Foreword by Jocelle Koh
Playlist Notes by shy-c
With a nonplussed, yet calming voice, up-and-coming Singaporean artist and producer shy-c is just the man to champion his brand of what we like to call 'optimistic hopelessness'. As someone between cultures and entering a new chapter of his life, shy-c's influences as reflected in this playlist are an ambient mix of nostalgia, loss of innocence and the purest of ideals. Dig deep into this soothing playlist that leaves you a little harassed about the state of our society, but also kind of hanging on. As we do.
Track 01 - shy-c - Hollow
‘Hollow’ is a track inspired by the transient moments in life where we find ourselves lost with no sense of direction. I’m almost done with my degree, and the future hasn’t really been mapped out as far as my career is concerned. This is probably a feeling that many people can relate to, not knowing what’s next in life. To add on to that, the climate situation is pretty bad so there’s not much motivation to achieve anything since our future is bleak anyway. BUT we have each other so there’s still something to look forward to, I think.
Track 02 - San Holo - show me
I discovered San Holo’s Album1 a while back and it’s been on repeat since, this track is my personal favourite because the guitar just works so well with the electronic elements. The way he distorted and destroyed the guitar tone really encouraged me to experiment more with manipulating recorded audio.
Track 03 - Jai Wolf - Indian Summer (Kasbo Remix)
The original track by Jai Wolf was already amazing, but somehow Kasbo managed to breathe new life into it. I just love the guitar plucks so much.
Track 04 - .gif - Godspeed
.gif is probably one of my favourite electronic acts, and they’re always great live too. Weish’s style of phrasing is so free and natural, it almost feels like an odd-meter song.
Track 05 - shy-c - Endless Night
I’ve never heard of this shy-c guy but this song is alright. 5/10
Track 06 - Linkin Park - Shadow of the Day
Been listening to a lot of the emo tracks from a few years back, this is one of my go-to songs. I like listening to it at the end of a long day, when I’m on my way home on the bus or train.
Track 07 - Joji - Sanctuary
This is just a really really good pop song. Also the music video is great.
Track 08 - Tyler the Creator - EARFQUAKE
I like the way Tyler distorted his voice, and the song is really catchy.
Track 09 - Tycho - Japan
I’m loving the new direction that Tycho’s going with singer Saint Sinner, it’s a fresh take on his signature downtempo style while keeping with his original palette of synth sounds.
Track 10 - Go Yama - The Sequences
Go Yama is probably the first electronic producer that I’ve heard with shreddy guitar solos. It’s really impressive how good he is at both guitar and production.
Foreword: Jocelle Koh
Track Descriptions: The Chairs
Sweet and sour but always tasty, let The Chairs take you on a dreamy musical journey with some of their favourite tracks followed by a taste of their own tracks! From Jakob Ogawa to tofubeats, this band's eclectic-yet-zen set of musical influences aptly reflect their transformative musical style. Grab yourself a glass of Lemonade and let's get into this playlist created for you especially by the band!
Track 01: Jakob Ogawa – Let It Pass
Zhong Ying: This song's melody is too beautiful and too interesting, the vocals and the instrument combination is just right. No one is vying for top spot, in the short space of two minutes it sketched out an entire blueprint, causing listeners to come back for more time and again.
Track 02: Matt Maltese – Like A Fish
Zhong Ying: First I was attracted by the intro melody and the instrumentals, and thus finished the whole song. Every instrument to each their own, the embellishments in the melody are also well matched. The song isn't longwinded at all in its storytelling of a sad heartbreaking story.
Track 03: Mac DeMarco – Still Beating
Yong Jing: I really like Mac DeMarco's album 'This Old Dog', the melodies are really nice, the instrumentals and rhythms are simple. The sustains of the drums are short, the double stroke sounds so nice, and the modulation is angled in a very comfortable way. Recording was great too.
Track 04 : Loving - Nihilist Kite Flyer
Yong Jing: A very lo-fi song, I really like the way the rhythm and chords work together. I think this song is very suitable for Sunday morning listening, while you're hanging up your clothes.
