Isnin, 21 Oktober 2013

The Star Online: Entertainment: Music

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Music

Peeling back the years


Bananarama is still rocking, but the duo know audiences just want to hear their retro hits.

British 1980s pop group Bananarama can no longer hit the high notes of some of their past hit songs when they perform at concerts these days – and they gamely embrace that as part of growing older.

Keren Woodward, one-half of the group that is now a duo instead of a trio as in the 1980s, says in a telephone interview from London: "We've had to slightly lower a couple of them. When we put out Love In The First Degree as a single, it was slightly speeded up and it became very, very high pitch.

"As you get older, your voice gets slightly lower, so we would sound like we were on helium or something if we were to sing it in the same key."

Woodward, 52, and Sara Dallin, 51, will be in Singapore tomorrow to perform at the Retrolicious Reunion! concert at Fort Canning Park together with fellow 1980s stars Belinda Carlisle and Rick Astley.

Though they have newer songs – the Now Or Never EP was released in September – they are under no illusion that most fans go to their shows to hear them sing their hits of three decades ago. Their set list includes 1980s tunes such as Venus, Love In The First Degree and I Heard A Rumour.

"Obviously, the Singapore show we're doing is a retro show.

"Going to a 1980s show, you can't suddenly start showcasing the new album," says Woodward.

Yet it is not just old-time fans who are coming to their shows. She adds that they are seeing a lot of young adults and teenagers at their gigs, too.

Explaining why that era appeals to people who were too young to experience it then, she says: "I think it's a 1980s thing. Everyone was very individualistic, they had their own look. It was a really good, fun era. The 1990s in Britain was a bit more doom and gloom and was not really fun, everyone was trying to be cool."

Her 26-year-old son, Tom, from a former relationship with model David-Scott Evans, celebrates the decade, too.

"When he was in university, they had regular 1980s nights where they wore the fashion and danced to the music," says Woodward, who has been in a relationship since the 1990s with Andrew Ridgeley from 1980s pop duo Wham!.

And yes, she adds, her son's friends are aware that she is from Bananarama. "Recently he was at a festival, dancing with his shirt off. He had had a few drinks and someone had written on his back in red paint, 'My mum is in Bananarama'."

Woodward formed Bananarama with childhood friend Dallin and their mutual friend Siobhan Fahey in 1979.

Although they had their beginnings in the punk rock scene in the late 1970s, their first four albums were commercial hits.

Their debut album, Deep Sea Skiving (1983), peaked at No 7 on the British charts. The next three albums produced hits such as Robert De Niro's Waiting..., Venus and I Want You Back.

Fahey left in 1988 and formed Brit Award-winning dark-pop duo Shakespears Sister. She was replaced by singer Jacquie O'Sullivan, who left in 1991 to form disco outfit Slippry Feet.

Bananarama have continued as a duo since then. Woodward says they will be busy for the next two years as they will be working on a new album, their 11th, as well as tour the United States.

"When we first started, I thought that we couldn't possibly do it past the age of 25 because I'll be too old," she says with a laugh.

"And then you think, hmm, maybe I can push it to 30... and then you just stop thinking." – The Straits Times, Singapore/Asia News Network

Va va voom time


Pop princess Shruthi sets her sights on Europe as she collaborates with German producers.

IF life is a rollercoaster, then homegrown singer Shruthi Jayashankar must be having the best ride of her life. At only 18, the talented young singer has chalked up another milestone in her emerging career, having secured a collaborative effort with German remixers/producers Pascall Dolle and Jurgen T. Falchle for a European release at the end of the year.

Shruthi is thrilled and considers the collaboration one of her biggest dreams.

"I'm completely bowled over and I think I need to pinch myself (laughs). It's surreal and I never imagined that this great opportunity would knock on my door. Not every 18-year-old has a chance to work with international producers and I am really excited," said Shruthi, beaming with joy.

Despite being born in Chennai, India, she practically grew up in Malaysia. Her father works in a French engineering firm, and her parents have been in Malaysia for over 20 years.

