Photograph: Chris SimBgourd

3 alter egos in the local music scene you should know

They say everyone puts on a mask – that’s certainly true for these musicians

Delfina Utomo

All performers don on a mask of sorts but these musicians literally put one on. Alter egos aren’t uncommon when it comes to music, it’s a way to draw a line between the person and persona. But is this a help or a hindrance in an age where relatability is king? We chat with a couple of local artists to find out.

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LOOK A full green bodysuit because Bgourd is short for bittergourd  

SOUND East Coast rap vibes with a local (and nerdy) feel

Why would anyone perform as a bittergourd, of all vegetables? The up and coming rap artist Bgourd has the perfect answer. Like the vegetable, he says that his music is an acquired taste. Before every performance, he puts on a full-body smooth green suit which only leaves his eyes, nose and mouth uncovered. Before you write him off for his look, he starts rapping in the fast-paced rhythmic style which is alike to East Coast rap which also delves into deeper and more intellectual content.

Where do you get your ideas and inspiration for the music you write?

My rap is definitely observational and based off things that I’m currently reading or studying. For example, one of the bars in my songs is “looking at cockfights in Bali beach” – that was from one of my school readings about the cultural impact of cockfighting in Indonesia which also made me think of Singapore and how ruthless life can be. I’m actually a computer science student.

What are some things you’ve observed recently that really grinds your gears?

There’s definitely the lack of diversification or the lack of diverse representation in the scene. I have an issue with the ‘majority’ believing or acting like the scene is their property or their entitlement – which we’ve seen a lot quite recently. With all my shows in the future with my team, I want to make sure that we all represent the scene the best way we can.

What is something you’d like to rap about someday?

I would like to write about computers. I have some bars about finance but it’s not something I think about a lot. I’m a tech student and I think about it a lot so maybe one day I can write about Elon Musk in space or something.

Jasmine Sokko

LOOK A stylish, futuristic mask which covers half her face

SOUND Catchy electropop

Just a few years back, Jasmine Sokko was an up-and-coming local artist starting out in the scene. But she didn’t start out small. Her first single ‘1057’ received recognition beyond Singapore and now she’s one of the most-streamed local artists from Singapore. Jasmine also garnered a huge fanbase in China after being on – and winning – electronic music reality talent competition, Rave Now and she’s done this all without revealing her entire face.

How did you come up with the persona of Jasmine Sokko?

I would like to tell you I had a grand plan. But really, there wasn’t any. Rather, it was a careful accumulation of my decisions. For instance, I started with a mask because I wanted people to focus on my music first before anything else. Along the way, the character developed with each and every shift of my own world view and the creative individuals I had the honour of working with.

What is the most ‘Hannah Montana’ moment you’ve had as Jasmine Sokko?

It was the first class of the semester and I sat beside a new classmate who shared that his favourite song’s from an artist called Jasmine Sokko and I just went “Who’s that?”. No, he still doesn’t know and he never will!

What is something you’re super passionate about right now?

Technology: I’ve been pondering about the implications of driverless cars and how drivers, parking lots and traffic lights could be redundant in the near future. It isn’t technology that eliminates jobs, but the shortsightedness of business decisions to cut costs and fatten profits. I just wish tech implementations would take more social aspects into account.  

I’ve also been reading Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez. She wrote “There is no such thing as a woman who doesn’t work. There is only a woman who isn’t paid for her work”. It made me realize that my mom has been taking care of the family so well that the rest of us could run our lives smoothly without having to worry about when to get the next shampoo. *proceeds to hug mom*


The CB Dogs

LOOK Singaporean bad boys with gaudy silk shirts, gold chains and lots and lots of rings

SOUND In-your-face punk

You might think that in prim and proper Singapore, punk has no place. But that’s also exactly why punk music exists in our city-state. Rebellious, crass and exciting, punk music lashes out and releases emotions like anger and frustration like no other genre would. If you’re coming for a gig by The CB Dogs, be prepared for an onslaught of obscenities, lots of shouting and stage antics by a group of boys in uncle-style printed silk shirts, complete with ostentatious gold jewellery.

What’s your story? How did you guys decide to start CB Dogs?

We felt that Singapore bands had no balls and felt very fake with their accents when you hear local bands no matter how ang moh they try to sound usually got one, two words sound damn off and embarrassing. Also, bands in Singapore got zero stage presence and dress like stupid hipsters so we decided if no one was going to do it, we were. 

How different is your stage persona is from your real self?

We not ah bengs but we actually talk like that as a joke in real life. But somehow we found it very funny and stuck with it so only the outfit is different. Outside, we wear PE shorts and white t-shirts. 

What do you think of the local music scene?

I think the local scene suck balls because everyone is so sterile, boring and whiny. Rock & Roll is supposed to be in your face, but most bands here make shit music like pop-punk and emo. There’s nothing to be sad about – we live in a first-world country, grow some balls. Also, Shigga Shay if you free come Ming Arcade basement find us.

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