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Two weeks back with @bantaievents at this beautiful house turned cafe/jamming studio/barber/fashion couture @11f____. Thanks for having us, it was an amazing time watching different upcoming musicians and singer songwriters. Follow @bantaievents for upcoming gigs featuring artists from the region. Also thanks to @josephchandra and @estronicaveron for backing me this time. . . Photos by the talented: @aperturebear . . . #localmusic #jbmusic #sgmusic #supportlocal #11f #musician #singer #songwriter #wastingtimewifyou
Open mic venues are Vincent Tan's playground. The local musician did intimate live shows to gain stage experience, which allowed him to express his heartfelt lyricism with an audience. By mixing stripped-down sounds with mellow beats, Tan has caused a stir in the open-mic circuit with tunes that reveal almost a dairy-like context to his everyday life.
We caught up with the troubadour to know more about the origins of his moniker and what inspired his recently-released EP.
ESQ: Tell us how VALIANTES got its name and explain the core sound you’re going for.
VALIANTES: When I was receiving my creative education, it was common among my classmates to have a pseudonym for their creative work, and I was like “yeah I should get one too.” My name 'Vincent' actually meant 'conqueror', and I looked for something that would describe a conqueror, which I found the word 'Valiant'.
I played around with the name and decided VALIANTES had a good ring to it. It is also a reminder to keep conquering beyond my boundaries, get out of my comfort zone, be creative.
At this phase of my journey, I’m trying to bring out the best of the stories I’m trying to tell. So you could say the core sound I’m going for is rather texture-centric, simple and stripped down to reveal the raw essence that I’m trying to express through lyrics.
ESQ: What got you started in music and decide to pursue it?
VALIANTES: I grew up in Church and my worship was the bedrock of my musical pursuit. I wrote a few songs in my teenage years, but entering University and joining a music group was what inspired me to get serious. Of course, like many writers, I had my heart broken and songs exploded out of it. From there I wrote a few good songs and went to try out for the 2017 Shinefest Mentorship auditions. I didn’t get selected but that was where I met Kevin Foo.
He took me aside, gave his card and said: “You’ve got something, whether or not you get the mentorship, come meet me at my studio, let’s have a chat.” We met a few weeks later and he told said to me “Your song brings hope and joy”. That was the moment I realise my music could benefit others beyond a good feeling, which was why I decided to pursue it.
ESQ: How did you muster the courage to do open mics and are there any rituals you’ll do before you hit the stage?
VALIANTES: I signed up for my first one at Singpowrimo Open Mic. After I got accepted, I told myself, “that’s it, cannot back out liao.” On that day, I was so nervous that I shook badly and it was a struggle to introduce myself. But after 2 minutes, I was alright."
"Before I hit the stage, I’ll say a little prayer. “More of you, less of me”. In a way to remember that it’s not about me.
ESQ: What made you draw and infuse a slice of life into your compositions?
VALIANTES: There are moments in life that you can record in a video, take a photograph, or write it in a journal to record it. But I believe they're some momentous events that require nothing less than a song to really remember it holistically. I figured 10 years down the road, I can still revisit some of these memories through a song.
ESQ: Which is your favourite self-penned song so far and why?
VALIANTES: Wow, this is a tough one. Every song that I've composed are like my kids, so making me choose which one is my favourite is really tough. If I really have to choose, it’ll be 'Red Eyes'. It was the one song that was written about the passing of someone close in the church community. The song posed a question and didn’t really try to answer. It was more of an expression of pain, and accepting that some things are never meant to be understood, and we’ll never understand why. However, we can choose to be happy about the good things, and celebrate the legacy of the ones who’ve passed on.
ESQ: What's next for VALIANTES after this single release? Is your debut LP in the works?
VALIANTES: The self-titled 7-track EP is due for release in late June, with the concept of Dusk to Dawn. The EP was based on the narrative of coming out of heartbreak, knowing my life is in the dusk, and I will go slowly go through a dark period but also knowing (and hoping) that the sun will definitely rise as certain as dawn will come. So while I dwell in the night, I reflect on greater things, I reflect on what love is, as I observe and record the stories of people around me. The EP is a series of stories in trusting, yearning, regretting, accepting, and hoping.
