Contributed by Daniel Chew
The Strikeforce went from being a group of percussion enthusiasts to a performance group that has appeared before the President. City News talks to the loud bunch.
Household items banging loudly, mad jumping up and down, with the occasional shout. No, this is not your mom doing her daily “thing”. Like the legendary Spartans, these percussion “troopers” possess great discipline, fire in their bones and get this: They crush metal bins with their bare hands. Plus, they have a war cry that could rival those warriors of old.
They are called The Strikeforce, a group started by local entrepreneur Tan Boon, which combines visual dance moves with innovative percussion playing. This ensemble was birthed in 2005, and its inaugural performance was on May Day 2005 at an NTUC dinner event. Guests that evening included Singapore’s Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong and several Cabinet ministers. The SM was very impressed and delighted with their performance. Not bad for a group of 60-strong performers who have had very little music knowledge.
|PHOTOS: Daniel Poh, Gary Sim & Michael Chan|
The group quickly went on to achieve nationwide status as a premier performing group. The most recent one was for MediaCorp’s Marina Bay Countdown 2008 on 31 December 2008. The Strikeforce has also performed overseas in cities like Osaka, Beijing, Shanghai, Taipei, Phuket and Kuala Lumpur.
City News spoke to Tan to find out how this group, which is made up of men and women of all age, from 12 to 55, has attained such a high performance level so quickly.
CN: The Strikeforce’s performance for SM Goh was a great start! How many people were there in the group then, and how old were they?
T: There were about 20 people, aged from 12 to 55. There was lots of energy — we wanted to include the older members to prove that they can have fun as well too. We wanted to include everyone who wanted to join us.
CN: Why the name The Strikeforce?
T: The word “strike” means to sound by percussion, to smite or blast and also to implant or induce a feeling. “Force” would be something likened to power, intensity, to influence, efficacious power and to make an impression on the mind. This name totally describes our group; plus it has a nice ring to it especially when you watch one of our performances.
CN: I watched one your performances some time last year and it was really powerful! All the hitting and banging made me feel like doing it too! I have seen similar percussion performances but there are various factors that make you guys stand out from the rest.
T: Thanks! We try our best to stay away from conventional rhythms and especially conventional presentation methods for percussion ensemble. Thinking out of the box as well as out of YouTube is very important for us too. However, we are fully convinced that there is nothing new under the sun. Our sources of inspiration are Jesus Christ, our pastor Kong Hee, and we draw ideas from one another during active brainstorming sessions. We try to include world rhythms and fuse them with what we have in mind, and make them our own. Other great musicals such as Blast, Stomp and Recycled Percussion have also inspired us to greater heights of performing.
CN: Tell us about your overseas gigs.
T: We have been to Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, China and Kuala Lumpur for performances. In Beijing China, we performed for the Singapore Tourism Board. That was a really fun time for all of us. We had to put up a huge performance and everyone was really tired but it was all worth the effort. Everyone was thoroughly thrilled to be doing this overseas.
CN: What are your biggest performances locally?
T: In Singapore, we have been part of the Chingay Parade for three years since 2004. We also performed on National Day in 2005 and 2006.
CN: What do you hope to see in the next few years for The Strikeforce?
T: Ideally, we’ll have 200 people in the team. This would include people from all walks of life and background. We are currently helping youth who are at risk and also want to be able to help people with any form of disability. Our style of performing is a bit like Stomp but we are different. We might be working towards getting a DVD out later on but that’s just at the planning stages.
CN: Sounds great! So you are in fact helping those who are less privileged and even those with disabilities? How can anyone out there be part of this group? Any requirements like possessing music background or some form of former training?
T: We hope to foster camaraderie and also allow everyone to experience the discipline and fun of performing in a percussion ensemble. No experience is required but if you have some then it would be great. The most important trait we are looking for is the willingness to learn and to commit. Skill is the least-considered criterion.
Check out The Strikeforce at www.myspace.com/strikeforcesg
What The Strikeforce Has Done:
- Chingay Parade, 2004, 2005, 2006
- National Day Parade, 2005, 2006
- Launch of Vivo City 2006
- Its Showtimelive on Ch 8 Oct, 2006
- Global Day of Prayer 2008
- F1 2008 – 12 performances
- Singapore Drumfest 2008
- World Aids Day Love Amplified Concert 2008
- Marina Bay Countdown 2008
- Osaka , Japan – Midosuji Parade and Marching Band Festival in Oct 2005
- Taipei, Taiwan – Taiwan Emerge 2006
- Phuket, Thailand – Patong Beach Festival in Nov 2006
- Shanghai Beijing, China – STB Singapore Season 07 performing with Sun Ho
- Malaysia – Launch of Nokia 5800 at the Pavilion Jan 2009