King Kong Jane juggles music with life

Profiling local bands & musicians

Every first and third Wednesday of the month, Yahoo! MusicScene shines the spotlight on talented, up-and-coming Singaporean bands or musicians. This week, we catch up with Colin Lim, vocalist of local indie band King Kong Jane, who recently released their much-anticipated debut album.

Local band King Kong Jane may have achieved so much within a short space of time, but don't expect this group of five men to give up their day jobs to carve out a music career.

"I think it's a common understanding among us. If we had wanted to go full time, we would have done it already," vocalist Colin Lim told Yahoo! Singapore.

He added that the quintet felt that the earnings from being full-time artistes was insufficient.

But that did not hinder their decision to work towards releasing their debut album, Waiting for Friday, last Friday -- four years after they started the project.

"Being part-time musicians is really tough, especially after we graduated from university. We realised that we actually took the jamming room in our hall for granted. When we started working, we could only record and play over weekends," said the 28-year-old vocalist.

"It is also why our album is titled Waiting for Friday. As the title suggests, it reflect how working class people are always anticipating the weekend, and juggling your commitments and interests and passions."

However, don't mistake this group of part-time musicians for bit-part artistes. Known for their melodic hooks and energetic performances, they are more than capable of playing above their potential.

Comprising of editor, Colin Lim, civil servant, Wu Jianping, both 28, project manager, Ian Ho, 30, and engineers Lin Renquan and Lim Ruishen, 28 and 29 respectively, they came together in 2006 when they were undergraduates in Nanyang Technological University.

They started out like most bands -- playing covers from bands like Franz Ferdinand, Muse and The Killers at school performances.

The turning point came when they were selected to perform at Esplanade's alternative music festival, Baybeats in 2007.

"We decided to give it a shot, and the requirement for that festival was that we had to do original songs. So we sent in a demo of Stranger, and we got called down for an audition and we got selected."

From then on, the band broke through their psychological barrier and realised that they could actually write their own material. From then on, they decided to focus more on originals, which opened more doors for them to other gig venues like Timbre and Esplanade.

This led to the band achieving some recognition for their music. In 2008, King Kong Jane won Powerjam, a nationwide band competition, and was named Best English Local Act in The Sunday Times.

Recognition aside, Colin said that being an indie band has its downsides. While not having a record label has its advantages, like full creative control, the main disadvantage is having to feel their way around themselves.

The communications graduate from NTU confessed that the quintet "lost steam" along the way in making the album, which is why it took so long.

"When the audio part was done, we kind of lost steam as we didn't know what to do with it. Be it in terms of printing, getting the artwork done, marketing and distributing the album. We sat on it for quite a long time."

However, looking back, Colin said the band has no regrets.

"We're really proud of our product. In hindsight, although it took much longer than we had wanted to, I think it would not have been put together as well if we had rushed."

Colin added that the band is now eager to move on to the next phase of their journey -- to record new songs for a second album which, hopefully, will not take another four years.

Catch King Kong Jane in an acoustic set at Esplanade's Mosaic Music Festival this Saturday for the official launch of their debut album, Waiting for Friday.

Waiting for Friday can be found in HMV, Gramophone and The Esplanade Shop for S$16.

It can also be purchased online here.

For more information on upcoming gigs, visit King Kong Jane's blog.

(Photos: King Kong Jane)

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