20-member band creates new twist for Singapore Night Festival

SINGAPORE - Mention the word "orchestra" and a picture of classical musicians in a traditional concert hall setting comes to mind.

But The Electric Symphony Project plans to overturn that image.

The 20-member act is a rock-and-soul orchestra that sees itself as being "groovy".

It comprises familiar names in the local music scene, like multi-instrumentalist Syed Ahmad of indie band The Stoned Revivals and percussion troupe Bloco Singapura, DJ Koflow and singer Trisno Ishak.

They are joined by former and current students aged between 19 and 25 from Lasalle College of the Arts.

Last weekend, The Electric Symphony Project played an upbeat and unique 40-minute set at the Singapore Management University Green.

Its debut performance at the annual Singapore Night Festival was part of the Homemade programme, dedicated to showcasing local talent.

The band was formed three months ago specially for the festival, which also saw performances by other home-grown bands Tiramisu, Pleasantry and Obedient Wives Club.

LOUD spoke with The Electric Symphony Project's creative director Ewan Abdul Samad, 31, to find out more about the unconventional outfit.

How did the group come about?

I came up with the idea of this 20-man orchestra with Syed Ahmad. We decided that it would comprise of local musicians and would include percussion instruments, a horn and strings section and even a turntablist.

It is also a platform that would allow musicians to work with people that they want to (work with).

We wouldn't call it a superband but an orchestra with a soul and funk feel.


How is the collaborative process like?

Syed Ahmad is a lecturer at Lasalle College of the Arts, so he was able to rope in current and former students.

Everyone worked really well together.

Syed Ahmad came with ideas of his own, but he also allowed creative freedom for the other artists and encouraged them to inject their input.

There is great synergy between everybody despite the size of the group.

What elements in The Electric Symphony Project make it different from a normal orchestra?

There's a battle between the DJ and the drummers to contrast old and new percussive methods.

It also marries rock with soul, with added samba beats. You don't see that very often.


What were you hoping to achieve?

We want the audience to think beyond a traditional band set-up when they think of local music. We experimented and it culminated into something bigger.

When you mention the word orchestra, no one would expect a symphony like this.


Will it carry on beyond the Singapore Night Festival and how will it change?

We would love for it to continue beyond the festival. But realistically, we are still unsure how it would be possible. If the group performs again though, we will have additional surprise elements for sure.

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