Popspoken http://popspoken.com You seek, we speak: Culture with thought. Wed, 18 Apr 2018 02:23:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.6.11 https://i1.wp.com/popspoken.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/cropped-ps512.jpg?fit=32%2C32 Popspoken http://popspoken.com 32 32 59411642 “ONE: Unstoppable Dreams” Is Where the Lee Siblings Fight for What Matters http://popspoken.com/culture/2018/04/one-fc-unstoppable-dreams-angela-lee Sun, 15 Apr 2018 10:56:15 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=60230
On May 18, the Lee siblings will make a pit stop in Singapore for "ONE: Unstoppable Dreams" at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

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For some families, fighting becomes the best policy, especially when they form the Lee dyad.

Even for amateur mixed martial arts (MMA) spectators, it is clear that the duo, consisting of 21-year-old Angela Lee, the reigning ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion, and 19-year-old Christian Lee, are instant crowd-pullers when they dominate their respective rings.


On May 18, the Lee siblings will make a pit stop in Singapore for ONE Championship’s “ONE: Unstoppable Dreams” show at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. The main event will mark the “Unstoppable” Angela Lee’s comeback bout to face her strongest opponent to date, Japanese veteran Mei Yamaguchi. This is a highly-anticipated rematch between the two women since Angela’s victory during the inaugural ONE Women’s Atomweight World Championship back in 2016. Since then she has defended the title twice, but her untimely car accident in November 2017 rendered this particular match with Yamaguchi to be postponed.

In a recent interview with Forbes, Angela acknowledges the challenge of fighting Yamaguchi again, as well as having the match in Singapore because of her mixed family background. The Lee siblings have a Singaporean father and a Korean mother, and the family currently resides in Hawaii.

“Mei Yamaguchi is an honourable martial artist, and it is my pleasure to share the cage with her. She has certainly been my toughest test to date, and I can’t wait to show just how much I’ve changed since our first meeting. I’m a completely different beast now, and I want to test my skills against the very best. Right now, that’s Mei. I want to show the world that I can put this challenge behind me,” she said.

“Singapore is family to me, it’s home. I am truly grateful to be able to represent Singapore on the global stage of martial arts. It is an honour. Since the moment I first stepped into the country, I’ve been welcomed with open arms. Fans have been behind me all the way and I am completely overwhelmed by all the love and support. Thank you all for following my journey.”

Other title bouts of the night include Christian “The Warrior”, who has his eyes set on the ONE Featherweight World Championship belt presently held by Sydney-based Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen. Christian has an impressive four-bout winning streak and a nine-win, one-loss record— the loss from his stint against Nguyen in August 2016.


The pressure is on him join his sister and surpass her to become the youngest world champion in history if he beats Nguyen. The event will also witness the crowning of the inaugural ONE Super Series Muay Thai Flyweight World Champion, featuring Evolve Mixed Martial Arts Sam-A Gaiyanghadao and Dutch-based Sergio “Little One” Wielzen. With each Lee sibling vying for the champion belts in their categories, it is sure-Lee to be a sensational night of blood, sweat, and tears.

ONE: Unstoppable Dreams
When? 18 May, 7pm to 11pm
$28 onwards per ticket (Ticket information here)
Singapore Indoor Stadium, Singapore Sports Hub, 2 Stadium Walk, Singapore 397691

We have 10 pairs of tickets to for our readers to experience next month’s “ONE: Unstoppable Dreams” for themselves. Interested? Head on over to our Facebook to join the giveaway! (Giveaway ends: 5 May 2018)

Feature image credit: Evolve MMA


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Bite Sized Beef: Amp Up Your April With Awesome, Underrated Food Picks http://popspoken.com/culture/2018/04/bite-sized-beef-amp-april Fri, 13 Apr 2018 10:19:49 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=60197
Since the days seem longer, we are ready for longer (and more) meals to amp up our month.

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It is unbearably sunny in April, but we are far from allowing the erratic weather to get our spirits and/or stomachs down.

Since the days seem longer, we are ready for longer (and more) meals to amp up our month. This month’s selection takes advantage of the long, hot, and dry days we have been recently blessed with. Here are our picks for weekday boozy brunches, eggscellent dishes that can’t be beaten, and culinary celebrations for all.

Get Down to Brunching with PORTA

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Nothing seems to signal the start of a good weekend like a hearty brunch replete with bottomless mimosas. If you are around Robertson Quay this weekend, make a stop by PORTA Fine Food & Import Company to check out the refreshed menu by newly appointed Executive Chef Alex Phan, a culinary moniker serving up screen time on Channel 8. His new signatures, such as the Wild Mushroom Orecchiette, will be a creamy, indulgent hit with vegetarian friends, especially with their Sweet Potato & Kale as a side dish. For those who prefer breakfast staples, do not miss their Avocado Toast, a zesty rendition with rocket salad, vinaigrette dressing, and fresh sourdough.

In honour of the best women in our lives, PORTA will be offering a fantastic deal for under $40 come Mother’s day. Each brunch set will come with a choice of one main from their new brunch menu, accompanied with free-flow of fresh Fine de Claire Oysters, salad bar, and a selection of desserts. To top it off, the first glass of Prosecco starts at $10. Alcohol, oysters, and time with her children — already sounds like a great Mother’s Day hamper to us.

Mother’s Day Sunday Brunch
When? 13 May, 12pm to 4pm 
$38 onwards per person, $19 onwards for child (5 to 11 years old)
1 Unity Street, Level 1, Park Hotel Clarke Quay, Singapore 237983

Watch Burgers (Not Boys) With 25 Degree’s Bae Watch Burger

Bae Watch Burger

Combining iconic flavours from ocean and prairie, 25 Degree’s newest burger creation, Bae Watch, is poised to take over Instagram feeds with its gravity-defying gourmet composition. Starting with crusty sourdough buns, the generously stacked filling continues with their classic juicy US Angus beef patty, golden calamari, tobiko lemon dill sauce, and their innovative Crabmeat Sriracha Aioli with mentaiko.

In addition to rewarding your tastebuds, every order paired with Peroni Nastro Azzurro will give you a chance to win tickets to Peroni Sunset Cinema at Tanjong Beach, Sentosa, during the first week of May. They have also taken over #baewatch with their appealing photo wall right outside of the diner, so be sure to turn up for the right type of bae watching.

When? Now till 30 Apr
25 Degrees Burgers & Liquor Bar, 200 Middle Rd, Singapore 188980

OLLELLA Delights with Dim Sum Choux

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Why choose between dessert and dim sum? OLLELLA combines the best of both worlds in their newest artisan choux range, featuring blended French pastry with Asian classic flavours.

At the savoury corner, we have Chicken Char Siew with Yam, Radish Cake with XO Sauce, and the perennial favourite, Exploding Salted Yolk. Each pastry is shaped like a little golden globe with flavours reminiscent of Hong Kong’s old-school dim sum trolleys. Those with a sweet tooth will enjoy the Flowy Gula Melaka Ondeh-Ondeh or Refreshing Mango Pomelo Sago; once again proving that the best things come tiny, sweet, and undeniably Asian.

When? Now till otherwise specified
Ngee Ann City, Takashimaya Basement 2 Food Hall, #B208-4

At Crack, Eggs Are a Girl’s Best Friend

popspoken april crack singapore

It is time we embrace the ubiquitous egg and to do that, look no further than Crack. Their concise, quirky menu puts the yolky superstar to work by innovating dishes around it, served fast-casual style. Started in early 2017 by lawyer-turned-chef Lynette Zheng, the Instagram-worthy food truck will be at Timbre+ until May.

Highlights include the Cracking Good Egg Sandwich, featuring their seductive egg slice, slow-cooked to retain a creamy, fluffy tamago bite. Resting on a bed of house-made breakfast sausage patty and doused with chipotle mayo for a zesty finish, this burger hushes most cholesterol concerns. For the true egg enthusiast, treat yourself to double servings of their Otah Scotch Egg: finger food reworked into an ingenious Asian mainstay, with fragrant otah paste encasing locally farmed AA Grade eggs.

When? Now till otherwise specified
Timbre+, 73A Ayer Rajah Crescent, #01-33, Singapore 139957

Monti Marks Their 1st Year with La Gastronomia Italiana

Spiced Red Wine Poached Pear

Located on the waterfront of Singapore’s majestic Marina Bay and inside the grand spherical Fullerton Pavilion, Monti is one of the hottest date spots in the country. This April, the restaurant will be celebrating their first-year anniversary with an exclusive three-course lunch menu helmed by Head Chef Felix Chong.

Kick off the meal with Monti’s signature Pan Seared Hokkaido Scallop, followed by our personal favourite: the 48 Hours Sous Vide Beef Short Ribs, a melty beef slab with truffle pommes puree, lightly-fried asparagus and Brussel sprouts, all served over Barolo wine sauce. There is also a vegetarian menu option with the memorable Acquerello Risotto finished with truffle and porcini mushrooms. Both menu options will wrap with the Red Wine Poached Pear paired with house-made vanilla gelato to showcase a truly perfect tarty, crunchy ending.

Monti’s 1st Anniversario Lunch
When? Now till 30 Apr, 12pm to 3pm
$48 onwards per person for a three-course menu
One-for-one deal: One dines free with every paying adult

Monti’s 1st Anniversario Dinner
When? 27 Apr, 8 pm to 11 pm
$128 onwards per person for a six-course menu
Monti at 1-Pavilion, Collyer Quay, Singapore 049327


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I Am Trying To Say Something True: Honesty As Its Best Policy http://popspoken.com/arts/2018/04/i-am-trying-to-say-something-true Fri, 13 Apr 2018 07:29:08 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=60180
Michelle Tan's latest play for Esplanade Studios 2018 got people shedding tears and hanging onto every word. Get your tissues ready.

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With a sparse set design by Chun Kaifeng consisting of a larger than life door frame, sofa and bicycle frozen in memory, Risa (played by Ellison Tan Yuyang) clasps her hands together and says: I Am Trying To Say Something True though admitting lying is one of her best skill sets. 28 years old and jobless, she is swallowed up by the overwhelming spaciousness of the Esplanade Theatre Studio – a still image of unspoken loss and the distance between all the things she wishes to say.

The theatre space, with its sparse set pieces, remains ambiguous with lighting designer Genevieve Peck‘s play on light and shadow, together with sound designer and music composer Bani Haykal‘s everyday noises fleeting in and out of hearing through speakers placed by the sides. Curious, I wonder if this is a depiction of the battles she has to fight externally and within herself – going hand in hand together, unable to tell them apart. As the play progresses, it seems that director T. Sasitharan would like to keep that ambiguity and this choice worked in favour of the production – together with apparent directing choices of playing with levels, distance and the occupying of stage space.

I am trying to say something true iattsst0331

I Am Trying To Say Something True is written by playwright Michelle Tan and a part of Esplanade’s The Studios 2018. Swept off her feet by a sudden whirlwind of events, Risa finds herself struggling and tries to come to terms with all the conflicts she thought she had buried. An unflinching account of God, therapy and grief, the script strings words seamlessly together to weave as accurate a portrayal of the complex journey undertaken.

In its pursuit for raw honesty, I find it refreshing for the script to confront that tension between supposedly opposing beliefs on love head-on without forcing the audience to pick a side. The portrayal of suffering and the incessant questioning of concepts too great to fathom holds great power in presenting her circumstances as they are – the way she knows how – and leaving the audience to listen, and empathise if they would like to. I particularly enjoy the mental tug-of-war verbalised through the breaking of voice coupled with tensed movements. However, it is not all doom and gloom. Self-deprecating humour and outright sarcasm tickle the audience into laughter – allowing Risa to live true to her name (which means laughter in Spanish).

I am trying to say something true iattsst0547

With the inherent strength and emotional weight already captured through the subtlety of words, the other elements of the stage fade into the background. However, actress Ellison Tan holds her own, bringing the musicality of the words and its poetry to life. Her ease and generosity in sharing with the audience forthcoming. I have to admit that I felt the accumulating heartbreak and in the shared space of the theatre, I daresay many others also shed tears; thoroughly moved by the honest performance.

I Am Trying To Say Something True is the play you never knew you needed, in all its beauty of vulnerability and the emergence of new hope from old wounds. It is an emotional journey that is unapologetic and anything but comfortable, but oh so truthful.


I Am Trying To Say Something True

Date: 12th – 15th April 2018

Venue: Esplanade Theatre Studio

Time: Thursday – Saturday, 8pm / Saturday & Sunday, 3pm

Admission: $35 (Concessions available. Get your tickets here.)


Photography credits: Crispian Chan, Courtesy of Esplanade


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Pink Dot 2018: 99.co, e27, Wobe, Zopim, Quest Ventures Among Tech Founders & Investors Supporting Sponsorship Drive http://popspoken.com/lgbtq/2018/04/pink-dot-2018-99-co-e27-wobe-zopim-quest-ventures-among-tech-founders-investors-supporting-sponsorship-drive Mon, 09 Apr 2018 13:32:52 +0000 https://medium.com/p/d456742ea636
Singapore’s tech and entrepreneur community took a big step forward today for LGBTQ+ equality in supporting Pink Dot 2018.

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99.co, e27, Wobe, Zopim, Quest Ventures: Meet The Tech Founders & Investors Supporting Singapore’s Pink Dot 2018

Singapore’s tech and entrepreneur community took a big step forward today for LGBTQ+ equality, as several founders and investors lent their support to call for other businesses to step forward and raise funds for this year’s Pink Dot pride gathering in Singapore.

Now in its 10th year, Pink Dot has beaten the odds — from strong pushback from conservative sectors to new rules preventing foreign-owned businesses from sponsoring the event, it has stood through the test of time.

Last year, 120 companies signed on as supporters of its Red Dot for Pink Dot business sponsorship drive and this year, Pink Dot looks to continue seeking out support from Singapore-owned businesses to make the event a success.

Led by 99.co’s Darius Cheung, six other prolific voices in the tech and investor circles have joined forces to lend their support. This is why they stepped up to support the initiative:

Darius Cheung, CEO, 99.co:

People have always been the most important thing to us at 99.co. Our business is centred around fulfilling the fundamental human need to find a home, and we built a workplace free from discrimination so that everyone can be the best versions of themselves at work. We firmly believe that this open-mindedness and inclusion can only better us as a nation.

Ho Kwon Ping, Executive Chairman, Banyan Tree Holdings:

I am personally inspired by how the Pink Dot movement has blossomed to become much more than a narrowly gay rights campaign. It has become the metaphor for inclusiveness, and the fact that young families with children chose to celebrate the ideal of an inclusive society with picnics and games on Hong Lim Green, gives hope to me as a senior citizen with a three-year grandson (and more on the way), that Singapore will someday set a shining example to a divided, hate-filled and fractious world that our vision of cohesive diversity can be real and thriving.

Adrianna Tan, Founder, Wobe:

I believe our tiny nation can be a beacon of freedom and prosperity in our corner of the world. Come to Singapore, where you can be your whole self, do your best work, be treated fairly in spite of and because of who you are. Live in Singapore, where you can attain opportunities in spite of and because of who you are. I hope, too, that my family can be a part of the Singapore story.

Gwendolyn Regina, Entrepreneur & Investor:

I come from the world of startups and technology where we see the world being remade in small pieces all the time. Some of these tiny bubbles of innovation then grow to be such gigantic masses of force that have no choice but to sweep the world. If you use any kind of technology, you’ve been impacted by these forces. The multitude of software you use on a daily basis all started as tiny bubbles of innovation. They can only be because of the diversity of minds remaking the world.

Royston Tay, Founder, Zopim:

I was given the privilege of working closely with people from all walks of life, and this valuable experience has strengthened my belief that Nature creates each of us a little differently, but she never discriminates in distributing skills, talents and opportunities amongst us all. Hiring without bias opened our doors to the best talents. More importantly, it adds diversity in opinions which is critical for all-rounded innovation and growth.

Goh Yiping, Venture Partner, Quest Ventures:

As a startup founder and investor, we have always firmly believed in seeing the best in people. This means looking beyond one’s racial group, socio-economic status, family background, sexual orientation or gender identity, and giving them the opportunity to learn and grow, in an environment they can truly be themselves.

Mohan Belani, Founder, e27

We at e27 have always believed that great ideas can make the world a better place. We have seen this happen all over the world, regardless of people’s backgrounds, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity. Ideas are the drivers of growth in today’s world, and we believe that great ideas should be championed and spread for good. Ideas have the power to shape a nation, to inspire people for positive change and to transform the way we live and think.

For updates every Monday and Thursday on LGBTQ+ news and events in Asia, join our Telegram group — no one can see your profile in the group so you can maintain your privacy. Join us at t.me/proutapp.

Get monthly updates on Prout, an upcoming meetup and support platform to help LGBTQs connect to their local community: bit.ly/getprout

Visit Prout at proutapp.com.

99.co, e27, Wobe, Zopim, Quest Ventures: Meet The Tech Founders & Investors Supporting Singapore’s… was originally published in @proutapp on Medium.

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Thick Beats For Good Girls: Breaking Down Social Constructs With Hip Hop http://popspoken.com/arts/2018/04/thick-beats-for-good-girls Mon, 09 Apr 2018 04:28:01 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=60124
Hip hop, discrimination and discussing feminism alongside ethnicity, can someone just give Pooja Nansi and Jessica Bellamy a medal for being so #woke?

This article Thick Beats For Good Girls: Breaking Down Social Constructs With Hip Hop appeared first on Popspoken.


Checkpoint Theatre, Drama Centre Black Box with beats visualised as neon lights,

Blinking and vibing.

Pooja Nansi and Jessica Bellamy enters the black box stage,

Proudly occupying the theatre’s sacred space.

Dressed to the nines, comfort over sell-out style,

You’d better listen because they have something to talk to you about.


This is Thick Beats For Good Girls,

Talking about important sh*t.

With hip hop and beat drops,

Everyone don’t be shy and merely eavesdrop.

Join in the strong women with their words and their sick rhyme,

With Huzir Sulaiman, the director and partner-in-crime.


Let’s just put it out there that this is rated R18,

NRICs and student passes in check.

Though it’s weird that once on free-to-air TV,

We’re all told only small spaces are needed for sex.

What’s with the selective censorship, no one knows,

But this piece of theatre’s here to stay, so here goes.



Real life experience and not a lecture from an ignorant dude.

Why are vaginas underrated,

When it is always being debated?

In culture to religion to parliament back home,

Always being told what to do for it’s ticking down like a metronome.


Then Nansi and Bellamy killed it,

With their freestyle dance and rapping to the greats.

This is still a performance, so they entertain while they educate.

I felt their energy, grooving to the songs played,

While feeling my mind keeping up with their rhythm,

Telling the majority that their privilege has overstayed.


Being an immigrant, minority and trying to figure out what is good,

No shying away from talking about God or just their neighbourhood.

Though the consistent restarting of different parts can be a little tiring,

They made it up with humour and great comic timing.

With flow in their words and navigating bright lights,

There’s a sharing of freedom and learned wisdom all through the night.


All the thoughts and their feelings bared,

We journeyed through places with them, no need for airfare.

Be it the colourful set and lights by Petrina Dawn Tan or the stories that histories are made of,

The sense of hope, change accompany their generous love,

For a world still learning and the elusive forces above.

After all, no one has the answers and that’s not always important,

It is about listening to the voices and being open to discussion.


And this is only a part of Thick Beats For Good Girls,

Let curiosity drive you and your eagerness to listen.

Shah Tahir to take over your playlist, and the assistant directors

Adib Kosnan, Anthea Julia Chua and Jirasiri Techalapanarasme

To guide, and for the women to take the space they deserve

To tell stories worth telling again, and again.


Until the whole world stops.

Mic drop.

thick beats for good girls 2


Date: 5th – 22nd April 2018

Venue: Drama Centre Black Box

Time: Tuesday – Saturday, 8pm / Saturday & Sunday, 3pm

Rating: R18

Admission: $45 (Concessions available. Get your tickets here.)

Photo courtesy of Checkpoint Theatre. Photo credit: Crispian Chan.


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Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons: The Power of Words and Lack of Free Speech http://popspoken.com/arts/2018/04/lemons Mon, 09 Apr 2018 02:30:21 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=60122
Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons... What else?

This article Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons: The Power of Words and Lack of Free Speech appeared first on Popspoken.


Sam Steiner‘s Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons.

A questioning of free speech and miscommunication. Relevant provocation.

Adeeb & Shai‘s debut production at Aliwal Arts Centre Multipurpose Hall.

Premise: Ability to speak only 140 words per day. Will new love persist between Bernadette (quirky Tia Guttensohn) and Oliver (charming Jamil Schulze) and stay?

lemons, lemons, lemons, lemons, lemons DSC07509

Simple set of bench and two stools; wise choice. Directed by Adeeb Fazah, fluidity of movements on stage worked well though more precision would help with picking up the pace and building of scenes. Focus mainly on cleverly written text, though delivery of intentions may not always be clear. However, appreciate the risk taken in using a thrust stage – allowing every audience member take home a unique perspective.

But is there more to this relationship between the show and audience, besides witnessing a modern abusive relationship going nowhere?

(140 words)


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Lanang: Touching Portrayal of Familial Love http://popspoken.com/arts/2018/04/lanang-touching-portrayal-familial-love Sun, 08 Apr 2018 03:15:04 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=60116
To mark the end of their two year residency with Malay Heritage Centre, Hatch Theatrics put up Lanang - a play of familial love and strength.

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To celebrate the end of their two year Artist Residency with the Malay Heritage Centre, Hatch Theatrics is staging their 9th production Lanang. The collective, founded in 2012, serves as an incubation platform for young theatre makers to promote creativity and the pursuit of original works. Lanang is no exception from this philosophy.

Written by Hatch member Hafidz Rahman, the play is about single mother Habsah who recently went through a divorce before having to deal with a family member’s death. The hour and a half performance is a glimpse into her growing loneliness and paranoia from the lack of support around her. Through this, we look into her relationship with her children and the eldest son, Adi as they try to work out the turbulence of grief and love within their family.

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The script itself is cleverly structured to deliver a clear message, while retaining a sense of suspense. Delivered in Malay with English surtitles, it is easy to follow the storyline and take part in the humour regardless of language. I particularly enjoy the use of repetition to capture the daily routines of this family and implicitly hint at what is to come. Its balance of suggestion and mystery keeps the audience engaged while giving space for individual imaginations to flourish. 

The cast definitely also play a part in bringing the script to life – each staying true to their distinct character traits and not breaking character despite a difficult audience. Dalifah Shahril is commanding as Habsah, which is a lovely contrast to the softness of Nurijah Sahat’s Mama (grandmother). Muhammad Muazzam Amanah, also known as Zam, stole the show with his subtlety and the gradual build of emotion which results in an outburst – serving as the climax of the performance as he comes out of his reserved self to truly communicate his thoughts and feelings.

That particular scene of mother and son is particularly poignant as it is the first time both of them communicate and connect with each other. No distractions, no defensiveness and no expectations. Just listening and letting everything else fade into the background for those minutes.

lanang IMG_0016

Taking in the entire performance, the set that resembles a naturalistic HDB flat journeys with the family as well. As the space gets messier and less organised, the audience members catch on to the fact that Habsah may not be as well as she used to be. Though this use of the set may be overused across many productions, it serves its purpose and adds a slight dynamism beyond the human bodies on stage.

However, I am puzzled by anGie seah, sound collaborator, being in her own cardboard refuge by the side of the auditorium. Occasionally providing live sound and her own vocabulary of movements, I find it hard to grasp the purpose of her physical presence especially when Habsah acknowledges and reacts to her in one scene. After a while, the sounds may become distractions and difficult to place within the storyline itself.

As a whole, Lanang is a sincere telling of familial relationships through artistic collaborations – what Hatch Theatrics has always aspired to do.

Originally posted on TeoDawn.blog


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Old Favourites and New Genres at SingJazz 2018 http://popspoken.com/music/2018/04/old-favourites-new-genres-singjazz-2018 Sat, 07 Apr 2018 09:30:55 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=60111
Thee iconic jazz event returns to Singapore for the 5th year with the return of charismatic Jamie Cullum, as well as new trance addition Ferry Corsten.

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Thee iconic jazz event returns to Singapore for the 5th year with the return of charismatic Jamie Cullum, as well as trance legend Ferry Corsten to add different musical flavours to the festival which has plenty of soul, R&B and funk to boot.

SingJazz 2018

Aside from Jamie Cullum, standouts this year include Grammy-award winning Lauryn Hill. Coming from a small town in South Orange (New Jersey), Lauryn’s talent stood out early growing up, as she managed to effortlessly multi-task between biology, violin lessons and even dance class. But it wasn’t till her 1998 album, “Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” that catapulted her to fame. She will bring to the crowd an electrifying blend of reggae, rock and soul, guaranteed to get you up and jiving.

Closer to home, Weish, MAS1A and Jeremy Monteiro (Jazz Association) are some acts that we’ve bookmarked. As Creative Director of the Singapura Dub Club, multi-lingual MAS1A is a force to be reckoned with, having worked with bigwigs such as Pharrell Williams, Talib Kweli, to name a few. And of course, the godfather of Singapore jazz and Cultural Medallion awardee, Jeremy Monteiro’s orchestra on Sunday is something not to be missed.

For more details, click here. Tickets start from 138 SGD (advanced) / SGD 168 (at the door).

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Four Horse Road 四马路: Retelling History, Questioning Its Selectivity http://popspoken.com/arts/2018/04/four-horse-road Thu, 05 Apr 2018 10:48:11 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=60096
An immersive theatrical adventure by The Theatre Practice to look into the history of Waterloo Street, and question what our present is built upon.

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From a textile centre to a shopfront selling cars, this heritage building has been through a lot; witnessing a big part of Singapore’s collective history. The Theatre Practice,  the longest-standing local theatre company now occupying the beautiful heritage building, conceptualised Four Horse Road 四马路 – an immersive theatrical journey along one of the oldest streets in Singapore.

