After seven years in Singapore, the St Jerome’s Laneway Festival has gone proper native.
Once regarded just as an imported Aussie festival, Laneway Singapore has been making a conscious effort to get more Asian bands on stage over the years.
This year, Malaysia’s Froya joins a largely Asian lineup that includes Japanese rapper KOHH and house trio Wednesday Campanella, plus Indonesian bands folk duo Stars & Rabbit and electronica pop duo Bottlesmoker.
The Singaporean contingent is of course the largest, with five bands from the host country – A/K/A Sounds, Astreal, Pop Tart, Sam Rui and T-Rex.
There are still some international artistes, of course, and this year, the lineup includes American ambient musician Tycho, Grammy winning English electronica songwriter William Phillips (better known as Tourist), and Australian DJ Nick Murphy, who has shed the Chet Faker moniker he used when he played Laneway in 2015.
The brains behind Froya, Michelle Lee, told Star2 that fans can look forward to her unveiling several new songs at the festival, including Dark Chocolate, which was released today. The songs are from her upcoming, still untitled new album, which is likely to hit shelves only later this year.
Lee said she is taking a new direction with the new record, moving away from the bittersweet lyrics of her award-winning Panic Bird album in favour of a more colourful approach.
“I wanted to write songs inspired by sound that showcase how I’m maturing, as a musician,” she said, adding that to do so, she limited the elements recorded in favour of more carefully crafted tunes. However, Lee joked that the song titles would all be named after food so listeners would not take things too seriously.
The full-time musician has also branched into side project Macropsia, a collaboration with British electronic music producer Lee Williams. She described Macropsia as more a danceable version of Froya, which lets her experiment with a new voice, and even remix some of her existing material like Dark Chocolate.
A devout Laneway-goer, Lee says she’s attended the festival every year so far, counting Mercury winners Alt-J and James Blake as her favourite Laneway alumni.
“It’ll be extra special this year, being on the stage instead!” she said excitedly, adding that she would be sticking around after her set to catch pop acts Glass Animals and Aurora, plus hip-hop producer Clam Casino.
Naturally shy, Lee admitted that she still gets nerves when performing at bigger events. However, after six years in the game, it’s not her first rodeo, having taken part in several Urbanscapes and last year’s Good Vibes festival.
While this would be Malaysia’s second time participating in Laneway – following Pastel Lite and Enterprise’s performance in 2015 – two Indonesian bands, Stars & Rabbit and Bottlesmoker, will be participating for the very first time, a nod to the strong following Laneway has among music fans from the populous nation.
The bands have known each other for years, and even recently performed together at Artwarding Night, a creative festival in Jakarta.
“We’ve been at the same events several times but never really got a chance to speak properly until the idea of the collaboration came up. We’ve somehow thought they can fit freshly with our music. And it did. Also they’re crazy and humble dudes. I just love them!” said Stars & Rabbit’s Elda Suryani Elda in an e-mail interview.
However, a repeat of the collaboration at Laneway was unfortunately unlikely. “It is so new for both sides and I feel that we would need more time to prepare the material itself. Though it would be really great if this happened again,” Elda said.
Both bands revealed they would most likely stick to their recently released material – Stars & Rabbits with its Constellation album, and Bottlesmokers with its Polarity EP.
On the bright side, Bottlesmoker’s Ryan Nobie Adzani reveals the trio would be expanding into a full band for their set at Laneway, and may just perform some new songs as well.
The 2017 St Jerome’s Laneway Festival will be held on Jan 21 at The Meadow, Gardens By The Bay, Marina Bay, Singapore. For more info, visit singapore.lanewayfestival.com.