What is the appeal of local music, anyway?

You’ve probably heard this refrain at least once: “I’d rather watch *insert foreign act here* than any local band”.

Every year on the last weekend of June, Singapore’s largest alternative music festival — Baybeats — provides a platform for local indie acts to show their stuff. While there were many overseas bands invited over the years, 2015’s lineup featured just 7 foreign bands — a far cry from its inception years when there were 10+ foreign bands.

As more local bands step up their game, some even achieving international recognition (see: The Caulfield Cult, ANECHOIS, Caracal), competition has become fiercer; reflecting the steady improvement and enthusiasm of the local music scene.

But Baybeats isn’t just about the music — it’s also about the fans who gather every year to watch true-blue local acts, and the shared community of the local music scene.

I wanted to find out why these fans spent their weekend at the Esplanade when they could easily be doing something else. While some people just happened to be in the Esplanade area, I also found many who were there specifically for Baybeats.

As such, we went up to them and asked what I thought was a relatively simple question:

“What is the biggest appeal of local music to you?”

More people were stumped than I expected. Maybe music is just something you do and listen to without thinking too much about? Regardless, I got quite a few interesting answers. The alternative music scene may still be niche, but it more than compensates for its size with an overflowing of passion — not only from the performers, but also from the fans, as you’ll find out:

1. “The friends =) how music brings people together” – Christal

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2. “If the locals ain’t gonna support the local band the(n) who is?” – Han Wei

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3. “Amazing how such talents come from the same city :)” – Crystal

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4. “It’s LOCAL!” – Andi

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5. “It’s different!” – Jumadi


6. “You can actually go out and watch it” – Gideon

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Talk about practicality!

7. “Different and full of potential” – Jestine

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8. “It’s being able to relate to the unique situations local music presents, and that ‘heck care’ attitude that makes them just make music, and rock out” – Zaki

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+1 for the ‘heck care’ attitude.


9. “…(local musicians) show the world that Singapore music is of high standard too and they represent our Singapore pride! The Sam Willows, Gentle Bones, (and) ShiGGa Shay make Singaporeans feel proud and hence, I support them as they show me I can make it in (the) music industry too!” -Jeremy

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Remember what I said about local music not being just about the music? Follow your dreams, young padawan.

10. “Community!” – Gabriel

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11. “Diversity” – Shaun

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12. “Inspiring” – Catherine

13. “Homely!” – Emily

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*flashbacks to Home, that NDP song nobody is going to forget in a hurry*

14. “I feel that I can relate more to the music style and also the context.” – Denny

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If you’re wondering why he’s looking away from the camera: he’s kinda camera-shy.

15. “They can relate to us cuz they’re SINGAPOREAN!” – Yi Zhong

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16. “They have their own way of expressing themselves :)” – Brandan & Rachel

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17. “Originality; Singapore’s pride; they range from teens to adults; standard is quite good compared to other YouTube covers; atmosphere” – Huei Suen

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Sometimes when you can’t pick the BIGGEST appeal, you have to list them all! We don’t mind, of course.

18. “It brings out the local talents in  SG local music and helps the arts scene in Singapore to grow especially when it reaches out to the youths. (There’s a wide range of music genres), it brings people together. It’s more than just music and talent.” – Kelly

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We’re possibly looking at the next generation of music-makers

Most of the performers aren’t even full-time musicians. They’re just your everyday Singaporeans, many of whom are holding down full-time jobs or schooling while making music on the side. Yet, there is so much diversity in this small, small scene; you can be watching chill electronica, then a chugging hardcore outfit the next minute.

To these fans, these dream-chasers are their heroes and inspiration, contributing to the next generation of dream-chasers. If anything, we need more platforms like Baybeats. Having just one or two festivals a year isn’t enough; not when there’s so much demand for local acts to perform. If we can shell out millions for #SG50, why not spend a little on the music scene? Even if you don’t appreciate the music, you can still appreciate the effort and hard work these bands put in, with little to no monetary pay-off.

Plus, local acts are way cheaper to watch than Taylor Swift.

Special thanks to all the awesome people who participated in the article and gamely posed for photographs! You never know, some of these guys may be the ones performing at Baybeats years down the road 😉

Do you support local music?

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