Singapore-based singer/songwriter Dru Chen pens down a romantic ballad, one that’s closest to his heart. Conjuring enchanting visions of Paris, France with its idyllic coffee shops & dreamyOn May 28, 2021 / By Nookmag
Singapore-based singer/songwriter Dru Chen pens down a romantic ballad, one that’s closest to his heart. Conjuring enchanting visions of Paris, France with its idyllic coffee shops & dreamy fashion, the R&B track is a special piece about laying one’s heart on the line for something which is never quite guaranteed. “It was written during a time of intense vulnerability, when life and love went through tumultuous ups and downs,” shares Dru.
Eiffel Tower was jointly written by Joel Tan of Gentle Bones and Dru Chen, and solely produced by Dru. Starting off slow and steady, the verses are quiet and intimate, a contrast to the bustling, explosive chorus that makes us feel like we’re in celebration of love, especially with Dru singing, “Pray you don’t let me go / ‘Cause who’s gonna catch me / When I fall for you”. The song speaks straight to the heart – encouraging us to let down our guard and let a lover or, l’amoreux, into our lives.
With the country still in a pandemic and our hopes of traveling dashed, Eiffel Tower also aims to transport its audience to its namesake and impart that high, giddy feeling you get when experiencing happy moments with a loved one. Eiffel Tower is about exploring relationships – whether romantic, platonic or familial, it ultimately displays the “intimacy of a lifetime of human connection”. It is about discovering the world through new lenses and constantly pushing one another to be better.
The song opens with the hook, “It’s all because of your love” and is peppered throughout the rest of the song – in varying degrees of emotion and melody. We also hear a satisfying electric guitar riff in the bridge, representing a culmination of the Pop/R&B track’s wonder and whimsy in this warm feeling we call love. Eiffel Tower shows maturity in both its production and lyrics – inspiring audiences to help each other pursue their dreams instead of tearing them down. “We can choose to come out stronger, more invigorated, and more alive than ever,” Dru observes, “That is the ultimate human experience.”
Formerly with a major label, singer-songwriter Dru Chen recently signed to LINCH under management and is releasing Replay under indie label, Yung Lee Records. The R&B track isOn March 22, 2021 / By Nookmag
Formerly with a major label, singer-songwriter Dru Chen recently signed to LINCH under management and is releasing Replay under indie label, Yung Lee Records. The R&B track is personal to Dru, as it speaks to his romantic nature from the time when he was a teenager, learning about what it means to be a lover.
Replay was produced across continents by Canadian-Australian writer/producer Jesse Bear, Singaporean Joel Tan and Dru himself. The song’s neo-soul elements come through with the unmistakable hand claps, beautiful keyboard riffs and timely gospel choruses – with Dru branding it a “true pocket soul jam”. It was also mixed and mastered across international waters by LA-based Nick Kodonas who currently mixes for hit TV show The Masked Singer.
The love song showcases a reminiscence of young love in the late ’90s, going back and ‘replaying’ the first time you met that special someone. With lo-fi elements threaded into Dru’s soulful vocals, we are really transported back to that era of chunky Walkmans and fuzzy TV recordings. The verses’ hard-hitting beats contrast with the chorus’ romantic mood beautifully, especially as Dru slows the energy down singing, ‘take my mind away to those early days / Replay, replay’.
The lyrics are simple and direct, most of its romantic, nostalgic vibes being conveyed through its stellar production. We hear the click of a tape after Dru sings, “My lover, I want you, I need it, gotta have it / Replay that love like over and over again” which cleverly signals a repeat of the bridge. At its essence, Dru explains that Replay is, “A nostalgic look at love discovered and renewed through the VHS tinted lens of a 1990’s kid who grew up with neo-soul music, high-top sneakers, and baggy jeans.” With more songs to be released under this exciting new venture with both LINCH & Yung Lee Records, Replay proves a strong contender that will make any listener swoon in its serenade.
Listen to ‘Replay’ here
Enigmatic 14 years old British-Malaysian artist and rising star Keira Costelloe has dropped her music video for Never Going Back. The MV is a beautiful Japanese Studio Ghibli-inspiredOn December 12, 2020 / By Nookmag
Enigmatic 14 years old British-Malaysian artist and rising star Keira Costelloe has dropped her music video for Never Going Back. The MV is a beautiful Japanese Studio Ghibli-inspired animation, jointly conceptualized by Keira, Singapore based motion designer Ian Danmari and illustrator Kimberlyn Kiew.
Set in a utopic Japanese cityscape, we follow the journey of a young girl as she boards the train, shadowed by the ghost of her former beau.
“The boy disappearing and reappearing is representing the memory of the relationship, which adds to the song being about reflecting on a past relationship and moving on,” – Keira.
The animation is coloured in hues of purples and pinks – representing serenity and Sakura blossoms as a sign of renewal and optimism; but amidst this view pushes the blue tones of the boy in the reflection – a personification of heartbreak and longing that plagues her thoughts.
As the chorus approaches, a bottle of Ramune (derived from a Japanese borrowing of the word ‘lemonade’) jumps out at us, the words ‘never going back’ imprinted on its sleeve. This beloved Japanese carbonated soft drink belonging to the protagonist serves as an indication of both her and Keira’s love of Japanese culture.
The music video ends with a poignant scene of the young girl sitting on a roof, gazing at the star-filled night sky – beautifully replicating Keira’s cover art, with a touch of whimsicality.
Jannine Weigel is releasing her new single ‘Passcode’ today! The Thai-German artist is a fresh breed of pop star and ‘Passcode’ is the first release for innovative new record label RedRecords. Produced byOn September 18, 2020 / By Sofea
Jannine Weigel is releasing her new single ‘Passcode’ today! The Thai-German artist is a fresh breed of pop star and ‘Passcode’ is the first release for innovative new record label RedRecords.
Produced by the Grammy-nominated record producer Tommy Brown, renowned for his work with Ariana Grande, Chris Brown, Fifth Harmony and more, ‘Passcode’ is a euphoric dance-pop anthem co-written by Canadian singer-songwriter Jessie Reyez. The single is accompanied by a dazzling video directed by Philip Rom Kulleh. Some of Malaysia and Thailand’s biggest TikTok influencers feature amongst the cast of the video, shot and produced in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia!
The single marks the arrival of a new wave of Asian pop music. A-Pop is ready for its moment in the spotlight. It’s a fitting global introduction for Weigel, who is already a superstar in Thailand. “I’m so excited for everyone to hear ‘Passcode’!,” she says. “I love that it captures my personality perfectly – fun and bubbly, but with a little bit of an edge.”
Weigel is an artist who connects on a universal scale at the same time as forming an intimate bond with her fans. Her infectious personality has already helped her reach eye-popping numbers on social media with millions of followers across multiple platforms. At a fresh age of 20, she has already had a successful career as an actor, model and influencer. But singing has always been her biggest passion. “Singing is what truly makes me happy,” she says. “I love how music can affect people and how a song can evoke raw emotions in all of us.”
Weigel is an apt first signing for RedRecords, the exciting new joint venture between AirAsia and Universal Music Group. The label is committed to shining a light on the talent that lies within ASEAN, devoted to developing Asian artists and putting Asian pop music on a global platform. It’s a region full of pop superstars waiting to be heard! RedRecords CEO Hassan Choudhury remarks, “When [CEO of AirAsia Group] Tony Fernandes and I became aware of Jannine, our backgrounds in music and entertainment told us that this was an artist primed for worldwide success.” He continues, “With the ambition we have for RedRecords, along with the extensive global marketing resources at our disposal, Jannine was the obvious choice as our first signing,” says Choudhury.
In the US, RedRecords have partnered with iconic label Def Jam Recordings, where artists such as Kanye West, Justin Bieber and Alessia Cara are continuing its illustrious history, to release Weigel’s music. It’s the sort of lineage to which Weigel belongs. “I want to be able to inspire people out there,” she says. I feel like I’m proof that as long as you never give up, anyone can have a shot at achieving their dreams, no matter where they come from.” A daring new talent in pop music has arrived. ‘Passcode’ is just the beginning for Jannine Weigel and RedRecords.
Following the inaugural ‘Music Is Universal’ Virtual Edition featuring singer-songwriter Jeremy Zucker on 27 August 2020, the exclusive invite-only showcase is having a go for round 2 withOn September 4, 2020 / By Sofea
Following the inaugural ‘Music Is Universal’ Virtual Edition featuring singer-songwriter Jeremy Zucker on 27 August 2020, the exclusive invite-only showcase is having a go for round 2 with none other than the breakout musician Gracie Abrams!
