When people think of 'growing up music', it usually lands somewhere between the 80s and 90s, or earlier. 'Oldies' they call it - but how much do you remember as children really. The memories we hold that are most intact are those in our teenage years, where we start on cultural development aka develop our tastes in music, film, and other interests semi-independently, a sort of personal zeitgeist.
This is where Amateur Takes Control happened for most of us.
Back then in the age of MySpace, a band emerged that struck a chord with a lot of us. They were closer to our age than most bands of the time, watching them play filled us with a slight sense of envy and tremendous unexplainable pride in what our music scene was capable of.
Even though I wasn't around during those years, I begged someone from back home to attend a show even if they had no knowledge of ATC, just so I could get their album, even if it meant regular mail aka waiting and waiting or worst, a smashed up CD. I still got it anyway (that friend and I don't speak anymore) and it has been fondly passed around, in the spirit of sharing good music. I've sung '4207' (even if there are no words) while walking by a river with friends in Jakarta, played 'Communication Downbreak' in the media lab on good speakers with uni mates in Melbourne and had 'Sayonara Supergirl' on a bunch of iTunes playlists to help get me by being away. Good times (although I've lost track of who has the CD now dammit).
Bands like I Am David Sparkle, Documentary In Amber and Amateur Takes Control have kickstarted Singapore's affinity towards the genre of post-rock, nothing bad about that. To quote entertainment writer Zul Andra in his article on ATC, "If the sound of our surroundings were to be given a musical score, Amateur Takes Control would have nailed it." In a way, to understand and appreciate post-rock in Singapore is to understand a big part of our underground cultural identity.
Horse The Band Live In Singapore | March 2008
I couldn't find any footage of Amateur Takes Control performing in the epic appearance of nintendocore outfit HORSE The Band at Home Club back in 2008. My memories of that show are kinda hazy, because that show was legitimately the WILDEST one I've ever been to here. I mean just take a look at the video, it was freakin' nuts. But other than the near concussion and my broken glasses, it was the first time I managed to catch Amateur Takes Control, who really impressed me with their technical sonic compositions and instrumental tightness. It was something that I'd never thought local bands could pull off. It was the catalyst for my exploration into the Singapore music scene, and I've never looked back.
Also, I thought it was pretty cool of Jem to lend Erik Engstrom (HORSE the Band keyboardist) his synthesizer, because Erik lost his own synth at the airport. Then the show had to be cut short because Jem's keyboards stopped working. I wonder if he managed to get it working again…
ARK! BONE | Dec 2008
It was a New Year's Eve gig at the old Straits Records with ETC, The Zozi, The Pinholes (I think), and Amateur Takes Control started playing right before midnight. The place was packed, and it got pretty hot. The best thing about the show was that it was the first time people were moshing in an ATC gig. They even stopped playing for a bit to countdown into 2009.
I've looked everywhere on YouTube and searched with all possible combinations.. I still don't know the title of the song in the video.
You, Me, And The Things Unsaid Album Launch | Oct 2008
October 2008 was definitely an outstanding month for KittyWu Records; I came down to Sinema Old School twice that month for both ATC and David Sparkle showcases. The setting itself (with those lush, really comfy seats and cosy atmosphere) was perfect for both bands - bands who dabbled in painting sonic landscapes with solid electric palettes. It was Amateur Takes Control at their most intimate and absolute. They were supremely elated about the release of their full-length album and it really showed in their performance that night.
Night Festival: Bersama Hijau RE:PLAY | July 2009
Amateur Takes Control x Kompang troupe, nuff said.
LITE | July 2012
I've never watched ATC overseas before, and their show with LITE in KL was my first. They've obviously already garnered a huge number of KL fans, looking from the amount of people who were familiar with their songs. The stage itself seemed kinda low budget - it honestly looked more like a prom show stage than a stage for two very technically impressive bands. In contrast to the barebones staging, the sound was excellent. They asked people to sing along to 'Communication Downbreak', so I tried to. Overall, that KL show was downright stunning: Amateur Takes Control was tight, LITE was even tighter.
Words by Delfina Utomo, Ilyas Sholihyn and Justin Koh