The two hour performance directed by Kuo Jian Hong features a variety of stories inspired by real events from past and present. Mixing up fact with fiction, and placing them in different spaces of the heritage building itself and around it, opens up the audience members’ capacity for imagination – engaging smell, touch and the changes in environment; beyond your usual visual and auditory senses.

Red Light District 1915

You may find yourself walking past The Theatre Practice’s staff desks and into a room of a pregnant woman packing up her belongings to move due to the war. Or through the back alleys, dimly lit by street lights, to discover garlands of flowers laid out on the floor with Chinese joss papers placed next to them. Right outside a hotel’s carpark, no less.

The juxtaposition made it interesting for me: What is past? What is present? And how did this land I stand on become what it is today?

And how what we know of history may be so selective: made obvious by the different trajectories available for the performance.

The travelling between scenes became a space for self-reflection and the digestion of prior scenes; a much needed process to fully appreciate the performance.

Nantina Home 1952

Though this may come with some technical difficulties and quite a bit of walking, the overall experience is one spurred by curiosity, novelty and rediscovery of a shared past we might not encounter in our history textbooks. Some scenes go as far back as 1870 and we all know that in national interest, some stories are somehow made more valuable than others though no citizen was really consulted.

One scene that tied the multilingual and multicultural heritage of Singapore seamlessly is May Blossom 1942. The scene portrays the night organised by Major Onishi (Johnny Ng) of the Kempeitai to welcome Major Wortmann (Andrew James Mowatt), a SS officer of the Nazi Party, over a grand dinner. A hostage situation occurs when some servers (Al-Matin Yatim, Yazid Jalil) , a guest (Sharon Sum) and the singer (Ethel Yap) of the restaurant reveal themselves to be resistance members.

four horse road May Blossom 1942

Dramatic and dynamic, the cast (including Lim Poey Huang, Ng Mun Poh and Jodi Chan) of this scene waste no time in building the scene to a climax; letting their emotions run high and audiences’ are caught in this situation as helpless onlookers, complicit in the violence of World War II.

The use of languages for this scene left no ethnicity out, different languages ranging from Malay to Japanese used whenever character appropriate, which includes everyone without compromising on the authentic of history in the name of inclusivity.

Orang Minyak 1950

However, the same cannot be said about some of the other scenes where a majority of the script, written by Jonathan Lim, is performed in Mandarin. Sure, with the costumes and the creative use of space to transport audience members into a different dimension of time, authentic use of language can enhance the reality of the drama itself. But I cannot help but wonder if audiences without the ability to understand Mandarin will be able to get as much out of the performance, or are shortchanged in this bid to retain historical context.

Besides this nagging question that stayed with me, this immersive theatrical performance is a great feat to pull off – running mainly on manpower and a cast of 28 who double up characters as and when the scene calls for it. This is a testimony of passion and an interesting take to question as well as celebrate our nation’s history.

four horse road The Temple and The Hotel 2017

Four Horse Road

Date: 4th – 28th April 2018

Time: Tue – Sun, 7.30pm

Venue: The Theatre Practice, 54 Waterloo Street S187953

Admission: SGD $68 (Concessions available. Purchase your tickets here.)


All Photographs by Tuckys Photography, Courtesy of The Theatre Practice

Article originally posted on teodawn.blog


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Has Singapore’s Smoking Regulations Made Life Tougher For The Mama Shop? http://popspoken.com/people/2018/04/mama-shop Tue, 03 Apr 2018 02:20:35 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=60069 Mama Shop - Popspoken
"Businesses need more help to embrace better ways of making money, not more penalties to take away their main source of income."

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Mama Shop - Popspoken

7.30pm is a busy time at convenience store Riyaz Exchange, as office workers and families crowd Bukit Panjang Plaza — the mall where the shop is located in — for food and groceries.

As some of these shoppers step into the store to change their money into another currency or buy some sundries, they recognise the storeowner at Riyaz Exchange and say their hellos.

“A lot of people recognise me — since I’m here for 15 years, you see. They just call me Mike.”

Although Mike lives in Bishan, his presence at the shop is felt by the residents at Bukit Panjang, having set up the shop since the shopping mall was opened in 2003.

Before coming to Bukit Panjang Plaza, Riyaz Exchange used to run as a money exchange store in the late ‘90s in Orchard before moving to the heartlands to capture the local market.

He and his staff – his son and nephew – sell a range of goods that cater to young and old shoppers, from magazines to cigarettes.

Mama Shop - Popspoken

The business is a family trade, with Mike having learnt business from his father who pedalled cigarettes and sweets at a platform shop in Singapore since the ‘50s.

Old age is catching up to Mike having been in the business for more than a decade but the 58-year-old still comes to the shop every day from opening to closing hours.

“What’s my secret? Tongkat Ali,” said Mike. He lets out a slight chuckle and his nephew and son follow suit.

An honest family business, with depleting margins

For all the smiles he has in serving his customers, his business is a tough one though. For over 8,000 mom-and-pop retailers in Singapore, cigarette sales form a major part of their income, Popspoken understands.

It forms a major part of Mike’s income too – 50 percent, to be exact. 30 percent of his remaining sales come from his money changer business while the remainder comes from selling the majority of goods from his store, such as snacks, drinks and toys, he said.

Mike added the cigarette business to boost his sales due to the bigger space his shop has in Bukit Panjang Plaza but since the Singapore government introduced more smoking legislation including the increase in minimum legal age and the ban in displaying cigarette boxes at retail stores, his sales of cigarettes have dropped by some 10 to 20 percent, he said.

“If my cigarette business was taken away from me, it’s very difficult to survive,” said Mike. “Most of my profits come from (the sale of) cigarettes – and this part of the business covers half of my rent.”

A customer interrupts us briefly to order a pack of Camel cigarettes. Mike reaches over to the shelf behind him to find the pack but has forgotten where it is placed, underneath all the canvas flaps covering the display.

Mama Shop - Popspoken

He opens a few flaps and finds the pack before handing it over to the customer; the transaction takes around 12 seconds. On the next transaction where he knew exactly where the pack was, it took 4 seconds – three times faster.

“(The legislation) affects how my business is run because I rely on this for my income,” he said.

We watched him deal with an average transaction interval of one transaction every two minutes. In the upper-bound of transactions, if a customer was indecisive in deciding which cigarette pack they wanted and needed Mike to open up all the flaps so the customer could see and choose, it took about 30 seconds.

That is more than seven times slower than his quickest transactions, and the time Mike estimates a cigarette transaction will take with the new plain packaging regulations in Singapore. These regulations standardise cigarette pack boxes by removing brand logos, only showing the brand name and its variants as plain text.

On a trip to Australia, Mike saw for himself how small the print is on plain packaging boxes and is worried that it will introduce even more inefficiencies and time wasted on hunting for packages when transactions should be fast and efficient so Mike can have more time to take in more transactions and keep his business afloat.

“My customers are mostly cigarette buyers,” said Mike. “It’s not as easy for them to switch products.”

Because of the drop in sales and the new regulations, Mike is hesitant to hire more staff. Besides eating into his margins, he’s worried the staff will introduce more inefficiencies because they now have to remember where the cigarette boxes are located at when they should be focusing instead on clearing transactions fast.

“It will be a headache to train (new staff) because they will have to keep searching everywhere (for the boxes),” said Mike. “It will take much longer to clear a transaction.”

Businesses need more help, not more penalties

Mama Shop - Popspoken

With customers cutting down on smoking expenditure due to higher prices and a weak market, Mike has had to cut back on his expenditures too, he said. But as a single mom-and-pop retailer, he is worried that his voice will go unnoticed by those who are making these smoking regulations.

“What to do? I can’t do much. In the future, these cigarette restrictions will affect me a lot more.”

All Mike wants to do is to be able to pass on a stable business to his son, who just graduated from UniSIM with a business degree. He is hopeful his son will improve the business but is worried for fluctuating profits from cigarette sales and rent prices eating into his margins.

Kelvin has helped secure funding for 13 next-generation minimart owners who have joined under the banner of his chain NewEcon

Kelvin has helped secure funding for 13 next-generation minimart owners who have joined under the banner of his chain NewEcon

We meet Kelvin, who is a mom-and-pop retailer at iEcon in Yishun and has managed to introduce technology to help curb the downfall, through self-service point-of-sales machines and improved inventory management which help to solve a case of Where’s Waldo at the cigarette counter.

“It’s tough for businesses to survive today, much less to adapt to technology,” he said. “Businesses need more help to embrace better ways of making money, not more penalties to take away their main source of income.”

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“SAMA-SAMA”: Student-Run Photo Exhibition Explores Similarities Between Singapore and Malaysia http://popspoken.com/arts/2018/04/sama-sama-photo-exhibition Mon, 02 Apr 2018 04:02:42 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=60050
Telling a story of parallels with our neighbours from across the border.

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When was the last time you visited Johor Bahru? Was it for some fish head curry? Some waffles at a cafe? Or were you simply there for some of that legendary banana cake from Hiap Joo?

Past the debate about who invented chilli crab and some insensitive jokes about exchange rates, are we that different after all?

From the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information (WKWSCI) comes “SAMA-SAMA”, a public photo exhibition celebrating the lives of people who have a special relationship with the Singapore-Malaysia Causeway.

Happening this Sunday (Apr 8) from 12PM to 5PM, the free event will showcase photo stories of those living and working near the Causeway. The photo exhibition will be held at Kult Studio & Gallery, located at Emily Hill.

SINGAPORE - Zulklfli Binsusin, 58, taking a break outside the Woodlands Point mall. Though the mall was shut down one and a half years ago, Mr Binsusin still takes his breaks there regularly. (Photo: "SAMA-SAMA" Team)

SINGAPORE – Zulklfli Binsusin, 58, taking a break outside the Woodlands Point mall. Though the mall was shut down one and a half years ago, Mr Binsusin still takes his breaks there regularly. (Photo: “SAMA-SAMA” Team)

In addition to the main exhibit, highlights include food tastings of popular snacks from Singapore and Malaysia. Visitors can also expect live buskers during the exhibition.

The Causeway Connection

The photo exhibition is entirely created and curated by undergraduate students from the WKWSCI Photojournalism module this semester.

“We chose the Causeway as our exhibition subject to show that people from both sides are not that different. There are similarities in the way we live and how we go about our daily lives,” said Jeremy Teo, co-chairperson of “SAMA-SAMA”.

The second-year broadcast and cinema studies student added: “Our exhibition seeks to look beyond the physical Causeway, viewing it not as a barrier but something that connects us.”

JOHOR BAHRU - 50-year-old Subramanian lost his left hand 30 years ago in a fireworks accident. Despite his circumstances, he still remains to maintain a bubbly personality, and is full of youthful vigour. (Photo: "SAMA-SAMA" Team)

JOHOR BAHRU – 50-year-old Subramanian lost his left hand 30 years ago in a fireworks accident. Despite his circumstances, he still remains to maintain a bubbly personality, and is full of youthful vigour. (Photo: “SAMA-SAMA” Team)

Vanessa Cheng, co-chairperson of “SAMA-SAMA” said: “The exhibition tells a story of parallels with our neighbours across the border. Visitors can expect in-depth stories of people who cross the border every day and how we’re more alike than we think.”

Established in 1992, the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information (WKWSCI) offers communication studies at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

JOHOR BAHRU – Brothers Butalim (left) and Amy (right) Sugardo hail from Sabah. They moved to Johor Bahru two years ago with their mother, in search for better jobs. (Photo: "SAMA-SAMA" Team)

JOHOR BAHRU – Brothers Butalim (left) and Amy (right) Sugardo hail from Sabah. They moved to Johor Bahru two years ago with their mother, in search for better jobs. (Photo: “SAMA-SAMA” Team)

SINGAPORE – Nandakumar Sahi works at the site of the old Woodlands Town Centre, and is in charge of driving trucks around to transport construction materials. Though he enjoys his work, Mr Sahi still misses home dearly.(Photo: "SAMA-SAMA" Team)

SINGAPORE – Nandakumar Sahi works at the site of the old Woodlands Town Centre, and is in charge of driving trucks around to transport construction materials. Though he enjoys his work, Mr Sahi still misses home dearly.(Photo: “SAMA-SAMA” Team)

Previous Exhibitions

Under course instructor Mr Samuel He, the WKWSCI Photojournalism module has held three successful exhibitions in previous years.

Starting with the “Last Weeks With Rochor” exhibition in 2016, Mr He introduced the exhibition as an assignment, typically held near the end of each semester. The inaugural exhibition featured the lives of residents from Rochor Centre before its closure.

The following year, students from the Photojournalism module organised the “Bidadari and Beyond” and “This Is Yishun” exhibitions at the Central Public Library and Yishun Park Hawker Centre.

For their focus on heritage and culture, the series of exhibitions have received coverage from print publications The Straits Times, Lianhe Zaobao, Shin Min Daily News, online publications Mothership, Our Grandfather Story, and YP.SG, as well as broadcaster MediaCorp Channel 5.


SAMA-SAMA: A Photo Exhibition

12PM – 5PM, Sunday, 8 April 2018

Block C2-5, Emily Hill 11 Upper Wilkie Road, Singapore 228120

Event is free!


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Popspoken JOHOR BAHRU - 50-year-old Subramanian lost his left hand 30 years ago in a fireworks accident. Despite his circumstances, he still remains to maintain a bubbly personality, and is full of youthful vigour. (Photo: "SAMA-SAMA" Team) 60050
INTER-MISSION: Does Out of Sight, Out of Mind in Singapore leads to Nevermind? http://popspoken.com/arts/2018/04/inter-mission Sun, 01 Apr 2018 05:34:03 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=60011
The Lapse Project by INTER-MISSION will be an installation to start conversations around the iconic arts venues in Singapore.

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Singapore International Festival of Arts will be from 26th April to 12th May with ticketed performances from theatre to music, such as the likes of Nico Muhly. This time round, there will also be a Festival House featuring a mix of performances, interactions and installations for festival goers and art makers. Based at The Arts House, the various intimate spaces within the building might be interesting in lending itself to the festival vibes. Among the works, The Lapse Project by Singapore collective INTER-MISSION will be at Gallery II.

The collective, founded in 2016, consists of Singaporean artists Marcel Gaspar, Urich Lau, Shengen Lim and Teow Yue Han. Being an art collective with a focus on interdisciplinary and collaborative works, they mainly engage with a range from audio art to installations, and discourses of technology in art.

The Lapse Project questions memory, space and legacy through lapses in time, space, structure, vice versa. It invites us to embody and imagine a world that is constituted through interfaces where places of artistic and cultural identities become editable. It is within your power to switch them on or off. What, then, would you do? And will we suddenly realise what these institutions mean to us only when they are gone?

Popspoken speaks to the folks over at INTER-MISSION to discover the spaces of memory and how technology might be helpful in archiving them, or not.

inter-mission Panorama Lapse

Is it just me, or is something missing?

Popspoken: Our landscape changes so often as we constantly struggle for space. How different is your childhood Singapore from the Singapore we see now?

INTER-MISSION: When growing up, the idea of space in Singapore seemed to be merely about negotiating between places and remembering landmarks where left us deep impressions.

As children, the world is a place of exploration and discovery, but at the same time there was heightened awareness of slight changes in the familiar places where the impact of such places and comfort zones have disappeared or heavily altered would leave a mark in our memories. Almost immediately, there was a sense of a void in a once occupied space. New buildings and structures replaced or sometimes, displaced our sense of belonging.

PS: Which monument in Singapore is most significant for you personally?

I: I remembered The Merlion vividly as a young child because it is so unique and kitsch at the same time. Other examples like The Civilian War Memorial, Tan Kim Seng Fountain at the Esplanade Park Memorials because we have gone there for Satay Club during our childhood days.

PS: What do you think about the phrase ‘Out of Sight, Out of Mind’?

I: Out of Sight, Out of Mind, Nevermind. Singapore is constantly changing, many of the old landmarks and buildings get makeover or bulldozed over time. The people’s memories of the changing urban and cultural landscapes are only archived in fleeting moments in debates and discussions online and offline.

PS: How visible is The Arts scene in Singapore to a non-arts person? Do you feel it is accessible enough?

I: The arts scene in Singapore is visible if you just pay attention to what you are looking at. On a daily basis, it would go unnoticed or ignored because the general public may not be in the mood or choose to go attend an art event.  Looking at any event calendar on social media and art listing, one could find all sorts of cultural and artistic events that cater to all types of audiences happening in various parts of Singapore at all times. In galleries, public spaces, alternative spaces, pop-up spaces, or art institutions.

The arts is out there, so the question would be apt if it is about how to pitch the arts to the audiences.

PS: What are some thoughts or inspirations you have in coming up with The Lapse Project? 

I: We are concerned about the conditions in the artistic and cultural influences in Singapore, especially in the contemporary art contexts. Questions that we are posing: what do you see in the arts scene that could define Singapore’s artists and our art practices. Is Singapore solely looking at institutionalised art as the benchmark or export to the rest of the world? What would happen in an alternative viewpoint, when major art institutions never existed?

That led to our wildly imagined world if British colonialism never took place here and left us with the post-colonial governmental and administrative buildings, which then are gazetted as national monuments and repurposed into art museums. Without these pivotal factors and the colonial relics/buildings, will Singapore arts be what they are or still strive vibrantly on an alternative tangent? Looking at causal situations and hyperboles, we are also concerned about the evolving and expanding usage of technology in terms of production, dissemination and the archiving of art today.

And because of the constant issues in the lack of space and resources, will our culture and the arts be quantified, converted, stored and archived as digital data without the need of physical spaces and institutions, would memories of our culture be lapsed under the influences of technology? We hope that the audiences and artists alike will start to have constructive conversations from there.

inter-mission SIFA-2018

To find out more about the Singapore International Festival of The Arts 2018, click here.

Look up more information about The Lapse Project here.

Photographs courtesy of SIFA.


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Nico Muhly: Walking Around Hawker Centres Is Thrilling http://popspoken.com/music/2018/03/nico-muhly-walking-around-hawker-centres-thrilling Fri, 30 Mar 2018 03:29:29 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=60000
Nico Muhly believes in manners and his advice to start off as a musician: write for your friends.

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This year’s Singapore International Festival of The Arts promises to feature more mainstream performances and to give us a new perspective of what The Arts can be, welcoming new festival director Gaurav Kripalani‘s vision. Part of the music line up, among all the jazz features, will be Nico Muhly Speaks Volumes – a 90 minute show on his compositions for solos, duos and small ensembles.

The New York City-based classical music composer is a much sought after collaborator, with his influences ranging from American minimalism to the Anglican choral tradition.

In this performance, he will be performing alongside his closest American collaborators Lisa Liu, Matt Albert and Paul Wiancko together with Singapore-based musicians Lim Yan and Ramu Thiruyanam. The ensemble will perform works like A Hudson Cycle, Honest Music, and Skip Town.

Popspoken finds out more about his up-coming debut in Singapore and what advice he has for up-and-coming musicians wanting to build their portfolio.

Popspoken: Do you think this visit to Singapore will inspire some new music of yours?

Nico Muhly: I hope so! I find cities incredibly thrilling and inspiring, and Singapore in particular. It reminds me of “my” New York in some ways — I live in Chinatown — but is, of course, the city of the future. Unfortunately, this trip is only for a week or so, but I hope to come for longer next time and marinate further.

One thing I will say is that I find walking around the hawker centres in Singapore to be deeply thrilling — the sense of people doing one thing very, very well reminds me so much of the classical music tradition, where you basically take a lifetime to perfect playing the violin, or the flute, or timpani. There is rather a symphonic effect to somewhere like the Chinatown Complex Food Centre which is huge but highly, highly specialised.

PS: Talk us through this show that features collaborations with Singapore-based musicians as well as your closest collaborators?

NM: So, this show is meant to be a sort of mini-retrospective of my music. The earliest piece is from 2005, and it’s also the smallest (for solo piano).  We then radiate outwards into pieces for two instruments, three instruments, instruments with pre-recorded electronics… and then the evening will end with a large chamber piece written last year combining the four American musicians with a Singaporean pianist and percussionist. I’m excited to present this evening in particular as it’s a rather comprehensive look at how I approach writing chamber music and how I approach collaboration.

PS: You’re known to be very versatile at your craft. How do you balance your style against others, especially when you collaborate with musicians across different genres?

NM: I always think about genre and style as red herrings; I never worry about it and most people I work with don’t either. I think that you hone your craft usually in the context of a certain tradition (notice, I don’t say genre…) — so the two traditions out of which I come are classical instrumental and operatic music, and English choral music. Once I spent enough time honing those things, I felt comfortable, for instance, collaborating with my friends in the band The National, or making an arrangement of a folk song, or writing music for a film.

Your ‘private’ work is sort of like going to the gym and getting your body ready for the quick sprint that is a collaborative process.

PS: Speaking of musical style, how much of an impact does non-musical influences (such as people within the theatre and literary scenes) have on the way you compose and arrange?

NM: I am in a constant state of reading things, and thinking about language. In a sense, most if not all of my music is about language — how grammar works, how languages develop from old English into middle English into the modern English we speak today which has so many sources; Singapore is actually a great example of this kind of crossroads-language; I spent a fair bit of time in Iceland which has sort of the opposite problem… A lot of my music takes its cues from certain kind of prose stylists; Salman Rushdie’s free-wheeling sentences are always delicious, as are fashion writer Cintra Wilson’s.

nico muhly 1517905344486

PS: At the end of the day, what goal(s) are you trying to achieve through your compositions?

NM: For me it’s about creating an environment in which the listener can have specific (but not prescribed) emotional experiences.  My music specifically resists the romantic musical journey where the climax is clear and the road to and from it is strongly delineated and there is a sense of emotional narrative.

I try to make work that feels more like religious music, where the thrill is in carving out your own itinerary as a listener; the piano pieces on the programme are good examples of this strategy.  That having been said, I also like creating moments of specific drama and fun, which comes across in the works for solo instruments with electronic landscapes supporting and antagonising them from behind.

PS: One piece of advice for any musician or composer out there hoping to strike it out on their own in the industry?

NM: I say this all the time: get your craft as good as it can be, write for your friends, and don’t be rude. Getting your craft right is so, so important; I can’t tell you how sad it makes me when I see young musicians not taking advantage of every single resource at their university or conservatory — you will never regret learning how to analyse harmony, you will never regret learning how to write a fugue or transpose Bach chorales or read some crazy clef or understand how extended techniques work on the bass clarinet.

Then, write for your friends. Bands have this figured out, where they generally start as friends who like making music together; in the classical universe, oftentimes composers are seen as these brilliant hermits.

The only reason I’m doing well as a composer today is because I didn’t have the resources to be a brilliant hermit straight out of graduate school, so I wrote music for my close friends instead of waiting for the phone to ring and have it be a giant orchestra commission.

Some of those pieces for friends anchor the SIFA programme!

The third bit is to not behave like an idiot. Don’t bad-mouth other composers, learn how to talk to musicians as colleagues and teachers rather than employees, say please & thank you…!

nico muhly SIFA-2018

To find out more about the Singapore International Festival of The Arts 2018, click here.

Purchase your tickets for Nico Muhly Speaks Volumes here.

Photographs courtesy of SIFA and credits to Ana Cuba.


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The Studios 2018: Immersive And Addressing Elephants In Different Rooms http://popspoken.com/arts/2018/03/the-studios-2018 Wed, 28 Mar 2018 09:55:56 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=59977
The Studios will be turning 15 this year and they commissioned five artists' works to celebrate this remarkable milestone.

This article The Studios 2018: Immersive And Addressing Elephants In Different Rooms appeared first on Popspoken.


The Studios is Esplanade’s developmental theatre platform. Having presented works over the span of 15 years, The Studios is back this year with four new works and one reworked production as part of the festivities. As a performer in Singapore, one can get a bit lost as to how to develop your own original works and who to approach to go about pursuing such an endeavour. It is great that a space like Esplanade has been investing resources into an initiative that contributes to building the creative culture here.

And by extension, allowing these artists to boldly pursue topics that are more hush-hush and seldom addressed publicly.

the studios a-good-death-01

The season will kick off with playwright Faith Ng‘s A Good Death, following the journey of a palliative care doctor walking her patients through their final days. Then In The Silence of Your Heart is an in-ear theatrical experience that leads you through the memories of a paralysed man.

the studios i-am-trying-to-say-something-true-01

I am Trying To Say Something True by Michelle Tan explores about the liminal spaces in every day life – what is felt, what is known and all the in betweens brought about by time. About trauma and speaking up for survivors, Edith Podesta‘s Leda And The Rage is an invitation to embark on the healing of a single woman through daily struggles. Closing the season, Zizi Azah Abdul Majid‘s How Did The Cat Get So Fat? will be presented once again – relooking at our national pledge and what it actually means beyond recited words.

the studios how-did-the-cat-get-so-fat-01

It is a fantastic line up and a whole spectrum of work by capable women artists. Some shows are already completely sold out, and while nervous on missing out on even more tickets, I am curious about the creative process and how some works are derived from the theme of Between Living And Dying. How do you define the act of living and dying? How does it relate to us in today’s world and how can performance provoke our thoughts in this direction?

Popspoken speaks to independent artists Kaylene Tan and Edith Podesta to find out more about their respective works for this anniversary season.

In The Silence of Your Heart

Popspoken: Immersive theatre has been explored By Andsoforth and more recently Attempts:Singapore. As an artist yourself, what is your own interpretation and exploration of immersive theatre?

Kaylene: I began exploring the idea of immersing the audience in an experience since spell#7’s audio walk of Little India, Desire Paths in 2004. In Desire Paths, audiences wore headphones and listened to a soundtrack and stories while exploring the neighbourhood. We worked with binaural recordings (3D sound), music and text to magnify and amplify the already vibrant environments of Little India. So it began from there really. We were interested in using sound to immerse the audience in the ‘live’ experience of being in sites. spell#7 has also done numerous site specific works over the years – at Zouk, Chijmes, Sculpture Square, Singapore Flyer, Chinatown, Shenton Way and I’ve also worked in numerous historical houses in Singapore (Baba House) and Malaysia (Cheong Fatt Tze, Penang) using audio and performance to take audiences out of conventional theatre spaces and to immerse them in other types of living and storied spaces.

