Even as an undergraduate, Tim De Cotta (CS’11) was already nurturing his music career. He once travelled by bus all the way to Kuala Lumpur on a Friday night to perform at an event on Saturday. The next day, he rushed back to school and pulled an all-nighter for an upcoming presentation.
“I can still remember that it was a module about fan culture,” De Cotta said, laughing a little. “It was unbelievable — we even got an A for the presentation!”
Less than a decade after his graduation, De Cotta has made a name for himself in the local music scene with his soul, R&B, hip-hop and jazz tunes.
In January 2018, the 32-year-old singer-songwriter performed at the Saint Jerome’s Laneway Festival in Singapore, one of the biggest music events of the year. His original music is often played on the radio, and he has produced and appeared in countless gigs across the island.
De Cotta, who plays the bass and writes his own songs, is the director of Getai Group, a creative arts curation agency he co-founded in 2015. The agency organises events such as Getai Soul and Getai Electronica that feature local, emerging artists.
One of the most memorable events he produced was a performance called Getai Electronica, held at the rooftop parking lot of Chinatown’s People’s Park Complex in February 2015. The event also featured local artists Spacedays , Disco Hue, [.gif], TAJ , and The Good Life Project.
The event drew 1,000 music enthusiasts, far exceeding his expectations of 200 attendees, he said.
The audience was asked to ditch their phones — leaving them free to simply listen and enjoy themselves without constantly documenting their experience on social media.
“You are gifted with the opportunity to learn about people, it is more than just fame and fortune, there’s a social obligation too.”
Tim De CottaSinger-Songwriter
It was a unique experience for most of them and a timely reminder to disconnect to connect. De Cotta believes that it is through performances like these that people learn to appreciate local independent music.
Looking ahead, De Cotta will be releasing new singles mid this year. He added that plans for a new album are also on the table.
Upon graduation, De Cotta knew an office job was not going to cut it for him. His heart was set on becoming an independent artiste.
“It is a lot scarier than taking the usual path,” he said. For three to four years, he struggled to make ends meet and took on various part-time jobs like night-gigs and teaching to earn extra cash.
After a couple of years of taking on corporate music work, playing cover songs at bars five of six nights a week without actually enjoying them, he began to focus on creating his own music, which liberated his “mind and soul”.
“I might be a little poorer, but so what?” said De Cotta. “Kopi is S$1.10, and I can afford S$5.50 a week.”
As he began to expand his horizons, De Cotta also took up projects as a music programmer; providing original music for his clients’ campaigns and events. He worked for clients like Tiger Beer and Mercedes-Benz.
“Many of them wanted famous works from well-known artists, but what is the point of that? I tried to persuade them to use original music and to support local artists and local creations. That is what will make us unique, ” he said.
De Cotta gets his inspiration from society and politics. He believes that it is important for people to voice out their stance on problems in the local and global context.
“We need to let the world know what we think, and I think music is a good way to do that,” he said.
De Cotta added, “For now, I think I’m doing quite well, making ends meet doing the things I like, and that means a lot to me.”
Emerging from the advertising track in WKWSCI, De Cotta said that his time spent in school made a real difference to his career.
“In WKWSCI, there’s always something you can learn, something people can give you.”
Tim De CottaSinger-Songwriter
He referred to the course Fundamentals of Communication Studies (CS0201) as a “good partner for life” because it provided him with the skills to better communicate his ideas with others - a valuable asset in his line of work.
For De Cotta, WKWSCI was a place that forced him out of his comfort zone, and one that compelled the quiet and reserved young man he once was to open up.
“In WKWSCI, there’s always something you can learn, something people can give you,” he said.