codecaud (Codie Loh) has been performing as an acoustic singer since she was in school, jamming with her guitar at school events, public pop-ups and even as a busker. After close to a 4-year hiatus from performing live, the Singaporean artist has self-released 3 singles, ‘515’ and ‘Burst Of Clouds’, wrapping up 2020 with a dreamy Shoegaze pop tune, ‘Waxing Crescent’ — apt for chilled sunset drives and dancing midway on a late-night stroll at the beach, as with her accompanying music video. We dug deep with codecaud on her single, ‘Waxing Crescent’, her E.T. inspired music video and her artist growth of personally finding her sound and identity as an artist.
1. For readers who don’t really know who you are, tell us more about yourself. How did you come about doing music?
I started singing when my grandma saw me dancing and singing around the house to old Hokkien songs and started bringing me around to participate in singing competitions. She was always very supportive, but I felt as though I was forced to be someone else. It never felt quite right because music is something that shouldn’t be graded or judged. It is so vast and different, that there is no basis for comparison. So why should we allow others to dictate what kind of music we should be making, and how we should be making it?
When I was in polytechnic, I played with a Pop-punk band called, ‘Hometown Heroes’. I had a lot of fun hanging out and jamming with the band, but I never felt very connected to the genre. As lead singer, I felt pretty left out of the music creation and arrangement, so I left the band after I graduated and started writing, recording, arranging, and producing songs by myself.
2. You released, ‘Waxing Crescent’ in December 2020. What was the inspiration behind this single?
My mother was the main inspiration behind the song. It’s called, ‘Waxing Crescent’ because the moon was a waxing crescent on my birthday (yes, I looked it up). I wrote it during a period that consisted of 3 months of being jobless after I had graduated from school. My only source of income was from busking and gigs. My body clock was a mess, I slept at 10AM and woke up at 7PM every day. I kept taking morning walks along Woodlands Waterfront to tire my body out so I could sleep like a regular human being.
I wrote this song on a day that the moon was still out in the early morning. I looked at the moon and suddenly realized how small we actually are. There are so many things in this world that are bigger than us human beings like the sky, the clouds, the stars and the trees, that we often forget how beautiful the world is. We forget to look up into the sky, look up at the shapes of clouds and bask in the sunlight.
I have a fascination with the sky, clouds, stars, and moon. Staring at them makes me feel small, but not in a bad way. It brings me far away as if all the good and bad stuff in the world does not matter anymore. The soft, gentle hues of blue and peach with a tinge of lilac in the morning sky gave me a sense of peace and tranquillity, away from the hustle of the world. That also reminded me that no matter how far away my mum is, we are still staring at the same sky, and when the moon comes out at night, it smiles and sings to both of us.
3. There was also an accompanying music video for ‘Waxing Crescent’, which shows you making friends with the moon in a very E.T. movie fashion. Could you share with us the making of the music video, as well as working with the director, Jon Tan? How did this collaboration come about?
Jon approached me via Instagram after he saw me busking. I have never had anyone approach me to work together on a project through busking. I remember meeting him and I fell in love with all his ideas. It’s hard for me to work with a creative director who likes a lot of fluff, but that man had good fluff. It was very refreshing to meet a creative who is not all talking about the dollars and cents, but more on authenticity and having the passion to have as much fun as possible with a project.
Jon and I started sharing about our favourite films and music videos, and we got into the topic of the film E.T. I guess it was because of the song name, that made us want to explore something extraterrestrial and spacey. So E.T. was the film that came. The storyline of the MV kind of worked in the same way as well – I made friends with the moon that I accidentally flicked down, but I had to send the moon back into the sky because if not, it would have died. And the only way to do that was to dance.
4. We read that the single came from a place of uncertainty when making this single has helped with identifying and defining yourself as an artist, and your sound. What has changed since the time you started as an artist, as compared to now?
It was a rough period where I made many mistakes, signing to an indie label that I felt didn’t do much, working with indie producers that didn’t feel quite right. I was pretty pissed at the local music scene for a while. Then I figured that I was the only one stopping myself from making music, so I decided to roll up my sleeves and do it myself. It took me close to 2-3 years to really come to terms with my value as a musician and person. I had to figure everything out from Google and YouTube tutorials. I knew what I did not want to sound like, but I wasn’t entirely sure of what I wanted my sound to be. It was this and that genre, and nothing clicked. I wanted to find my footing as a self-produced musician, to gain some skills and more confidence in myself as an artist before I collaborate with others again — And I did. I wouldn’t be the artist that I am today without the support of people around me like Christian (from Islandeer), David Siow/ DSML, my good friend Elaine who made all my cover arts, and my personal friend-nagger guiding me along. I have learnt so much from all of them along the way, and I am thankful to have met them in this journey.
