NME Radar Sessions: For Singapore’s Subsonic Eye, nature is both personal balm and creative inspiration
Indie songwriters Nur Wahidah and Daniel Borces on how fostering a life-affirming, intimate relationship to nature inspired their acclaimed album ‘Nature Of Things’ – and changed them as people
Singapore indie rock band Subsonic Eye make their love for the great outdoors known on ‘Nature Of Things’, their acclaimed third album. For NME Radar Sessions, they take us to some of their favourite nature spots in the Southeast Asian city-state and explain how they came to embrace the green as inspiration. Watch the full video above.
NME Radar Sessions, a series exploring the relationship between art and place, touches down in Singapore for interviews with four artists and live performances filmed on location. In its inaugural chapter, Subsonic Eye’s chief songwriters Nur Wahidah (vocals) and Daniel Borces (guitar) tell us how in recent years they’ve come to bask in the splendour of the country’s natural environs, making an album that reflects this newfound passion.
- READ MORE: Subsonic Eye, THELIONCITYBOY, Khally and Fariz Jabba – watch the NME Radar Sessions trailer now
Subsonic Eye’s past two albums – 2017’s debut ‘Strawberry Feels’ and 2018’s dreamy follow-up ‘Dive Into’ – were the work of a band who enjoyed burying themselves in the dense and murky mixes of their songs. 2021’s ‘Nature Of Things’, though, captures a renewed group of young adults reaching for sunshine – with an ear for a gentler, but no less immersive, sonic impact.
These creative changes all started when Wahidah and Borces started getting out into the green. “We started looking at nature in this perspective about two years ago when we started cycling a lot, and then slowly you realise you’re part of it,” says Borces, who shows NME, Wahidah and other band members Lucas Tee and Jared Lim around his green spot of choice, Yishun Park.
Subsonic Eye and NME also head to Coney Island Park, which directly inspired a song on ‘Nature Of Things’. Wahidah and Borces had gone on an excursion to the green space in the northeast of Singapore, which greeted them with heavy rain. The downpour eventually subsided to reveal the park’s radiant scenery – an experience that Wahidah characterised as the island waking up. “That was a really beautiful feeling,” she said – one she immortalised on the exhilarating song ‘Further’.
Internationally renowned as a city in a garden, Singapore has melded nature and technology in creations such as the Rain Vortex at Jewel Changi Airport and the Supertrees at Gardens By The Bay. But Wahidah has a soft spot for places that are more off the beaten path. To her, nature is a “reflection of everything” and a force that “solves any problems” when she spends time in it. In the song ‘Fruitcake’, she sings compassionately about a misunderstood person who’s “lost her brain and her nerves” – an attempt to exorcise her own demons.
Watch Subsonic Eye perform an acoustic version of ‘Fruitcake’, and other album cut ‘Animinimism’, from nature for NME Radar Sessions here:
In ‘Nature Of Things’, Subsonic Eye have crafted an invigorating indie rock diary that captures the simple yet transformative power nature can have on an individual grasping for balance. Its seemingly endless capacity to inspire self-reflection and renewal has no doubt touched both Borces and Wahidah, who agree that their explorations in nature have made them “a lot less uptight and tense”.
“When I go out and take a ride, it literally feels like a blessing,” Wahidah adds. “When I go out and there’s trees everywhere and there’s birds chirping, it’s a beautiful day.”
Subsonic Eye’s newfound appreciation for nature isn’t fleeting inspiration for an album or mere fodder for a press cycle. For their next album, Borces and Wahidah are turning their attention to the distractions that prevent them from embracing this spiritual side of their lives. “Our experiences with nature [are] always in the back of our heads,” Borces explains. “So all [the] new songs we’re writing [are about] the things that get in the way of that feeling.”
Once you’ve watched Subsonic Eye’s full interview above, stay tuned to NME for more NME Radar Sessions episodes coming up, with interviews with and performances by THELIONCITYBOY, Khally and Fariz Jabba.
This instalment of NME Radar Sessions was produced with the support of the Singapore Tourism Board’s SG Stories Content Fund Season 2
Want more NME Radar Sessions? Find the full series – both interviews and performances – here as new weekly chapters are premiered this month