The French CONNECTION
Pop-rock duo Scarlet Avenue credit their formative years in France for influencing their music
When your formative years were spent in France and your musical journey started there, it's probably apt to have a song titled C'est La Vie (French for "that's life") in your repertoire.
Singaporean brothers Amos and Adam Ang of up-and-coming local pop-rock duo Scarlet Avenue lived near the city of Bordeaux for six years when their engineer father was posted there. They were there from 1999 to 2002, and from 2004 to 2007.
In 2004, the brothers bought their first guitars and enrolled in a music school.
Amos, 24, told M: "We were so excited, we were strumming our way out of the shop.
"Guitar lessons once a week were not enough for us. We would strum along to YouTube guitar tutorials."
Their first live performance was also in France - in front of 200 parents at their music school in 2006.
Adam, 20, said: "I only had two notes to play on the guitar, but my hands were trembling and I fell when going up to the stage.
"But the performance made us realise that we wanted to write music seriously."
Ten years later, Scarlet Avenue are finally releasing their debut album 2024. It is available on major digital platforms such as Spotify and iTunes from Friday.
Adam, a second-year music student at Lasalle College of the Arts, said: "The album title is a combination of our current ages and represents a 'coming-of-age' achievement for us.
"It also suggests the future, with us chasing our aspirations."
Besides C'est La Vie, one of the album's tracks, Girl Next Door, was inspired by Amos' French ex-girlfriend.
"I was 15. She was 20. We broke up when I had to return to Singapore in 2007.
"She then tried to make a move on (Adam), who was 11. She is now married with kids," he said with a laugh.
The siblings, who also play the piano, bass guitar and drums, are single, much to the delight of their teenage female fans, whom they often perform to during school tours.
Adam recounted meeting a sobbing student at an all-girls secondary school two weeks ago.
He said: "She started crying when we performed and cried even harder when she hugged us. She later messaged us on Instagram to tell us that her friends had judged her but it did not matter."
But such fandom isn't new to Scarlet Avenue, who have been signed to local music label United Records since 2014, the year they released their first EP, Happy Heartbreak, which reached No. 7 on the local iTunes chart.
It was followed by two singles, Paper Plane and Lighthouse.
They held their first ticketed concert last Julyand will perform at the i Light Marina Bay 2016 light art festival on March 12, 13 and 19.
GOOD AND BAD
On the pros and cons of working with family, Adam said: "We can be honest with each other and have great chemistry on stage. We will know if we are going to sing an extra chorus without telling each other.
"But we also have our differences and disagreements. That's when our (housewife) mother steps in."
BAND OF BROTHERS: Siblings Amos (above, performing at age 14) and Adam Ang of pop-rock duo Scarlet Avenue.
Their parents are their biggest fans and have been supportive of their music career.
Amos, who didn't further his education after graduating from Dunearn Secondary School and is now a full-time musician at United Records, said: "In France, we would go crazy performing the same (US rock band) Green Day songs to our father.
"He listened to our hour-long concerts every day for two months."
The siblings, who speak fluent French, returned to Singapore briefly in 2002 so that Amos could prepare and sit his PSLE, and in 2007 for good when their father's second work contract ended.
But they were not prepared for the culture shock they faced back home.
Amos said: "Our peers were listening to pop singers such as Britney Spears while we liked classic rock bands such as Guns N' Roses and AC/DC.
"We also thought that we were very 'fashionable', but our cousin said that we 'needed help'."
Still, their French "upbringing" made a substantial difference.
Adam said: "We had two weeks of holidays every season, which gave us more time to practise music.
"We also had school subjects such as poetry and song, where we often had to present to our classmates. This made us less afraid of performing."
Amos added: "If we had grown up in Singapore, we would probably still be pursuing music as it is our passion.
"But if not for our lives in France, I think it would have taken a longer time to get to where we are now."
She started crying when we performed and cried even harder when she hugged us. She later messaged us on Instagram to tell us that her friends had judged her but it did not matter.
- Adam on a fan