Behind the Scenes with Figure8 Agency: Amping up the Indie music scene in Singapore

Indie music festivals that celebrate local and regional bands used to be few and far between here in Singapore when Mosaic Music Festival and Baybeats first began. But as of late, many more have been sprouting up – on our radar are Sundown Festival, 100 Bands Festival, Ignite! Music Festival, Music Matters Live, and UpToTheSky Festival!

Deerhoof + The Trees And The Wild

Upcoming gig by Figure8 Agency featuring Deerhoof (USA) and The Trees And The Wild (ID)

Could this be a reflection of our increasing appetites for and maturity in appreciation of Indie music, particularly local and regional ones?

The folks behind UpToTheSky Festival, Figure8 Agency, would certainly hope this to be true as they strive to provide a platform for regional artists and to help promote and develop the Indie music scene here in Singapore at the same time.

Figure8 Agency is back with a new gig, featuring the eclectic Deerhoof from the USA and the ethereal The Trees And The Wild from our regional neighbour, Indonesia.

But, the spotlights aren’t on the bands but on Figure8 Agency in this feature interview – we go behind the scenes with Marie Berst, the production director, to find out what it’s like to be a music promoter here in Singapore, what shapes and defines who they are amidst many other promoters here, and their thoughts on our growing appetite for Indie music.

Marie Berst, Figure8 Agency

Marie Berst, Production Director of Figure8 Agency

Is there a certain type of sound or genre of bands you choose to bring in to Singapore?

We are mainly focused on indie music and indie music from Southeast Asia. We always bring bands that we love and think they have the potential to fit in Singapore’s vibe and harvest new fans. We are very keen to organise concerts and festivals like UpToTheSky bringing together more and less famous bands, without giving a “headliner” vs. “opening act” feel.

Could you share with us some challenges you face as an indie music promoter here? How do you overcome them?

I think the two main challenges in Singapore are the lack of venues of average size that allow a fair ticket price, and the audience’s curiosity that is still not easily tickled!

The indie music scene in Asia has mostly been under-the-radar till as of late with more indie music festivals popping up and growing in attendance. Why do you think there’s an increasingly burgeoning interest in indie music?

Because music is life! It’s the best way-out and there’s something for each of us, no matter what we like. The growth of an indie music scene is taking more time in Asia, possibly because culture doesn’t come first in today’s global economy. But now that the region is wealthier, people can use time (and money) for music, arts, theatre, and elevate themselves through culture. Supply and demand, simple equation.

We notice you actively promote indie bands from Asian countries like Indonesia, Malaysia and Japan – quite unlike many other music promoters here. Do you think Singapore is audibly receptive to unfamiliar Asian bands?

We clearly believe in Southeast Asia’s potential, and work towards its bands’ recognition, in the region and internationally. The two founders of Figure8 Agency come from France where the local music scene is very important and cherished. If it’s possible in Europe, let’s do it in Asia (or give it a try)!

UpToTheSky Festival with its amazing line-up of Southeast Asian and International indie bands was a success in 2011! Are there any plans for an indie music festival in the near future?

Thank you! We working on slight different formats now, to enhance collaborations between the musicians and to open more opportunities for them in terms of career development. But who knows, we’d love to have UTTS #2 sometime soon…

Get tickets to Deerhoof (USA) and The Trees And the Wild (ID) here, a gig brought to you by Figure8 Agency.

Image Credit: Figure8 Agency

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Claire Ding

Claire Ding is the Community Manager at ticketing platform Peatix in Singapore. She runs a community event for organisers, Backstage Pass , where organisers connect with others and learn tips on event management. Quite the thrill-seeker, Claire’s gone skydiving, bungee jumping, and enjoys anything that puts her on edge (quite literally), it’s no wonder she’s in the business of events with never a dull moment!