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What Happens When A Singaporean Girl-Next-Door Takes On Heavy Metal?

What Happens When A Singaporean Girl-Next-Door Takes On Heavy Metal?

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Top image: Soh Poh Soo Donald

A couple of weeks ago, in a small industrial estate in Geylang, two very different worlds collided with such force and intensity that shockwaves rippled through the very fabric of our nation.

Eyewitnesses reported bodies flying, and blood-curdling screams were heard reverberating across the grounds. There’s even a rumour going around that Singapore will never be the same again.

You see, what happened was 20-year-old Glory Yang (also known as the ASMR Doctor), shared the stage with Mucus Mortuary, a Singaporean heavy metal band, for a night of screaming, moshing, and perception-changing.

T’was a night that—with any luck—will go down in history as one that changed the game (watch what happened here) and so we sat down with Glory and Jaarvis, Jai, and Lyon from Mucus to find out how they felt about the whole experience, from challenging the unfair reputation metal music in Singapore has acquired, to screaming on stage, and everything in between.

RICE: Hey Glory and Mucus Mortuary! What were your first impressions of each other and how has that changed since?

Jaarvis: I was like, wow. She’s such a small, young girl who possibly hadn’t opened up to the world yet, whereas here we are, wearing whatever and saying whatever the fuck we wanted to. I was a bit concerned that she wouldn’t be able to keep up with us.

I mean, we’re not exactly the definition of a typical heavy metal band. They take everything very seriously, from how they look (white overalls with fake blood, corpse paint, spikes, etc, depending on the type of metal) to how they behave on stage.

We just make a fool of ourselves. We do shit to make people laugh and things fun while they enjoy our music. But while we may not look or behave like a ‘typical’ heavy metal band, we’re still metal because the final product is still heavy metal.

Personality-wise though, I thought she was very nice. My first words to her were ‘are you ready?’ to which she replied that she couldn’t wait to try it out. That was great of her. It got us on the same frequency and from then on, Mucus and her were just moving and grooving together.

Jai: Yeah, I actually felt bad for her! [laughs] I mean, of all the metal bands out there, she had to be “stuck with” Mucus! Metal is already pretty extreme but we’re extreme-r than extreme, so good job Glory!

Glory: Thank you!

Jaarvis: Yeah. I think she can front a metal band now! The guys in the crowd were asking me how I groomed her but I told them I only took like 10 seconds to tell her what to do. I didn’t groom shit la! (whole room erupts in laughter)

Glory: I actually went to Mucus’s Facebook page to watch your videos to try to see what you guys were like and  I remember seeing a video of Jaarvis screaming into the mic while wearing his underwear on the outside. That was when I realised you guys were one crazy bunch. Honestly, I was also a bit nervous because I didn’t know if I could match up to the energy level you guys have.

But that said, I hadn’t even met you guys so I didn’t know what your personalities were like. In the end, it turned out way better than I expected!

These guys are very friendly and they’ve been great at guiding me. They’re also really funny so I thoroughly enjoyed the whole process. Thanks to them, I have a new outlook on what heavy metal is like. It’s not just dark, mysterious or scary. It can also be pretty fun. I liked it even though I don’t have a music background, so I guess others will probably enjoy it more if they learn more about the genre.

RICE: On that note, how was the whole experience, Glory?

Glory: It was very, very fun! Screaming into a microphone helped me to relax and destress. It’s really different from what I do. As much as I enjoy ASMR and making ASMR videos, it can be quite stressful sitting in front of a camera, making sure that the sounds are perfect. But when you’re screaming, you don’t worry about it. You just let go. It’s very raw and cathartic.

Despite being on the opposite end of the spectrum, there’s definitely a similarity in the therapeutic effects both ASMR and metal have.

 

RICE: Mucus, what about you guys? How did it feel being the guiding light into this new world for Glory?

Jaarvis: It was surreal and I actually felt … euphoric.

When I was guiding Glory into this other world, I felt like I was actually guiding a lot of other people as well. To be that guy and the band that gets to do this; who are going to try helping other people open their minds just a little to see what it’s like on the other side, I think I can speak for the rest of Mucus when I say we’re beyond honoured.

I’m just very happy that this shit is happening la. It’s about time. Although we don’t represent all the different types of heavy metal bands in Singapore, I think we did a good job representing the scene and the music itself. It was awesome being able to show her what it’s like and breaking the misconceptions people have about metal—violent tendencies, talking shit about religion and all that. I mean yes, it has happened and it’s still happening to this day, but that’s based on the theme of the album or the band which is more personal. And that’s what Metal is—pure emotions transcribed into words. It’s beautiful.”

