Knightingale employ a sound that personifies the very core of doing what you want, and answering to no one. The band was founded by Indian native Ashwin a few years back, and have since released one full-length and an EP. Knightingale’s latest single, “White Shadow,” boasts a new lineup for the band, and they are aiming to record and release a full-length later this year.
Ashwin and the band draw a lot of their musical inspiration from 60’s revival garage rock favorites such as Bass Drum of Death, FIDLAR, and Ty Segall. What makes Knightingale stand out is that they hail from Singapore, making them the only band of their kind in the area.
Knightingale and I had a chat about the music scene in Singapore, Ashwin’s musical inspirations, and the upcoming full-length.
This first question is for Ashwin – How long have you been in Singapore now?
I’ve been here in Singapore since 2007, it’s been about 11 years now and I somehow picked up music here.
Where are you from originally?
I am originally from Chennai, India!
How did you guys all meet and decide to start making music?
We all were involved in other projects before we decided to join forces together. We’ve known each other for about nearly 6 to 7 years now and It’s great to be making music with full force and passion. The band was originally formed by Ashwin back in 2014 with two other members, and we re-formed it once again with this current lineup once the previous members left the band.
What is the music scene like in Singapore? Are there a lot of garage rock bands or are you the odd one out?
It’s very eclectic actually, it’s just like the variety of food we have here, from traditional Malay food to Italian and everything in between. We have bands like Wormrot who are one of the pioneers of Grindcore. On the other end, we have singer-songwriters and pop acts that are accessible and are catering to the masses. Indie rock and Indie pop are pretty popular here and are gaining momentum. Recently there has been a burst of hip-hop acts belting out fire tracks that could potentially stand the test of time and we’re super proud of it as is it being created here in Singapore.
For us, we kinda feel that we’re the only ones doing garage rock here (we could definitely be wrong). But the funny thing is that Ashwin’s discovery of Bass Drum of Death with the help of the internet was what made him form this band in the first place. So he definitely thought there could have been more bands like that here as you tend to learn so many things from the web these days. There are also a hand-countable amount of rock bands here doing straight-up rock, so somehow this type of music is weirdly niche here as compared to a garage rock/rock paradise called Australia haha.
What is the creative / writing process like for the band?
We usually bounce ideas off of each other in the studio and we feel it’s the best way to write our kind of music. Usually, someone will start off with an idea, or just feel the chemistry within the room and belt something out, after a moment of instrumental highness, Ashwin belts out some random melodies and if it sticks, it sticks and it sticks for good until the hype or the catchy-ness of it dies during the take and we work around/re-arrange it from there.
It’s very much raw, there is no cinematic story or theme behind it. We just want to let it rip and let the music take over. That’s the joy of playing this style of music, you never know what’s going to happen, whether performing live or writing songs in the studio. We also have members of the band writing full songs and piecing it together at times.
Who is your biggest inspiration musically?
We all kinda grew up listening to many different bands from varying decades, Ashwin’s inspired by Ty Segall and Bass Drum of Death for current day inspiration, and we all dig Nirvana and Kurt Cobain. Ben’s super into Muse, Blur, and Alex Turner of the Arctic Monkeys. Rajiv’s a huge Bonham fan and takes inspiration from him for his drumming style. He’s also into Radiohead, Blink 182, and Red Hot Chilli Peppers.
What was it about Bass Drum of Death that really caught Ashwin’s attention?
Ashwin: It was a really nice moment when I first discovered the band online, I was listening to a lot of 1960’s garage rock bands and Bass Drum of Death came up as one of the related videos on youtube. I listened to “Nerve Jamming” it got stuck in my head, I love that it was pretty lo-fi, raw and very surf but yet still a rocking track. The vocals were instantly catchy, which is very very important to me.
Fast forward to listening to their whole album “GB City” I instantly got hooked and pretty much knew what I really wanted to do with my direction in music. The band wasn’t all that profound here, which gave us the room to introduce this sound to the audiences in Asia. From writing riffs to creating melodies and song structures, it immediately became natural to me and the band and we felt at home playing their style of music.
So you just released a new single, “White Shadow” — is there a full-length on the way?
“White Shadow” is kinda like a bridge between the old lineup and the new lineup hence we wanted to release it at the right time. A full length is definitely underway and we’ve already been writing a good amount of songs to fill it up. We’re just tweaking things here and there before we head to the studio.
Can you tell me a little bit more about the upcoming album?
White Shadow, to be honest, was a mere fluke. We wrote it after getting inspired by FIDLAR and then we just felt that this was the sound we were going for. The new songs have the very core of Knightingale’s songwriting essence of catchy verses and chorus, but brought in are a dynamic twist of riffs, power-packed drum beats, and creative bridge sections that could keep listeners hooked to the songs from start to finish. We also have songs that are slower which add some space and depth to the music and hitting right back at you with the next song that sounds like it’s inspired by Motorhead!
We have been working on it since February this year and we’re looking to release a bunch of the songs out incrementally in the later part of the year. So hopefully by December of 2018, we might have about 12 songs all set to release while teasing listeners with some singles here and there in between from now. Labels that have shown interest are mostly out of the country (the US and Europe) so we’re still discussing to see if we can release through them with a deal or should we just self-release it like the last one, as it’s quite hard for them to manage us since we’re based in Singapore.
So you have an upcoming international tour – When does it kick off? Are there any places you’re especially excited about playing?
Looking to head to Australia by the September/October time period as we’ve always wanted to play there. We’re pretty excited about it as there’s such a vibrant rock/garage rock scene there. With bands like DZ Deathrays, Violent Soho, Dune Rats all selling sold out shows, we’re hoping there would be more people showing interest to our music.
Are you touring with any other bands?
Are there any “up and coming” artists you haven’t mentioned yet that you think me and my readers should check out?
Knightingale are set to release a new album very soon, but in the meantime you can listen to their first single of 2018, “White Shadow,” below.
Also, be sure to check out Knightingale’s debut album from 2016, God Damn Youth.
Keep up with Knightingale through the following social links:
Photos courtesy of Kyle Butcher Photography.
THIS INTERVIEW WAS EDITED AND CONDENSED FOR CLARITY