The 20-year-old has taken the world by storm since 2019. Her single ‘I miss you, I’m sorry’ has over 17 million plays on Spotify alone! With 2 million listeners monthly and counting, be one of the lucky few to see her perform live right in your bedroom on 12 September 2020 at 2pm local time.
For this special event, Universal Music Group is inviting 20 lucky Singaporeans to join the exclusive showcase! All you have to do is go to this link and submit your details, state which song should Gracie Abrams perform during the showcase and why.
Contest ends 10 September 2020 at 2pm and winners will be notified via email. So, what are you waiting for?
Ever since the global pandemic started, all social events were halted. To say that a music award was happening in New York City would sound absurd a fewOn August 28, 2020 / By Sofea
Ever since the global pandemic started, all social events were halted. To say that a music award was happening in New York City would sound absurd a few months ago, but that is what MTV is doing on 30 August 2020.
With the local transmission rate at 1%, MTV Video Music Awards will be the first music-related gathering in the Big Apple since COVID-19 happened. If you think virtually, think again. It is going to happen live and in-person! Albeit without an audience, the music award will be held at outdoor locations across New York City.
To get the party started, Keke Palmer will be hosting the show with a stellar line-up of performers! So far, BTS, Miley Cyrus, Doja Cat, Lady Gaga, The Weeknd, MGK with Travis Barker and blackbear, CNCO, J Balvin, Maluma and Roddy Ricch have announced to be performers with Miley Cyrus set to debut her new single exclusively.
Another special feature of the MTV VMAs 2020 is the announcement of two new categories: Best Music Video from Home and Best Quarantine Performance. Click here to view the complete list of nominees!
Catch the show live here on 30 August 2020 at 8pm EST/PST (31 August 2020 at 8am local time)!
Breakthrough rapper Yung Raja and charting artiste/producer ALYPH have joined forces with viral, electronic producer Trifect for their new single ‘Amazing’ – an uplifting special project. ‘Amazing’ isOn August 24, 2020 / By Sofea
Breakthrough rapper Yung Raja and charting artiste/producer ALYPH have joined forces with viral, electronic producer Trifect for their new single ‘Amazing’ – an uplifting special project.
‘Amazing’ is the by-product of bringing artistes from vastly different lanes together in the name of art. The two rappers jumped on a beat created by 19-year-old producer Trifect, known for his electronic and experimental sound. From that first step, the creative process took on an exploratory nature as Yung Raja and ALYPH ventured into an artistic sphere that held no boundaries. ‘Amazing’ shows the versatility and sheer talent of these three creators, establishing their status as true hit makers.
The captivating single that is bound to make you move, sets you in the frame of mind to view your world from the lens of positivity. It is a simple yet powerful reminder that, every now and then, it is important to be thankful for what you have and to feel great about your life.
Yung Raja quoted, “I wanted to create something that makes people feel good, that has an uplifting and bright vibe to it. It was intentionally created hoping I could brighten up somebody’s day.”
ALYPH added, “everybody feels amazing, it’s not specific to a certain age group. I wanted to write something young kids could follow, for young adults to enjoy and for the older generation to feel the music.”
‘Amazing’ is out today! Listen here.
In September 2019, Universal Music Singapore presented the first ever ‘Music Is Universal’ – an exclusive invite-only showcase which took place at one of the hottest venues inOn August 23, 2020 / By Sofea
In September 2019, Universal Music Singapore presented the first ever ‘Music Is Universal’ – an exclusive invite-only showcase which took place at one of the hottest venues in Singapore, Zouk. The exclusive event featured homegrown singer-songwriter Charlie Lim, American superstar Jeremy Zucker, British duo Oh Wonder and Filipino rock band juan karlos.
In spite of the global pandemic this year, ‘Music Is Universal’ is back to show that Music Is indeed Universal and can transcend spatial boundaries. Universal Music Singapore is proud to present the evolution of ‘Music Is Universal’ into the digital space – the inaugural virtual edition! To kick-off the very first showcase on 27 August 2020 (Thursday) they are bringing Jeremy Zucker to you – wherever you might be with an internet connection!
This will be the first of many to come! Since Zucker last vibed out with us in Singapore last September, the resonance of his music in Southeast Asia was cemented by the amazing support across streaming platforms. Numerous tracks entered the Spotify 200 charts in Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines & Thailand during his debut album release in April. Since the release of love is not dying, total album streams amounted to a whopping 45 million in Southeast Asia.
The single ‘Drama (Japanese Ver.)’ was released on 7 August 2020 and went No.1 on LINE MUSIC real time song chart TOP 100 as well as BGM &On August 20, 2020 / By Sofea
The single ‘Drama (Japanese Ver.)’ was released on 7 August 2020 and went No.1 on LINE MUSIC real time song chart TOP 100 as well as BGM & Ringback Tone TOP 100 chart. LINE MUSIC is a local music streaming service in Japan with more than 32 million app download.
‘Drama’ is comprised of 3 tracks: ‘Drama’ (Japanese Ver.) and ‘Can’t You See Me?’ (Japanese Ver.) from their recent The Dream Chapter: ETERNITY and their latest original song, ‘Everlasting Shine’.
‘Everlasting Shine’ will be the opening theme on the animation series, “Black Clover” starting 1 September 2020. “Black Clover” (subtitled) is available on crunchyroll.com, FUNimation (dubbed version with a 2 week delay) and on the Cartoon Network (dubbed) two months from its original air date in Japan!
The Dream Chapter: ETERNITY is TOMORROW X TOGETHER’s second mini album. Following the band’s debut album The Dream Chapter: STAR and their first studio album The Dream Chapter: MAGIC, the latest album unfolds the experiences the boys encounter as they grow up.
Their 2nd Korean mini-album Dream Chapter: ETERNITY, which was released globally in May, topped the charts at No.1 on iTunes “Top Album” chart in 50 territories including U.S., Canada, Mexico, Brazil, France, Russia, India, and Japan and went No. 1 on Oricon Daily Album chart and Oricon Weekly album chart.
TOMORROW X TOGETHER made their debut in March 2019 and has proved themselves as global super rookies leading the K-Pop scene, claiming 10 Rookie Awards and a nomination for the 2019 & 2020 MTV Video Music Awards. Watched and recognized for their high-quality content and impeccable performances, TOMORROW X TOGETHER is once again prepared to take the world by storm.
This may be the first time you see the name “Edson Charntor”, but it will definitely not be your last! The Singaporean one-man-show is ready to show theOn August 7, 2020 / By Sofea
This may be the first time you see the name “Edson Charntor”, but it will definitely not be your last! The Singaporean one-man-show is ready to show the nation what he has under his sleeves. With 2 EPs in his repertoire, the latest released on 31 July 2020, Charntor aims to break through the local music scene, one step at a time.
We recently caught up with the bubbly newcomer to discuss his newfound fame, albeit 2 years late, and his latest EP, Blue Blast!
Tell us a bit about yourself!
My name is Edson and I’m still studying right now in University. I’m a university student studying media, and luckily for me, I fell into music production during my army days two years ago. I literally Googled “How to Make a Hit Song”, and then I fell down into the rabbit hole and, yeah! This is where I am today. I’m doing everything myself including the artwork and music, the lyrics and everything, because I have this need to creatively express myself and I think music is one of the good ways to do that.
For those who have not heard your music, how would you describe your music to them?
I would say my music is bright, passionate and youthful – these three words would succinctly describe my music. And also, a lot of lyrics! Because I like to cramp a lot of meaningful lyrics; I have a lot of things to say!
Why the moniker ‘Charntor’?
It’s nothing really, because my real surname is Chong and it was really just one day where I was walking down the road and I decided, if I have an English name I would be called “Charntor”. It was just one of those days where creativity peaked and I went, “Oooh!” But yeah, it came from my surname.
Your second EP Blue Blast was released on 31 July 2020, what’s the direction and the meaning behind it?
So, my first EP is called Youth Function and basically, I just wanted to capture the first 20 years of my life – like my teenage years and you know, back in those days I was full of fire. I wanted to be the best! I don’t care about haters – you know, that phase. I guess when you grow older you start to see why people hate you for it, and you get that certain sense of maturity!