Track 05: John Lennon - Woman
Yong Jing: I heard this song from a cassette when I was young, at that time I didn't know John Lennon, just felt that this person's voice was quite strange. Afterwards when i started creating backing vocals myself this song would always pop up in my mind. Because his backing vocals and lyrics are just too beautiful.
Track 06/07/08: Good Morning - Warned You
Babe Rainbow - Peace Blossom Boogy
Austin Weber - Goodbye
Track 09: tofubeats - 水星 Mercury
Bo Yuan: I was recommended this song recently, the melody is really great, the vocals which have added effects become even more intimately intertwined with the song's groove. While listening it feels like I'm floating over there, perhaps to Mercury, I'm not sure.
Track 10: Takuya Kuroda - Everybody Loves The Sunshine
Bo Yuan: The music is presented in a really comfortable way, with laid-back drums that pair amazingly well with the song itself. A song that is 9.5 minutes long, yet it doesn't cause listeners to feel bored or that it's dragging.
Track 11: The Chairs - Levitation
I really recommend for listeners who are in a serene space such as before going to sleep or reading books; this is a great time to repeat the song “Levitation”.
Track 12: The Chairs - Dreaming With You
Zhong Ying’s backing vocals in “Dreaming With You” is amazing, everyone needs to take a listen.
Track 13: The Chairs - Lemonade
The intro of “Lemonade” is very powerful, as if you’ve fallen headfirst into a jug of Lemonade. What comes next is a gentle, soft melody that allows you to float amongst it. Actually all the songs in the EP are really great, we hope everyone can try it together.
Intro Note by Jocelle Koh
Graphic Design by Allison Sun
Track Descriptions by Diana Wang
Diana Wang王詩安 has always been a little bit of a mystery to me. Debuting as a pop act in her earlier days before reinventing herself as an alternative R&B artist with FU MUSIC, we've constantly been trying to keep our finger on the pulse of her ever-changing sound. Who better to ask about this than Wang herself? In our latest instalment of Choice Picks_ , Diana shares with us some mysterious tracks of her own and those from others which have inspired her current musical stylings. From Gallant to Sigrid, her unique mix of tastes interspersed with some of her latest tracks show how her style can be both inspired and transformative at the same time. Read her thoughts on her 'mysterious vibes' playlist below!
Track 01. Intertwined (脈絡) - Diana Wang
Souls connect and intertwine, R&B alternative with a mysterious vibe, representing my mini album ‘Moon’. Fun fact, I wrote this song in my one-year old baby sister’s baby room right after New Year’s Eve 2018-2019, in the morning of Jan 1 in the Netherlands. The song is about all (in)visible connections, underground tunnels, roots... you name it, all species are connected in this world. And sometimes you can feel how strong some connections can be..
Track 02. Bourbon (feat. Saba & Lophiile) - Gallant
He has this somber mood but a big voice with aesthetic vibes in his contemporary R&B music. Love listening to Gallant sing and I think his stage performance movements are quite unique, they're smooth and flow so naturally with his songs. And I just love this version’s music arrangement.
Track 03. Way to the show - Solange
I just found online the right names for her genres: ‘cosmic’ jazz, Hip Hop and R&B described as psychedelic soul/new age trap... There’s more but her chill way of pronouncing words feel very delicate, organic, intimate and has a magical touch that sparks joy to me. A Masterpiece.
Track 04. Bad Guy - Billie Eilish
I knew about her recently and never thought that ‘horror’ and electro/indie pop get along so well, she has this perfect blend and a totally fresh/mysterious style, it blew my mind. And I started watching some horror films.. I NEVER used to...
Track 05. Space Farm - Diana Wang
I sang it with some slightly punk, rock, chill elements and I share my hopes that we humans may grow some good mindsets; let us love all species on earth and may they live here forever. May we love our planet home and use/waste less.
Track 06. Pink + White - Frank Ocean
He is one of my earliest R&B contemporary influences. A great storyteller with an aura that can be mysterious yet chill but deep.
