Busk overseas for exposure

Busk overseas for exposure
Indie-folk duo The Glad Stones' Marcel Lee Pereira (left) and Jaye Foo (in shades) once busked in Osaka, Japan, from 8pm to midnight and are game for more of such experiences

Earlier last year, home-grown indie-folk duo The Glad Stones decided to take their act a little farther from their usual busking haunts around Haji Lane. All the way to the streets of Japan, in fact.

Busking in the city of Osaka turned out to be a game-changer for singer- songwriters Marcel Lee Pereira, 33, and Jaye Foo, 22.

Pereira says: "Many buskers there take their shows seriously and are of a high standard, and usually have a crowd of locals gathered around them. Likewise, we had to step up our game.

"That night of busking in Osaka felt more like a performance in a real venue and we were inspired to push ourselves further after that positive experience."

Never mind that the Japanese could not understand their original tunes, taken from their 2012 debut album, Gypsy In The City. The duo were "pleased with the response from the people there".

"Many weren't able to understand our lyrics, which are in English, but that did not seem to matter as long as the music sounded good to them," says Pereira. "It also helped that Jaye could converse in Japanese and introduced us."

Singapore musicians have taken - and are still taking - their music abroad. But instead of flashy venues or juggernaut festivals, some opt to lay the groundwork for international exposure by busking in foreign lands.

In the mid-1990s, singer-songwriter Art Fazil used to sing for British commuters in London's Tube stations. He had just moved there to be a musician and to study at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

"I heard from the older musicians in Singapore that the London buskers are very good musicians. And some famous musicians used to busk before they got big. I thought to myself, 'Well, let's see if I fit in'," says Art, 46, who is now mostly based in Malaysia.

He made up to £30 a day - equivalent back in those days to "one week's rent in East London". He recalls: "Most Londoners are easy about contributing to busking musicians. Sometimes they give sandwiches, beer, flowers, and I even got a kiss on the cheek from a girl once."

His busking days are long gone, as he is busy performing in the region and running his own record label, Moro Records, based in Malaysia, these days.

Another home-grown act who has busked overseas is beatboxer Dharni Ng, who has performed in the streets of Poland and Switzerland. He has been based in Warsaw in the past few years and does proper gigs around Europe, but still busks occasionally "for fun".

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