Coupled with the fact that when you grow older and have more responsibility, bills start to come in and relationship issues, they start to make sense to you. That’s when I fell into this spiral of sadness and depression. I’m better now, but those moments really defined my next EP, which is Blue Blast.
It’s basically a coming of age album – transitioning from a teenager to an adult. I wanted to capture all of those emotions into the aesthetic of “blue”. Because “blue” is normally associated with calmness. While blue can also mean sad and depressed, it can also mean clarity! If you take a look at the tracks, it goes from ‘Did I Go Wrong’ and then ‘Another High’ and all the way to ‘Water’. If you look at the lyrics, they have different themes that correspond to the colour blue, but they are different facets of blue. It comes from a place of tension to depression to calmness and then to clarity. That’s how I wanted the track list to go.
Among all of these songs, which one is your favourite?
I want to say everything, but ‘Water’ is the proudest song I’ve ever done because of how it was created. I wanted to have a song about clarity, but I didn’t know what audio elements [to include] to feel like you have a sense of clarity, until I took a sip of water and it just clicked!
I put a lot of work into it because it didn’t sound like that at first. It sounded like just another song, but I revamped it and now it sounds as it is – my proudest work ever! It’s also because it’s the last song and it talks about clarity which is what I’m feeling now. ‘Water’ made it all come a full circle.
How did the Circuit Breaker period challenge you creatively? Did it serve as a catalyst for your album?
Yeah, I think being in the Circuit Breaker did serve as a catalyst. People generally feel more lonely when they are cooped up at home and for me, the emotions really got to me again, which is a good thing because at the time when I came back from London – I was there as an exchange student and I had to come back during Circuit Breaker – I suddenly felt this loneliness creeping in again. I was out and about in London, and coming back to quarantine really helped with the album because all the emotions I felt came back again!
Ironically, it really positively helped me with the song writing and I managed to finish that album by this year. If not for the Circuit Breaker, I wouldn’t have finished it!
Is it challenging as a student to do music full time, since you’re doing it alone with all the processes of releasing the EP.
Oh my god, it really is challenging! [Laugh] I think that’s the reason why I got lazy because when you start doing everything yourself, there are a lot of things to consider; it’s not just the music and the production. You have to take into account how to reach people to listen to your songs, and the artwork and the videos. I think that was the reason why I became overwhelmed with the work. It was really bad at first but now I am getting used to it, because now my production skills are better and I know when I make songs, I make them best when I am inspired. So, to limit the rate of being overwhelmed, I just don’t make music until I feel like I’m ready. And that’s how I deal with it.
How do you feel about the fact that most of your songs from your previous EP and latest singles have about 10k plays on Spotify?
When it hit 1 million streams [cumulatively] I was like… [Laugh] because I really didn’t expect it to grow just like that! I think the songs are relatable because they are accessible, but at the same time they are filled with emotions – they are not just party songs! – and I feel like [each song] speaks about their lives as well, and it’s not just a song about a song. I think that is crucial to its success.
For the readers who have not listened to your music yet, what song would you recommend that really embodies and captures what you want to put out?
Can I give two songs? Like one from each EP?
Yeah, of course! List it all down if you want to!
For Youth Function, I think you should listen to ‘Labels’ because the first 20 years of my life was plucked with a lot of “labels”. For example, I was really fat and people would call me “fatty”. A lot of it was just at the heat of the moment, but sometimes it really gets to you and with that angst, that set the tone for Youth Function.
As for Blue Blast, clearly, it’s ‘Water’! [Laugh]
Based on what I have read about you, you have not played a show! When will Singapore witness your songs come to life on stage?
Oh, man! I have no idea! Okay so, here’s the thing. When I started making music two years ago when I was in the army, I really did not expect this to happen. I wrote songs just so I could release all my experiences and everything. It just magically happened because my first single got picked up by Spotify algorithms, and the rest is history! I think I’ll still have some anxiety in performing live but right now, I think I’m ready! I feel like my body of work is enough, is there!
Back in the Youth Function era, it was literally the first 20 songs I have written, so there’s going to be some flaws in my singing and it’s very evident there. I think, that was the reason why I held back from performing, simply because my body of work wasn’t where I wanted it to be. I didn’t feel confident with it. But with Blue Blast, I think I’m ready to dip my toe into the water.
Do you have a preferred venue where you want to make your debut?
Honestly, I want to start small because it’s like my music – I started small and I think that’s when it grew into something bigger. So honestly, any venue is fine. I just want to sing and make sure my anxiety is shattered! You just can’t put me in a stadium because I will be overwhelmed!
My final question would be, for aspiring singer/songwriters out there in Singapore, or even the world, any advice from your experiences?
I’d say, if you really want to do it, you’ve got to be prepared to receive criticisms. It’s part and parcel of who you are, and just know that if you really put 100 hours into whatever you’re doing, you’re definitely going to get better! Honestly, start small and don’t expect success immediately. You have got to grind it out and let time pass by. Eventually, you will get what you want.
Give Blue Blast a listen here!
Power – is nothing new for Malaysian legend Joe Flizzow. He needs little introduction. Having been dubbed ‘Father of Hip Hop’ in South East Asia, the rapper, producerOn August 4, 2020 / By Sofea
Power – is nothing new for Malaysian legend Joe Flizzow. He needs little introduction. Having been dubbed ‘Father of Hip Hop’ in South East Asia, the rapper, producer and entrepreneur has shaped the Hip Hop scene, not only in Malaysia but also around the region.
After a long two years of hiatus from music, Joe Flizzow has released his first single on 3 July 2020, a political anthem ‘Kuasa’ (translate: power) featuring Malaysian alternative band Azlan & The Typewriter. Nookmag had the opportunity to chat with the legend, discussing his hot new tune, the collaboration and… gardening?
Congratulations on the release of your latest single ‘Kuasa’! How has the reception been from your fans and the media?
It’s been great! I wouldn’t say overwhelming, but it’s been great. When I say it’s not overwhelming it’s because it is different this time – we can’t tour. I don’t have a bunch of tours, a bunch of stages that I’m on. The press runs have been good though, I’ve been doing a bunch of TV shows and performances here and there. Radio shows, all the morning shows. So it’s kind of like, yeah and I know the song is doing really well because I just came back from Langkawi and everybody on the island, every time they see me they’re like, singing the song – whether the receptionist or the guys with the jet skis are like singing to me so, okay everybody knows this song! That’s good. But I miss the interaction with the fans. It’s nothing like going to a different city performing for people who support you, people who know your songs and memorise the lyrics.
I hope we can do that soon!
Yeah, hopefully! Singapore is one of the first parts I’m going to visit.
I heard the song was written during the time Malaysia was going through the General Election two years ago. Can you tell us a bit more about it?
The last election was pretty brutal, you know? The outcome was the outcome, and I think it was a big moment in Malaysian politics simply because it was a change of government. It never happened, right? But I didn’t write it after. I wrote it in the middle – I wrote it in one day on 28 April . I remember this because my notepad app reminds me. It was just my observation of how people lust for power. I would say it sets the tone for the song but after that I quickly moved to a global perspective. I think Malaysia, with whatever that was happening, it is what it is but on a world scale, it’s a bigger agenda. And what that agenda is, that’s for everybody to – you know, if you are aware, if you’re woke, you will pick up the pieces, the breadcrumbs. It’s not for me to tell you exactly what it is. That’s like 15 years of your own self-discovery and research. But if you believe in God, if you believe in religion, that means you believe in good – but there’s a lot of evil that is happening in this world. So, I’m leaving it at that. Like, that’s it.
So, was the song originally made to be a collaboration?
Okay, Alif [the rapper ALYPH] wrote the song, like the melody. The chorus, he wrote it too. So, when he sent it to me, I wrote like – you know, me and Alif, we’ve done so many songs where we are not even in the same studio together. Alif would send me a beat and I will just like – “fire”. Just one word, right? And my next text back would be like, “Check your email! Check your inbox!” Or, “You’ve got mail!” And the next reply to me would be like the emoticon with the brain exploding – like “Whoa! Yo man, send me the vocals!”
