Entertainer, rapper but above all a popular YouTube star. Lilly Singh is, in every respect, a iiSuperwomanii, a channel she created and produced by herself, which was prompted by her childhood ideal that she could do anything. We caught up with her firsthand as she dropped into Singapore for a Trip 2 Unicorn Island World Tour.
On how she’s feeling at the moment: I’m good so far. I love Singapore, I’m very sick but I’m still going to rock it tomorrow night. I haven’t been speaking for like 2 days, so I don’t speak unless I actually have to. Having shows back to back to back has really taken a toll on my voice.
On her first time being on a world tour: It has been everything I’ve imagined, plus more! It’s so much more exhausting than I thought, (but also) so much more exciting than I thought. And it’s so much more surreal than I thought. I feel like I go through every day, I go to shows and I go home at night and I’m just like, “What happened? What just happened?!”.
On feeling like a pop star while on tour: It’s a feel you could never get used to. Like everyone else that watches you is probably “oh look, she’s performing in front of people, she has fans”. To the actual person I feel like my life is just a blur. Like I can’t even take in any moment, it’s so surreal all the time.
On her one-woman creative team: Yeah, I do everything myself. With the ideas, I shoot them, I edit them, I post them, (I) pretty much do everything. Of course, I have a team that helps me out with some things, but most of the creative stuff, that’s me yeah.
On fellow YouTubers she looks up to for inspiration: I think the first YouTube (video) I ever saw was Jenna Marbles. I love Grace Helbig, I love Hannah Hart, I love Ryan Higa, I love Miranda Sings as well.
On the pop stars she looks up to: I love Selena Gomez, Nicki Minaj, Drake and Katy Perry
On (Justin) Bieber: I like Bieber. I have no problems with Bieber. I dance to a little bit of “Baby” (sometimes)… maybe I’ll sing it tomorrow (at #AT2UISingapore) too. You’ll have to wait and see.
On the coolest part of travelling: Most enjoyable thing is obviously all the beautiful faces I get to see, I mean when I went on my world tour I felt really cool. I was packing and I was like “Ok, so I’m going to Singapore, Hong Kong, UK, all these places” and I looked through my money box and I already had the currency for every place. And I was like “Oh I’m so cool! Look how cool I am!”.
I think it’s just the experience and the things you learn. I feel like travelling really helps you open your mind a little bit to things, and when you’re traveling you learn new things, new laws, new customs. It just makes you a better person in general.
But one of my pet peeves; I hate not having a functioning phone when I travel. Because I need a SIM card every place I go, finding wi-fi is like a constant struggle for me.
On whether her fanbase in Singapore has grown: Yes, based off the airport, yes. First time I came there was like 20 people. Today I feel like there was like hundreds. Um, it’s definitely grown. I feel like that’s the case with a lot of places I’ve gone to, like I’ve gone to India before, I went again this time, (and) it’s grown. It’s like seeing a child grow over time, it’s the weirdest thing going back to a place over and over again. My shows will get slightly bigger and bigger. The airport welcome will get slightly bigger and bigger. I’ll trend slightly faster and faster. So it’s really interesting to see it happen.
On coming up with video ideas: Yeah I try to, I mean. How I think of my ideas is, I wake up every Monday and Thursday (feeling) stressed, because I don’t have a video. I walk around trying to think of an idea. Usually I think of things that happen throughout my day. Like if it happened in my day chances are it’ll happen in your day, and then you can relate to it right? But if I really am stumped for an idea then yeah, I’ll ask my fans and if they really really wanna see something, I’ll work hard to make it happen. Those are the people who are watching anyway, so (I) might as well please them.
On whether she’s currently working on releasing a book: I know that’s like the thing to do right now, because everyone’s writing a book. But as of right now, no. I’m one thousand per cent focused on my world tour, that is my only priority right now.
Maybe (after the #AT2UI tour)! I’ll only write a book when I feel like it’s right to write a book. I don’t wanna write just because everyone else is writing a book. When I feel like I have something to say in a book, I’ll write a book.
On (close friend and regular collaborator) Humble The Poet‘s book: He’s a good, great writer. He’s written stuff he actually believes in, cos’ that was right for him at that time. While I chose to go a different route; I chose to work on my channel and do my tour. He chose to write a book so that’s fine, cos’ whatever works you. Because books are great, I mention a lot of them, so that’s why. They’re so great!
