Falling slowly into electronic music with .gif | A List
New year, new you? That is certainly the case for homegrown electronic duo .gif, which comprises musicians Chew Wei Shan, 29, and Nurudin Sadali, 31. The musical pair is staging a new show, Beside Ourselves, at the Esplanade, which is unlike their past performances.
Beside Ourselves is a sonic experience with theatrical elements, stringing short vignettes into a fuller narrative that explores personal displacement. The experiential performance, which is part of the M1 Singapore Fringe Festival programme, includes performers Isabella Chiam and Sharda Harrison. The show will also feature seven new songs by .gif, some of which will be in their next album.
While the experiential performance is a new endeavor for .gif (pronounced “dot gif”), breaking with the norm is not unusual for the musical pair. They crossed paths as literature students in university who shared a side hustle. They were both making music for extra pocket money – Nurudin as a freelance DJ and Chew playing gigs at weddings and cafes.
They started .gif in 2013 with a “see where it goes” mindset and they continued to make music while juggling day jobs as secondary school teachers. Meanwhile, their signature dark beats and immersive soundscapes drew a following and led to high-profile performances at music festivals such as Baybeats, Neon Lights and St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival.
About two years ago, they decided to devote themselves to music full-time. While the change has made it easier for them to collaborate in-person, they continue to create music by leaving snippets of music for each other in a shared drive.
Chew explains: “We tried sitting together and jamming, but it was quite frustrating. We realised we have very different working styles and approaches. So, I said, ‘Let’s just work separately and Dropbox it!’’’
Although their working styles differ, they turn to similar inspirations – books, films and plays, for their music. Nurudin says: “Most literature we like, especially modernist literature, represents or talks about raw emotions.”
Since taking the plunge and pursuing music full-time, they have been able to explore new creative domains and pursue time-demanding projects that they might not have been able to previously. One project they look back on fondly is their role as music directors for Checkpoint Theatre’s Displaced Persons’ Welcome Dinner for the Singapore International Festival of Arts 2019.
Chew says: “It changed our lives. It taught us new functions of music and made us look at art-making in a very different way.” That is good news for fans and audiences, who look forward to new creative sparks from the duo.
Details about Beside Ourselves here.