To me, me and Alif have got this – I have known Alif for a long time. He’s best friends with my younger brother when he started out in the game. My last single ‘Sampai Jadi’, it was Alif on the chorus so I think I wanted to give this song a different type of dynamics so we agreed it should be a rock [feel] rather than a pop single. A rockstar in the song. I’ve always in the view that Azlan [of Azlan & The Typewriter] has insane vocals. Probably one of the best singers in the rock scene. He’s one of my favourites! But it wasn’t until 2018 SEA Games closing [ceremony] where I did a segment with Azlan so, I had to chop it up with him for like 2/3 days – go for soundcheck, go for practice because it was for SEA Games, right? It was a big thing.
And I was like “Yo this guy is tight, this guy is cool man.” I don’t have many celebrity friends, like Malaysian artist friends. Half of them are divas so I don’t deal with that nonsense, like, fake divas – whatever. I’m talking about the guys, not the girls! The guys are the divas. But the real recognises the real! When you do a collaboration and when you go on tour, you’ll be on the same flight, same plane, go on the same interviews. They are some people in the industry that I would probably never work with anymore because like, that’s it! They are just divas! You know, I come from the Hip Hop scene, we used to buy wood and make our own stage! Print out our own tickets, send out our own fliers so I cannot deal with artists like that.
So, it [the collaboration] was cool, I was like, “Hey, you want to do a track? I’ve got this track.” So, I let him listen to ‘Kuasa’. He came in and he totally gave it his own rendition. Yeah, and I think he made the song, the song lah!
Was there a reason on why you waited two years to release the song?
Why two years – well, I was actually in the midst of producing my album [at the time]. And I just finished my album now! I think COVID also kind of like, pushed it back. We had to re-strategise and plan a new tour and then cancel tours. So, we decided to put out ‘Kuasa’ as a single before the album comes out.
Cool! Will your album be released this year?
The music video ‘Kuasa’ is amazing. It’s dramatic with the dystopian theme and it’s also animated! So, how did that come about?
We wrote the song two years ago, but I spoke to Zulamran of 33.3, he directed the video. We came up with the concept a year ago and I told Zul, “Yo Zul, let’s do like this dystopian type [of video].” We wanted to highlight the uprising, if you may. And then COVID happened so it was kind of like weirdly ironic, but we were always headed towards that theme anyways.
It fits the current situation very well!
Yeah! That was like, “Wow!” Once we went into lockdown in Malaysia, I just spoke to my internal team and was like, “Look, we got to release ‘Kuasa’ as a single.” Because we had already slated – well, I have this other track and I was supposed to shoot the video in Singapore. So, the minute lockdown happened, I cannot go to Singapore, right? So, that song is out of the window. Because the song is called ‘Satu Malam di Temasik’ so I got to shoot it in Singapore! I was like, “What do we do? Which is the next single?” We had a few songs that we could have put out, but I decided that this is more fitting with the current climate – with what is happening in the world today.
So, during the time of Movement Control Order (MCO), since we were talking about it, how did you keep yourself inspired creatively?
During MCO, I didn’t write at all! In fact, I picked up other things like, I started gardening! I started an edible garden, a little farm at the back of my house. I started playing chess. And we have just like, pivoted into other things. I think, the human species, we have this thing called ‘fight or flight’. So, when you are in a situation where it’s crucial, or can be detrimental to your wellbeing, let’s say, if you’ve been chased by a lion. Either you fight or flight. But whatever it is, your survival instinct kicks in. So, I think that happened with me too. Because like, we know that the music business was going to suffer, and it was not just the music business. We have 26 barbershops, retail outlets. So, imagine having 26 shops that cannot open for 2 months among other things! You know, we can’t travel, we can’t do a lot of things. So, a lot of things are on hold. The survival mode in me kicked in and I started diversifying some businesses into other aspects. It’s been good, though. There has been growth.
Unleash the “power” within with the legend Joe Flizzow’s latest single today!
Taylor Swift has done it again. Her latest album folklore flies in at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, capturing the biggest week for any albumOn August 3, 2020 / By Sofea
Taylor Swift has done it again. Her latest album folklore flies in at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, capturing the biggest week for any album since Swift’s last release, 2019’s Lover. folklore was released with little advanced notice on 24 July 2020 and earns Swift her seventh No. 1 album.
folklore starts with 846,000 equivalent album units earned in the U.S. in the week ending 30 July, according to Nielsen Music/MRC Data. That marks the largest week registered for any album since Swift’s own Lover, which debuted at No. 1 on the 7 September 2019-dated chart with 867,000 units.
In the last four years, the three biggest weeks for any album have been racked up by Swift. Dating back to July 2016, the three largest frames for any album are: Reputation (1.24 million units, 2 December 2017-dated chart), Lover (867,000) and folklore (846,000).
The Billboard 200 chart ranks the most popular albums of the week in the U.S. based on multi-metric consumption as measured in equivalent album units. The new 8 August 2020-dated chart (where folklore bows at No. 1) will be posted in full on Billboard’s website on 4 August 2020.
In her repertoire, Taylor Swift has:
folklore marks Swift’s seventh No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, tying her with Janet Jackson for the third-most leaders among women in the history of the chart. Ahead of them on the leading ladies list are Barbra Streisand, with 11 No. 1s, and Madonna, with nine. Among all acts, The Beatles have the most No. 1 albums, with 19.
All of Swift’s No. 1 albums have debuted at No. 1 – a record among female artists. Lover was released on 23 August 2019. Unlike the surprise-released folklore, Lover was preceded by months of traditional promotion, which began with the release of the set’s first single, ‘Me!’ featuring Brendon Urie on 26 April 2019.
Dating back to July 2016, the three largest frames for any album were tallied by the debut weeks of Swift’s Reputation(1.24 million units, 2 December 2017-dated chart), Lover (867,000) and folklore (846,000).
As noted above, in folklore’s first week of release, the album was only available to purchase through Swift’s website and digital retailers.
With 615,000 copies sold of folklore in its first week, the album has already become 2020’s top selling album. It surpasses the previous top-seller, BTS’ Map of the Soul: 7, which has sold 574,000 since its release on 21 February.
As folklore sold 615,000 copies in its first week, Swift becomes the first act to have seven different albums each sell at least 500,000 copies in a single week, since Nielsen Music/MRC Data began electronically tracking music sales in 1991. Swift was previously tied with Eminem, who has seen six of his albums each sell at least 500,000 copies in a week.
folklore garnered 218,000 SEA units in its first week, which equals 289.85 million on-demand streams of its songs. That’s the biggest streaming week of 2020 for any album by a woman, and the biggest by a non-rap album this year. The only albums to generate bigger streaming frames in 2020 are two rap titles: Juice WRLD’s Legends Never Die, with 422.63 million in its opening week, and Lil Uzi Vert’s Eternal Atake, with 400.42 million and 348.72 million in its first and second weeks, respectively.
Stream folklore today!
Dreams do come true – and for Danish singer-songwriter Maximillian, his dreams became bigger than he could ever imagine. Hailing from Copenhagen, Denmark, Maximillian took a leap ofOn August 2, 2020 / By Sofea
Dreams do come true – and for Danish singer-songwriter Maximillian, his dreams became bigger than he could ever imagine. Hailing from Copenhagen, Denmark, Maximillian took a leap of faith and at the age of 21, he has one of the most played songs on the radio everywhere.
Nookmag was given the opportunity to chat with the Danish superstar, all thanks to Universal Music Singapore. Read on to discover his up-and-rising stardom, big hits and what it is like for a 21-year-old to be in the music industry today.
For our readers who are not familiar with Maximillian, how would you describe yourself to them?
Well, I am a 21 years old kid – no, young man [Laugh] from Copenhagen, Denmark and I make pop music, but a twist of R&B/soul/trip hop kind of vibes and I am a very extroverted person! [Laugh].
Yeah, I’m really bad at that question in particular because you never know what to answer but let’s just say I’m a happy guy from Copenhagen and I like to make music!
Alright let’s go with that! So, how did you get into music? What/who inspired you?
I started singing when I was um – I think I was like 3! I started making a lot of noises, banging on stuff, annoying my parents a lot. As I grew up, I found out that I really like singing and when I was 13/14 [years old], I just, I figured out I want to make music for a living for the rest of my life so I grabbed the ball and I’m just throwing it as hard as I can!
And now here you are!
Here I am, luckily!
Let’s say if you are not a musician today, what do you think you would be doing?
I thought about that actually for quite some time for the last few months. If I didn’t want to make music or something like that, I think actually my dream job would becoming a bartender. I really like the vibe you know, with the shaker, throwing it around. I think I would love to be a bartender at some beach bar somewhere out in a, like a very nice hut.
