Time taken : ~10mins
Riqqah is a Baybeats Budding Writer who was mentored by Eddino Abdul Hadi, music correspondent for The Straits Times and Hidzir Junaini, freelance journalist at NME Asia, Rice Media and FEMALE Magazine.
With pandemic restrictions being lifted over the past two years, street dance competitions like the recent Super24 and Lion City Dance Competition are back in full swing. Choreographers and their teams train tirelessly to showcase their talents. But they are not the only ones eager to hop on these opportunities. Behind every competition piece is a musical genius on the track, stirring up songs and beats for the dancers to move to. Within the dance community lies a multi-talented group of dancers who have started picking up mixing and production to supplement their dance skills.
Alif Aircho, 31, the dance community’s “go-to guy” for dance competition mixes and also a prominent figure in Singapore's scene, has been mixing and producing under the producer tag Aircho TRK for two years now. After he completed his Diploma in Audio and Visual Technology about 10 years ago, he started having a go at mixing tracks on software like Sound Forge and FL Studio 5. And just as FL Studio is on version 20 now, Alif has also advanced in his musical prowess.
“I needed something that sparked my interest other than dance. So, music production just made sense since music sits so closely to dance.”
Alif shares how music and dance work together, explaining that his expertise in both has helped him cook up some creatively interesting pieces. Some of his recent favourites would be the tracks he had completed for dance crews Et Cetera and Under The Bridge (UTB). He reveals how both groups had a unique vision for their pieces—Et Cetera with their street jazz-meets-Latin dance-inspired performance and UTB’s choreography which melded together traditional bharatanatyam music with a dash of hip hop-influenced beats. Undoubtedly, music played an instrumental role in crafting masterpieces like these.
Whether it’s for competitions, teaching classes or just as a hobby, many other members of the dance community like Doubledee, AryllBeats, Raphael and Stingray have also started to experiment with their own beats and music. Transcending the local dance scene, this trend has also grown on a regional level in tandem with the growth of the scene in countries like Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines. Proudly representing Malaysia, Zeppo Youngsterz have brought many conceptual pieces to the table that pay homage to their roots with traditionally-inspired tracks made from scratch.
Choreographer and dance educator, Taufiq “ET” Rosly, 29, asserted that learning music and picking up production skills is essential for a dancer’s growth. “Music is such a powerful tool that influences the audience’s and dancers’ emotions. It sets the mood even before the dance starts.” ET himself is self-taught and has been attempting to mix his own dance tracks for almost 10 years now. Putting in consistent work and effort to upgrade his skills, he utilises YouTube tutorials and browses through SoundCloud for inspiration.
“I think when you’re just starting out, not being aware of the possibilities of mixing is kind of obstructive. That being said, I guess I have to go for courses or find a mentor!”
Jin Neo, 32, also a dancer and street dance educator, has just begun his endeavours to learn the ropes of mixing. First starting out just fiddling with his handy drum machine Pocket Operator, which was a gift from his partner, Jin has now moved on to experimenting with the application Koala Sampler. Despite the steep learning curve he faces as a beginner, he hopes to delve deeper into this realm of mixing and production.
As Singapore’s dance scene continues to evolve, more dancers are realising the need to understand music from both a creative and technical standpoint. Dreamfellas, Singapore’s only editorial specialising in both dance and music in the region, aims to foster even deeper cohesion between the two art forms.
Co-founders Sharham Sridhar, 25 and Arfan Aziz, 24, commented on the importance of music in dance. “Dancers need to be able to manipulate their music to create “moments” in their choreography. The technical aspects of producing and engineering mixes for performances come hand-in-hand with the creatives for the best desired audio experience alongside the visual element the dancers have spent hours practising for,” they said.
Dancers signed to Dreamfellas’ agency are taught some basic technical guidelines of handling their music tracks, which many tend to overlook. For instance, they stress on exporting their mixes in .wav files for showcases, to ensure the levels throughout the entire mix are balanced, among other technical nuances which make a world of difference to the creative process and outcome of the performance.
“We’re only scratching the surface of collaborations between music and dance, beyond just mixing tracks for performances. There’s definitely a lot of creative potential in seeing more crazy things happen and we can’t wait to be a part of this wave,” they added.
Riqqah is a Baybeats Budding Writer who’s constantly hungry to find synergy between music and different art forms. Besides freelancing in writing and artist management, she is also a street dancer who moves with love and genuine intention.
The Baybeats Budding Writers mentorship programme has been running since 2014, building a community of writers to cover the growing Singapore music scene. Under the guidance and mentorship of Eddino Abdul Hadi, our budding writers learn more about music journalism and how to be a voice for the local music community.
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