What happens when laptop-wielding singer-songwriter meets keyboard-toting DJ? Heralded as one of the most exciting artists by local press, Jasmine Sokko is an electronic self-taught producer. While composition is a mostly solitary process for Jasmine...
What happens when laptop-wielding singer-songwriter meets keyboard-toting DJ?
Heralded as one of the most exciting artists by local press, Jasmine Sokko is an electronic self-taught producer. While composition is a mostly solitary process for Jasmine, she is eager to be teaming up with Amanda Ling for The Great Singapore Replay.
Amanda, the established artist of the pair, was first scouted by Electrico for her natural flair with the keyboard. She now flexes her key-hopping prowess with the instrumental rock band, In Each Hand a Cutlass.
For The Great Singapore Replay, the pair is tasked with the reimagination of Driven by Concave Scream. With a song that so vividly paints the desperation and vulnerability of a failing relationship, Amanda and Jasmine have quite the journey ahead.
Laptop Vs Keys
Jasmine’s weapon of choice is a laptop, because it gives her the autonomy to explore and create sonic soundscapes. It's also particularly helpful since the laptop allows her “to throw in as many things I [she] can’t actually play”.
However, when working from her laptop, Jasmine always has to be mindful of sounding too ‘electronic’, too clean, with “no emotion going on”. A song after all has to connect and move her listeners.
Amanda, on the other hand, prefers the tactile satisfaction an instrument brings. She’s all about emotive intention – think songs born out of heartache. Recently she’s switching things up and channeling her energy into music that uplifts and inspires.
Amanda loves finding the right sounds and textures that will bring an emotion to life. Her work in In Each Hand A Cutlass provides a preview: it’s powerful and all-consuming, like submerging yourself into a carefully constructed atmospheric landscape.
How to Have Your Cake and Eat it
Despite differences in technical preferences, the pair has common grounds that hint at how this collaboration might come to life. With a shared love for deep house, maybe we can expect the same bass-heavy treatment applied to Driven. It is also not hard to see this duo bringing a touch of jazz-inspired electronic stylings to the project. Right now, this remains a mystery. But we do get a glimpse of their approach to production.
“The whole process is a lot like baking a cake,” said Jasmine.
Probably the most delectable way possible to describe their creative process, she explains further: the melody and lyrical content is the cake itself, while the instrumentation is the icing on top. At its very core, the cake has to first taste good, then you can add in the sprinkles for a final flourish. (Disclaimer: Jasmine does not bake.)
Will the collaboration be a piece of cake for these artists? There is bound to be an exchange of sorts. Amanda, who claims to be lagging in tech could tap on Jasmine’s production tricks. Jasmine on the other hand, not confident with instruments, is eager to see Amanda’s rocker cred in action with her keyboard.
This team definitely has the right ingredients for a remake to watch for.
To oversimplify, Driven by Concave Scream is about a guy experiencing heartbreak while driving in 1997. After Amanda and Jasmine give it a “modern twist with electronic beats”, it is best described by Jasmine as “A girl experiencing heartbreak in a thunderstorm in 2017.”
“The first time we sat down to work on the song, I felt like we entered this state of flow. It feels like you’re teleported into another world,” says Jasmine.
Jasmine describes a world with its own language and a population of two. It’s a world where electronic music and technical jargons are the official languages and conversations spark in every direction. It’s also a world full of chill days and intense highs.
“The process of making music together is a mix of easy, go-with-the-flow moments versus intense ones. It’s easy to talk about it but when we got to the centerpiece, where the punchline is, we went into the details, the layering, the sound, the voice and even the plugins,” says Amanda.
The intensity also comes from a tension between honouring the original and exploring new grounds. “We need to decide on what instrument or soundscape to use. Because we want to keep the emotions of the song but we want to venture into something new as well,” says Jasmine.
Eventually, the pair decided that vocal layers will be crucial to the end product. “When it comes to electronic music, there is always this notion that emotion is missing. So layering a vocal element helps people to relate more [to the song],” Jasmine explains.
It’s safe to say that the duo has gone through thorough considerations throughout the process, completely absorbed during each meeting.
“I remember leaving her place and feeling like, woah, I just came back to the world,” says Jasmine.
A Strange Union
“Sometimes we will meet up and not talk about anything related to music but somehow it also affects what we do with music,” says Jasmine.
To Amanda, “coming together and knowing each other just as individuals,” is important. And, for her sessions with Jasmine, she came to the conclusion that what they have is “a very strange union of friendship.”
Jasmine’s inquisitive nature for a broad range of subjects makes for interesting discussions. So much so that anything goes. “It’s very interesting that I’m able to have a conversation with her about various things. Even about my current journey, which is hard to approach people with because they don’t get it. But she kind of gets it,” says Amanda.
Amanda’s sharing on the other hand has set the ever-curious Jasmine off with even more topics to mine. “Amanda is like a Zen mentor to me. She talks a lot about things I never knew but am interested in.”
Even budding musicians can stand to gain from their many discussions. “Growing up in a very pragmatic society, I wished that people around me would be more understanding that the path to success in life isn’t simply condensed down to that few career paths, like doctors, businessmen or lawyers. But then again, all this resistance makes me want to do what I am doing even more,” says Jasmine.
Amanda spurs her on and encourages her to do all she can before other responsibilities set in. “I’m always telling her to just go at it because by the time you hit 30, there’s a whole different life to think about. And I’m blessed that I had that time.”
So it seems that turning resistance to fuel your passion and going full throttle while you’re still young, is really the advice here that this “strange union” has for aspiring artists.