The Next Big Things: 5 Local Musicians To Look Out For in 2023
We’re only a few months into 2023 and Singapore’s music scene is already producing some brilliant gems. Nothing brings me greater joy than discovering brand-new local songs and shining a light on rising artists who are passionate about their craft
Strap in, there’s a genre in this list for every listener. Whether it’s pop, indie, R&B or rap, here are 5 homegrown acts that you should definitely add to your Spotify playlist.
Shareefa Aminah a.k.a Shazza has been writing music since childhood and it’s clear she puts a lot of heart and soul into her lyrics and musicality.
Now 21 years old, the singer-songwriter already has multiple singles under her belt and her first professionally-produced single, Pity Party, has garnered more than 300,000 streams from all over the globe at the time of writing.
The hijabi songstress had an exceptional debut performance at the Esplanade Concourse for Red Dot August back in 2022 where fans immediately took notice of her talent and whimsical vocals.
If you don’t know about Shazza, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll be hearing a lot of her this year and beyond.
Genre: Pop, Folk, Indie
Sounds like: Norah Jones, Taylor Swift, Dolly Parton, Fleetwood Mac, Sarah Bareilles
Top tracks: Build A Home, Right Person, Wrong Time, Be Kind, One Day
Best known for crafting melodies for other local acts such as Royal Estate and RENE, Sun Cell is the solo project of music producer Daryl Hor. He draws influences from 80s new wave and there’s a tangible element of synth-driven nostalgia and melancholy in his arrangements.
Daryl was in the midst of a Recording Arts degree at Full Sail University in Florida before he was forced to return home due to the pandemic. The time stuck at home alone turned out to be a blessing in disguise as he would recalibrate and kickstart a writing process that culminated in the release of a few highly-acclaimed singles.
I am totally in love with the lush soundscapes that Daryl builds within his songs as well as his excellent use of harmonised vocals. It’s the kind of music that would sound perfect in an indie movie OST or midnight drive. If nothing else, listen to Sun Cell for the vibes.
Genre: Synth-Pop, Chillwave, Indie
Sounds like: Stereophonics, The Drums, The 1975, Two Door Cinema Club
Top tracks: Away, New Year, Landline, Close Enough
Boy oh boy, this fella can sing! Singapore has produced our fair share of technically excellent vocalists but no voice has blown me away quite like Narysal. This R&B cites Brian McKnight, Neyo and Bruno Mars as his inspirations and he’s definitely on the right track when it comes to his slow jams.
His debut single ‘Fade Away’ felt like something right out of a Boyz II Men album and has already garnered over 1.6 million views on Spotify and it’s no surprise when he was crowned the Best New Artist at *SCAPE Youth Music Awards 2021. Narysal’s latest single sees the young phenom team up with local hip-hop legend Akeem Jahat on smooth-as-silk ditty ‘Weekend Love (We Can)’. 2023 is primed to be a breakout year for Narysal and it couldn’t happen to a more deserving guy.
Sounds like: Brian McKnight, Luther Vandross, Khalid
Top tracks: Weekend Love (We Can), Fast Slow, Fade Away
Following in the footsteps of fellow Singapore teen music prodigies such as Shigga Shay and Sleeq, 17-year-old local rapper and singer Syaz Smooth was actually discovered in Season 2 of Asia’s Got Talent when he was still in Primary 6 (how mindblowing is that?!) where he was mentored by legendary record producer and music executive, David Foster, who actually gave the youngster his artist moniker thanks to his smooth vocal deliveries and irresistible charisma.
Syaz’s career has only skyrocketed since, performing at the 2019 National Day Parade and even foraying into acting with an appearance in This Land Is Mine alongside heavyweights like Pierre Png, Rebecca Lim, and Shabir.
While his musical talent is undeniable, 2023 sees Syaz Smooth’s true maturation as an artist thanks to his latest Malay-English single Lari (Run). Channeling darker undertones thanks to the seductive production of renowned beatmaker FlightSch, it sees the young man tackle his meatiest lyrical subject yet - torment, heartbreak and obsession. Who hurt you adik? 🙁
Genre: R&B, Rap
Sounds like: Justin Bieber, Greyson Chance, Shawn Mendes, Charlie Puth
Top tracks: Menunggu (Wait), Lari (Run)
Coming Up Roses
Alternative rock band Coming Up Roses might have just relocated to the UK, but the trio of Emily Sera, Darius Oon, and Lorenzo Mailum is certainly flying the Singapore flag high amidst the sprawling London music scene.
When everything on the radio sounds like it’s made from manufactured beats straight out of a laptop, it’s refreshing to hear a proper band playing actual instruments resonating with the masses. Led by Emily’s hypnotic vocals, Coming Up Roses brings a shoegaze element to their sonic soundscape, powered by reverb-heavy guitars and powerful drums.
Their lyrics are earnest and their production is even more ambitious, judging by the sprawling audiogasm that is their latest single Utopia Reimagined: These Corners. Here’s wishing Coming Up Roses the best of luck in London and if we are lucky, we could see them performing up the road in Wembley or Glastonbury when all is said and done.
Genre: Alternative Rock, Shoegaze
Sounds like: The Sundays, Sonic Youth, Wolf Alice
Top tracks: Utopia Reimagined: These Corners, Would You Ever, All Out Time