More importantly, Shruthi has made Kuala Lumpur her home base to carve out a music career.

Her upcoming collaborative effort will help introduce the R&B hip hop sensation's English singles to a broader audience.

"After carving a name in the Malaysian music scene with two Tamil albums, it is time to spread my wings and try out new things beyond the comfort of my mother tongue. I know I'm in good hands as Pascal and Jurgen are renowned for their music which fuses electronic beats with acoustic instruments," she added.

The collaboration proves to be a huge step for the young lady, who picked up Carnatic music at the tender age of four.

German producer Pascal Dolle is working on an English remake of ShruthiĆ¢¿¿s Tamil song 'Va.'

German producer Pascal Dolle is working on an English remake of Shruthi's Tamil song Va.

At 11, she went on to mainstream music and has never looked back.

In 2010, she first album – Life Is A Mystery (under Rock Unite Music) – was judged Best Local Indian Album at the Anugerah Industri Muzik, making Shruthi the youngest winner in the history of theawards.

Rock Unite Music represents Shruthi and Pascal (in Asia and Australia). The label's chief operating officer Geraldine Loh decided to combine their talents, viewing it as a perfect collaboration.

"It's all about opportunities and timing. When I took on to manage Pascal in Asia, I went a step further to collaborate his talents with Shruthi as their style of music is centred on dance-pop. Plus, the collaboration provides Shruthi with a good avenue to branch out and hone her music for the English market," said Loh.

The German knob-twiddlers are working on an English remake of Shruthi's Tamil song Va (composed by Saran Narayanan) from her sophomore Tamil album with the same name – and a new track Get To Me (composed by Australian songwriter Hannah Brown).

Some songs will be recordedonline where the melody will be composed in Germany, while vocal recordings are done in Malaysia. The final recordings will be done live at Pascal's studio in Germany before Shruthi's tour starts in end of the year.

"Jurgen and I believe that these songs are a perfect representation of Shruthi. At only 18, she's such a talented and beautiful girl. The original version of both songs have a wonderful base melody and after our remixing, it will be perfect for the European dance scene," said Pascal, who had previously worked on a remix of Va in conjunction with the album launch in June.

To further push the songbird into the European limelight, Pascal and Jurgen are also composing two new tracks – Drops and Angels With One Wing.

"Both are dance tracks with some nice progressive sounds in the likes of David Guetta or Avicii. These dance tracks are very much in the style of Shruthi's genre of music and will challenge her to explore a new variation to her singing style," said Pascal.

Pascal is no stranger in the European electronic dance music arena, having worked on over 50 official releases (singles, remixes, and compilations) on a number of labels including Universal, Warner and Sony.

As a key figure in the German techno movement in the 1990s, the Frankfurt-based musician has sold close to one million records and compilations worldwide in the house and techno arena.

The entertainer has also released several club house compilation albums, titled Deep City Grooves, which were recorded at different cities (from San Diego, Kuala Lumpur and Paris).

The team plans to wrap up the recordings by this month. Come November, Shruthi will be making her inaugural trip to Europe to promote her release. "I can't wait to visit some of the historical sites in Paris and London! It is my first trip to Europe and I can't quite contain the excitement. I've been learning French since fourth grade (eight-years-old) and I'm looking forward to exercise my French skills," enthused the straight-A former student of Maz International school in Petaling Jaya, Selangor.

Shruthi has recently completed her American Degree Programme at Taylors University College and is on a six-month break before furthering her studies in anthropology in New York next year.

She has recently dabbled into acting and has just completed filming her first Malay horror thriller flick, Cara Mengundang Hantu, directed by M. Subash (Pensil, Sumpahan Puaka). She jumped at the challenge due to her interest to explore the performing arts.

"I never thought that acting would be so much fun. I play a hard-headed college student, named Shruthi, who scorns on anything superstitious and unscientific.

"The character imitates me in real life as a passionate singer which is awesome. I would consider it the perfect role for me," said Shruthi, who has been approached to act in another two upcoming movies, also directed by Subash. With so much going on, Shruthi is all set for an exhilarating journey.


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