Singapore voices on F1 stage

Singapore voices on F1 stage
Vanessa Fernandez opts for a simple set and Indigo, comprising (above, from left) Munir Alsagoff, Dawn Ho and Kaye, will go 'Afro-Brazilian'.

While global pop names such as Jennifer Lopez and Robbie Williams will be matching the race cars for volume and scale at the F1 grand prix this weekend, local singer-songwriter Vanessa Fernandez intends to chill out.

"I'm going for a simple set, something chilled out," she says of her 45-minute set, which will take place at the Marina Bay Street Circuit's White Bar Stage on Sunday, 6pm.

Music fans who are familiar with her mix of soul and electronica can expect to see her leave her MacBook behind to go full-on acoustic in a stripped-down set that will feature her frequent collaborator, guitarist Adrian Yuen.

Fernandez, who also performs under the moniker Vandetta, adds that her set-list will feature reworked, unplugged arrangements of the songs from her self-titled EP released last year, which was warmly received by American music websites Pitchfork and The Fader.

"The songs sound more emotional, more toned down, driven by acoustic riffs. With the guitar, I have a lot more space to navigate the melody of the songs," says the 32-year-old, who was also part of the successful early 2000s hip-hop act Urban Xchange and later, Parking Lot Pimp.

Neither will another local music act attempt to play to the rhythms of the race. Instead samba-jazz trio Indigo will be going for a distinct "Afro-Brazilian" energy.

Its singer Dawn Ho, 34, says: "The vibe at F1 is always very interesting. In our past F1 shows, we met a lot of Brazilian race fans who caught our set and said, 'You guys remind us of home,' and they are always very happy to see us.

"And it's not just them, we can see the audience of different nationalities who might not be familiar to our music but they feed off the energy of our songs."

Indigo, which include Munir Alsagoff on guitars and Kaye on saxophone, concoct a unique mix of Brazilian samba, funk and electronic beats. They will be performing at the Paddock Club Lifestyle Stage on Friday at 8.40pm and Sunday at 10pm.

While all three members also make music outside of Indigo, either as solo artists or as part of other home-grown bands, Ho says that she shares a special chemistry when she performs with Munir and Kaye.

"We're more than just bandmates, we're close like family and we have similar tastes in music."

Besides Indigo, Ho also performs with jazz group The Magical Jazz Trio at bar/restaurant Orgo every Wednesday and restaurant Olivia Cassivelaun Fancourt (OCF) on Saturdays. To improve her singing chops, she recently enrolled as a full-time student at Lasalle College of the Arts in the Bachelor of Arts (honours) in music (jazz performance) course.

"Going back to school is amazing. Not only am I going back to basics, but I am also stretching myself in a way that I should have long ago. It's good for me to be in an environment where I can focus on being more creative."

This article was first published on September 17, 2014.
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