Singaporean duo look to make PH splash with song about mental health during pandemic

Singapore’s Gentle Bones and Benjamin Kheng teamed up for the new single ‘Better With You’

MANILA — Singaporean duo Gentle Bones and Benjamin Kheng are looking to make a splash not only in their home country but also in the Philippines and the rest of the world with their new single, “Better With You.”

The song is now available on all streaming platforms (and hopefully in physical format when the album is done and ready.

“Better With You” was written and recorded during this pandemic and is about reaching out to a loved one and checking on them if they are all right. The song has this Post Malone-Swae Lee/Matthew Heath/Grady Griggs vibe — chill lo-fi hip-hop.

“The pandemic has seen many people have to cope with mental health issues, and it has been tough these past nine months,” said Joel Tan, who performs under the name Gentle Bones. “And when we’re depressed, music is one thing that we turn to.”

“When I look at the lyrics Joel wrote, I felt it sounded cheesy,” admitted Kheng who first gained regional recognition with his indie pop rock band, the Sam Willows. “But when the song was put together, then it sounded great.”

Both Tan and Kheng have been friends for a while but this is their first collaboration on a song.

Kheng acknowledged that with the world made smaller by the internet and technology, everyone has access to music from all over the world. He pointed out that Ben&Ben has also a following among native Singaporeans. Both Gentle Bones and himself have previously performed in Manila as well.

“We both think that ‘Better With You’ is a song for everyone regardless of country, race, or belief. What we are going through in this time is something everyone can empathize,” pointed out Tan. “And we know that Filipinos are massive music fans and listen to music from everywhere. We are confident they will love ‘Better With You.’”

In recent years, many Filipino acts have performed in international shows in a variety of genres. Most recently Filipino metal band Valley of Chrome made a triumphant entrance in the Wacken Open Air festival in Germany, which is one of heavy metal’s biggest shows in the world. Dub artist Red-I also performed in the One Love Reggae festival in England last year. Singapore’s Baybeats Festival has also showcased a number of Filipino bands such as We Are Imaginary and Slapshock, to name but a few.

Local festivals such as Wanderland and Summer Noise have featured many regional bands as well, opening up more opportunities for music to be spread and heard — Gentle Bones and Kheng included.

The Singaporean duo previously collaborated on the song “Father Father” in 2014.

Tan, who has recorded three albums to date, has made waves as one of Singapore’s top English artists. He has performed to sell-out shows in South Korea, England, Hong Kong, Indonesia, and Malaysia. In 2016, he landed a spot in Forbes magazine’s “30 for 30” list for regional entertainment personalities.

Kheng has performed with the Sam Willows in festivals across North America, Asia, and Australia. He released his solo extended play single this past June 2020.

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