If there’s anything that the pandemic has proven, it is that we truly are a global nation. Fortunately, there are more things that bind us together, and one of the more beautiful ones is music.
As we battle not just COVID-19 but also the anxiety, frustration and even boredom that our current situation brings, we turn to our work-from-home playlists, the documentaries about the lives of musicians, and the live-streamed gigs from our favorite artists. This is also a time of reflection and discovery, not only of new hobbies, talents and skills, but also of how we can actually help those in need during these trying times.
True to the idea, this is also a great time to discover music, and we at Bandwagon think that this is a great time to listen to sounds from across the shore.
Regional music is not entirely new to us. It was a pivotal moment when Wanderland gave a regional artist (Yuna, who has also garnered much international success) a spot in their much-coveted lineup back in 2017, which birthed to more and more regional artists being flown in for music festivals in the country. However, we have yet to see these talented musicians go mainstream here in the country.
As part of our belief that great music can also be found in our neighboring countries, we’ve always talked about Southeast Asian and Asian acts. Today, though, we’d like to see how we can convince you to take a chance on some of these music artists through the word of their fans.
Here are a few notable regional acts that we totally recommend be part of your current playlist:
Charlie Lim (SG)
You may have heard of him: during the 2019 edition of Wanderland, when he played a gorgeous afternoon set on the first day.
Listen first to: 'Knots,' 'Bitter,' the BP Valenzuela remix of 'Least of You,' and 'Better Dead than A Damsel'
“I don’t normally like male vocalists. Most of the time, they all sound the same to me. So when I first heard 'I Only Tell The Truth,' I was immediately hooked. There was just so much earnestness and warmth in a voice that’s quite low and deep. I find a lot of comfort listening to TIME/SPACE while walking outside on a cold, windy night. But you can also catch me in public transport trying not to dance to the latest CHECK-HOOK: Remixes.
“There’s definitely some of that shared context and culture that you can hear in [regional] music. But what I find enjoyable about regional music is that it’s a breath of fresh air from the mainstream Western music that we hear all the time. Charlie along with the other Singaporean artists were my gateway to Southeast Asian music. You’d be surprised at the gems you’ll find all over this region.”
- George, writer
Listen to Charlie Lim here:
Gentle Bones (SG)
You may have heard of him: on the radio in 2015, when his song ‘Settle Down’ hit the Philippine airwaves.
Listen first to: ‘Be My Ocean,’ ‘Smile For Me’ and ‘Why Do We?’
“[I started] listen[ing] to Gentle Bones just last year. Accidentally listened to his song, Be My Ocean, and I’ve loved it ever since. Did not take me long to appreciate the song — fell in love with it at the first listen.
“I started following and listening to Gentle Bones because his music has a very different taste compared to mainstream music. It’s chill, sometimes painful and sad, and definitely nostalgic. I love songs that give me nostalgia. It came to a point when I kind of stopped listening to music on a daily basis because there was nothing new to discover and listen to; it’s like everything sounded the same — but then I encountered Gentle Bones. It’s probably also the reason why I started listening to underrated, but definitely not inferior, artists and songs.
“I am very optimistic about regional music. I think a lot of people are starting to discover these artists and actually support them. We’re slowly having representatives and I am looking forward to the time when our artists would penetrate all parts of the world. These artists need to be heard, that’s one. But I think it will be more of a favor to the world to hear these kinds of artists.”
- Ianna, Journalism graduate
Listen to Gentle Bones here:
You may have heard of them: when they played at FIERE, A Spur of the Moment Project’s anniversary show
Listen first to: ‘e.d.g.e.,’ ‘hearts and flowers,’ and ‘trails in motion’
“I love math rock & other related genres, so I immediately liked Mutesite after watching them at FIERE. Their music somewhat sounds like a glimpse of Malaysia. I like to listen to his music when I'm cycling or on the way to work.”
