The festival catches up with Brandon Tay, NADA and The Observatory, ahead of the premiere of their works - Demon States and _T0701_ in SIFA 2021. Discussing what it means to produce a work that responds to the time that we find ourselves in to contemplating on the future of performance making, the artists share candidly where their headspace is at, their processes and what audience can look out for in their newly commissioned works.
About the speakers
The Observatory – a name that may suggest passive objectivity, but which really describes a band whose music is an impassioned response to the society it is enmeshed in. A world where politics have failed us, power and greed rule us, and hate and ignorance divide us. Here is a band that has, in its close-to-20-year history, been ever ready to speak truth to power, whether through the symbolic force of words or physical intensity of sound. Where change is the only constant, and where new forms of oppression must be actively met with new strategies for resistance, a persistent reinvention defines the heart and soul of The Observatory. Since its formation in 2001, the band has expressed itself in multiples ways from folk electronica to prog and avant rock, taking a stylistic sledgehammer to each and every one of its previous releases.
The latest constellation of The Observatory features Yuen Chee Wai and Dharma on guitars, efx and objects; and Cheryl Ong on drums; with Ong and Yuen multitasking on electronics. This marks The Observatory's latest sojourn into wordless territories and atonalism, with influences from post-punk to free improv and experimental electronics – a vibrant ecology of pulsing vibrations, extended freeplay and propulsive motorik-tions.
NADA is a visual arts/sound project that explores the myth and synthetic history of a fabricated group of the same name focusing on the excavation of the golden era of Malay traditional and popular music that spanned from the 1960s to the 1980s. A concept developed by Rizman Putra and Safuan Johari, the duo blurs the line between fiction and reality by deconstructing popular Malay songs from the past and melding them back together like a newly-discovered treasure of long lost tapes that has aged with time. The project made its debut as “A Nada Story”, a mixed media installation and performance piece at Budi Daya Exhibition organized by the Malay Heritage Centre and held in conjunction with the Malay Culturefest 2014. In March 2015, NADA made a trip to Paris for a special exhibition held at Palais de Tokyo where they did an artist visitation stint to rerecord selected songs in French.
Brandon Tay is a media artist working with the moving image in the fields of projection mapping, audiovisual performance, and mediated sculpture. His work has been shown in the National Museum Singapore, the Singapore Art Museum, National Gallery Singapore, and other museums and galleries in the region. He lives and works in Singapore.