5. From having gone through that thought process of figuring out who you are and that defining moment, to other artists who are struggling to find their own artist identity, what advice would you give them?
Never give up on yourself, you are going to be your biggest supporter. It’s tough to make music here because it is literally like committing financial suicide if you don’t already have a consistent income to fund your projects. Wanting to make music in Singapore means you have to learn how to scrimp and save to produce a record. Christian (my mixer) and I took a few rounds of experimenting for the music to sound as professional as it can. ‘515’ was like an experiment that went wrong. I’m still very proud of it because it makes me want to keep improving my production quality. You don’t need fancy equipment to make a record as long as you learn from your mistakes and keep going at it!
With ‘Burst of Clouds’, I faced issues while recording. My voice is the instrument I play best, yet I couldn’t get the perfect take and had to re-record it so many times, I got so pissed with myself! I wanted to give up and not release this single. I had to tell myself it’s not worth giving up. Keep going and you will end up with something that you are proud of when you feel that it’s right.
My next advice is to stop wanting to be perfect. It will never be perfect. All three of my released singles are not at that perfect level professionally, but I’m still super proud of them. Having worked with different people while having so much insecurity about myself forced me to stop looking around for the right people to work with, make do with what I have, and just do it on my own. Nothing’s going to be perfect so just bloody do it and see how it goes. Do your best, make a fool out of yourself, and have as much fun as possible.
6. How would you define codecaud’s sound now?
My current sound is very much influenced by the music I listened to when I was in school. I started writing music during that period, so those tunes started influencing the way I wrote subconsciously. I was getting into Alternative, Indie, Indie-pop stuff, listening to bands like The 1975, HAIM, and discovered my long-lost love for Florence + The Machine. I got a little deeper into shoegaze and experimental too, including Cocteau Twins, Slowdive and Sonic Youth, so I guess Alternative-indie and Shoegaze kind of got stuck in me. A good reference for the sound that I feel is truly me, is something like a mix of those two genres. It is chilled yet vibey at the same time – that is honestly the best way I can describe my sound.
7. Has your music influences changed since then? We are curious to know who they are!
My music influences have changed so much, they’ve been through many different phases. Starting with Mandopop in early/mid-2000, as I participated in a couple of Mandopop singing competitions. Naturally, my influences then were artists like Jay Chou, A-Lin, Faye Wong, Tanya Chua — The perfect songs for minus 1 and karaoke! As I grew older, I started getting into English songs and bands like The Click Five, Panic! At The Disco, Paramore, and Avril Lavigne. Those were the days that radio stations were the main source of music, Walkmans and CD players were still a thing for us. Remember those Limewire days?
Then it was Indie when I was 17, and I went to my first ever Laneway Festival in 2013 that had HAIM (I love them so much), The 1975, CHVRCHES, Daughter. Florence + The Machine played a huge influence in my writing style and lyrics. It was the band that got me into writing music, especially with the album ‘Ceremonials’. The way Florence Welch uses so many symbols and metaphors to represent and share how she feels was magical to me. I still remember having goosebumps and teared up listening to ‘Ceremonials’ on repeat, and I told myself that I want to write something like that too.
‘Burst of Clouds’ was very much inspired by them because I wanted to try out a very ethereal and grand sound. HAIM and Maggie Rogers have a big influence on my first single ‘515’, I wanted to try something a little more dancey and upbeat. When I wrote ‘Waxing Crescent’, I was listening to a lot of shoegaze. A couple of shoegaze bands that I felt influenced the song were Cocteau Twins, Wolf Alice, Slowdive, Dinosaur Jr, The Moody Blues, and Wild Nothing.
As of right now, the influences I’m getting for my next album is going to be groovy and funky as hell! I’ve been listening to a lot of Parcels, L’lemperatrice, Boney M, Emmett Kai, Diamond Cafe. I’m so excited to start working on these new tunes and start experimenting!
8. Finally, what’s next for codecaud?
Now that ‘Waxing Crescent’ is out, I’ll be working on the last song on the EP, which should be out by March or April of this year. After that, I’ll probably be working on songs for my first full-length album, aimed to be out by 2022. I now have a much better idea of my sound, and I’m so excited to start playing around with new ideas! I’m also looking to collaborate with other musicians, now that I’m more confident and surer of myself as an artist. So yes, this is my open call for collaborations! Anyone who feels like we can vibe, down to hang out and chill, make good music, have some fun, please hit me up. Beers on me 🙂