Features

The Unsung Heroes Behind Singapore’s Music Scene: Sound and Production Crew

By Marian Saturno

Adin Kindermann

Adin Kindermann
Photo credit: Henzy David

Bright lights, loud music, being drenched in sweat and feeling great about it. Regular concert-goers are no strangers to these things. But what most people do not see is the amount of work that goes into putting up these shows, and the people behind them.

A day in the life of a sound and production crew starts with being the first ones in and ends with them as the last ones out. Adin Kindermann, 26, the multi-talented frontman of local indie-rock outfit Stopgap who also works as a freelance recording engineer and the head of production at Invasion Singapore, walked me through the four to five hours that go into a typical school Invasion show.

The *SCAPE Invasion Tour in Canberra Secondary School

The *SCAPE Invasion Tour in Canberra Secondary School
Photo credit: *SCAPE Invasion

It seemed like a whole lot to squeeze within that timeframe, and everything must have moved like clockwork in order for it all to go smoothly. Kindermann went on to tell me about how the pace of doing production was very quick, and that they often had to fight fires on the spot. “It’s a tough job, but you do it because you love it.”

Asher Lim, 28, who has been a freelance sound engineer for seven years, agrees. “You do it because you want to do it. It’s the main thing that gets us to stick together.”

For Lim, his litmus test of finding out if he has done a good job is if the audience has been fully immersed in the concert experience. It is common for people to believe that hard work does not go unnoticed, but it seems to be the opposite for production. For the people who work in this field, it is what they aim for.

Sometimes it feels good just to know how you’ve contributed to the show.

Kindermann concurs: “The role is meant to be invisible. Sometimes it feels good just to know how you’ve contributed to the show.”

Sarah Sim, 28, the digital and promotions manager at Warner Music Singapore, artist, tour and production manager at House Of Riot and freelance stage manager, shares the same sentiments. “I don’t necessarily think it is a bad thing if they do not notice because after all, that’s not why they are there.”

Sarah Sim

Sarah Sim
Photo credit: Leonard Soosay

The music industry veteran says that what cemented her passion for what she does came after her very first job in music as Katy Perry’s artist liaison for SingFest 2010, a music festival that brought in international acts into the country.

Prior to that, Sim was unsure if the music industry had a place for her, although she always had a love for music. But it did not take long for her to realise how she fit into the puzzle. “For the first time, I saw all the work and crew that were behind an artist and a show production and I remembered really wanting to be a part of that.”

I saw all the work and crew that were behind an artist and a show production and I remembered really wanting to be a part of that

One of Lim’s favourite times on the job was getting to work with his personal ‘superstar hero’, Leonard Soosay, for House Of Riot’s concert with homegrown acts Charlie Lim, Inch Chua and The Great Spy Experiment. It was his first time doing sound for an Esplanade stage, and with one of his favorite artists, Charlie Lim, on the bill, he felt quite the pressure.

Doing live sound is a form of creative expression for Lim, so it did not come a surprise to me when he said it was rewarding.

As a musician, Kindermann is able to put himself in the shoes of both performer and crew, which helps him understand the symbiotic relationship that the two have. “It’s the musicians that sound great, and then you have the sound crew who make them sound extra sparkly.”

Since most of the people in the Invasion Street Team, the crew who make the *SCAPE Invasion Tour possible, are musicians themselves, working has helped them pick up good behaviour and stage etiquette, especially when doing so with different musicians.

There’s always something new to learn.
Asher Lim

Asher Lim
Photo credit: Getai Group

It is the same for Lim who believes that “even if you’ve done (sound for) the same band 25 times in the same venue, there’s always something new to learn.”

It is evident for these three that what they do is more than just a job. And for the audience, once production is appreciated, it becomes more than just about the music.

Kindermann puts it most aptly: “Take the effort to understand what goes into making a show, that would make you appreciate it all the more.”