Local music acts take centre stage at Paragon

Singersongwriter duo Zeeaura & Azmi, comprising Ang Zhi Hui (in red) and Azmi Hassan (centre), performing with guitarist Roslan Che Embi.
Singersongwriter duo Zeeaura & Azmi, comprising Ang Zhi Hui (in red) and Azmi Hassan (centre), performing with guitarist Roslan Che Embi.PHOTO: COMPASS
The line-up for Going Local Popup! 2017 includes singer, songwriter and musician Nelson Tan, who performs on Aug 11.
The line-up for Going Local Popup! 2017 includes singer, songwriter and musician Nelson Tan, who performs on Aug 11.PHOTO: GOH MING WEI

The Orchard Road mall is the venue for the Going Local Popup! music series

Singer, songwriter and musician Nelson Tan has to be one of the home-grown music scene's most versatile talents.

He has released solo albums in English and Mandarin and also plays bass in Malay rock outfit Tujuhband and instrumental, progressive rock quintet In Each Hand A Cutlass.

"I always believed that music is a language on its own and I never let any spoken language determine what I can or cannot accomplish. Working with different languages has expanded my views on different musical cultures and arrangements, and how I can bring them together to create something out of the cultural stereotype," he says.

Tan, 35, is one of the artists who will perform at Orchard Road mall Paragon in a series of gigs that highlight made-in-Singapore music.

Going Local Popup! 2017 takes place at the mall's main atrium on level one from tomorrow to Aug 13. Tan performs on Aug 11.

Earlier this month, he released his latest single, a Mandarin tune called Clover, which adds to his discography of three Mandarin albums released under his Chinese name Chen Zhiming.

His two English albums came out in 2014 and last year.

  • VIEW IT /GOING LOCAL POPUP! 2017

  • WHERE: Paragon, 290 Orchard Road

    WHEN: From tomorrow to Aug 13, 12.30 and 1.30pm (Mondays to Thursdays), 5 and 6pm (Fridays and Saturdays)

    ADMISSION: Free

    INFO: For the full line-up, go to www.paragon.com.sg/promotions/all-things-local

With Tujuhband, which were formed in 2007, he has experienced success on the local Malay radio charts with three songs.

With In Each Hand A Cutlass, he has recorded two albums, released in 2011 and 2015, as well as toured in countries such as China and Australia.

There is more.

Tan also plays in singer-songwriter Kevin Mathews' backing band The Groovy People and has been a sessionist for acts such as post-hardcore outfit A Vacant Affair.

He says of his wide-ranging music projects: "The important thing is to be able to feel the music that you're playing.

"Anyone can just pick up a score and read and play along, but to really be able to get into the groove of the piece of music takes a lot of feel.

"It's a totally different vibe when I'm performing with In Each Hand A Cutlass and Tujuhband and my own songs. But once I get into the music, I own the groove and the feel."

The Going Local Popup! 2017 series is a collaboration among Paragon, Composers & Authors Society of Singapore (Compass) and music company ET Music.

It is part of Paragon's National Day celebrations and regular music programmes.

Compass' manager of membership and public relations, Ms Caroline Heng, says: "Going Local has been organised mainly to encourage a wider acceptance and increase the audience for local music. It also serves as a focus for organisations to recognise the quality of local music, especially those that have venues with customer traffic that can appreciate the music."

Now in its third year, the programme has seen performances of Singapore music at other venues such as the North Bridge Road Food Centre, malls Bugis+ and nex as well as F&B/live music joints Timbre+ and Barbershop.

The Paragon gigs also feature a singer-songwriter duo, Zeeaura & Azmi, known for singing in several languages. They will perform on Aug 10 and 12.

One half of the pair, Ang Zhi Hui, says: "Our local audiences prefer something a little different and more colloquial in nature.

"When I sing in Bahasa Melayu, I get more smiles and stays at the end of the performance. When Azmi sings in Mandarin or Hokkien, many stay and clap.

"It feels like we are drawing closer to that segment of the audience when we speak a common language."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 31, 2017, with the headline 'Local acts play at Paragon'. Print Edition | Subscribe