We check in with lead singer Ginny Bloop as Seamonster makes huge waves
Interview by Dan Prince
Ginny welcome to DMCWORLD…where in the world are you right now?
Hello DMCWORLD! I am in Singapore at the moment, packing my luggage and getting ready to head over to London in a couple of hours!
What was the first piece of music you heard this morning after rolling out of bed?
This morning’s jam is ‘I Love You Too Much’ by Stevie Wonder (In Square Circle). In fact, I just got up and the song is on loop now, awesome sauce!
Well where to start! A brand new album that is getting serious props from everyone, ‘Seamonster’ features ten beautiful tracks, but before we get into the music we have to talk about how the band started. Tell us all about the whole Singapore and Bluey experience…
Okay this is going to be a long one. Brace yourselves!
I met Josh through a sub gig I was called to do, where he was playing nights at. That was in 2013. In that year, the whole bunch of us headed to Java Jazz Festival to catch the plethora of local and international acts that were billed to perform. I remember catching Roy Hargrove and The RH Factor, Joss Stone, Jose James among many others and we were just so blown away by the quality of music and performance. We returned to Singapore extremely inspired and decided to start working on a project together. We immediately set out looking for people to play with us, and tried out a couple of combinations but it wasn’t long before we finally got Jase, Aaron and Fabian in. Singapore has got a very close- knit and small community so we kinda knew each other already. I remember having our first gig as the official SMQ lineup at BluJaz Cafe. That was the first time I met Fabian, actually. We jammed a couple of tunes out. It was really exciting!
So fast forward a couple of months, we focused on writing and recording music, which led to the birth of our EP, Einstein Moments in Sep 2013. Bluey came to Singapore in March 2014 for the inaugural Singapore International Jazz Festival, so we attended a masterclass he was giving at Lasalle College of the Arts (where I studied at, and Josh teaches at). We played a couple of our songs during the talk and something must have spoken to Bluey in those precious few minutes because he offered us a production deal right away. We must have been wearing our lucky socks that morning!
The next few months were spent writing and recording demos of more music, working out parts and getting super focused on the album, before flying off to London in Aug 2014 to record. We were very fortunate to have had the support of the National Arts Council (Singapore) and The Foundation (Singapore), for funding our trip and making everything happen. Before we got to London, we were crazy excited but nervous as well. We didn’t quite know what to expect, you know… recording music we’ve been working so hard on in a foreign land with Bluey. The build up to it was quite nerve wrecking, really. For myself. Most of us grew up listening to Incognito (Aaron’s mum is a huge fan) so it was HUGE for us to be in such close proximity to one of the greatest musical legends of all time. Bluey turned out to be this ultra cool dude who was very supportive of who we were as a band, and our artistry. He was very generous in sharing his experiences about being in the industry and all that jazz – for that we are eternally grateful. As a producer, he gave us tons of creative leeway, but was also objective about stuff like radio edits etc. We love Bluey forever. He’s kinda like our Papa Smurf.
Wowzer! Please talk us through some of your new musical babies on this stunning soulful and jazzy journey…
Seamonster- Seamonster is really about embarking on a journey of uncharted waters. As artists, we face similar struggles everywhere about going out there with your work, into the unknown, and it can get very daunting. In Singapore’s society, the arts hasn’t always been one that is prized as a priority to be cultivated among the people. So it was some sort like an ode to this journey of creativity- something that can get maddeningly depressive, yet remain weirdly and passionately attractive in the same spirit. On a side note, the local scene is getting a lot more support now from the government, which is a great thing. We progress in our tiny ways!
*song trivia: I got started writing this song while waiting for the public pool to open after a crazy afternoon storm. I love swimming A LOT.
More Than We Know – The band wrote and practiced the intro in the studio a couple of minutes before tracking it. The boys are mad.
Rain- We wrote this during one of our rehearsals for a gig. It’s about sticking to your beliefs through the incessant stormy warnings and negativity from naysayers. I get very annoyed by nutters who steal and drain positive vibes from the people around them.
Barbwire Tree – Josh wrote the words to a couple of the tunes on the album. Apart from being the Brain behind the keys, he’s actually an awesome wordsmith. This song tears me apart every single time I perform it.
Snowman’s Demise – We wrote this in the studio just before we wrapped everything up at the end of our 2 weeks in London. It’s a love song to one of my favourite things ever- SNOWMEN! I absolutely love Frozen the movie, and I am not ashamed to say it! Haha. But at the same time, it’s about being reborn through adversity, while experiencing situations you may or may not have control over. I was going through some tumultuous heartbreak during those few weeks and writing that short jumble of words was a cathartic process for me.
Walls – This was actually one of the first songs we wrote collectively as a band. It was recorded initially on Einstein Moments. After playing it endlessly over the year, we got into the music a lot more, and I love how it has evolved to what it is now.