Working with sound, I am interested in the theatre that happens between your ears, you have a captive audience and an opportunity to take them to ‘places’ – and challenge what they see, hear and feel. Building on this, In the Silence of Your Heart not only uses sound, but also ignites the other senses. For the creative team, this production has been a collaborative effort to create an enveloping sensorial landscape in the theatre that activates hearing, smell, sight and even touch. We are creating a palpable and throbbing world that the audience comes into momentarily.

And this is a world of the character, Thian, who is trapped in his own body and thoughts, audiences see what he sees and smells. And they hear his thoughts between their ears. There is no escape – this is the kind of immersion that we are working with. I hope it will be an intimate, intense and bodily experience for audiences.

PS: What is a challenge you faced writing and directing your own work?

K: Trusting my own words, my instincts and vision. Being responsible for more than just writing the words but to make it happen through actions, visuals and relating it to a larger picture.

The character is also based on family members, so while it is close to my heart, it has been about finding a distance between the personal and fictional and the theatrical. Part of the challenge has also been about developing the world in which the two other characters inhabit, the woman (Jalyn Han) and the girl (Tan Hui Er), as they do not speak. It has been a journey of creating a physical language for them, what I call everyday choreographies, as the setting is domestic (it is set in a kitchen).

It is a physical language that moves between the mundane and the abstract and fantastical. The two performers have been a joy to work with as they have been fearless in their experimentations! So I hope their world would be just as strong as the sound world of the man.

the studios in-the-silence-of-your-heart-01

PS: Share with us how you came about to this character of Man and his circumstances.

K: The character is inspired by my maternal grandfather who lived in Kuching, Sarawak. He was a politician, journalist, teacher and an altogether larger than life character who loved to drink, smoke and eat. He had a stroke and was bedridden for 13 years, unable to speak or move. My only memories are of him in bed, so I never knew the man he was before the stroke. I was fascinated by the stories I had heard about him and always wondered what he was thinking in all the years of silence as he seemed very alert. This is not a biography, it is based on some family events but it is largely fictional. The character has also been inspired by other family members who have been physically unwell and the stress that pulls at family members in caring for them.

PS: How did the theme of Between Living and Dying inform your work?

K: The daily existence of the man, Thian is between living and dying. His thoughts and memories are very much in the world of the living, his body too is alive but beyond his control, it is a body that is decaying and he is each day, each moment, closer to death. In response to the Esplanade Studio Season’s idea of the season being a series of monologues, this is my attempt at challenging and experimenting with the traditional form of the monologue, which usually relies on one virtuosic actor on stage playing many roles while the audience watches a character unfold before them. In this piece, the character is absent – heard only through headphones. Lim Kay Tong who voices Thian plays only one character and the audience in some ways become him through the wearing of the headphones and immerse themselves in his world.

Leda And The Rage

Popspoken: Having written and directed a number of women-centric productions, how did you come to this exploration of Leda? 

Edith: Rape effects everyone, not just the female half of the population. According to one study of over 16,000 Americans[1], 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men report having been victims of rape or attempted rape at some point in their lives, with 80% of female victims experienced their first or only rape before the age of 25.

When Fezhah from the Esplanade approached me about this work there was a lot of talk in the media surrounding the possibility of judicial reforms as well as superior services being made available to victims of sexual assault in Singapore, which influenced my decision to write Leda and the Rage. For example one of the services being made available will be a One-Stop Abuse Forensic Examination (OneSafe) Center at the Police Cantonment Complex opening on May 1 this year (the week after Leda is performed). Minister K. Shanmugam stated the purpose of the OneSafe Center would make the recounting of sexual assault “as painless as possible” for the victims. There will be attending doctors on staff from Singapore General Hospital, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, and the National University Hospital with almost round-the-clock availability. At OneSafe victims can be medically examined by a specialist, as well as interviewed by a police officer that has undergone victim-empathy training, all in a single facility.

PS: Do you think it is now less taboo to talk about PTSD and sexual assault in light of #MeToo? 

E: I also believe rape is one of the most under-reported crimes partly because of the prevalence of rape myths and the way they systemically blame and shame the victim. In 2014, 500 Singaporeans 17 to 25, where surveyed[2], 40% of respondents aged between 18-39 agree that women who wear provocative clothing are “asking for it”. The burden to prevent rape does not lie with the victim. The responsibility of rape lies with the rapists and the society that upholds them.

I think educating people about the impact and prevalence of sexual assault will help diminish the widespread presence of rape myths as well as reduce the stigma. In America 45% of the women and 65% of men who reported having experienced a rape met the criteria for PTSD, significantly higher than the 38.8% rate of PTSD among men who had experienced combat.[3]

PS: How did the theme of Between Living and Dying inform your work? 

E: I think we all occupy a space and time that is bookended by Living and Dying. Our daily actions, and motivations for these actions, move habitually toward living – we spend a large amount of our time running away from death and dying. But death can also be our north star. It can remind us what is precious, it can point us to what will still be important in our later years.

Memento mori; we should all remember that we have to die and with that reminisce can come a great celebration of life. So although the theme of The Studios (and Leda and the Rage) may seem morbid, I tend to see it as something optimistic, a theatrical investigation of how and what we live for.

the studios leda-and-the-rage-01

PS: What is your opinion on having performances to be sign language interpreted? Should it be compulsory in the years to come? 

E: In Leda and the Rage, the interpreters have as big a job as myself and Jeremiah Choy, they will be sharing the same space us so there is a more dynamically equivalent and fluid translation made available as an alternative to captioning. I have two interpreters, making it easier for the interpreters to capture the essence of the relationships developing onstage because the translation can be watched at the same time as the actor.

Attending a shadow interpreted performance raises awareness of the challenges people who are hearing impaired face as well as opens audiences to the potentiality of inclusion.  It’s a big experiment for me to see if the deaf community can have the same experience as the hearing people in the audience.

By integrating the interpreter I am also trying to highlight how hard it must be for hearing impaired sexual assault victims to report their assaults to police[4]. I’m not aware of any Singaporean statistics, but a 2014 survey found that one out of every three Deaf women in the Philippines is sexually harassed or raped[5], so the issue is significant to both hearing and hearing-impaired audiences which makes having these performances interpreted all the more pertinent.

I have to say a big thank you to the Esplanade for making this possible because integrated interpreting means a lot of rehearsal, and that means more time and money. If budget permits, I would love to see all performances interpreted even dance performances; interpreting the accompanying music, the pitch of the instruments, tempo, melody and lyrics.

PS: What do you find great about a platform like The Studiosseries? 

E: As an independent artist, The Studios provide an invaluable platform for me to create and perform my work. Commissions such as this have shaped my career as an artist, it affords me time to research, support myself financially, as well as supplies me with a platform to explore the type of work that may not be commercially appealing but that seeks to investigate, embody and speak to and on behalf of a specific portion of the population.

The Esplanade is organising a workshop specifically designed for professionals who deal with sexual assault survivors (counsellors, healthcare workers, law enforcement offices etc.) held in conjunction with the performance of ‘Leda and the Rage’ (26 – 29 Apr 2018) and facilitated by Rosemary McGowan. This workshop, titled “Understanding the Impact of Sexual Assault on Survivors”, will use elements from the performance ‘Leda and the Rage’, as well as dramatic role play and exercises [6].

[1] In December 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced the release of the first National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, conducted in 2010 with support from the National Institute of Justice and the Department of Defense.

The survey is based on interviews of 16,507 adults (9,086 women and 7,421 men).


[2] The study was carried out in 2014 by Change Makers volunteering with the We Can! campaign. They surveyed 500 respondents aged 17 to 25, who were mostly (59%) junior college students. Slightly over half (55%) of the respondents were female.

[3] Kessler, R.C., Sonnega, A., Bromet, E., Hughes, M., & Nelson, C.B. (1995). Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in the National Comorbidity Survey. Archives of General Psychiatry, 52, 1048-1060.

[4] It is believed that only 5% of deaf rape survivors report their assaults to police. Sullivan, P.M., Vernon, M. & Scanlan, L. “Sexual Abuse of Deaf Youth”, American Annals of the Deaf, 1987.

[5] In a study in 2014 by the Philippine Deaf Resource Center (PDRC)

[6] Date : 26 or 27 Apr 2018 (Thursday or Friday) , Venue: Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, Cost: $75, Closing date for registration: 6 Apr 2018

Schedule: 2pm – 6.15pm: Workshop, 6.15pm – 7.45pm: Dinner break , 8pm – 9.30pm: Performance of ‘Leda and the Rage, 9.30pm- 10pm: Post-show dialogue

Participants will explore the following: 

* Understand trauma and its impact 

* Learn the sensitivities involved in working with survivors 

* The importance and techniques of creating a safe space 

* Methods of coping with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and complex PTSD 

* Self-care techniques 

To find out more about The Studios and the five shows you can grab tickets for all through the month of April, click through here.


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INDEX Growing The World One Room At A Time http://popspoken.com/arts/2018/03/index Sun, 25 Mar 2018 03:27:21 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=59860
INDEX managed to create an installation of different worlds, tapping into atmospheres and the audience's inner universe.

This article INDEX Growing The World One Room At A Time appeared first on Popspoken.


From 15th to 18th March, iconic blue building Centre 42 was temporarily transformed into pockets of spaces for anybody looking to reconnect with nature or the self. Presented by The Finger Players, design collective INDEX gave an invitation to the public to experience the blue building in a completely different way. With the collective comprising of spatial designer Lim Wei Ling, lighting designer Lim Woan Wen and sound designer/music composer Darren Ng, the installation focuses on audience interaction with the design-ccentric space and to create unique experiences for themselves with the elements provided.

With a short welcome note to guide the experience, as a visitor, I plot my own route and engage with the nine separate spaces.


sleeping Room

A book to read about windows (to the soul, maybe?) and a pillow to lie on. Under the shade of trees I would barely look at, so beyond my short stature. I looked at the wall right in front of me – cracks, plants and the building next door. I always enjoy the presence of plants, and being high up, the change of perspective was refreshing and surprised me. It really is a privilege to sit somewhere high up and look at the world go on around you from a different point of view.


living Room

To speak to the tree. Sit with the tree. Be with the tree.

And maybe during that process, be with yourself.

index UK001

universe keyhole

I quite enjoyed this moment because the mirrors reflected my immediate surroundings, but onto the ground. So I saw buildings and the cloudy sky looking right back at me through this window. A keyhole, possibly, because the mirrors serve as only a glimpse of the world beyond me. I followed its trail along the blue walls to the brick floors, the plants growing from the cracks and into the back of the space. Through a corridor, through my imagination and back into the real world, but with a different perspective.


listening Room

I lucked out since the afternoon I visited was windy, so the wind chimes were playing. Though distracted by the powerful fan used to keep the leaves dancing and moving, the view was mainly occupied with these beautiful big leaves and the wind chime. Taking in this frame, I rested my back against the rope woven backing and closed my eyes. Focusing on my breathing, I did as the installation encouraged me to and just listened.


cleansing Room

Bathtub in the open, a place to lie down and to do whatever you want. I was not brave enough to take a full shower, though it was tempting under the heat of the sun. I washed my feet and just enjoyed the process of it.

index TR004

travelling Portal

Installation of stacked chairs, a couch, a fan to chase some of the midday heat away and white curtains to add to the atmosphere. This room, as its name suggests, is to travel beyond these four walls and to go to different places as the soundscapes guide you. You see ordinary objects being placed in unconventional positions and breaking everyday laws about how they should be placed.


No accompanying photograph, for this is a mind space. A trip within yourself. Led into a dark room where sight is rendered irrelevant, I find a corner for myself and curl into a ball on the cool floor. Though sharing the space with a couple of other individuals, I felt a sense of comfort of not being able to see anyone, not even myself. My physical body almost non-existent and my looks, my insecurities evaporated into the nothingness. It was a pleasure of being more than my body, more than my mortality and just being present. Listening to bird calls, the sound of rain and wind blowing. Freeing and temporary freedom. I remember wishing how it will be so great if I could stay in that safe space forever, beyond the 20 minutes I could spare. Easily one of my favourite rooms, I would say.

index SSP001

sun-spotting Portal

Beach vibes without the intense sun and the sand in between my toes. I look up to stare at my own warped reflection off the plastic ceiling. The tiny glass pieces reflect whatever sunlight there is – little strokes of paint made with temporal light. What do I see? Dust, moving spots and if I look hard enough, little finger prints scattered around the panels. Funny how I seldom look up, and when I do, I discover so many  ordinary things that stand out. Surprising me and make me stop time for a moment. How curious.

index FOREST002


Unfamiliar scent of Singapore’s city life, but a smell familiar to all living beings. I dreamt of the forest – leaves singing under my feet, roots growing into the ground and tall trees growing out of reach. The smell bringing me back to a home I have no memory of. Dried leaves sleeping in the middle of the room. So silent, almost like a reminder of death. However, nothing dreadful came to my mind. But joy. A sense of peace and certainty that every end will bring about a new beginning, a new discovery.

And after this journey of how time is mine to stretch and grasp, I leave with the spaces of the blue building pulsing within my heart. A gift of peace and restored balance of the self, all city noises left behind.


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Foiled Again: Can Singapore Respect Minority Voices? http://popspoken.com/opinion/2018/03/foiled-again-priyageetha-dia Fri, 23 Mar 2018 03:44:05 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=59901
By opposing yet another gold foil work by Priyageetha Dia, is Singapore showing its intolerance to alternative perspectives?

This article Foiled Again: Can Singapore Respect Minority Voices? appeared first on Popspoken.


By Vanessa Tan

Earlier this week, residents of Block 103 Jalan Rajah complained about a new art installation by former Lasalle College of the Arts student Priyageetha Dia, causing it to be removed by the town council shortly after it was put up on Sun (Mar 18).

The 26-year-old artist had hung 24 gold-coloured sheets on the parapets of the block, and posted a video of the work on Facebook.

Ms Dia also met with controversy over her Golden Staircase installation in March last year, when she wrapped a staircase at the same HDB block with gold foil.

“Not all can appreciate the artwork; the golden sheets remind people of gold offering paper,” said Jalan Besar Member of Parliament (MP) Dr Lily Neo to Channel NewsAsia.

However, the same could have been said for Marcel Duchamp‘s Fountain (1917), which could very much remind people of the unflushed excrement they encountered in a public toilet and every other nauseating possibility beyond it.

The art piece was exhibited in the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and Tate Modern.

Fountain 1917, replica 1964 Marcel Duchamp 1887-1968 Purchased with assistance from the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1999 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T07573

Duchamp’s Fountain

This is not to say that Dia’s work was any similar. In fact, it’s far from grotesque or odd. Her work is quietly elegant, reminiscent of Singaporean flags flung over our corridor railings during the annual National Day season.

Taking down her work for its resemblance to offerings is a weak excuse. If they wish to pick on its aesthetic quality simply because it uses gold foil, they should ban Ferrero Rocher from the snack tables during Chinese New Year.

Many would argue that this, like the Golden Staircase situation, was a case of the artist’s failure to pass her art through HDB authorities. But would it have gone through, anyway?

Knowing that the town council’s previous suggestion of an “alternative site” for Ms Dia’s Golden Staircase artwork, a similar justification would have immediately hindered her art, which practically depends on the HDB space for its effectiveness.

Graciousness and Tolerance 

Offence, in this matter, was definitely a choice. If only these angered residents would activate their empathy to understand the artist’s intention, let the work remain open to interpretation, or simply just turn their heads away.

It all goes to show that our country is not yet functioning on a democracy that respects the plurality of voices, which should be expected given the existence of different cultures.

We still have miles to go before our public can maturely respond to art as the masses did with Duchamp. But until we get there, we can make room for graciousness and tolerance.

But if we wish to head in that direction, why should we tailor our public spaces to accommodate a singular understanding, and what more one that only belongs to the majority? When will we allow minority and alternative perspectives to thrive?

We still have miles to go before our public can maturely respond to art as the masses did with Duchamp. But until we get there, we can make room for graciousness and tolerance. Only then can we begin releasing our fists from choking up the creative outlets of Singapore, and allow more genuine art like Ms Dia’s to flow.


Image credits: Tate Modern, Priyageetha Dia


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HOW CAN DIS B ALLOW: Loh Wai Poon on Being A “Facebook Uncle”, Fake News, and Entering Politics http://popspoken.com/culture/2018/03/hcdba-loh-wai-poon Thu, 22 Mar 2018 12:04:44 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=59867
“If you want to fight fake news, the only way is to deal with it directly.”

This article HOW CAN DIS B ALLOW: Loh Wai Poon on Being A “Facebook Uncle”, Fake News, and Entering Politics appeared first on Popspoken.


“$2.80 for a breakfast set? It’s ridiculous, you know?”

To be fair, our choice of breakfast venue isn’t the most economical. Lau Pa Sat on a Tuesday morning calls to mind white-collar bankers and tourists overdressed for the weather, not a student and an energetic retiree.

Not just any retiree, mind you. Loh Wai Poon, 63, is one of the most active Facebook users in the comments section of articles by The Straits Times.

“At least their service not bad. Sometimes really very bad one, you know?”

Dressed in a checkered shirt and oval glasses, Loh is every bit the caricature that netizens have come to term the “Facebook uncle” – an outspoken, middle-aged local male who seems to be awake at all hours of the day and has an opinion on everything the newsroom produces.

The former aviation engineer now spends his time volunteering with the People’s Association, guiding school tours to Southeast Asian countries, and doting on his one-year-old grandson.

We occupy an entire table for six by ourselves, simply because we can. The iconic food centre is not crowded, at least not before the lunch hour begins at 12.

“My weekday is busier than my weekend. I’m going to a birthday party after this, you know.”

He knocks one of two soft-boiled eggs on the table. He tries it again. (I would eventually count 11 loud knocks while transcribing the voice memo of this interview.)

He succeeds on the twelfth knock, spilling runny yolk all over his black Amway messenger bag.

Aiyo, you got tissue? Thank you, thank you.”

A “Facebook Uncle” is born

Similarly, hard knocks and a sudden plunge into a new world was how Loh began as a “Facebook uncle”.

In 2013, Baey Yam Keng was caught in an online furore regarding the supposed $2.50 he paid for a plate of nasi padang in a coffee shop at Tampines Block 475, where he is the incumbent MP.

Netizens were quick to jump on accusations that the stall owner had charged the MP a preferential price, and raised concerns about policymakers’ alleged disconnect from the public cost of living.


“People were saying ‘It cannot be so cheap! Is the MP trying to bully the stall owner?’ There was an argument, and this commenter was using all sorts of things to slander Baey Yam Keng.”

“So I put in my few words, and he attacked me! I very angry you know, I went to see Baey Yam Keng, who is my MP. He say ‘Ignore it, ignore it.’” But to me, you must counter. You cannot allow a lie to continue, it’s not fair what. I didn’t do it.”

“Anyway, I went to the police post to complain. Nothing happen! How to find him? He was using a fake name, he’s using a picture of Jesus Christ (as his profile picture)! Wah lan. Cannot find him one!”

“I learnt something. If you want to fight fake news, the only way is to deal with it directly. That’s the only way out, you have to fight them. Gun for gun, like a shootout. It actually works for me. I am defending myself against what you are saying about me.”

2018-03-22 (2)

What prompts a Loh Wai Poon Facebook Comment™?

I am curious about the issues that are worthy of a Loh Wai Poon Facebook Comment™, and those that are not.

“I am a social person. For me, I want Singaporeans to be more social-conscious (society-minded), things like NS, tax hike. I want people to speak up about issues that affect everybody – give your two cents’ worth. Eventually, it will work, you know? If everyone starts caring, the Government will see. They will want to do something about it.”

I press in harder. What is a recent issue that has prompted a characteristic lengthy response from Loh?

“The most recent one will definitely be the new Prime Minister. This issue has gone on for so long. We need to have a clear cut PM.”

“The next PM should be known to us as soon as possible. Don’t drag, don’t drag! The sooner we appoint this person, the sooner he can prepare himself.”

“A lot of people think, ‘PAP too presumptuous’, but I think as a political party, they are being pragmatic. To say that PAP will lose their majority in Parliament in the next election, is like 痴人说梦 (dreams of a madman), you know?”

The Straits Times’ #1 Fan

I ask for Loh’s thoughts on print media in Singapore. Is print really as doomed as many make it out to be?

“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?”

“We are becoming more and more like a mature democracy. We’ve been around like half a century already. So we cannot be like in the 60’s.”

“I seldom read CNA (Channel NewsAsia) or TODAY, only ST. I subscribe to ST, and I read the NOW tab on the app. I want the now. I read the incoming, developing news, like, you know, got hijack or what.”

The Straits Times Comments Section Facebook Page

“I used to write to the forum.”

No, I say, this is not The Straits Times, this is a parody Facebook page. They take screenshots of trolls in the comments and share them.


Loh doesn’t understand and continues with his line of thought.

“Nowadays, I always comment on the Facebook. I think they (ST) realise that the Forum is too slow, take three days to publish. If they don’t want to publish, they don’t tell you also. They ask me for permission, they ask to edit, but in the end, never publish.”

It seems Loh doesn’t know he’s famous.

Loh Wai Poon, the influencer?

“I don’t like to go to my page and post, I just comment. I’m not interested in building a following. I see something, I think whether right or wrong, and I comment on it.”

“I’m not interested in building a following, like some people earn money, like a blogger. You know, I say something, you have to pay me. They becoming something like a spokesman. But I don’t like this kind of thing ah, I think it’s not right.”

“I heard some people can make a living by doing social media, like a sort of celebrity. It’s not a genuine thing, if you have to think of what your paymaster think. They lose the respect of followers.”

Loh Wai Poon, the politician?

“(The ageing population) will become a bigger and bigger issue as my generation pass by. My generation will be around for another quarter century. The ageing issue will be a bigger issue in the coming elections. It’s a lot of people, can shift the political landscape easily.”

“Somebody already set up a party called Singaporeans First, maybe next time got a party called ‘Senior Citizens First’?”

Lunch hour

We’ve been sat for an hour, and Loh’s kopi-c has turned cold. The lunch crowd has begun spilling in, and an elderly cleaner has been nervously eyeing Loh’s tray for the past twenty minutes.

“When I think I am right, I take a stand. I support PAP sometimes, I support WP sometimes, but I am never going to be a political party member. Certain things that I am passionate about, I try to be distant. I like to be a commentator.”

“A lot of people tell me ‘You talk so much, why don’t you go into politics?’ But if I go into politics, I cannot comment on anything already. Because whatever I comment will become the party’s comment.”

“Not everybody likes to be a politician. I like to comment. I like to be as free as I can. I don’t like having my hands tied.”


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Hatch Theatrics: Don’t Want To Be Recognised Just Because I’m Malay http://popspoken.com/arts/2018/03/hatch-theatrics Tue, 20 Mar 2018 03:30:27 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=59845
Producing their 9th original production, Popspoken speaks to Hatch Theatrics about their Malay heritage Centre residency and to find out more about the company.

This article Hatch Theatrics: Don’t Want To Be Recognised Just Because I’m Malay appeared first on Popspoken.


Though only a few major theatre companies seem to get consistent media attention, the theatre scene in Singapore is actually flourishing with plenty of other companies developing their own share of good work. Hatch Theatrics is one such company. Aiming to revitalise and reinvent Malay theatre in Singapore, Hatch Theatrics crafts original work and seeks to collaborate with new artistes every now and then. Currently, they are a part of the Malay Heritage Centre Residency.

Their next work, Lanang, is developed as part of the residency and will be showing the first week of April. An exploration about relationships and death, Hatch Theatrics does not shy away from taboo topics. I fondly remember another of their work Hawa, a performance about a recent convert to Islam having to be in charge of her firned’s funeral. That particular show left a very strong impression on me, and touched my heart.

Popspoken sits down with the founding member Faizal, and members since 2014 Hafidz and Khai to learn more about the company and the work that they do.



Popspoken: What makes the work produced by Hatch different from other companies out there?

Faizal: Hatch started because the founding members felt that the opportunities and space to create new Malay works was decreasing. We also felt that we wanted to create new artistic opportunities for us.

I feel like we represent the younger, voice of the Singaporean Malay person. A Malay person who is as Singaporean as the next person. A Malay person who is proud to be Singaporean and also proud to be Malay.

PS: Talk me through some of the topics or themes Hatch is interested in and why.

Faizal: Strangely enough we seem to deal with death and mortality a lot in our plays. Maybe that says something about the members in Hatch.

We also talk about the Malay/ Muslim identity in Singapore and I think that simple topic alone branches out into many exciting sub-topics.

But most of all, we try to talk about Singaporean issues from the Malay perspective.

PS: How did the residency with Malay Heritage Centre come about?

Faizal: One of our core beliefs is to always stage original, honest Singaporean works. And we believe in always telling a good story first and foremost. And to not be afraid to tell that story if we deem it worthy and important. We had a track record of doing that and I think those were the things that attracted the Malay Heritage Centre to offer us the residency.



PS: Generally, what is your process like for making a piece of work? Do all four members of the collective share the same process or do they differ?

Faizal: We always get together to plan for the year ahead. For the residency, we planned 2 years in advance. So we already knew what we were going to work on. Each member is different and has their own process(es). But we are always there to support and give our input. We all lean on each other quite a bit in the process of creating a work. It’s not just one person doing everything. Like they say, it takes a village to do a show. We are a small village of 5 people. And we often have migrants who come in to help us build the work. Just like Singapore.

Hafidz: We rotate amongst the members. One member comes up with an idea and script and then we work towards that, collectively. This is to go back to our vision of producing works and giving platform for various members to showcase a piece of writing/idea that they have.

PS: Do you think more efforts can be done to review and make the public aware of minority theatre collectives?

Faizal: I think anytime we can make minority theatre collectives more visible, that’ll be brilliant. But I think that after that initial visibility, that collective or artist has to prove that the recognition is merited. So it’s not just visibility for the sake of visibility. I don’t want to be recognised and acknowledged because I’m Malay. We want to be known as the collective that does good work first – and then – whose works happen to be telling Malay stories and in the Malay language.