Age is just a number, but have you ever felt overwhelmed in the industry because of your age?
I grew up in a small part of town in Copenhagen where my “maturity” got tested a lot. So, I got thrown into stuff that I wasn’t supposed to be experiencing at that age, so I’d say I grew up a lot quicker than most of my friends and I think has made me stronger in this music industry. It made me more aware of my decisions and how to act around people so, I’d say even though I’m 21 I think I’m a lot stronger mentally than some other people might be because I’ve been through some other stuff that’s really like straighten my back bone. It’s not really an issue I think, to be young. Well, you know sometimes you meet someone they’ll be like “You’re just a kid,” but like, yeah [Laugh].
Your single ‘Beautiful Scars’ have over 21 million plays on Spotify alone! Can you tell us more about it and what the song means to you? And how do you feel about having so many people listening to it?
At first, it’s really insane because I never thought that song would ever become as big as it is today! When it hit 1 million streams I was like, “whoa!”. When it hit 100,000 streams I was like “some people really like this song!”. It really means a lot to me because this song is my life – I’m describing my life in a song, I’m describing how I’ve done some things and a lot about the past from my childhood and the things I have experienced, the wrong turns I have taken, it defined the song – it made me want to write the song! So, seeing so many people connecting to that song and my emotions and my feelings and get help from it! It really means something for me, it’s really special to me. I’m really happy everyone likes the song. I really appreciate it!
What are your thoughts and how do you feel about your song ‘Beautiful Scars’ blowing up in South East Asia?
[Laugh] I was lying in my bed right, and I was looking at the statistics on my phone and then I checked out my Spotify statistics and I saw that ‘Beautiful Scars’ was number 27 on the Philippines Top 50 Viral Chart and I was like, “Is this true? Can this be right like, this is strange!” And they were like, “No, this is for real.” Then it just like took off! I still have no idea! Like, everyone listening! Suddenly, I get all these message and compliments and people are just like, so sweet to me! I’m so thankful for everyone listening to me. It’s incredible, it’s the best thing that has ever happened to me. Everyone! Thank you so much. I appreciate you all for listening!
2020 was gifted with your EP ‘Still Alive’ and the music video for the song of the same title was released about 3 months ago but, at that time, the world was sort of on a hold because of the pandemic. Was the video filmed while you were in quarantine?
No, the video was recorded before everything went into lockdown. We were out all night during filming! We met at a train station at 9pm in the evening and we kept filming until I think, 7am in the morning. We really wanted to get the night-time of Copenhagen and the feeling of where I live and get all the emotions you know. Cause that song really describes a person being really broken inside and being really sad about being left behind so you know not getting to the train at the right time or missing the train or getting left by the station – that’s kind of how I wanted to describe the song. Luckily, we got to film it before the quarantine, but it took a bit of time to edit it and stuff.
With ‘Still Alive’, the song is a song you listen to when you’re down, under the covers, especially during the quarantine.
Were you listening to ‘Still Alive’ during quarantine?
Well, YES [Laugh] and it made me feel like I have a broken heart! So, what were your inspiration to write such a ballad?
I wrote this song 2 years ago in Los Angeles and I was – at the time I’ve been having 15 [song writing] sessions in 15 days and I was kind of messed up because I don’t know what I could write about anymore. At the point where I thought I couldn’t write anymore I came into the session, I didn’t really want to have the session but as I came in people – song writers and producers just started writing, if I don’t do anything they will just start writing without me and I stopped them and I said “I want kind of like this one note ‘dun’”. And then I thought, I could write a song now about a girlfriend, about her being “bad to me” but that’s just going to be another love song so, why not give a twist? So, I tried to write ‘Still Alive’ through the eyes of an ex-girlfriend looking at me because I’ve had, as I’ve told you before, I’ve been a little… a little uh, “bad” [Laugh]. I have not been that nice when I was younger, so I wanted to also for my own sake to say, I’m sorry. So, that’s kind of like my “slap in the face” from myself!
Speaking of the pandemic, how were you holding up in quarantine and did it affect your creativity and music?
Before it came to Denmark, I saw some articles from China talking about what was going on and something is happening and I told my girlfriend about it and she was like “Um, this is nothing. There’s no pandemic, what are you talking about?” and I just showed her the article like “right here.” And then it came to Germany, and then it came to Sweden and then it was here! And everything just sort of locked down just like that! So, it stopped my creativity, but it also made me really look into myself and being at home and like “What can I do now that I’m at home?” so I’ve written a few songs that are really close to my heart. Cause you know, being all alone all this time it’s kind of like you meet your inner demons. It’s been horrible, it’s been annoying, but it’s also been kind of good for me.
Will we be seeing a full-length album from you soon?
I’m working on it!
As a Danish artist, have you ever faced any language barrier in terms of being in the music industry right now?
Well, I started watching English movies without subtitles when I was a kid because I really want to learn the language and how to speak – I don’t know why I wanted to do that, it just kind of [snaps fingers] happened. My dad, he’s really great. He knows German and English and he’s really well spoken. I would always asked him like “Dad, what does that word mean?” I would start playing games – video games where they would talk English. I would start trying to sing lyrics like, when you know, you sing a song and you don’t know the lyrics and it comes out like [sings gibberish] and I would do that and my sister would correct me saying that, “That’s the lyrics and that’s not the lyrics.” And then suddenly I just – it kind of happened that I became good in English! Now I think I’m better in English than I am in Danish [Laugh]! I know more words in English like, I couldn’t write a song in Danish I promise you!
Would try to release music in Danish in the future?
Depends on the situation! If it’s for something like, there’s a problem in Denmark and there’s a bunch of us that would want to write a song to help the community – yes of course. But not for my own project. I like being an English-speaking artist.
This will be my last question! Any last words for your Singapore fans?
Thank you all so much for streaming and sending love! Oh man, every time I wake up, I wake up to someone telling me really big part of their life story that takes a lot of courage to do! So, thank you so much for sending your thoughts around my songs, thank you so much for listening to my songs and sharing them to your friends – it means a lot to me. I love you all! This is a big journey for me, and I love having all of you with me to share the journey!
Give Maximillian a listen today!
With the pandemic still ravaging through the world, many nations have made it mandatory to don on masks in public areas. Even the CDC recommends the usage ofOn August 1, 2020 / By Sofea
With the pandemic still ravaging through the world, many nations have made it mandatory to don on masks in public areas. Even the CDC recommends the usage of fabric masks for non-essential workers and the public. While this is the case, there are still a large number of people who refuse to follow the standard operating procedure (SOP).
American heavy metal band Slipknot is no stranger to face masks, having performed in bulky, terrifying masks each show. Frontman Corey Taylor took the opportunity to offer his tips for those who are a novice at wearing face mask.
For Taylor, the main key to wearing a mask over a long period of time is comfort. He told Spin, “The main thing is to find a mask that fits. I know a lot of people complain about it, like, hurting their ears and shit, but that’s because your mask is too small. Or your head’s too big. Whichever is the case, I’m not too sure. But think about it this way: you’re talking about a few moments of discomfort against the possibility of being dead. It sells itself.”
Taylor, who recently announced his solo album CMFT will be arriving on 2 October 2020, would go on to wear his Slipknot face mask for 8 hours straight, or more – all for the sake of the band’s aesthetic. If Slipknot can do that, you can definitely put on a half face mask for a few hours! Music do save lives.
Click here to purchase Slipknot and other rock bands’ fabric face mask.
Circuit Breaker was a tough time for everyone, but it served as a revelation to Fariz Jabba. The ever-charismatic Singaporean rapper has released his latest single ‘Nak TakOn July 25, 2020 / By Sofea
Circuit Breaker was a tough time for everyone, but it served as a revelation to Fariz Jabba. The ever-charismatic Singaporean rapper has released his latest single ‘Nak Tak Nak’, (translates: do you want it or not?) showing the world a side he has never shown before. A ballad was produced, and the meaning runs deeper than you think.
All thanks to Universal Music Singapore, Nookmag was given the opportunity to chat with Mr. Jabba himself. We discussed the roots of ‘Nak Tak Nak’, the stigma surrounding mental health, #LetsHealTogether and… eating with our phones?
First question! How do you feel about the release of ‘Nak Tak Nak’?
