Night Moves
After its successful stint at Dempsey, Ryan Clift’s Tippling Club has finalized its new location in three units of shophouses at 34-38 Tanjong Pagar Road near the CBD. To open in December, Clift’s signature gastronomic fare and cocktails will remain intact (though the cocktail menu is being completely overhauled); with the new space comprising a bar, dining room and a private dining room on the second floor. For clubbers, the folks at St. James Power Station are in talks to open new dance space Club Toxic. Although details are still being firmed up, rumor has it that it might open by the end of this month. Stay tuned for more info.
Step To This
Meanwhile, dance fans of the arty kind can look forward to Singapore Dance Theatre’s ( exciting list of performances scheduled for next year. One of our most hardworking arts groups (they’re certainly one of the few that plans that far ahead), highlights include a reworking of Romeo and Juliet in March, another edition of Ballet Under the Stars at Fort Canning Park in July and the epic Don Quixote in December.
For Art’s Sake
More exciting news for the year ahead. With art blockbuster Art Stage ( taking place in Jan 16-19, major galleries and museums will also be putting up on special exhibitions, talks and tours throughout the month in conjunction with Art Week (Jan 13-19). To help you navigate through the smorgasbord of events, we’ll be putting together a special guide that will be available free with the January 10 issue of I-S, featuring the lowdown on all the major shows happening during the period, as well as interviews with industry experts and first-hand previews you won’t read anywhere else.


Leave a Comment

Multi-media artist Ho Tzu Nyen’s latest solo show PYTHAGORAS at Michael Janssen Gallery in Gillman Barracks is a compelling hodgepodge of video art, installation and music. He tells us about the inspiration behind the show.

How did you come up with the name?
Pythagoras was supposedly the first philosopher, but he was also the founder of a religion, where the disciples had to listen to their master's teachings from behind a screen or a veil of curtains so that one was able to focus entirely on just the voice without any visual distraction.  This was the starting point, or the organizational principle for this exhibition.

How was it conceptualized?
The show is essentially built around four works. The first is a 2009 piece called “NEWTON” (named after the scientist), the second is a six-minute fragment which I extracted from my 2009 work called “EARTH”, and which I renamed MILTON (after the poet of Paradise Lost). The third is a 2013 piece called “GOULD” (after the pianist), and the fourth is the new video work made for this exhibition, called “PYTHAGORAS”, which involves the projection of curtains onto a set of automated curtains. Then I worked on creating a system which allows me to show all four works in a single space, choreographed in such a way that they resonate and react with one another.

Tell us more about the video piece.
I find curtains to be highly fascinating objects. They are screens that veil but are, at the same time, screens for the projection of desires. They make known the presence of wind, passing through openings and cracks. But I'm also obsessed with the voice—voices in the head, voices hidden behind veils, disembodied voices, voices of authority and trickery.

What fascinates you as an artist?
I'm interested in sensations that can't be named.

PYTHAGORAS is on through Dec 15. Michael Janssen Gallery. Free.


Leave a Comment

The German Film Festival returns with a wide selection of genre films, from period dramas and romantic comedies to thrillers and Ulrich Seidl’s critically-acclaimed Paradise: Love and Paradise: Hope (Paradise: Faith is banned here). Here’s what not to miss.

Paradise: Love
A docu-drama equal parts illuminating and repulsive, this. An unflinching look into the dark nature of the human condition, Austrian director Ulrich Seidl examines the effect of loneliness and the elusive search for love through its main protagonist Teresa (Margaret Tiesel, winner of the best actress award for her role here at the recent Austrian Film Festival), a plus-sized recent divorcee who goes on a solo holiday to Kenya. Although quietly reserved at first, she soon gets sucked into the hedonistic lifestyle of similarly bored housewives hoping to find meaning in their lives by playing “sugar mamas” to young, eager Kenyan men.

But the sweet-natured Teresa lets emotions get in the way and starts to develop feelings for her hires, who in turn further abuse their relationships by acquiring more money from her as she ventures further into depression and rage. The film, beautifully lensed in long takes by Ed Lachman (The Virgin Suicides) and Wolfgang Thaler, disquietingly illustrates the thin line between sex, love and money, with the naturalistic Tiesel, an amateur actress, at the core of this devastating depiction. And the film’s raison d’etre, a girls’ night in where Teresa and friends objectifies a Kenyan stripper during the former’s birthday party, is tough to watch because of its ugliness and realism.
Nov 9, 11:45pm; Nov 14, 9:30pm.