Hafidz: I believe that quality supercedes visibility. With good quality work, it will be only natural that the awareness increases. We live in an age of social media so I don’t think there is any challenge for any company/collective to make themselves known. Whether or not they produce good work, that’s a different thing altogether.

hatch theatrics Khai


PS: Is there a power struggle between marketing and producing work?

Faizal: Marketing is important. But not at the expense of how we produce the work. If I have to cancel a rehearsal to plug the work, I’d be quite upset. Especially if I feel like we need the rehearsal. I’d be happy to accede to any marketing requests as long I don’t have to sacrifice the time I’ve allocated to the process.

Hafidz: Marketing and producing goes hand in hand. I don’t think a lot of funds is needed in terms of marketing so much so that it becomes a struggle, at least not for Hatch.

Khai: It’s still a learning process for me as an ‘emerging’ producer if there’s a term. Of course there is a power struggle, and sometimes the roles gets blurred if you’re a producer. You want to be involved in everything. Not creatively but everything else. Like production, budget, marketing. But I place more funds on production rather than marketing. We live in the social media generation. It’s free, so use it wisely. Everything gets retweeted, reposted or snapshot and repost. So it’s a ripple effect. Putting up a good show gives me a high rather than buying ad spaces. (Perhaps because we can’t afford them yet.)

With most funds on production, you need to get creative in your marketing. You need to be your own Instagram Influencer.

PS: What would it take for a more collaborative culture to flourish in the Singapore Scene?

Faizal: I think we have to be more open to the other art forms. Sometimes we can be quite selective and inclusive in the things that we watch, participate in or are even aware of. I used to be like that. I think now I try to make a bigger effort to be aware of things that go beyond just theatre. My wife Khai works with artists from many different fields, so she is my go to person when I need to find out about artists or shows from other disciplines. And be open to communication. You might not agree on everything, but it’s important to communicate and respect the views of other people. Then I think we can create more space and opportunities for collaboration.

Hafidz: More Artists who want to collaborate. Simple.

hatch theatrics lanang


Date: 5th – 7th April 2018

Venue: Malay Heritage Centre

Time: Thursday – Saturday, 8pm / Saturday, 3pm

Admission: $25 (Concessions available. Get your tickets here.)

Photo courtesy of Hatch Theatrics


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This article Hatch Theatrics: Don’t Want To Be Recognised Just Because I’m Malay appeared first on Popspoken.

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Pooja Nansi & Jessica Bellamy Grooving To Thick Beats http://popspoken.com/arts/2018/03/pooja-nansi-jessica-bellamy Mon, 19 Mar 2018 07:55:29 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=59837
Hip hop enthusiasts Pooja Nansi and Jessica Bellamy is coming together to put up a show that puts two fantastic elements together - women and passion. What more can we ask for?

This article Pooja Nansi & Jessica Bellamy Grooving To Thick Beats appeared first on Popspoken.


When you think of women in hip hop, does your mind immediately go to thick women with skin to show? How about those donning spectacles and more conservatively dressed? What does this say about our stereotypes of people and how we tend to perceive women today? Performance-poet Pooja Nansi and playwright Jessica Bellamy are leading this discussion through their show Thick Beats For Good Girls.

Music is a powerful language and coupling with performance, I am prepared for this show to be thoroughly invincible.

Directed and dramaturged by Huzir Sulaiman, Checkpoint Theatre presents this collaborative piece of performance. Featuring original poetry, musings of life and possibly rap, the women will share with the audience what exactly is a good girl and the experiences of being a religious or racial minority. Or perhaps, labels have never worked well and everyone has to discover their own balancing act of their own identities. All done with hip hop thrown in for good measure.

Popspoken interviews both women on their collaboration and the birth of their hip hop love.

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Popspoken: What does being a woman mean to each of you?

POOJA: In the world we live in now, being a woman means to be political by necessity.

JESS: I don’t think about myself as a woman as a term on its own. Womanhood is tied up with many other identities and there is no one solid definition of what it means. Every woman experiences identity differently. So I suppose, for me, womanhood means multiplicity, code-switching, and always reading the room.

PS: Do you think it is great to be a woman in this day and age?

POOJA: When we talk about a “woman” we need to understand that we are not all the same. Being a “woman” is not a monolith. As women, there are some concerns we share, and some we do not. I will never know what it is like to live in a country that denies me education based on my gender, but I know there are women who still face this. I think we live in a time where women are forming communities and pushing for change, but we need to be absolutely clear that some of us benefit from those movements faster and easier than others.

JESS: No. And that’s probably why I write theatre that reminds women of all that they should be proud of, the battles still ahead, and the previously marginalised people to take care of along the path.

PS: How did you discover your love for hip-hop?

POOJA: My first encounter was in a club called Killimanjaros in Boat Quay in 1999. Hip-hop was not “mainstream” and never played on the radio airwaves or appeared much on MTV, but somehow my friends were dancing to it in a series of tiny clubs. In hip-hop, I found more belonging than I had ever known before.

JESS: Kanye West’s 808 and Heartbreaks straddled too many genres for me not to notice it. It was an album of lovesick, heartbroken ballads. I knew that sort of music very well. When I realised this music could be teamed with dexterous lyrics, cheek and swagger, I was sold.

pooja nansi jessica bellamy Checkpoint Thick Beats 0503184416

PS: What do you look forward to the most for Thick Beats for Good Girls?

POOJA: I look forward to telling these very women centric stories to a diverse audience and I hope everyone finds a different connecting point.

JESS: I hope that the young people who have been thinking “I can’t say THAT on stage, can I?” realise that, oh yeah, they can.

PS: How has the process been like?

POOJA: It’s the first time I’ve worked on a long-distance collaboration and it’s been really cool to see how technology like Skype and Google Docs has allowed us to work on the same project at our paces while our everyday lives continued in Singapore and Australia.

JESS: Huzir has done an amazing job in planning the development of this play over time and distance. A three hour Skype is not as horrible as it sounds when it’s with top quality artists!

PS: Being a multicultural society, Singapore still fails at representation and the minority is still being snubbed regularly. Why do you think this cycle keeps happening and how do you think we can break it? And Jessica, how about Australia?

POOJA: I think in order to strive toward real diversity, we need to first reconsider how we talk about multiculturalism. The CMIO model while neat, isn’t always helpful in explaining true diversity especially as we welcome more and more new citizens and become an increasingly larger melting pot. We also need to genuinely be willing to be more open minded and empathetic as people and offer space in conversations to those voices who often get heard the least.

JESS: Australia is not very different from Singapore in terms of diversity. We have a resurgence of hard-right conservative politicians trying to fight for their version of an idyllic historical Australia, by which they mean, majority white, heternormative, with traditional gender roles, and strict social stratification. We need to widen representation and ensure that the minority voices who are already doing community-building activism are given a wider platform and amplification.

PS: Lastly, share with us your top three hip-hop songs to survive 2018.

POOJA: Alright by Kendrick Lamar. It’s a real song of hope.

Bodak Yellow by Cardi B. Her self-love is inspiring.

99 Problems by Jay Z. Because the word “bitch” can refer to your boss, your job, a shitty pair of shoes, your no good ex boyfriend, or anything else you want it to.

JESS: Work Work by Clipping. Its deceptively chill beat belies a pivotal conversation we need to have.

Or Nah by Ty Dolla Sign. It’s sexy and catchy as hell.

Feeling Myself by Beyonce and Nicki Minaj. Because when times are tough, we need the help of a song to feel as amazing about ourselves as Donald Trump seems to perpetually feel about himself.

pooja nansi jessica bellamy thickbeatsforgoodgirls2


Date: 5th – 22nd April 2018

Venue: Drama Centre Black Box

Time: Tuesday – Saturday, 8pm / Saturday & Sunday, 3pm

Rating: R18

Admission: $45 (Concessions available. Get your tickets here.)

Photo courtesy of Checkpoint Theatre. Photo credit: Joel Lim @ Calibre Pictures.


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This article Pooja Nansi & Jessica Bellamy Grooving To Thick Beats appeared first on Popspoken.

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Sorry Singapore Influencers, No Defense for “SHIT English” http://popspoken.com/opinion/2018/03/no-defense-for-shit-english Thu, 15 Mar 2018 14:42:12 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=59749
People pay you to do something, must at least do a good job right?

This article Sorry Singapore Influencers, No Defense for “SHIT English” appeared first on Popspoken.


A post by online publication Rice Media has sparked fresh debate over influencers in Singapore. Netizens are divided about whether instances of influencers’ poor command of English is cause for online ridicule, or not.

The article calls into question the snarky posts made by the Facebook page Singaporean Influencers and Bloggers Write SHIT English and are Annoying AF, which has garnered over 23,000 likes since its inception in December 2016.

Rice Media disagrees with the page’s aggressive tone, and categorises the page’s activities as “cyberbulling”. Rice also claims that the page carries a highbrow, elitist attitude that associates a good command of language with superiority.

Even though they mostly pick on influencers/bloggers, their gripes also imply that anyone who does not speak good English (according to their standards) is professionally, intellectually, and morally inferior. — Rice Media

Instead of pointing fingers at the influencers, however, Rice Media places the blame squarely on the influencers’ “unoriginal social media content and personal marketing strategies, and the similarly uncreative brands that continue to enable them”.

While I wish that SIABWSEAAAA (help la) would be a lot less snide in their delivery, I am not in favour of pardoning influencers as innocent scapegoats.

As an undergraduate majoring in communications, I am concerned that my area of study is being devalued.

If left unchecked and excused, I believe that instances of poor English in influencer marketing may erode the standards for copywriting everywhere.

Okay, hear me out:

Campaign Deliverables

Interestingly, the piece by Rice Media comes after a particularly active week for the offending page in question. Between 11 and 14 March, the page criticised three influencers for their linguistic gaffes on Instagram, one of which was later retracted.

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In one of the featured posts, an influencer mistakenly uploaded her sponsored Instagram post with the caption “My go to car rental will always be @akacarrental ! They never fail to disappoint me and are the best”.

While I’m sure she meant that the brand “never disappoints”, such a blunder would not have been tolerated by a client in a traditional marketing context.

Had a boutique PR company or advertising creative been in her position, accounts would be put on review, jobs would be at risk, and the entire team in charge would have expected an earful from their supervisor. So why are we this soft on what influencers are being paid to do?

Appropriateness of Message

Some argue that influencer marketing serves a different segment from professional copywriters in that their message is presented more casually.

This means that sentence fragments, run-on messages, and even memes can all be part of a well-thought-out campaign on social media. This also means that I may have job security after all.

This liberal use of language is supported by descriptivism, where language is determined by what people do with it. The hallmark of the descriptivist argument is that language cannot be judged as “right” or “wrong” if the intended message is successfully communicated to the audience.

As seen in the examples above, however, some captions by occupational influencers range from the bizarre to the antithetical. Whether it’s a hundred words of rambling and trying to disguise the #sponsored motives of the post, or mistakenly criticising the very product they were paid to promote, the only message communicated here is one of confusion.

2018-03-15 (3)

The Future of Influencer Marketing

In February, Singaporeans mocked the influencer marketing strategies of the Ministry for the Environment and Water Resources. The ministry reportedly paid 28 micro-influencers for a three-month marketing campaign to spread awareness about climate change.

Micro-influencers are understood to be online personalities with between 1,000 and 10,000 followers on Instagram.

As a millennial with an interest in digital marketing, the idea of paid micro-influencers is genius, if not a little perverse.

On one hand, micro-influencers offer a cheaper alternative to expensive campaigns with well-known influencers, whose engagement numbers may already be tinted by the smitten responses of their adoring fans. I may double tap on a pretty face, sure, but am I really reading the caption for that brand of car tyres she’s promoting?

Micro-influencers are valuable because their followers do not approach their posts with caution, wary that they are being sold something. Rather, my friend, who has a little over three thousand Instagram followers, is genuinely recommending some new car tyres. Nice.

However, I think influencer marketing is not sustainable, and the sooner brands realise this, the better. The same way “ad blindness” has blighted advertisers for years, posts by influencers will be increasingly ignored by the online audience.

I hope this short piece didn’t read like a preachy Facebook post by SIABWSEAAAA (help again). At the risk of sounding like an out of touch headline, “millennials are killing the copywriting industry”.

I’m just worried, you know, that my uni degree like, no use when I graduate. I study so hard, practice my writing, but the advertising money all going to influencers, not newsrooms, not magazines, not ad agencies, then how? A bit sian, right?

I know we must accept change la. Got smart campus, got smart nation, but people don’t want to be smart about what they read, how sia? It’s good to have some standards la. People pay you to do something, must at least do a good job right?

See? It’s not impossible to communicate effectively with a non-standard variety of English.

It’s not impossible to want to be better. #spon


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Tonight Alive’s Jenna McDougall Opens Up About Wounded Masculinity In Punk Rock And Heartfelt New Album “Underworld” http://popspoken.com/music/2018/03/tonight-alive-jenna-mcdougall-opens-up-about-wounded-masculinity-in-punk-rock Thu, 15 Mar 2018 05:23:27 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=59581
In an interview with Tonight Alive, who are currently on the road with Silverstein, Jenna McDougall shares the story of their latest album.

This article Tonight Alive’s Jenna McDougall Opens Up About Wounded Masculinity In Punk Rock And Heartfelt New Album “Underworld” appeared first on Popspoken.


At its heart, ‘Underworld’ is Tonight Alive letting their love of music bleed into their songs again, even if the journey to get there was painful.

Full of unique melodies, heavy hitting rock sounds and the undeniable vocal magic of singer Jenna McDougall, this album marks a turning point for the band both sonically and personally.

Since 2008, from the outside it seemed like Tonight Alive were living every band’s dream: they were signed to a major label, released a trio of successful albums – including two ARIA Top 10 hits – and years of relentless touring saw the Sydney-siders become a force on the global music scene.

Behind the curtain, it was a completely different story for the now four-piece, comprising of Jenny McDougall, rhythm guitarist Jake Hardy, bassist Cameron Adler and drummer Matty Best. Coming into their third record with peak success the #1 goal, the pressure was on for Tonight Alive to create a big record with that ever-elusive radio hit.

As a body of work, Underworld is a pure expression of who Tonight Alive are at this point in their lives.

Instagram Photo

An emotional journey of the underworld we all have within us, the band artfully blended their last four albums and channeled them into a clear sound with a renewed focus on driving heavy guitars and drums with honest lyrics that see McDougall dissect her darkness to get a deeper understanding of who she really is.

Songs like Temple and Disappear – featuring guest vocals from Lynn Gunn (PVRIS) – wrestle with pain and the sickness that follows, while For You and Crack My Heart sees McDougall sing about love for the first time in some years.

The album culminates in McDougall finding peace in My Underworld, a stirring duet featuring Slipknot / Stone Sour frontman Corey Taylor.

Over the following email interview with Tonight Alive, who are currently on the road touring the U.S. with Silverstein, Jenna McDougall spills on the story of “Underworld” and music matters close to her heart.

POPSPOKEN: What is the story behind the album art for your new album “Underworld”? Is it a belly button?

Jenna McDougall: It is. I think the bellybutton is one of the most sacred parts of the body. It’s where life comes from, it’s the source of your existence to some extent. So I wanted to draw attention to that part of (especially the female) body where behind it you find the womb, which I think in some ways represents the underworld, being a spiritual realm where the shadow self resides.

The shadow self is all the parts of you that are wounded and have been rejected and abandoned throughout your life. So returning to that space to confront and discover yourself and ultimately do your healing is a crucial part of coming into yourself and in my case, coming into my womanhood.

The petals represent new life coming from within, the V shaped rip through the picture is there for feminine symbolism, and finally the white T-shirt and black pants on either side of the photo represent light and dark, book ending the whole journey.

Why is “Underworld” a special album for Tonight Alive? What’s the significance?

Jenna McDougall: Underworld is our fourth record, so in a way at this point it feels like the “fully realised Tonight Alive”. It’s also the first record we’ve released since signing to new record labels UNFD and Hopeless, which had a huge impact on our creative process.

This is the first time we’ve ever gone into making a record and our team has said “do whatever the hell you want” and I feel that that’s when my best and most pure expression happens.

You guys are currently on tour with Silverstein in the US – What is Tonight Alive’s relationship with Silverstein like?

Jenna McDougall: This is the first time we’ve ever toured together, but having met briefly a few years ago when we played an off day show together the guys seemed awesome! They’re unreal live and there’s a really good energy behind the scenes.

You guys came to Singapore for Shut Up and Listen in 2013 together with Anberlin and The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, what’s something memorable about that show in Singapore for you?

Jenna McDougall: It was a big deal to us at the time playing with Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. We were such huge fans of the record in high school and our drummer Matty was especially influenced by them.

It was some time ago now but all I strongly remember is that the fans and people were beautiful, super supportive, positive and accommodating! I hope we come back again soon!

If you could choose one problem to solve in the punk rock industry today, what would it be? How would you go about solving it?

Jenna McDougall: I think this “problem” really comes from a bigger picture but I would like to see boys and men feeling comfortable and safe to express themselves more freely, honestly and vulnerably.

Ultimately the suppression of women’s expression comes from the wounded masculine and more than anything I feel for men as that was never fostered or encouraged for them.

That’s a big reason why we get the dominant masculine energy in the rock scene which can be expressed through anger and aggression.

I would like to see men and women, boys and girls empowering each other, being less divided, spending more time understanding each other’s struggles and ultimately creating a more equal, safe, harmonious environment.

Has the songwriting process of Tonight Alive changed a lot over the years? How does the band dynamics like in writing a song?

Jenna McDougall: In the past we have written our records between home and the road, sometimes making demos on the bus or in hotel rooms. It was quite disjointed and spanned over a long period of time.

For Underworld, Whakaio and I made a studio space at my house and spent every day for three months writing and making demos.

I think we did some of our best work in that space and routine because the intention was really clear and focused. It also gave us a real family of songs rather than orphan songs spread out over two years.

What is usually the inspiration behind the music you create?

Jenna McDougall: My lyrics are my inner dialogue and in recent years we’ve moved away from the pop-punk branding to “Conscious Rock” as the message of self-empowerment and higher consciousness has amplified in our music!

How would you like Tonight Alive to be remembered?

Jenna McDougall: Authentic music, people and purpose.

Instagram Photo


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This article Tonight Alive’s Jenna McDougall Opens Up About Wounded Masculinity In Punk Rock And Heartfelt New Album “Underworld” appeared first on Popspoken.

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Christopher Chee: Kampung Kampus Huge Inspiration For The Good Farmer http://popspoken.com/people/2018/03/christopher-chee-kampung-kampus-huge-inspiration-good-farmer Sun, 11 Mar 2018 09:23:59 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=59553
The Good Farmer, winner of TheatreWorks' 20th Annual 24 Hour Playwriting Competition, will be touring the South East District. Popspoken speaks to the playwright Christopher Chee.

This article Christopher Chee: Kampung Kampus Huge Inspiration For The Good Farmer appeared first on Popspoken.


Though it is Christopher Chee‘s first time entering the TheatreWorks’ Annual 24-Hours Playwriting Competition, he managed to come out tops with his work and have it staged for the Singapore public.

Titled The Good Farmer, the audience is invited to discover sibling rivalry and favouritism in a family through the lives of twins Jacob and Joseph. After being placed in separate streams after primary four, it seems that the father is starting to favour Joseph a little bit more. And then what happens next? About family and a common struggle between sibling relationships, The Good Farmer will appeal and be bringing this to everyone with its tour of the South East District of Singapore.

Popspoken speaks to Christopher to find out how he spent his 24 hours, how the venue helped and if the competition is a platform for everyone.


Popspoken: Did the venue of the 24hour Playwriting Competition inspire your play?

Christopher Chee: The title of my play, ‘The Good Farmer’ should be a dead giveaway that the venue is a huge inspiration for this play. From the very beginning, I have the intention to produce a play that is “true to the venue”. With that in mind, I took in every stimulus that was given, which includes conversations and happenings that fall outside the compulsory 5 stimuli that were given. These other stimuli include various quotes found around Kampong Kampus, a farming experience (in which I was assigned to removing weeds) and a talk by the founder of the Ground-Up initiative, Mr Tay Lai Hock. Mr Tay, is really an inspiring figure and I have included some of his experiences into the history of one of my characters.

The farm was a fertile ground for playwriting (pun intended). The play focuses on sibling rivalry which coincidentally mirrors the story of the first two brothers of humanity (according to the Abrahamic religions), Cain and Abel, who happened to be farmers. Writing in a farm too, gave me another perspective of how we view our lands and nature in Singapore, and the vulnerability of lands that do not reap economic benefits. Furthermore, farming is often used as a metaphor for many things, “reap what we sow” for example. The play thus is a snapshot of what I learnt in Kampong Kampus in 24-hours; which reveals how much more we could learn if we spend more than 24 hours there. I strongly encourage all to go down one day and appreciate the venue yourself.

PS: What do you think about the initiative and the different venues used every year?

C: The annual competition brings aspiring playwrights and attention to places of significance but less traveled for average Singaporeans like me. I believe every venue, past and future, have a story to be told. I remember past venues such as the Institute of Mental Health and the Malay Heritage Centre which produces plays which highlighted on different issues in society. Some may think of my play about sibling rivalry shouldn’t touch on areas that are political, but the venue where my play was conceived makes ignoring how the nation favours certain policies over other almost impossible; to not touch on these issues would make the play appear rather contrived.

The venue used last year highlights how the urban life of Singapore often overshadows the natural life we have in Singapore. We have quite a few of these nature reserves but they are often neglected because of the distractions and comfort we have living in a city. Mr Tay also gave us an insight on the political challenges he faced when trying to secure the survival of the initiative for the coming years. If Singaporeans continue to be apathetic to other values that land could bring other than its economic value, we might lose out on many things that money can’t measure!

christopher chee the good farmer

PS: Share with me how you spent the 24 hours of the competition.

C: To start off, this was my very first time taking in part in the competition and I really didn’t know what to expect. But everybody there, from the staff to the playwrights were really friendly and encouraging and we made small talk here and there (when we are taking breaks from our works). I don’t remember much of the 24 hours, but I do remember our looks of exclamation when we were stumped by stimuli that we totally didn’t expect, exchanging smiles with fellow writers at 3am, knowing we were trapped in a surreal situation, writing a play in the middle of a farm because of our joy for writing. I must have drank like 5 cups of coffee (maybe more) with extra sugar. I didn’t sleep but I did nap for 30 minutes whenever I ran out of ideas (I napped for an hour once because after waking up I still had no idea what to write about). Naps are important because I believe in those dream states, indistinct voices of certain characters become distinct without the interference of the author.

To end off, what really kept me going was not the caffeine or the naps, but looking at different playwrights, from the elders to the youths full of energy when writing (especially the youth still running and jumping around at 2am), regardless of their age committing themselves to the keyboard to produce the best piece of work they could in 24 hours. It was really humbling and motivating to write amongst those playwrights till the sun rose the next day

PS: What about writing plays do you enjoy?

C: I write plays for different reasons. Sometimes I enjoy writing because I need to write, as a cathartic release. The release is enjoyable, but when writing those plays, I am trapped in the minds of my characters, dwelling on their thoughts until I finish the play which could be really tormenting until the play is done.
But if I were to just point to a reason for writing, I continue to write because of the characters that emerged from my writings. Characters although born from my own imagination but are as foreign as the shadows I see while taking the public transport every morning. Characters who speak, characters who surprises me with their words, characters who made me cry and laugh, characters whose words although born through my own fingers, are not my own words. I write for these characters.

christopher chee the good farmer

PS: What aspect of The Good Farmer do you identify with the most?

C: It would probably the unending quest to look for answers and the questioning of the self. Why am I born this way? Nature or nurture? And I think we often look at our environments and our peers to understand the self, and our siblings would probably be our closest peers when we were growing up. What they do, or who they are might have an impact on how we see ourselves as we grow up.

Another aspect I identify with would be the difficulty in expressing love to our family members. I think traditional parents often layer their care and concerns with naggings and even sarcasms. I wrote this aspect in for the father character of the two siblings. But I think if we try to look hard enough and listen with our hearts, as cliché as it is, love is more than words.


The Good Farmer

Date: 8th – 24th March 2018

Location: Mountbatten Community Centre (15th – 17th) / SingPost Centre Auditorium (23rd & 24th)

Time: 3pm / 8pm (Varies with date)

Admission: Free Admission with Registration (Click here to register.)


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This article Christopher Chee: Kampung Kampus Huge Inspiration For The Good Farmer appeared first on Popspoken.

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How One Entrepreneur Plans To Use Blockchain To Help The LGBT Community http://popspoken.com/lgbtq/2018/03/one-entrepreneur-plans-use-blockchain-help-lgbt-community Wed, 07 Mar 2018 17:06:58 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=59489
The LGBT Token aims to raise the economic muscle of the USD $4.6 trillion LGBTQ+ economy - and the nonprofits that help this community.

This article How One Entrepreneur Plans To Use Blockchain To Help The LGBT Community appeared first on Popspoken.


Blockchain has been in the news cycle for the past year, but with all the hype surrounding it, one man intends to use it for a more greater good: to help lift the LGBTQ+ community.

Christof Wittig is the chairman of the LGBT Foundation, a nonprofit that aims to introduce a cryptocurrency token – the LGBT Token –  for the LGBTQ+ community to use as a day-to-day payment method.

Wittig is also known as the founder and CEO of gay social app Hornet, which has a user base of over 25 million users, with over 4 million monthly active users generating USD$10 million in revenue in 2017.

So, why does Wittig think blockchain can help the LGBT community?

“If we utilise the token, we buy on behalf of the community and tell the supplier that this is a pink purchase… you shouldn’t just talk about it – you should treat it seriously and make sure you account for it,” he said to Popspoken when he stopped here to promote the foundation to investors and LGBTQ+ nonprofits.