Yes, while I’m still working on the releasing of the EP, I’ve begun producing for the next EP. Keep your eyes peeled!
“I’m not a morning person, so everything in the morning sounds harsh and loud to me. So I tend to dig into soft tunes that resonate deep within the silence in between breaths.”
“This piano instrument has moments of dragged out sustains that allow the life of the piano to resonate as if it is allowing the listener to breathe out before taking another breath. Gently, the composer adds in a simple and harmonious phrasing of the melody. All these while the mechanical thuds of the sustain pedal seemingly give an ending to each phrase.”
2. ‘Like Someone in Love’—Bjork
“There is something about Bjork’s music that is so undignified and gritty that it feels so honest. It reveals a landscape best described alike a realist painting. The performance, verging on what seems like a theatre play, the song is carried by her voice accompanied by a harp, all this in the foreground of what seems to be a street corner with buses, kids and pedestrian chatting as they walk by. A true lesson on how to tell a story through a song.”
3. ‘Better Together’—Jack Johnson
“This was the song that introduced me to a variety of great singer-songwriters. It is simple, it doesn’t try to be complicated, giving this cheery vibe that makes you feel like you’re strutting through a field of sunflowers. Sliding guitar and flowing phrases that ignore the bar lines brings out the best of everything Jack Johnson has to offer.”
“My day usually requires me to plough through some intense creative work, and sometimes around 3:30 pm my blood flow to the brain slows down and I need some adrenaline pumping groove to fight off the food coma.”
1. ‘Fix You’ (feat. Monica Martin)—Scary Pockets
“This is the royal standard for me on what a cover should accomplish. Scary Pockets never fail to surprise with every cover they put out, always with a new perspective that makes you go…'wah' I never knew this song could sound like that.”
2. ‘Tyson vs. Douglas'—The Killers
“A classic 4/4 120bpm heart-thumping beat that will wriggle you out of any woozy food comas you face in the afternoon. The Killers has a secret superpower of mashing together multiple instruments to create a totally different stratosphere of dynamics and texture. ”
3. ‘Flow' (feat. Leehom Wang 王力宏)—Khalil Fong
“This song is my version of 'when the stars align' and two groove masters come together and give birth to a track that wouldn’t have otherwise been born. Put together LeeHom’s modern take of eastern instrumentations with Khalil’s swagger, 'Flow' is a creative bombshell with mind-blowing 'break it down' moments. ”
“Getting off work, I need some music I can zone off too as I ride the tuna can back home. As I unwind, I enjoy some light nice and light grooves before I hit the sack.”
1. ‘Learning How to Die’—Jon Foreman
“Better known as the frontman of Alternative Rock band, Switchfoot. is my absolute favourite when it comes to being a singer-songwriter. He produces his song with essentially his gritty raw voice mixed in with his unrivalled lyrical ingenuity, he delivers powerful messages straight to the heart.”
2. ‘Paris 12’—Linying
“This song is the hallmark of vocal texture and creative instrumentation. Her ability to transport listeners to another dimension is my reference point of what good heartfelt music should sound like. Listening to this song always brings me back to that one lonely bus ride home, where I silently hummed along with the interlude.”
3. ‘Spiegel im Spiegel’—Arvo Pärt, Angèle Dubeau, and La Pietà
“I came to know Arvo Part in an interview by Bjork where she described Arvo Part’s songs as a cosy cocoon space that she wants to crawl in and sleep. Spiegel im Spiegel was created from the piano, violin, and space it was recorded in. With these three elements mic-ed up with highly sensitive mics, you hear the friction of the bow on the strings, you hear the presence of the piano, you hear the breath of the violinist, you hear the resonance of the space. The kind of music to lay rest my head in preparation for the next day."
Enjoyed the tracks? Check out our other ‘Dawn to Dusk’ playlists curated by guest artists each week and follow our Apple Music profile to access our playlist first when it's out.