Why has “Tur Young” become the Thai national anthem in Singapore?

by Widthawat Intrasungkha
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Why "Tur Young" became the Thai National Anthem in Singapore?

Over the past few days, I’ve been scrolling through Tiktok until we came across content where a Singaporean Tiktoker filmed himself singing Potato’s “Tur Young” from the 555 Music Festival held at the RWS Convention Center (held on 3 Jan 2024). I was so impressed that he was able to sing in Thai and a question struck me, “how did this Thai song become so famous in Singapore? I wasn’t the only one who wondered about this since there were many comments asking why this song was the “Thai National Anthem of Singapore” until we stumbled upon the word “Siam Diu” which caused a stir. Wondering more than ever what it is?

@l3nnerdlimofficial

You can’t imagine how impactful this song is in Singapore. I sang it too many times, finally is time to hear it for the first time LIVE!!! @potatoband @Resorts World Sentosa #turyang #potato #turyung #555thaifestival #singapore #thailand #thailen #thaimusic

♬ original sound – Lennerd 林健輝 แล็น – Lennerd 林健輝 แล็น
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Relying on our trusty know-it-all Google search, we found out that “Siam Diu” or what Singaporeans call it is “Thai Disco” is an entertainment venue for parties where alcohol is served, there is a DJ and there is also live music, just like hostess clubs in our Thailand. It has an energetic pumping vibrant vibes where men of culture go for nightlife clubbing and there are often hostesses which are called “Siam Bu”, waiting to sit and drink as a friend to relieve the loneliness while some would be step up their performances to sing on stage and selling flower garlands to customers to hang with girls. The Siam Bu who receives the flowers will gain a commission from each sale. Don’t be misled into thinking that these girls are prostitutes because it’s illegal in Singapore. This type of entertainment venue is very popular in Singapore because of the restaurant’s entertainment methods and lively atmosphere filled with drinking and games along with live music to enjoy, which led to the popular phrase Siam Diu for life, Siam Bu for wife, that made us wonder even more about it.

Digging deeper into the internet, I found an interesting article that those entertainment employees (Siam Bu) can make up to $6,620 per month! (according to a blog on seedly.sg) or approximately 238k-240k baht, which this income is the highest amount that a waitress may receive from commission, drink fees, and flower garlands purchased by guests ($50 each). Anyhow, they still have a basic salary of around $2,000 – $3,500 per month in exchange for working at most 26 days per month. Siam Bu are not obligated to go with the customers after closing hours, but I think it is known that anything can happen, IYKYK. The main duty of Siam Bu is to entertain customers, whether male or female, and draw out as much money as they can to spend on the restaurant’s products. From additional research, it was found that some who works as Siam Bu often have a need for money; whether financial problems or to support the family, which is considered honorable from the point of view, but there are also social problems that follow like being harassed by customers to the point where you often move to another shop to escape clingy customers. While addiction can be an issue, those that are too addicted to Siam Bu can also affect the man’s relationship as he only thinks about Siam Bu girls (like getting struck by black magic to make you fall in love). It might be worth thinking about how much of a social issue, but from Siam Bu’s point of view, her duty is to persuade customers to use their services and upsell products to make the most money out of customers’ pockets, whether it is inviting customers to order more drinks or asking to buy flowers garlands for them; which is lan act that encourages the Siam Bu to spend time at the customer’s table. The income of the them are based on their commission each night, which may be split between the shop and each employee differently, depending on the initial agreements.

Back to our main topic, from further research and asking our Singaporean friends, we learnt that Thai music is not that popular in Singapore to the point of being mainstream like Western or Korean music, but it is still a subculture that can be found just like indie music. Thai music in Singapore is no different from people who listen to Asian music in Thailand that are non-mainstream, such as Vietnamese or Chinese music, which may not have a large market, but they somehow still have active listeners. We discovered that the Thai Disco entertainment venue is just one part of the nightlife culture, which is not different from the pubs and bars in our country that focus on playing fun music and mass music. An entertainment venue like Siam Diu will have both performances and live music that plays popular songs like any other liquor store in our country. The song “Tur Young”, even though it’s been 13 years, is still a song that some Singaporeans can relate to and able to sing clearly because the melody is catchy enough and has heartfelt lyrics. We found that there are many Singaporeans singing a cover of Tur Young with smooth accents along with various memes on TikTok that still have references to the song “Tur Young”. So we talked with Els and JJ from the band MOTIFS, who shared with us that, “Tur Young song is like Wonderwall, where everyone knows how to sing it, but don’t remember how it became so popular”.

