Eddino Abdul Hadi
The Straits Times
14 September 2016
Singer-songwriter Sam Rui attended her first music festival, the Singapore edition of Laneway, four years ago.
At the indie music festival's seventh Singapore outing on Jan 21, the 20-year-old budding artist will be on the stage - she is among the international line-up of acts that will perform at Laneway's four stages at The Meadow, Gardens by the Bay.
These include acclaimed names in the indie world, including Australian singer-songwriter Chet Faker, who now performs under his own name Nick Murphy; British soul/R&B singer NAO; Norwegian electro-pop singer Aurora; British indie rockers Glass Animals; and American electronic/post-rock act Tycho.
Rui, whose latest single, Better, recently topped music-streaming service Spotify's Singapore Viral 50 charts, says of her inclusion in one of the biggest annual music festivals staged here: "I'm freaking out a little bit. I feel really overwhelmed."
Although she is a relative newcomer, Mr Danny Rogers, the Australian co-founder of Laneway, has full confidence in her ability to hold her own at the festival.
He says: "Laneway has always had an eye for emerging talent and when our team heard Sam Rui, they quickly felt they'd discovered an important new talent. Given that she has new music scheduled for release in February, we imagine the time is now for Sam."
Before Laneway, Rui's biggest show to date was as the opening act to home-grown pop band The Sam Willows' headline show at The Coliseum in July this year, a gig that drew 2,500.
It was her first live performance since she took a 11/2-year break from music to concentrate on her psychology studies at James Cook University Singapore. She is a full-time student at the school.
She started singing and writing her own songs at the age of 16 and started uploading videos and tracks on online platforms such as YouTube and Soundcloud.
In 2013, she was one of the budding artists who were part of the National Arts Council's Noise Music Mentorship.
While her early songs were skewed towards folksy, indie tunes in the vein of American act Bon Iver and British band Daughter, her new singles released this year have taken an electronic/R&B turn, thanks to a collaboration with feted home- grown producer and beatmaker Grosse. "We started making music together in February this year and we have this magical chemistry that awakened this thing inside of me," she says.
"I've always had an affinity for R&B and I've always loved artists such as Usher."
She adds that her upcoming EP, which she plans to release in February, will feature songs that document her progress as a singer and songwriter, as well as contain lyrics based on personal experiences such as past relationships.
Radio stations both Singapore (987 and Lush99.5) and international (Japan's Tokyo FM) have played her songs.
"For now, all my focus is on the Laneway set and the EP, but I hope to start touring overseas next year."
Laneway will also feature another rising act in the home-grown scene, progressive band T-Rex.
St. Jerome's Laneway Festival, as the festival is also known, has its roots in Melbourne in 2004 and staged its first Singapore edition at Fort Canning Park in 2011.
The attendance at the festival has been steadily rising over the years, from 6,000 in its first outing to 13,000 in January this year, its biggest crowd to date.
The event usually lasts 12 hours.
Its 2014 edition was the first to feature Singapore acts - veteran experimental rockers The Observatory, singer Vanessa Fernandez and electronic producer Gema.
The subsequent Laneways have also featured other distinctive names in the home-grown scene, including indie/electronic band Riot !n Magenta, electronic producer Fauxe and indie rock quartet Cashew Chemists.
On the line-up
Bob Moses (Canada)
Clams Casino (the United States)
Floating Points (Britain)
Gang Of Youths (Australia)
Glass Animals (Britain)
Jagwar Ma (Australia)
Mick Jenkins (the US)
Mr Carmack (the US)
Nick Murphy, formerly known as Chet Fake (Australia)
Sam Rui (Singapore)
Sampa The Great (Australia)
Stars And Rabbit (Indonesia)
The Julie Ruin (the US) Tourist (Britain)
Tycho (the US) White Lung (Canada)
See photos related to the article in the gallery below.