Look what we have here. A bevy of bands lined up for the 10th instalment, and sadly, the last one. From jazz pianist Robert Glasper, to British singer-songwriter Lucy Rose - the diverse range of artists for Mosaic Music Festival this year assures that there is something for everyone. Stretching over various venues at the Esplanade from 7-16 March, Mosaic will be presenting a schedule of exciting shows, and even some free ones.
The Esplanade Concert Hall is a much revered arena for live music in Singapore and this year two of these artists are among the batch of bands taking the big stage at Mosaic. We talk to ska-jazz 'party band' Cat Empire and Ernest Greene of one-man electronic project Washed Out ahead of March.
Welcome to Singapore! What have you been up to these days?
Thanks, great to be back! Well we had a great year last year with the release of our album Steal The Light and the world tour that followed was a fun journey. Recently just been enjoying the summer in Oz with family and friends.
The band has been around for more than a decade, and still actively touring! How much has changed in the music landscape since you guys started?
I think the general landscape of our sound has stayed similar but over the years it has become more refined, through better playing and song writing.
Putting together genres like ska and jazz, how did this come about?
It’s all about good music to us, we all listen to different styles all the time so some of these grooves, ideas come from that. The “Jazz” part of the band is not really a sound but more of an approach we take to the music especially live, and Ska, well that’s just party!!!
What are the perks of being able to play at a rock/indie festival, as well as jazz festivals?
It is really great!! We are lucky that our music can apply to any kind of festival and people. Being able to see and meet different bands/people in different festival settings is the best!
Tell us more about Steal The Light, how has this album progressed from your previous work?
Making Steal The Light was a joy for all involved, we all agreed we wanted to re-establish our reputation as a band that makes people happy and want to dance! The fact that everyone was on the same page was the biggest “progression” for us in making Steal The Light.
You guys have been described as a ‘party band’ and very theatrical on stage – tell us about some of the crazier shows you have played.
Last year we played in Barcelona for the first time in a while, the atmosphere was electric and the energy could not get higher. This was a CRAZY show for us. Loud, raw, sweaty and fun.
In your own words, describe a Cat Empire show for those who have yet to watch you live?
Our show is energetic, fun, positive and a little risky at times!
Firstly, we'd like to put that infamous genre tag 'chillwave' out there first. How have you felt being associated with the term ever since your older material?
I guess I have a love/hate relationship with the term… haha. It's been great being associated with the genre because its set me apart from a lot of bands doing similar things. I've definitely gotten more attention because of it. However, I never want to make the same album twice, so I'm not psyched about being associated with any one sound.
That said, I hope that every new record sounds different - but still has some connection to my past work. I guess that's the real challenge.
Do you still believe in the relevance of genres in this modern age?
It helps having some sort of classification system. It seems like there is more music available than ever before - so it seems a little chaotic thinking about a world without genres. But modern listeners seem to be a lot of more open-minded and I see this cross-pollination happening more than ever of very different styles coming together.
Paracosm is remarkably different from Within and Without. It sounds open-ended and adventurous compared to your first, which was incredibly intimate and subdued. What inspired you to make such a huge jump stylistically?
I've been playing with a band for the last few years and I wanted to showcase more performance on this album. Within and Without was made on the computer - manipulating and sequencing with a mouse. Paracosm has a lot more live playing. I was also interested in making a positive, optimistic sounding album - so that had a lot to do with the instruments I chose.
The record debuted at No. 21 on the Billboard charts – congratulations on that! In your opinion, how much of album sales affects your existence as an artist signed to a major indie label?
I'm definitely not selling enough records to make a living - and because of that touring is very important. But that said, we sell a decent number of records consistently - and it has a lot to do with Sub Pop's reputation and experience. So I feel very thankful for that. But its a brave new world out in the recording biz - you can certainly make it without a big label push.
Especially with the presence of burgeoning streaming softwares like Spotify.
Could you name some records that were essential in inspiring your music?
DJ Shadow | Endtroducing
Four Tet | Rounds
Koushik | Be With