Arts & Culture

Islandeer Speaks of Love

Growing up chronicled through music

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Love has been recorded throughout centuries in all ways possible: Renaissance paintings, statues that grace historical streets, modern graffiti art in hidden alleyways and music albums by the greats. Be it 10 ways to get over a broken heart or the unabashed lover professing endless adoration, love is one of the most familiar themes to humankind.

And Islandeer is here to add its own take to the already diversified mix of what love is.

New to the Singapore music scene, the band comprises Christian Jansen (drums, guitars, keys) and Michael Garcia (vocals, guitars, keys). Their musical inspirations include Radiohead, Bombay Bicycle Club and The Beatles, combining styles from ’60s pop, ’70s rock, indie rock and modern psychedelia.

Making it in the local music industry is already a tough battle, but to make music about a theme that is as mainstream as love, is there anything more to be said about love?

Let’s find out.

It has always been said that it is difficult to thrive in the music industry in Singapore. Do you agree? And if you do, why are you pursuing it?

Islandeer: Yes, it is difficult to thrive on music alone, but it’s been getting easier in recent times. We think there’s a growing consensus that we indeed have genuine local talent, not just in music, but in the arts. We’ve got great musicians, producers, storytellers and artists coming up, and I hope the support keeps growing.

Love has been written into music over and over again across centuries. Why do you think that’s the case?

Michael: Love is one of our universal languages, and I think it is hardwired into our humanity — the urge to love and be loved.

And it transcends time, so you see it throughout history; from the earliest poems to our modern-day love songs. So it’s no wonder that it is, and will always be, a major theme in music.

Christian: Love is a constant. Somehow, someway, there has been and there always will be love in humanity. It’s instinctive to want to love and give love. It’s a feeling and experience that people can relate to. Yet, everyone’s experience with love is unique. The way they show it, get it from others, and who they show it to makes it very personal, which I think is a key component for any art form.

Personally, what about love intrigues you?

Michael: I’m intrigued by the fact that love can be confusing and difficult in one moment, and in the next, it can feel like the easiest and most natural thing on earth. The mercurial ideas of love are some of the things we want to capture in our debut album.

Christian: To me, there are aspects of love that are overlooked. It’s common to hear songs about “he or she broke my heart” or a “boy meets girl” kind of song. There are more personal and intricate parts that really intrigue me. I think we both try to relay those parts in our songs, and I hope they’re relatable.

What other themes may we expect from your debut album?

Islandeer: We wrote the songs from the ages 17 to 23, and during those years, we graduated from Poly, got in and out of relationships, completed NS and began proper adult life. So the themes in the album encompass whatever we felt during those years and events. The themes mostly relate to growing up, the good and bad sides of it. Young love, personal freedom, relationships and existential anxiety. The things we experience as we go from our teenage years into adulthood.

If your album was to inspire a piece of art — theatre, film or painting — what do you think it might look like? Describe it for us.

Michael: It would be a Wes Anderson coming-of-age film with a few animated dream sequences. Like Boyhood meets Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Christian: It would be a spacey, colourful animated movie, like Yellow Submarine. But it would be in space and its main characters would be named Flynn and Chelsea. They’d meet and fall madly in love. But as they mature, they end their relationship.

Taking their experiences, they learnt to live their space-filled lives. The imagery is mentioned in one of our songs.

All band photographs are credited to Izwan Abdullah @unrulymisfit

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