Before you do anything, plug your earphones in and listen to this (you’ll be doing yourself a favour). If you haven’t already heard Disco Hue’s first single, you’re sorely missing out. Insistent yet compelling, their glittering melodies pull you in and leave you hitting the replay button over and over.
Gotta Find You, for one, feels like the classic ‘80s synthpop of Pet Shop Boys with its steady hook, yet awash with experimental undertones (read: Chvrches, Broods). There’s a fresh twist around every corner – maybe it’s Zie’s shimmering synths, or Sherlyn’s lithe vocals soaring in the chorus. We could go on about Billy’s grounded rhythms on the drums or guitarist Rush’s lush riffs… you know, we’ll just let you listen to it yourself.
Needless to say we’re elated about this synthpop quartet dropping their first EP this May! AND we’re going to be seeing them live in Baybeats 2016. Our excitement is unparalleled.
1. Congratulations on getting into Baybeats! How did you feel when you found out you’d be playing this year?
Zie: Mixed feelings, I guess. At the start, we didn’t know we were going to get in, and after the first audition we definitely had a lot to improve on, according to the judges. We didn’t even expect to go into Round 2, so when we got in, the judges were more confident of us. Though, when I say mixed feelings, I mean we were surprised, but at the same time happy.
Sherlyn: I didn’t expect us to get in. The shortlist had a lot of good bands also, so we were quite surprised.
Zie: Yeah, we were up against quite big, and really impressive bands.
Billy: Prior to that (round 2) we were very raw, and the judges wanted to hear more electronic vibes and sounds, so we added a few things, changed it here and there and they liked it!
2. Where did the name ‘Disco Hue’ come from?
Zie: So… four years ago… you know those email addresses you try to hide, those you made them as a kid? Those bad emails…
Sherlyn: Like firstname.lastname@example.org.
Zie: [laughs] Yeah, so the idea behind the name is me and the old singer, Christina, we started a band. We had an idea of how we wanted it to sound, but we couldn’t really pinpoint exactly what genre it was. We wanted something more dance-y, more current. But at the same time, we loved stuff from Michael Jackson, Jamiroquai, even rock bands that are dance-y at the same time.
With all these bands, we wanted to compile something that could somehow sum up dance music in various ages or genres. The word ‘hue’ put together with ‘disco’, what it means to us is disco could be dance-y, like a club, and hue is the spectrum of dance, like different types of dance music.
3. You’re all very musically diverse, from guitars to synths. What were your paths to becoming musicians?
Billy: It just started because I was bored. My mum asked me what I wanted to learn, and guitar – everyone can play the guitar. Bass, that time I couldn’t hear anything, so I didn’t want to play bass, and I can’t sing, so just play the noisiest instrument lah. After I became more interested in drums than studies, I didn’t want to focus on my ‘O’ Levels. I heard about my polytechnic course (Diploma in Music and Audio Technology) so I just aimed for that and got in. Then I met Zie in school; he was my senior, one year above me.
Sherlyn: I’m definitely not as well versed in music as them, because I went to Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s Mass Communication. Half the time I don’t know what they’re talking about! As far as singing goes, I became interested in singing in secondary school because I was in choir and it taught me a lot of different techniques. After that I was trying new things out for fun, like doing covers. I made a Vine which got quite a good response, and that’s where they found me and contacted me. Through Vine.
Zie: Through Vine message, it’s quite horrible lah.
Sherlyn: Yeah, and the first place you all asked me to meet was at Golden Mile! Then I thought, what is this actually… but it went fine.
Zie: Back in secondary school I joined band – I was a percussionist. My music journey started there and then I was interested in pursuing music so I asked my conductor and he said to try this new course at Singapore Polytechnic. I got in through auditions, but I was still quite unsure of what I wanted to play, because I only ventured around drums. When I went into the course I tried bass, guitar and all that, but I fell in love with synths towards Year 2. I started forming the band with my best friends, members started to change and suddenly, I met these guys.
4. How has the process of recording your first EP been like? Has it been challenging?
Zie: To be honest, it’s like 4 years worth of work. If you listen to the EP carefully, you can tell there are two distinct genres. Two or three songs inside the EP were actually written 4 years ago, and 2 other songs were written currently.
We had the struggle of balancing the sound we had back then with the different singer and Sherlyn, so we had to find the midpoint of where we can put the two different sounds together. But we found the sound in Gotta Find You, so the reason why we released that song first is because that is the sound that better represents us now. It has all the qualities of Disco Hue: strong melody, strong bass line, edgy guitars.
5 As one of the rising synth-pop bands in Singapore, which musical acts do you draw inspiration from?
Billy: [jokes] A lot of nonsense ah. For Disco Hue, a lot of groove-related music like Jamiroquai, anything with a good, solid drum groove that can make your feet move (we definitely move our feet to Disco Hue). That is the foundation from which we start.
Zie: I think Daft Punk as well, and there’s this band I listened to a lot when I first started Disco Hue – it’s called Ella Riot. Their old name was actually My Dear Disco, so… yeah. Yeah.
Zie: [joking] Yeah, that’s where I got the name. I used to say this a lot, I love this kind of music out there in the States, but I can’t find it in Singapore. If you can’t find it here, make it for yourself.
6. Disco Hue seems like it’s heading for a certain ‘80s aesthetic, with its bright, pastel-toned visuals (e.g. music video, press photos). How does this reflect your music?
Sherlyn: In terms of lyrics, the theme of some of our songs is either in the future or the past, so it does reflect a bit of the ‘80s feel.
Zie: There’s a song called 1973, so we want to paint a picture of what it’ll be like to fall in love back then. Then we have a song called Daddy’s Hovercar, which is basically teen love in the future. With all that being said, we want to paint a picture of how these songs look and feel like, be it in the past or the future. The aesthetics of our press photos or music videos has to be on par with what we write.
7. Can you tell us anything about your new single coming out end-April?
Sherlyn: We’re currently in the process of filming it.
Zie: I guess you can say the band will be 90% inside the music video. This time around, we’ll be involved very much. Feels-wise, it’s the same but it’s a faster track. We’re picking up the pace.
8. You’re all going to party at a discotheque. What one piece of fashion would you pick to wear?
Sherlyn: High-waist pants! No wait, I think I’ll wear this oversized red flannel jacket that I have. In the ‘80s they always wear that kind of oversized tops and tight bottoms. I think I’d wear that.
Billy: I’ll just dress like one of the guys from ABBA-
Disco Hue: [bursts into laughter]
Billy: -with the mullet. Just copy the whole look.
Zie: Same lah, same.
Photos courtesy of Discohue and Marina Ah
Check out their EP when it arrives!