RICE: That is absolutely fantastic dude. How did you think Glory did? Was there anything about her performance that you guys are particularly proud of?

Jaarvis: I think she did great! I’m especially proud of her vocals on stage. I made a mental note to run through how to scream with her before the show but I totally forgot. I was pretty damn high from all the Martell NCF I drank. So thank you Martell! Cheers!

When the song started and we did the screams I was like WOAH, this girl has got it man. She did great. Everyone in the crowd was looking at her and no one looked at me. Cheebye! (Laughs)

Also, the fact that she became more open. She was very shy and scared the first time she met us. But little by little, she started trusting us. But that’s also because we started to open up to her as well. We kept telling her not to be scared. I mean, what’re we going to do y’know?

 

RICE: What was the most memorable part of the night? What will stay with you forever?

Glory: Being on stage and just exchanging screams with Jaarvis. Yeah, I’d say that’s the most memorable thing.

Jaarvis: Not the stage-dive?

Glory: That comes a close second.

Jai: Wah, Jaarvis. She put you first!

Glory: Of course! Because we all worked well together so well. Without you guys, I couldn’t have done all of that.

Jaarvis: For us, apart from it being the first show we headlined, sharing the stage with someone who’s from the other end of the sonic spectrum made it a night to remember—the whole idea of showcasing what the genre and people in this community are really like.

From the start till end, the crowd and energy was amazing.

 

RICE: Did you see another side of the metal community that night? Meaning that you never knew they could be this inclusive to someone who isn’t particularly familiar with the scene?

Jaarvis: Not really. Metalheads are way more inclusive than a lot of people assume.

Jai: Yeah. At the end of the day, metalheads are all just big teddy bears.

Jaarvis: I would say they’re not opposed to people who aren’t in the metal scene coming in, but concerned with us representing the local scene properly. We did get some flak for it. There were people telling us that others said some shit but fuck it. Too bad you didn’t get chosen to do this. Don’t be sad la.

I understand where they’re coming from though, when they think we’re not good representatives of the genre. But they’re only looking at it from the surface. We look at it in terms of the end result. Our music is heavy metal. How we do our music isn’t their problem.

But I like the fact they’re very defensive and protective over the genre itself. That’s one of our strengths.

RICE: And were there any challenges you guys faced? What were you worried about?

Glory: I think for me, the only challenge I faced was actually agreeing to do this. When I was first approached to participate, I was kind of unwilling because it was so far out of my comfort zone.

But after talking to my boyfriend and a bit more thought, I figured I’d at least find out more and try to understand everything. After the meeting with the production crew, everything was just like, set. And I’m someone who’s a bit afraid to say no to other people; I’ll just take it upon myself to do it. This was a big step for me and required a lot of courage! Thankfully, everyone was so welcoming and nice.

 

RICE: Was it the same for you guys?  

Jaarvis: Nah. We couldn’t wait to do this!

Jai: We never say no. We’re all camwhores la. Any chance we get to be in front of the camera, we say yes. Especially me. (Laughs)

Jaarvis: We never doubted anything. The only thing I was fucking worried about was the date [of the performance]. It was only about a month away from when we were informed and in the ten years that I’ve been doing shows, I’ve never organised a show in such a short time.

We got pretty lucky when it came to booking a decent venue. The space was actually already booked by another punk group. They’re my friends la, but they hadn’t paid the deposit yet so before they could, I paid first. Whoops!

Jai: We didn’t even call the guy. We just transferred him the money. So afterwards, I sent him an email and he was like, ‘bro you already put the deposit ah?’ and I said YES. (Everyone laughs.) Other than that, the biggest “problem” was that we don’t fuck up the show. That was the main aim.

Jaarvis: But even if we fucked it up, it would’ve been funny because we do a lot of fucked up things so fucking up while doing fucked up things would’ve been hilarious!

 

RICE: That would’ve been awesome. Glory, can you share some of the lessons you’ve learnt? What’s your biggest takeaway from this whole experience?

Glory: Wow, there were so many things I learnt because I really started from zero. Like, I hadn’t even heard of mosh pits and didn’t know what they were. Stage-diving too.

Mosh pits are really fun actually. I mean, even if you fall, there’ll always be someone to pick you up and it felt like everyone there was like a family.

You go up to someone, push them a little bit and they’ll push you back. And in the end you become friends and maybe take a picture together. It’s just nice how everyone just enjoys the music together, side by side throughout the whole gig.

As for my biggest takeaway, I’d say I learnt not to judge too quickly. Some people have this notion that there’s nothing good about heavy metal and that metalheads are all a bunch of underground, bad kids. But they’re not. We’re all the same; all human. It’s just a different interest. We all have things that we’re passionate about. The community is also really close-knit and friendly. Everyone knows everyone.

