Groove with DJ, longboarding, poetry collectives

Collectives gather people with the same interests who want to grow professionally

Longboard Girls Crew is a group of female skateboarders who skate using a longboard. Members of Hatch Theatrics (from far left) Hafidz Rahman, Nadia Cheriyan, Johnny Jon Jon, Nur Khairiyah Ramli, Faizal Abdullah, Siti Zuraida and ZulKamal Ramli. Memb
Members of Attagirl! (from far left) Serene-Rene Ong, Syaheedah Iskandar and Amanda Keisha Ang. ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

From longboarding to deejaying, whatever your hobby is, there is a collective here dedicated to it.

Formed in the last few years, these interest groups derive strength in numbers, allowing members to learn new skills and aspire to high standards.

At the same time, the structure of the group is deliberately kept free and easy, with most collectives eschewing a five-year plan or formal hierachy.

This is in keeping with the restless sensibilities of millennials, as there is no limit to the number of similar groups you can be a part of.

Members of a collective do not draw a fixed salary, though they may split whatever proceeds they get at gigs or events.

However, some groups are more structured than others.

For example, theatre collective Hatch Theatrics has an artistic director and manager, and it generally stages two productions a year.

Its artistic director, Faizal Abdullah, 31, says the collective, which was formed by a group of theatre practitioners in 2012, might choose to become a company in future.

He says: "There's a lot of responsibility when you're a company, but there are also some advantages - we can start to pay ourselves and have our own space, for starters."

The collective does not have its own rehearsal and performing space, and has to rent spaces.

On the other hand, others such as four-year-old visual arts collective WeJungle are content to stay loose and free-form.

Says member Charles Osawa, 31: "We never had any agenda - or if we did, it was just to do fun things together. If the collective goes on, it goes on."


What: This two-year-old DJ and events collective champions female artists, deejays and music producers.

At the helm of Attagirl! are curatorial assistant Syaheedah Iskandar, 25, digital marketeer Amanda Keisha Ang, 30 and personal assistant Serene-Rene Ong, 28. As spinmeisters of electronic music, they are known respectively as Jaydah, A/K/A and DuriO.

The three met as participants of FFF Girl DJ Bootcamp organised by four independent female DJs in 2012, where they studied deejaying under more experienced female professionals.

As the electronic music scene is dominated by men, the trio decided to band together to grow as DJs.

Attagirl! wants to show that female DJs can hold their own behind the console and challenges the stereotype of the "busty DJ who only looks pretty" but does not do much else, says Ms Ang.

"With us, it's really about the music. We're always learning from one another, " she adds.

The trio look out for new blood to join them through events and word-of-mouth and they also invite more experienced DJs, such as FFF Girl DJ Bootcamp co-founder DJ Pixiedub to play at their parties.

They estimate that there are about 30 female DJs here and electronic music producers.

Activities: Attagirl! organises its own events and is a regular name at parties all over town, such as at tapas bar Lepark at People's Park Complex and the now-defunct Butter Factory at One Fullerton.

In June, it celebrated its second anniversary with its biggest event yet - a party at BluJaz in Bali Lane that attracted more than 400 well-wishers.

The collective also programmes the music line-up at Zouk Wine Bar every first Friday of the month.

Future plans: It wants to nurture not just DJs, but also female visual artists and music producers.

On the electronic music side, it hopes to promote the underground genre throughout the region.



Members of Hatch Theatrics (from far left) Hafidz Rahman, Nadia Cheriyan, Johnny Jon Jon, Nur Khairiyah Ramli, Faizal Abdullah, Siti Zuraida and ZulKamal Ramli. PHOTO: HATCH THEATRICS.

Hatch Theatrics

What: From theatre practitioner friends bemoaning the lack of a group doing their kind of theatre, Hatch Theatrics was formed three years ago.

Productions by the contemporary theatre collective focus on new writing exploring issues relevant to the Malay community, although it does not limit itself to Malay plays. It organised its first production, Ruang, a doublebill of plays in Malay and English, in 2013.

Last year, it collaborated with Osaka-based theatre group Theatre Gumbo for the madcap show, Ring-a Ring-o' Rosie, staged in English, Japanese and Malay at The Substation.

Since then, some members have left the collective. Hatch now has seven members: Hafidz Rahman, 27, Nadia Cheriyan, 22, ZulKamal Ramli, 22, Johnny Jon Jon, 28, Nur Khairiyah Ramli, 28, Faizal Abdullah, 31, and Siti Zuraida, 33.

It has also transformed from a free-form collective where it was tough to make decisions efficiently, to a more professionally organised one.

Last year, Faizal became the collective's artistic director, while his wife Nur Khairiyah is Hatch's manager.

It applies for grants from the National Arts Council on a project basis and the bulk of the funds goes to venue rental for rehearsals and performances.

Activities: Hatch Theatrics presents two main theatre productions a year. Earlier this year, it presented Hawa, a play about a Muslim convert dealing with the death of a loved one.

Future plans: It is working on a new work, Super Happy Land, developed with Theatre Gumbo. The show premieres in Osaka, Japan in November and Singapore in December.

