Music is frankly an under-appreciated art form in Singapore. Local artistes are at times underrated; there are limited performance opportunities as opposed to foreign markets, and naysayers question the viability of carving a musical career.
Bright, eager-eyed musicians may be afraid to venture out of their comfort zones, keeping their passion muted and learning curve stagnant. But Indigo Scales is all set to turn this around, aiming to make the music scene a more vibrant and supportive one, providing the fertile ground for a convivial and enriching community to thrive.
Awhile ago, I got the chance to get a word with three members of this community, and it was nothing short of an eye-opening and bubbly conversation for me to gain deeper insights about their work.
The group of three National University of Singapore (NUS) undergraduates comprised of Jared, Jing En and Carlos – the director, the co-head of marketing & publicity, and the in-charge of their new initiative,Indigo Forum – respectively.
Meeting Indigo Scales
Indigo Scales is essentially a homely community enveloping a line-up of established bands, music-lovers and curious musicians exploring or working to find their own sound. This ensures a good mix of both experienced and novice musicians.
Besides that, there is also a team of dedicated planning pundits that oversees the administrative side of gigs and branding. As of date, the strength stands at sixty over people, with mostly undergrads forming the bulk of the community.
What stemmed from a casual post-JC endeavour back in August 2016 has evolved into more than what they had imagined. Small-scale jamming sessions between a close-knitted group of friends have transformed into internal open-mic sessions which promote “socialising through your music identity”.
These sessions are quintessential, serving as a platform for like-minded individuals to blend sounds and styles in a huge melting pot of varying cultures. They also emphasise the importance in dedicating time to allow members to know more about each other on a personal level and learn from one another.
The team has also ventured into the realm of external gigs over the years.
With an accolade of performances tucked firmly under their belt, Indigo Scales has been making a splash in the local music scene. Their track record includes Night of the Dancing Dead and Sulaiman & The Expressions.
Their most recent punk-rock event, Jeans & Sneaks, was held at Aliwal Arts Centre during the end of March 2018.
It sought to revive the 2000s vibes and allow people to chill out and soak up their fave tunes in this blast from the past. Jeans & Sneaks was unique in a way that it encased different dynamics – introducing both newly formed bands and more experienced ones.
Local Music Scene
When I brought up the topic of the Singaporean music scene, Carlos fondly remembered his time catching the Against The Current concert, where he managed to catch Gentle Bones and The Summer Stage opening for the group – accentuating the hallmark of Singaporean success in the musical arena.
Unfortunately, there are several shackles which constrain the development of aspiring musicians.
With a big talent pool, it is an uphill battle for them to vie for financial and logistical support. Despite the growth in number of opportunities, Jared maintains that there is still a huge room for artistes to import more originality into their showcases and expand the scope of performance genres.
Jing En also observes that music is viewed more through the lenses of entertainment rather that making its presence known as a valuable art form.
Even though passion emerges as the main driving force behind Indigo Scales, they acknowledge the difficulty behind making this a sustainable venture in the long run.
Singapore is miniscule in comparison to other countries and priorities may not be centred on the arts scene as of yet. But in the end, individual decisions still lie in detecting personal beliefs and seeing the value in contributing to the music culture.
Carlos is a walking example – he decided against exploring his options overseas, choosing to stay true to his roots here with Indigo Scales.
It is an unquestionable fact that Indigo Scales has successfully served as a conduit for forging bonds and gaining a “social experience [in the community] that cannot be replaced”.
Stepping Out Of Your Comfort Zone
To wrap up the meeting, I probed a little about the future of the music scene and asked for some words for aspiring musicians.
The group reinforced their idea that it is imperative for newcomers to join the community with an open mind, and be brave enough to escape their comfort zones.
It is vital for musicians to “continue to play what they love”.
Jared notes that there may be certain individuals who fear performing for an audience, scared of the possibility that people do not appreciate their sound. But at the end, there will always be an audience interested to know you and your music.
The team also wishes to push the boundaries of the scene by promoting more cohesion and sharing within the group.
Cue the Indigo Forum – a platform for musicians to impart and acquire tips and tricks from their peers.
If you have a burning interest in music, Indigo Scales is all ready to welcome you with open arms. It’s undoubtedly daunting to try something new, but a leap of faith will definitely pay off in one way or another. If not now, when?
Meanwhile, Indigo Scales is all set for their upcoming August event – Drop Dead Gorgeous in their third year running. Expect pop music, tons of dancing and sets dating all the way back to the ‘70s – with covers of old but gold songs ready to blow your socks off.