Motifs from Singapore (Els – vocal & guitarist / JJ lead guitarist)

JJ: I think “Tur Young” is considered “The Song”. Even I know the melody somewhere because it’s just that catchy.

Els: My sister heard the song today because I was asking her about the Siam Diu thing and she was translating the lyrics and then she was like “oh no wonder this song is so popular because the lyrics are probably very relatable to ah bengs because they’re always pinning over one girl.

JJ: We were talking to our friend Harist and he said that they always come up in the top 40 Siam Diu playlist.

Els: Because Siam Diu especially live bands will play Top 40 hits. Tur Young just happens to be in the Top 40s and usually the song that is played in places like that by cover bands. Siam Diu has got their own top 40s for that demographic of people and that genre of music. It’s like if you were to open like a shoegaze nightclub, then you’ll always be playing Slowdive or My Bloody Valentines and other stuff because it’s always in the top 40s and that’s why it’s so famous.

Els: It’s still a thing, yeah.

JJ: It’s like the Wonderwall of Thai songs.

Els: It’s like if you ask someone how Wonderwall became Wonderwall, nobody can answer you.

JJ: I guess the song is just catchy and easy to sing.

Els: And somehow becomes like a meme song also. (laughs)

The COSMOS: In Thailand, we have venues that are similar to Siam Diu with hostess club functions, which we call them lounges. There are these high-end venues who have the financial means to hire famous artists like Potato to perform. Does Siam Diu in Singapore hire artists to perform live?

JJ: No, there are mostly live cover bands, usually resident bands, performing. We’ve never heard of a foreign band hired to play, or even a Singaporean artist, because the demographics of people coming to Siam Dius is so different.

JJ wondered that In Thailand, when there are artists performing at these hostess clubs, does the function of being a hostess still exist or will it turn into a music venue? I confessed that I have never been to events like this, but I do think that there’s a certain period of showtime for the artists, and after they go off the stage, everything returns to normal and the artist treats this like a normal show at any nightclub.

JJ: I don’t think we’ve ever had anything like this before in Singapore.

Els: I think maybe because the culture of the local music scene in Singapore is probably different from Thailand. So for Thailand, you have bands like Potato where everybody knows, right? But in Singapore, there’s quite a big separation between local Singaporean music and standard mainstream pop music. Even a local pop musician is nowhere near as famous as Potato in Thailand or they will never be as famous as Ed Sheeran in Singapore. There is no local artist with a song that you play and everyone would recognize.

@octagonsg

Have fun with Thai Songs Club DD @ Bugis Point Address: 530 North Bridge Road 05-01 Bugis Point Singapore 188747 Rsvp: 88006777 #siamdiuforlifesiambuforwife #siamdiuforlife #siamdiusg #siambulife #siamdiu #thaidiscosg #thaidiscosingapore

♬ original sound – clubddsg – Octagon SG

The COSMOS: So Singapore nightclubs don’t play any songs by Singaporean artists?

Els: No. We think there is still a long way to go here in terms of appreciation of local music. So indie music is one thing, right? But even for the local pop music it’s still considered like a music scene. It’s just not mainstream. There are pop musicians in Singapore that earn money through royalties and streams but if they might still struggle to get a good turnout when they organize shows. So there is still a very, very long way to go for local music in Singapore. There’s this thing where Singaporeans are ashamed of something that is made in Singapore, like there’s the assumption that because it’s local, it’s not as good as if it was overseas.

JJ: Maybe another comparison could be for example Singaporean artists like JJ Lin and Stephanie Sun who are basically mainstream mandarin singers that are very popular in Singapore and they are also very popular overseas. I guess the difference between them is that the songs that they make people wouldn’t really recognize them as Singapore songs. They are more like Mandopop songs.