Track 07. Hello, I said - Diana Wang
I’ve always wanted a chill (acoustic) guitar song. This track is about different angles of our journeys in life, sang in an intimate way like a friend to a friend. Hope it gives you a relaxing vibe, yet gives you the motivation to keep exploring and to do what you’ve always wanted to do.
Track 08. New Light - John Mayer
Besides the fact that I keep looping this song, its music video is weird, awkward, ridiculous and I love it. The music industry is having a hard time... luckily they have ‘priceless’ creativity! Love it.
Track 09. Mine Right Now - Sigrid
Another fun music video starring the director himself because Sigrid couldn’t make it to the set due to plane delays. As the video starts it tells you that everything went wrong and honestly this video made me love the song even more! Another priceless creation! Good vibes!! By the way, Sigrid is so unique and talented. She gives me a lot of inspiration too, I remember how my song ‘Good Times’ reminds me of some Sigrid vibes.
Track 10. 假行僧 - Khalil Fong
I usually like Khalil's own original R&B tracks. But surprisingly this cover he did is kind of rock and urban. He totally changed the original song’s vibe with his new arrangement. I love how it gives me a fresh and exciting feeling. Blending styles is the best!
Intro By Jocelle Koh
Track Descriptions by Evangeline王艷薇
Graphic Design by Allison Sun
The out-of-this-world singer shares an playlist of fusion tracks that are even more otherworldy than herself. Modelled after the 'split personality' element present in her latest singles 'Already Forgotten' and 'Living Along 一個人生活' where she featured alongside electronic outfit GS5H, this is one Choice Picks_ you won't want to miss out on.
Track 01. Already Forgotten 其實我們都忘了 - Evangeline 王艷薇
Track 02. 你說了算 張惠妹 ft. E SO
Track 03. 刪除加封鎖在 - Neoso
Track 04. 一個人生活 - G5SH feat. Evangeline王艷薇
These four songs are all by producer Felipe. By listening to them side to side you can hear the intentional and striking genre switch.
Track 05. Old Town Road - Lil Nas ft. Billy Ray Cyrus
An amazing fusion.
Track 06. Far Away 千里之外 - Jay Chou周杰倫 ft. Fei Yu Ching費玉清
A collaboration between superhuman creatives
Track 07. Chinese 中國話 - S.H.E
The tongue twisters are brainwashing.
Track 08. Ugly Beauty 怪美的 - Jolin Tsai 蔡依林
The drops are so cute
By Jocelle Koh
After seeing this Nextshark article on indie lo-fi R&B artist TRACE, I immediately knew I had to feature her on Asian Pop Weekly. The daughter of Vietnam's legendary Queen of Soul Carol Kim but herself delving into the Western music scene with her calming and intrinsic lo-fi R&B sounds; it's interesting to see how the sounds of her heritage and her current environment (now being based in LA) intermingle and make up her musical identity. Known now for her melancholy and sensitive brand of R&B, the singer-songwriter shared with us below 10 tracks that have influenced her greatly in a variety of ways at different points in her life.
1. Let It Die by Feist
Leslie Feist is one my favorite artists and I find her voice, sound and writing to epitomize the perfect combination of depth, emotion and rarity. This song is so simple and so heartbreaking. And there are THE perfect use of bells which I have a love for and want to do more in my own music. Out of many handfuls of favorites from Feist, this is a top favorite.
2. Buzzcut Season by Lorde
When Lorde came into the scene, she changed and created a new wave of pop music. I would say this is one of my favorites of hers and I especially am keen on the clever writing on this track. It’s melancholy at its best. And it’s songs like this that really push me when I think about what it is I’m writing about and how I’m writing it.
3. Honey by TRACE
To date, it’s still one of my favorite songs. And it’s the first song I wrote where the chorus came first so strongly that I had to have it in the verses too. It’s also my favorite song to perform so I think about this song a lot and how I can also feel that same with my other songs.
4. Do U Want Me by Giraffage
The way this song starts out is so random and a strong nod to like old school love jams and then the tones of the songs evolve so effortless and uniquely. I love the way Giraffage exudes an energy in his music but it feels paced and still very chill.