- Darius, Science Researcher
“It's funny but I see their music as somewhat different from a regular math rock band. Their sound is a little bit heavy compared to other math rock bands considering that they're only a four-piece band. It's weird that I feel calm and at the same time excitement whenever I listen to them. The combination of heavy guitar sound and keyboard is perfection.”
- Jun, Graphic Designer
“It started after seeing them live for the first time. I was floored hearing and seeing their energy on stage, got hooked and became a fan in an instant. I was like, “Wow, these guys are good!" the whole time. [...] I feel so open and joyous listening to their music. Their song ‘afterain’ from their album re:start is one of my favorites, it gives me a warm kind of feeling that makes me think of happy thoughts on a sunset drive.
“I fell in love with their music. This band needs more recognition than they get because they're so good and they make beautiful music! 100/10 would recommend especially to those people who enjoy instrumental music. I love this band so effin' much and I don’t care if that makes me a softie.”
Listen to Mutesite here:
Where you may have heard them: from their All of the Noise 2019 stint.
What to first listen to: ‘In Your Arms,’ ‘How You Forget,’ and ‘Distraction’
“I started listening to them the day before All of the Noise 2019, since they were part of the lineup. I’ve been following their social media ever since after that gig. Their groovy melodies matched with colorful backing tracks and astounding vocals makes me feel powerful."
- Gelo, Project Coordinator
Listen to M1ldl1fe here:
Phum Viphurit (TH)
Where you may have heard him: Phum has been in the country multiple times: ‘All of the Noise 2018,’ ‘Summer Noise 2019,’ and most recently, ‘Karpos Live Mix with IV of Spades’
What to first listen to: ‘Strange Land,’ ‘Hello, Anxiety,’ and ‘Lover Boy’
“I started listening to Phum Viphurit last October of 2017. I came across his “Lover Boy” music video on YouTube, and I immediately followed him and listened to all of his other songs after. Since then, I’ve been listening to his sunshine music whenever I study, travel, or even when I take a shower. I just feel at ease whenever I hear his songs. It lightens my mood throughout the day.
“Phum Viphurit’s music helped me a lot on my journey since I was in third year high school, where I had my anxieties overlapping my anxieties. His music is more of a human diary, which everyone can relate to.”
- Jamille, Senior High School Student
“The moment I listened to his songs ‘Lover Boy’ and ‘Long Gone,’ I instantly liked him. It's very rare for me to find artists I instantly like so it kind of felt like a match made in heaven. I love the timbre of his voice. I [also] love his aura. He looks such an innocent, passionate boy who doesn't try to fit in. He has his own style in music that is distinctly his. I listen to his Lover Boy 88 when I want to get in a good mood. However, his song 'Hello, Anxiety' resonates well with me too. The song's lyrics are melancholic but for some weird reason, I don't feel sad. Instead, I feel good that feeling anxious is normal, I guess.
“Actually, Phum's music inspired me to listen to other artists. His song Lover Boy 88, particularly, led me to discover other great artists such as NIKI, Joji, Rich Brian, and 88rising!”
- Melisa, Professor and Digital Marketing Consultant
“I began listening to Phum Viphurit around three years ago, when a guy I liked put one of his songs in a playlist he made for me. I think it was right after I heard ‘Adore’ in the playlist, and found his voice so supple and soothing (and then I saw how cute he was!), and then I began to eagerly wait for his new releases.
“Apart from the challenging chord progressions of his song, I really became invested in him since he released ‘Run.’ I have been a fan of Wes Anderson movies for the longest time, and I honestly had to take a double-take when I heard "Moonrise Kingdom" in the lyrics of the song. Maybe he was just as inspired by the movie, but when an artist uses other forms of art as an intertext to a new body of work (that is equally new and as rooted to the original movie) really highlighted his capability in songwriting and composition.
“[His music is] overwhelming--but it's the good kind of overwhelming. I'm not that good yet at playing the guitar and more than often than not, listening to his songs just really makes you want to practice more and more until you sound just as great.”
- Bianca, Creative Writing Student
Listen to Phum Viphurit here: