Can you blend R&B with pop? brb. succeeded with the amalgamation with pop&b. Consisting of Clarence Liew (CLO), Auzaie Zie (Disco Hue, Thievves) and Marc Lian (formerly TRICK), the group assembled due to their mutual love for the R&B, hip-hop and soul.
The trio spontaneously did jam and songwriting sessions together which turned into a regular affair after discovering their chemistry were too obvious to ignore. With an artistic common denominator, funk and fun ensures in their well-received singles such as 'Cool with it' and the latest 'Whoops'.
We caught up with brb. to know the origins of its millennial-centric band name and making tunes that command attention.
ESQ: How did you guys come up and agreed on the band name brb.? It’s rather unusual.
brb.: We really gravitated to the idea of using an acronym from the get-go and when Clarence blurted out “brb?" during a late-night brainstorm, Zie and I looked at each other in instant agreement. I think it’s because we grew up in the 90s, it just brought about nostalgic vibes from the early days of the internet. MSN Messenger, mIRC chat rooms and the like. And nostalgia is like a warm blanket we often think back to our youthful experiences of equal parts happiness and melancholy. Then, of course, we tried coming up with numerous other Internet speak acronyms but alas, nothing else felt right.
ESQ: What measures do you guys take to capture listeners’ attention in the current ever-changing music sphere?
brb.: We cite producers and songwriters like Max Martin as a big influence and they’re known for really great hooks, I think we learned a lot from that. It’s kind of second nature for us to incorporate effective hooks in our music. Besides that, we don’t really try to chase a certain trend too much. We’re all about creating music that we like and music that has a timeless quality.
ESQ: Tell us something unique or memorable when forming brb. and preparing for an official debut.
brb.: We remember during our early sessions in the studio working on songs like ‘Cool With It’ and ‘Talking To Myself’ were quite magical. A ton of excitement all around, it was a new project, new music, new collaborators. Then of course once the first single dropped, we were thrilled to see the great reaction and support.
ESQ: As a Singaporean band, do you think it’s necessary to insert a local slant or narrative with your production? How will you execute them with the lyrics or compositions?
brb.: We don’t think it’s necessary but if it comes naturally and works out, we wouldn’t be opposed it. The execution would probably be in the form of general references in the lyrics or sampling iconic bits of audio to incorporate into the beat.
ESQ: What's next for brb. after ‘Whoops’? Is there an EP or LP in the works?
brb.: We’re finishing up an EP right now and hopefully it’ll be out around end 2019. Till then more singles for sure. We’ve also been cooking up new stuff for next year after the EP and we’re stoked. It’s a vibe in the studio right now, that’s for sure.
“We like to start the day slow and gradual with beats that are timeless and mellow. These songs soothe the mind while you’re on your daily commute and prepare it for the hustle and bustle that is to come.”
1. 'Love Again'—Daniel Caesar & Brandy
“We’re no strangers to Daniel’s soulful vocals. But paired with one of the OGs of contemporary R&B, this song is an incredible throwback for us 90s kids. The slow and juicy beat wakes your senses and eases you into the start of the day.”
2. 'Love, Love, Love'—Donny Hathaway
“Turning it up a notch, we vibe to this tune from the 70s which acts as a reminder to where our R&B roots stem from. A timeless classic that gets our hearts racing and ready for the modern classics. A perfect perk-me-up tune on a mundane commute to work.”
3. 'Time'—Free Nationals (feat. Mac Miller & Kali Uchis)
“A well-constructed masterpiece with a strong rhythm section paired with horns. It ought to give you a serious case of involuntary head bobbing, a surefire test we use to determine if a song is a true bop or not. It's the kind of song we’re likely to have on as we stroll confidently into our work spaces. RIP Mac Miller."
“Picture this. Lunch time crowd, it’s noisy and you just wanna tune out from the heat and distractions but you kinda wanna bop to something fun and groovy. This is what we use to get through the day on a good note. Light and breezy.”
1. 'Day 1'—HONNE
“In stressful situations what we look for in a tune is something that can calm us. Thus a track from HONNE comes to mind. The mellow vocals, soulful keys and pulled back drum beats does just that. Perfect stress relief in times of need.”
2. 'Twilight'—Anderson .Paak
“Twilight is a perfect song for when to get that adrenaline flowing. His intricate beats keep you focused on the task at hand while his raspy vocals and lyrics guides you through. An amazing track to listen to when you need that little mid-day push."
3. 'Rollin'—Calvin Harris (feat. Future & Khalid)
"This one starts real slow but gets busy as we go along. ‘Rollin’ is another one of those tracks that keep you bobbing your head against your will. The contrast between Khalid’s laid back vocals and Future’s hurried flow paints a beautiful picture that is brought together by their raspy tones. It’s more of a wind-down/celebratory tune for us to end the day on a good note."
“So it’s a Friday night, and we’ve come to the end of the week. We’ll need something to take us into the weekend. These are some of the songs we use to turn up.”
1. 'Feels'—Calvin Harris (feat. Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry, Big Sean)
“When a track features Pharrell, we know we’re in for a good time. With a star-studded line up of feel-good musicians. It is hard to go wrong when you’re trying to wind it down after a long week. This is our go-to tune when we wanna chill with good company.”
2. 'Late Night'—Lucky Daye
“You’re pretty lucky if you discovered ‘Late Night’ before us. This funky driving groove takes the cake when it comes to throwback-inspired instrumentation laced with modern vocal hooks and awesome sing-rap verses. The best way to kickstart the weekend or even the morning after a fun night out.”
3. 'Anything Like Her'—City Girl (feat. Tiffi)
“Little is known about City Girl. But what we do know is that she’s someone we wanna listen to when we take that peak hour cab ride home after a late night out. This soothing tune features calming keys and lo-fi beats that brings you to a place of bliss as you doze off to the rhythmic noise of the streets."
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.