Saturday, January 30, 2010

Girl Power - Female singer-songwriters come to the fore

TODAY, Friday January 29, 2010, PLUS MUSIC, PAGE 1

Female singer-songwriters come to the fore

PHOTO: TODAY, Friday January 29, 2010, PLUS MUSIC, PAGE 1

WHETHER it’s Joni Mitchell, Kate Bush, Suzanne Vega, Tori Amos, Alicia Keys or Rachael Yamagata, female singer-songwriters have somehow always managed to fire our imagination more so than their male counterparts (barring, perhaps, Bob Dylan).

Maybe it’s the way they can somehow evoke more emotion in their delivery, or the way they make their voice as malleable as their musical styles; or maybe they just write better songs.

Whatever the case may be, there’ll always be a place in our hearts for the woman who’s not afraid to eviscerate her innermost feelings and put them into song. Which is why we at Today were more than happy to speak to women who have made a mark in the music scene both overseas and in Singapore.

Born in New Zealand, Alarice (pronounced air-lerreese) Thio is truly a “woman of the world”, having grown up in various countries around the world including India, UAE, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore and Australia, where she’s lived for eight years now.

She says she still feels Singaporean though — “My parents are Singaporean and my extended family is all here, only my brother is in Australia,” she said — and hopes to be able to play her music all around the region.

Her first EP, Songs For A Season (2008) was released to fair reviews and now she’s upped the ante with her second release, Sunday Afternoon, which was launched earlier this month. So far, the reception has been positive.

Her gig at the Esplanade last night was sold out, but fans can still catch her at Oosh this Sunday afternoon — no pun intended.

So what are the songs about?
The single Sunday Afternoon, I call my Jason Mraz-y, Colbie Caillat-y song — a happy, upbeat, cheeky song about a girl liking a guy but him not getting it. The other songs are about my life experiences and about my faith as well.

Some singer-songwriters need a ‘cabin in the woods’ to write. What about you?
Er, a lot of my songwriting usually takes place in the bathroom — but not when I’m doing any business! It’s because the bathroom acoustics are great for natural reverb, it’s almost like a karaoke room. And I think it sounds good, you tend to sing better and get better songs. At least I think so. I choose to write when I have a feeling that I need to get out.

You’re not comfortable on stage. True?
I still have stage fright. Yes, I’ve been doing this for a few years but it’s always good to have a bit of butterflies in the stomach, right? It motivates you. You need a bit of adrenaline, right? But no, it’s not easy for me to be onstage. Yes, I know it’s a contradiction, like why am I singing when I don’t like being onstage, right?

So, why should someone watch your show?
People say I sound a lot better live than on CD. When you do live, you get to share your stories with the audience, which you don’t get on the CD.


PHOTO: Catch Alarice Thio this Sunday, 3pm at Oosh (22 Dempsey Road). Tickets at $15 ($20 at the door),
order them at
TODAY, Friday January 29, 2010, PLUS MUSIC, PAGE 1