Hatch is also in discussion to be part of an arts incubation residency at the Malay Heritage Centre in Kampong Glam.



WeJungle members (from far left) Charles Osawa, Vedika Saxena and Spencer Chan. ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI


What: The people behind art collective WeJungle resist giving it any description, but perhaps visual art and events collective comes close.

It was started four years ago by architectural designer Spencer Chan, 32, freelance photographer and Web designer Charles Osawa, 31, and Polish designer Witold Sienkiel, 31.

The three were ex-colleagues. Witold has since left Singapore but remains part of the collective.

Their first project in 2011 was to design graphic stickers, which they distributed for free to their friends. Since then, they have participated in and organised many events and festivals.

As Mr Chan puts it: "We just wanted to do something, there are no rules."

The collective has more than 20 members from different creative disciplines, though not everyone is active. Current members include architectural designer Vedika Saxena, 25, and researcher Antonis Giannakakis, 34.

WeJungle members are added freely as they participate in events together, and include graffiti artist Ceno2 and artist Dan Wong from art collective A Good Citizen.

Most recently, WeJungle was involved in Off The Rails, an arty party at the Rail Corridor in May.

In May last year, it was also part of Destruction & Rebirth at The Mill, a farewell party for an industrial building in Bukit Merah headed for demolition.

For both events, the collective presented interactive artworks made of recycled materials.

Activities: WeJungle organises "no rules" art events and participates in art events and festivals. The collective also does commissioned work such as wall murals, resin sculptures and graphic design.

Its past highlights include co-organising the 2013 Out of Sight festival, to bid farewell to the now-demolished Telok Ayer Performing Arts Centre.

The event, which was also organised by literary arts company Word Forward and online media City Nomads, merged art, poetry and music.

Future plans: Currently, the group seems to be taking a break, but its members do not rule out making a reappearance in the future.


Burn After Reading

What: This two-year-old collective of young poets and writers is the Singapore arm of Burn After Reading, which was started in London in 2011 by poet Jacob Sam-La Rose and Jasmine Cooray.

In 2013, Cooray, then the writerin-residence at National University of Singapore, set up the local chapter before handing over the reins to local writers Pooja Nansi and Joshua Ip.

There are 23 members currently, who are aged between 16 and 22.

Members are admitted into the group through open calls, and stay in the collective for as long as they want to contribute.

During their monthly sessions, the writers present and discuss their works. As a whole, the collective looks for opportunities to write, read, perform and publish as much as they can.

Says Nansi, 33: "The collective is structured very democratically in that the young poets have absolute ownership in deciding the direction they want their work to take as individuals and as a community.

She adds that she and Ip act like "guiding lights of sorts that try to sit in the background".

Writer Cheryl Julia Wee, 24, who joined last year, says: "I like the sense of community that you get with these groups of like-minded individuals, the sense that while you might write alone, you aren't necessarily isolated."

Activities: The collective meets once a month to hold workshops on new writing and plan upcoming events. It meets at the Arts House, the office of local bookstore Books- Actually, or at Nansi or Ip's homes.

Recent highlights include its first edition of BAR SG Presents, which is an event where young poets host an established poet they admire. The session with Cyril Wong, held in May, was attended by a packed crowd at Artistry cafe in Jalan Pinang.

Future plans: There will be a second edition of BAR SG Presents next month, with writer Tania De Rozario. The session will include readings, a dialogue and talkback and will be on Oct 9, 7.30pm at BooksActually in Yong Siak Street.

The collective is also considering starting a new literary journal.



Longboard Girls Crew is a group of female skateboarders who skate using a longboard. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Longboard Girls Crew Singapore

What: Digital media producer Lennat Mak, 35, and school programme executive, Nur Zawanah Zainal, 28, formed Longboard Girls Crew Singapore in 2011 after separately being in touch with members from Madrid, Spain, where the group was originally founded.

The two are official ambassadors of the collective and are building a community of female skaters here together with two others.

Longboarding uses a skate deck that is longer than the usual skateboard, with larger wheels.

"Skating is a male-dominated sport and sometimes, skating with boys can be intimidating due to different skill levels.

"We want to create an encouraging and positive environment for girls to put away all their worries or concerns," says Ms Mak.

Longboard Girls Crew member Farah Nur Feriena, 21, says that there is a certain stigma attached to the idea of girl skateboarders.

"A lot of people see it as a rough sport - we could fall and hurt ourselves, for example.

"Here, there's a sense of girl empowerment," says the flight attendant.

The collective has more than 200 members who range in age from 15 to 35.

It organises skate sessions from time to time at places such as East Coast Park or downtown, and these sessions are open to anyone interested in skating.

Activities: Besides skate sessions, the collective has made two skate trips to Kuala Lumpur, where the members skate together with their Malaysian counterparts.

Last November, it also organised a longboarding basics workshop at Wavehouse Sentosa and taught members of the public how to skate.

Future plans: The crew wants to organise another trip to somewhere further than Malaysia and to film more skate videos showcasing what its community of female skaters can do.

Info: lgcsingapore

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 25, 2015, with the headline 'Collective consciousness '. Print Edition | Subscribe