17th May 2017 / Music

Starting a Band: Specific Islander

By: Amiril Muhaimin

It’s ironic that the doom and gloom of the haze in 2015 and the cheap horror thrills of Halloween brought together a colourful quartet rainbow in Singapore. Staying true to their tropical roots, Specific Islander draws inspiration from fruits and nature to cook up melodic dream pop tunes accompanied with dulcet vocals that might want to make you go on a permanent staycation in Sentosa!

We catch up with Joanne, the singer and guitarist of Specific Islander, as she shares with us on their journey. Be warned, their adventures on this island have kept people literally hungry for more – even as far as someone eating a banana thrown by the band!

Can you tell us more about your band?

We formed during the haze of 2015 to play at a Halloween house party. None of us really knew each other before the band, but we came together through mutual friends.

What was the first jamming session like considering that you all were strangers beforehand?

The first time we jammed, we played Beach, a song I had written beforehand. It helped to set the mood for the band, a bossa nova inspired lounge tune with very frivolous lyrics about hanging out at the beach.

None of us have really been in a band before this, so we didn’t have any pre-conceptions about how to go about making music. It was a bit awkward at first because we were strangers, but the music developed as we got to know each other and become close friends.

How did the name Specific Islander come about?

It’s originally derived from the term “Pacific Islander”. Singapore is an island, so we’re all islanders.

To be a “specific islander” for us is to create a space for yourself, to exist in a “forever vacation” in which we can put aside our real-world responsibilities and just freely create.

Can you tell us the individual quirks of each band member?

Nicky (bass) is the sociable one, I (guitar + vocals) direct the visuals and is the de facto leader, Fai (guitar + vocals) is the go-with-the-flow relax boy, and our drummer Surin is probably the most interesting member of the band. He’s doing research in the jungles of Borneo.

It’s been described that Specific Islander is the inventor of tropical pop. How was this genre birthed?

We probably didn’t invent the term, but it seems to fit our music best. Our music reflects the tropical climate of Singapore. It’s humid and dense, but at the same time lush, fresh and full of life.

Our music is a combination of the sensibilities of Southeast Asian folk and World music, with dream pop and shoegaze melodies. Tropical pop can be listened to in a hotel lobby lounge, at the supermarket, or while speeding through a tunnel on the expressway.

We noticed that fruits have been a recurring theme on your Facebook page. What makes them so endearing to your band?

Fruits and nature are a big inspiration to our music. Who doesn’t love fruits? We bring fruits to all our shows. It’s our dream is to be sponsored by a fruit stall or juice company.

Our logo is a banana fruit sticker, and we have a song called Banana Granola during which we like to throw bananas into the audience for people to eat.

Tell us more about your upcoming EP, Span Specific.

Fans can expect songs we’ve been playing for the past year, as well as a lot of new ones. It’ll come in a cool packaging and multi-media performances.

Also, the EP will probably be out late this year. We do want to get something out there, we’ve been sitting on the songs for quite a while now.

Can you share more on the creative process behind the EP?

The songwriting process is probably the most fun part of being in the band. Everyone brings something different to the table, and we try out new songs every time we meet up to practice.

We all love making new songs and get sick of the old ones really quickly, which is probably why we’ve been struggling to record and just get the album together. Some songs come together organically through jam sessions, others will be a combination of parts we bring together and figure out.


Has there been any standout moment for the band?

Opening for the Thai band Yellow Fang! We’re fans, and it was one of our early goals to play a show with them, so it was surprising when the opportunity arose so quickly. It opened up the possibility that we could play with other musicians we admire.

Playing the Night Festival main stage curated by Ujikaji Records last year was also a standout moment. It was the biggest stage we’ve played on so far, and we really enjoyed the whole atmosphere.

For more information about the band, follow them on Facebook and Instagram @specificislander.wav

Posted at 4:28 pm
Tags: Starting A Band

Previous Article
Help save lives with your blood!
Next Article
The *SCAPE Weekend List: 19 – 21 May 2017

You may like this:

The *SCAPE Weekend List: 8 – 10 January 2016

THELIONCITYBOY’s baby is the boss of the house

Alt-pop band LANY comes to Singapore