The Steve McQueens: Walls (Live at Livingston Studios) – https://youtu.be/Vhv8hAw0lvE
When most people come to London for the first time people fall in with the Beefeaters at the Tower of London, a great live music venue, shopping on Bond Street or a wonderful musical. You Ginny though fell hook line and sinker for pink Doc Martens, Marmite and the sound of a good old Cockney accent. What rhyming slang did you pick up and love?
I grew up having Marmite in rice porridge, so it always reminds me of home. But I always thought Marmite was just that. Coming to London and discovering an entire range of Marmite products (?!?!?!) was life changing! Marmite crisps, marmite rice cakes! I bought them all! Even Marmite pajama pants. I get obsessive over things like that. Bluey taught me the good ol’ way of having marmite- on toast! I had never tried that before and that was pretty much the first thing I did when I got home to Singapore. Doc Martens was my very first pair of “special shoes”. It just makes me feel like a megazord each time I put them on. There must be something in the fit of the shoes that speaks to my sole (soul) hahaha.
I picked up words from Bluey, like “THAT WAS MASSIVE!” and “THE TURKISH FOOD DOWN THE ROAD IS WICKED!”. I have got to keep a written record of these things.
What was it like when Gilles Peterson dropped down to the studio whilst you were recording the album?
He was very nice! I was prancing about in the studio while we recorded- I had no idea he had arrived. I tend to live extensively in my personal bubble when I’m working on stuff…So I was a little embarrassed after, when I got out of the vocal booth and saw him sitting there. But he was very cool about it.
Okay let’s rewind for a moment and take you back to your childhood. What are your earliest musical memories?
1. Singing to Chinese pop karaoke records my uncles would purchase for the LD player.
2. Singing to epic ballads of the 80s in the car, like Total Eclipse Of The Heart. And listening to the BeeGees, mum loves the BeeGees.
3. Listening to the radio extensively and singing along to everything like a parrot. I could never shut up. I remember listening to Tina Turner a lot on the radio.
4. SPICE GIRLS. S CLUB 7. ’nuff said. I grew up in the 90s.
Inspirations musically growing up?
The greats- Karen Carpenter, Chet Baker, Ella Fitzgerald, Erykah Badu, Amy Winehouse, Billie Holiday, Chaka Khan, Tina Turner and Stevie Wonder. Always and forever.
Was music always the career you wanted, was there ever anything else you had in mind?
I have always loved music, but never really thought of making it a career, because it’s just really unheard of, especially when you come from a traditional Singaporean Chinese family. I am pretty much the deviant of my tribe. I didn’t make it to university, enrolled into an arts college and I still live from paycheck to paycheck. Before discovering music, I really wanted to be a social worker. I applied to study that after my A levels, but thankfully my grades were so bad, I was rejected.
Not many people know this, but Ginny Bloop is really good at
…making kickass Chinese soups!
What was the last great live gig you went to…
Few weeks ago, I was at a gig that was curated by a dear friend of mine, Timothy De Cotta – phenomenal singer- songwriter and bass player. He sets up this thing called the “Warrior’s Hall” from time to time, where he plays his stuff and gets other local acts on board for the entire night. He featured great bands such as electronic rock act SubShaman, The Hubbabubbas and Intriguant. Everyone played their own material – it was amazing. I headed home that night very inspired. I spent the entire night writing after that. I could not sleep as I had received too much energy from the gig.
Steve McQueen had 4 nicknames…Bandito, King of Cool, Mac and McQ – what are your nicknames for each other?
I call the two older dudes Uncle Josh and Uncle Fabian respectively, but it is really out of respect and love than anything else. We call Jase, Jason, just to annoy him. His family name is “Sng”, so when we go all colloquial on “Jase Sng”, it becomes Jason. That cracks me up all the time. I call Aaron “Panjang”, which means tall in Malay, the national language of Singapore. He is like my little big baby brother.
Thoughts on opening up for Incognito on May 23rd…?
CAN’T WAIT. EXCITED. THANKING OUR LUCKY TOES. WEARING MY LUCKY SOCKS AND BRACELETS.
And finally – what are the plans for the Summer and beyond, touring and more music?
Yes! If possible, I would love to do this till the end of time. Practising, writing, recording and performing. All of the above, all day, everyday.
You can catch the Steve McQueens live in concert on May 23rd (opening for Incognito) at 02 Indigo, London.
Other dates include: 8th May – Singapore MAAD Red Dot, 19th May – Singapore: Secret Sessions, 20th May – Singapore: Radio Home, 23rd May – UK London 02 Indigo (Opening for Incognito), 16th June – Singapore Sea Games closing, 1st August – Ministers function, 10 / 20 Sept – Malaysia KL Jazz Fest, 9 -11 October – South Korea Jarusam Jazz Festival, 17-18 October – China JZ Music Festival, 19-20 October – Australia Soulfest, Sydney / Melbourne.
‘Seamonster’ will be released on iTunes promo May 24th / Full release June 14th 2015 on Splash Blue