This year's Mosaic offers a huge mix of genres, with individually ticketed shows for major acts like Joss Stone, Grizzly Bear and Esperanza Spalding, as well as more eclectic fare such as Sweden’s Acid House Trio, electro producer Grimes, My Brightest Diamond and indie rock duo Tennis. Look out for the customary showcase of local bands – as well as plenty of free performances. Natasha Hong picks five must-sees:
Chok Kerong Trio
8 Mar, 8pm & 10pm
Mosaic Music Station (Esplanade Outdoor Theatre)
Local jazz cat Chok Kerong started his career in music like a lot of Singaporean kids did – by parental mandate, at the piano from the age of four. But it wasn’t until he was introduced to Chick Corea’s jazz fusion standard, ‘Spain’, by his teenage music teacher Eugene Dairianathan, that he found his calling. The result was an awakening that has seen Chok performing with local jazz ensembles and being awarded a National Arts Council scholarship to the Manhattan School of Music (MSM) in New York for a master's degree, which gave him the opportunity to perform with jazz legends Frank Wess, John Riley and Steve Wilson. At Mosaic, Chok will be accompanied on the organ by respected peers Tan Wei Xiang and Soh Wen Ming on the rhodes piano and drums – a novel combination that the organist promises will be interesting.
Essential listening: ‘Softly as in a Morning Sunrise’ – Chok’s version of the 1928 classic, this is an up-tempo jazz tune recorded in New Jersey’s Tedesco Studios with fellow MSM students Tim Basom, Dustin Kaufman, Andrew Gould and Paul Jones.
Charles J Tan
11 Mar, 8pm & 10pm
Mosaic Music Station
Singapore’s answer to John Mayer, Charles J Tan made a name for himself with local band Water & Wine in the 1990s, then moved to Australia, where his career really kicked off. Performing originals in cafés after pursuing a degree at the University of Melbourne, Tan released his first self-produced EP, An Acoustic Preamble in 2008, and notably went on to win ‘The Storytellers in the City’ singer/ songwriter competition, as well as land a spot in the Top 50 Acoustic/ Singer-Songwriter category at the Australian indie Musicoz Awards. Mosaic is the stage for the launch of his 12-track album, Maybe Somewhere North, and on the programme are tunes, new and old, performed by Tan with a full band setup.
Essential listening: ‘Almost Sunday’ – written by Tan during a lonely Christmas in Melbourne in 2008, the track, which has been featured on Lush FM, is an ode to his friends and family about not taking them for granted.
I Hate this Place
13 Mar, 6.15pm & 8.15pm
Mosaic Living Room (Esplanade Concourse)
Singapore-based band I Hate This Place started as a solo bedroom project of Filipino-American keyboard-vocalist Sean Nearny, but has since grown to include guitarist Roman Tarassov, bassist Dave D’aranjo, and Singapore’s own Gayle Nerva on singing duties. Since 2007, they have released seven albums – the latest being 2011’s Shiny One, which helped grow IHTP’s fan base in Japan, where the band recently completed a five-city tour. Music-wise, Nearny’s a vocal dead ringer for Owl City’s Adam Young, and their similarities to video game synth pop bands like Postal Service, Lights and of course, Owl City, are uncanny.
Essential listening: ‘Future Girl, Retro Style’ – A track from Shiny One, the Atari-like beeps and boops feature prominently as Nerny sings about a girl who travels back in time from 2015 to fall in love with a guy in 1985.
14 Mar, 6.15pm & 8.15pm
Mosaic Living Room
With a voice and talent beyond his 21 years, Singaporean/Australian singer/songwriter Chen first began performing at various venues around town at the age of 15 (under his given name Andrew Chen). Six years later, he’s now Dru Chen, a multi-hyphenate who applies his mastery of singing, keyboards, the bass, guitar, sampling and even production techniques fromhis degree to his brand of modern soul and R&B. His performance at Mosaic comes hot on the heels of his Singapore solo tour, and marks the launch of his anticipated EP, Intentions.
Essential listening: ‘You Bring Out the Best in Me’ – the first single to be released from his EP, this track showcases Chen’s vocal versatility with ample servings of Motown soul.
The Mighty Mighty
15 Mar, 9pm & 11pm
Mosaic Music Station
Singapore’s toughest funk band, The Mighty Mighty, has served as the house band for funk night Pushin’ On since 2008 (recently hosted at Blu Jaz). The eight-piece outfit initially formed out of necessity after the breakup of Pushin’ On’s previous opening band, Lion City Orchestra, and they’ve since found their footing and added extra diversity to the local music scene with their brand of raw funk and gritty soul. At their Mosaic performances, The Mighty Mighty will be releasing their five-track EP Love Televised, a labour of love which band founder and honcho Masterpiece says was recorded ‘in a room with an air-con unit that decided to take a break 30 minutes into a seven-hour session’. That’s dedication right there – be sure to bring your best set of crazy legs when you see them live.
Essential listening: ‘Love Televised’ – The first single from the band’s debut EP, this upbeat number is reminiscent of ‘60s foot-tapping soul, with the group’s saxophonist George Leong taking the spotlight with a number of impressive solos.