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Gentle Bones, Benjamin Kheng team up to spread good cheer with “Better With You”

We’ll soon be ushering in the new year as the end of 2020, the pandemic-wrought year that it is, draws nearer. This has been a rough year for everyone, no matter which industry they’re working in or which walks of life they come from, no one is spared from the misery of the COVID-19 pandemic. Knowing this, Singapore’s Gentle Bones and Benjamin Kheng hope to spread some good cheer with their latest collaboration, “Better With You”.

It’s the title track of the eponymous EP by Gentle Bones, which also features his solo pop track “Put My Hands Up”.

The two-track EP is the 26-year-old singer’s fourth, which he calls “a collection of my most personal and honest dialogues for 2020.”

With it, the singer – real name Joel Tan – allows listeners to have some insight to his thoughts at a time where COVID-19 has wreaked havoc, leaving most of us vulnerable and grappling with issues such as mental health, while at the same time sitting ourselves down and having some much-needed introspection.

Gentle Bones’ new EP “Better With You” is available on all platforms from today onwards, so be sure to check it out!

As the focus track, “Better With You” is described as a frank, thoughtful attempt at reaching out to a loved one and checking in on them - letting others know that the people around them value and appreciate them and that life indeed is better when they are around. 

With the soothing vocals and pop groove, the duo will woo everyone’s hearts with their warmth as they sing out this meaningful song in this festive season. The duo also highlighted that they managed to fit in a popular meme in the music arrangement with another producer of the track. Check out the song on all digital platforms to find out more!

Kheng joked that he wanted to call their project ‘Gentle Beng’ but Gentle Bones wouldn’t let him. Let’s find out what else they have to say about their latest collabo. Read on below for our interview with Gentle Bones (GB) and Benjamin Kheng (Ben)!

TheHive.Asia: This isn't your first time working together, of course, but what sort of new challenges did you guys have to overcome while collaborating during this pandemic and new normal? 

GB: Yup, this isn’t our first time working together. Thankfully Ben gave me much of his time. I sent him a couple of the melodies with some past lyrics, here and there, and I asked him whether he is willing to sing with me in this song and help write and finish the track, and he came on board. And it became the beautiful song that you hear right now, which is “Better With You”. It’s been a tricky time overall, but it’s also been a great time for making music. So which is making the most of it.

Ben: To be honest, I didn’t feel any challenges, because we actually had more time on our hands to get this project going. Thanks COVID! If anything, it’s just a bummer that we don’t get to perform it as much as we would’ve liked.

How has the pandemic affected you guys as musicians?

GB: It’s definitely been a tricky time, we ran out of opportunities to play in live shows, which has been a huge part of my career, and something I’ve really enjoyed, being able to present the music that I made to people who are willing to listen and watch it live. That’s out of the picture because of the pandemic but it also allows me time to really fall back in love in making music like I did when I was 16. With no pressure, no worries of having to prove anything. That’s one of the blessings that come out of this. I like to focus on the positive side of things.

Ben: I’m grateful for all the live-streaming gigs available, but I’d kill to play to a live audience. It’s also made me pivot. I pivoted hard. Have you seen me on TikTok? That’s me pivoting.

(Photo source: Cross Ratio Entertainment & Gentle Bones)

This latest EP is all about increasing mental health awareness, do tell us more about your whole process in producing the EP.

GB: The focus track of this EP is “Better With You”. “Put My Hands Up” is a bonus track that I am putting out together in this EP, for people to enjoy. It’s a tricky thing about mental health awareness, what we wanted to do with the song is sort of a reminder to people the world is really better with you around. 

And it’s not a statement when you put in the whole idea, the butterfly effect, whereby you can cause a good thing for somebody or you show a simple act to somebody in the day or one person in a week. That kind of love that is really outwards towards more and more people. It’s a beautiful thing and understanding it alone and acknowledging the fact that this world can be better with me around. 

And looking outside of yourself instead of being caught up with the troubles we have within. Being the source of love that you feel you like. That’s what we are trying to breach and I think mental health awareness kinda ties in as well.

GB, how was it like venturing into hip hop with "Put My Hands Up"? Talk to us more about the song.

GB: I always wanted to do hip hop songs, which just came to me one day just trying to write over some hip hop beats. Spreading together on some cool beat on logic, and I thought this song sounded quite cool, so I sang something over it. Then it became “Put My Hands Up”. It’s just meant to be a small play, you know when DJ says ‘put your hands up’ and I’m just saying ‘put my hands up’. 

(Photo source: Sony Music Singapore)

Ben, congrats on being nominated for Best Southeast Asia Act at the MTV Europe Music Awards! Care to share your thoughts on the type of music that Southeast Asian singers/musicians should produce, in order to make the region more internationally recognised for its music?

Ben: Thank you! I think we’re doing a really good job already as is. I don’t think we should pander too much to the West. We just gotta do us. Be cultural, be real, be dope. I think the more pressing battle is for locals to listen to their very own artists more. We can keep buying ad space, but it’s got to be word of mouth too.

Last but not least, are you working on any movies or TV series right now?

Ben: I am, but unfortunately I can’t say much right now!

(Photo source: Cross Ratio Entertainment)

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