Driving on a Sunny Singaporean morning, I came across a beautiful song on KISS92.3. It immediately caught my attention, and I found myself humming the tune.
“I am gonna dance all night, just you and me.”
The vocals were strong and the music was catchy. I was further intrigued when I discovered that the song was sung by none other than our very own Singaporean musical group, Scarlet Avenue. I proceeded to contact them, and was pleasantly surprised to receive an immediate and welcoming response from Amos and Adam – the band members. While one would expect that fame at such a young age might have gotten to the boys, this was not the case. It was humbling and heart-warming to observe the responsible and mature attitude that defines these 20- and 24-year old gentlemen.
Amos is a full time musician and Adam is still studying. We tried our best to get an inside scoop on their female fans, the overwhelming attention and the steady barrage of fan mail they must be getting, thanks to their good looks and great vocals, but all we got out of them was a smile. Two years ago, the boys got their big break and were signed up by United Records. Their recent single, Paper Plane, has already earned them a Big Hit status on the iTunes charts!
The two brothers, Amos and Adam, began their journey in 2005 when they moved to France with their family. It was there that they were first introduced to music. The minute they strung the guitar, they both knew that’s what they wanted to do for the rest of their lives. After spending a few years in France, they finally returned to Singapore in 2007. Initially, they started out with some YouTube episodes, after which they embarked on a school tour in 2014. Previous to this, they used to play in pubs, bars and gigs until they were signed up by United Records.
The boys had to balance both studies and their singing together.
“It’s been tough managing with no sleep and practicing right after school. Whenever we got time we would write songs. Even when we had not signed up with United Records, we were writing songs. We just love to write about our experiences and stories. We would show them to our parents and friends. But sometimes it’s a bit difficult. You write songs but you don’t want to share them because it’s kind of personal and you are shy. You are scared. When you write songs, it comes from your experiences and your life, you don’t want to share so much from that part of your life.’
So join us as we talk to this talented duo about the challenges of establishing their music in Singapore as well as their supporters and critics.
FUCHSIA: Didn’t your parents have any concerns about you opting for music as a career?
I guess they saw how much we were into music so they wanted to support us. Our parents believe that if we work on something that we love doing, one day, we will do well. In fact they are our biggest supporters. Till now, they have attended almost all of our gigs. Our mum and dad would clap and wave during the performances and that has not changed ever since we started playing music. Our dad bought a 2 hour Grenade Concert back in France when we just started music, and every day we would memorize and play the entire concert with our dad beside us, listening to us perform.
FUCHSIA: Why not a French name for your band? Is there a message for your listeners in the name ‘Scarlet Avenue’?
We wanted something meaningful and that was us. Our Chinese name ‘Hong’ sounds like ‘Red’ so another word for red is scarlet. Then back home in France, when we started playing, the place where we lived was called 16th Avenue. That’s how we became Scarlet Avenue. It’s just a name but if you want to think deeper about it. Avenue is where we started, wherever you go, you must always come back home. You must always remember your beginnings. Also we felt that with an English name, we can connect more with people, and they will understand and know how to pronounce our band name. French is sometimes hard to pronounce. Few people would understand the meaning as well.
FUCHSIA: What is the worst criticism that you have received to date?
Adam: “You will never be able to play an instrument”. It was an old friend.
Amos: I participated in a singing competition on a national level. After singing just one song, one of the judges told me: “You are never gonna make it”. I replied: “Why don’t you give me a chance to prove myself”? He said: “No, even if I give you 10 years down the road, you will still never be able to make it”. That really shattered me. But this is what we love to do so no amount of criticism can stop us.
We want to make our fans happy. To show them music can help them in different ways. Emotionally and spiritually. It can comfort.
FUCHSIA: Being brothers, do you ever feel a sense of jealousy against each other, any conflicts?
Adam: Laughing hard, “I am very jealous about his height. How I wish I could be taller!”
Amos: There is tension sometimes when we are working together, but we always work around it.
Adam: Like when we write our songs. Even though we are brothers, we are two different people having different ideas. So sometimes I will write a song and show it to Adam, he will be like, nah, I don’t like this, change this. So then we compromise. Let’s see how we can make it better. At the end of the day, it’s not about us, it’s about the song.
FUCHSIA: What challenges did you face when you started out as a band?
Amos: I think the biggest challenge was, and is, getting the music out there. We had this dream back in France. When you are young, you have no limitations. You just tell yourself, I wanna write a song, I want to show the world my song. So when we were about to move to Singapore, we thought it’s a small country. But when we actually came here, we are like, this is a big country…how will we get our music out? It was very challenging to get our music out there. We are very thankful to the support the local channels have given us.
FUCHSIA: Being famous at such a young age, how do you guys stay humble?
Adam: We are thankful to our mentors who never fail to teach us and correct us, and guide us. We learnt that talent and skills are not enough to bring you far, it is character and attitude that will. Always stay hungry. We are still two brothers, enjoying music. We are happy that people like our songs and music. That gives us the courage to never give up.
FUCHSIA: If you could change one thing, what would that be?
Amos: I would ask my mom to give me more height. On a serious note, if we look back, there are so many things that we could have done better. Like we could have learnt to sing and play the guitar earlier.
FUCHSIA: Do you think your songs reflect the new generation of Singaporeans?
Amos: I feel that our songs reflect all generations. I guess because we wrote our songs based on experience and emotions, and that could reflect any age group or generations.
FUCHSIA: Singapore is all about harmony and different cultures and religions living together, how do you plan to incorporate that into your songs?
We did a project for the Star Vista called ‘Project Celebrate’ for SG50 earlier this year and managed to get the community to sing along. We are proud to be Singaporeans and we hope that in the future we will be able to create music for our unique Singapore.
We wish Amos & Adam all the best in their musical career with this advice from them to all the upcoming bands
“Do not give up, keep believing and support others”.
Rabia stays involved in various social causes. Believing in creating equal opportunities for underprivileged kids, she helps The Citizens’ Foundation, Pakistan, to create awareness of the need for providing quality education to children. At the same time, she is also involved with Singapore-based VWO, 4PM’s Ramadan on Wheels project by supporting it through the FUCHSIA platform. At FUCHSIA, Rabia oversees the Marketing and Public Relations work. She is also part of the Editing Team in conceptualising articles and monthly issues.