A serendipitous encounter backstage between Singaporean singer-songwriter Joel Tan (better known by his stage name Gentle Bones) and Indonesian Singapore Gamaliel Tapiheru (who performs under the mononym Gamaliél) in 2013 led to a longstanding camaraderie, culminating in new music—a single titled “Positive Procrastination”, which was released in July 2021.
For the uninitiated, Gamaliél is a member of Indonesian pop trio GAC (Gamaliél Audrey Cantika) that produced hits such as ‘Berlari Tanpa Kaki’ (‘Running Without Legs’), ‘Bahagia’ (‘Happy’) and ‘Dahulu’ (‘Back Then’) in their decade-long stint together.
In late 2019, the group went on hiatus to focus on the next chapter of their musical careers as solo artists. Two years later, Gamaliél released his first solo EP Q1, which was rooted in soulful self-exploration under the R&B genre. Similarly, Gentle Bones’ music often pulls at heartstring, mostly inspired by heartache and self-love.
Ahead, we speak to Gentle Bones and Gamaliél to find out more about the inspiration behind their single “Positive Procrastination”, creative process, style evolution and more.
ON MEETING AND COLLABORATING WITH EACH OTHER
Gentle Bones: It’s a funny story! In 2013, I was opening for an act called Us The Duo. At that time, I’d already been watching videos of Gamaliél and his sister Audrey singing on YouTube. When we bumped into each other in the lift after my performance and he said to me: ‘I loved your set just now’, I was like ‘what is this guy doing in Singapore?’ because I recognised him from his videos. We met once more in Indonesia—about a year or two later—and now he’s become this huge pop star in Indonesia.
It was kind of a natural decision to work together because I had like half of a song done up that really reminded me of what GAC brought to the music scene in Indonesia, so I asked Gamaliél if he wanted to sing with me on this track and he said yes.
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ON THE MEANING BEHIND “POSITIVE PROCRASTINATION”
Gentle Bones: We had a short conversation about this single: On the importance of taking downtime and how boredom actually breeds a lot of great ideas—an important subject to us as creators during the pandemic. We don’t really get to perform anymore and we’re purely just making music.
Gamaliél: As people, we tend to compare our pace with others. And I think that we actually know ourselves best, especially with things like: When is the right time for us to create, get more energy and just sleep the whole day. It’s definitely okay to do so, especially during the pandemic. When people [content creators] are out there creating, it doesn’t necessarily mean we have to as well. If you need to charge yourself, take the time to do that. Sometimes when you wait for the right time to do things, the output will eventually be better. Which is what this song is about—it’s a positive song that we all need today.
Gentle Bones: It’s hard not to give into hustle culture which is why this song is about celebrating the beauty of rest and doing nothing at all. “Positive Procrastination” is about putting a positive spin on taking the time to recharge.
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ON THEIR CREATIVE PROCESSES
Gentle Bones: It starts off in various ways actually—from a couple of words on my Notes app to singing a rough melody in the shower. It can even be producing a rough beat on my computer and blabbering on for hours. Sometimes I make a simple beat on my computer, go cook a meal and just try singing a song out loud with the voice memo App open.
Gamaliél: I usually work on the chord progression first, followed by the melody and the lyrics come last because the music usually inspires me most of the time.
Gentle Bones: And the creative process for “Positive Procrastination” was fairly straightforward. It was about writing a song that we both felt for, and then kind of throwing around melody ideas and a rough structure for both of us to sing. I attempted to push the sound in a more musically technical direction because I felt that Gamaliél’s tone and voice are amazing—he has trained his voice beautifully— and he really took this song to a level where I definitely couldn’t have by myself.
Gamaliél: It happened really quickly. He texted me in January or February this year and sent me a demo—which I thought sounded pretty final. Two weeks later, I recorded my lines in the studio while texting back and forth with Joel on the right vibe he needed for the song and that was it. It’s crazy how the pandemic actually makes a lot of things easier somehow.
ON FASHION AND STYLE HEROES
Gamaliél: Fashion, like music, is all about self-expression and showing off your character—it’s connected. I think that they’re both platforms to tell a story and I personally love both [fashion and music] because they really help me to my story out.
Gentle Bones: I tend to approach fashion in a more fluid way. It’s less about identity and more about wearing something that helps present my music in a different light.
Gamaliél: I think that’s the fun part because daily life can get boring at times so fashion and music are great ways for us to escape. I personally love sleek, street styles, but it also depends on how I feel and what story I want to tell at that moment. Now, in my solo journey as an artist, which is a bit more emotional and raw, fashion helps me tell a story in addition to the music.
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Gentle Bones: In terms of style icons, if I had to name someone, I’d say Matthew Healy from The 1975. His fashion and style evolution has been very cool and inspiring. Justin Bieber too.
Gamaliél: It might sound cliché but I get inspired by people who are around me such as my friends, family, people on the street and Instagram—subconsciously.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.