Els: They only get famous when they move overseas to start their careers and then Singaporeans only take notice when they move overseas because Singaporeans don’t support local music. Then when an artist is to move to, let’s say, Taiwan, to expand their career in Mandopop and then Singaporeans see that as a sign of success. Like, they see the fact that you’ve made it somewhere else as a sign of success, but if you stay in Singapore, there’s this, like, sense of shame, almost. People have coined it, like, local cringe. So you cringe at anything that is made locally in Singapore, and you just automatically assume that it must be bad. Let’s say if people listen to Motifs and they say, oh this doesn’t sound like it was made in Singapore. They say it as a compliment like, oh, your music doesn’t sound like it’s made locally. It’s a compliment because people assume that anything that is made overseas is better than when it’s from Singapore. So there’s a sense of shame, and there’s no pride in it. That’s the general vibe.

JJ: I also like to say that there’s no bonafide Singaporean song that the overseas know. For example, if it’s like a Thai song and all overseas people know, that could be like Tur Young right? If you think of Iceland, you think of maybe Sigur Ros, but when overseas people think of Singapore, they can’t really identify anything. There’s not even a meme Singapore song that even the overseas people would know like a Tur Young song. So there is not a bonafide Singapore classic that’s known worldwide. We don’t have a Wonderwall in Singapore yet, that kind of thing.

Els: I feel like it’s because as compared to Thailand, Thai people are the only people who speak in Thai generally, but because in Singapore, we have Chinese, we have Malays, we have Indians, we have Eurasians, so we just decide to speak English. So even though we are Asians and asian culture is very rich, we all speak English so that we can all understand each other, and then we lose a lot of our culture in that process. So then we start looking to colonized languages or like westernized people’s standard to achieve it and then we don’t really have our own culture. Like if we sing an English song, it’s really, really hard to compare with an American artist but Thai artists don’t have any other countries people fight with. But because we sing in English, there are so many other people to fight with and then even if we sing in Chinese, there are Taiwanese stars to fight with. Let’s say, a Singaporean artist sings in Malay or Bahasa, there’s a Malaysian or an Indonesian artist to fight with. Singaporeans are such a small pool of people already so the market is difficult and we have a local cringe for things.

JJ: เMaybe just to add more context to what Els said, like for example, if you think about maybe buskers or if you look at the top 40 charts, no one is singing a Singapore song. They’re all singing American music. If you look at Singapore’s top 40 charts, they are all like western music. Maybe if you look at Thai music charts, maybe there are some Thai songs and then western music, but in Singapore’s top 40, it’s very, very similar and akin to the US top 40. We are hugely influenced, and there’s no local identity for Singapore’s kind of music. You could just look at the US chart and look at it and say, oh, this is gonna be like the Singapore chart as well.

JJ: Oh, yeah, they do. But it’s not to the point where it becomes a bonafide song. They will push it to Singapore radio, but It doesn’t become iconic. It’s trendy at that moment for maybe a month where the record label will push it into radio stations, but there isn’t a sense of relatability to it.

Els: I feel like when a local artist makes it on the top 40 chart, even though you’re a big name sign to Universal or Sony, the achievement is the same feeling you get when an indie song goes mainstream. So to me, everything that is local and for it to get on to the top 40s is already an achievement because that means people want to listen to it. So even if it’s pop and, like, it’s a given that pop will end up in the top 40s, people prefer to listen to pop music from someone else. So if a local artist makes you onto the top 40s, it’s already an achievement.

Els: This is a difficult question to answer. I think there are people who believe in local music and who try so hard to create this ecosystem that you talk about because we’ve experienced it firsthand. The only reason Motifs can be what it is today is because of all the people that have helped us. We all have day jobs and we play music on the side. In Singapore, there are organizers who have day jobs and organized gigs on the side. Like, that is their passion as well. And there are label managers who have day jobs and they run a label on the side. So there are people who believe in this very much and who try very hard to keep it going to make the artist well known. I’m not sure if that the goal is to make Singaporean music known overseas, because I think what is more outstanding is we just want a scene, like, we want to hear local music. And if we manage to make it overseas, that’s a great achievement. It’s just a goal to make good music, at least for indie music.

