Photo credit: Gentle Bones Facebook page

Gentle Bones is dominating the local music scene

Local singer-songwriter Joel Tan shared how he went from writing songs in his bedroom to appearing on MTV.

Brandon Chia
Brandon Chia

Published: 18 October 2016, 12:00 AM

2016 has been a phenomenal year for local singer-songwriter Joel Tan, also known as Gentle Bones.

The folk-pop singer, the first Singaporean artist signed by Universal Music Singapore last year, has received plenty of accolades for his work.

Since the start of 2016, Gentle Bones has attained the Super Nova award at the Hong Kong Asian-Pop Music Festival, won two Composers and Authors Society of Singapore (Compass) Awards and was featured on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Asia list, along with international icons like K-pop legend, G-Dragon.

In June this year, the 24-year-old released his sophomore EP, Geniuses & Thieves, which topped the iTunes chart within an hour of its release.


Joel has released two eps since his debut: Gentle Bones (2014) and Geniuses & Thieves (2016).


Most recently, Joel performed at the Asia Song Festival held in Busan and Seoul, South Korea, in October.


Gentle Bones performed on the same stage as prominent Korean boyband, EXO, during the Asia Song Festival from Oct 9 to 10.


Besides being featured as this month’s MTV ASIA SPOTLIGHT Artist, the eclectic singer is also nominated for the Best Southeast Asian Act at the upcoming 2016 MTV Europe Music Awards (EMA).

How does he feel about being nominated together with popular regional and international artists like Sarah Geronimo from Philippines and Yuna from Malaysia?


Do not forget to vote for Gentle Bones!


“It is mad. I grew up watching MTV and its yearly EMAs, so to be involved is a real dream come true,” said Joel.

Now that he has performed in various stages across the region, what is his biggest milestone to date? It is no other than his two-night concerts at the Esplanade Concert Hall on Jun 10 and 11, just a week after he released Geniuses & Thieves.


Gentle Bones (front row: Third person from the right) performed to a sold out crowd for two nights in a row.


“It was special for me as I performed to not only the people of my country, but also to those that have supported me from the beginning,” said Joel.

So, what is the secret behind his successful song writing process?

“Most of my released songs were birthed in my bedroom,” said Joel, revealing a fun fact about himself.

Inspiration hits him at unexpected moments throughout the day too. “They usually surface from random impulses to write. I constantly rethink my lyrics and edit them on my phone.”


Joel performing at Ignite! Music Festival 2014, one of his earlier gigs.
Photo credits: Gentle Bones Facebook page


Nowadays, he finds himself spending more time in the studio with producers, where he writes and produces simultaneously.

When asked about the challenges he has faced with writing, Joel answered: “Finding the right words and melodies that please me. I’ve written hundreds of songs, and only put out 11 so far.”

Out of all the songs he worked on, Joel’s latest single ‘Shifting Over’, is the track he is most proud of. He also enjoyed collaborating with local singer-songwriter, Linying, on ‘Liar’ from Geniuses & Thieves.

Watch Joel belt his latest single 'shifting over' in this heart wrenching music video.

“I’ve been saving and reworking [‘Shifting Over’] for a long time now. Working with Linying for ‘Liar’ was a wondrous journey too. We wrote the song within hours,” said Joel.

Cast your votes for 2016 MTV EMA Best Southeast Asia nominee Gentle Bones here. Voting is open till Nov 6, 6.59am.

A bonus for all Gentle Bones fans: We played a word association game with Joel! Check out his doodles, drawn exclusively for Youth.SG readers, below.


Joel doodled the first thing he thought of when he read those three words.
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