The BANDanas

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With the Musicfest around the corner, The Victorian Press met with Yeo Yu Xuan from The Bandanas, one of three bands performing at the school’s premium music stage this year. The band consists of lead singers Claire Chan and S Shivaane, both from 16A12, guitarists Neo Ming Feng and Yeo himself from 16S55 and 16S49 respectively, keyboardist Azure Shang from 16S36 and drummer Fong Jia Wen from 16S37.

According to Yeo, the bespectacled leader of the band, ‘The Bandanas’ came into existence solely for the purpose of the festival. The former member of Anglican High School’s choir was part of a band in his Secondary School days, and had intended to enter with a band at the Musicfest as an act. Starting with himself, Shang and Neo, the group went on to expand its membership to the current 6 that will take centre stage at Musicfest 2016. The assorted bunch of musicians then formed ‘The Bandanas’, whose name was also quite random. As Yeo muttered with a laugh, ‘Bandanas’ came from the root word ‘Band’, basically summarising what the six music enthusiast are: an ordinary band. Out of convenience for the unfortunate few who do not get the lame joke, the sextet will be donning bandanas as a symbol of unity on stage.

Onto the performance, the unusual combination have decided on ‘Kids In The Dark” by American pop punk band All Time Low, a catchy tune with an irresistible hook, which is a song “I bet a lot of people have not heard of before”, says Yeo. Considering the amateur status of the group, it is probably to no surprise that their reason for the song is that ‘It is suitable for a band’. In reality though, there is more to this song than just music. It offers an insight into the daily struggles of modern day teenagers and how they will not bow down to challenges, regardless of the circumstances, as the vocals belt “Come together, state of the art. We’ll never surrender, Kids in the Dark”, which might actually be surprisingly fitting considering most of the audience are teenagers from all sorts of backgrounds. (Editor’s note: And that we’ll be watching them from the darkness of the PT)

Despite their strong entry, the band actually has no interest in winning the competition. Rather, their love for music outshines the competitiveness for the title. As Yeo mentioned: “it’s about performing in front of my friends. That’s my main goal.”, which actually serves a a learning point for many of us. Yeo and his bandanas may not have all the time in the world to practice, but all that matters to him is the moment he steps out on stage and brings his music to the crowd, which is the essence of what performing is all about; doing what you love for others to enjoy.

With just a few days left to their performance, we wish The Bandanas all the best for Musicfest 2016.

Paul Sim, 16A13

M.I.A.

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The story starts before last year’s Victorian Affair, when members of the guitar ensemble wanted to follow in the footsteps of their seniors by staging their own performance that year. After a message was sent out asking for volunteers, “the stars aligned” and MIA was formed.

The band comprises of Theresa Koo (15S31) on keyboard, Benjamin Choong (15S43) on drums, Augustine Kau (15S51) on guitar, Alejandro Fok (15S31) on bass and Chew Min Min (15S39) on vocals.

When asked about the origins of the band, bassist Alejandro admits that their formation story is “kind of weird. It was originally a one-off thing…[but] the thrill of performing and practicing together drove us to seek more opportunities to perform and here we are!”

The early days of the band’s formation were rocky; over the course of numerous rehearsals, members would be late or missing in action without fail. The phrase ‘MIA’ eventually stuck. As Alejandro points out, the idea of being late was something that everyone could relate to. It was also especially meaningful to the group, who were ‘late’ in finding each other.

Elaborating on the hard work that goes on behind the scenes, he muses that the best thing about performing is actually the preparation. “Many audience members don’t recognize this aspect of the performance and it saddens me,” he says. Describing the tiring process, he relates to us the “hours upon hours” of studio rehearsals, song arrangements, and the research and back and forth process necessary to find suitable songs that all members can agree on and perform comfortably. “During this process we get much closer and the friendships we gain are invaluable. The accolades and recognition we receive is secondary to performing with each other, having the time of our lives, and the satisfaction of succeeding in engaging the audience and having loads of fun.”

The group hopes that their Zenith performance, the last time they will be performing together before A-levels, will end off their “short but really fun run” as a band with a resounding bang. Having performed at almost all school events like Victorian Affair, they want one final, unforgettable experience they can remember for the rest of their lives.

As for the actual details of the upcoming show, the band remains coy. “All I’ll say is, be ready to rave and sing along. Don’t be shy to come to the front and dance along! Just grab a friend and have a great time!”

Ashley Chan 16A11

ØFFBEAT

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Among the bands performing at Zenith 2016, one of the most high-profile has got to be Offbeat (stylised ØFFBEAT) — for one, the entire J1 cohort already knows them! Comprising five J2 Victorians, ØFFBEAT was the band that performed during NEXUS 2016, our Orientation programme. Taking the stage on the Open House day as well as Fired Up Night to enthusiastic crowds of dancing freshies, they impressed with their powerful vocals and entertainment skills, no doubt leaving a deep impression on the newly minted Victorians. ØFFBEAT mainly covers the latest pop songs, sometimes with an acoustic twist. ØFFBEAT’s musical portfolio is also certainly impressive, having been invited to perform at an event in ACS (International) about a month ago. “I think it was a super cool experience because we performed on the same stage as other talented musicians and local singers like Nathan Hartono!” says the band.

