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Eclectic Electronica: 7 unorthodox electronic acts from Singapore

These acts are breaking the limits of electronica

  • Kevin Ho
  • 10 February 2021

With the world of electronica comes infinite possibility. Neither formulaic nor conformist, there is a fresh wave of Singaporean electronic acts tossing genre restrictions and cookie-cutter standards out the window, traversing new territories of originality that are far from predictable. Buckle up, because these sounds will shock you.

1. Cayenne

In contrast with the languid dream-pop of Sobs, the band that Celine Autumn fronts, Cayenne is her solo project that marks a hysterical, overblown awakening. Embracing her hyper-pop persona with flames beneath her heels, the dulcet vocalist festoons her timbre with glitchy transpositions and auto-tuned accoutrements. These vocal flurries scamper atop layers of PC Music-inspired terrains, toggling between saccharine vim and violent grittiness. These are synthscapes on steroids, and Cayenne is your charismatic ringmaster. Follow her music here.

Key Listen
'Drivin' Away'

2. deførmed

Attempting to nail the focal point of deførmed is like playing whack-a-mole on maniac mode; you never know where it’s going to end up. Fresh off his LATE TO THE LOUDNESS WAR EP, this mad scientist – who casually boasts a classical piano background – jumbles elements together to create frenzied, saturated, bordering-on-ridiculous concoctions. He does the unimaginable, like fusing anarchic vocal screeches with sprinting drum ‘n’ bass rhythms, dropping traditional Malay asli music into a pit of industrial electronica, or slipping a reggae groove into a volley of turbo-charged breakbeats. This is far from easy listening, but every second of it is delightfully quixotic. Follow his music here.

Key listen
'BAS NO 172'

3. SAtheCollective

Electronic music, despite its seemingly new-fangled nature, can bridge cultures of the past. In the case of SAtheCollective, it remarkably links with their background in Chinese classical music. Through free-flowing sound odysseys that capture themes of nature, dystopia and capitalism – as conveyed in their 2020 album, Samsara – electronic components interact with heritage instruments like the dizi (flute) and guzheng (zither), producing a hybrid clash of tonalities that are interwoven perfectly. What you get is an orchestral, organic tapestry that injects humanity into the oft-alien world of electronics. Follow their music here.

Key listen

4. sl_owtalk

How much fullness can two instrumentalists forge in their pocket of sound? For the duo of sl_owtalk, they step up to the challenge with their idiosyncratic drum-synth combo, making some of the most vociferous music you’ll ever hear. The long-time bandmates, who’ve made music together since 2006, unleash their latest art-rock project with precision within the pandemonium, striking an immaculate balance between clamorous percussion salvoes and beastly electronics with teeth. Shunning traditional song anatomies for experimental structures that fluctuate in rhythm and tempo, the lingo of sl_owtalk is perplexing but never lost in translation. Follow their music here.

Key listen

5. don.a.a.ron

Time has proven that nostalgia doesn't die. For don.a.a.ron, the glistening ’80s are his ever-flowing spring from which he draws inspiration, crystallising into solid synth-pop gems that line his repertoire. The elements in his tracks give away his obsession: the echoing snares, the chubby basslines, the shimmering pads, and his husky vocals that float amorously. You can almost see the imagery when you push play on his songs, evoking a calm twilight drive down neon-soaked streets. His debut album, F A C T S, is a masterpiece that perpetuates this fantasy. Follow his music here.

Key listen

6. The Analog Girl

Paving the way for alternative electronic music since the mid-noughties – in a local climate then dominated by live bands – The Analog Girl is one groundbreaking visionary who continues to enrapture the scene. Orbiting a steady nucleus of spacey synths, computerised beats and her signature ethereal vocals, her newer releases have morphed over the years. Her 2020 album, Awe, is yet another monumental milestone of her progress, radiating hues of ’70s disco that melt into her warped, whimsical sense of pop. Her live performances further bolster the charm of her spellbinding design, translated via quirky gadgets that transform her sets into interactive, must-see experiences. Follow her music here.

Key listen
'More Than You Know'

7. Microchip Terror

Wandering into the sinister realm of Microchip Terror is like the soundtrack of facing your final boss – one of incendiary nature, dramatic overtones, and a binary sensation of triumph and trepidation. Powered by the genres of synthwave and EBM, the boisterous producer likes to toy with unsettling minor keys and gothic hues, buttressed by a bedrock of crunchy, hard-slamming industrial beats. Clump that with confrontational synth solos, Nintendo-esque squiggles, and throaty roars from the depths of screamo, and you have a full package that’s absolutely destructive. Follow his music here.

key listen

Follow Kevin Ho for all things Singapore and beyond via Life In Arpeggio here.

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