Colour me impressed
SINGAPORE, June 7 — The last time homegrown synth pop outfit Disco Hue showed up on the Singapore music scene radar was back in 2012, when the band participated in the finals of the Thunder Band Slam, a “battle of the bands” competition organised by Thunder Rock School.
The band had formed in 2011 when synth player Auzaie Zie and Christina (the original vocalist) got together to establish an electronic group, in an attempt to create a particular sound in their head.
Fast forward to May 2016 and Disco Hue has released its debut EP Arcade, with Zie remaining as the sole founding member.
Joining him is Billy Chua (drums), Sherlyn Leo (vocals/synth) and Rush Ang (guitars), and together, they played before a sold-out EP launch gig at the Aliwal Arts Centre.
The launch was a rousing success, but according to Zie, the EP and the launch almost did not happen.
“We were close to disbanding before Sherlyn joined, because we all had commitments. After she joined and added new textures to the band, we felt it was the right time to record and release our EP.”
Judging by how well-received the infectious dance-pop material on the EP has been, it appears the right decision was made. Even though Zie comes across very much as the band leader, he is quick to share equal credit with his bandmates for the songwriting.
“I start it off by writing chords and song structures (a basic electronic backbone). Thereafter, I will work on the melody line and lyrics. Subsequently, I would develop the melody and lyrics with Sherlyn and then let the rest of the band listen to it. Rush would add guitar riffs and Billy would come up with a groove that determines the vibe of the song.”
Although keen observers have compared the music of Disco Hue with 1980s pop music and contemporaries such as CHVRCHES, there are more straightforward modern pop influences referenced by the band, including Carly Rae Jepsen, Panic! At The Disco, and Sam Smith (though Ang name-checked electro-funk duo Chromeo, to keep things intriguing).
A strong marketing campaign — planned by the band but executed by an external party — also helped extend its reach. The group’s music videos Gotta Find You and I’ll Be Waiting, for example, have garnered a combined total of more than 20,000 views thus far on YouTube.
Leo attributed the high quality of the music videos to Zie who doubled up as video producer (via THIEVVES Productions).
“Zie edited the MVs, all of us doubled as crew, and we made all of our props. We also had a lot of support from talented friends such as our art director Marina A, videographers Basil Tan and Iyaad Salleh, and a few others who helped us on set and with post-production.”
All of this points to the D.I.Y attitude evident in Disco Hue, an entrepreneurial spirit that is key to today’s indie music making.
That Disco Hue’s debut EP launch made an impact is an understatement, what with the packed hall and the presence of local music luminaries, with the likes of Gentle Bones, Charlie Lim, THELIONCITYBOY, Deon Toh et al spotted in the audience.
Though for Chua, the unexpected response was not without its own particular challenges.
“Pleasantly surprised, but it also had a downside because a lot of friends and family came to surprise me but I didn’t have the time to be a proper host. I guess it’s a happy problem.”
However, Disco Hue is not resting on its laurels. Members have their eyes firmly fixed on the future.
“We have shows and festivals lined up, such as Baybeats, Ignite, and Singapore Coffee Festival,” explained Leo.
“We intend to tour regionally. Our goal is to push our music to an international audience as well.” — TODAY
* Disco Hue’s Arcade EP is now available on all digital platforms.