Els: For pop music, my brief conversations with our sound engineer, Leonard, and our other friends, producers, I know that some of them do want to make a standout Singapore song that makes it really big. When people share it, they’re like, oh, yeah, this is from Singapore. Which then opens the market for more Singaporean musicians. So that is a goal for some producers. As for Motifs, we just want to make music. I think we don’t see that far into the future. We’re not that ambitious; I mean, I’m sure we are. There are bands who make it overseas, and we have played overseas as well. But making music is the main focus for Motifs; more than getting our music to a more global audience.

Els: Compared to other countries, we actually do have some government support. Although there are lots of limitations and restrictions, but there is a fair bit of support from the government. We could apply for a grant now to fund our recording for an album. It will be really difficult and there’ll be a lot of administrative work and a lot of forms to fill in, but it’s possible to apply for a grant to find an album launch show or make an album. So there is some government support.

The COSMOS: Currently in the Thai music scene, we have passed through many eras. We are trying to push it forward. We grew up from the previous generations that created this scene and we try to build on it to go farther by trying to educate listeners, especially new listeners to let them know that they have a choice in listening to music. They don’t need to listen to music based on what the mainstream media presents. So as an indie shoegaze artist, which is quite a niche genre, what do you see in the current Singapore’s music scene?

Els: I feel like the way you describe the mentality of the Thai people and the drive you have to push for a music scene is something that Singaporeans don’t have.

Els: Lately, I think there is. JJ, what do you say?
JJ: There’s always new up and coming bands, but I think in the music scene now everyone’s just trying to grow organically. There isn’t like an urgency to really focus, push, or anything like that. I think simply because the scene just feels like the market is too small that we can’t really push it to in a way that it sustains itself. We always have to rely on, for example, the government’s help, because the government does provide a lot of grants to inject more money into our projects or even give us better venues. Because there’s The Esplanade that the government helps to support all these in the local scene, which they are trying to, but if the scene were to exist by itself as something that’s not government funded, it’s going to be quite hard. It’s not going to be where, you know, like a promoter organizer or livehouse can be a sustainable business on its own. It has to be something else like a jamming studio becoming a livehouse or like a livehouse that is also like a ballet studio, that kind of thing. It can’t exist on its own unless you’re doing something like  a pop studio but there are some outliers like our studio, Snakeweed Studio, where we recorded our album. Leonard has been doing that for a while. So I think there are still businesses that are still able to sustain themselves, but it’s not like it’s enough to push more Singaporeans to listen to it. It just grows organically.

Els: I think there might be a reason that this happens is because, like, as Singaporeans and as the way our country works, again, don’t take my word for this because I’m making assumptions and I’m saying things that might, I don’t know, get me into trouble or whatever, but, like, the way that Singaporeans are being propped up is like the government kind of trains you to rely on them and not think for yourself and not think beyond a certain way. It’s not like they give you a lot of grants, right? But without these grants, you cannot exist. So you rely on the government a lot, and then you don’t have your own way of thinking. And if you try to break out of that and think for yourself, you get shut down really, really quickly, and then it gets really tiring. So you just learn to make do with what you have. For example, even for, like, for political issues, right? You cannot protest. You cannot even hold a peaceful protest. The government will shut you down. Although they’re trying really hard to make it work, but then you just get shut down so fast. Even in Singapore for music venues, our biggest music festival, Baybeats, is held at The Esplanade, which is a government supported venue and it’s only because we have the government’s money that’s why we are able to make such a big festival, but if there was any act that was too political, they would definitely get shut down and banned in Singapore.This has been something that has happened since, like, a really long time ago. They banned moshing in Singapore. They banned a band for being too political. So saying stuff about the government, like, you can’t say anything like that. So it’s like, the government is like okay we help you, but it’s on our terms and conditions. If you want to do this by yourself, it’s going to be very difficult, which is what happened because we’ve seen in the past few years, so many independent music spaces try and pop up and make a living, but it’s already so hard because the rent is so high, so they cannot make a living. Sometimes they have other day jobs to sustain it. They run, maybe they hold two shows and then someone makes a police complaint about you being too loud, or like someone smoking where they’re not supposed to smoke, or someone is drinking where they’re not supposed to drink, and then you immediately get shut down and there is no way out. Everything you’ve invested is just gone. And every show you hold, you have to apply for a permit and you have to go through screening by the media authority and they will censor it if you explicitly say too much about things. I think there was a reason, something that happened where, like, gay musicians were asked to censor their lyrics because they were too outrightly gay and supported being gay or whatever, and they were being forced to censor it and this doesn’t even have to be like a government supported event. So every single show that you organize, you have to pass your lyrics to somebody before you get the license. So you cannot speak of anything that is against the government, or you cannot really express that you are gay. So there are a lot of limitations. It gets very, very tiring, even for people who are trying to push it and for indie organizers. So I think we’ve all adapted to just settling for it and being like, you know what, we live here, if we can make music that’s good enough. So we don’t really push for more because we get shut down really, really fast and it’s very tiring. And so we’ve just kind of accepted our fate a little bit and be like, you know what? We’ll just make it work with whatever we have here so we don’t dream very, very big. And like for the mandopop artists who want to make it bigger, they need to move overseas.

