Tickets to Laneway Festival 2015 sold out

All 13,000 tickets are sold for this year's indie music festival, with 19 international acts on three stages

Laneway, Singapore's biggest indie music festival, is sold out this year. All 13,000 tickets to the event on Saturday at The Meadow, Gardens by the Bay, have been snapped up.

It is the first time the festival is sold out since its debut in 2011.

This year's edition of the St. Jerome's Laneway Festival Singapore, to call it by its full name, also features its biggest line-up to date - 19 international acts playing on three stages.

Set to be a 12-hour show, the list includes current hot and critically acclaimed names such as English singer-songwriter FKA twigs, British garage rock duo Royal Blood and American singer-songwriter St. Vincent.

Also taking the stage, most for the first time in Singapore, are Swedish electronic quartet Little Dragon, Australian chart- topping soul/electronic singer Chet Faker, award-winning Australian folk-blues siblings Angus & Julia Stone and Malaysian indie outfits Enterprise and Pastel Lite.

Laneway has pulled in a steadily growing crowd over the years. And with the end of Esplanade's much-loved Mosaic Music Festival, it has no rival on the local music calendar for indie music.

Started by Australians Danny Rogers and Jerome Borazio in 2004 as a nine-act gig in an alleyway outside Mr Borazio's bar in Melbourne, Laneway has since expanded to multiple Australian cities, as well as Auckland in New Zealand and Detroit in the United States.

Besides the music performances, punters can join in various carnival-like activities, feast on an esoteric range of food and beverages, have a haircut at a barber shop run by American brand Sailor Jerry and check out stylised portable toilets dubbed "the Punk Portaloo" by shoe brand Dr. Martens.

Life! profiles four of the acts - British duo Royal Blood, Californian singer Banks and the two local acts on the line-up this year, electronic pair .gif and alternative rockers Hanging Up The Moon.

dinohadi@sph.com.sg


Who: Banks

From: United States

Type of music: R&B/Electronic

Singer-songwriter Banks loves it so much when fans connect with her songs that she gives them her mobile phone number.

For the past couple of years, the 26-year-old Los Angeleno has made public her contact details on her Facebook page, encouraging fans to call or text her.

As she says on her Facebook page, she likes "making connections outside of a computer screen... Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have never really been my thing".

"I have two separate phones," she says in a telephone interview with Life! from Scotland, where she was on tour.

"I don't know how many calls or messages I get in a day, I don't count. But I answer as many as I can and I love it. It's usually text messages, people saying how much they connect with the music and my songs."

The husky-voiced singer, whose full name is Jillian Rose Banks, rose to prominence in early 2013 when BBC Radio DJ and tastemaker Zane Lowe aired her debut single, Before I Ever Met You. Later that year, she released two critically acclaimed EPs, Fall Over and London. Critics praised her R&B inflected, moody electronic tunes and confessional lyrics

By the end of the year, she was nominated for two awards - BBC's Sound Of 2014 and MTV's Brand New. Online music services iTunes, Spotify and Shazam, and music magazines, including Spin, last year named her as an artist to watch.

Her full-length debut, Goddess, released last September lived up to early promise - it led to comparisons with acclaimed women singers of the past, from Kate Bush to the late Aaliyah and Fiona Apple.

Banks, who has modelled for luxury brand Coach, has a psychology degree but she says her education does not have any impact on her songs.

"It helps me, as a human, to understand clinically how the brain works and the chemical your brain needs and stuff like that. But in terms of writing music and human interaction, none of it is studied - it all just comes from your heart.

"I studied psychology because I love people, I love learning about them, I love adolescent development but in terms of my everyday life, that doesn't really help or harm anything."

She says the real essence of her music can be found in her live shows. She is making her debut performance at Laneway Festival Singapore.

"At my shows, it's me at my most pure. I don't really know how to describe it, other than it's honest. Some people say it's kind of dark but I just say it's me," she adds.


Who: .gif

From: Singapore

Type of music: Electronic

When local electronic duo .gif received the e-mail inviting them to perform at this year's Laneway, now Singapore's biggest indie music event, they reacted in the only way plausible to them.

No, they did not celebrate, they thought it was a hoax. Songwriter-producer Nurudin Sadali, 26, says: "Our initial reaction was pure disbelief."

