Riot's distinctive neo-soul voice

Riot's distinctive neo-soul voice

Upbeat electro aptly described the tunes of home-grown synth-pop act Riot !n Magenta when the duo made their debut in 2011.

The soulful vocals of Eugenia Yip, a familiar face in the live-music bar circuit, backed up by the computer beats of Ken Hayashida, of defunct local electronica act Karl Maka, made for a winning combination.

Four years on, their sound has evolved and they look at life with a more mature perspective.

Their latest EP, Voices, a follow-up to their debut EP R3B007 (2013), is a testament to that.

It has the ability to bewitch with hypnotic trip-hop beats and glistening guitars that would sit well with fans of indie-electronica acts the xx and Little Dragon, and the dreamy guitarwork of Scottish musician Robin Guthrie.

Perhaps their musical journey has also made them realise it takes more than two to make a riot, as they add three members who have each earned their stripes in the local indie music scene.

Helping the duo create a fuller, more sophisticated sound is Khairyl Hashim of The Great Spy Experiment, Sulaiman Supian of Obedient Wives Club and Ritz Ang of The Summer State.

The melting pot of musical influences makes for a rather distinctive neo-soul identity.

Hayashida, 34, says the EP was 21/2 years in the making and adds: "We have matured musically over the past four years, we know ourselves better and we know how to express our intention better through music."

Indeed, he admits the group had worked on enough material for an album, but those tracks were scrapped as he did not feel confident about the songs. They did a do-over and the result was Voices, which reflects the process they went through to record the new EP.

That is why, Hayashida says, the lyrics of the title track have the refrain: "Don't let the voices tuck you into bed/Don't let the voices get inside your head."

Lyrically, Yip, 26, says the inspiration forming the backbone of the EP draws on her life experiences, specifically graduating from school and entering the "real world" to find a job, only to discover that life is not a bed of roses.

On Running, the band chart a journey of escapism in the way the song starts with a gentle guitar riff, quickening its musical pace slowly with the layering of drums and bass.

With Voices, Riot !n Magenta have established themselves as the neo-soul act in Singapore to watch out for. And with the band working on putting out a full-length album, one can expect great things from them in future.

This article was first published on April 9, 2015.
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