At this point, many people are already aware of David Bowie's far-reaching influence in music. Since his death on Monday, many bands, all of different genres, took time out to pay respect to the Thin White Duke. We saw electronic producers, extreme metal outfits, pop stars, rock bands and jazz acts all elucidating about how Bowie's music has influenced or impacted their work, and even as people who were inspired by Bowie's many personas.
Roping in some of Singapore's finest, here's what they have to say about David Bowie...
David Bowie is one of the most unique and prolific artists that lived. I count myself lucky to be alive at a time to witness his contribution to music. He was courageous in all aspects of his life. He was always bold with making music, and fearless with his artistry. I don't even need to talk about his best known works cause plenty of people can say wondrous things about that.
I feel his courage extends beyond that and is live through and through till his end days. It's easy for legends to stop producing work after a point, cause they want to "protect" their legacy. But Bowie was one of these people who continued to put out compelling work, as long as he had something to say. Even up until his death, he was fighting cancer and making music.
Beautifully odd. And oddly beautiful. His love for fantasy, the theatrical story telling, sci-fi and the unworldly things — he lead the way.
I won't be the artist I am today if it weren't for him showing the way.
RIZMAN PUTRA (Tiramisu, NADA)
Bowie has been influential in my work and practice for the last twenty years. From the moment I saw Labyrinth in '86, I have always been curious by this fascinating ungodly creature. He make all of us believe in the power of imagination and the fluidity of creativity; being the pioneer of combining theatrics and rock n roll, he has always been my greatest inspiration and will continue being my inspiration.
And the stars look very different today.
Thank you David Bowie for your final releases, 'Lazarus' and the entire Blackstar LP. Even in the daunting knowledge of your own mortality, you created yet another body of work that will inspire and bring solace to millions. You painted dreamlands with your soundscapes and tugged at raw emotions with your melodies. Thank you for redefining music.
YUJI KUMAGAI (Cashew Chemists)
'Rock 'n' Roll Suicide' and the Ziggy Stardust era was the perfect love letter to my adolescent musical formation, and his poetic digressions about space, mortality and being truly resonated within my self-discovering teenage soul. And yes, the stars will look very different from today."
VIVIAN WANG (The Observatory)
He left with no regrets. Who can boast of a life so full of colour, humour and swag? He was absolutely wicked and a beautiful being, a hero to us all. Ashes to ashes, you'd better not mess with Major Tom.
DANIEL SASSOON (In Each Hand a Cutlass)
As a kid growing up in the 80s, radio was my window to the pop world, and David Bowie was always cruising the airwaves with his unmistakable sultry, dramatic tenor. His ubiquitous pop hit 'Let’s Dance' was a radio staple, and others like 'Ashes To Ashes', 'Changes', 'Modern Love', 'Young Americans' and 'Fame' must have been too; for my subconscious was so imbued with these tunes, that I was well acquainted with those familiar strains before I even learned their titles years later.
MTV wasn’t yet available then, so I’d watch television religiously for the weekly one-hour music video specials, and often he’d swagger up 'Dancing In The Streets' with Mick Jagger, howl about being 'Under Pressure' with Queen, and broodingly proclaim that 'This Is Not America' with Pat Metheny. His fashion sense and persona was like a chameleon. It took me some time to reconcile his then-current image of suit and slicked back hair with the half-naked androgynous red-headed man-waif, red and blue lightning bolt painted across his face – not to mention the magical Goblin King that he portrayed on the silver screen in Labyrinth. Come to think of it, that movie must have been a clever conspiracy to inculcate the magnetism and otherworldliness of David Bowie upon children worldwide.
The Changesbowie compilation on cassette tape was the first Bowie album that I purchased, and that was my gateway drug to Planet Bowie. Before long, my casual fandom started to morph into a much more committed one. In my teenage years, like Ziggy I played guitar, and became fascinated with how my other music idols would cover his songs or pay tribute to him in their song titles – Nirvana’s haunting version of 'The Man Who Sold The World', Dinosaur Jr’s lyrically-altered 'Quicksand', Bruce Dickinson’s incredible 'All The Young Dudes', Veruca Salt’s 'With David Bowie', plus Bowie’s numerous duets and guest vocal performances with the likes of Nine Inch Nails, Placebo, Arcade Fire and Foo Fighters. I marveled at how he surrounded himself with a never-ending army of gifted axe-slingers, all remarkable in their own right; among them blues virtuoso Stevie Ray Vaughan with his stinging, eye-watering licks, the effortlessly cool Mick Ronson, and sound-manipulating sonic wizards Robert Fripp, Adrian Belew and Reeves Gabriel. Over the years, I’ve shamelessly absorbed their playing styles and phrases into my own vocabulary, and their lessons in tasteful yet memorable guitar playing, in the context of pop-rock, have been invaluable to me as an eager student.
The remarkable life of David Bowie has left us with a musical legacy spanning decades that is like no other. He dabbled in nearly every kind of genre and made more classic albums that bear repeated listening than any mere mortal should have the right to. Till the very end too; his swan song Blackstar is phenomenal, and I have barely begun to process the multi-layered expression of art, which is also his final public exit — so inextricably permeated with the recognition of his own impending mortality. There hasn’t been an artist like him before, and very likely there never will be one like him again within your lifetime. The stars do in fact look very different today, for the Starman has gone back home to his place in the cosmos.