Wittig stresses that labelling economic transactions as those coming from the LGBT community in a ledger that pseudonymises users but accounts for all purchases will allow the community to be visible beyond demonstrations and pride parades.

“If we wave a flag and ask for (LGBTQ+) rights, if we get prosecuted in Banda Aceh, we put sad smiley faces on Facebook. It’s good, but it’s not enough. I think we can do much better as a community,” he explained.

“Nothing counts more in this world than money. So, let’s play our hand.”

According to the LGBT Foundation, if all LGBTQs formed a country, its GDP per capita could go up to US$4.6 trillion, placing it fourth in GDPs worldwide – above those of Germany and the UK.

The foundation aims to achieve three things with the token, said Wittig: anonymise users with pseudonyms while accounting for them on a public ledger, tokenise economic transactions so businesses know which one came from an LGBTQ+ person, and donate 1% of proceeds to an impact fund to support nonprofit LGBTQ+ programmes around the world.

Other tokens targeted for the LGBT community exist in the market but this token, administered by project lead Ben Kubota, is receiving a jumpstart thanks to Wittig.

Wittig aims to introduce the token into the digital wallets of Hornets users globally by the second quarter of this year, according to the foundation’s white paper.

On one of the plans in the paper, users can purchase tickets through event listings on Hornet but limit what information they share with the event partner through a secure ID.

“We bring a wallet to all our users so you open the app and are immediately a member who can participate. We make it based on this huge (Hornet) population and through an easy application, adopt the platform,” said Wittig.

At a launch event in Singapore, he stressed that the token will maintain a high share value by partnering with various for-profit partners who see value in having a terminal in-store to accept the token as a means of payment.

1 billion LGBT Tokens will be issued, with 20% of them issued in an initial token sale to raise some 60,000 Ethereum (SGD$61 million), according to the white paper. After releasing another 10% more tokens after additional approvals, any unsold tokens will be burnt.

38% of tokens will be reserved for a network accelerator to be given to customers from participating businesses that have indicated interest to be part of the programme, while the remainder tokens will be locked in reserve for at least a year.

Businesses under the programme will receive help from the foundation, either through plugins for e-commerce stores or payment devices for brick-and-mortar stores.

In a bid to drive usage, Hornet aims to transfer its rewards model to the LGBT Token by the second quarter of the year. The LGBT Foundation aims to kickstart brick-and-mortar usage of the token in Taipei, Sao Paolo and Paris by the end of the year.

The technology and aims provide some hope for LGBTQ+ nonprofits who need sustainable sources of funding to run social safety programmes but in order to get massive adoption, the LGBTQ+ community will need to be willing to participate and use the token as a form of payment and encourage LGBTQ-supportive businesses to take part – which Wittig believes is possible through a multi-year global outreach effort.

“I don’t want to think of (the LGBT community as) a fragment – I want to bring it together,” said Wittig. “If there is a smart guy in the Ukraine that can bring something to the table, bring it on. The same thing is to for a transgender person in Omaha, for instance – it’s by choice.”

The Foundation will not publish any Ether wallet address. All details on participating in the token sale will be given once users register on their website.

The white paper can be accessed here. More updates can be obtained from the token’s Telegram group here, and potential investors, users and businesses can join the official discussion group here.

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This article How One Entrepreneur Plans To Use Blockchain To Help The LGBT Community appeared first on Popspoken.

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Vikkash Suruchand of Tell Lie Vision: We Are Trying To Go As Far As Possible http://popspoken.com/music/2018/03/vikkash-suruchand-tell-lie-vision-trying-go-far-possible Sun, 04 Mar 2018 05:18:22 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=59473
Vikkash Suruchand speaks to Popspoken about leaving his previous job and creating his own brand of pomade to better support his band Tell Lie Vision.

This article Vikkash Suruchand of Tell Lie Vision: We Are Trying To Go As Far As Possible appeared first on Popspoken.


Since first meeting them for our pioneer Baybeats Edition series in 2016, Tell Lie Vision has been up to many endeavours after their stint with the Baybeats Budding Bands programme. They have performed overseas such as in the Philippines and are in the process of making new music. Actively making the efforts to stay visible as social media platforms are altering their platforms’ algorithms, the band takes the time to engage in some vlogging over on their YouTube channel.

What we are curious about is this 10-part series on BEARDZOOKA – a pomade brand with a logo that resembles their band member Vikkash Suruchand to-a-t.

vikkash beardzooka pomade

“The reason behind this company is because we as a band are trying to go far. And when everyone is working (a full-time job), it is very hard for anyone to man the band. So I said, okay. I will do it,” Vikkash explained the beginnings of this pomade line to avoid typical office hour days while trying to keep financially afloat. Along with this new venture, he left his own business of running courier services because it was starting to take up too much time as well. He went on: “It was too tiring and time consuming. The money is there, but I had to stop everything (to prioritise the band).”

Due to a lack of funds, engaging an external person to help manage the band does not seem like a viable option at this point in time either. Not earning any money from music and with the “exposure culture” still dominant in Singapore, this is not a problem faced only by them but by most local bands. Even if the occasional earnings do come in, Tell Lie Vision takes that money to further make their music like recording.

WhatsApp Image 2018-01-04 at 11.33.24 PM

“We are planning to do everything ourselves for our up-coming album,” Vikkash shared further about the band’s determination to keep hustling and to stretch every dollar as much as possible. A part of the funds from BEARDZOOKA will be going back to the band as well to be more self-sufficient as a whole, which will prove very useful when going on tours overseas.

To my surprise, as Vikkash shared openly, touring overseas is almost a luxury and complete privilege for plenty of bands  in Singapore. Though the pursuit of wider markets and the adrenaline of performing overseas may be tempting, the financial ability to pursue these things is a completely separate matter. Apparently, visiting a country to perform for the first time might not gain you any fees at all and the band will need to fork out every dollar by themselves.

And with the National Arts Council funding being a russian roulette of sorts and not enough mainstream support locally, making music and touring still seems like an unreachable goal.

However, Tell Lie Vision is determined to keep hustling towards it – and for that, I admire their passion and their drive.

So why pomade?

“Because our target audience are youths, and I see pomade brands coming up. So I decided to focus on pomade instead of any other products. In terms of packaging, it also helps to promote Tell Lie Vision as well,” Vikkash said as he showed the social media handles printed at the back of the pomade can. As the conversation went on, it is evident that many decisions are made with placing the band at the forefront in mind.

He will also be collaborating with other brands started by fellow musicians such as FALLING FEATHERS and friends’ The Moonshade Co, as well as other companies. Vikkash’s parting words left an impression on me: “We are all musicians so by working together, we can help each other and bring each other up.”

At the end of the conversation, Vikkash and I parted ways, with me wishing him all the best with this endeavour.

Their 10-part series will be posted on every alternate week, so do look out for their YouTube channel or Facebook page for more information. To support Tell Lie Vision and BEARDZOOKA, get a pomade here.


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EVITA: Powerhouse Vocals And Powerful Performances http://popspoken.com/arts/2018/03/evita-powerhouse-vocals-powerful-performances Sun, 04 Mar 2018 03:34:11 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=59420
EVITA is a powerful musical that features strong vocals and an engaging performance of the late Eva Perón's rags to riches tale.

This article EVITA: Powerhouse Vocals And Powerful Performances appeared first on Popspoken.


Dynamic, powerful and engaging right from the get go, this international tour of EVITA is proving that audience members do not have to choose between excellent vocals or fantastic acting chops, that it is possible to have an experience at the theatre with both elements in their top form by the company. Together with a versatile set and a live orchestra playing, this production is nothing short of exciting and heartfelt.

It comes as no surprise that this very production by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber has won over 20 awards globally, and continues to mesmerise audiences right here in Singapore.


EVITA tells the story of Eva Perón (by charismatic Emma Kingston), late wife of former Argentine dictator Juan Perón (by stoic Robert Finlayson). Following through her rags to riches journey, audience is being treated to a historically inaccurate but beautiful tale of the Argentine people’s ‘spiritual leader of the nation’. Set in Argentina’s capital city Buenos Aires between 1934 and 1952, there is also Che Guevara (by charming Jonathan Roxmouth) who speaks against Eva’s glowing reputation and serves as her antithesis throughout the show – challenging her in physical presence and exposing all her innermost thoughts to the audience.

Kingston and Roxmouth match each other in their vocal prowess, making their duet Waltz For Eva And Che one of the most memorable songs in the musical besides Kingston’s heartfelt solo of Don’t Cry For Me Argentina. Hitting every note almost effortlessly and being consistent in her delivery, Kingston impresses us with her voice while carrying us through the emotional journey of Eva successfully.

Her transformation from being a seductive young woman to being plagued with cancer is subtle and gradual, which made the progression so realistic that audiences empathised with Eva. Instead of being a mere caricature executing the difficult songs, Kingston manages to bring out her character in a wholesome manner.

Isabella Jane, who plays Juan Perón’s lonely mistress, may not have as much stage time but manages to leave a lingering impression with her haunting performance of Another Suitcase In Another Hall.


But the one aspect that I really enjoy is the diversity within its ensemble. From different ages to a variety of races, EVITA has got them all. Perhaps it is partly due to the writing as well as the context of the musical, but I must say how the diversity on stage really impact my experience. In the age where plenty minority groups are still having to fight for representation and to topple discrimination, it is a big deal that an award-winning musical chooses to work with such a diverse group of actors and performers.

It is one step to also dispelling the myth that actors have an expiry date to their career.

In the scene of the riot and the big show of support for Juan Perón’s campaign to be president, the diversity shown through and this added plenty of layers to what this political musical might mean for the people of today.


Together with the capable cast and ensemble, being accompanied by simple yet strong props to get every scene’s point across, EVITA is a solid performance of team work and talent. This is certainly a musical that would easily top 2018, and the year has only just begun.




Date: 23rd February – 18th March 2018

Time: Thu – Sat, 8pm / Sat, 2pm / Sun, 1pm & 6pm

Venue: Mastercard Theatre at Marina Bay Sands

Admission: From SGD $55 (Concessions available. Purchase your tickets here.)


All Photographs by Pat Bromilow-Downing & Christiaan Kotze


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Bite Sized Beef: Get More Out Of March With Mega Food Deals http://popspoken.com/wine-dine/2018/03/march-2018-food-deals Sat, 03 Mar 2018 13:49:36 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=59441
We understand that things start to move into full swing in March, so be sure to keep your belly as full as your calendar.

This article Bite Sized Beef: Get More Out Of March With Mega Food Deals appeared first on Popspoken.


As the third month of the year, March is often overlooked when it comes to planning outings, celebrations, or even a great night out, as school and work start to move into full swing.

This month’s list is curated to highlight a variety of new restaurants, promotions, and the return of MICHELIN Guide Street Food Festival, in order to make sure your belly is kept as full as your calendar.

Ginett Offers a Brie-lant Experience with Gérard Poulard

gerard poulard

Cheese connoisseurs rejoice as the month kicks off with an extra cheesy, extravagant experience at Ginett Restaurant & Wine Bar.

France’s Official Cheese Ambassador, Gérard Poulard, will be hosting two one-hour masterclasses at the restaurant premise, featuring five types of cheese paired with unique wine and spirits. For those who prefer a wider selection beyond what the Maître Fromager will be offering, there will also be two exclusive cheeseboards decked out with a unique range of washed rind cheese. We are particularly excited for the stronger contenders, such as the Brillat Savarin with Black Truffles – triple cream Brie with a luxurious twist, and the Delice de Pommard, a rare and piquant triple goat cheese.

Gérard Poulard’s Masterclasses
When? 9 — 10 Mar, 2pm and 7pm
$30 onwards per person
Limited seats available, register via ginettsg@randlab.com

Ginett Restaurant & Wine Bar, 200 Middle Rd, Singapore 188980

Caffé B is Club Street’s Newest Glam Hideout

A post shared by Popspoken (@popspoken_sg) on

What do buttery sea urchin on farmer’s eggs, seared wagyu beef, and creamy Japanese oysters have in common? They are all part of Caffé B’s tapas menu, available over at their new location at Singapore’s highly-happening food street. After six popular years at Marina Bay Sands, the Italian-Japanese restaurant has since moved out to a stunning three-storey building, with each level dedicated to different avenues of dining: bar, restaurant, and private events. While the menu has been largely refurbished, the restaurant’s focus, helmed by Executive Chef Masanao Saito, will retain the same fusion of technique and ingredients from East and West cuisines.

When? Now till otherwise specified
Caffé B, 64 Club Street, Singapore 069438

Tablescape Brings a Modern European Experience to the Table

Tablescape - Bread Trolley

If Asians are inclined to feature rice as a classic staple in most of their dishes, then what counts as the European equivalent? Bread.

Or rather, an entire array of freshly baked bread from the incredible trolley at Tablescape, located within Grand Park City Hall. Like the name suggests, the restaurant features hearty, comforting European dishes in a neoclassical interior setting, merging tradition and modernity in a delectable manner. We recommend the Monkfish and Maine Lobster on Risotto in Armagnac Lobster Bisque; the monkfish is wrapped in a thin layer of prosciutto and pan seared, before absorbing the rich, crustacean essence from lobster broth and French butter. Another highlight is their rendition of the classic Steak Tartare, marinated with consummate red onions, gherkins, parsley and caper, then topped with a golden-fried poached egg.

Those who are looking to celebrate their Easter weekend in high style, Tablescape will also be preparing an exclusive afternoon tea set featuring house-made desserts such as Spicy Mango Cake, Raspberry Lychee with Almond Cake, and Camembert Cheesecake.

Easter Weekend High Tea
When? 31 Mar — 1 Apr, 3pm to 5pm
$24 onwards per person for afternoon tea set
Tablescape, Level 3, 10 Coleman Street, Grand Park City Hall, Singapore 179809

alittle tashi Redefines the Explorer’s Communal Table


There is something brewing just around the offbeat Jalan Besar neighbourhood roads: if you happen to chance upon an unassuming door marked by a huge white balloon, you will find yourself at the quirky, rule-bending alittle tashi. Giving a whole new dimension to zichar and/or Asian dining experiences, the restaurant represents a mixing pot of culture, art, and food. Diners will be able to save on service charges as all orders will be placed directly with the open counter-kitchen staff, and all dishes will be served in the tradition of tapas.

Menu highlights include deep-fried Brussels Sprouts, coated in charred miso and served with sour cream; chargrilled garlic and fennel-spiced tender Pork Skewers; as well as their alternative to rice, a fried rice-cake that perfectly complements a wide spectrum of indulgent flavours.

When? Now till otherwise specified
alittle tashi, 39 Tyrwhitt Road, Singapore 207538

MICHELIN Guide Street Food Festival 2018 Returns with More

MICHELIN guide Street Food

Despite only starting last year, the homegrown MICHELIN Guide Street Food Festival has quickly risen to become one of the most anticipated food events for passionate gourmands. This year’s edition will be held at Resorts World Sentosa, and the line-up includes new additions such as Man Man Unagi, New Ubin Seafood, Traditional Haig Road Putu Piring, 168 CMY Satay and Zhong Guo La Mian Xiao Long Bao.

The entire festival will feature 15 different establishments that made the esteemed list since last year, each offering their signature dishes at special prices. If your idea of fun is avoiding long, determined queues, enthusiastic crowds, and extensive travel times, then the festival presents a unique opportunity to have fun while enjoying some of the best offerings from the local dining scene.

When? 30 Mar — 1 Apr, 6pm onwards
Minimum $30 credits purchase person to enter the festival
VIP Passes and tickets can be purchased here
The Coliseum, Resorts World Sentosa, 8 Sentosa Gateway, 098269


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This article Bite Sized Beef: Get More Out Of March With Mega Food Deals appeared first on Popspoken.

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Singapore Memories: Adding Scent to Local Identity http://popspoken.com/culture/2018/02/singapore-memories Fri, 09 Feb 2018 05:30:32 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=59212
Singapore Perfumes is a movement by company Jetaime Perfumery to add the sense of smell to our local identity.

This article Singapore Memories: Adding Scent to Local Identity appeared first on Popspoken.


Thinking about patriotism or the never-ending debate of local identity, the most common examples will have something to do with our national flag, local delicacies or how we use language. These things that come to mind are mostly what we see, taste or listen to. What about our other sense though, specifically the sense of smell? If asked to identity Singapore through smell, can you?

If you struggle with the previous question, perhaps local company Jetaime Perfumery will be able to help. Specialising in their Singapore Memories perfume line, the founder Prachi has cleverly put orchids into good use. “Orchids have an unique scent, and being close to the Singaporean identity, I thought it will be apt to start the line with the flowers themselves,” she shares with Popspoken while we roam around the quaint perfume workshop space at Goodman Arts Centre.

singapore memories

There are shelves full of bottles and various oils that are used during the workshops they conduct, catering to individuals, couples as well as bigger groups such as corporations and schools. We are impressed with the presentation of the materials, and how well thought out the entire process is for the layman. Prachi even added in a quiz element to make the creation more personalised and fun for every person that walks in to the studio.

Prachi then turns to us and says, “Would you like to make your own perfume?”

Before anything more is said, we find ourselves in a cab and on the way to visit the factory itself – where the assembly line of machines are really at. Within a small factory studio, tall shelves cover the walls and Prachi generously talks us through the design elements of the perfume packaging: “The designs are quite simple so they are memorable, while having a strong connection to Singapore with the skyline silhouette around the brand logo.”

singapore memories packaging

So far, Singapore Memories consist of eight distinct scents. Of the eight, One Degree North and Vanda 1981 are easily our favourites. The scents are all inspired by Singapore’s history and the iconic places we hold dear in this country. The concept itself is interesting and we must say that this line of products is more thoughtful than your regular “All I Got Is This Tee” kind of souvenir.

And they are not that easy to put together too. How do we know? Because we fail miserably at it. Even with several tries at the machine, we simply could not get it right. Our fingers fumble, the cover is not straight, and… You get the idea. Prachi, on the other hand, does the assembling effortlessly and with precision. Making perfumes and packaging them certainly takes skill.

singapore memories

Filling the bottle with oils after the machinery has been washed thoroughly with water.


Witnessing our failed attempt and trying to fix it by ourselves (with mild panic and embarrassment).


Prachi working the machine with ease and certainty, to get the cover onto the bottle correctly to ensure zero leakages.


The process is an interesting one to witness, and it is not often that we get to take a behind-the-scenes peek at how perfumes are being made. Also, we are impressed by Prachi’s passion for the craft and her willingness to share her knowledge. It is not common for a boss to give demonstrations and to entertain people like us who fumble throughout the entire process with our careless hands.

Intrigued? Perhaps this might be the gift to make your Valentine’s Day more interesting in 2018, or better yet, go on down to make your very own personalised scent. You will be surprised how fun the process is, and by the skills needed. We sure did.

If you would like to find out how to purchase these perfumes or even make your own personalised scent, click here.

Photography credit: Darren ‘Merovign’ Tan


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This article Singapore Memories: Adding Scent to Local Identity appeared first on Popspoken.

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Meet Rory Kramer, The “Dare To Live” Star And Epitome Of YOLO http://popspoken.com/people/2018/02/meet-rory-kramer-dare-live-star-epitome-yolo Wed, 07 Feb 2018 07:23:29 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=59186
A heart-to-heart with the freelance videographer for artists such as Justin Bieber, The Chainsmokers, Avicii, Tori Kelly, Martin Garrix and more.

This article Meet Rory Kramer, The “Dare To Live” Star And Epitome Of YOLO appeared first on Popspoken.


Ever wondered how an ordinary guy can quit his day job, follow his passion and even get his own MTV show?

Rory Kramer, the world renowned videographer, shows you how it’s like to live the life you have always wanted by following your dreams.

In the new MTV music infused docuseries, he takes today’s top artists out an outrageous, thrill-seeking adventure, tailored to get each artist out of their comfort zone.

After struggling with depression and overcoming adversity, Rory altered his life course to pursue his passions – choosing to celebrate life and establish an authentic career at the intersection of video production, thrill-seeking and music.

Rory is best described as a “professional life liver” who dedicates his time to capturing life’s precious moments. “Dare To Live” encapsulates this spirit of adventure, as Rory takes his artist friends to the farthest reaches of their comfort zones and across the globe.

We are not surprised if you have completely smashed the replay button for these hugely popular music videos (check out a list of them here), which are a testament to Kramer’s genius video making skills.

The Chainsmoker’s Closer, Avicii’s The Night and even Justin Bieber’s Company have amassed more than a million views each on YouTube, but the Dare To Live star remains humble and takes pride in building real relationship with his artist friends.

Find out how he represents the epitome of YOLO and the advice he has for all you millennials out there:

POPSPOKEN: How did you go from an office job to creating videos for the biggest stars in today’s music scene?

Rory Kramer: A lot of it was putting in time, dedication, and a lot of luck. Another part of it was being ready for when that opportunity came and to be able to recognize it and take advantage of it.


POPSPOKEN: What’s advice would you have for today’s millennials who may be confused about what they want to do with their life?

Rory Kramer: To me, it’s fun because you get to explore yourself and your mind. You learn about yourself and about what you do & don’t like.  They have the decision to do what they want with life, even if they don’t know what they don’t like yet. I still at times am wanting to grow as a person and as an artist.  Sometimes, I don’t know where I’ll be in five years, so it’s about embracing the growth and uncertainty.


Instagram Photo


POPSPOKEN:  What’s the best and worst part of being a ‘professional life liver’ as you’re most known for?

Rory Kramer: Getting to travel the world with people I call my friends and to consider it a job.  The worst thing is not getting to see family as much.

POPSPOKEN: Among all the artists, who’s the most memorable to work with and why?

Rory Kramer: They’re all so unique and different. They all have something that the others didn’t. If I had to pick, I’d choose Drew from The Chainsmokers. I live with him so I see him pretty much every day and we have a good connection and understanding of each other and our work.

POPSPOKEN:  We hear that McDonald’s is a huge part of your life – why is this so?

Rory Kramer: Growing up, my dad worked at a McDonald’s and that was my life. My sisters, my two brothers, and I worked there throughout high school. I’d always go there for lunch growing up so it reminds me of my family and home. No matter where I am in the world, when I walk into a McDonald’s it brings back that feeling of nostalgia and family.

POPSPOKEN:  What’s the first thing you’d do if you were to visit Singapore?

Rory Kramer: I’ve been once and it was amazing. I couldn’t believe how clean the city was. The architecture was amazing! The shopping was really cool. I would probably go to that one hotel with the crazy pool on the roof that looks like a cruise ship.

Instagram Photo

POPSPOKEN: How did you get the nickname ‘Soakie’ and why is Drew (from The Chainsmokers) ‘Croakie’?

Rory Kramer: Croakie came from one night that we came back from Vegas and I had lost my voice from staying there for two days. Drew’s dog got sick when we got back and we had to go to the vet and I just kept talking in the waiting room and I was still losing my voice. So, they kept saying I sounded so “Croakie,” which I thought was the funniest thing ever. So I kept yelling CROAKIE in the waiting room just to make Drew laugh. But somehow, we started calling Drew “Croakie” over time.

How I got the name Soakie…oh man! Let’s just say I got the name from something that I prefer if my mom didn’t read!

POPSPOKEN:  Having gone on so many adventures around the world, what’s still left on your bucket list?

Rory Kramer: I want to get certified to skydive and I’d like to go to Egypt. I’d also like to write a book:  It would be a lot about the questions I ask myself. I have a great life and I’ve found a lot of success but I still ask myself those questions of, What’s the point? Asking those bigger questions and having open conversations with people I call friends. For example, Drew and I still have deep conversations about our lives and where we think we’re going and what we want to achieve. I’d love to have it be a book with open thought, where, as the readers, it gets people thinking about their own lives.

POPSPOKEN: How would you like to be remembered?

Rory Kramer: To quote myself from one episode: “When I die I want to be remembered for the life I lived and not the money I made.”

Instagram Photo

MTV Dare To Live premiered on Monday, 29 January 2018 and airs every Monday at 7pm (WIB), 8pm (SG/PH) and 9pm (MY).


Keep culture journalism alive, at just the price of a kopi. For a little bit more, get access to exclusives and a monthly gift box. Donate at patreon.com/popspoken

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PLATFORM SERIES: JOURNEYS, A Double Bill – Powerful With A Way To Go http://popspoken.com/arts/2018/02/platform-series-journeys Wed, 07 Feb 2018 05:50:16 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=59176
JOURNEYS, A Double Bill have powerful performances, but can do better with stronger scripts and storylines.

This article PLATFORM SERIES: JOURNEYS, A Double Bill – Powerful With A Way To Go appeared first on Popspoken.


By Sherlyn Goh Xue Ting

GenerAsia’s two solo acts in PLATFORM SERIES: Journeys, A Double Bill feature powerful performances from young, local talents Erwin Shah Ismail and Kimberly Chan, but could do with more well thought-out scripts and clearer intentions.

In his self-written play, Kulit On The Go, Erwin explores the art of leather crafting, seamlessly switching between characters such as a cowboy, cattle farmer, and an artisan. Erwin’s impression of each character is spot-on, as he performs in English, Hokkien, Bahasa Melayu and Mandarin, taking on different accents each time. The local references make the characters come across as believable, and I appreciate how Erwin and his director Richard Tan did not see a need to provide surtitles or explicit translations.


Although framed as a monologue, the performance invites audience participation – from helping Erwin dye his leather strap, to examining a leather bag as it is passed around. In some of these moments, lights around the audience come on, breaking the fourth wall and encouraging the audience to look beyond the staged monologue, and see the act as, perhaps, a sharing session or a dialogue that might continue after the show is over.

However, the show loses its momentum when it abruptly introduces the environmental activist just before the play ends, closing on a rather weak and preachy note. The character feels out-of-place, tacked on to even out the strong advocacy for leather crafting throughout the play.

Meanwhile, writer-performer Kimberly embarks on an ambitious attempt to combine acting, singing and dance in her first solo show, In Her Shoes, directed by Samantha Scott-Blackhall. Kimberly steps in and out of shoes to portray several women at different stages in their lives, accompanied by classical music maestro Aloysius Foong, whose performance syncs beautifully with her monologue.

