Before the year ends, the Popspoken Team came together for a quick look at how we fared in 2018.

While managing our day jobs and the daily challenges of millennial adulting, the team dabbled in new forms of storytelling this year.

2018 has been good to us. This year, we produced a video story on how smoking regulations affect small business owners. We also launched Reads, our monthly meet-the-author book club.

2018 has been good for you, too! For our readers, we gave away passes to music festivals Ultra Singapore and Siloso Beach Party, tickets to Thai food festival Chang Sensory Trails, and a copy of fine dining guide Table Tales.

In our look back, our team were asked to pick our favourite pieces from the year, whether personally or professionally significant.

Here is Popspoken’s 2018, revisited.


We started the year by responding to smoking regulations passed in 2017, and how e-cigarettes and other tobacco products are glossed over in Singapore.

Singapore’s move toward smoke-free will only go up in smoke if we do not consider other measures that can achieve the ideal result inclusive of 13.3% smokers among us. Smokers should be allowed to choose harm reduction, not just life or death.

“This wasn’t my byline, but this is something that I am really passionate about,” said Cally Cheung, Culture Editor.

“Re-reading it reminds me of how excited I was by all the science and research pumped into harm reduction. Even more provocative is the dissonance between the public and policymakers, showing a general lack of awareness when it comes to understanding the storm brewing around this topic.”

Loh Wai Poon | Image: Jovi Ho for Popspoken

Over eggs at Lau Pa Sat on a stifling afternoon in March, we listened to outspoken “Facebook Uncle” Loh Wai Poon explain his reading habits, fake news, and everything in between.

“Journalism ah? Definitely becoming more liberalised. All along we have been too tight. We can only go one way. You can say that ST is becoming more open. People becoming more relax. Millennials are taking over what. Yall think differently.”

“Online content is always going to be years ahead of your print media. People are doing Step 10, we are still arguing over Step 5, you know? Cannot, right?”

– Loh Wai Poon

“I was really a fan when I met him and I still am. I appreciate how level-headed he is when approaching various news topics and, of course, his media literacy. It’s also amazing how he doesn’t fully understand he’s a mini-celebrity online,” said Jovi Ho, Issues Editor.

“We’re still friends on Facebook and he leaves the occasional essay in the comments of my posts.”

In April, Popspoken embarked on a video story on Riyaz Exchange, a small convenience store located within Bukit Panjang Plaza.

“The man we interviewed for this piece was really friendly and humble; and it was a total shame to see someone like him fail because his business was being undercut by smoking taxes. I wanted to root for him to succeed,” said Kyle Malinda-White, Consultant at Popspoken.

 

With May came the first book in our Reads series; a monthly author interview fronted by a synopsis of one of their works.

In the months since, Popspoken has chatted with authors Ng Yi-ShengRodrigo Dela Peña, Jr.Melissa De Silva, Cyril Wong, and more.

“Delving into different worlds and speaking to all these writers was nothing short of imaginative, humbling and thought-provoking. It has opened up conversations about race, gender and sexuality — discussions that are very necessary. I hope that this series will mark a start for something new for Popspoken,” said Dawn Teo, Arts Editor.

In June, we wrote about how difficult it is to save the sea turtles, or Our Week With A Metal Straw. Things really didn’t go as planned in this environmentally-conscious crusade.

Baybeats 2018 act Dreebsby | Image: Darren ‘Merovign’ Tan

Scheduled a month later than usual, Baybeats 2018 occupied a mid-August weekend this year. The three-day music festival organised by Esplanade features a fresh lineup of local acts in each edition, with 2018 being their 17th run.

Popspoken first published interviews with noteworthy acts from 2015’s lineup, featuring Linying, Theodora Lau, and others. The Baybeats Edition series of interviews began the following year, offering greater coverage of each lineup.

Popspoken featured six bands this year: Coming Up Roses, Trust The Chaos, Glassmouth, Osr313, Dreebsby, and Sangriento.

“I am very proud of this series that began in 2016 and I still stand by it,” said Dawn.

“Speaking to these musicians carving out a space of their own in our local music scene will always deserve our attention. Success starts somewhere, and if we don’t support our own, who will?”

As September rolled around, we turned our focus to the then-rising Twitter persona Sharon Liew. Amid accusations of racism, we dissected “her” envelope-pushing tweets that describe the small-time crises of middle-aged Asian women.

That same month, we tracked down and interviewed 18-year-old Kapil Bhuta, an amateur drummer who was invited onstage to play with The Killers at the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix concert.

“Interviewing him was such a joy, and this article is the link on his Instagram bio right now. It really warmed my heart to know that the platform (Popspoken) can contribute to someone’s dreams,” said Sheryl Teo, Lead Editor.

Beauty and skincare stories have always done well among our readers. In October, we spoke to Taiwan-based dermatologist Dr Liao Yuan Li (廖苑利) about the importance of oils in Asian skincare regimens.

“Who knew oil was a friend and not a foe? Dr Liao has an incredible personality and her dedication to skincare as a “preventive medicine” really struck a chord with me,” said Cally.

“Throughout the interview, I realised that I am interacting with someone who is not only capable but also the epitome of “full package” —appearance, career, individuality, mentality, and beliefs. I can also personally vouch for the efficacy of her products for all Asians!”

Supreme Xiao Long Bao at Holland Village (note: really good) | Image: Jovi Ho for Popspoken

Just last month, we published twin commentaries on hawker culture as contractual tensions between hawkers and their landlords came to a head.

While one called for Singaporeans to be more gracious and generous to hawkers, the other maintained a business-minded pragmatism.


Perhaps Popspoken is arriving at the end of the year in a similar fashion. What started as a multi-curatorial lifestyle site in 2011 (the first of its kind in Singapore) has evolved countless times over the years.

Today, Popspoken publishes stories on arts and culture in Singapore. Across our verticals of Music, The Arts, Wine & Dine, Style, and Issues, we seek to highlight a Singaporean spirit reflected in all our feature subjects, one that has remained indefinable over the years.

What is the common thread that pulls and pushes everyone featured in our pages? Is it entrepreneurial? Altruistic? Or creative and aesthetic? We do not know, yet. But we would love for you to discover it with us, in 2019 and beyond.

The Popspoken Team wishes you and your loved ones a blessed holiday season!

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