5. Fake Empire by The National
The piano in this song is so beautiful. And the way the song evolves into a complexity of sounds (including horns--which I’m trying to implement more and more of in my songs) is like a masterpiece.
6.Thinking Bout You by Frank Ocean
There’s a timelessness to this song that I always go back to when I create something in the studio, in my bedroom--or anywhere where I’m writing music. Frank is someone I always wonder, “would he like this song?” and this is one of my top choices from his body of work for sure. Plus the sentiments behind it are so curated yet simple.
7. Tal Uno by Barrie
A newer artist for me, I’ve been recently obsessed with this band and their renewal of pop with a kind of daydream lens. The electric guitar is something I want to introduce more and more into my songs too. Easy listening but interesting.
8. YEAH RIGHT by Joji
Who doesn’t love Joji? The way he blends genres is so incredible and sometimes my brain hurts with how he does it. He makes me feel less crazy for wanting my first full body of work to hit a multitude of genres.
9. Side Eye by TRACE
Confession, when I hear this song on playlists on Spotify, I never change it. (I usually change the song when it’s mine!) I love every inch of this song and I think it’s because of the different elements we played with on it and the instrumentation feels pretty peculiar and original (I think working with Vera for the first time) and that gave off a lot of refreshing vibes. Also, the chorus is a “down chorus” which was fun to explore and pull off and I don’t think there is any other song title of mine that depicts me as much as “Side Eye” does.
10. Starry Night by Peggy Gou
I will say, growing up I listened to a lot of disco and funk and Peggy’s music brings it all back to life. There are elements of this type of dance music I want to learn and explore more but she’s incredibly inspiring and can also just stare at her Instagram all day.
TRACE's latest single 'Make Me Laugh' is now available on all major streaming platforms. Follow her on Facebook andInstagram to keep up to date with her!
For this instalment of Choice Picks_ we've specially invited new-gen singer-songwriter June Pan to share a tailor-made Galaxy-themed playlist of her picks with us. Having just released her debut EP 'Milkomeda' which is chock-full of weird, wonderful and fantastical sounds and textures, who better to transport us to another galaxy than this quirky artist? Pan digs deep into her musical treasure trove, coming back with some words on each of her favourite songs including tracks by LINION, Astro Bunny and LSD.
But first, a few introductory words from the musical astronomer herself:
"The EP’s theme circles themes of the milky way and planets, thus is called ‘Milkomeda’. The astronomy term is used when astronomers predict the Milky Way and Andromeda are about to collide; however these two entities after crossing paths will still go back to their own routines and continue on their paths, like a short-lived but passionate bout of young love. Every song in ‘Milkomeda’ is irrigated so that it blooms into a planet of its own, from the impulsive love of ’Leap Through The Galaxy 我陪你’ to the love-filled playfulness of ‘Oh, my love’ and the EP’s title track ‘Milkomeda’.
So what is a ‘Galaxy feel’ to me? Simply put, it is a big or small space matched up with a short or long period of time; accompanied by all kinds of musical textures that attract people. The ten songs below that I’ll be sharing have a ‘Galaxy feel’ to me, hope everyone can appreciate it."
Sentimental SIngaporean crooner Gareth Fernandez' warm vocals and chill beats position him resolutely alongside pop greats such as Sam Smith and Lauv. With lyrics that truly come from the heart and vocals that execute perfectly the meaning within his words, Fernandez' is the perfect artist to add to your next mood playlist.
1. Gareth Fernandez - Achilles
I've always wanted to write a Gospel song and this was my chance. Writing this song wasn't easy either as I had to face some personal demons, but I'm pleased with the result. I wanted the song to be raw and meaningful, and I also knew that I wanted the Gospel chi to play a big part in it. Fun fact: the choir is actually just me singing layers upon layers in different harmonies, and pretending to be different characters.
2. Labrinth - Jealous
This song is just crazy beautiful, and it had some influence on Achilles. I love everything from the vocals to the arrangement to the mournful organ and "Disney" strings. I have it on loop just to sing along to it sometimes. Bliss.
