Singer-songwriter Joel Tan has announced he’ll be retiring the musical project Gentle Bones in Singapore by the end of the year.
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Tan performed a charity concert at the Sands Theatre in Marina Bay Sands last night (Friday July 22), bringing out several fellow Singaporean pop artists onstage: JJ Lin, Charlie Lim, Linying, and Tay Kewei – all of whom have collaborated with Tan – made appearances.
Today, Tan made social media posts celebrating the show and thanking those who helped make it happen – and also confirmed that that would be his “last ever concert in Singapore”.
“It’s been one heck of a ride since I started my ‘Gentle Bones’ YouTube channel for acoustic covers back in 2010,” he wrote on Instagram, “and every year I find myself not needing to ask for anymore from this so much so that the past many years I only had the intention to contribute to the growth of our local music market, in the hopes that a rising tide would lift all boats.”
He continued: “I’d be lying if I said that the accompanying successes hadn’t rubbed off on me in inefficient ways for all and so I believe it is time for me to no longer be involved in Singapore as Gentle Bones, a recording artiste.”
Tan said that by the end of 2022, he would no longer perform or participate in local activities as Gentle Bones. “I’ll be officially retiring Gentle Bones in Singapore.”
Tan appeared to rule out a total exit from music, saying: “There’ll still be more music to be made.” Read his statement in full below.
Last year, Gentle Bones released his self-titled debut album, eight years after he released his debut single ‘Until We Die’. He made headlines in 2015 for becoming Universal Music’s first Singaporean signee, and in 2018 released a joint album with Singaporean producer MYRNE called ‘B4NGER PROJECT’. In 2021, he was Singapore’s second most-streamed local artist on Spotify after JJ Lin.
Throughout his career, Gentle Bones has been a prolific collaborator, notably working with local artists as well as regional ones. Released independently, ‘Gentle Bones’ featured collaborations with local artists like Benjamin Kheng, lewloh and Jasmine Sokko, as well as Southeast Asian artists like Gamaliél and Clara Benin. Gentle Bones has also recently collaborated with Lullaboy (forming the band The Bones & The Boy), Rangga Jones, TENGY and notably, JJ Lin, on the single ‘At Least I Had You’.
In a 2021 interview with NME, Tan expressed pride in how ‘Gentle Bones’ drew connections between various Asian artists while being entirely produced in Singapore. “We’ve never been close to the epicentre of where things were happening, culturally,” he said Singaporeans and their relationships to iconic pop culture. “We were always consuming it, as people who were very far away from it.”
As for the work he felt needed to be done to develop Singaporean music, he commented: “I feel like there’s a lot more ground to cover, and I appreciate anybody that covers some ground.”