This interview has been written in collaboration with Project Aloft Star, amplified by MTV. Find out more about this competition – which gives original acts the opportunity to be discovered, with the winner taking home US$10,000 – at this link http://projectaloftstar.mtvasia.com
We got the opportunity to ask Jenny & The Scallywags – the winners of Project Aloft Star, amplified by MTV 2015 – about their debut EP, how the competition has impacted them, and what’s next for them.
Currently one of the best folk-pop acts in the Bangkok indie scene, Jenny & The Scallywags are proof that people here are open to all sorts of new acts, even if their music is entirely English. Their debut single ‘Sounds Like Maybe’ hit number one on Thailand’s main indie chart, and their self-titled EP has been very well received.
There’s a term in Thai that describes locally bred talent that goes global, it’s called “go inter”. Some acts such as Tata Young and Hugo have enjoyed that success, but there has not been a stand out example in the indie scene here that has had a success story of that caliber. Despite some great tours from bands like Yellow Fang and successes like The Paradise Bangkok Molam International Band playing at Glastonbury, having Thai indie acts as a regular presence at major festivals and part of key tour circuits is still a dream waiting to come true.
But with the emergence of bands like Jenny & The Scallywags – with fantastic English material, energetic performances and the desire to tour regionally – we think it’s just a matter of time before Thailand puts its stamp on indie music regionally, or even globally.
But enough from us, we’ll let them tell their story in their own words.
Tell us a little bit about your band. How did you guys get together, what’s your style and what are you aiming to achieve?
Jennifer – I used to do covers before and I knew all the guys because of that. But we really became a band when we started making originals together. For the longest time it was just Adam, Charlie McSkallywag and I – hence the Scallywag moniker – but at one point Will and Paul suggested we start writing songs together, and that’s when everything started.
Adam – We come from all over the world, but we met jamming in bars around Bangkok. After years of playing each other’s music on lazy afternoons and very late nights, somehow we forged a band. Jenny (Lead vocals and acoustic guitar), Adam (Vocals and ukulele) and Charlie (Lead guitar and harmonica) formed the original Jenny and the Scallywags line up. Soon Will (vocals and ukulele) and Paul (Bass and production) came in and began writing music like crazy. It was Sounds Like Maybe that won us the Project Aloft Star competition and catapulted us to the next level.
Paul – I joined the band quite late, I got to know Jenny through Will and suggested that we start writing songs together.
Ludo – I guess I’m the latest member to join in. After enjoying jamming with few members of the band over the last six months, I was somewhat naturally proposed to fill-in after the friendly departure of former drummer Matt Johnston. The music is a true joy to play and that bunch of Scallywags is a real pleasure to hang with so I can’t thank them enough for having me in since.
You guys enjoyed a great release of your debut EP in March this year and your single “Sounds Like Maybe” made it to the top of Thailand’s number 1 indie chart shortly afterwards. How did it feel to make that leap into the Thai indie scene so quickly?
Jennifer – A lot of work went into having a successful EP launch and getting our song into the charts. We’ve all been playing music for a number of years and have worked hard to improve, and I think that shows in our music. I feel that performing and working together a lot is a strength of ours and has been what’s gotten us here.
Paul – Super surprised and proud of everyone in the band. Quite proud of myself as well because it was my little studio that produced the EP.
Ludo – Being fairly new in the band and not a direct part of its recent success, I can only be delightedly happy for them and what they already accomplished. It may have appeared like a (super nice) surprise to win the Project Aloft Star competition, but no doubt they’ve worked a lot to get there and things are starting to pay off now.
The best thing about Project Aloft Star, amplified by MTV is that it is a competition to showcase original music, unlike many other contests. It gave us the push we needed to pursue original music and MTV has been an incredible channel to reach an audience with our music from the very start.
You won the Project Aloft Star, amplified by MTV competition last year in KL. What would you tell other independent artists in Thailand about the competition?
Adam – Enter. Just go for it! Project Aloft Star gave us all kinds of things, especially media exposure and connections. But most importantly it just gave us confidence, momentum and focus. Being a band can be a thankless task – having thousands of people + a panel of record Execs and music industry experts hear your song and say “you’re awesome” makes you feel awesome.
Jennifer – The best thing about Project Aloft Star, amplified by MTV is that it is a competition to showcase original music, unlike many other contests. It gave us the push we needed to pursue original music and MTV has been an incredible channel to reach an audience with our music from the very start.
Paul – The competition was a reaffirmation that we were doing something right. So in that way it was a confidence boost that lead to a huge period of writing and creating, that is still going strong. There’s no harm in trying. Write directly to who you think your audience will be. Grow, have fun.
What are some of your favorite things about live music in Bangkok and the scene here?
Ludo – What is remarkable on the Bangkok Live Music scene is that great ability of welcoming and sharing music in the friendliest way possible. Really enjoying that everywhere we’ve played so far. Also, many bands here are ridiculously talented and it’s both an honor and a pleasure to be a part of the whole thing.
Jennifer – I think the scene is growing in Bangkok and there’s been more indie bands creating original music than ever before. Music events are also extremely social and it’s a great way to meet new people, both in the audience and in other bands.
Paul – I am no expert but I love the bravery of some of the acts, Stylish Nonsense and Sasi love to push boundary like buttons. I really like both those bands.
Adam – It’s the bands. Thailand has some diverse and exciting bands. Monomania, Jinta, Stylish Nonsense are all so good and so unique. My favorite part about the scene is how approachable they all are, and playing alongside them. We’re playing with my favorite Thai band My Life As Ali Thomas on July 13th at Play Yard. I’m a little over-excited about that show.
We’re sitting on some of our best original music, tons of songs that are fully written and crafted, and we’re still writing furiously … We’ll definitely come out with something in the near future.
Anything exciting coming up in the future worth knowing about?
Paul – I suppose we can cautiously say we are in the early stages of making an album.
Ludo – The band has now quite enough material to produce an album. We are not there yet but no doubt we will keep working and pushing til it’s there.
Adam – We’re sitting on some of our best original music, tons of songs that are fully written and crafted, and we’re still writing furiously. Being in this creative space and knowing our best music is still ahead of us is the most exciting thing I can come up with.
Jennifer – We’re always writing and performing new material. We’ll definitely come out with something in the near future. On a side note, I’ve also featured/collaborated with two separate acts, Gabriel Lynch and Rock Shreller, with both of the songs we’ve worked on to have their own music videos. I’m pretty excited about that.
Website – http://jenniferlackgren.com
Facebook – https://facebook.com/jenniferlackgren
Instagram – https://instagram.com/jenniferlackgren
YouTube – https://youtube.com/jenniferlackgren
iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/th/artist/jenny-the-scallywags/id1071182381
Soundcloud – https://soundcloud.com/jenniferlackgren
Deezer – https://deezer.com/artist/9612822
Spotify – https://open.spotify.com/artist/5e6fantJNGYIOA0yo72ZNS