There's a 2 page spread feature interview on yo' girl in yesterday's New Paper. Although I'm grateful for the platform to share my experiences, the story told is not exactly what I had hoped. I felt compelled to address what I actually said in the interview, not from a place of anger, but to ensure clarity. I can't control what a reporter at New Paper will choose as click bait, but I certainly can stand up for myself as an artist.
Here is what I REALLY wanted to say:
- I accepted the interview to talk about Reggae culture here in Singapore, yet read an article that was about an American record contract.
While I shared some background information on work I was doing in stateside (which yes includes working at Dr Dre's studio), this was only meant to established that I am speaking from a "credible" background. Most of the interview was spent discussing future movements for the music scene here in Singapore and why I had chosen Reggae music yet it comes down to the same cliche headlines. In fact all articles published in SPH owned publishings are versions of the same headline.
Here's an example of an article in VICE / NOISEY that tells my genuine story.
- Complete disregard for the image & wishes of the artist.
When asked to do the interview, I was told there would be a studio photo shoot. I selected a Singapore batik skirt from a Singaporean designer. I explained to the reporter the significance of the skirt; how I would wear it while touring internationally to showcase Singapore Reggae and to put Singapore on the map. Upon arrival, I'm told we will be taking the pictures in a stairwell instead. Perhaps someone decided it would be more "Hiphop" and street? Annoyed I sat down in the dark stairwell and wondered why a long range lens was needed for a staircase selfie. I threw my hands up in the air as a joke and commented to my PA, "Maybe they want something cliche like this...Yo Yo Yo! This is Hiphop". We both laughed. That's the photo they ended up using. *deep sigh*
- Sensationalist Headlines don't tell the whole story.
I am grateful for my major label experience for the sum of my knowledge and learning, no need to keep selling the sensationalist story about casting couches. As an 8 year old girl discovering Hiphop from a cassette tape in Singapore, I feel humbled and blessed to work with my Hiphop heroes. I'm deeply grateful to a producer named Che Vicious that made this all possible and also to my experiences at the label that taught me to play different roles in the music business, elements of a hit song and how to write a killer hook. My experiences in LA are often painted in a negative light yet this is not how I feel, it was a transitional time for me to find my voice. For the record...I like Nicki and the Barbs of the world.
[Now back to the program... Reggae.]
- Singapore is a financial, educational, technological hub...and now an Irie Hub!
I chose to promote Reggae music for Singapore as it shares a Positive message and reminds the busy people that life is sweet and blessed. Singapura Dub Club is now allowing the Lion City to become a hub for Reggae artists & musicians throughout SE Asia and internationally. This opens new musical genres, cultures and talent here in SG through Reggae bookings alone. The repercussions are greater than just Reggae Music.
- "Everyone is focused on Social Influencers but blog shops close down. I want to be a Cultural Influencer."
The only quote I asked to be printed wasn't. I spoke at length with the reporter about racism and mounting xenophobia in Singapore as the country has experience massive immigration in a short amount of time. I addressed how Reggae music encourages multiculturalism and the simple concept of One Love. I shared that when I first pushed Reggae in SG I was met with very racist responses. With society's increasing obsession of who has more likes & followers, is our objective as a creatives to sell as many pastel maxi-skirts a possible...or to effect positive change and a more accepting mindset?
- Journalistic integrity.
If Singapore is to grow it's Arts & Culture sector, you need to put in place leaders and creative thinkers that are passionate about the arts, not just someone that got straight A's in school. A reporter that writes for the MUSIC section of a paper should know about MUSIC. Between explaining who John Frusciante is to the music reporter and knowing that many journalists are answering to a boss rather than their interest on a topic, I realized that the masses cannot be inspired if the gatekeepers are not inspired. Today, passion is a word thrown around in memes and for advertising, yet it is my PASSION to see Singapore's Arts & Culture grow. I will endlessly being criticized for being a disrupter or confrontational here in Singapore, but how will things grow if we are too scared to have any real dialogue about the issues? Education is a number 1 priority here in Singapore - but we may need to unlearn that which has caused us to stop learning.
- My reply to the question "What do you think the local music scene needs?"
Singapore media, artists and audiences need to gain confidence to know Singaporeans DO NOT need a foreign brand name to create a headline. There needs to be a paradigm shift in the perception of artists being lazy hippies or singers being lounge crooners in Martell bars. The average DJ is now also a promoter, advertiser, social media expert and PR agent.
A great amount of money has been poured into the educational end of the arts: but once these musicians graduate who are they playing to if there is no audience development? The music industry in Singapore is hugely reliant on venues and clubs that have very expensive rentals. The objective is about selling as much alcohol as possible rather than it is about music. Large venues take months to pay their DJs and talents, and lack the professionalism that is afforded to other industries.
It is ironic that this New Paper article was headlined with a foreign brand name, which over shadowed efforts made in pushing a new culture and creating a real booking route for South East Asia. Let's address cultural audience development here in Singapore before we talk about Dr Dre. "Catch a fire" Singapore, or you're gonna get burned.
Please comment below your thoughts on how Singapore's music scene can grow and let's start a real dialogue that can inspire the next movement.