It’s been good! It’s been great, actually. People are sending me like, messages of support on Instagram and Twitter. I think when I released the ‘Behind the Song’ – I think there’s a video called ‘Fariz Jabba Gets Real’ and I basically talked about the philosophy behind it, the inspiration behind the song. Then, yeah, I think people generally get the jizz of this release so, it’s been good! People are surprised still, that I did a sad song [Laugh]. But generally, it’s been good lah!
‘Nak Tak Nak’ is a song you did two years ago! Can you share with us how it was supposed to sound like? Was it supposed to be a sad song?
Actually, no! It’s amazing what a beat can do to a song. The beat originally sounded pretty light and pretty… fast paced. Very fast paced. But the BPM is the same, the tempo is the same. It’s just, the drums are a little bit more tight and it wasn’t as slow and as double-timed as the beat now. So, yeah! I think when Flightsch changed the beat, it changed the whole vibe of the song. Suddenly it’s like a lo-fi, trap/soul instead of like trap trap. Last time it used to sound like a proper trap song.
Do you think you will release that version ever?
Probably I will use it in live segments of my show, you know? Like getting the parts of the song into something like “performance arts”, like a performance piece!
With the release, you’re sharing something that not many artistes would share, especially in our “Asian culture”. Mental health is something of a taboo to talk about. What made you want to bare your soul, not only to your fans, but also to the world?
It’s because I want to break that stigma. Especially for us rappers because we always have to look cool and I want to make everybody understand that it’s okay for you to talk about your problems. It’s okay for you to be vulnerable and I want to break that stigma. I want people to understand that you don’t have to be alone and you need people for you to get more perspective, for you to understand your problem better, in any form! If you’re struggling with school or if you’re struggling mentally or physically with friends, family or whatever. Any really deep, deep seated issues, you need somebody to pry it open right? Or help you and support you because it’s too heavy right? And you shouldn’t feel bad about doing that as well to your friends because you said, a lot of people think like “Oh, I don’t want to bring a bad vibe to my friends and family”, but actually you are there as a pillar of support when they are sad as well.
It’s great that you’re speaking out and getting the conversation rolling especially to help breaking the culture barrier and things like that but what sort of impact do you aim to make especially for the youth right now with speaking out and releasing a song for it?
I think it’s as simple as a personal reaching out. To me, this song is personal. It’s not a “we are the world” kind of thing where everybody hold hands. It’s not that! I’m sick of being alone, I’m sick of being reclusive and this is actually a big step for me because I am the kind – I won’t say that I have a huge ego in a way where I feel that I need to do it myself or when I face problems I need to face it myself. When I face problems, usually I can get over it pretty quick because I adapt to situations pretty well, but this particular thing makes me feel weak because I’m like, older than I used to be. When I used to feel like this, you know? What I want to change is the stigma but what inspired me to release this is because I’m done hiding and shutting out the world. I want to connect to my fans. I was actually planning to do like a proper piece on stage like write a poem specifically to them, to that particular group of people. I was going to do a dance piece as well. That was the plan in my head which I’m still going to accomplish. But, yeah! I’m sick of being alone – of feeling alone. I’m not alone. I’m just sick of feeling alone because you make yourself feel alone, actually. There are 7 billion people in the world and it’s up to you to make a connection with people. There are so many people! Get out there and there will be people that are like you and I bet there are 10 other people who are in the exact predicament as you.
Other than immersing yourself in the song, what were the other ways that helped you though the Circuit Breaker?
Mindfulness. Being present in the moment, not in the “Nirvana/meditation” kind of way but more into just really giving a proper look into how you’re doing stuff – paying attention to it! And also like, understanding how addicted you are to your phone. You know when you’re doing something like you’re eating, try eating and not watching something. What helped me was, I think Zoom calls and the app Houseparty. No connection, not sponsored, purely the truth [Laugh]. I cooked a lot! I cooked a lot of food, tried new recipes and stuff. Oh, yeah this is one as well – dress well at home. We dress like we are at home, right but dress well, wear perfume and like you know, style yourself – put on earrings or bracelets or necklaces, then you will feel cool and then you will understand why you wear that in the first place when you go out. If you wear that to look cool for people, then you got it twisted. You should look good for yourself and have it as a bonus if people think you look cool. So, when you’re at home and feel cool, then when you go out you don’t care what people think you know you look cool.
Give ‘Nak Tak Nak’ a listen!
Almost four decades later, Yi Jian Mei (Xue Hua Piao Piao) has been given a brand new lease of life. The classic melody, infused with an upbeat LatinoOn July 17, 2020 / By Sofea
Almost four decades later, Yi Jian Mei (Xue Hua Piao Piao) has been given a brand new lease of life. The classic melody, infused with an upbeat Latino reggaeton, topped with the surreal vocals of singer Kelvin Tan & an inspiring rap by Korean American rapper Nyukyung – the track is reinvented into ways you can never imagine!
The classic hit, Yi Jian Mei, from the 1980s by retired artist Fei Yu Qing skyrocketed to a global meme and worldwide phenomenon after the video of a Chinese man spinning himself in the snow whilst singing was uploaded on Kuaishou. Dressed in yellow and sporting a rather unique egg-shaped head, the man sang the classic lines of Yi Jian Mei “xue hua piao piao, bei feng xiao xiao” as he stood in the heavy snow.
The video gained popularity on YouTube, leading to the emergence of memes generated using the lyrics featured in the video. Soon after, the global TikTok community picked up the trend and masses of users started to feature the lines “xue hua piao piao, bei feng xiao xiao” in their videos, with people lip syncing to the song and adding their own captions (often used out of context of the lyrics actual meaning).
Notably, the odd phenomenon gained most interest in countries where Chinese isn’t widely spoken, in many European countries, and thereafter Australia and New Zealand. This could most probably be the first time in history that a Chinese classic song has captured the hearts of Western listeners with such impact. Web searches for “xue hua piao piao” surged since the beginning of May, and the song started taking over the charts on digital platforms globally!
Kelvin Tan was a street busker in Singapore for several years, before hitting the big time by winning Singapore’s inaugural reality TV talent show. Born blind, he had to conquer numerous obstacles from childhood, but grew up independent with a positive attitude towards life.With the inner strength that he possesses, he has broken all stereotypes to emerge an inspiring life champion.
Give it a listen here!
Singer-songwriter Gracie Abrams is ready to take the world by storm. She was recently named ‘Artist to Watch’ by Pigeons & Planes and Idolator, as well as oneOn July 10, 2020 / By Sofea
Singer-songwriter Gracie Abrams is ready to take the world by storm. She was recently named ‘Artist to Watch’ by Pigeons & Planes and Idolator, as well as one of seven breakout female musicians by Vogue UK – and she has Joni Mitchell to thank.
“Her lyricism is very much what compelled me to start writing when I was eight, which is also when I started playing piano,” says Abrams, who lists Tyler, The Creator, Carole King, and The 1975 among her other major influences.
Over the years, she has shared homespun clips of her songs on social media, amassing over 250,000 followers on Instagram even before releasing her first song! She finally made her debut with the release of her first single, ‘Mean It’ last fall.
In April 2020, Abrams premiered an emotional new single called ‘I miss you, I’m sorry’. The track was written by Abrams, alongside Blake Slatkin and Sarah Aarons showcasing the 20-year-old artist’s understated yet powerful song writing and haunting vocals.
As the slow-burning epic builds to a beautiful crescendo – its intensity amplified by a lush string arrangement and gently layered vocals – Abrams’s fine-spun lyrics perfectly capture the cruel confusion of heartbreak.
Give it a listen here!
Hailing from Chicago, Illinois, Alexander 23 (real name: Alexander Glantz) is a multi-instrumentalist that has a talent sent from above. The solo powerhouse writes, records and produce hisOn July 7, 2020 / By Sofea
Hailing from Chicago, Illinois, Alexander 23 (real name: Alexander Glantz) is a multi-instrumentalist that has a talent sent from above. The solo powerhouse writes, records and produce his own songs straight out of his heart, delivering you with honest and raw emotions.
Nookmag was given the opportunity to interview the one-man-show, all thanks to Universal Music Singapore! We discussed genres, his solo career and the brand new single ‘IDK You Yet” which was released two months ago.
The moniker ‘Alexander 23’, how did that come about?
