It was not always a bed of roses for the indie shoegaze band

The local indie music scene is thriving. While several names the likes of The Observatory, Pleasantry and Sobs have garnered quite a bit of traction over the years, there are still many up-and-comers yet to get their big breaks.

But thanks to last year’s Baybeats, dream-pop band Coming Up Roses made their introduction to the mainstream and the results were positive. The quartet’s tunes are reminiscent of Slowdive’s ambient shoegaze, while front woman Emily Sia directs the group down an unusual rabbit hole with practiced vocals that balances sultriness and youthful strength. In an era where tearful ballads, sprightly four-chord pop hits and RnB rappers dominate the local music charts, Coming Up Roses is a breath of fresh air with a tinge of 70’s synth-pop nostalgia thrown in the mix.

Though they have been active in the music scene for a while now, the four-piece only just released their first studio-recorded EP to the public earlier this month. The mini-album titled Waters is a four-tracker that builds up a fleeting gaze into adolescence, contrived through angst-filled lyrics interwoven with uplifting sonic textures that does well in chronicling love and melancholy through fresh eyes.

Following the release of Waters, we speak to the members of Coming Up Roses about writing music, songs that have been circulating on their playlists and their breakthrough experience playing for Baybeats 2018.

As an introduction, tell us what you play in the band.

Emily Sia: I play the bass and sing!

Darius Oon: I play the guitar and I also do some backing vocals and keyboards when the song calls for it.

Bruce Tan: I lay down the beat and sometimes smile at Lorenzo from the drum throne.

Lorenzo Romero: I’m Lorenzo and I play the guitar.

How long have you guys been playing together for and how did it come to be?

D: Me and Emily actually started Coming Up Roses as an acoustic duo in 2016 but we decided to go electric after we wrote a bunch of songs we found more suited for a band and added Bruce and Lorenzo in 2018. Emily, Lorenzo and myself know each other from school while Bruce and I came from the same secondary school and play together in The New Modern Lights.

What kind of gigs have you played so far?

B: A bunch of underground gigs with other awesome artists from the local scene. The most common ones are shows organised by other bands and opening for release launches. We opened for Subsonic Eye’s album launch last year and The Parallax Error’s and Saints Among Sinners’ EP launch this year. They draw in such an intimate crowd and we always see familiar faces around so it’s really fun every time we get to play at these gigs.

We also played Baybeats 2018 as a Budding Band which was amazing and was our first chance to play on stage in front of a huge crowd. That opened the gates for us to play at other big events like Beerfest 2018, Urban Ventures 2018, and Bacon Beats 2019, so it’s been a busy year for us performing around the country.

Tell us about your favourite show.

L: Urban Ventures was pretty fun. The setting was cool with bands playing on the street. Having people sit mere feet away from where we were playing makes the performance a lot more intimate in my opinion.

Walk us through your writing process. Is there a formula or does it come naturally to you?

E: i think things come naturally to me. I tend to write songs whenever I feel overwhelmed so i guess you can say that the songs are a result of my experiences. Since everyday is different, the result of my songs usually vary though I am sure that there are certain similarities between certain songs since people usually write songs in a way that they are familiar with.

Who/what are your influences?

D: We’re all personally influenced by a very wide range of bands and artists but as a band, our main influences are 90s alt-rock bands like Sonic Youth and other modern bands like Wolf Alice and The Joy Formidable.

Which songs have been making its rounds on your playlist?

L: I’ve been on a Neo-soul binge for a while, and Erykah Badu’s "Certainly" is a favourite of mine.

D: I’ve recently been hooked to a band from Canada called Men I Trust. They play really chill and groovy music. I’ve also been listening to the new Vampire Weekend album quite a lot.

B: I don’t listen to music by playlists but Black Flag’s “Can’t Decide” has been making rounds in my head. The whole album’s a really cool blend of hardcore punk, sludge metal and progressive rock.

E: I have been listening to Billie Eilish lately and "Bad Guy" is one song that I have been having on repeat.

If you weren’t doing music, what would you be doing?

B: Lying in a coffin. Or working as an IT software engineer. Whichever came first.

D: I’d probably be some kind of music journalist, or a photographer.

E: I would be an artist or a doctor. I have always been a creative so being an artist is my second choice but if I weren’t in the creative field, I would want to be a doctor.

L: I’d probably be an interior designer.

Other than the music, do you guys have other individual roles that you are known for?

E: I usually am in charge of the marketing collaterals like handling photoshoots and I also do some admin work.

D: I am usually the one handling emails and social media accounts for the band.

L: I design our merchandise, like t-shirts and tote bags.

B: I handle accountancy and anything related to IT or computing. I guess I haven’t fully ran away from being a software engineer just yet.

What was your experience playing in Baybeats last year? Was it any different from what you imagined?

B: Nerve-wracking! I had never played in front of such a crowd before and I was so worried about making a mistake in front of everyone. I didn’t expect the crowd to be so enthusiastic towards our performance, which in turn made me settle into the moment and to just play my heart out that night.

L: It wasn’t anything like what we’ve ever expected, and that was due to the mentorship programme which we participated in. We learned a great deal from the many industry professionals that were present throughout the programme.

What can fans look forward to in the future of Coming Up Roses?

E: I think you can expect quite a few shows from us in the coming few months including our own mini-album launch show. You can also expect some merchandise coming your way so do follow our socials for updates. Last but not least, we are always working on writing new songs so you can expect new material coming sooner than later.

Tune in to Coming Up Roses on Spotify or YouTube.