Paradise: Hope
The last film in the Paradise series centers on Teresa’s teenage daughter Melanie, who falls for a 50-year-old trainer at a boot camp. The searing tension between the two leads (Melanie Lenz and Joseph Lorenz) is reason enough to watch this.
Nov 9, 9:25pm; Nov 16, 9:30pm.

Free Fall
A hardworking policeman (Hanno Kofler), whose wife is pregnant, starts to develop feelings for a charismatic cop (Max Riemelt). Unlike the flux of gay films out there, this one’s played out beautifully.
Nov 15, 11:15pm.

Nothing Bad Can Happen
The twisted debut film by Katrin Gebbe, which premiered at Cannes this year, centers on the tense and often violent relationship between a rebellious young man (Julius Feldmeier) and an elder man from a religious group.
Nov 16, 6:50pm.

Exit Marrakech
This scorching family drama by Caroline Link (the Oscar-winning Nowhere in Africa) stars The White Ribbon’s Samuel Schneider as a 17-year-old attempting to reconcile with his estranged father while being sucked into the underbelly of sleazy night clubs.
Nov 17, 8:30pm.

The festival is on through Nov 17. All films are screened at The Cathay, 2 Handy Rd., 6736-7310. $11 from


Leave a Comment

Vault This Way
Following licensing complications, one of our favorite hangouts The Vault ( has moved to 23 Circular Road at Boat Quay. The new space occupies a sprawling 5,500 sq. ft. spread over four shophouse units, split into a 40-seater Kitchen for bistro dining an 80-seater Lounge for drinking and dancing. Expect a similar aesthetic at the new digs with lots of dark brick and metal for a New York vibe. Even the same three-ton historic vault door has been reinstalled at the new premise. Some upcoming events to check out: An art exhibition by local artist Sufian Samsiyar on Nov 14, 8pm, and the popular Sunday Artists Market on Dec 8, 1pm. Another venue that's closed and is not relocating is Avalon, which finally shuttered its doors last week after a turbulent two years.

Beach, Please
If you've not gotten your tickets to this year’s ZoukOut (, happening Dec 13-14 at Siloso Beach, you’d better do it now. Pay just $98 for a one-day Happy Hour ticket (limited to 2,000) that are still available on the site, or get a two-day festival pass for $168. The big names in the year’s lineup include Martin Solveig, Seth Troxler and Afrojack, as well as Zouk residents Hong and Jeremy Boon and local up-and-comers Marco Weibel and The Professor.

Fair Game
Even with the Singapore Biennale just starting, exhibitors and artists are already gearing up for next year’s Art Apart Fair, which will take place Jan 17-19, 2014 at PARKROYAL at Pickering (3 Upper Pickering St., 6809-8888), held in conjunction with Art Week Singapore. Calls are open now for emerging and mid-career artists to have their works showcased at the fair, which will feature the theme “The Artists’ Garden” held inside a 2,000 sq. ft. presidential suite at the venue. More than 100 artworks will be featured, including participating artists from Indonesia, Russia, China and Vietnam. “The novel and picturesque hotel setting and unusual display options make for a lively and memorable experience,” says Utterly Art founder Pwee Kheng Hock, who participated at this year’s previous edition a couple of months back. Interested artists and exhibitors can email Rosalind at to book a spot at the show.


Leave a Comment

Local indie stores are reinventing and relocating to make way for even more fabulous buys.

Fashionistas perpetually crave new things, so it makes perfect sense that stores reinvent themselves to keep up with the times. Local multi-label menswear store K.I.N. (Know It Nothing) shut its Haji Lane outpost last month to focus on its number two outlet at Pact in Orchard Central. And lifestyle furniture store Fred Lives Here has just moved into the same space. Meanwhile, multi-store concept Actually consolidated its two stores into one at 313@somerset, and luxury flea market concept Robe Raiders recently moved into a new permanent home located inside an industrial warehouse. We chart the latest movements in the indie shopping scene to see what these newly relocated shops have to offer.

Then: K.I.N. and Fred Lives Here
K.I.N. was one of the first few fashion stalwarts along Haji Lane, selling hard-to-find international indie labels since 2008. Fred Lives Here, tucked along a quiet street off Orchard Road at Emerald Hill Road and operating on a by-appointment-only basis, was one of the most innovative home furnishing stores in town.

