Gentle Bones making big waves

Local singer-songwriter Joel Tan, who is also known as Gentle Bones
PHOTO: Universal Music Group

If you are a fan of local singer-songwriter Joel Tan, aka Gentle Bones, you can vote for him as the Best Southeast Asia Act at this year's MTV Europe Music Awards (EMAs).

The 22-year-old was nominated alongside other regional acts like Yuna and Bunkface (Malaysia), Raisa (Indonesia), Sarah Geronimo (Philippines), Thaitanium (Thailand) and Dong Nhi (Vietnam).

Previous Singaporean nominees in the category include Stefanie Sun, Olivia Ong and the band The Sam Willows, which was nominated last year.

No local artist has won Best Southeast Asia Act at the EMAs before.

Tan told The New Paper over the phone yesterday about the nomination: "It's just sick, man. I grew up watching MTV and EMAs, and to be nominated is a real honour.

"I'm also a big fan of the other nominees like Sarah Geronimo and Thaitanium."

Fans can vote for their favourite artists at until voting closes on Nov 6 at 6.59am.

The MTV EMAs, held in Rotterdam in the Netherlands, will air live on MTV (StarHub TV Ch 533/Singtel TV Ch 350) on Nov 7 at 4am, with a repeat telecast on the same day at 9pm.

Tan is unsure if he will attend the awards ceremony, but remains hopeful that he has a "small chance" of being named Best Southeast Asia Act.

The singer-songwriter is certainly making waves in Asia - he is the MTV Asia Spotlight artist for October, so his music videos, interviews and performances are showcased on the music channel throughout the month.

He will also perform at the Asia Song Festival in Busan, South Korea, this Sunday. The event also has K-pop band EXO and rising boy band Seventeen in its line-up.

"I do listen to some K-pop, so I'm familiar with their music," he said.

"I think my sister will be really happy if I get the chance to meet them."

Tan was the first Singaporean artist to be signed to major label Universal Music Singapore last year.

Since then, other local artists have found fame overseas, such as Sing! China finalist Nathan Hartono, 25, who may win the singing contest final tomorrow.

Singer and songwriter Linying, 22, has also signed a deal with American record label Nettwerk Music Group, which introduced artists like Coldplay and Dido to the US.


"I'm really happy to see how the local music scene has grown since I was 16," said Tan.

"I see the variety we can offer with our local bands and artists, and people like Linying are finally getting the recognition they deserve."

Tan also credited last year's SG50 Singapore Jubilee celebrations with helping to boost local music acts.

"The Government has been very supportive of our arts scene, giving grants to musicians and so on," he said.

"I think the SG50 movement has really been at the root of this large-scale boom in local music."

And while local artists like Sun and Tanya Chua previously found fame by singing in Mandarin, Tan thinks Singaporean musicians need not shy away from embracing their bilingual roots.

"A lot of us Singaporean kids grew up with English as our first language, so it's natural for us to express ourselves in English," he said.

"That being said, I wouldn't mind writing songs in Mandarin. I'm a big fan of Mandopop artists like Wang Lee Hom."

It's just sick, man. I grew up watching MTV and EMAs, and to be nominated is a real honour.

This article was first published on October 06, 2016.
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