Touted as Singapore's premier electro-pop artiste and Asia's breakout electro-pop act of 2012, musician-producer Eli T. has drawn attention to how diverse musical talents can spring from Singapore.
The 30-year-old Singaporean's electro-pop album, "Revolt", debuted in March this year, and he has entered into distribution deals across America, Canada, Korea, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore.
Over the past year, Eli has been nominated for four awards for his work in 'Revolt' — two awards for Best Singer/Songwriter and Best Solo Artist for the Artists In Music Awards 2012 held at Hollywood, one award for Best Electronic Artiste at the Ontario New Music Awards 2012 and one award for Best Electronic Artist at the Toronto Independent Music Awards 2012.
Eli was also the only Singaporean artiste to perform for Men's Fashion Week 2012 at Marina Bay Sands and the only Singaporean act that performed at New Zealand's City Showcase, an event that features some of the best up and coming talent in the world.
In an interview with Yahoo! Singapore, the cutting-edge singer admitted that he had it a little easier than most amateur artistes in trying to break into the music scene.
Previously a producer for E.M.I Southeast Asia, a British multinational music company that has since sold its recorded music operations to Universal Music Group, Eli says that he was really lucky his music got picked up by the recording group. From there, he got put into a label and started working with people in the industry.
His own label
Eli, who says that he has grown a lot tougher in the industry since he started, also proved it in 2007 by starting his own production company, Zai Studios.
This year, he launched the label, Assassins Records, in a bid to help other artistes and put out other material of his own as well.
"It is more of an indie label because we want to put out material we believe in. We have been blessed to have a few different offers but the music scene in Singapore is different and we wanted more creative control," says Eli, who went to high school and university in Canada.
Eli does not have any specific type of artiste he would like to sign up but insists that the people must be unique to themselves, with a sound that is their own, identifiable and irreplaceable. "As long as the artiste stays through to his craft, that is all that matters," he says.
Also, he would like to support budding young artistes from the local scene.
"I want to give local artistes the opportunity that I never did, I had to fight for myself," he adds.
He recalls that starting out in Singapore was tough because he "sticks out like a sore thumb".
"I'm weird. Most people in Singapore want to do acoustic and many have asked me to do Chinese music, and I did try it out but as far as the artistry goes, I don't think I sit well in that environment. It doesn't resound with me, I'm too chill for that," the talented singer says.
Eli chose to sing electro-pop music not just because he wanted something from the usual local music scene but he personally likes electronic dance music, which provides "a big fusion of sounds".
"I try to do an agglomeration of what is me and all my influences so that ends up having a beat of its own, somewhat. I like pop where you can groove and of course, dance."
The 30-year-old expects that he will try out something more mellow in the future but "maybe not jazz for now" although he did a rendition of the jazz song, "Quando Quando", which people really like.
"It was jazz but I still sang it more R&B so it was more natural for me. I want people to get lost in the music I make and a groove is something that people will be able to feel and that's where I would like to move towards," he says.
Ironically, the now successful Eli T. did not expect that he could have made it in Singapore at first. "I thought that in terms of the scene in Singapore, maybe my music was a bit too much for it or maybe because I already stick out like a crazy person, I expected adverse reactions from people for the kind of music I make."
"To be honest, when I first did electro-pop and people heard it, I received polar reviews. Some either really liked it or they tell me that they liked it but to do something more jazzy, acoustic or contemporary."
Eli says he is now getting tremendous feedback on 'Revolt', with people from Peru to Auckland and even Alaska asking him to perform in their country.
The bleached blonde singer will be moving to Toronto, Canada for a few months at the end of September, where he will be performing five festivals, namely Indie Week, M.E.A.N.Y Fest, Vancouver Alternative Fashion Week and M-Factor Music Series.
"I would still come back to Singapore but I am dying to meet my friends in Canada and grow a little more there. I'll definitely get inspiration there as well for more music but let's not jinx anything," he says.