Now: Pact
The three-in-one concept store—previously featuring only K.I.N., cafe Kilo and hair salon Kizuki+Lim, set up earlier this year—recently expanded its floor space to include Fred Lives Here, with an unnamed art gallery joining the fray within the next month. The latest buzz is centered on the new 2,000 sq. ft. now home to Fred Lives Here, which carries funky furniture from Thailand’s Propaganda and the UK’s Ooh Deer.

Then: Robe Raiders Pop-Ups
Created by fashion designer Sarah Tan, fashion designer Resham Melwani and business development manager Claudia Sondakh, Robe Raiders have been selling new and used designer clothes at ad-hoc bazaars at venues like Kha and Palais Renaissance for the past three years, as well as through the online store

Now: Robe Raiders
The goods are the same—essentially a well-curated range of used but good-as-new fashion offerings from covetable luxury labels and past season designer items like Alexander Wang, Isabel Marant and 3.1 Phillip Lim at a fraction of the cost—but now they’re available for physical viewing five days a week in a 16,000 sq. ft. warehouse space.

Then: Fred Perry Laurel Shop
The former shop at Ann Siang Hill was styled after an eccentric English home with its mix of traditional, quirky vintage collectibles and modern industrial finishing—the only store here that carried the more premium Laurel Wreath Collection collection as well as collaborations with the likes of Raf Simons.

Now: Fred Perry Laurel Wreath Collection Shop
Its two-month old space at Mandarin Gallery is more mod, with a smorgasbord of vinyls decked on the walls like a hip indie record store. Currently on the racks are still sought-after Laurel Wreath collection, including apparels, accessories and shoes, for both men ($159 upwards) and women ($109 upwards), as well as collaborative pieces with fellow Brit designer Christopher Raeburn and Raf Simons ($239 upwards).

Then: Actually+, ActuallyActually and ActuallyARC
Over the past eight years, store owner Paul Khor has been working hard at his craft to bring exclusive funky indie labels to his three stores located all over town, including Arab Street and Seah Street. Now, he has realigned the brand by consolidating the different elements from the various shops into one.

Now: Actually
A best-of really, featuring ready-to-wear and accessories from labels like Freitag, Boy London, Kanken and Lazy Oaf, previously available separately at its various outlets, plus new brands like HUF and Joyrich—with more additions like Penfield, Suit and Vagabond dropping later this year. The vibe at this two-month old 800 sq.ft. store down at 313@somerset is still very lively, jam-packed with a colorful selection of clothing.


Leave a Comment

Forget the festivals, stop obsessing over big-name international acts. Our home-grown live scene has never been more vibrant.

The evolution of Singapore’s live scene over the last year or two has been pretty remarkable. And we’re not just talking about music, which is in ruder health than it’s been for a long time. Open mic sessions and comedy nights have become increasingly popular, with Home Club and Blu Jaz holding regular nights for aspiring stand-ups. Meanwhile, budding poets, artists and entrepreneurs get to show off at diverse events like SPORE Art Salon and PechaKucha, which open their doors to anyone with an idea and a Powerpoint slide. And a few enterprising start-ups are looking to make it easier than ever to organize, and discover, cool live events.

Of course, some of the old gripes remain: more hype (and money) for high-profile international names, punitively high rent costs and tricky licensing issues (for a particularly salutary story, see our interview with George Grover of the now defunct Broadcast HQ), and a grumbling, widespread refusal to accept that there’s local talent to be proud of.

So, to show otherwise and to celebrate all that’s great about what’s going on right now, we spoke to a bunch of people behind the scenes to find out what makes the whole thing tick.


When it comes to live music, there’s certainly a lot out there: From daily offerings at Timbre, to Blu Jaz’s weekly showcase of lesser know jazz and world music talents, and Hard Rock Cafe’s weekly offerings. We spoke to up-and-coming Gareth Fernandez, who performs regularly at Timbre and Blu Jaz, about the scene.

There seem to be more gigs now than ever.   
The music scene here is definitely growing. I’ve performed at and been to so many events in the past few months, including the SGMUSO House Party and MAAD Sounds. There are tons of live shows with great acts going on and more opportunities for performers to strut their stuff.

What do audiences look for at a live gig?
It’s about having a good time out with your friends. I recently went to see Charlie Lim and the Mothership’s gig at Blu Jaz, where he had completely packed the place out. It was a ticketed event too, which shows people are willing to pay good money, even on a Thursday evening, to go out and appreciate music.