You can tell a lot about someone by their musical taste. Indeed, after checking out James' Choice Picks_, you too will have a greater appreciation for how his music deviates from the normal influences of Mandopop artists. For Yang, being brought up on a mix of Soul, Blues, Folk and Rock has greatly influenced his sound. Keep reading to learn how all these sounds have become part of his story!
01. The Staple Singers - Will the Circle Be Unbroken
Similar to Wind in the Pines in terms of subject – the death of a loved one.
02. James Yang - Hold On
One of the songs on Lost & Found that I wrote for my grandfather. Every time I sing this song, I sing it louder than I should, in some vain hope that wherever my grandfather is, he will be able to hear or feel that I’m singing for him.
03. The Toots and Maytels - Pressure Drop
My best friend growing up was Jamaican, his family had parties and bbqs growing up, we listened to reggae, dancehall and rocksteady;
04. James Yang - 溫柔地，暴烈地
Seeing as I talked about it earlier, and that it’s my favourite song on Lost & Found;
05. Alan Lomax - Early in the mornin'
This sort of blues is the roots of Western pop music. I love this kind of music, but it also gives me a deeper understanding of how to write songs.
06. 郑钧- 灰姑娘
Just a simple, beautiful love song.
07. Led Zeppelin - When the levee breaks
This sort of rock played a lot when I was a kid. I chose this song for two reasons, first the drum track is amazing, 2nd, they used the arrangement to turn a simple country blues into a huge rock song, like we changed my simple demos in to complex songs in Lost & Found.
08. 老王樂隊 - 我還年輕 我還年輕
This song mixes lots of musical styles, including Klezmir, Gypsy jazz and HxC, Emocore elements together to create a really full and interesting song.
09. Rory Gallagher - Million Miles Away
I love the energy used to play here, and the guitar tone Gallagher gets.
This song mixes western and traditional Chinese elements together into something unique and crazy. It makes me think of the end of a film where the hero rides his motorbike into the sunset
When she's not crafting beautiful pop songs (new single 'Feeling Good out now), Asian-Australian singer-songwriter Teagan can be found studying biomed, and understands those cram feels wholly well. So who better to come up with a study-themed playlist than the chill chanteuse herself? Check out her picks below, and her description of the songs too!
"A collection of music that gets me through a long day (especially a long day of studying or working). All of these songs make you think deeper and make you feel good. But lyrically things aren’t so straight forward. Get lost in the beat and then messed up by the words."
01. Feeling Good – TEAGAN
Ironically, I wrote this song about not feeling so good. The times where you go out with your mates to convince yourself that you’re over something, before quickly realising you’re not – everyone else is having fun but you’d rather be anywhere but there. I love making upbeat music that contrasts more sombre lyrics because it’s the perfect analogy for the way so many of us deal with our problems – covering the emotion behind a happy façade.
02. Blood Bank – Bon Iver
I loved this track from the second I heard it. It’s an incredibly beautiful love song and Justin Vernon tells such a vivid story throughout it.
03. Don’t Kill My Vibe – Sigrid
Sigrid has such a good voice and this track showcases it so well. This song really does make you feel good and I’m glad she got away from the music execs that were killing her vibe.
04. Nights – Frank Ocean
The guitar in this track is so slick and is produced brilliantly. Frank Ocean’s artistry inspires me to ensure that everything I do musically has purpose and meaning behind it.
05. Drew Barrymore – SZA
If I’m not jamming to The Weekend then I’ve got this song on. Every time I listen to the hook, it’s stuck in my head for days. I love SZA’s ability to tell a story in 4 minutes or less.
06. It’s Okay – TEAGAN
I wrote this song as a reminder to not feel guilty about getting rid of bad people from your life. Keeping people like that around is only a favour to them whilst you suffer for it. I hope it convinces you to get rid of people like that too.
07. Lemons – Woodlock
The first band I ever became obsessed with as a teenager. These guys are local Melbourne buskers and this is an absolute tune. I’ve seen them live way too many times to count and every time has been so worth it.
