Blog: Don’t Support Local Music
Image: Aaron Lim
When someone tells me to support local music, I cringe. My eyebrows meet each other in the middle and create a mini valley worthy of tourist dollars. The corner of my top lip is raised, strip-teasing some teeth. I make a sound, most notably the pirate sounding, “Err…”
I don’t hear this statement often these days compared to about a decade ago, but when I do, psychosomatically, it turns my face into a drunken looking gnome.
The call to action to partake in a good-natured cause should be left to secondary school discipline masters. In a desperate cry for validation, these so called flag bearers of local music (or arts; doesn’t matter) become Mormons of the art form.
My dread lies in the degradation –through said expression- of the community of Singaporean musicians and artists that, to me, is already on par with international standards. Just because someone in Toa Payoh disregard your brand of rock & roll or Rembrandt, doesn’t make you any lesser of an artistic mortal. You don’t have to prove them wrong through a pathetic form of words like “SUPPORT LOCAL MUSIC”; all you got to do is do what you do best –create your best ever work. This you will never reach, because when you do, you’re finished.
Those who rally on local music and arts best succeed when they do so behind their work -their product of competence. And honestly, as someone who only writes about arts and music, seeing it from the outside, this is the only way forward.
By boldly asserting that people have to support you is akin to mothers asking their children to eat their vegetables. Notice that when the irritating nagging stops, the space to explore possibilities of eating vegetables opens. A few years on, you’ll be raping broccoli and spinach in your mouth. All that you will be found guilty of is ownership, that what you found is yours, –and this is what the local art community must understand and use as a tool; which I feel most don’t.
Have you heard Jamaicans screaming, “Support reggae” or the late Steve Jobs going, “Support Apple”? What about Staedtler telling you to support their range of pencils, or Marlboro asking you to support their ever fragrant fags? No. They don’t beg you to do so. They just push their product as far out as possible; leaving you with the only choice you have -to choose.
Why are you asking locals to support local arts when your actual demographic is the whole fucking world? If you are pushing Singlish music like the Kopi Kat Klan did, then I would understand. If you look at your fan base and find more people loving your craft in the region or in Europe rather than in Singapore, seriously, there’s nothing to be disheartened there. Most Singaporeans are busy, they don’t have time to sit in the park and read a book let alone savour your art form.
Love your own work first. Be local, think global. Unlike politics or currencies, music and arts have never resided strictly behind national lines. Your art form is borderless, requires no passport renewal and is deserving of a wider audience. It will only happen when you allow it to.
So please, stop making local art sound desperate with the “support local” crap.
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