Jul 11, 2013

    I want to be a shifu to young musicians

    He carved out a reputation for himself with his cheeky lyrics and onstage theatrics while with home-grown bands The Boredphucks and The Suns.

    Now, musician Sanny Veloo, who is currently based in Melbourne, has gone on to form Empra.

    The band have not only earned accolades in the Australian music scene, but have also emerged at the top of the LiveNation International Band Competition in Los Angeles in April.

    Veloo, 35, speaks to My Paper about how the music scene here has changed since he left eight years ago.

    Can you tell us more about the Empra sound?

    Empra is a rock 'n' roll band whose sound is influenced by a mixture of 1990s alternative bands such as Foo Fighters and Weezer, and modern rock bands like Japandroids, Alabama Shakes and Wavves.

    Why did you choose to establish a band in Australia and not here?

    Singapore had nothing left to offer us in terms of a music career, so it was time to go overseas and embark on a new adventure. We wanted to be the first Singaporean rockers to make it big overseas. We chose Australia because that's where AC/DC comes from and they are one of our favourite bands.

    Some Singaporean artists seem to be establishing themselves overseas first, before promoting their music here. Why do you think this is so?

    Singapore seems to offer careers for musicians who are willing to only play in cover bands.

    I have nothing against cover bands, but if you are an artist who writes your own music and who has a message to share, it's extremely difficult because there are still not enough platforms for you to be exposed or to launch your career as an original artist in Singapore.

    Has anything changed in the local music scene since you left?

    The thing that has changed is that so many more positive-minded people have committed themselves to developing the Singapore music industry for our youth.

    Promoters like Live! Empire always insist that a Singapore band is the opening act for an international artist. Radio DJs like Rozz from 98.7FM always feature Singapore musicians on commercial radio. Reporters like yourself write about us for the papers.

    These things rarely used to happen back in the day.

    Do you think you would have been able to achieve what you have so far if you had remained here?

    Absolutely not.

    What can audiences expect from your gig here next month?

    An entertaining 45-minute show filled with powerful songs that will shake Fort Canning Park and inspire your soul with a tremendous amount of positive, uplifting rock 'n' roll energy.

    Do you have plans to return here for good?

    Right now, with all the stuff happening with Empra overseas and the touring that we are doing, I can't be in Singapore.

    But, eventually, once I have learnt enough, I definitely want to return so that I can work with younger musicians and be their shifu (teacher in Mandarin).


    Empra will be opening American band Fall Out Boy's Save Rock & Roll Tour concert at Fort Canning Park on Aug 6 at 8pm. Tickets cost $110 and are available from Sistic. Visit