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X-treme Jamming

It was the first time that NP had won in the annual inter-tertiary band competition in its six-year history. Last year it came in second. Organised by the National University of Singapore (NUS) Cultural Activities Club, the JamX finals were held at the Atrium@Orchard on 17 January. The event attracted more than 100 people.

Winner “Soul’D Out”, the five-member band complemented with two vocalists, impressed the audience and judges with the cover version of the song, “Attitude Dance” by Tower of Power. They outshone seven other bands.

Guitarist, Muhammad Ashraf, 20, a final-year Film, Sound & Video student said of his band’s victory, “I felt it…paid-off all that hard work of practicing…until 11[pm], until the security guard chased us out. It was all worth it.”

Besides Muhammad Ashraf, the band includes keyboardist Kenneth Teh, 19, and saxophonist Gerald See, 18, both Information Technology students, bassist Revel T. Ramos, a 21-year-old Business Studies student and drummer Justin Teo, a 23-year-old Electrical Engineering student. Except for Gerald, who is in his second year, the others are in their final year of studies in NP.

Their two vocalists, Suhaili Binte Aziz, 21, and Mathilda Emilian D’Silva, 23, are not from school. Suhaili is a part-time vocalist with Suria while Mathilda is an undergraduate at Murdoch University in Perth.

Behind the glamorous moment on the stage was months’ of serious individual and group practice. Choosing the right kind of music that suited the band’s style of playing was also one of the important elements to success. The music they played for this competition was a combination of genres such as funk, soul and rock.

“At the very first note that we play, you already feel like dancing so it’s the kind of song we want to play. And…everybody gets the chance to showcase their skills, so that’s the right song,” added Ashraf.

The band members felt the band “t-issue”, from NUS, was their strongest competitor and felt “pressurised throughout the competition, but we were well prepared for it”.

Gerald said, ” The other groups were fantastic… We enjoyed ourselves a lot and I’m sure the other bands also enjoyed themselves a lot.”

One of the judges Mr David Chia, a producer and sound engineer from Power 98, remarked on the success of Soul’D Out in an e-mail interview: “For a seven-piece band to coordinate and play as one is not an easy task, let alone creating good music! But this band certainly proved everyone in the audience and the panel of judges wrong. They not only got their act together, they technically surpassed a lot of local bands, even international ones in terms of skills, showmanship, creativity and artistic integrity. This is one band I have to shout about!”

He was most impressed by “their professionalism and their seriousness in making music” and described them as “extraordinary”. He was confident that “they’ll be BIG one day if they don’t lose sight of what they have set out to do – Making Good Funky Music”.

Taking part in JamX 2004 helped strengthened the band members’ friendship and improved their skills due to long hours of intensive practice.

“It has benefitted us in a way that we get exposed to the local scene and gain experience,” said drummer, Justin.



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