Air Guitar, Sobs joined the likes of different Asian acts like Taiwan’s Elephant Gym and Japan’s toe on Topshelf Records, with an American tour quickly to return. “It’s one thing that we’ve all collectively labored exhausting in the direction of,” says Lim.
And whereas they’re excited to play within the States, they’re definitely not rookies on the worldwide stage. They’re linked to the Southeast Asian indie pop scene within the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia, having performed in Manila, Jakarta, and Ipoh, amongst different cities. “They’re meccas in their very own proper too,” says Ong. A efficiency at Mow’s Bar in Quezon Metropolis stands out for them specifically. “Everybody was singing alongside to our songs,” says Ong. “Even unreleased ones!” Lim chimes in. With solely an EP out, every little thing “felt actual in that second,” says Autumn. “Lots of people from that present turned my buddies.”
The band additionally provides credit score to the “indie uncles that have been lively in bands within the early ‘90s that proceed to help us.” One in all them is Shawn Khiu of Monstercat, who assists with drumming. Lovingly dubbed “shushugaze” (a pun on 叔叔, or uncle), the primary era of indie in Singapore consists of bands like The Padres and the Oddfellows. “We owe fairly a bit to them as nicely, particularly after we first began,” says Ong. In fact, they’re additionally indebted to their contemporaries in Singapore like Cosmic Child, whose member Zhang Bo lent his bass chops to the file. However the band pay it ahead as nicely; Lim is credited with serving to produce for his or her friends in CURB and Forests.
With a wholesome regional scene and the help of earlier generations at their again, Sobs have come into their very own on Air Guitar. “This newest album type of felt like a mixture of every little thing, and we simply weren’t afraid to do no matter we wished,” he continues. That musical abandon rears its head when “Friday Night time” transitions from its sugar-coated hook right into a turbocharged drum & bass belter. “For months the music was simply sitting on our computer systems as only a verse and refrain,” Lim says. Impressed by “Can You Really feel the Sunshine” from the Sonic R OST, he determined to interrupt out of author’s block by throwing a few of its breakneck sounds into the monitor “as a meme.” The three have been pleasantly shocked by the consequence. And as with all good memes, the sound of pop music from Sobs is poised to unfold worldwide.
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