This triple threat certainly knows how to command the stage, especially when she closes the show with a stunning flamenco dance, the taps of her heels reverberating throughout the theatre. However, the script leaves much to be desired.


While the different pairs of shoes lined across the stage serve as a strong visual and associative reference to describe the ages and personalities of Kimberly’s characters, this metaphor is not fully explored in each of her portrayals. Weaving the significance of each pair of shoes into the different narratives would allow the metaphor to resonate more strongly and come to life, or it might otherwise feel trite.

The characters also come across as stereotypical, from a 30-year-old with a tiger mum who’s egging her on to get married, to a shy teen falling in love at first sight with a skateboarder in an oversized punk tee. For a show meant to explore the conundrums of being a woman, it feels overwhelmingly focused on love interests, rather than the unique personalities of the women themselves, making it difficult for the audience to truly step into their shoes.

school cover letter-01

Popspoken attended the 2nd February 2018, 8pm show of JOURNEYS, A Double Bill at SOTA Studio Theatre.

Photo credits: Madkings Production

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5 Poignant Asian Queer Short Stories For “Netflix & Chill” http://popspoken.com/lgbtq/2018/02/5-poignant-asian-queer-short-stories Tue, 06 Feb 2018 08:20:52 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?guid=b010895060e9035f4fbcbf8254ac78b5
Gather your LGBTQ friends for a viewing party and prepare your Kleenex.

This article 5 Poignant Asian Queer Short Stories For “Netflix & Chill” appeared first on Popspoken.


Here are 5 LGBTQ stories from all parts of Asia by GagaOOlala’s “Asian Queer Shorts”. Prepare your Kleenex.


Cambodia: Two Girls Against the Rain (2012)

Even the terrifying Khmer Rouge could not stop them from loving each other. The story of two brave Cambodian lesbians that met each other during very difficult times. However, they overcame all adversities and now, together, they write down their beautiful loving story.


South Korea: Coming Full Circle (2015)

How does it feel like when you go back to a country you barely know? Pauline Park was born in a poor family in post-war Korea but was soon adopted by an American couple and lived most of her life in Wisconsin. After 54 years, she decides to rediscover her roots and her own past. This film records Pauline’s journey back to Korea as an LGBT activist and, also, a transgender woman. She seizes this chance to address the pride parade in Seoul and meet with local LGBT groups, filling her journey home with meaning and purpose.


Indonesia: The Fox Exploits the Tiger’s Might (2015)

In a small military town in Indonesia two extremely different teen boys come together. On the one side, David is the son of a high-ranking officer, on the other, Aseng is from an ethnic minority, selling tobacco for a living. Together they explore their own sexuality, and the relationship between sex and power.


The Philippines: Geography Lessons (2014)

Tib Apostol takes the map made by his best friend and embarks on a journey to his hometown. During his trip, he recalls the precious moments he lived together with his best friend and, also, those valuable parts they missed out.

South Korea: The Spring in My Life (2015)

A man wanders outside a photography shop and, finally, decides to get in. He approaches the counter and says to the owner that he wants to take photos… It turns out they are old acquaintances. Later, we see the man returning home to his daughter. His relationship with his wife, who usually works until late, is very deteriorated. He cannot help but recall those good old days, when he was young and he had a secret affair with certain shop owner…

This post was written by GagaOOLala.


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Mike Perry Talks Spotify Singapore, ‘Getting Through The Noise’ Of Today’s Music With Sound Identity http://popspoken.com/music/2018/02/mike-perry-zouk-singapore-interview Sat, 03 Feb 2018 11:56:27 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=58960
DJ says he has the "greatest respect" for his breakthrough song, The Ocean, and wants to be remembered as a "nice guy and not a douchebag".

This article Mike Perry Talks Spotify Singapore, ‘Getting Through The Noise’ Of Today’s Music With Sound Identity appeared first on Popspoken.


In light of Mike Perry‘s one-night only performance at Zouk Singapore this 9 February, we speak with the Swede on coming to Singapore, his love (or hate) for his breakthrough song “The Ocean“, and the issue of a “noise” clutter in the music industry today.

Known for producing infectious and pulsating melodies that are warm with tropical splashes, the Swedish chart-topper is set to hypnotize revelers to sweet surrender with his signature sounds.

The up and coming DJ went the DIY route from the start. A passionate music lover ever since childhood, he went from being an engineer (cobbling a home studio together while he worked servicing car engines in his native Sweden) to becoming one of the year’s most sought-after global hitmakers, with a visceral attitude leading the way.

The Swede’s expertise in production, reinvention and the sound popularising his act is strikingly accurate to the modern mainstream and may very well be the next milestone in his peerless career.

POPSPOKEN: Do you like animals? If so, what’s your spirit animal?

Mike Perry: Haha, well I’d like to consider myself as a Puma or a Tiger, but in reality I’m probably closer to a little puppy. Kind and clumsy!

POPSPOKEN: Name one thing you do as a professional DJ that would surprise other people.

Mike Perry: I travel around the world on a regular basis. But I’m terrified of flying haha! Not a good combo, but totally worth it in the end.

Instagram Photo

POPSPOKEN: Among the top countries of your listeners on Spotify, Singapore is actually ranked number 4! Have you visited Singapore before, and what are you looking forward to check out here?

Mike Perry: That is truly amazing!!! I’ve noticed that I got a lot of love from Spotify Singapore and the listeners there! No this is going to be the first time for me if you don’t count 1 hour in the airport (which is awesome btw). I’m going to check out the food of course, and then try to see as much as I possible can in my time there, I’m so exited to finally visit Singapore!

POPSPOKEN: Some artists have a love-hate relationship with their breakthrough song. Is this the case for you and “The Ocean”?

Mike Perry: Not yet actually. I have the greatest respect for that track since it has taken me around the world and seems to bring so much joy for people. Couldn’t wish for more!

Instagram Photo

POPSPOKEN: Any plans for a full-length album?

Mike Perry: No plans at the moment for an album, but who knows what happens in the future!

POPSPOKEN: If you could choose one problem to solve in the music industry, what would it be? How would you go about solving it?

Mike Perry: Tough question. A big problem for artists today, especially new artists is to ”get through the noise” and be heard. There’s so much talent out there! I know Spotify has some playlists like ”future artist” etc. which is good for the newcomers. (You should check these playlists out, you can find amazing music there!)

Another tip or ”solution”, call it what you want, is that new artists need to figure out what’s unique with them and push it as far as they can. I think Identity either in sound or style, preferably both, is the key in today’s music industry. Although I really want to believe that a good track is enough and always win in the end.

POPSPOKEN: How would you want “Mike Perry” to be remembered?

Mike Perry: Wow, never really thought about that, to busy with the present time haha. But let’s give it a shot. I hope people remember me as a hard working producer and a guy that spread a lot of happiness and love to everyone who came to see me perform! Also, it would be cool to be remembered as a nice guy and not a douchebag haha!

Mike Perry Zouk Singapore


Mike Perry is performing at Zouk Singapore on Friday, 9 February 2018.

Cover Photo: Mike Perry by Astor Svensson

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Bite Sized Beef: Conquer Chinese New Year Dining With Golden Deals http://popspoken.com/wine-dine/2018/02/cny-dining-2018 Fri, 02 Feb 2018 00:30:47 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=59084
From traditional pen cai to experimental lo hei, this month’s selection is here to spice up CNY dining and usher in 2018 with flair.

This article Bite Sized Beef: Conquer Chinese New Year Dining With Golden Deals appeared first on Popspoken.


The festive celebrations of Chinese New Year are nearly on us, so it is no surprise that Chinese cuisine takes the spotlight this month.

For Chinese families, the approaching weeks will be packed with grand reunion dinners, guilty snacking, in addition to delectable treats following house visits, and perhaps leftover chocolates from Valentine’s Day. From traditional pen cai to experimental lo hei, this month’s selection is here to spice up CNY dining and usher in 2018 with flair.

Din Tai Fung Tosses to Prosperity

Steamed Custard Buns

Din Tai Fung’s renowned xiao long baos and egg fried rice hold a special place in our hearts. In conjunction with their newest outlet at Northpoint City, the Taiwanese restaurant chain will be ushering in the new year with two special dishes: Prosperity Smoked Salmon Yu Sheng, as well as the Steamed Layered Red Date Cake. Fried salmon skin and smoked unagi slices will also be available for those who are looking to accentuate the yu (fish) component of their lo hei.

Their Steamed Custard Buns also make the perfect door gift for families who are entertaining. Available only at Paragon and Northpoint city, each pillow bun is generously filled with steaming golden lava custard and finished with a gleaming 福 (prosperity) stamp. Best eaten while piping hot, so perhaps it can be the Chinese substitute for breaking bread?

When? Now till 4 Mar for Chinese New Year dishes
Prosperity Smoked Salmon Yu Sheng from $32.80 onwards
Available at Din Tai Fung restaurants islandwide

An Abundance of Innovation at Mitzo

Kanpachi Kingfish Yu Sheng

When deciding on a location to dine out during CNY, it can be tough when deciding on a restaurant to satisfy the palates of all three or four generations — until now. At Mitzo Restaurant and Bar, familiar Cantonese dishes get a modern makeover with something extra. Their Lunar New Year menu features a marriage between incredible food and innovative artisanal cocktails specially designed to complement the dishes.

Look out for their Kanpachi Kingfish Yu Sheng, a fresh take on the standard fish slices by upgrading it to the luxurious Kanpachi sashimi, paired with lychee caviar, crispy salmon skin, and Chef Nicky Ng’s Chu Hou sauce, prepared and served in a shiny cocktail shaker. We recommend sipping on Twist of Tradition as you enjoy the food, and not just because the clay pot and foamy presentation is especially Instagrammable. The tropical, citrus combination cuts through the chrysanthemum-infused gin to whet your appetite, saving you more stomach space for the rest of the meal.

When? Now till 28 Feb
Mitzo Restaurant & Bar, Grand Park Orchard, 270 Orchard Road, Singapore 238857

Kanpachi Kingfish Yu Sheng from $78 onwards
Chinese New Set A from $108 onwards per person (for 2 persons or more)
Chinese New Year 8-Course Yu Sheng Set from $498 for table of 4
Chinese New Year 6-Course Peng Cai Set from $698 for table of 4

Dragon Bowl Serves Up Good Value

A post shared by Popspoken (@popspoken_sg) on

It is no easy task trying to prepare enough food for house gatherings. Fortunately, Dragon Bowl’s Fortune Package offers one of the most value for money sets with four premium dishes already cooked and available for takeaway. Available in servings for five pax onwards, the package features the Prosperity Abalone Yu Sheng with Fish Roe, Herbal Kampong Chicken with Cordyceps, Yuan Yang Rice Wrapped in Lotus Leaf with Waxed Meat and Sakura Shrimp, and the Dragon Bowl Prosperity Fortune Treasure Pot. Customers will also get a $30 or $50 cash voucher that can be used in their restaurants island wide.

Instead of using raw fish slices, their yu sheng features mini abalones instead, along with fish roe and the usual medley of vegetables, crackers and condiments. It transforms the lo hei experience into something like a folk tale of discovering gold taels as the abalones will eventually be hidden after all the vigorous tossing.

When? Now till 2 Mar
Available at Marina Square, Greenwich V, and Aperia Mall

Yu Sheng from $38.80 onwards
Dragon Bowl Prosperity Fortune Treasure Pot from $238 onwards 

Eat Like Royalty with Imperial Feast

imperial feast guo yan popspoken

Those who are looking for something beyond pen cai, how about an option fit for an emperor? Imperial Feast’s Guo Yan (国宴) offers an exquisite banquet option once only enjoyed by esteemed members of Imperial China, politicians, foreign ambassadors, and even Bill Clinton himself. A six-course meal helmed by award-winning Chef Wu Hai Feng, his distinctive knife skills are recognised to be delicate, refined, and precise. With two Chinese World Chef Championships under his belt, his preparation of the Chrysanthemum Tofu Soup shows just how finely honed his technique is: silky tofu finely sliced into 3,600 strands to form the shape of a chrysanthemum floating on clear chicken broth.

The standout dish for us is the Fried Cod Fish with Green Puree. The fish is pan-fried until the outer layer achieves a light caramelisation, yet the inner flesh still retains its natural, melty sweetness. Paired with a puree blend of soy sauce, spring onions, and ginger, the overall result is reminiscent of French techniques, but with strong Cantonese flavours. For CNY, the restaurant also offers a pen cai option with their Golden Abalone Treasure Pot.

When? Now till 9 Feb for 1-for-1 Guo Yan promotion
Imperial Feast Restaurant, The Chevrons, 48 Boon Lay Way #03-06, Jurong East, Singapore 609961

Guo Yan from $88 onwards per person for a six-course menu
Chinese New Year menu from $228 onwards for table of 6

Give the Golden Gifts of OLLELLA

OLLELLA salted egg yolk popspoken

The salted egg yolk trend has followed us into the new year as OLLELLA introduces the first Salted Egg Yolk Kue Lapis. Just in time for CNY, it signifies as a pretty auspicious gift as it is layered with chunks of salted egg yolk bits between buttery layers of kue. The rest of OLLELLA’s pastries, such as almond cookies and pineapple pillows, will also be an instant hit among younger fans with their alluring minimalistic take on traditional packaging. The snacks can be purchased at their physical stores, including the newest outlet at Ngee Ann City, or online through their website.

When? Now till otherwise specified
Ngee Ann City, Takashimaya Basement 2 Food Hall, #B208-4


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This article Bite Sized Beef: Conquer Chinese New Year Dining With Golden Deals appeared first on Popspoken.

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State of Motion 2018: Cinta Tuah Jebat – A Photo Journal http://popspoken.com/arts/2018/02/state-motion-2018-sejarah-ku Thu, 01 Feb 2018 10:15:10 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=59062
Walk through State of Motion 2018's off shore tour through our photo journal.

This article State of Motion 2018: Cinta Tuah Jebat – A Photo Journal appeared first on Popspoken.


Written and photography by Darren ‘Merovign’ Tan

The journey to the eastern edges of Singapore gives you the time to prepare for the installation. What will it be? Will we have to trek through the jungle for it? What makes Pulau Ubin a special place to hold this installation?

State of Motion 2018, organised by Asian Film Archive, explores a selection of seminal Malay-language films mostly produced by Shaw Malay Film productions Ltd back in the golden days. Aptly named Serajah Ku (Malay for My History), the tours bring us back to film locations and give us the privilege to revisit those moments through art work as well as performance. This year, an offshore tour is organised and I am about to embark on the experience.

What better way to reconnect with the history of Singapore than to go back to art and nature?


Serenity and quiet abandonment fills the air under the sweltering midday sun, punctuated by boats parked on makeshift jetties.

Choppy waters start to form as soon as we leave the bay and the bumboat deftly crests the waves with skill and hardened experience from the captain. Sounds of road vehicles are taken over by endless waves.


It is hard to imagine a place so close to home yet so idyllic, untainted by high rise buildings and heavy traffic. I am entertained with fantasies of dropping all modern (in)conveniences to set up camp right here, surrounded by an air of rustic nostalgia and wild nature. To go back to what could have been every day life.

And by the beach, I witness akulah BIMBO SAKTI‘s site-specific performance of Cinta Tuah Jebat (The Love of Tuah and Jebat). The performance takes place on Pulau Ubin, with its original film location Pulau Sekudu in full view.


Cinta Tuah Jebat – A performance art and movement piece so subtle in its choreography, yet holds true the meaning of the fabled stories of Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat. Set in the backdrop of an off-the-beaten-track beach riddled with rock outcrops and moss, the atmosphere dripped with anticipation.


“How could you do this, Jebat?”

Heartstrings tear at the betrayal of brotherhood and loyalty. For a cause that one so strongly believes in, and to have it completely torn apart by the forces that be.


“How could you betray me like this?”

Handicapped by rage, there is no turning back for these two sworn brothers. Nary a tear was shed but the weight of the anger and emotion permeated the mossy beach.


The anger of a brother becoming beholden to the other. To carry the anger and burdens of your sworn brother is never easy, but to do it anyway out of love and brotherhood brings a new meaning to “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother”.


To die at the hands of an enemy is honourable, to die at the hands of your brother is heartbreak. This indescribable emotion fills the latter-half of the 20-minute piece, every gesture, every step,  every word spoken on the tiny MP3 provided, lends itself to the atmosphere. The audio playback encourages the audience to be a part of this intimate moment of the two warriors.


 As a site-specific work, it is very reliant on the site itself to carry the atmosphere and I believe that both the performers and the venue helped propel the strong narrative.

An examination of the final fight between Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat from Phani Majumdar’s 1956 film Hang Tuah and Hussain Haniff’s 1961 film Hang Jebat, this work brings to live its tension and lives up to anticipation.


Pulau Seduku – the site of where the fight actually took place. Besides memory of the films, legend has it that a pig, an elephant, and a frog had a race to Johor, and whoever failed to reach ashore would be turned into stone. Isn’t it curious?


A frog-shaped rock or a rock-shaped frog? Pareidolia is a very strange thing indeed, and an insight into how people viewed and thought of certain objects and landmasses back in the day.


There is this certain mystery and tranquil that I associate with Pulau Ubin. A place so close to home and nature at the same time. One must wonder what other hidden gems does Singapore have, and the history behind them. Serajah Ku is only a drop in the ocean, and a start, for us as a nation to explore our roots to find out where we truly come from. Perhaps that may lead to us being able to hold this home even closer to our hearts.

Popspoken attended the 1.30pm slot of State of Motion 2018’s offshore tour, 28th January 2018.

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This article State of Motion 2018: Cinta Tuah Jebat – A Photo Journal appeared first on Popspoken.

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Confronting The Big Smoke In A Small Nation http://popspoken.com/opinion/2018/01/singapore-smoking-ban Wed, 24 Jan 2018 00:00:01 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=58905
Since there are no alternatives to consume nicotine, why are smokers villainised when they turn to their cigarettes?

This article Confronting The Big Smoke In A Small Nation appeared first on Popspoken.


It is hard to imagine that smokers have it easy in Singapore.

Even before the newest extension to the Smoking (Prohibition in Certain Places) Act in October 2017, the country’s fame in procuring fines was like a warning beacon to locals and foreigners. Smoking, like any other vice activity, leaves a trail of nuisance: thin grey rows of ashes, flatten wet butts, broken plastic lighters, and the occasional makeshift container filled with yellow water — almost all the components that make up a cigarette bodes ill with the nation’s lush sterility.

There are strong, often negative, opinions of smoking and smokers from non-smokers. Mothers worry that smoking acts as a gateway to other illicit pastimes. Health advocacy groups caution the impending threat of second-hand smoke. On social media, we watch viral videos of balloons darkening within minutes, cancer-stricken patients crying with loved ones, and graphic autopsies of ex-smokers. We leave our screens with the certainty that smoking is bad, smokers are bad, and the modern way to combat the bad is to be smoke-free.

Who are we leaving behind?

But even as we progress into a smoke-free vision for the nation, perhaps we should take a step back and consider the group that we are not only leaving behind but forcing apart: smokers. More importantly, we should consider if we have information that communicates to and for both sides. Biased connotations (“smoking is bad”) impress upon us facts as prescribed by some socio-cultural intuition when we should acknowledge them as merely descriptive. “Smoking is an addiction”, “cigarettes are poison”, “smoking is very injurious to life” — these are descriptions fortified over the last few decades in history, sayings that have been debunked by reputable science all around the world, but strangely trivialised here.


The smoke that unfortunately engulfs the nation today is smoke that smokers are forced to produce as a result of this anti-smoke advocacy oversight. Since there are no alternatives to consume nicotine, why are smokers villainised when they turn to their cigarettes? Speaking at the fifth annual E-Cigarette Summit 2017 held in London, Sarah Jakes, representing the New Nicotine Alliance, shares how ordinary people are often caught in a war of science and words when attempting to make these types of informed decisions about their lives: “Fighting lies with lies will leave consumers as collateral damage.” 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.

Smoke-free should not be nicotine free

For us to embrace the next step, we have to confront the big smoke in our small nation. Specifically, consequential smoke from the government’s prohibition of all alternative nicotine delivery systems, such as e-cigarettes, heated tobacco products (HTP), and vaporizers in Singapore. Being smoke-free should not be equivalent to being nicotine free. Research shows that while cancer develops from direct exposure to tobacco smoke carcinogens and toxins, there is no substantial data that indicates whether nicotine by itself can be considered a carcinogen. In fact, one is more susceptible to the pathobiological effects when consuming nicotine as compared to treating it as a harmful, albeit addictive, chemical.

The big smoke in our country concerns more than smokers as the surrounding population becomes naturally implicated. Harm reduction minimises their risk as well.

Recent statements from the Committee of Toxicity (CoT), an independent advisory committee commissioned by the UK Department of Health and Public Health England, show that the novel HTB products demonstrate “a likely reduction in risk for smokers deciding to use heat-not-burn tobacco products compared with continuing to smoke cigarettes as the exposure to HPHCs is reduced”. The same reduction in risk is also found for bystanders, especially since HTB products, such as IQOS, produce aerosol instead of smoke. When discussing the release of carbon monoxide as compared to normal cigarettes, Dr Ed Stephens from the University of St. Andrew termed it insignificant for IQOS users and proposed that users of HTP can be regarded as non-smokers according to this definition.

“It is not for organisations to decide what is safe, but to help people be as safe as they want to be,” shared Martin Dockrell, Tobacco Control Programme Lead from Public Health England. In the UK, harm reduction is their move forward, with the government committed to implementing “evidence based innovation that minimise the risk of harm”, reducing the risk of deaths directly caused by smoking traditional cigarettes.

As of 2017, there are a staggering one billion smokers around the world, and smoking is recognised as the largest cause of death. The World Health Organization (WHO) posits that the tobacco epidemic claims more than 7 million people a year worldwide, 1 million of which are deaths caused by second-hand smoke. Giving one billion people the option of life or death is a dictator’s dream. Giving one billion people the choice to choose is a principle of harm reduction.


Keep culture journalism alive, at just the price of a kopi. For a little bit more, get access to exclusives and a monthly gift box. Donate at patreon.com/popspoken

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This article Confronting The Big Smoke In A Small Nation appeared first on Popspoken.

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Why Is Taiwan Stalling On Same-Sex Marriage? Movie “Queer Taiwan” Explains http://popspoken.com/lgbtq/2018/01/queer-taiwan Wed, 17 Jan 2018 07:04:21 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?guid=327e1929b87801c05730f08b44dceac9
Same-sex marriage laws have yet to be ironed out by Taiwan legislature as the government cites a need for social “consensus” to explain a lack of progress.

This article Why Is Taiwan Stalling On Same-Sex Marriage? Movie “Queer Taiwan” Explains appeared first on Popspoken.


Watch Queer Taiwan on GagaOOLala.

We hope we can keep pushing for more unique stories like the ones in Queer Taiwan. GagaOOlala currently producing our second series, Queer Asia, to give visibility to LGBT issues in the region. If you want to be a part of it, please, check and share the crowdfunding page

While it is tempting to tackle the topic of marriage equality through the lens of polarized opinions, online series “Queer Taiwan” seeks to do just the opposite.

Its first episode delves into the struggle for marriage equality on the island; directed by Liling Gan and produced by Jay Lin and Tiffany Tsai, it provides not so much a celebration of unity in the face of opposition, more a heartfelt attempt to find common ground.

The story is framed by the narratives of two prominent members of the LGBT community: Leo from the online platform FufuKnows and Jin Tai, the first openly gay Taiwanese singer.

Through them, we hear moving stories from local LGBT voices as they interact with opposition leaders, but what is most striking about the 30-minute episode is that it portrays activists from both sides – providing a vital platform for voices that have hitherto been ignored.

“Oppose backdoor deals. Protect the disadvantaged,” blares a sea of protest signs one minute. Next, we hear Christian activist, Chao Pei-fen, declare that her protests are born out of “love” – opening a conversation that is more necessary and relevant than ever.


Director Liling Gan, and producers Jay Lin and Tiffany Tsai.


Despite a ruling in favor of marriage equality by Taiwan’s Constitutional Court last May, same-sex marriage laws have yet to be ironed out by legislature. Moreover, the government frequently cites a need for social “consensus” to explain a lack of progress on the issue.

Queer Taiwan attempts to break away from such divisive narratives. Instead, it tackles what it calls a “misunderstanding on both sides” of the debate. In one powerful scene, the protagonists meet with pro-marriage equality Pastor Chen Si-Hao, leading Leo to remark, that “Christians and gays are not opposing each other”.

The film’s message is that such solidarity is vital for progress.

Nor does the treatment attempt to neatly tie what is an unfinished debate. Queer Taiwan at times leaves discussions unresolved in favor of preserving the integrity of its voices, and for this the production should be applauded.

The second episode delves into the motivations behind Taiwan’s drag queens.

The second episode delves into the motivations behind Taiwan’s drag queens.

Queer Taiwan is the creation of GagaOOLala, an LGBT content streaming platform aimed at Southeast Asia that was responsible for the Taiwanese-Filipino co-produced film Tale of the Lost Boys (Joselito Altarejos, 2016).

GagaOOLala Founder (and occasional News Lens contributor) Jay Lin said in a press release that Southeast Asia is “arguably one of the most complicated [regions] in the world, but [its] diversity is ripe with hidden characters and stories that excite us.”

It is clear the that team want the film to resonate through the region, and perhaps inform ongoing struggles in less tolerant geographies and cultures. Perhaps for this reason, the complete season is available for free in many Southeast Asian countries, including Taiwan.

The film certainly champions this spirit. In a closing scene, Chien Meng-xuan, from the Youth Delegate of Next Generation Happiness Union, declares that “we shouldn’t focus on the system right now, we should focus on the listening.”

Queer Taiwan presents an uplifting albeit challenging vision of the future – direct in address and poignant in delivery, the film reminds us that even in the most intense debate, one must always listen.

You can catch the second episode on Jan. 19 on the website www.gagaoolala.com, with new episodes in the four-part series set to air every Friday.

