The Sam Willows are the indie-folk quartet of siblings Ben and Narelle Kheng, and their friends Sandra Riley Tang and Jon Chua, who burst onto the scene in the middle of 2012 with what Singapore's leading broadsheet, The Straits Times, described as a group with "lush, multi-part, girl-boy melodies and breezy and soulful acoustic pop tunes".
Their first EP of original songs was released in October 2012 and peaked at number 6 on the local iTunes charts, and their YouTube account has drawn close to 100,000 views with their mixture of unique covers and fresh originals. More distinctly, The Sam Willows are a celebration of life, a melting pot of sounds from dirty blues to gospel-funk, pop-rock to indie-folk.
The Sam Willows are the first Singaporean band to be named leading Singapore young adult hit radio station 987FM's Rising Star, alongside international acts like Birdy and Ed Sheeran. They have also recently won the m:idea Youth Choice Award 2013 in the band category by popular vote.
Most excitingly, The Sam Willows will be representing Singapore in March 2013 as the youngest music act ever invited to play two prominent North American Music Festivals - South by Southwest Music Festival in Austin, Texas, (named SXSW 2013 - Freshman Favourite by review site Operation Every Band) and the Canadian Music Festival in Toronto, Ontario. Their North American tour will also cover Los Angeles, and possibly San Antonio, and Montreal. Come say hello!
What other people had to say about The Sam Willows EP:
Operation Every Band (Official SXSW band review site):
"For a debut EP, The Sam Willows’ introduction is quite a revelation. Opening up with the Bon Iver-inspired sounds of “Crown” to follow up with “Crimson”, an R&B joint that could have been stolen from a Prince record, The Sam Willows display a ton of talent, especially given their young ages. This sense of sonic exploration amid a pop record spells well for the band as they make an important trip to Austin next year all the way from Singapore. It’s telling that their “about” section on their website spends a good deal of time digging into the band’s influences, from theater productions to Stevie Ray Vaughn to “Singapore Idol”. Bonus points go for the band’s splendid vocal harmonies, the sharpest I’ve heard so far through the project."
Today (Singapore Newspaper):
"It almost seems like The Sam Willows - siblings Benjamin and Narelle Kheng, Jonathan Chua and Sandra Tang - came from nowhere to emerge as one of the most exciting musical prospects in Singapore in 2012..."
The Straits Times (Singapore Newspaper):
" Indie band The Sam Willows
By Eddino Abdul Hadi
By local indie band standards, the rise of the four-some who, on a whim, called themselves The Sam Willows, has been meteoric.
Barely a year after they formed, the quartet have already launched a debut CD, snared a distribution deal with major record label Warner Music Singapore, have had their songs played on radio and will make their mainstream television debut at the new year countdown show at Marina Bay which will be televised live on Dec 31.
By next March, the band - made up of siblings Benjamin and Narelle Kheng, Sandra Tang and Jonathan Chua - will make their international debut at the annual South By Southwest festival in Texas.