Singer, songwriter and producer Chew Wei Shan, 24, also known by her nom de guerre Weish, adds: "The Singapore acts last year were musicians of a totally different league and whom we've looked up to for ages. So it's hard for us to imagine being put to the same task. Needless to say, we're very honoured."

Last year's Laneway featured home-grown talents for the first time, with the participation of experimental rock veterans The Observatory and electronic acts Gema and Vandetta.

Although they play down their achievements, .gif have made quite an impact on the indie/electronic scene here and regionally in the past couple of years.

The lush, textured and hypnotic soundscape in tunes found in debut EP, 2013's Saudade and recent single Juvenile have earned them appearances at major festivals here such as Baybeats and 100 Bands, as well as Java Soundsfair in Jakarta.

The pair met in National University of Singapore, where both were English Literature majors.

"At that time, Weish had just started her ukulele stuff and I used to DJ and organise small parties," says Nurudin. "We decided to make music together because we were always hanging out anyway, so it gave us something productive to do."

Weish is a familiar face on the gig circuit, juggling .gif with other projects as part of alternative rockers sub:shaman and her own solo act.

She says: "With sub:shaman, it's a very dynamic, spontaneous sort of conversation but I tend to be a little shy with my ideas. Despite being really close to my bandmates, I can't help but feel a little intimidated by their skill and talent.

"But with .gif, I can sit in my bedroom, program a few patterns, re-edit as many times as I want, then force myself to share them before I start to think it sounds lame."

The .gif sound on an album to be released later this year is "a little darker, a little bigger, a little more raw than our previous works", says Weish.

In the meantime, the duo have been practising late into the night for Laneway. They have enlisted fellow musicians to reinforce their live set-up.

Says Weish: "We've invited a couple of buddies to our line-up for the show - Hanis from Spacedays and sub:shaman on bass, and Isyraf from The Psalms on drums. They've added so much energy to our set, which definitely changes the vibe quite a bit. We'll be playing some new material for the first time too."


Who: Hanging Up The Moon

From: Singapore

Type of music: Alternative rock

For their Laneway performance, home-grown alternative rock outfit Hanging Up The Moon will do something they have never done before - play a gig standing up.

"So far, it's all been sit-down gigs to suit the vibe of the songs," says singer, guitarist and songwriter Sean Lam, 41, best known for his work in local alt-rock elders Concave Scream. "Laneway is a big festival, so it's not very appropriate to sit down."

Hanging Up The Moon is Lam's solo project, albeit one in which he assembles a band made up of the who's who of veteran musicians - guitarist Leslie Low from The Observatory and formerly Humpback Oak, drummer Dean Aziz from Concave Scream and bass player Victor Low, formerly from Concave Scream and The Observatory.

The set this Saturday will see the debut of new member, guitarist Alexius Cai from Piblokto.

Lam started making music as Hanging Up The Moon after Concave Scream, which he co-founded in the early 1990s, went on hiatus due to the members' busy schedules.

Hanging Up The Moon's self-titled debut album released in 2011 was essentially just Lam and his acoustic guitar, but the sophomore release, The Biggest Lie In The World (2013), was a full band effort with the participation of Aziz and the two Lows, who are not related.

They are putting the finishing touches on album No. 3, which Lam hopes to release before the middle of the year. The process of making the new songs, some of which will be played live for the first time at Laneway, is the same as how they worked on the second album, mostly through online collaboration.

He says: "It pretty much starts off with me e-mailing the rest just the guitars and vocals of the whole song and everyone puts his part on top of it.

"Everyone works on his own time, there is no deadline. We send files to and fro, and check out one another's parts. There is no planning but it has worked out for us then and is still working out now."

Recently, the band members have been meeting regularly to practise for Laneway. Lam admits to feeling a little nervous about performing in what has become the largest indie music event in Singapore, but takes comfort in the fact that he is playing with Leslie Low, who played at last year's event with The Observatory.

He is looking forward to checking out the rest of the 18 acts performing at Laneway, adding that he and his bandmates are bringing their families and planning to have a picnic at the festival grounds.

Lam, who is married with an eight-year-old daughter, says: "Most of us have kids and they are all coming - it's a family affair. There's going to be a picnic and it's going to be really chilled out. We are what you would call a 'papa band'."