Motifs Live from Snakeweed Studio

JJ: I also feel like in a place like Singapore, it’s too clean of a city to really enjoy things that are something that’s different. Because  the way you’re brought up, the way that schools are being taught, you know, in a particular way where they want everyone to like be a banker or like be part of finance and stuff like that. The way that it’s being taught in schools is very, very mathematics and very, very economically driven. So you have very little art room to do. For example, creative stuff and even  art or anything like that are treated as not very essential subjects in school. That was the way the education system works. From the way I see it, it’s also too clean in the cities. For example, when you walk in the streets of London or maybe in Thailand or even the US, you can take a look on the right and you’ll see like graffiti artists messing around the wall or you see like a busker playing or you see like people doing like random shit; I call it random shit. But in Singapore when you walk around in the city, I’m pretty sure you’ve seen it’s too clean. People are just like walking, doing their own thing, and basically everyone’s just doing the same thing, the same damn thing. They’re just walking to a destination. People aren’t stopping and like doing a particular thing which you find interesting; like the simple art or maybe busking, right? You still have to go to audition.

Els: Yeah, you have to get a permit and then after you get the permit, you can’t busk everywhere. You can only busk at a particular spot. You go to jail if you randomly spray graphically, you can get fined for vaping, for chewing gum.

JJ: So it’s really too clean of a city for us, for the population to really know what else that could exist in the realm of creativity. It’s not just the education, but it’s also how the general country is run in that sense. I feel like because if I were to be put in, for example, New York and if I walk around I’d see so many different colorful things going on. That’s how I feel about this. Living in Singapore there’s no crime, there’s nothing, but it’s perfectly a very, very safe city. It’s so safe, but it’s almost like entering a white room, and then you just exist in that white room but you don’t know what else that could be done within the confines of that white room, because it’s just the white room. You don’t get inspiration. That’s how I see it. Versus, like, maybe you enter a room, like, where, you know, there’s so much graffiti, there’s so much color, there’s so much things, and then you get inspired. But, yeah, Singapore is just a very safe and, like, safe, wide room.

Does it make you feel like creativity is being killed?

JJ: It does not encourage it. I’ll say if you were to try and find art, you can, but it’s just harder for you. For example, me and Els, we have to go find ourselves albeit online. We have to go to art exhibitions. We have to go to things that help us cultivate ourselves into accepting that there’s something out there. It takes time, and it takes a bit of luck, a little bit of fate to find the right people, to find the right relationships, and then that’s how it grows. But it’s so much easier in a way where if it exists on its own within a public space, that’s so much easier.

The COSMOS: When comparing the amount of Siam Dius to the space for art and music, it seems that you have to spend more effort in searching for art while shops like Siam Diu are much more easier to find, right?

