Gentle Bones: 'I like to keep some things private'

When it comes to priorities, music ranks top for local singer-songwriter Gentle Bones.

At 21, he has had plenty to be proud of since his debut five years ago.

His latest single Sixty Five, which was featured in local historical film 1965, soared to the top of the local iTunes singles chart within 24 hours of its release in July.

Gentle Bones, whose real name is Joel Tan, also became the first Singaporean artist to be signed by major label Universal Music Singapore.

Focusing on his career is even more crucial now as he prepares for the release of his second as-yet-untitled EP this year.

But when it comes to his personal life, he prefers to say less.

Tan shied away from the topic of romance, even as rumours that he is dating local band The Sam Willows' Narelle Kheng, 22, continue to swirl on social media.

Fans have even dubbed them - wait for it - #Jorelle.

Kheng, The Sam Willows' bassist-vocalist and younger sister of fellow bandmate and actor Benjamin Kheng, has made sporadic appearances on his Instagram page.

Three days ago, he posted on Twitter a video snippet of them singing Let It Go by English singer James Bay.

The New Paper spoke to Tan last Saturday, when he performed at the first instalment of arts and creative series Costa Coffee With., at the coffee chain's VivoCity outlet.

Asked about their relationship, the first-year Nanyang Technological University undergraduate at Nanyang Business School said: "She's cool and a really nice girl."

"We did the song together because I had to learn it and will be performing the song as the supporting act on (US YouTube star-turned-recording artist) Kina Grannis' Elements tour in Asia," he said. "(Kheng) was nice enough to practise it with me."

He declined to elaborate further, choosing only to say: "I don't want to confuse my personal life with my career. I'm a reclusive person and I like to keep some things private."


Tomorrow, Tan will be flying to Jakarta, the first stop for Grannis' tour.

After that, he will fly to Canada to record his second EP and work with the Canadian producer who is behind some of the works of Canadian music bigwigs like Drake and The Weeknd.

Tan let on that his new offering will be a departure from his chart-topping self-titled debut EP, which was released last year.

"We are trying to bridge the gap between my R&B influence and my current (folk-pop) sound. It's definitely new territory for me and it will be quite tricky to achieve, " said Tan.

"I'm always nervous before new material comes out because you never know when people will stop listening to you because there is so much content out there."

On the back of his achievements this year is a collaboration with British menswear label Topman.

Tan, who was decked out in Topman, designed his own line of tops, jackets and merchandise with the brand, in line with the release of his upcoming EP.

"I have always been interested in fashion and making my own line of things, so when Topman approached Universal Music Singapore, it seemed like a good fit," he said.

Tan hopes for more doors to open as he continues to search for a solid identity as a musician.

"When I started out, I put out a persona that wasn't necessarily and completely me because I felt it is something people would be more receptive to. But I'm discovering myself as an artist and a person," he said.

This article was first published on September 14, 2015.
Get The New Paper for more stories.