My Bag

A life filled with music

Tim De Cotta is a member of lifestyle and events company Getai Group.
Tim De Cotta is a member of lifestyle and events company Getai Group.ST PHOTOS: ALICIA CHAN

Musician Tim De Cotta plays with four bands, produces EPs and is a partner in a company that organises music events to showcase Singapore talent

Tim De Cotta, 29, has a lot on his plate. Apart from being in four different bands (soul, jazz and funk groups The Astral Journey, Listen And Believe, Neodominatrix and Tim De Cotta & The Warriors), he also records and produces EPs, teaches music at Thunder Rock School twice a week and is a third of lifestyle and events company Getai Group.

Last year, he was approached by Ms Carmen Low, 28, and Mr Lionel Ang, 32, who own the Lepark restaurant at the People's Park Complex rooftop, to play at their space with The Astral Journey.

Ms Low and Mr Ang had returned to Singapore after working in Shanghai for a few years and were surprised to find out how good the music scene here was.


“This is a canvas backpack from Indonesian brand Dork, which is not sold here. I have had it for about two years. I like that it has one big compartment for everything and is very sturdy. It is a very boy bag.”

"That was our starting point - our shared passion for the music scene," De Cotta says.

  • Things in his bag


    I am a big Star Wars fan. I saw this when I was at Kinokuniya bookstore last week and it was distributed free. I have already watched the movie twice.


    I like its size and I prefer writing things down as opposed to typing on a laptop. I write poetry, music, chord charts and my to-do lists here.


    I have everything in it, from my music to the freelance design work I do from time to time.


    I got this from my dad.He often buys things from Mustafa Centre and I just take whatever he has.


    I got this made with my band Listen And Believe when we did our three-week Japan tour in May. I am always on the move and I like to remain fresh. I change my shirt some time in the afternoon.


    I have been using this for about four years and it has sentimental value for me because this is the band that moved my music career forward. It reminds me of where I came from.


    This is actually my friend’s.We were doing a voice recording session a few days ago and it was raining after we were done, so I borrowed this from him.

The trio organised Getai Electronica in February this year, a music event that featured The Astral Journey and alternative soul and funk bands The Good Life Project, Disco Hue, Spacedays and .gif. It was a sleeper hit.

De Cotta says: "We had a licence for only 200 people, but 1,200 people turned up. We thought it was a fluke, but when we did the second edition, Getai Ethnica, in May, we had about 3,000 people.

"We saw that people liked what we were doing and we thought, 'Let's set this up'."

The Getai Group was born in July. He looks after the music aspects and logistics, while Ms Low does public relations and marketing. Mr Ang "closes the deals".

The company name is because the events are held in Chinatown. Getai means song stage in Mandarin.

The partners' main aim is "to make Singaporeans aware of talent that they can be proud of", De Cotta says.

"There is a lot of culture and talented and intelligent people who know what to do with their talent."

Another event, Getai Soul, will be held at the end of February next year over two days . It will be the biggest installation of the Getai events and feature mostly soul music acts, with heritage elements such as documentaries on Chinatown and traditional Teochew puppetry.

The self-taught bassist also plays the guitar and ukulele, and sings and raps.

"I was always surrounded by music growing up," he says. "But I started taking music seriously only when I was in university and performing paid gigs with my now-defunct band Sixx. I realised I loved doing it and that I could support myself and make something of it."

He is the youngest of three children of retired parents in their 60s - his mum was a primary school teacher and dad was an oil trading manager. He has two sisters.

His days are filled with meetings and planning for Getai Soul, as well as producing his own EP, Warrior, and that of The Good Life Project.

"The music bit looks like a lot, but it comes the most natural to me," he says. "The actual work I do is with Getai Group - meeting people and having work in progress meetings. Every other pocket of time I have is spent on my music. Sometimes, we record until three or four in the morning, but it is more of a passion and I do not see it as work."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 24, 2015, with the headline 'A life filled with music'. Print Edition | Subscribe