Future episodes will address the motivations behind one of the most popular queer movements in Taiwan and in the world, drag queens, before moving on to the controversial organization “Hand Angels,” which provides sexual services for people with disabilities. Finally, the series will ponder queer families and explore surrogacy and the laws regarding this issue in different countries.

Queer Taiwan 4

Watch Queer Taiwan on GagaOOLala.

We hope we can keep pushing for more unique stories like the ones in Queer Taiwan. That is why we are currently producing our second series, Queer Asia, to give visibility to LGBT issues in the region. If you want to be a part of it, please, check and share our crowdfunding page

Author: Jennifer Creery.

This article originally appeared on The News Lens International Edition.

This article Why Is Taiwan Stalling On Same-Sex Marriage? Movie “Queer Taiwan” Explains appeared first on Popspoken.

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Laneway Festival 2018: Indonesian Shoegaze Band “Heals” Takes Digital Popularity Lead http://popspoken.com/music/2018/01/laneway-festival-2018-indonesian-shoegaze-band-heals-takes-digital-popularity-lead Wed, 10 Jan 2018 07:37:07 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=58646
Heals has the most social media buzz and online search than any other acts - including international artists!

This article Laneway Festival 2018: Indonesian Shoegaze Band “Heals” Takes Digital Popularity Lead appeared first on Popspoken.


As one of the focal points in Southeast Asia for the best global indie acts, the annual St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival Singapore continues to impress with an epic lineup which includes a better blend of performers.

Since its inauguration in 2011, Laneway has continued to increase the number of local and regional performances in their lineup.

On the subject of regional acts, Popspoken’s guest writer Atiqah Khamurudin decided to conduct a study to find out where do our regional music talents stand in terms of popularity when pitted against other international acts in this lineup.

Believe it or not, our regional acts fared impressively in this digital battle – especially Bandung-based shoegaze band, Heals.

Just like a song, Cuponation split the battle in halves – but instead of verses and chorus, we compared Laneway’s anticipated lineup from a couple of digital perspectives.

Heals leads the popularity game

Screen Shot 2018-01-10 at 3.38.50 PM

If you were pleasantly surprised to see more regional bands this year (to be exact, 8 out of 23 acts will include homegrown Singapore talents and neighbouring countries like Indonesia, Philippines and Malaysia), then be prepared to be surprised even more.

Our study shows that Indonesian band, Heals, trumps over international indie musicians by securing the the lead in the top 5 most searched Laneway 2018 acts.

Heals was followed closely by bands like Bonobo, Billie Eilish, Mac Demarco and The War on Drugs.

The Indonesian based alternative rock band didn’t concur their popularity win just yet as they continued to emerge victorious once again in a feat of most related social media conversations.

Screen Shot 2018-01-10 at 3.39.40 PM

Heals leads by far the most Tweets and Facebook mentions ahead of international bigwigs like Billie Eilish, Mac Demarco, The War on Drugs and Bonobo.


Digital Popularity = Regional Band Support

With all fun and games in mind, what if a band’s popularity online reflected the support of music lovers in general?

If such was the case, Singaporeans are very supportive of our regional talents compared to international acts for this upcoming Laneway, as seen by the impressive amount of online searches and social media buzz generated around Heals alone.

Theoretically speaking, most of these online queries indicate a genuine interest in a regional band compared to an international one – even if not entirely to indicate local support.

Laneway Singapore 2017-23 (credit-Laneway Festival Singapore)

If you’re curious to know more about the hype surrounding Heals, make sure to start planning your Laneway schedule to catch them and more regional acts by the likes of Alextbh, Amateur Takes Control, MAS1A, Obedient Wives Club, Thelioncityboy, The Ransom Collective and Tim De Cotta this January 27th at Meadows, Gardens by the Bay.

For more information on the Laneway Festival 2018 lineup and how to get tickets, read Popspoken’s announcement article here.


This article is provided by Cuponation.

Tickets to Laneway Festival Singapore 2018 available from $145 here.

Read Popspoen’s review of Laneway Festival Singapore 2017 here.


Cover Photo: Laneway Festival Singapore

Keep culture journalism alive, at just the price of a kopi. For a little bit more, get access to exclusives and a monthly gift box. Donate at patreon.com/popspoken

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This article Laneway Festival 2018: Indonesian Shoegaze Band “Heals” Takes Digital Popularity Lead appeared first on Popspoken.

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What Important Soft Skills Do I Need For My Career? Here Are 5 http://popspoken.com/opinion/2018/01/soft-skills Tue, 09 Jan 2018 04:51:28 +0000 http://www.howtoadult.sg/?p=1478
How do you differentiate yourself from someone with the exact same GPA and credentials as you? Contrary to popular belief, real life doesn't revolve around your results in school.

This article What Important Soft Skills Do I Need For My Career? Here Are 5 appeared first on Popspoken.


Visit http://www.howtoadult.sg for tips and tricks on how to adult, because this adulting life is tough AF.

H2A square logoHow do you differentiate yourself from someone with the exact same GPA and credentials as you? Contrary to popular belief, real life doesn’t revolve around your results in school. It’s been talked about a million times, and in a million ways – and yet, soft skills are still slept on.

Here are some soft skills that you should have (and even show off) during an interview:

Soft Skill #1: Decision Making Skills

It’s more than just being able to decide what to have for lunch within a group of friends. It’s making difficult decisions that’ll ultimately affect the company and the people in it. Making good decisions are also seen as a leadership trait as you might sometimes need to step up, in the absence of a superior.

Give examples of how you’ve taken charge in times of challenges and turmoil in your group projects or even during your previous internships. You could even mention what you’ve learnt from the situation and how you’d be able to apply it to similar situations in the future.

Soft Skill #2: Creativity

The ability to think ‘outside the box’ is one that is highly looked for across all types of industries. This doesn’t mean to come up with the most impractical idea, it’s understanding the audience’s needs, barriers to obtain those needs, and understanding what’s trending in the industry. Relevancy is very important when it comes to creativity.

Share how you had creatively solved a problem through unconventional means, and the success of it based on the audience. These could be examples from school events, your part-time job, or even a family event.

Soft Skill #3: Time Management

Quite possibly one of the most important skills to have. Employers are constantly looking for someone with the ability to balance several projects (it’s time and cost efficient!) at the same time. The skill also includes the ability to prioritise, meet deadlines and multitask. This skill ensures that deliverables and projects are always completed on time.

To best demonstrate this skill, be on time! You could also be more specific when sharing a project timeline that you’ve faced in school or during your internship.

Soft Skill #4: Adaptability

As the world progresses and is constantly changing, the ability to adapt becomes highly important as well. Employers seek people who are able to learn and adapt efficiently to their new working environment.

When adaptability questions come your way, tell them about how you took on new ideas from new people in completely new environments. It could be those you encountered on a school exchange programme or during a CIP trip. You could also share what you’ve learnt from those experiences.

Soft Skill #5: Customer Care

In the age of Social Media, complaints and reviews are taken very seriously by consumers – they could even make or break a company. Employers look for people with excellent customer care skills. This means being able to handle difficult clients, have a high level of patience, and also being extra attentive and careful. This not only applies to consumer-facing jobs, it is also relevant when dealing with internal suppliers or vendors.

You may be asked about this through several scenario-based questions. Your best bet would be to mention help from colleagues and to remember that you’re not serving the consumers alone.

Source: gradsingapore

gradsingapore aims to connect students and graduates in Singapore with the right opportunities to make them more productive and successful. Through their multichannel approach, gradsingapore ensures the best candidates through the combination of employment opportunities with expert career advice and tips on how to get hired.

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Angkat: Carrying the Nuances of Life onto Stage http://popspoken.com/arts/2018/01/angkat-carrying Wed, 03 Jan 2018 08:41:07 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=58636
Angkat is a performance that takes into account the nuances of real life, and amplifies them onto the stage.

This article Angkat: Carrying the Nuances of Life onto Stage appeared first on Popspoken.


(In Malay) Angkat: To lift up, to raise, to bring to or towards a higher position or an upright position.

Salmah (by Sahirrah Safit) is a National Idol hopeful and in an attempt to win, has been convinced by the advisory panel to alter her image to appeal to the masses. This surfaces the prying of old wounds and questions about her identity as an adopted child. Bringing new tensions between her adoptive mother Khadijah (by Norsiah Ramly) and her, this is a transitional period for the pair’s future – for better or for worse.

Conceptualised by Nabilah Said and directed by Irfan Kasban with Angkat being a devised effort between Kasban and the actors, the hour long show brings a lot of textures to the theatre space. With layered interpretations from their use, the simple approach goes beyond artistic and seeks to show more than speak.


1. Cardboard

Flimsy, plain and constantly overlooked. It is a material commonly found hidden in dusty storerooms or muddied on roadsides. We associate it with old folks collecting it on the streets for an allowance (yes, for a living and not ‘exercise’) or memories long packed away or moving away from home.

Teater Ekamatra filled the Malay Heritage Centre Auditorium with stacked cardboard boxes. One after another – a wall of piled up memories in dust waiting to be dug up again. There are so many of them that together, the cardboard boxes formed the home, the orphanage and the National Idol advisory room.

The ambiguity of the light brown and the ordinary nature of these boxes make the imagination come alive.

Piles and piles of collected cardboard to support a family, as Khadijah cries out to her daughter during an argument, of a forgotten childhood. Some boxes for sale to the karang guni man and some, to hide away the memories that she hopes to deny and forget.


Then they become donations to the orphanage, and making do with cardboard boxes as furniture, as toys and as hiding spaces for the little privacy available. The boys, by ensemble Erwin Shah Ismail, Faizal Abdullah and Farez Najid, shift them around to form new walls as they navigate the space and eventually knocking them all down as the barriers tear down.

And how alien the cardboard walls become when the National Idol advisory room is in play. Suffocating and cheapening the entire process, it makes Sahirrah’s headstrong yet naïve Salmah become as plain as they are – echoing the plight of her manipulated and moldable identity. A play thing for the advisory panel, and a play thing for the masses to do as they wish in the harsh environment of a singing competition.


2. White cloths

With part of the stage in white as well, forming the concrete structure of stage, stairs and the backbone of levels in the space, what calls out to me are the white cloths. Costumes, regardless of style or scenario, are all white with minimal finishings of a different hue.

Starting the show with Khadijah putting on her prayer garments, in white, the colour emphasises a sense of purity and innocence. Opening her heart to Allah, with no holds barred and arms wide open, for the cleansing of a burdened heart.

As beautiful as white can be with Salmah donning a white baju kurung and a white kebaya for the competition, it slowly becomes a sense of sterility and the unforgiving nature of history. Or even a hint at death of an identity, for white is the true colour of death while black is the mere reflection of night.

But, white can also be seen as a rebirth, a blank canvas, for a new beginning. Perhaps this is where Angkat echoes its meaning – to uplift, and not succumb to surrender.


3. Coloured skin

The text itself, in terms of dialogue, raises a couple of recurring themes. Not flinching away from race, Angkat even starts with joking about typical racial stereotypes one might have encountered in Singapore as a Malay. Then skin colour becomes even more prominent when a possibility of third culture children is being involved.

It is a back and forth of questioning how a Malay looks like, or a Singaporean, or if your skin colour should really mean anything. What does it really mean to still be divided by race when we all are born and bred here in the same land?

“I did not choose to be born with discrimination,” as one of Erwin’s character said to Salmah.


Bringing the colour of skin to the forefront of open discussion does stir up discomfort, as many would love to leave it within stored away cardboard boxes under white cloths like discarded furniture. However, it is a necessity now to play it out and having a theatre show do that is almost essential at this point in our societal dynamics today in Singapore.

With this, Angkat nudges awake our different senses with so much space for imagination and personal interpretation. Perhaps, even provides the audience a way to navigate various perspectives in the real world through theatre.

Images courtesy of Teater Ekamatra


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Laneway Festival Singapore 2018 Focuses On An Eclectic Mix Of Asian Artistes http://popspoken.com/events/2017/12/laneway-singapore-2018-focuses-on-an-eclectic-mix-of-asian-artistes Tue, 26 Dec 2017 10:32:52 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=58601
This increased inclusivity of local and regional acts at Laneway Festival Singapore 2018 is significant, especially for a music festival based in Australia.

This article Laneway Festival Singapore 2018 Focuses On An Eclectic Mix Of Asian Artistes appeared first on Popspoken.


Probably the most notable #supportlocal effort since The Sam Willows selling out their first-ever full concert, St Jerome’s Laneway Festival Singapore is returning in January 2018 with a lineup including a significant number of Asian artists.

This varied line-up of Asian artistes features eight groups from four countries – Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore.

This increased inclusivity of local and regional acts at Laneway Festival Singapore 2018 is significant, especially for a music festival based in Australia.

Though these selected local acts will not be performing in the other six venues in Australia, we applaud the fact that local artists are gradually getting the (more) balanced amount of attention at international events in Singapore.

Check out the Asian artists performing at Laneway Festival Singapore 2018:


Producing music from his early teens, 21-year-old ALEXTBH has since made his mark in Malaysia’s electronic music scene with his brand of atmospheric music that merges dance electronic and R&B.


AMATEUR TAKES CONTROL wears its heart on its sleeve. Its affirmation of independent DIY ethics, calling for the everyman to steer his own life, shouts out from its powerful, emotional music.

The five-piece instrumental rock outfit launched its debut album, You, Me and the Things Unsaid, in 2008.


HEALS is a Bandung-based alternative rock / shoegaze / nu gaze band known for textured layers of distorted guitar riffs, unique sounds, effects and streams of soft yet melodious vocal.


MAS1A of complex hip-hop flows switches effortlessly to dancehall chanting, as showcased in her international underground hit, “Warriors Tongue”.

She unabashedly celebrates her cultural mashup, and derives joy through expression in all forms, be it music, visual art or fashion design.


Capturing the quintessential spectorgaze-esque sounds of classic girl-group pop highlighting bittersweet tales of love and loss is Singapore’s OBEDIENT WIVES CLUB.


THELIONCITYBOY is a son of Singapore.

The rapper, producer and songwriter is most famous locally for radio favourite “YAYA ft. Benjamin Kheng”, receiving over a million online streams to date.


Life has not been the same for THE RANSOM COLLECTIVE since it emerged the winner in Wanderband, a competition in the Philippines among up-and-coming acts three years ago.

The six-piece indie folk band soon found itself playing throughout Manila, introducing its distinctive sound that merges unique percussive patterns, acoustic guitar-driven leads, melodic violin phases and full vocal.


Singaporean TIM DE COTTA makes no bones about being a purist. The R&B and hip-hop vocalist, bassist, songwriter and producer is reputed to push the boundaries, in both writing and production.

Check out the announcement event of the entirely-Asian second phase lineup of Laneway Festival Singapore 2018 here:

St Jerome’s Laneway Festival 2018 is at Meadows, Gardens By The Bay on 27 January 2018.

Tickets available from $145 here.


Read Popspoen’s review of Laneway Festival Singapore 2017 here.

Cover Photo: Laneway Festival Singapore

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Five Minutes With Flume: ZoukOut 2017 Backstage http://popspoken.com/music/2017/12/zoukout-backstage-five-minutes-with-flume Mon, 25 Dec 2017 09:14:12 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=58612
Flume told Popspoken that if he had to choose another stage name, he would've called himself "Maximum Rad".

This article Five Minutes With Flume: ZoukOut 2017 Backstage appeared first on Popspoken.


Australia’s electronica wunderkind, Flume (Harley Edward Streten), needs little introduction.

Just before Flume hits the stage at ZoukOut 2017, his second time performing in Singapore after also headlining St Jerome’s Laneway Festival 2016, Popspoken sits down with the Grammy-award winning DJ to chat about his creative process, his new vlogging series while on tour and how he wants to be remembered.

Instagram Photo


Cover Photo: Instagram (@flumemusic)

Keep culture journalism alive, at just the price of a kopi. For a little bit more, get access to exclusives and a monthly gift box. Donate at patreon.com/popspoken

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This article Five Minutes With Flume: ZoukOut 2017 Backstage appeared first on Popspoken.

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Speaking Arts: Charlotte Koh on Fund Raising and Growth for The Arts http://popspoken.com/arts/2017/12/charlotte-koh Sat, 23 Dec 2017 11:00:12 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=58594
To end of Speaking Arts 2017, Popspoken speaks to Ms Charlotte Koh of the National Arts Council to shed light from their perspective.

This article Speaking Arts: Charlotte Koh on Fund Raising and Growth for The Arts appeared first on Popspoken.


The National Arts Council is one of the biggest organisations that local companies turn to for grants and funding for their artistic endeavours. With a mission to inspire and spread the appreciation of the arts here, the governmental organisation has been expanding its reach to communities and having a hand in funding more arts festivals to promote accessibility.

But beyond knowing about the types of funding they provide, and the activities they do, how much do we really know about the people within the office and what they believe in for The Arts?

Popspoken speaks to Ms Charlotte Koh, deputy director of Communications and Marketing under Arts and Culture development office.

Popspoken: What’s your ambition as a child?

Charlotte: As a child, I always knew I had a penchant for storytelling. I’m known not to shy away from the spotlight, and wanted to pursue either a career in journalism or acting. Turns out that storytelling is a great asset to a good fundraiser. I see myself as an advocate for the causes I’ve fund raised for through the years and you cannot have one without the other, as fundraising and advocacy goes hand-in-hand. You are entrusted with personal stories of people who may not necessarily have a voice, and it is up to you to ensure their stories are heard and needs met.

PS: Have you ever wanted to enter the Arts industry yourself as a performer or artist?

C: I have been fortunate to grow up with the arts in my life. From the age of 4, my mother had the foresight of giving me piano lessons as a potential source of alternative income “in case you don’t do well in your studies”. My love for the arts continued in my pursuit of doing arts and humanities in university, and now, I enjoy working on my pottery over weekends at a ceramic studio at the office.


PS: How did you find yourself as the Deputy Director of Arts & Culture with NAC?

C: Both giving and asking people to give are deeply personal choices. I do not believe that you can be successful in a developmental role for something you care little for. Arts philanthropy is still nascent in Singapore, with majority of donors (80.9% ) giving to social and welfare, health and education causes. However, I believe that if more people can see the passion, talent, resilience and rigour displayed by our artists, as well as witness first hand, how people respond to the arts and how the arts have that power to change mind-sets, perspectives and bond communities, we would be able to encourage more people to support and nurture local talents.

PS: How vital are art administrators to the eco-system of the arts industry here?

C: As with any professional industry, arts administrators are integral to the arts ecosystem. Sometimes, professional artists may lack the expertise and capabilities when it comes to operations, business development or fundraising, and arts administrators can help bridge this gap with their complementary skill sets. On a deeper level, arts administrators may also advise senior management and the board on strategic planning and management decisions. For this, arts administrators can steer the direction of arts organisations in their art making, to best work with the constantly changing external environments.

Arts administrators also act as a champion of the arts scene in Singapore. For the National Arts Council, we shape and grow the scene through our policies and support schemes. To nurture creative excellence and support broad audience engagement, we contribute to the eco-system through our comprehensive support of grants, partnerships, industry facilitation and arts housing.

Everyone has a part to play in helping to grow the local arts scene – artists, arts groups, intermediaries and arts administrators alike.

PS: What is the most misunderstood aspect about your career?

C: Sometimes arts groups misunderstand the work that we do in the Arts and Culture Development Office. They either see us as a competitor for funds or see our office as a fundraising arm of the Council to fundraise collectively for the arts charities.

My role in the NAC is to ensure that artists get the resources that they need to seek private investment for their work. Not only do we help to advocate for arts philanthropy, we also provide funding through the Cultural Matching Fund, which is a dollar-for-dollar matching grant from the government for every dollar raised by eligible arts and heritage charities. Being the custodian of the CMF is a heavy responsibility that I do not take lightly. The CMF is a $350 million fund, and by the end of 2016, we have already given out more than $150 million to over 80 arts and heritage groups. The impact of the CMF can be felt across the arts sector and beneficiaries, and has certainly catalysed arts philanthropy in Singapore.

To complement that funding, we also focus on building fundraising capability for artists and arts organisations by providing workshops to share tips on building their case for support, online giving, donor stewardship and other best practices. My office also aims to forge corporate partnerships in the arts, and welcome both corporates and individuals to come speak to us and would link them up with the arts groups directly for partnership opportunities.

charlotte koh a list

PS: What is one hope you have for the local scene in Singapore?

C: For every Singaporean to see arts as an integral part of their lives, and be proud of our local culture and artistic talents.

I was speaking to someone from Italy who was sharing her experience when she first re-located to Singapore some 10 years back, and she immediately felt the lack of arts in Singapore. Having grown up in Italy with a vibrant arts scene, it was apparent to her then that Singapore had a long way to go in building our culture scene. She noticed a big difference in Singapore today, with a crowded arts calendar of events, talented young local artists and new cultural institutions bringing in world-class exhibitions and performances.

I wish for all generations of Singaporeans going forward to always be surrounded by the beauty of arts and culture, and to incorporate the rich tapestry of arts experiences in their daily as the arts are meant to be shared with everyone.

PS: Share with us any tips or insights you may have of looking for funding to facilitate art creation.

C: If you are not already on NAC’s Art of Giving network, which is a network set up by my office to bring arts fundraisers and development officers together, that would be a good first step in accessing resources on best practices in fundraising. We will be rolling out a comprehensive Art of Giving philanthropy track consisting of training and mentorship, in partnership with LaSalle, which will start in 2018. The course will cover the full end-to-end cycle of arts philanthropy with topics such as corporate sponsorship, foundation/ legacy giving, capital campaigns, crowdfunding and more.

On the note of resources, you may also like to refer to the arts philanthropy research findings available on NAC’s website, to better understand the motivations behind corporate and individual donors. For example, from our research on corporate giving in Singapore, we realised that MNCs in Singapore give for the preservation of culture for future generations, while SMEs give to promote creative expression and a more vibrant community . We also found out that for individual donors, some of the key barriers to donors not donating to the arts are low awareness and low interest in the arts.

PS: In your opinion, what do think is the way to go to let the Arts flourish in Singapore?

C: All of us can play our part, whether it is watching a local arts performance, buying a local authored book, or collecting artworks by Singaporean artists. Arts patronage is important to ensure the sustainability of the arts sector in Singapore. In addition to cash, individuals and corporates can also contribute by volunteering their time and/or skill sets. With increased private giving to the arts, Singaporeans will have more ownership of an arts scene that we can all be proud of, and artists will also have more resources to create bigger and more ambitious works that push the boundaries of artistic excellence.

In addition to public support for the arts through cash and in-kind contributions, and participation and attendance at arts event, it is also important to bring Singapore arts beyond our shores, and we have been supporting our artists in their efforts to deepen their skills, connect to fellow practitioners and to share what they do with a wider audience by going abroad. Participation at internationally acclaimed festivals and exhibitions can help our artists connect with global audiences and critics; network with their international counterparts and forge new partnerships for training and development; elevate their art practices and even potentially gain from economic opportunities.

We all can play a part in supporting the growth and sustainability of our arts scene to ensure that it continues to flourish in Singapore.

PS: In what ways can we further support artists looking to push their works overseas?

C: In recent years, NAC has initiated a wider variety of international programmes, to encourage cultural collaboration and exchange between Singapore and overseas arts scene. Some examples of past projects include a dedicated Singapore Pavilion in the Venice Biennale, and featuring our local artists in BIGSOUND Australia 2016 and the most recent OzAsia Festival. Many of the artists we have featured received critical acclaim abroad and there is much we can all do to continue supporting artists who would like to push their works overseas. It must first start with local support, in ways such as recognising the quality of our local artists and supporting them in their performances and showcases here. Our support offers them resources and confidence as they seek out international opportunities.

In supporting arts groups financially, it is a common misconception that you can only give to the arts if you are extremely wealthy or a large corporate organisation. In actuality, anybody can contribute to building up our arts scene by giving any amount big or small; to empower our local artists to grow their capabilities through cultural exchanges, and participate in showcase opportunities in our international markets.

Find out more about the National Arts Council and the work they do here.


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Meet Bassjackers, The DJ-Producer Duo Headlining Siloso Beach Party 2017 http://popspoken.com/music/2017/12/bassjackers-to-headline-siloso-beach-party-2017 Thu, 21 Dec 2017 09:43:13 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=58599
The best of both worlds meet in this duo with opposing personalities of a behind-the-scenes producer and wild, hyped-up DJ.

This article Meet Bassjackers, The DJ-Producer Duo Headlining Siloso Beach Party 2017 appeared first on Popspoken.


Ever wanted to know how a producer-DJ duo performs live sets?

Then you’d want to jump in on the dynamic duo behind Bassjackers, ranked this year as number 35 in DJ Mag’s Top 100 DJs, who will be coming down to Singapore over new year’s weekend to headline Sentosa’s Siloso Beach Party – and show you exactly how it’s done.

Producers and DJs go hand-in-hand in the creation and curation of the eventual live music sets, but this pairing of one producer-one DJ on stage is still rare in the EDM industry. Other artists known for their DJ-producer pairing include Two Friends and GTA.

Best friends since high school, DJ, Marlon Flohr, and producer, Ralph van Hilst came together in 2007 to create the Dutch duo Bassjackers. They exploded onto the scene and in 2011, their dancefloor bomb “Mush Mush” was picked up by Tiësto and released on his label Musical Freedom.

Since then, Bassjackers have reached massive new heights in their career with numerous chart-topping bangers and hit collaborations with the likes of Martin Garrix, Afrojack, KSHMR, Dyro, R3hab, and Showtek, as well as remixes for A-list artists including Rihanna, Enrique Iglesias, Moby, and Ne-Yo.

In light of their headlining act, POPSPOKEN speaks with the Dutch electronic music production/DJ duo Bassjackers on their music and aspirations.

POPSPOKEN: What have you guys been up to this week?

Bassjackers: Last weekend we had a big show in Jakarta. Been working on a lot of new music and also the next episode of ‘Signed by Bassjackers’ where Ralph records youtube videos in which he explains how he produced our tracks and gives away handy tips and tricks for upcoming producers.

