Mixtape: Ffion Williams

 

As a popular destination for international musicians to hold concert when they hit around Asia and the burgeoning local music scene, it’s kind of no wonder that Singaporean artists getting more and more recognition. One of the latest names to catch my attention is Ffion, a 20 years old Welsh singer-songwriter who has been live and launch her musical career in the Straits. Mixing her soulful voice with downtempo electronic and R&B flair, she debuted with single called “With U” (produced by GROSSE) and “Over”. With the upcoming EP set to be released, recently she’s back with latest single “I Miss U” which sounds quirky and melancholic at the same time, just like the songstress herself. Here, Ffion give us introduction about herself and her 10 favorite songs. (Photography by Amanda Lim)

 Ffion1 (Credit Amanda Lim)

Hi Ffion, please tell me a little about yourself and your music.

Heya! I’m a 20-year-old singer that loves to make music that is spiked with electronic pop and modern R&B music.

First of all, I’m a sucker for pretty names and I really love your name! I read on web it means Foxglove and it is on top 15 of popular names in Wales, so what do you feel about it?

Aww thank you!! Yeah it’s a really popular name in Wales, I think I had 5 other girls in my kindergarten class with the same name. But I still get people ask me if Ffion is really my name or something I made up, people also tend to misspell it or pronounce it weird ways but it’s all good!

When did you first discover music and what really prompted you to make your own music?

My love for music started when I was around eleven years old after watching Phantom of the Opera for the first time. After watching it I was so set on going into Musical Theatre… Until I tried it and figured I wasn’t into the acting bit of it. But my teachers and friends have always been super supportive when it came to music!

Do you come from creative/musical family? Where did you grew up and what kind of records you listen to back then?

Weirdly enough, I come from a family of doctors, so I’m kinda like the black sheep of the family. I moved to Singapore when I was 3 and moved to Cambridge for 6 months when I was 5. I remember really enjoying the music that was out at the time in England, like Steps and S Club 7 also Britney of course!

Who are the early influences of your work?

I’d have to say Amy Winehouse and then Adele. When I heard James Blake for the first time, that’s when I knew I wanted to get into Electronic Music and I guess that slowly fused with R&B to create what we have today.

Tell us about your latest single, “I Miss U”, what’s the story behind it?

It’s basically a second part to my previous single “Over”, it was written a year after the breakup. I felt like this guy still had so much control over my emotions and my mind was constantly just drifting back to him. So by writing this song, I felt like I got a lot of closure and was able to move on.

Where do you tend to do most of your song writing?

I normally just hold it all in until I get into the studio, I love writing a song that is super in the moment, it feels more authentic that way.

How do you get the creative juice flowing if you’re feeling stuck?

I think travelling really helps or talking to other people about it, that tends to get my mind running!

What do you love the most about Singapore and where are your favourite places?

I love the dramatic rain/thunderstorms we get here and I would have to say my bed is my favourite place in Singapore. (hehe just kidding). But on a more serious note, there’s this coffee shop near my place and they sell the most bomb butter chicken set!

Recently, Singaporean acts getting more and more exposure, do you have favourite Singaporean musicians you would like to collab with?

I think it would be really cool to do a collaboration with a band like Disco Hue or The Summer State, I think it’s important to get out of your comfort zone, so stepping out of a genre that I’m comfortable with sounds like a fun challenge. I would love to collaborate with VVYND from Indonesia as well, his music is sick.

What does the rest of the year have in store for you?

I definitely wanna finish my degree and move on to writing more music. Also releasing my EP and possibly playing some shows overseas!

Last, please pick 10 of your favourite songs along with short explanations for each of them.

 

Bruno Mars – “Easily”

His music is like the perfect music for commuting and staring out of windows.

James Blake – “I Need A Forest Fire”

I’ve been obsessed with this guy since I was 15/16 and hearing how his music has evolved over the years has definitely shaped my thought process when it comes to making music.

Rihanna – “Bitch Better Have My Money”

This is the ultimate pump up song. I like to play this when I’m getting ready in the morning and I know there is something important to be done that day.

Tom Misch – “Watch Me Dance”

This artist is a new discovery for me; I’m super into his vibe and would love to make music like this sometime!

Lighthouse Family – “High”

This song makes me super nostalgic, just major #tb vibes in general.

The 1975 – “Somebody Else”

I was never really into the 1975 but after hearing this I’ve totally catching up on their music. Great songwriting.