Els: There are definitely more Siam Diu than live venues in Singapore. Yes, definitely, if that’s the question.
JJ:  Yes, But people don’t really go to Siam Diu for the music. Honestly, people go there for the girls. (laugh)
Els: Their main priority is, like, you know, look at girls.

Els: There is a telegram group. (The COSMOS: Does it have to be a Telegram group? No Facebook group?) No, there’s no Facebook. There’s Bandwagon that cover most local gigs, but the really really underground “secret shows” they might not cover in the article. So you have to be on the telegram group chat where people like to update what are the latest indie gigs.

The COSMOS: Is it because permission is required to organize an event? Therefore, news must be communicated via Telegram instead.

Els: Yeah, they need approval to organize gigs. All the gigs that are being organized are legal, but most medias only covers the bigger gigs. They don’t cover the very smaller gigs.

Death of Heather’s Singapore Tour Announcement Poster

JJ: Maybe it’s less moderated. Like the group is by invite only. Sometimes even the posters don’t show the venue itself. When it says ask the bands on the venue, that just means that they probably didn’t get a license for it. You have to ask the band where the venue is and then they play a show.

JJ: What Els has said previously, I think what she said was quite true in a way where in order to plan an independent show in Singapore, there’s so many steps you have to take. So a lot of these promoters they just don’t give a fuck about it like submitting. Because on top of doing all those, there’s also a lot of wait time for it in order to get back and to find out whether you’re approved or not. So people just do it the indie way. You just organize a gig at a DIY location and then you would just tell the bands that are invited; look, you get to buy the ticket and then the venue will only be revealed if you buy a ticket and then people go into the show. And if the police don’t come, then yeah, it’s a good show. Everyone has a good time. Sometimes if you play too loud and someone complains, then the police will come and then, you know, they will just shut down the whole thing. Happens quite a few times, actually. Because in Singapore if we go into an office space or even a shophouse it’s so compact and tight, when you play music, it gets loud and then the likeliness of people complaining is quite high as well. So that might happen if you play in a very crowded place. So you might see potential places in an office or industrial building where it’s a bit more quiet and stuff like that, and then no one complains. 

Els: These secret shows are organized when they don’t have a license so that the venue is not publicized and it’s not an official gig. Then for a lot of independent spaces, including our studio where we recorded our album and where we practice, it’s like in a factory building. So on our left and our right, our neighbors are all like factories, like they’re making chairs or like, yeah, it’s like industrial buildings. It’s not like a music space, it’s like an industrial factory space, but because the rent is cheap and because we can make noise, then gigs will be organized at those places also. Then like, indie fans will travel to these, like really weird, out of the blue places to attend shows. So I think that adds on to the whole, like, the thing about Singaporean music is that it’s difficult and  it’s not easy to find, but if you want to look for it, you will try very hard and then you go to these inaccessible spaces to watch your favorite band play, to set up, to do all that.

Death of Heather live at Treble Cube (Singapore)

JJ: Maybe Potato fans, but I don’t know. Like, I don’t think that the market is big enough.

Els: Paul, our basis has done a Muse tribute gig. But I think the turnout is really. It’s quite small. Probably like less than 100 people.

The COSMOS: Would you say that Tur Young is a song that should be only in nightclubs or Siam Diu that has live music?

JJ: I think you can, but people won’t really go to a Siam Diu just to listen to music. It’s more of, like, a by the way thing. Like in Thailand’s Siam Diu, do they go for the music or do they go for, like, the girls?

The COSMOS: Definitely not the music

Els: Yeah, it’s the same.

JJ: People that go to the Siam Diu their main goal is really to have fun and, you know, get a hookup. They just recognize the songs after going for so long that it’s always the same songs that come up and then Tur Young becomes like one of the songs where they know how to sing along and they know how to have fun in that sense. So I guess because of that, it becomes, like, organically part of the culture here.

JJ: 15-20 maybe, Els?
Els:  I think there are more than 20. Like, you can go into a mall and find 3 to 5 Siam Dius. So I think there are quite a few Siam Dius. And then there are also, like, some that look like KTV bars. Sometimes it’s really hard to distinguish whether it’s a Siam Diu or whether it’s another bar.