Your thoughts on our live music venues?  
The live venues here are great. I’m grateful for places like Esplanade, Hood Bar and Café, Blu Jaz and Timbre, that regularly feature original music. They understand that new artists need a platform for expression to truly pursue their wildest dreams. I do hope that more establishments will spring up in future, like more jazz or soul bars.

Fernandez performs next at Singapore Originals: The Auditory Effect. Nov 27, 7:30pm, Timbre @ The Substation.

For more rocking live gigs, don’t miss:

Greg Lyon’s Monster Trio
Saxophonist Grey Lyons, organist Chok Kerong and drummer Darren Moore perform a heady jazz set. Nov 8, 9:30pm. Blu Jaz. First drink charge.

Shirlyn and The UnXpected
The brilliant Shirlyn Tan’s undeniably rocking set is still popular after all these years. Every Fri, 10pm. Hard Rock Café. First drink charge.

Blues Jam featuring Raw Earth/Chicken Shack Revival
Smashing blues and rock tunes by two outstanding bands.
Every Sat, 9pm. Barbershop. Free.


For budding artists and poets, the monthly SPORE Art Salon is one platform to showcase their work. New cafe Lowercase also holds a new night featuring a multi-disciplinary set of new talents. Salon’s founder Olivia Kwok tells us why it’s one of the most experimental nights in town.

What happens at the Salon?
The three-hour event usually starts with a 20-minute session of life drawing, which continues between the stage performances that follow. There could be poetry, music, dance, theater, film or visual art. No two editions are the same. There seems to be a big “refresh rate” in audience for each edition, which widens our reach. There are about 80 people on each night.

How has the Salon grown over the years?
We moved from a little cafe in Chinatown, to a one time stint at the now defunct Pigeonhole, then had a good year or two at Blu Jaz. We turn three in November so will be having an extended line up of 10 featured artists comprising of various performance artists and poets.

The next SPORE Art Salon is on Nov 26, 7:30pm. Artistry. $10.

For more artistic presentations, don’t miss:

Lowercase Sessions
This new night at hip new café Lowercase feature poets, artists and writers. “These sessions are created for artists with a stronger and more creative bent, usually those who are a bit more leftfield,” says events coordinator Josh Q.
Nov 8, 15, 18, 8pm. Lowercase. Free.

destination: INK
An established open mic night that showcases new local poets, musicians and storytellers.
Nov 11, 7:30pm. Blu Jaz. $4.


For laugh-out-loud comedy, Jonathan Atherton’s weekly (and perpetually jam-packed) Talk Cock Comedy nights are a must, alongside Kumar’s fortnightly stint at Home Club and the weekly open mic Comedy Masala, if you’re keen to discover budding stand-ups.

What never fails to make Singaporeans laugh?
Making fun of Malaysia is a sure fire way to get a rise out of Singaporeans—almost as much as making fun of Singapore in Malaysia.

Why shouldn’t we just go to a club or the movies?
For an intelligent person live comedy is the ultimate form of entertainment. It demands more in terms of thought process and forces you to confront your ideology. It also spurs post-show conversation, as many serious issues are dealt with in a comedic context.

What would you like to see more of in the scene?
I’d like to see more promoters who actually care about comedy, who try to foster the art rather than focus solely on the business. At a grass roots level the Singapore scene is very encouraging. The promoters come from comedy backgrounds and we work together in a complimentary way. We feel a responsibility for nurturing the new wave of local talent, for building an indigenous comedy culture.

Atherton appears at Talk Cock Comedy. Every Wed, 8:30pm. Blu Jaz. $10.

For more riotous comedy nights, don’t miss:

One Mic Stand
The irrepressible Kumar unleashes his acid-tongued jokes on a riotous crowd.
Second and fourth Thu of the month, 8pm. Home Club. $15 one drink included.

Comedy Masala
Hosted by Umar Rana, this weekly comedy night is a must to discover new comedic talents.
Every Tue, 9pm. Home Club. $15 one drink included.

The Comedy Guide to Singapore
A one-man standup comedy show featuring new talents.
Every Wed, Fri, 8pm. Mulligan’s Irish Pub & Restaurant. $20.