Jaarvis: I think that’s something that was pretty obvious. You’d see everyone outside just talking and laughing but the thing is: not everyone knows everyone. Everyone makes friends with everyone.

Jai: If you see it from the outside, you’d think that everyone knows each other. It’ll look like some big barbeque with everyone’s just chilling and hanging out.

Jaarvis: There was a guy from Sweden and his 9-year-old boy was wearing a Mucus tee shirt.

Glory: And they’ll invite you to other gigs as well! They were like telling me that there was another show next week.

Jaarvis: So ultimately, if you like the music, everyone gets to know each other.

RICE: Okay Glory, now that you’ve taken a first-hand look into the subculture, how would you explain what metal’s really about to someone who used to be just like you—someone who knew nothing about metal initially?

Glory: I’ll definitely tell them that it’s most probably nothing like how they assume it is. What the band is doing is just an expression of how they’re feeling, through music. They’re also really passionate about what their singing or playing. Finally, I’d offer to bring the person down for a metal gig to show him/her how it really is. Then they can decide from there.

Oh, and who metalheads are on stage or at a gig isn’t reflective of who they are in real life.

 

RICE: Mucus, is Glory’s description accurate?

Jaarvis: Okay, Glory’s description is good and accurate but only to a certain extent. When she speaks about bringing someone to a metal show, in her perspective, it’s the Mucus show because she’s only attended one metal gig. But not every show is like the Mucus show. Actually, only the Mucus show is the Mucus show. (Laughs)

We promote our gigs like carnivals, asking people to come down, chill and have a drink or two. We don’t take ourselves and things so seriously. It’s just more “fun” y’know?

All the other gigs can be very serious, very brutal and stuff. Which is totally cool, just that we’re not like that. So while other shows have that fun factor as well, it’s a different kind of fun. It’s the fun that you will now understand because you’ve already been to your first show. If you went there as a first-timer, you wouldn’t understand.

But no matter what type of metal gig you go to, it’ll be the same shit happening: people will be laughing and enjoying each other’s company.

 

RICE: Ahh, that’s very heartening to know! So Glory, is this the last we’ve seen of Glory the metalhead? Would you attend or even perform at another Mucus or metal gig in the future?

Glory: Who knows man! I definitely won’t close the door on me going back. Now that I’ve experienced metal, if someone asks me about it then sure, why not? I think it’s an experience that everyone should have at least once in their lifetime. They need to open their mind and give it an honest chance before deciding if they like it or not.

So yeah, I’d go to a gig with them. I’ll just contact Mucus beforehand since we’ve become friends!

RICE: And I’m guessing Mucus will welcome Glory back with open arms if she wants to share the stage with you guys again?

Jai: Of course la! Any day!

Jaarvis: We always welcome people to join us. Metal or non-metalhead.

 

RICE: Okay, final question: if you could pick anyone in Singapore to do what Glory did, who would it be and why?

Jaarvis, Jai, Lyon: (immediately and unanimously) Shanmugam.

Lyon: Or Rachel Chan.

Jai: I actually liked him before the Watain cancellation y’know. My grandmother likes him too. But for him to say metal is all Malays or whatever. That’s a very racist thing to say!

Jaarvis: Shanmugam is this influential guy who people look up to but he’s saying all these things that aren’t true. He needs to come to a Mucus show to see what it’s really like. I’m willing to bet my ass-virginity that if he comes to one of our gigs, he’ll change his tune.

Jai: If Shanmugam ever comes to a Mucus show, we’re 99% sure he’ll fall in love with the genre and support the scene.

Jaarvis: Yeah. I think metalheads would actually welcome him, to be honest. They’d know that it’s going to make an impact on the scene for the better so they’ll be like, okay let’s just show this guy a good time.

Lyon: I think in general, the metal scene In Singapore is a little bit, I wouldn’t say ‘oppressed’, but there’s a reason why we’re all considered “underground”. In places like Norway or Sweden, for example, it’s so different. Everywhere you go, you hear metal. There’s even a radio station for it. It’s part of the culture. So I think Singapore has to change and catch up la.

Jai: Nobody comes into the metal scene already a metalhead through and through. Most people are like ‘oh, my friend lent me this CD to listen to and asked me to come down to watch his band’. So they went, got scared initially, then realised that everyone’s really nice.

Glory: I agree with Mucus. Because of the whole Watain issue, the general public’s notion of metal has gotten even worse and it’s not fair since it’s not true. That has to change and so I feel that an ordinary person trying it out would already be a good fit.  

Have something to say scream about this story? Go to a metal gig, learn how to scream, then holler at community@ricemedia.co

Author

Justin Vanderstraaten Staff writer