On whether she sees herself getting into Bollywood someday? I would love to be in a Bollywood movie because I think it’d be so much fun. I don’t know how to speak Hindi properly, but once I learn I’ll be so down. I’m better at Punjabi. I get confused with Hindi. I’m the best at English, kinda. Punjabi second.
On the possibility of taking on a non-speaking dancer role: I can dance, I can be that token girl from North America who speaks English. They always have that one girl who speaks English in Bollywood movies, I’d be her.
On whether she’ll be coming back to Singapore soon: I would love to. I love Singapore. I was even telling all of my dancers when we were on the way, I’m like you guys would love Singapore, it’s one of my favourite places, it’s so clean, we don’t chew gum, it’s awesome. I’d tell them all these things. I would love to come back to Singapore as many times as I possibly could.
On her favourite Singaporean food so far: Favourite food… I don’t know what it is, but I tried this fruit that we don’t have in Canada. It’s kind of like a lychee, but like bigger.
That was really good. I’ve never seen that before in my life. I did not like durian.
On whether she’s tried chicken rice yet: I’m vegetarian. But if I know how good is it I’ll make an exception. I’m kidding!
On what started her on vegetarianism: I don’t know, I think I just had this moment in life, and I was like, “What makes my life more important than an animal’s life? And I like animals and I don’t wanna hurt them.” That’s all, but I honestly don’t mind if other people eat meat. I’m not one of those people that’s like very preachy.
On feeling surreal about having a global fanbase: Yeah I mean, I don’t even comprehend where I am in the world right now. If you’d show me a map I would probably not be able to tell you where I am. And I don’t even get how the Internet works. It’s like so weird, it’s like I make videos in my room, I go to places literally across the world. And people know my videos. It’s like “What? How do you know my videos?!”
On whether YouTube was a dream come true: Uh, not really. My dream was to be an entertainer, a performer. When I was younger I didn’t even know YouTube existed. So my dream was definitely to be an entertainer on stage, or in movies or just something like that. I love rapping, doing motivational speaking, love doing all those things. But to say that it was to be on YouTube? No. It just happened to come about through YouTube.
On her favourite song or artiste: Favourite song or artiste… Selena Gomez. She has one song that’s called “Who Says“. It’s not that popular, but I really like that song.
Either that or Drake. Um, Drake. Over. Toronto, y’know represent.
On the worst prank she played on someone… or the other way around: Oh my god, one time on set. I’m like extremely scared of spiders right, so scared of spiders! So one time on set, the crew was like “Okay Lilly for this shot, we’re gonna have you come in go around the corner (and) sit on this chair.” Yeah yeah, I’m okay, cool with that. And then they said “Action”! And before they did they put a fake spider on the chair. They recorded me trying to sit on it, and I freaked the F out. I ran off set, they had it all on tape. That’s the worst thing of my life.
I’m pretty much an angel but I think I pulled a prank on my mom a few times. Sometimes I’ll tell her… okay this is really bad. But sometimes, because I travel so much, she doesn’t know where in the world I am. Sometimes I’ll just joke around with her that I’m in some place in the world that I’m not. Like right now I’ll be like, “Yeah mom, I’m in the US”, even though I’m in Singapore. And then she starts freaking out. She would think her daughter’s lost – literally – on the planet. But then I tell her the truth. Don’t worry.
On the one thing about this year she would have changed: Hmm… I think while planning this tour, I wanted it to be so perfect that I worked so hard on it that I forgot to enjoy a lot of the moments. All-nighters. Just crying everyday. Yeah I’ll probably not do that. If I could change anything I’d go back, take a deep breath and remember to actually enjoy planning the tour. And not be so stressed about that.
On the things she would tell her younger self who just started YouTube: I would say, “Don’t try to figure out all the answers in the beginning cos’ you won’t know them. Just keep doing what you’re doing and you’ll figure it out.” You gotta think in the beginning I kept trying to think like “Is this going to work? Is this worth it? Is this going to become a career? What if this doesn’t work out? How should I brand myself?” and I think all those questions get answered naturally.
On her choice of social media platforms: I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, sometimes Vine, sometimes Tumblr. But I don’t really know how to use Tumblr. I don’t really know how to use it.
Many thanks to LAMC Productions for the interview.
Standard tickets for #AT2UISingapore are priced at S$68, S$78, S$88, S$108 and S$180 (VIP Meet & Greet) on SISTIC.com.sg and all other SISTIC channels.
Lilly Singh live in Singapore is organised by LA Comedy Live.