Yeah! So, I mean, 23 really has been the number that has followed me around like my entire life. I was born on the 23rd, I’m from Chicago and I play basketball growing up and Michael Jordan, you know he’s from Chicago, play basketball so…
Exactly! I’m a big Bulls fan and I was 23 when I first started writing like, this music that I have put out, this kind of “era” of my life. So, you know, I try to write music that’s super honest and stuff. So, I knew that I wanted to go by ‘Alexander’ because that is my real name and I wanted people to feel a personal connection to me. But I was just looking for a way to kind of make it different and stand out and the two kind of just naturally gravitated towards each other!
And today where I am right now it’s the 23rd!
Happy 23rd! [Laugh]
How did you start getting into music? Who would you say were your influences?
So, my dad actually played guitar and so just like, I remember being a kid and watching him play and be like, “I got to learn how to do that!” And I think once I started playing and realise that like “Hey! This is something that I could be good at!” Like I just couldn’t stop! You know, like, the way other kids get home from school and play catch or like play video games, like that was how I was playing guitar. It was just like, an obsession! So, yeah and I was just copying other people’s songs, doing covers until I kind of felt comfortable enough to start writing. Once I started writing music like, it was over. That was what I want to do.
Growing up, you were making and playing music with bands. So, what made you say like, “You know what, I want to be a solo artiste.”
Definitely a good question! Like, yeah this is my first time ever really you know, writing and performing on my own and stuff and it’s definitely a different experience. I think is just that as I got older I kind of grew to feel more comfortable with my own voice and what I wanted to say. I felt more comfortable standing alone behind the music that I was writing. And so, kind of after just like years of collaboration and working with other people and performing with other people, I just kind of felt like the music I wanted to write was so personal that it felt like only right to do it by myself.
Many have mentioned “bedroom pop” when it comes to introducing your music. Would you say that genre best fits you and if not, how would you describe your music?
Um, yeah, I don’t personally love the term “bedroom pop” and I’ll tell you why. I think that “bedroom pop” like the connotation of that and the way people perceive it is just like, you know, it’s good but it doesn’t have the potential to be like a worldwide music. And that’s not where I want to be, you know? I don’t want to put a ceiling under myself or my writing or my production or my genre. But at the same time, I understand the need to compartmentalise things and you know, put people in categories and so, I kind of just like to say “pop”! In a more of a classical sense of the word! Like, I hope my music is popular because a lot of people connect to it. Not because of its style or anything, you know?
You write, record, produce – basically do everything on your own! Give us a rundown on how that is like for you.
It’s super liberating! I am just obsessed with having my own autonomy and control within my life so, whenever there’s kind of something in my way, you know, like a skill I’ll just get obsessed with it and get good enough until I can do it on my own. Like, I love producing but I learn how to produce just out of necessity because I didn’t want to wait for other people to have to finish my music for me. I want to have control. You know, if I have an idea like, right now, in two hours I can have a song. So, it’s kind of was bred from that. There are days where it’s super challenging, but I think kind of like what I’ve taken away from it is – when it goes well, it feels even better and when its going terrible it feels even worse. And it’s just a risk I have learnt to take and I’m willing to take it!
You released your first EP last year and most of your singles picked up really fast, really well. And your latest single ‘IDK You Yet” made it to Rolling Stone’s ‘Breakthrough 25 Chart’. How do you feel about everything?
I’m just incredibly grateful! Like I’ve just, you know, through one way or another I’ve gotten amazing opportunities and gotten to meet and talk to really smart people who have helped me along the way. Like, I’m making this music alone but I’m not experiencing the things I’m writing about alone. I’m not putting all the release plans together alone. And I’m just feeling super grateful. At the same time, like, I’ve only been putting out this music for about a year but like I said, it’s been since I was 10 years old [that] I’ve been playing shows and writing terrible songs, songs that you will never hear, that I’ll never put out – just kind of really get to the good ones [now]. So, it simultaneously feels like it happened so fast and at the same time [it] feels like I’ve been waiting my whole life to have some of these opportunities.
‘IDK You Yet’ was written in quarantine. Can you tell us a little bit more about the song and what it means to you?
Yeah, definitely! Like you said, it was written in quarantine. I think just being in quarantine and in isolation and kind of like the feeling of missing so many things really just reminded me of a time in my life before any Alexander 23 stuff where everything was just really falling apart, and things weren’t going great for me. And so, it’s really about that time of my life when I was just like, so lost and was looking for something or someone but I couldn’t even tell you what that thing or that person was. Which is like a difficult feeling to reckon with but at the same time, it’s not like I don’t know you, it’s I don’t know you yet. So, there’s a hopefulness that I’ve tried to convey like, “Hey! I feel like this, but I don’t think I’ll feel like this forever.”
So, other than creating ‘IDK You Yet’, are there other songs that you have made during quarantine?
Yeah! I’ve been making a ton of new music that I’m very, very excited for people to hear. I’m super proud of it and I’m super excited for people to, you know, connect with it in different ways!
Will there be a second EP coming out any time soon?
We shall see! [Laugh] The strategy is definitely still forming. I think like right now I’m just trying to make the most incredibly emotional and honest and vulnerable music that I can make and I’m hoping that those songs will guide a plan of sorts, but I’ll keep you updated on that.
In the future, since right now you are focusing on your solo career, would you be open to do collaborations and if so, with who?
I feel like I have two different answers to that question. I would obviously love to do something with Drake or Frank Ocean or those kind of level of people but in some ways I would also love to do something with like, people who are kind of lower but who are 10 steps ahead of me, [that] would be super exciting too – like LANY! Someone like that who I am like, enamoured by as far as their writing and their path would also be such a fun, cool and natural collaboration you know, at some point in the future hopefully.
Before we end the session, do you have anything you want to say to your Singaporean fans?
Yeah, I certainly do! Right when it’s safe to do so, I’m on the first flight over! I am so grateful to have fans in Singapore at all! Even 1 would be amazing as someone from the middle of the United States. I’m so grateful and I cannot wait to meet everyone and play for everyone and hang out!
Listen to ‘IDK You Yet’ now!
Violette Wautier (pronounced vyo-let) is no stranger to the Thai music scene. The Thai-Belgian singer-songwriter and actress (yes, actress!) has been telling her story through her music inOn June 27, 2020 / By Sofea
Violette Wautier (pronounced vyo-let) is no stranger to the Thai music scene. The Thai-Belgian singer-songwriter and actress (yes, actress!) has been telling her story through her music in her native tongue since 2013. Now, she is determined to deliver her tales of love and heartbreak across the regions with a brand-new English-language full-length album.
All thanks to Universal Music Singapore, Nookmag had the opportunity to interview the triple-threat herself! From The Voice Thailand to Taylor Swift, get to know Wautier beneath the glitter and smoke.
If you may, tell us about yourself.
I’m from Bangkok and um, I’m an artiste [Laugh]. I love telling my own story to people and yeah, I’m pursuing my dream!
You started out your music career by auditioning for The Voice Thailand. How was that experience for you and what drove you to audition?
Well, what drove me to do it first. I was not confident in my singing. I used to be really, really confident and then I started to doubt myself and I thought maybe going to the show I can know if I can go through it. Like, you know, just to see. And then I went through the whole process. It was really fun, it was surreal. Like, that’s the closest thing I have ever been to like, a television show or anything like that. So, it was really a “wow” image for me. And then, after the show when the tape came out it blew up. And I was like, “Oh, yeah! There’s a lot of people watching the show!” So, it became my career afterwards. But during the show it was a really, really good memory. I learnt like, a lot and I meet a lot of cool people there so, it was really amazing.
Your earlier music was in Thai. What made you want to break through the English music scene?
Well, at first, I actually write music in English more than Thai since I was 17. And um, after the show in The Voice [Thailand] I got into a label and then they were suggesting [to] me like, “You should do Thai music cause you know, your fans are here in Thailand and you should communicate with them.” So, I was like, “Yeah! Sure, okay! Let’s do Thai music.” So, I made Thai music but then I was like, “but all of my music that I write is actually in English!” So, I was thinking, maybe I could try to release them. And then I did, and it became my English music right now.
One of your songs ‘Brassac’ features a lyric in French! So, we were wondering, how many languages do you speak?
I speak three languages; Thai, English and French.
Do you enjoy singing more in English or in Thai?
I think I enjoy both but, I think I can express more in English when I write.
Walk us through your creative process.
