Can S'pore ever produce its own Avicii or Hardwell?

We have the talent but a mindset shift is needed, says veteran DJ.

Mothership| March 07, 12:01 PM

Jeremy Leong, also known as DJ GemStarr, has been working full time as a club DJ for for more than 16 years, spinning his blend of thumping, invigorating music at the likes of Vanity and Suite 26.

We ask him about his views on the state of the dance music scene and his prediction for the future of Singapore's music scene.

1. Since you began working in the music and clubbing industry 16 years ago, how have things changed?

Technology has changed the industry forever. The internet, the MP3 format and social platforms like Spotify have made music accessible to anyone, anytime, anywhere. 20 years ago, if you wanted to listen to a song, you either wait for the radio stations to play it, go to a record shop to buy it or go to a dance club to hear it. Now music is on demand, and so the whole music industry changes, adapts. The surviving record shops are now part of the nostalgia business.

The technology that enables the DJing craft has made great advances in the past decade and has lowered the barriers to entry. It is much cheaper and easier for anyone to pick up the skill now. Music production has also changed. In the past, an average music track might take up to three months to produce. As music making software becomes more sophisticated, a decent music track can be cobbled together in one day. In a sense, music may have become somewhat of a commodity, almost mass produced. DJs have to therefore adapt and evolve. More attention has to be given to marketing and form.

2. What can be done to make this craft fly further in Singapore?

I feel that we should promote them in education institutions thru enrichment/Elective Modules or even as a CCA. Educate them the proper way of using the proper DJ skills. I run a DJ school called Ministry of DJs and we now work with several schools to teach the DJing skill to interested students.

3. What is your view of the current state of the industry?

First, we must admit that we (Singaporeans) are not open to music, we are bad listeners, especially in the entertainment scene, most people would dance to only tracks that they know. People would go to clubs "just to be seen" and not so much for the music.

DJs needs to be doing their own marketing and clubs must be discerning on the DJ's they hire, whether they would draw crowds. Competition is intense and pricing is often a factor when a club decides which DJ to hire and promote. I hope even more Singaporeans will support local acts, whether they be bands, DJ's or music producers.

4. Will Singapore ever produce our own Avicii or Hardwell?

Currently we have MYRNE, one of our local boys being signed to a major record label, MAD DECENT, which is a huge thing for Singapore. The question now is, will there be anymore of such talent in the years to come?

In Singapore, the lifestyle that we lead perhaps doesn't permit oneself to work on their passion and make money from it. It is only a handful of musicians in Singapore that is making a living off what they love to do.

That said, however, there is a huge amount of talent in Singapore, especially among young Singaporeans. I do believe that eventually, Singapore will produce our own globally renowned producers and DJs that would rival the likes of Avicii and Hardwell.




Top photo from DJ GemStarr Facebook page

Catch Gemstarr tonight at 9.30pm on Mothership Twitter as he hosts an e-townhall to discuss the future of Singapore's music and clubbing industry.

*This post fuels so our writers don’t have to beg for a living (which is probably not allowed anyway.)