Dance music production in the local scene is rare but not unheard of – so when we come across a gem of an artist that puts his nose to the grindstone to churn out tracks for us to groove to on the dancefloor, we welcome him with open arms.
Often spotted bobbing to the music, swaying to the melodies and bopping to the beat, Kevin has been an avid supporter of the scene in more ways than one. Tasked to hustle for our leading music magazine JUICE Singapore, as the designated music writer for three years, he took the challenge head on and delved into discovering and unravelling the gems of the local and international acts that took to the stages – regardless of genre.
In his younger years, Kevin found himself already intoxicated by tracks with a pumping pulse – from Kraftwerk and Underworld, to Mondo Grosso and Faithless – he sought out tracks that kept him grooving, “I suspect that at that age, I wasn’t shrewd enough to make the distinction between genres, but the lines between genres became much clearer to me once I started at JUICE. As a self-taught drummer in my early days, house and techno were also natural progressions for me, as I was hopelessly obsessed with beats and rhythms.”
His insatiable urge to chase the beat grew into a need to express himself, and music quickly became a mouthpiece for that; having had musical background in his childhood, he experimented with solo songwriting, before forming the Sapporo Safaris, a nine-piece band that took influences from artists such as Arcade Fire and Of Monsters and Men. The band released two EPs and performed at places such as The Esplanade and the now-defunct Home Club, before calling it a day.
But that was not the end for Kevin, who proceeded to start two solo projects inspired by the indie and the dance scene in Singapore: Bit Usagi and The Beat Usagi. He shares on both, “Bit Usagi panders to my geek fantasies as an 8-bit character from an old Nintendo game, and is a platform for my chiptune and synth-pop desires. The Beat Usagi is my way of venting through crispy hi-hats, cavernous kicks and tingly claps, and is also an effort to invigorate the dance producer scene in Singapore – specifically, with house music in mind.”
Having spent years covering the local dance music scene as a journalist, he noticed a lapse in the local production circuit, and wanted to see this area flourish, “I create these tracks for myself, for my mates in the scene to play out, and for the future of the producer scene in Singapore.”
Taking inspiration from the likes of DJ Haus, Patrick Topping, Gardens Of God, Hot Since 82, Alan Fitzpatrick and many more, The Beat Usagi has a slew of exciting things in the pipeline for us to look forward to.
Definitely one to watch, Kevin has put together a playlist for The Council Consults in which we asked him to include some of his favourite house & techno tracks alongside his own productions: “Bahns”, the second solo single The Beat Usagi released (mastered by Lindo Martinez) – it might be familiar to some of you as our feisty resident feline dropped it during The Council’s 1st Anniversary Party; and “A Circle (The Beat Usagi Remix)” [mastered by Eddie Niguel], a collaboration with a local musician The Analog Girl.