Raye – “Shhh”

Another really great pump up song, I love how different this song is yet still so relevant. Definitely an artist to lookout for!

Justin Bieber – “Change Me”

Who can resist the Biebs? Not me that’s for sure 😛

Lapsley – “Hurt Me”

This song for me is the perfect song for when I’m feeling kinda angsty.

Ady Suleiman – “Need Somebody To Love”

This guy has the sickest vocal chops and songwriting skills plus his style is super unique. All his songs hit the mark and I usually have his music on repeat especially in the summer.

 

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On The Records: Paperwhite

PaperwhiteLike it or not, Brooklyn is still the Mecca of eclectic musicians in States. Following the foot step of interesting upcoming musicians from Brooklyn is Paperwhite, a dream pop duo that consisted of siblings Katie and Ben Marshall. Mixing a lush production of synth-based melodies and beautiful vocal, the duo are succeeded to bring shimmering sounds of modern pop with slight hint of nostalgic retro and a warm feeling of Summer days.

Hi Katie & Ben, how are you? Where are you right now and what were you guys doing before answering this email?
Katie: Hey! We are currently at Ben’s apartment in Brooklyn. We just had a great rehearsal down the street where we were preparing some of our new music for our live set! It’s finally feeling like summer over here, so we took the long way home, got some ice cream and enjoyed the sun!

As siblings, do you always know you’re gonna make music together? And what really prompt you to finally do it?
Ben: We have always known that we would work on music together because we have been collaborating for years but the exciting part is that we had no idea that we would find a style of music in which we could both take a lead. While writing some of the first Paperwhite’s songs, it finally felt like we had a path for our collaborations to take off. Once we felt that synchronization, we knew we had to stick with it!

Where were you guys grew up? What were you listening to back then and how do you think its influence your music in Paperwhite?
Katie: We grew up in Pennsylvania, outside of Philadelphia. There is a three and a half year age difference between us (Ben is older), so at times we were listening to different types of music but we both have drawn a lot of inspiration from bands through different decades. Some include bands like Tears for Fears and Wilson Philips to Motown artists and even more modern bands like The Postal Service.

I know that previously Ben is also with Savoir Adore, how about you Katie? What were you doing before Paperwhite?
Katie: Before Paperwhite, I was a student at Berklee College of Music, which is also Ben’s alma mater. At the time, I was focusing on songwriting and performance. Once I graduated in 2013, it allowed Ben and I to focus on Paperwhite. The ideas and music have been blossoming ever since!

What’s the story behind the name?
Ben: Well, this is kind of a two part story. During Katie’s senior year at Berklee, she wrote a song called “Paperwhites.” She was working at a flower shop and was inspired by the paperwhite flower. So when we were coming up with a name for the band, it was already kind of in the back of our heads. One day we posted a clip of the song on Instagram and hashtagged it #paperwhite and a friend of Katie’s commented that he liked our new band name. So even though it was just an accident, we decided it was a sign and went for it!

How was the creative process for two of you?
Katie: Ben typically takes on the role as the producer/arranger and I typically focus on more songwriter duties like melody, chords, and lyrics. It has worked out well because our weaknesses are each other’s strengths. Our goal is to make well-structured songs that create a certain mood whether it’s to dance or to feel a particular emotion.

What is the story for your latest single “Magic” and how do you feel about the response so far?
Ben: The idea for “Magic” came to us on Jan 1, 2014. Looking back now, it feels like such an indicator for the year. We started off strong which is inspiring to us. We are very grateful and thrilled with the response from “Magic”. It has shown us that we are heading in the right direction!

How was your first live show? Do you have any challenge to bring you music in live perform?
The live show is always evolving. So yes, the first show was an experiment, but it was a successful one. There are definitely some tricky things to figure out in terms of getting the recordings into a live set, but it just gets better and better each time we play out.

Could you spill some info about upcoming release? Is it gonna be EP, single, or maybe an LP?
For now we are sticking with singles… but there just may be an EP sooner than later.

How do you think about Brooklyn’s music scene nowadays?
We are very excited to be a part of the Brooklyn music scene. Our peers and mentors are all in the same area and are doing amazing things and releasing awesome music. The sense of community and comradely here is wonderful. We feel that Brooklyn has a lot more talent coming its way!

What’s next for Paperwhite?
The next goal is to bring our listeners more music and hopefully with that start playing outside of NYC. We would love to tour sometime in the near future!