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Shye
Photograph: Zalindrome

Fresh Finds: 8 rising female musicians in Singapore to keep on your radar

A new generation of pop, indie, rock and R&B acts are coming in hot in 2021

Cam Khalid
Written by
Cam Khalid
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As a melting pot of cultures, Singapore has always been a vibrant and diverse city – and this is also reflected in the local music scene. Whatever language or genre of music your ears are craving for, the city’s got the perfect ear candy for you.

Speaking of diversity, we’re always big on celebrating the contributions of women who have shaped the male-dominated music industry into a more represented, inclusive and exciting place – grabbing the necks of microphone stands and amplifying their voices. It’s groundbreaking female trendsetters like multi-award winner Kartina Dahari, global popstar Anita Sarawak, veteran singer Rahimah Rahim, and jazz songbird Jacintha Abisheganaden who have paved the way for women in Singapore’s modern music.

In this 21st century, we’re seeing more cool cats like Vanessa Fernandez, Kit Chan, Masia One, and Joanna Dong taking the local music scene by storm, spotlighting it on the global stage, and pushing more female artists to the forefront. Thus, inspiring a whole new generation of female musicians. 

To help you navigate the growing local music scene, we’ve picked out up-and-coming female pop acts, R&B stars, and indie singer-songwriters you should be streaming now.

RECOMMENDED: 50 best local songs of all time and the best new music from Singapore this week

Iman Fandi
Photograph: Universal Music Singapore

Iman Fandi

Pop

For almost a decade, the 20-year-old has been on the cover of fashion magazines, posed for numerous brands, and is even en route to becoming the next face of Tik Tok with her viral-worthy videos. And if you haven’t clocked yet, she’s also the daughter of Singaporean football star Fandi Ahmad and South African model Wendy Jacobs. More than just a pretty face, Iman has proved that she’s ready for the music world when she introduced her dulcet tones in Stay Home, a collaborative track released during the circuit breaker last year.

On wanting to be a musician, she shares with us, “I feel like it has always been something that I was passionate about. So when I was just about to turn 19, something told me to just try hopping into my very first studio to record a song and see how it goes. And from then on, I found the fun and loved the creativity in music.” Read our full interview with Iman Fandi here.

Listen: First single Timeframe is now available on Spotify and Apple Music.

Keyana
Photograph: Secret Signals

Keyana

R&B

Born Melanie Kasise to Ghanaian and Singaporean-Chinese parents, the Gen Z breakout star captured our attention with her captivating vocals and oh-so relatable lyrics in her debut single Save It. The 17-year-old teen actually started out as a model before embracing her true calling: music. More than just a pretty face, Keyana is also a dancer and choreographer, and has now added singer-songwriter to her repertoire with her contemporary R&B songs. 

On minority representation in the local music scene, she tells us, “I feel like it has gotten better over the years but I would definitely love to see more diversity. Representation and diversity will always be important to me, no matter how much representation there already is.” Read our full interview with Keyana here

Listen: Slow groove sophomore single Scorpio, available on Spotify and Apple Music.

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Shye
Photograph: Zalindrome

Shye

Pop

If Alvvays and Japanese Breakfast had a baby and it sounds like a Billie Eilish-Clairo combo, it’d probably be the straightforward bouncy romp of Shye’s discography. The bedroom-pop darling started making waves in the local music scene when she was selected for Vans Musicians Wanted in 2018. Her ethereal debut track One Fine Day comes complete with her dreamy, whisper-pop vocals and light synth palettes, and is also from her Augus7ine EP which was made in three weeks – all seven tracks were written and produced in her bedroom with an earpiece and microphone.

On finding her sound, she says, “It’s been described as electro-pop, indie-pop and even synth-pop but I like the fact that it hasn’t been narrowed down to a specific genre because that means I’m still able to roam quite freely across different sounds. Music to me is all about experimenting and trying out different combinations.” Read our full interview with Shye here – she’s also the cover star of our March 2019 issue!

Listen: The upbeat number Feeling Like..., available on Spotify.

10vacations
Photograph: Afiq Ruzaini

10vacations

Pop-rock

We could all do with more dreamy lo-fi pop in our hectic lives, so let 10vacations' dreamy vocals soothe some nerves. But don't sleep on the bedroom-pop wunderkind – her sound is like an acoustic rojak of Soccer Mommy, Hazel English, and Frankie Rose, with a hint of Alvvays. With her first single Capitol Theatre, 10vacations’ sound is a nostalgia overdose that whisks you back to those salad days.

Listen: The dreamy soundscape of Landmind, available on Spotify and Apple Music.

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Marian Carmel
Photograph: Khairul Ameer

Marian Carmel

Indie

Like chicken soup for the soul, Marian Carmel’s butter-smooth vocals à la Emily King, Lianne La Havas, and Sabrina Claudio elevate the velvety strings of her songs like Still Here. Similar to the abovementioned artists, the indie R&B/soul singer-songwriters has an innate ability to elicit emotions and keep us listening, especially with the ebb and flow of her ethereal vocals and orchestration in such slow jams like Rose.

Listen: The lush single Rose, available on Spotify and Apple Music.

Rene
Photograph: Rene

Rene

Pop-rock

For a blast to the past, tune into singer-songwriter Rene’s pop-rock introductions. Still exploring her sound, bouncing from alt-rock to pop-rock, Rene has managed to nail an energetic compound of punk, rock, and indie elements with her trusty guitar and honest lyrics. Keep an ear out for music that encompasses themes such as the vicissitudes of coming of age and personal relationships.

Listen: The early Noughties teen-scene reminder Off My Mind, available on Spotify and Apple Music.

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Naomi G
Photograph: Naomi G/Umami Records

Naomi G

Pop

There’s a new dark pop princess on the horizon, and you won’t want to sleep on this emerging artist. Going by the moniker Naomi G, the singer-songwriter describes her music as a “body-caressingly raw sonic prelude to (her) own deeper tensions.” Drawing influences from the broody minimalism of Lorde and Banks – think moody, downbeat electronica laced with the slick notes of alt-R&B and topped with ethereal dream-pop – the singer-songwriter’s gothic, pop-R&B debut Cage The Animal makes a great introduction to the new artist.

Listen: Contemplative second single Prey, available on Spotify and Apple Music.

Causeway Youth
Photograph: Cross Ratio Entertainment

Causeway Youth

Indie

If jangly guitars of the early 2000s are your jam, let us introduce you to Causeway Youth. The indie, ambient pop duo consists of Esther and Jazreel-Anne whose love for atmospheric textures and jangly guitars are well translated into their music. With Esther’s melodic guitar sounds and Jazreel-Anne’s hazy vocals, the pair has a knack for injecting reverb-dripping guitar hooks, dreamy vocals, and atmospheric textures in such simple tunes which make instant road-trip essentials.

Listen: The catchy new single Small Talk is available on Spotify and Apple Music.

The Singapore sound

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