Singaporean alt-electronic producer, shy-c, released his conceptual EP, ‘Solace In My Sleep’ on 11 December 2020. Made up of electronic songs describing modern anxieties and urban escapism, the 4-track EP features an eclectic palette of sounds and influences, ranging from chill electronic vibes to math-rock guitar solos.
We recently had a chat with shy-c himself to talk about the EP, as well as had him come up with a playlist that encapsulates what, ‘Solace In My Sleep’ is all about, which includes definitive soundtrack moments, aspirational collaborations, music influences, and of course some of shy-c’s own tracks from the EP.
Hey shy-c, congratulations on the EP release! How does it feel having this EP finally out as a whole? Thanks! I think the past few months have been quite surreal and strange for everyone in the world, and I’m just glad that we’re almost done with the final lap of putting this EP out!
You’ve released each track from the EP over the past 3 months. Care to share more on whether these were personal experiences and what made you decide to package these songs as part of the EP? At the start of the COVID’19 lockdown period, I sat myself down and tried to force myself to write as much music possible. To this day, I still have some songs from then that have been left unfinished, but those that I did complete, ended up in this EP. After taking a step back from the writing process, I realised that these tracks collectively captured my state of mind, and they were a response to my emotions and anxieties. These are songs for the weary heart seeking respite from the daily stressors and life’s pressures, the ones who are looking for a sense of warmth that accompanies the break of dawn.
Is there a specific track out of the 4 that you’re most proud of, and that stood out the most for you more than others? Personally, ‘Apathy‘ is my favourite out of the EP. I wrote it after a long period of creative constipation and writer’s block, so it was a response to pushing myself out of bed and back into the writing mind frame. I definitely challenged myself a lot more with the choice of sounds, and it was a conscious decision to over-produce the track with a lot of layers and textures that I wouldn’t have typically used. Specifically, I’m really happy with how the guitar solo sits very nicely within the odd-meter bridge.
You released visualizer videos, as well as a set of music production vlogs on your Youtube channel accompanying each track when each was released. Were these all self-done or did you work with anyone else on these videos?
The music video for the single ‘Solace in My Sleep’ was directed by my friend and collaborator Clare Chong. We shot the entire video in one night, running from location to location all over Singapore. It features a girl (played by Chew Shaw En) stumbling and wandering in and out of obscure places, eventually finding her way to daylight. This project was really fulfilling, seeing how Clare and her team pulled all the moving parts come together to interpret my music in a visual format.
The visualisers for ‘Apathy’ and ‘Castles’ (and all the cover artworks) were designed by Dione Lee, and are essentially a series of moving images generated from code. The different images were cut and edited together to match the music. I’m planning for these visualisers to be integrated with my live sets as motion graphics in the future.
For the vlogs, it’s just me sitting in a room, rambling in front of a camera about techniques and decisions that I make when I write my songs. I’m definitely still learning to be less awkward speaking to a camera and also finding new ways to connect with my audience.
You have a background of diverse musical experiences from performing classical music to playing in rock and jazz bands and finally music production. There also seems to be influences of some acoustic sources in the EP. That’s a lot to take in! How would you describe your music? What is shy-c’s sound?
To be honest, I’m still struggling to put it in words but I would say that my music sits somewhere in the realm of indie-electronic music. I think my background with more ‘traditional’ forms of music definitely informs my process, but it has been a whole new paradigm working with electronic sounds and genres. I would describe my sound as the result of the friction and tension between my musical background and trying to break into new musical spaces and genres.
Do you think this EP differs a lot from your previous singles? And what exactly is it that is uniquely offered as opposed to someone listening to your previous tracks?
I think this EP continues to draw from my existing influences, which can be heard in my previous tracks too. However, what I tried to do with this EP was to avoid playing things safe and experimenting more with what I had, and pushing my sound into a new space. Because of this, there were moments during the writing process that I felt uncomfortable with certain creative choices, but now when I hear the EP I am definitely glad that I made those decisions.
Now that the EP is out, do you imagine the listeners being able to feel what you were going through when you were creating each track? What’s your measure of success for this EP?
If I’m being honest, it’s not really important to me that listeners can understand what I was going through at the time of writing each song, but rather, I think it’s more important that they find their own way of relating to the sounds and lyrics. So yeah I think that’s the measure of success for me if people are able to find meaning in my music that relates specifically to their personal journeys. Also, if I make some money sometime soon would be great.
I am going through the playlist you came up with, especially Grant’s ‘Where Will We Go’ which totally goes in line with your EP by the way. There’s some seriously full-on electronic production going on with Kasbo, Tycho, and Bonobo in there, as well as perhaps back meaning of troubled times in there. If you had to pick one that was more uplifting in that aspect, which track would it be?
That would have to be ‘From No Height’ by On Planets & Hanz. There’s just something about their writing and vocal performance that is so effortlessly phrased, and this track carries the underlying bittersweet meaning through. Definitely one of my top songs for the year.
While doing up this playlist, you picked Linying’s ‘Alpine’ as well as Grant’s ‘Where Will We Go’ as your definitive soundtrack moments during the time you were making this EP. Could you share more on what these moments were?
The process of writing the music in this EP was a desperate effort to find direction in the few months where I felt my life was at a standstill. These two tracks helped give a voice to my thoughts and helped me to identify what I was feeling in the moments where I failed to fall asleep and reminded me to be kinder to myself because there are people out there who feel the same way about themselves.
In terms of aspirational collaborations, are there any from this playlist you would love to collaborate with? And if so, what is it about these artists that deem fit as who you want to collaborate with?
That would probably be Kiasmos. I’m a huge fan of Ólafur Arnalds’ catalogue of modern classical music, and hearing how those influences translate to the techno format is a great inspiration for me. Personally, I have a background in classical violin but I’ve not successfully found a way to weave this into my music. I would love to work with him to learn more about bringing together distant genres and introducing listeners to new textures and sounds.
You started your own label, Springroll Records, just last year. What made you decide to do that? And being super new with the label, what are your plans for this in the upcoming year ahead?
At the moment, my main focus is to meet new people and learn from everyone as I’m still very new to the scene. At some point, I hope to have built up the resources and expertise to support releases from other artists as well. The long term goal is to definitely carve out a space to freely cross-pollinate artists coming from all sorts of diverse musical backgrounds.
And as an artist yourself, what’s next for shy-c in the upcoming year?
I’m definitely looking to get started writing more music and hopefully collaborate with more artists. I’m also aiming to build a live set that incorporates both electronic and acoustic instruments. In terms of releases, I’ve been writing shorter beats (less commitment) so keep an eye out for a beat tape that might drop in the first half of 2021!