A Sensory Flood

Interview by Caitlin de Laure
Photographs courtesy of Jonathan Kiat

Something strangely magical happens when sound meets image and that ephemeral gratification is what Syndicate seeks to perpetuate. With resident media artist, Brandon Tay, Syndicate incessantly pushes boundaries in the audio-visual arts on every front.

The Syndicate Subsessions materialised in partnership with The Substation, taking their vanguard craft from the club setting to a black box theatre, and now, to the international stage with SG:IO. We speak to Kiat, a heavyweight in the local creative scene himself, on bringing our local brand of experimental music to the world.

Did performing as part of SG:IO feel different from performing solely as Syndicate?

No, I don’t think we changed any of our presentation formats because it was SG:IO. In fact, we were all pleasantly surprised when we were asked by Singapore Tourism Board (STB) to present our show in a fairly undiluted format overseas. It was nice that they trusted us with our content and didn’t try to get too involved in the process. In return, we put on the best show and presented the best content that we could, be it visually or musically.

I think what’s important for us, as creators, is that we try to present ourselves and our craft in the most honest way possible, a way that’s true to what we want to create. And, hopefully, the audience will enjoy the experience the way we intended it to be.

singapore inside out brandon tay syndicate a sensory flood

Syndicate collaborated with an array of international artists on the tour, such as DJ ChaCha, Kidkanevil, FROMPAMM, Florence Villeminot from Hold Your Horses!, and rapper Nocando. Please tell us what the collaboration process was like.

The process was extremely relaxing; it didn’t feel contractual at all. This is because we already had some sort of relationship with the various artists, except for ChaCha. Since we respect each other’s works and through our works we had an idea of each other’s personality, when we came together, it just felt very complementary. Although we didn’t know where it was going to end up, there was an underlying faith that through this process of collaboration, be it impromptu jams or certain pre-discussed ideas, we would end up with something new and fresh.

singapore inside out brandon tay syndicate a sensory flood

In the case of ChaCha, despite the geographical distance, as she’s based in Shanghai, and the fact that I had never heard her play live before, somehow on stage in Beijing—it just clicked right off the bat. The fusion of our music from Singapore and her soulful Chinese vocals was something so fresh that even I hadn’t heard anything like that before. That was part of the collaborative fun; it felt like old friends discussing new ideas.

I think that if you want to create something that’s beyond your own resources, beyond your own two hands and feet, then it’s ideal to work with other people to go into territories you never thought you would explore and vice versa. You need an ecosystem of talent to help things to grow larger and faster through synergy.

Read more in The U Press N˚10 (Singapore edition).