The COSMOS: It’s much more when compared to the amount of places that indie bands can perform at.

Els: I guess they are able to make more money. They are able to generate more profit than indie bands because indie bands don’t keep the economy going. If you go to a Siam Diu, you can keep selling alcohol and you keep the alcohol business running. Then you need to buy snacks or you need to buy food and it keeps that running. But if you run a DIY venue, you cannot run a show every night because people that go to their shows are the same people.

JJ: Siam Diu wouldn’t invite a local band to come and play because then these men won’t go. Because why would they go to a local show instead of to find a hostess and the music just doesn’t, it’s just not, you know, their type and because of that, inviting a local band just doesn’t make money for Siam Dius. So they wouldn’t open their space for us in that sense.

Motifs แสดงสดที่งาน Baybeats 2022 ที่ The Esplanade สิงคโปร์

Els: We just started playing as Motifs last year. Towards the end of last year, I think within 2 months, we played like 7 shows so there was almost 1 show every week and that was too much for us. It was really too tiring because we all have day jobs to do, so that was too much. But then was on the lead up to our tour and then this year we’ve only played two shows so far and we are not planning to play more because we want to focus more on writing.

JJ: I think last year we played like maybe 15 to 20 shows around then.

Els: And it was all squeezed into the second half of the year.

JJ: And then I think this year we are projected to play three shows this year only.

Els: I think it’s not for us to say, because the people that go to our shows are the same people because the music community is so small. If we just keep playing more and it’s the same 30 minute set, I think it gets boring because I’ve experienced that before. I used to go a popular indie band when they first came out, like, maybe six or seven years ago. I would go to so many of their shows and then I got bored after a while because I was listening to the same thing. So I don’t think so, but I’m not the best person to answer you. I don’t know about my answer.

The COSMOS: We understand the answer, because normally we ourselves probably wouldn’t go out to see the same artist’s show every week. But if the people who go watch are still the same people like this, does that mean the community isn’t growing? Since it’s not expanding to new people at all?

JJ: It’s expanding, but it’s not like crazy growing.

Els: You know, it definitely has grown. Even at Baybeats, the amount of people there now versus the amount of people there were five years ago is a lot more. There’s a lot more people listening to it, but because we are so small and started out so small, it’s not very big also.

Baybeats 2023 @ The Esplanade, Singapore (Photo credit: @palesights_)

JJ: I’ve always feel like there needs to be a mid-sized venue, so I would say that there’s potential there. I’m not sure whether the talent pool is enough. You know, like, whether there’s enough Singaporean artists to pull enough people as a mid-size band. Unless you bring a lot of foreign artists. That’s usually the case, actually. Like, if you want a big crowd, usually you need to bring in a foreign band, like, a Singapore band can’t really pull that. Only a few can.

Els: Even if you manage to pull that size of audience, you can organize the same show again and no one’s going to turn up anymore.

JJ: You might have to do different genres besides indie, like Mandopop or a comedy show.

The COSMOS: This means that there must be an adjustment to support many forms of entertainment.

Els: Even for the different types of entertainment, because it’s Singaporean, I don’t know whether Singaporeans will go, especially on a weekday night. It’s tough. The pace of life in Thailand compared to Singapore is different. Like in Thailand, people are chill. They’re relaxed. That’s the vibe I get. Not as rushy as. In Singapore, you are always rushing. You are always working.  It’s very hard for people to relax. People are always uptight. It’s very hard. I think even for us. Sometimes when we’re sitting down and we’re doing nothing, like, we feel very like, oh, I should be working or I should be doing something. So people don’t really relax or go out and have fun. People do do that, but it’s not, not every day.

JJ: Even for us, if, like, we were to go out on a Wednesday night to do something unique, then you’ll be like, oh, cool, I’m doing something unique.

Els: It’s always a weekend activity.

The COSMOS: Oh, there’s no like. Hey everyone, let’s go get some beers tonight.

Els+JJ: Yes, no (speaking together)
JJ: It has to be planned, you know, 

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