Formed in late 2015, ØFFBEAT’s current lineup comprises Daniel Ong (15S33), Lee Yoo Jin (15A15), Brian Sayson (15S65), Samuel Wong (15S39) and Isaac Chung (15S52). The Victorian Press managed to get an interview with these talented and eloquent musicians — this is what they had to say.

The band began when Daniel and Yoo Jin performed during the 2015 Music Fest as a duo. Then, in the middle of the year, they decided to recruit Samuel for SDD 2015 (which they didn’t manage to get into). Brian joined them for the Victorian Affair before Isaac came in and completed the band for Open House this year. As Yoo Jin comments, laughing, “we just recruited people over the past one year!”

The band wasn’t always called ØFFBEAT, though. When Daniel and Yoo Jin performed, they were called The Rejects (see our 2015 article on them here), but the name gradually changed as more people joined the band. Yoo Jin came across the word “Offbeat” on the thesaurus, and thought it was the perfect name for them because “we’re all eccentric people individually, and together we make a pretty hilarious bunch. Musically, I don’t quite think we’re very offbeat…”

The Victorian Press asked them for what they feel is the best part about performing, drawing varied responses. For Yoo Jin, it’s gaining confidence. Performing on stage really boosted her confidence, and she has a lot of fun being herself whenever she’s on stage. Isaac is the drummer, and for him it’s the adrenaline rush he gets when crowds get really hyped up, jump about and sing along during our performance. “It just shows how they really appreciate our music, as well as our presence on stage, which makes me feel really humbled and honoured.” (Zenith audiences, you know what to do!)

Samuel feels that the best part about performances, for him, is being able to show the crowd our fun band with the mix of dynamics. Meanwhile, Daniel says for him it is being able to share their passion for music with the audience. At the end of the day, he says, they are five different individuals who share a common passion for music. What is most heartening for him is when they get to spread the same zeal and desire for music with everyone.

We wanted to know what song would they find the hardest to perform — and the answers were quite surprising. Yoo Jin hates it when the boys choose songs with super high notes, thinking that she can reach them! The toughest one for her was Take Heart, initially, because she wasn’t confident in sustaining the high notes. On the other hand, Isaac, looking from the drummer’s perspective, feels that the hardest song will definitely be one such as Flight of the Bumblebee or Nyan Cat. “Try replicating that on instruments… you will blow your own mind!” Daniel doesn’t really have a hardest song to perform in mind; he feels that each song is a new challenge for them to tackle sonically, and that’s where they are able to hone and fine tune their abilities to adapt to whatever song that we may choose to perform. Samuel echoes this sentiment, saying that each song is a challenge on its own but “with the support from the band we always overcome them.”

Looking at this student band, many would wonder if they find any difficulties balancing performances and studies. However, according to them, they don’t. In fact, practising for our performances helps them to destress from studies! It’s a nice break to have once in awhile, and they have a lot of fun during all our sessions.

“Sometimes it does take a toll having to manage everything at once,” acknowledges Daniel.  All five of them are from sports CCAs, so there are times where it does get a bit stressful, but they do genuinely have fun at every band practice session and it does help to relieve stress from school.

One question on many Victorians’ minds — how do they usually decide on their set lists? According to them, they basically think of a few songs that they could try out and practise them individually before coming together and trying them out at a studio. It’s a trial and error of songs they are all familiar with. After that, they either replicate the song in its original form or add their own ØFFBEAT blend to it.  “We just go with the flow really, sometimes someone has an idea for a song and sometimes we just chill and have Spotify radio on to get some inspiration. In fact that’s how we eventually chose our song for Zenith,” says Daniel.

When asked why they decided to perform at Zenith, the band responded eagerly. “We’d perform in every event/opportunity given to us!” enthuses Yoo Jin, while Daniel offers his opinion  “Because we love music and love performing to share this passion with others as well!” Brian goes for a more introspective take, saying that they wanted to perform again this year, this time, with a fuller arrangement rather than the acoustic sets they previously did. Meanwhile, Samuel responds with an answer most Victorians would expect:  “Because… why not?”

We also asked them what we can expect from the Zenith performance — and the answers were certainly exciting! Brian starts us off by saying “If you love 30 Seconds To Mars, then you’re in for a treat.” Daniel says “something fresh”, while Samuel says “go green”. Isaac advised us to expect a little bit of something from everyone, while Yoo Jin reassures us that it will be “a little more than whatever you’re already expecting!”

Look out for ØFFBEAT during Zenith 2016 and follow their official Instagram for updates at @offbeatmusicofficial.

(Photo credits: Photosoc)

Ryan Ch’ng 16S47

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