Gem of a find

We'd like to think that we had a hand in discovering Gentle Bones, one of Singapore's most promising singer-songwriters.

Back in September 2012, before the 20-year-old full-time national serviceman - whose real name is Joel Tan - started topping charts with his original heartfelt folk-pop tunes, he had already won many hearts here at The New Paper in our LOUD Cover Contest.

LOUD, TNP's weekly music pull-out before M, organised a cover contest with different themes each month, inviting our musically-inclined readers to send in videos of themselves.

Tan took part in Britmania Month, slaying the competition with his soulful, lo-fi cover of Ed Sheeran's Drunk.

In an e-mail interview with M last week, the talented musician remained humble about his achievements, stressing that there was never a moment he thought he would emerge champion.

"I've never liked to compete, especially with something so delicate and subjective like music. Hence, I've always avoided invitations to singing competitions," he said.

"But my friend shared the (contest's) link with me and it seemed so convenient that I decided to submit my videos.

"Also, I had plenty of British covers then, so I thought, why not?"

Today, Tan is on a roll.

Not only have two of his self-composed singles, Until We Die and Save Me, grabbed top spots on the local iTunes Singles chart, his EP also scored a No. 1 on the local iTunes album chart - on pre-orders alone.

He is officially launching his EP at a two-hour live concert later this month at TAB.

"Winning LOUD Cover Contest definitely gave me a boost in the hope of doing something more with the music I was making," said Tan.

"I got more opportunities and started working harder than ever.


"It was also my first time in a newspaper! The journey has been way too surreal thus far. I am really thankful."

With the release of his first EP, he would have successfully checked something off his bucket list.

"I've actually been dying to record an EP since I was 18," he said.

"Putting out an album is always the main dream for musicians, and to have it top the charts in your home country... I couldn't ask for more. It has been an unbelievable ride."

Listeners and fans have begun labelling him as a "tortured artiste", which Tan doesn't mind one bit.

"Away from music, I've never had the habit of being emotive and I'm usually happy most of the time. But music gives me the outlet to truly vent my feelings," he said.

"My songs are honest, frank and perhaps brutal sometimes. It relates and connects to people... I think that being straightforward and speaking your mind allows the audience to latch on to your message."

This Friday, he will be taking the stage at Republic Polytechnic's annual student-run music festival, IGNITE!, alongside other home-grown musicians.

"I am excited. I'm a huge fan of local music, from the likes of Charlie Lim, A Vacant Affair, Plainsunset, and I've been in the audience at festivals such as Baybeats and IGNITE! over the past few years," said Tan.

"Now I get to be on stage too! The line-up this year is also going to be incredible, with lots of my good friends from the local scene. I can't wait to partake in this local music glamour."


WHAT: IGNITE! Music Festival 2014

WHEN: Friday and Saturday,

doors open from 4pm onwards

(Gentle Bones plays on Friday)

WHERE: Republic Polytechnic Lawn (9, Woodlands Avenue 9)

TICKETS: Free admission


WHAT: Gentle Bones

Debut EP Launch

WHEN: Aug 30, 7pm

WHERE: TAB, 442 Orchard RoadTICKETS: $25 and $30 (with physical EP) from

This article was first published on August 13, 2014.
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