Poplin is songwriter-producer Koi’s project outfit featuring guest vocalists. The debut, Une Débutante Au Jeu
, features vocalists Bridget Low and Lilia Yip in two songs each. The vocalists, prolific artists in the Singapore independent music scene with wide stage and studio experiences, have collaborated with many outfits apart from the multitude of bands they have fronted. Bridget is lead vocals to drum’n’bass outfit Breakbeat Theory
. She has dabbled in various genres over the years and sees her involvement as a form of expression and release from the doldrums of day-to-day life. Lilia is the singer-songwriter from the band Morphy
, which released their debut album Pink Ashes
in 2005.She is currently based in the UK where she works as a fashion designer-maker and musician. Koi (a.k.a. Guy Poplin), a self-miseducated musician in his 30s, helms the entire production process of his own material out of budget constraints and in true control-freak panache.
Une Débutante Au Jeu (“A Beginner in the Game”), is both a playful homage to French pop
aesthetics and a lighthearted poke at the francophillia culture at large. Aside from the intentionally kitsch use of Anglicised French words in the lyrics of the EP’s title track (not to mention at least one French word in each song title), Koi sought to distill his interpretation of what is the DNA fabric of the French chanson in terms of harmonic “colour” and instrumentation, then denaturing it with molecular impurities of jazz, Tin Pan Alley-esque, show tune, Gershwinia, torch song, twee, chamberpop, Shibuya-Kei and bossanova etc to conjure an opulent fantasy suspended in a jetlaglike space that eludes chronicling. “It’s like what I read about perfumery, where they start with a natural floral accord and then add stuff that makes it either smell even more real than how it smells in nature – a hyper reality – if not otherwise a brilliant artifice that ends up superseding people’s perceptions of the flower’s actual scent.”
The EP went from being Koi’s DIY ego trip to his DYI (Do-Yourself-In) ordeal. It took nearly 4 years from conceptualisation to release, the largely one-man-production incurring a long drawn-out timeline. Nevertheless, the project marks a triumph of the indie spirit over shoestring budgets, having been recorded in makeshift spaces like rehearsal studios and homes using budget equipment, and instruments borrowed from friends.
With the Poplin project, Koi aims to develop a unique brand of “Poplin music” through future
collaborations. Not pop music, a subset or extension of it, but music that emancipates “pop” from its affliction of being cast as a genre and the trappings of popularity. Poplin seeks to be prepop instead of pop, to create the ever-changing next music that taunts popularity, instead of succumbing to the mundanity of “now”.