Well, um, in the creating process I would write first. I would write lyrics and melody and then once I got like, the song that is like, very pure and very raw I would go to my producer and we would make music around it. So, it doesn’t really start, it was never really created in a studio before. It would be like, me at home, writing something or maybe like, driving a car and had like, some idea and start recording while driving. It’s not good to do but, I mean, yeah! [Laugh].
[Laugh] To capture the moment!
Okay, so is the creative process similar for your English album?
It is, it is! Like, it’s just um, this album actually was written… a lot of songs were written in a car. Well, the idea of a car. So, this album is like the perfect album to listen to when driving. Like, daytime, night-time, any time but driving it’s like… “We had this on drive!” [The song] It’s already called ‘Drive’! Like, ‘Brassac’ to me was a very road trip um, summer song. And also ‘I’d Do It Again’, the beat is like, the rhythm is just moving forward, moving forward and it just feels like you’re going forward in a car or anything like that. I feel like this is the album for driving [Laughs]. I mean, a lot of process for writing like, the first idea came in a car as well on a lot of songs.
Other than it being your first English album, can you share with us more details of Glitter and Smoke?
The name [Glitter and Smoke] actually, I came up with the name when I was doing my thesis in university. I studied Film and for my thesis I had to make a film. And um, the film was about friendship, love and you know, very girly movie. And it’s called ‘Glitter & Smoke’! And I thought like, this name really does represent something that is very me. And one of the songs in the album is actually like… I made a snippet of the song in the thesis. Like, to be like a soundtrack for the short film. And I thought maybe I could make it bigger. It could become an album because I love this name. It represents me. I’m very bright and shining but at the same time I’m very gloomy and dark. So, I think these two are the combination of the mood and tone of who I am and for my music as well. And the more I make the album, the more I feel like this is the right name. The mood and tone and the sound it just… each time when I make a song I would feel like, “I want to hear a sound of glitter.” Like, I want to see glitter in my head when I listen to my own song and that’s what I keep doing. And also, like the song called ‘Smoke’ is there as well so yeah, I think it became that. And the concept all behind it is about you know, every side of a story, of a person – like, there’s a lot of sides to me and also, there’s a lot of sides to one story. Like, some of the songs are the same story but it’s told from different angle. It’s about love that never stayed.
I can’t wait to hear it!
I’m really excited too!
Okay, so who were your inspiration in pursuing music?
Oh, I would say Taylor Swift. I kind of grew up listening to her and I actually first [started] writing music because of her. Like when her [song] Love Story came out, and I was like, “Oh! I want to be able to tell my own story too!” So, yeah! And I mean, one of the feedbacks that I get from ‘I’d Do It Again’ is that people say like, ‘Oh, it gives you like Taylor Swift vibes!” And I’m like, “Oh! That’s a compliment!” because I listen to her a lot and it’s yeah, it’s cool that people can feel who I listen to through all of my music and it’s quite interesting!
You’re also an actress! How did you start your acting career in the midst of pursuing music?
I started acting at the same time as the music career. When I did the show The Voice [Thailand] it was, you know, a show and then I had fun. I got knocked out in the knockout round and then actually my first work to ever do after The Voice [Thailand] show was actually I got a role in a movie. And we shot the whole movie and then they asked me like, “Oh! Anyways, you sing! Let’s put you in the soundtrack! Come on sing the soundtrack for the film!” So, I was like, “Yeah, sure!” So, when the work, like the first work ever to come out in the business was actually acting and singing both at the same time. Yeah, so it started from there.
You have also won awards for your roles in Heart Attack and A Gift! So, what or who would you say is your favourite movie or TV show, or even like, a favourite character that you have portrayed?
Mm… I would say Jane from Heart Attack and Heart Attack as well because I won the prize [Laugh] but, I mean, it’s really interesting to play this character and to work with this director because he has like a vision to this character in a way that I want to understand how he wants me to play. And the character like, the mindset of the character is not really far from me but the way how she portrays herself, how she acts is something that is really far from me and I had to find a way to be able to be her. And I mean, it was a lot of fun being her.
You’re very vocal about your scoliosis and took the chance with the surgery at the age of 14. Can you tell us a bit about it, if you don’t mind?
Oh, I don’t mind at all! I mean, I had it bad. I had the scoliosis quite bad. And my grandmother made me make a promise that I would do something about it. Because I used to have like this kind of like a cast, a body cast to hold your back straight and not get it worst. But then I was growing up and becoming a teenager and a “woman” and it doesn’t feel good to wear like, the cast. So, I stopped [wearing it] and it got worse and my grandmother made me make a promise to take care of myself. So, I just [said], “Okay let’s just do the operation!”, because I don’t think… there is no way I can do anything about it now because it’s so bad. So, I did the operation and I healed from it really quickly. Like, the third day I could walk again.
Yeah, it’s really great and I feel like I’m really proud of myself for deciding to go through that because both my parents were like, “Really? Are you sure you want to do this operation?” They were scared for me. But I was like, “Yup! I want to do it!” Like, it’s me who decided to do that, and my parents were there to support me. After that I feel like, I’ve been through something really big and I came out of it and I feel proud of it. Even with my scar like, really big scar it feels like “this is a part of who I am”. For those people who have scoliosis as well like never to be scared. It’s not that bad and if it is bad just go see the doctor and the doctor is going to take care of you and the medical world right now is really advanced so there’s nothing to be scared of at all.
What inspired you to share a personal story like that with your fans?
A lot of people are being bullied by how they look and stuff like that! I was one of those people who got like, those kinds of comments. So, I thought like, I don’t care if I don’t look that good because as long as I’m healthy, physically and mentally, that is more important than just the way I look. So, that is why I shared my scoliosis story.
That’s beautiful! Okay, do you have a quarantine playlist and if so, who are on top of your playlist right now?
Right now, for me it’s Lauv and The 1975!
Shout out to The 1975’s new album!
Yes! The new album!
My last question would be, now that you’re focusing on your music career, how about your acting career? Will we be seeing you in the big screens anytime soon?
I think, this year or next year because we just finished shooting a film. It’s really exciting! I have no idea when it’s going to come out but it’s really exciting. That’s all I can say about it now [Laugh].
Glitter and Smoke – out now! Listen to it here.
Fariz Jabba opens up for the first time to share his journey of losing and finding himself again in his struggle with mental health. The rapper/singer hopes thatOn June 26, 2020 / By Sofea
Fariz Jabba opens up for the first time to share his journey of losing and finding himself again in his struggle with mental health. The rapper/singer hopes that by telling his story in ‘Nak Tak Nak’, others who face similar pain will feel empowered to step forward and seek help.
The song and its official lyric video is produced and directed by Flightsch, took on new meaning for Fariz Jabba after the 23-year-old began struggling with a depressive state during the Circuit Breaker period. Upon revisiting the track, which was written two years ago, the singer heard his younger self in ‘Nak Tak Nak’ speaking to him, asking if he could still be the artiste and person he aspired to be at the start of his career. This moved him to reach out to friends and family to get the help and support he needed – a step that began his journey back to recovery.
Following Fariz Jabba’s shift in perspective, Flightsch reworked the track and shifted ‘Nak Tak Nak’’s sound into an entirely different space that reflected the performer’s state of mind. This shift came hand-in-hand with the direction for the official lyric video, which features clips from the past two years of Fariz Jabba’s artistic journey. Against the backdrop of his journey, Fariz Jabba performs the single, bringing viewers in on reconciling the dissonance between some of the issues he faces today with that of the young, aspiring rapper two years ago.
Fariz Jabba quoted, “’Nak Tak Nak’ is one of my first truly emotional songs. I wrote the track in 2018, so it holds memories of the last two years of my life as an artiste. At the end of April 2020, what started as physical isolation became a mental and emotional isolation from everyone. Eventually, it became hard to be alone with my thoughts and stay positive. My biggest takeaway from going down that road has been to remind myself and others that we should keep our loved ones close. Don’t be afraid to draw strength from others as we move forward. Take a little peak into my past with ‘Nak Tak Nak’, and reminisce with me. I really hope this song helps anyone who’s struggling or feeling down and out. Let’s heal together.”
From the quiet of vulnerability, empathy, and conviction, Fariz Jabba releases ‘Nak Tak Nak’, a beacon to destigmatise mental health issues in the Southeast Asian and Hip Hop landscapes. This song is Fariz Jabba’s open invitation to the public to join him on this journey of healing.
Listen to ‘Nak Tak Nak’ here!