This label is planning to put some promising new talents on the map.
Words by Jam Pascual
Southeast Asia is a hotbed of musical talent. People who don’t keep up with musical acts from the Philippines and its neighbors may not know that, but OFFMUTE does, it wants to make that fact common knowledge.
Sony Music Entertainment just launched OFFMUTE, a pan-regional label focused on promoting and championing rising Southeast Asian talent. “Pan-regional,” meaning, let’s bring all of Southeast Asia to the party, and lift everybody up on a bigger stage.
Ariel Fung, Executive Vice President of Sony Music Southeast Asia enthuses, “I am so excited to see the launch of OFFMUTE, which embraces different genres of artists with their unique culture and style, and with the potential of cross-border success.”
OFFMUTE is hitting the ground running with a promising roster: Clara Benin from the Philippines, liesl-mae from Malaysia, and Mezzaluna from Indonesia.
With three EP’s under her belt (2020’s fragments being her latest) and her full-length Human Eyes, Benin is the most established musician in the bunch, a folk singer-songwriter who was very active in the gig and festival circuit pre-COVID. “Being here just feels right for me,” she shares, excited to expand her reach to a wider audience.
There’s liesl-mae from Malaysia, whose 2019 single “Macaroni Song” demonstrates a knack for mellow acoustic pop, and a sweet, airy, singing style. She plans to use OFFMUTE as a platform to advocate for mental health awareness. As for other plans? “Honestly just to go with the flow for now. I’ve been writing a couple songs, getting ready for the first release and everything.”
And we’ll have to consider Mezzaluna, hailing from Indonesia, OFFMUTE’s wild card. She’s set to release her very first single this year under the label. Her term for her musical style is “deep bluesy,” and she cites Amy Winehouse as a major inspiration. She shares: “I want to share that same exact feeling, the way I feel when I listen to other people’s music. I want to have that message.
Sony Music Singapore general manager Shawn Paltiel shared the name of the label came from how life has changed under the COVID-19 pandemic, by ushering in a paradigm of video conference communication. “We realised that especially with the lack of ability to travel and go around and have direct face-to-face interaction for audiences, that it can be very difficult to break through the noise at times,” he states. Physical touring might not be a possibility now, but that isn’t stopping the label. “So through OFFMUTE, we want to make sure that amazing artists like Liesl, Clara and Mez are able to reach audiences across the region and […] we want to switch the mute button off.” So turn your volume up and switch your camera on—Southeast Asian talent is on call, and this isn’t something you’ll want to miss.