08. Ribs – Lorde
This song makes me feel nostalgic about things I didn’t even know I was nostalgic about. I hope Lorde makes new music soon – she will always be on my playlist.
09. Keep Your Head Up – Ben Howard
You cannot listen to this track and not feel motivated. Ben Howard made up the bulk of the music I listened to growing up (alongside Jack Johnson) and I still regret that I missed his show in Melbourne. Please come back soon, Ben.
10. Waves – Stolen Jars
The perfect song to drive home to. I hope these guys get all the recognition they deserve because everything they make is amazing and makes me feel so happy.
Check out 'Feeling Good', now available on all major streaming platforms such as Apple music, Spotify and KKBOX. Follow Teagan on her Instagram, Twitter or website for more information.
Coming from a background so wildly eclectic, it's intriguing how new artist Takkin's music instead comes from a middleground so warm and accepting. Check out his playlist picks, and of course his new single 'Stay Together', available now both in English and Mandarin on all major streaming platforms. With his debut single, Takkin explores how music has been his levelling ground in his first exploration:
"Regardless of what is going on in my life, happening around me and to me, music has and continues to be a constant. If I’m a gnarled, weathered tree on a cliffside, music is the roots that prevent me from cascading into the sea. It’s my place of solace and reflection. When I can’t concretely pinpoint what I’m feeling or experiencing, it helps me work through those emotions, expose them, and express them. "
With picks by friends who have inspired him (Mantis Hands) and other musical aspirations (Daniel Caesar, Sabrina Claudio), Takkin's picks reveal the first piece of the puzzle. Learn more about his music by heading back over to our news article on him!
01. Takkin - Stay Together (Eng & Chin)
It’s a love letter from one person to another, an extension of the hand. There is hope. It is soaring, mournful, and meditative. This song is the best representation of the world in which Takkin operates, where my music lives and breathes.
02. James Blake - Into The Red
This song captures the essence of love. It’s expansive and fantastical, all the while grounded in a concrete, historical phenomenon: the Gold Rush. Seeing him live at Terminal 5 (twice!) remains one of my fondest music memories.
03. Mantis Hands - Palace
Mantis Hands is partly responsible for Takkin’s birth. Over the years, I’ve collaborated with him on a plethora of projects: animation, voice-over, but never music. This song makes me feel like I’m in the Matrix, drinking a neon blue cocktail from a martini glass. Always cool, always pulsing, digitized thought.
04. Daniel Caesar - Get You (feat. Kali Uchi)
The song is deeply sexual, playful and catchy as hell! I see rays of sunlight through half-closed blinds over a half-made bed. The opening with the church organs, the bass and drum kit kicking in on the verse, fantastic.
05. Sabrina Claudio - Belong To You
Sabrina makes you feel like she’s singing to you and nobody else, that it’s just you and her in close quarters. She’s ethereal, her voice just above a whisper, that echoes deep in the halls of your mind. All mundane words sound extraterrestrial.
06. Mac Ayres - Slow Down
This song has such a gentle groove. Mac’s voice glides so lightly on top, like whipped cream on a milkshake. He’s another vocalist with complete control and confidence, capitalizing on the soft, muted tones of his voice.
07. Maggie Rogers - The Knife
Such smart song writing coupled with the funkiest bass line I’ve heard in a long time. I instantly want to get up and dance from that snare and hi-hat! Which instrument is the knife? It changes with every relisten.
08. Active Child - Darling
Simple, pastel colors, fragile; sitting on a gondola with a loved one, or holding a newborn in a nursery. The only thing that matters is the one with you.
09. Denzel Curry - Bulls on Parade (triple j Like A Version)
This song is definitely an outlier from the others but I can’t stop listening to it.
It’s pure, raucous adrenaline and an incredible live performance.
Listen to Takkin's new single 'Stay Together', now out on all major streaming platforms including Spotify, Apple Music, and Soundcloud. Follow Takkin on all his social medias (Facebook, Instagram) to stay tuned for his upcoming regular releases!
Listen on Spotify