As local music festivals go, anyone with any interest in Singapore’s music scene would know about the massive Baybeats or Republic Polytechnic’s wonderful Ignite. “After those two, then what?” I would ask myself. With the emergence of Lepa(r)k, I think I have my answer.

I had the pleasure of talking to Daniel Sassoon, founder of Incursive Productions and organiser of the event, during the 6-hour long festival. Former member of renowned local bands Livornia and Electrico, and now fronting instrumental post rock band In Each Hand A Cutlass, I was able to ask him about everything local – music that is.

In Each Hand A Cutlass. Photo courtesy of Daniel Sassoon

With a different venue and different bands, he stressed that the spirit remains the same. This year’s Lepa(r)k was held at Marina Promontory to the stunning backdrop of Marina Bay Sands as opposed to Tiong Bahru Park the previous year. It proved to be a wonderful setting for the concert attendees to “chill out”.

“There are a lot of bands out there, and if I had my choice, I would have 30 bands out, but I am not running a 3-day festival with 3 stages,” said Mr Sassoon with a smile. “It’s just really small scale.”

He did concede that the crowd seemed a little thinner as compared to last year; but also pragmatically said it is probably due to the larger venue. “It doesn’t mean that the event is a success or failure based on the number of people who showed up. We are still a long way from the gig culture of Australia, the UK or the US. We have to cultivate people slowly, you can’t force feed people and force them to come for the event.”

Oh how the music fan in me would love for our culture to even match those of the Aussies or the British. The line-up and turn out of the Reading and Leeds festival in the UK made me curse the fact that we don’t.

“There are more festivals, more opportunities and my god there are more bands then ever,” continued Mr Sassoon. “You are looking at bands like Pep Talk, who are barely out of their teens and making really good music, so the interest is definitely there.”

With the amount of talent bustling out, Sassoon urged bands that are starting out to not cover songs but to make their own music and express themselves. “If people don’t clap along, it is because you don’t play those songs enough. You are never going to be recognised as creative artists unless you play your own songs,” he added. For the musician in me (I play the guitar), those were wise words that I can relate to.

Monster Cat. Photo courtesy of Daniel Sassoon

In moving Lepa(r)k forward, Sassoon is hoping for more advertising, more sponsors and of course for the festival to get bigger. “I’m hoping it will grow and I believe it will. But it takes time.” He also reiterated that he would always want the festival to be free. “It is music for the community and for the people. We are here as musicians, for the people to come listen to us, so I don’t ever want this to be a paid festival.”

I certainly had the chillest of time listening to music of the highest quality from the likes of the ethereal Monster Cat and the ever-popular The Great Spy Experiment, who at a sit down concert brought the crowd to its feet.

The Great Spy Experiment. Photo courtesy of Daniel Sassoon

The future of Singaporean music seems to be on the up. We are growing in talent, we are growing in support, what we need is a little faith and a little time to nurture this scene that is on the verge of an outburst. Honestly, I can’t wait.

In the following days check out our reviews of the all the bands – barring the two bands I’ve just mentioned (sorry dudes, we still love you, and we did cover you in previous issues!) – that played at the festival.

Lepa(r)k! @ Marina Promontory Festival Line-up :

In Each Hand A Cutlass
Amnesia Haze
Another Sunday Afternoon
Kellie Lloyd (AUS)
Monster Cat
The Great Spy Experiment

Han Qi Guang