Poetry and story slamming sessions can be quite a hoot, with budding as well as established talents like Poetry Slam organizer Deborah Emmanuel, braving the stage to share their creative work (and beat one another in the process). Emmanuel tells us about this riotous scene.

How is the vibe?
It’s quite casual, with a host to show you that poetry doesn’t have to be stiff. The gigs are held at places like Blu Jaz, Home Club, or Aliwal Arts Centre. Poetry Slams and open mics draw people who are there to be turned on intellectually or emotionally. They are respectful but want to have fun, so there’s laughter, audience reaction and silence when it matters.

How have the numbers grown?
The Poetry Slam competitions this year have drawn 40-50 people per event, with highs of 100. We get participating audiences, but most of the time we keep it among the four or five of us on stage.

What about our talent pool?
It’s great. There’s a nice amount of diversity which grows as we are exposed to writers from other cultures and new ways of writing and performing.

What do you want to see more of?
Fearlessness! Open mouths, arms and hearts.

The next Poetry Slam is on Nov 28, 7:30pm. Blu Jaz. $5.

For more slamming action, don’t miss:

This is Awkward
A story slamming competition featuring talents from NYU Tisch Asia. Three audience members will be invited to share their stories on stage.
Nov 11, 8pm. Home Club. $8 one drink included.


And for everything else, there are creative presentations like PechaKucha Night and Lean Startup Circle, where photographers, entrepreneurs, journalists, writers, philanthropists and everyone else get to see and present works in casual, fun settings. At PechaKucha, each participant gets to present works in a “20 x 20” format (20 slides for 20 seconds each). Founder Jon Siegel tells us what to expect at these networking nights.

How’s the vibe at PechaKucha?
PechaKucha is a casual affair, no suits or ties, and there’s easy access to drinks. We have an energetic crowd and speakers, all of which create great vibes. PechaKucha Night is similar to TED in terms of curating speakers from different backgrounds for innovative idea creation. If a person is motivated and passionate about sharing unique ideas, we are open to having them speak.

What are the no-nos here?
One thing we are making sure of is that all of the speeches are not sales talks. At an earlier event, some speakers attempted a sales talk and it completely turned off the audience. We learned a lesson from this, and we now pay more attention to presentation contents beforehand.

How’s the response so far?
We’ve hosted six events with 60 speakers. The audience seems to have stabilized around 200-250 people for each event but we’ve had some events where numbers blew past 400. We love it when everyone leaves with a smile and a look of determination from being deeply inspired.

The next PechaKucha Night is in January, 2014. If you’d like to participate or simply attend, log onto PechaKucha Singapore's website

For more cool creative presentations, don’t miss:

Lean Startup Circle
See the latest efforts from entrepreneurs at this popular networking session.
Nov 12, 7pm. Blu Jaz. $10 one drink included.

A social gathering featuring a cross section of artists, academics, designers and entrepreneurs to share little-heard, cool ideas.
Nov 20, 7:30pm. Blu Jaz. Pay as you wish.  

Business Rocks!
Meet business owners and entrepreneurs who are eager to share stories and rant about the start-up industry.
Nov 26, 7:30pm. Blu Jaz. $25 two drinks included.

The upcoming TED session will focus on the latest global inventions, with inventors and designers from the US and Korea.
Dec 7, 10am. Venue to be confirmed. Register at TEDXSingapore's website.


Leave a Comment

Much missed restaurant-bar-record shop concept Broadcast HQ in Little India, which held live DJ gigs from cool collectives like Darker Than Wax, closed down three months ago after it was refused a PE Category 1 entertainment license. Co-owner George Grover tells us what happened.

What was the problem?
We were licensed to a Category 2 for Public Entertainment level, stipulating “No live music” but recorded music was permitted, which we presumed meant we were permitted to have DJs. Singapore Police Force officers, during one of our nights, highlighted that DJs were considered to be live performance. We stopped all our DJ nights while we appealed to obtain a category 1 license, but after several months, our appeal was rejected.

How did the closure dampen the scene?
It means there is one less venue that is willing and motivated to support local music and artists. More broadly, we think that people considering a similar concept in Singapore will think twice before trying to execute it. Without a doubt, all healthy local music scenes around the globe have developed through a strong grass roots music scene. This is impossible to develop if artists don’t have venues that will employ them, promote them and provide them with a forum to get their music out to the public. If there is no support for PE Category 1 licensing outside the main entertainment hubs, there will be no strong alternative music scene.


Leave a Comment