Man at His Best

Interview: Gentle Bones and MYRNE on B4NGER PROJECT

How did the B4NGER PROJECT come about?

BY Derrick Tan | Mar 30, 2018 | Music

Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile, David Byrne & St. Vincent, Jay-Z & Kanye West. What do they have in common with Gentle Bones & MYRNE? Answer: Solo acts who partner up to release a collaborative studio album

B4NGER PROJECT sees Singaporeans Gentle Bones (Joel Tan) & MYRNE (Manfred Lim) injecting their creative juices and complementing each other's musical styles. Tadah, a hook-heavy synthpop LP is born.

We had a chat with Gentle Bones & MYRNE to get the lowdown on the B4NGER PROJECT and what made them dabble with digits.

Esquire: How did this collaboration begin?

Gentle Bones: It started 5 years ago when we were acquainted. My first song, 'Until We Die', was released and MYRNE approached me to remix the song, which became an official remix. 

Two years later, I went to him for advice with the tracks on the Geniuses and Thieves EP and sneaked a request to remix a track from my EP, which he agreed. The next year, we caught up again and started writing together. It became B4NGER PROJECT.

Esquire: Tell us more about the direction of this album and what do you both like to achieve.

MYRNE: I would like to present a tongue-in-cheek aspect as a producer. This album doesn't have a serious message or specific art direction that we're trying to convey. For me, I wanted to show versatility by experimenting with instrumentals and step out of my comfort zone. The entire album was mixed, mastered, and produced in my bedroom. I want to demonstrate that this is achievable with the right skills and without any fancy equipment in Singapore.

Esquire: Numbers seem to be a trend here, as seen on the tracklist. How did this come about?

MYRNE: When we started writing music for the album, the beats weren't named because there were no vocals, choruses, and hooks. So we labelled them as project 1, 2, and so on. As the album takes shape, the tracks were still named after their project numbers. We thought why not retain and incorporate the numbers into their song titles.

Gentle Bones: Ju1y was the first song that started the ball rolling.

Esquire: Why 10 songs for B4NGER PROJECT? Are there more songs recorded?

MYRNE: We wrote a fair number of songs and recorded them. With '11' and '12', what words can we incorporate them in? We want to keep the album concise. It's rare for an individual to listen to an album once through in this music-streaming era and we have to compete with the English-speaking foreign markets too. There's a chance that you'll discover a song on our album you'll like, even if you have different musical influences.

Esquire: How do you guys gel your various inspirations and ideas together?

Gentle Bones: It was easy because of the smooth writing process. I would meet Manfred to churn out beats that's worth half a song. I would bring it back home to continue and return to him to edit the tracks. We knew from the beginning that we want to produce a sound that's unfamiliar to both of us. The B4NGER PROJECT came together quite nicely as he is versatile and reliable with his production. When we had a good idea, we could complete the song quickly.

Esquire: Tell us some memorable experiences during the recording process.

Gentle Bones: Manfred's popular with the ladies.

MYRNE: I've learned plenty about love from Joel after I ended my relationship with my first girlfriend last March. For the record, the entire production was done in my bedroom while Joel recorded his vocals at another studio. We were able to produce many songs in the same space as our inspiration came from the things around us.

Gentle Bones: Knowing that Manfred could do anything in his bedroom gave us the freedom to do whatever we wanted to do. When working with a huge team, the songs that I wrote will be given to a producer who'll oversee the mixing and mastering. It's a stark difference as the whole process can be done in his room. It was fun writing alongside production as I've never done this before.

Esquire: If I am allowed to listen to only one song on this album, which track would you recommend? 

MYRNE: My favourite is 'S3OUL'. Most songs on the album are upbeat and tongue-in-cheek.

Gentle Bones: My favourite one is '7ove You'.

Esquire: What are some habits you'll do before recording or performing live?

Gentle Bones: I like to sing along to 'Reminder' by The Weeknd in the car to warm up my vocals.

MYRNE: I'll get myself into a chill mood before heading into the studio

Gentle Bones + MYRNE: There's Kopi Peng too.

MYRNE: We like to chill at the coffee shop, sip some Kopi Peng, and talk about life. 

Esquire: Which venue do you prefer to perform in? An intimate indoor setting or an outdoor festival-like space? 

Gentle Bones: Festivals for me. I enjoy the outdoor festival vibe. 

MYRNE: I'll go with the intimate setting. People are focused on the music, ambience, drinks, and lighting instead. For me, DJs are curating a mood that the crowd should be feeling. Although the DJ plays in the background, they do hear the music and response positively when a great song is played.

Esquire: Any interesting qualities you've noticed about each other?

Gentle Bones: Manfred had a positive influence on the lyrics I've written for this album. We had different perspectives on certain topics and that opened my mind up to different things.

MYRNE: I've learned how to immortalise emotions through songwriting. I've also discovered that Joel can sing anything on any beat!

Esquire: Name a 'can't live without' style essential.

Gentle Bones: It has got to be the Uniqlo Supima T-shirt.

MYRNE: I love that too, especially for the weather here in Singapore. 

B4NGER PROJECT is out now on iTunes and is available for streaming on Spotify and Apple Music.

Wait, there's more. Gentle Bones and MYRNE will perform at a launch show later this month to celebrate the release of B4NGER PROJECT. Linying will make a special guest appearance, and MYRNE will close the night with a DJ set. 

THE BANGER PROJECT SHOW will be held on April 27 at The Pavilion at Far East Square. Tickets are available for purchase now, starting at SGD35. Psst, early bird tickets are available from now to April 4, 11:59 pm or while stocks last.