What is the story behind your latest release, “Ready”?

We came across this track on the internet by a guy called L3N. We loved it and it really had a Bassjackers sound, but it wasn’t there yet. We contacted him and finished the track together. Ready was the result.

Name one DJ / producer you would love to collaborate with next.

We actually have a few cool collaborations coming up with Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Crossnaders & Bali Bandits. Not sure who is gonna be next.

If you could choose one problem to solve in the EDM industry today, what would it be? How would you go about solving it?

Honestly, we don’t see any real problems here. We focus on ourselves and our music and we are super happy that we can do the thing we love most.

Bassjackers has a unique combination of a DJ-producer duo. What was the story behind starting Bassjackers, and what’s the best part about this DJ-producer dynamic?

We were already friends before we started working together on music. At some point, Marlon started DJing and Ralph was already producing for a while. We decided to try to make some music together that Marlon could play out in his DJ sets and Bassjackers was born.

Is this your first time headlining a new year countdown event, and what can we expect from your Singapore show?

We have been playing new years events for quite a while. It always has something special about it. The show is gonna be a lot of new music and of course what we stand for; ENERGY!

How would you want Bassjackers to be remembered?

We are mostly known for our High energy big room music and sets!

Bassjackers is headlining Siloso Beach Party 2017.

Siloso Beach Party 2017
Date: 31 December 2017 – 1 January 2018
Time: 6pm – 6am
Venue: Siloso Beach, Sentosa
Price: From $48
Minimum age for entry: 18 years old

For updates on Siloso Beach Party 2017, you can also visit www.sentosa.com.sg/silosobeachparty.


Cover Photo: Spotify

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Flying Through Time with Clipped Wings http://popspoken.com/arts/2017/12/flying-through-time Sat, 16 Dec 2017 08:28:27 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=58585
And here's another to the list of productions that wasted the resources they have got - Flying Through Time.

This article Flying Through Time with Clipped Wings appeared first on Popspoken.


Even with the SCALE of the grand Resorts World Theatre at Resorts World Sentosa to play with, and possibly a budget most local companies would die for, action comedy Flying Through Time, directed by Choi Chul Ki and Lee Jong Ho, falls completely flat. With so many resources at its disposal this is a significant disappointment.


We are introduced to the world of Ancient Korea through the eyes of Tiger, guardian of the Magical Rod, and his trained army of men. He sets off on a journey to recapture the Rod when villain Dark X breaks free of imprisonment and steals the weapon. Crossing through a portal in time and landing in modern day Singapore, Dark X and Tiger battle it out within the confines of the MerTiger Academy while innocents rehearse their cheerleading routine for a competition.


The 75 minutes performance played with no interval has an ambitious interweaving storyline,  with added random romance and cliche humour. But the team struggles to deliver the story succinctly or with clarity leaving gaping holes and plenty of loose ends in the narrative.

Supposedly set in Singapore, it is strange to note that whenever there are exchanges going on – with the audience or between actors – it is done in Mandarin. Maybe it is a subtle hint of how Singapore has a lot of foreign talents in our competitive fields, but it came across as odd and misplaced. And we wonder why people still think Singapore is a part of China.


The relationship between Tiger (by Joshua Tan) and Dark X (Zhang Di) is not convincing either. They operate on a simple antagonistic relationship, or they are supposed to. However, the two of them had a long stretch of peacefulness between them within the academy compounds before another staged battle to show off fight choreography one random day.  Narrative-wise, this unclear dynamic between the two lowers the stake of the entire show. It also destroys the believability of this world created for the audience to immerse in.

The design hasn’t been well thought out with sightlines in mind. There are two vending machines placed on stage at the sides. Only one of them is used, however, and the other completely blocks off the view of the seven last seats on each row in the stalls. It became problematic when action takes place closer to the wings and all you see is a Green Tea product placement used as a sort of decoration.

Neglecting blindspots aside, it became clear during the show that all the action is directed towards the centre block of audience members. Maybe staging the show at a different theatre with appropriate seating might have worked better for a frontal only direction, since the Resorts World Theatre has flanking seats.


With very obvious mistakes apparent during the repetitive choreography, the show feels under-rehearsed. Despite a strong beginning to the show with the martial art sequences, consistent performances by the martial arts team and an engaging narration by guest Mark Lee, the rhythm and steps of the main cast and acrobats becomes increasingly messy and lazy, particularly in the latter parts of the show. Starlet Melody Yap who plays a curvaceous cheerleader was perpetually late in executing her steps and uninterested in the ensemble items and only in character for her own solo moments. It’s all very well trying to showcase lots of different skills throughout the show, but it’s pointless if there is a lack of precision in the execution.

Captain flying through time

Though much promise was being made through the marketing and the hype of this adaption from Choi’s previous work, Flying Through Time is an evening that comes with clipped wings. With more time to mature, better storytelling and  a stronger direction it might yet soar, but in its current form it crash-lands.

flying through poster poster

Flying Through Time

Date: 9th Dec – 21st Jan 2018

Time: Thu – Sat, 8pm / Sat & Sun, 2pm / 25th – 27th Dec, 8pm / 1st Jan, 2pm

Venue: Resorts World Theatre, Resorts World Sentosa

Admission: From SGD $38 (Concessions available. Purchase your tickets here.)


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Beauty and Wisdom Collide in Chng Seok Tin’s Lipstick Art Installation http://popspoken.com/culture/2017/12/beauty-wisdom-chng-seok-tin Wed, 13 Dec 2017 14:00:05 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=58574
"The reward is spiritual — it lasts longer than the material reward."

This article Beauty and Wisdom Collide in Chng Seok Tin’s Lipstick Art Installation appeared first on Popspoken.


Not often do we get a crossover of a museum and a shopping mall, but a new collaboration by Raffles City and Very Special Arts (VSA) has done just that. They have even enlisted the wonderful workings of Cultural Medallion-winning artist Chng Seok Tin in their recent exhibition, titled 非礼勿言 (translation: No Indecent Assault in Speech), where over 800 unwanted lipsticks were donated and made into an art installation.

As a visually impaired artist herself, Seok Tin’s feature speaks volumes about the life teeming within the special needs arts scene in Singapore. Now 71, she has specialised in various mediums such as printmaking, sculpting, ceramics, and mixed media, and is studded with accolades (most recently the 2007 Singapore Chinese Literary Award and Singapore Women’s Hall of Fame in 2014). Her art has been displayed in 30 solo exhibitions and over 100 group exhibitions worldwide. 

Ms Chng Seok Tin 4

When handing over 800 lipsticks to an artist, you might expect commentary on the beauty industry, or the relationship between women and beauty in the modern era. But the idea birthed in Seok Tin’s head stretched deeper than that, stemming from an genuine love for long-lasting, poetic wisdom — “When I thought of lipsticks, I thought of how the lips carry so much beauty — especially in speech.”

“Many people of my generation don’t quite know how to speak, speaking good words can be hard,” she tells us. “I thought of how beauty is defined by speech — especially the idea of speaking no evil.”

Indeed, her philosophies can be seen through the shapes and senses of the exhibition. She cites Confucius and Buddha as big inspirations, even having proverbial truths written all over the interactive art space, one of these being: “好言一句三冬暖” (translation: one kind word can warm three winter months)

The lipstick art installation

Being surrounded by big western brands within the mall, her works evoke the familiarity of eastern values. It is a unique inclusion of art in the heart of the city, and Seok Tin herself praised the increasing endeavours of corporations towards goodwill and art. The project alone raised more than $100,000 for VSA, which will be used to build classrooms for children with disabilities. Seok Tin remarked that “every big company has a social duty to uphold, and it is good to see them work more with artists. Meaningful art is essential for peace in society.”

Having also been an art educator, Seok Tin was also asked for advice for the upcoming young artists in Singapore, to which she said: “Space is one of the biggest challenges for artists nowadays. It might take a lot of hard work to earn exhibition spaces. But keep pursuing. The reward is spiritual — it lasts longer than the material reward.”

Chng Seok Tin’s Lipstick Art Installation is located at Level 1 of Raffles City Shopping Mall and will run until mid January 2018.

Photos: Raffles City Singapore

Keep culture journalism alive, at just the price of a kopi. For a little bit more, get access to exclusives and a monthly gift box. Support us at patreon.com/popspoken

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This article Beauty and Wisdom Collide in Chng Seok Tin’s Lipstick Art Installation appeared first on Popspoken.

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Asian Television Awards 2017: Did Netflix Kill the TV Star? http://popspoken.com/culture/2017/12/asian-television-awards-2017 Tue, 12 Dec 2017 13:56:32 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=58551
Just as video killed the radio star, we can’t rewind, we’ve gone too far – and Netflix seems here to stay.

This article Asian Television Awards 2017: Did Netflix Kill the TV Star? appeared first on Popspoken.


Adorning the red carpet with glitz, glamour, and a legion of fans, stars from all around Asia gathered for Asian Television Awards 2017 – one of the most significant and celebrated regional events in the industry – and this year seemed the biggest yet.

Tioman - Audi

Apart from performances by Running-Man entertainer Kim Jong Kook, Taiwanese-Korean singer Bii, Indonesian superstar Afgansyah Reza, Vietnamese boyband Air, and Singapore’s Joanna Dong, a total of 42 awards were handed to an impressive 267 nominees. One would be forgiven for thinking that the long-established TV industry is not just surviving, but thriving.

Yet, as we interviewed some of these celebs behind the scenes, we found that their personal habits tell of strange things when it comes to consuming entertainment on screen.

Who would you Netflix and chill with?

  • Afgan’s current favourite: Sense8
  • Air’s current favourite: Walking Dead
  • Allan Wu’s current favourite: House of Cards
  • Joanna Dong’s current favourite: Riverdale
  • Jai Kishan’s current favourite: House of Cards
  • Shigga Shay’s current favourite: Stranger Things
  • Oon Shu An’s current favourite: The Crown, Mad Men

Out of the seven stars, when we asked which they watched more, cable TV or on-demand programmes such as Netflix, the answers were unanimous – they all preferred the latter.

Jai Kishan, who was nominated for Best Comedy Performance by Yes Mdm, says that he prefers Netflix because he does not have to share the TV with other family members. But he still loves TV, not least because he’s in it.

Tioman - Audi

Indonesian heartthrob Afgansyah thinks that with Netflix, viewers get to dramatically change the way they consume entertainment. There’s no more waiting, and it allows people to discover more shows whenever and however they want.

Or maybe Netflix… no chill?

According to the 2017 Accenture Digital Consumer Survey involving 26,000 people across 26 countries, viewers who preferred watching programmes from their TV set fell from 52% to 23% in just one year.

The meteoric rise of video streaming and on-demand programmes seems to be usurping the conventional means of cable consumption and triggering the decline and fall of the TV empire.

Many enjoy the autonomy of choosing how to watch their favourite shows, either at home or on their smartphones, thanks to the proliferation of online entertainment options such as Netflix and Hulu.

For a monthly fee, these services offer the best in Hollywood and international content anywhere, anytime – and users are often spoilt for choice. And then there is the phenomenon of binge watching, where individuals prefer to watch their favourite series back-to-back without having to wait a week. (We’ve all been there – telling ourselves we need to stop as we click ‘next episode’ at 2am.)

It seems as if these conveniences have spirited the media-hungry masses away from their TVs and unto their computers. But have we all cut the TV cord? Is everyone breaking bread with Breaking Bad? Well, not quite.

Traditional TV still dominates local content and remains popular for older families who deem the set-top box as a living room essential. It offers programmes that are more niche, caters to specific demographics, and therefore retains some, if but remote, control.

Tioman - Audi

The industry is also far from static. It has been adapting and going online with smart TV and consumer-friendly options. There has been a rise in local content available on domains such as Taiwan’s Catchplay, Malaysia’s Iflix, Hong Kong’s Viu, and China’s iQIYI (one of the largest online video platforms in Asia). Netflix, for instance, has partnered Mediacorp and shows like the Little Nyonya (2008) are already available, complementing Mediacorp’s own entertainment platform Toggle.

Just as video killed the radio star, we can’t rewind, we’ve gone too far – and Netflix seems here to stay. The winners here are all of us, we the consumers, we who can decide to watch a talking horse one moment, and a soap opera the next. As Jai Kishan says, “I think we’re still watching TV in a different medium. TV is just being modified into a social media standard – we’re still watching TV, but in something entirely new. What we’re giving is the convenience, and we try to make a show for you to watch wherever we can.”


Keep culture journalism alive, at just the price of a kopi. For a little bit more, get access to exclusives and a monthly gift box. Support us at patreon.com/popspoken

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This article Asian Television Awards 2017: Did Netflix Kill the TV Star? appeared first on Popspoken.

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Bite Sized Beef: Sleigh Christmas With December’s Dining Deals http://popspoken.com/wine-dine/2017/12/sleigh-christmas-with-food Mon, 11 Dec 2017 12:00:58 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=58517
Unwrap the best dining deals and events in Singapore to light up festive celebrations.

This article Bite Sized Beef: Sleigh Christmas With December’s Dining Deals appeared first on Popspoken.


Festive cheer is in the air, and as Richard Paul Evans eloquently muses in The Christmas Box, “The smells of Christmas are the smells of childhood.” Christmas scents will always be nostalgic, evoking scenes of family gatherings or even just the yearly spread of good food amidst even better company. From inexpensive set dinners to highly Instagrammable table delights, this month’s roundup gathers some of the best dining deals and events in Singapore to light up festive celebrations.

Deck the Weekends at PORTA 

Porta - Private Enclave

Located at Park Hotel Clarke Quay, newly-revamped PORTA Fine Food & Import Company specialises in modern European cuisine with a distinct epicurean flair. The restaurant’s luxurious décor resembles a stunning Mediterranean resort, with golden wall trimmings and a series of private enclaves.

Charcuterie Platter (2)

The restaurant has a special à la carte and/or three-course set menu that is only available on the weekends leading up to Christmas. Start off with the indulgent Lobster Bisque with crayfish ravioli or the refreshing gravlax of Norwegian Salmon for those who prefer something less briny, followed by the mains of Pepper Steak and thick cut fries, or the unique French Quail; then finish off the meal with sweet treats like the deconstructed Baked Alaska. We recommend going for the Charcuterie Platter as well, a delightful spread of homemade duck rillettes, foie gras terrine, chorizo, Bayonne Ham and saucisson — the foie gras terrine will have you going back for seconds.

When? 15 16, 22 — 24, and 29 — 31 Dec
$60 onwards per person for a three-course menu

1 Unity Street, Level 1, Park Hotel Clarke Quay, Singapore 237983

A Cheesy, Merry Crustmas with Pezzo

Christmas Revolution Duo (Landscape)

For those who are looking to kick back with a nice bottle of wine and 12 new episodes on Netflix, Pezzo is here to deliver the festive cheer with Cookie Carols and their newest gourmet pizza contender, What The Duck. The dessert cookie pizza features a huge chocolate chip cookie base, layered with couverture chocolate cream, fresh fruits, marshmallows and Green Tea Kit Kat chocolate bars. Essentially, it combines all the possible sweet treats into one giant dream. The duck pizza is more complex, marrying smoked duck breast to the cream sauce, cream cheese cubes and dried cranberries. The flavour is reminiscent of the traditional turkey dish, but it removes all the fuss about the cranberry sauce, stuffing, and half-day preparations. This is Christmas for the millennials.

When? Now till 31 Dec
Available at all Pezzo outlets in Singapore

The Most Wine-derful Time in Ginett

A post shared by Popspoken (@popspoken_sg) on

Christmas season can get especially frenzied in the city, so some celebrations call for alternative hideouts like the classy two-storey Ginett Restaurant & Wine Bar. Nested within Hotel G, the restaurant is geared with four separate menus to fully satisfy the festive appetite. Their T.U.F (Till U’re Full) Brunch Feast will be offering Christmas and New Year Eve specials, including pork honey baked ham, turkey wellington and oysters with no additional top up. At night, look out for their Christmas Eve highlights such as the Burgundy Beef Stew, wagyu beef slow cooked for 12 hours in burgundy wine; and their New Year Eve specials, featuring their French Duck Breast and the Baked Alaska Flambé, an outrageously decadent dessert to usher in the new year.

Christmas Eve Dinner
When? 24 Dec, 6pm onwards
$88 onwards per person for a four-course menu

New Year’s Eve Dinner
When? 31 Dec, 6pm onwards
$98 onwards per person for a four-course menu

Christmas Brunch or New Year Aspiration Brunch
When? 25 Dec or 1 Jan 2018, 11am — 4pm
$55 onwards per person for T.U.F. brunch package
Ginett Restaurant & Wine Bar, 200 Middle Rd, Singapore 188980

Warmest Holiday from Atmosphere Bistro

2. Christmas Full Promo Set

Since one cannot have a winter wonderland in Singapore, turn up the heat for the corpulent Flaming Pork Knuckle over at Atmosphere Bistro. Located at Parkland Green, the restaurant space boasts of both indoor and outdoor dining, as well as a pub and/or bar area, children playground section, and an unobstructed view of the sea and surrounding greenery.

For families and those dining in big groups, there will be a Christmas Exclusive Set, featuring a mega platter loaded with light-bites from grilled octopuses to a variety of sausages to chicken wings and more, the giant pork knuckle, and a 3L Heineken tower. Alternatively, the Flaming Pork Knuckle Set will also be available for those looking to pair the meaty, fiery dish with ice-cold pints. Those who prefer something less carnivorous, check out the menu mainstays, like Garlic Butter Mussels, and the popular Lava Cheese Burger with an oozing, deep-fried Camembert cheese beef patty.

When? Now till first week of January 2018
Atmosphere Bistro, 920 East Coast Parkway #01-25/26/27 Singapore 449875

Jingle Bottles with BottlesXO

Photo credit: BottlesXO Facebook

Photo credit: BottlesXO Facebook

The fifth episode in their fortnightly tasting session, #BXO3SINS, BottlesXO will be toasting to the season with their own speciality cocktails. Join them to kick-start the holiday with an apple cinnamon-infused Whisky for BXO Ho Ho and discover their twist on the classic Mulled Wine. The session will also have light bites and charcuterie from Little Farms to go along with drinks, so get ready to bring the cheers to the rooftop and mingle with the folks responsible for getting the party started.

For those looking to fill their NYE party plans, the same team will also be throwing their second instalment of BXOXO in the style of Speakeasy Prohibition Era. Hidden at Angra Warehouse, the free flow package is $100 nett inclusive of door charge and the best-dressed winner will walk away with a bottle of prosecco at midnight!

When? 21 Dec, 7pm — 10pm
BottlesXO Rooftop, 69 Tong Watt Road #03-01 Singapore 239368
$35 onwards for tickets here

BXOXO II – NYE Party | The Speakeasy Prohibition
When? 31 Dec, 9pm — 4am
Angra Warehouse, 39 Keppel Road #03-03 Singapore 089065
$30 onwards for tickets here

Pre-Party at Urban Ventures X House of Noise Street Party

Who said that Christmas only starts in the last week of December?

From the team who brought us the last street party (re: Urban Ventures Street Party Vol. 7), LOPELAB has another jamboree slated for this weekend: Urban Ventures X House of Noise Street Party. This time, they will be collaborating with Noise Singapore to feature emerging talents from all fields, including music, arts, and beauty.

Look out for the three stages of live music, the Electric Avenue with DJ beats, Keong Saik Stage and Jiak Chuan Stage with homegrown talents. There will also be a Christmas market for those looking to do some last-minute gift shopping (while supporting local independent brands such as Plain Supplies and Monument Lifestyle), not to mention food and free beauty popup stalls, as well as heritage tours and workshops. Whether you’ve been naughty or nice, it is Christmas come early this year.

Urban Ventures X House of Noise Street Party
When? 16 Dec, 4pm — 10.30pm
Keong Saik Road
Admission is free (Full lineup of events here)


Keep culture journalism alive, at just the price of a kopi. For a little bit more, get access to exclusives and a monthly gift box. Support us at patreon.com/popspoken

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This article Bite Sized Beef: Sleigh Christmas With December’s Dining Deals appeared first on Popspoken.

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ZoukOut Isn’t Just A Music Festival: It’s An Experience http://popspoken.com/music/2017/12/zoukout-isnt-just-music-festival-experience-spectacle-rest-world-beyond-singapore Mon, 11 Dec 2017 05:15:48 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=58499
Not impressed by the lineup this year, but went anyway for the 'gram? Here's why ZoukOut still saw an attendance of 40,000 this year – and why it's important for Singapore.

This article ZoukOut Isn’t Just A Music Festival: It’s An Experience appeared first on Popspoken.


Music festivals were never just about the music.

Call it what you want, but ZoukOut 2017 revealed their understanding of exactly that.

Amidst a sea of rising costs, especially DJs fees, ZoukOut seems to have shifted to focus on lifestyle experiences, instead of banking purely on a music lineup. It is a welcome move that moves organisers away from being at the mercy of DJ’s agents who dictate price trends and are setting sky-high fees for the acts.

According to a poll by Huffington Post in 2015, only 39% of festival-goers stated that they were mainly going to a music festival for the lineup – a representative trend for any music festival experience demanded, especially in recent years.

In a digital age where music and streaming services are so readily available, it’s important to note that the expectations of festival-goers have evolved much from the days of other iconic and historic music festivals like Woodstock (1969) and Monterey Pop (1960s). 

The emphasis on live music acts at music festivals from that era has, today, shifted towards the emphasis on how someone’s attendance at a music festival can benefit their Instagram profile.

It’s not difficult to understand why millennials who want to attend music festivals would focus more on the experience and aesthetic of the festival location over the actual music offered. These were the kids who were born with the privilege of (relatively) cheap and easy access to music, thanks to the myriad of music streaming choices online.

Attending a festival is now a matter of bringing private streaming to life in a fun and massive setting with a strong community.

So how did Zouk adapt this trend to ZoukOut 2017?

ZoukOut 2017’s Main Stage

Design by M.O.D (Thailand)

Zouk collaborated with designers from Mother Of Design (Thailand) to build a stage – which, till now, people are still undecided if it’s a lion, tiger or dragon. Whatever animal, real or mystical, we just know it is extremely spectacular up close, representative of our Lion City and Asian-clad designs – and even shoots lazer eye beams.

Diverse DJ Lineup

DJ Snake

In the context of Singapore, other international music events like Ultra Music Festival and Formula 1 Grand Prix makes choices of EDM artists even narrower for our local EDM festivals.

Focusing on the stage, however, meant scaling back on a couple of A-list headliners. Yet, this year’s festival still saw a gamut of different sounds to cater to different tastes: Hip-Hop (Rich Chigga & Higher Brothers), Trance (MarLo), Trap (Yellow Claw), commercial EDM (DJ Snake, Marshmello etc), Tech / House (Claptone & Gui Boratto) and Techno (Amelie Lens).

Aside from Djakarta Warehouse Project (DWP), 808 Festival and other shows with similar lineups have popped up in the region, including Creamfields (HK edition) and pop-up acts in Malaysia, like TWP Live with Marshmello over the same weekend as ZoukOut.

International acts may get repetitive around the world, but it’s how Zouk as Singapore’s top club portrays these acts in their homegrown music festival that keeps things uniquely Singaporean.

Zouk’s move to splurge on what they claim to be their “most elaborate stage ever” may cause tongues to wag, but from a macro perspective it’s undoubtedly making a statement the rest of the world to peek into Singapore’s version of the nightlife scene.

Neon Tropical Aesthetic 

Martell NCF Booth at ZoukOut 2017

Sponsored booths at music festivals might as well be called “experiential booths” for the interactive and often ‘gram-worthy’ experience it provides anyone who walks through.

At ZoukOut 2017, the experiential booths by Martell NCF and DBS bank kept consistent with the festival’s neon tropical theme. According to Zouk, a mood board for the main theme was drawn up this year and passed on to the two agencies who proceeded to conceptualise the booths based on that concept.

Instagram Photo

Martell NCF’s was by UltraSuperNew and DBS’ Live Fresh booth was by TSLA (The Secret Little Agency), who counts Netflix, Evian and Zespri kiwifruit as some of its clients.

Representation Of Singapore

ZoukOut 2017 Stage

Beyond the commissions by Singapore Tourism Board and winning awards for being one of the top clubs in the world, Zouk Club and ZoukOut is iconic to Singapore’s nightlife ultimately because it is closest to us in terms of how it is run and how it constantly defines Singapore culture.

Singapore creatives and artists get not only an opportunity to curate the experience for festival-goers in Singapore, but the millions of viewers on social media who may very well be looking into Singapore culture for the very first time.

This affordance of even owning the platform to showcase Singapore nightlife is primarily because ZoukOut is not just another Singapore edition of an international music event, but a Singapore-based music festival that has its potential to stretch beyond our shores, as it has already done so regionally in the Philippines and Hong Kong.

The statement of Singapore culture through the spectacle of a locally-based music festival, of similar standards to international festivals, has to be timely and strategic in the experiences they incorporate – and how they want Singapore to be represented.

The world looks on.


Cover Photo: Colossal Photos

Keep culture journalism alive, at just the price of a kopi. For a little bit more, get access to exclusives and a monthly gift box. Donate at patreon.com/popspoken

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This article ZoukOut Isn’t Just A Music Festival: It’s An Experience appeared first on Popspoken.

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This Week In Gay Asia: World Aids Day, India’s Gay Marriage Fight & Other Gay Events This Week http://popspoken.com/lgbtq/2017/12/week-gay-asia-gay-events-week Fri, 01 Dec 2017 07:16:55 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=58471
World Aids Day is marked with renewed vigour and a slew of events to cap off the year.

This article This Week In Gay Asia: World Aids Day, India’s Gay Marriage Fight & Other Gay Events This Week appeared first on Popspoken.


This Week In Gay Asia is a weekly update on news and events in Asia’s LGBTQ+ community, powered by Prout, a new social service for LGBTQs to find common-interest friends & groups online, and join LGBTQ-friendly events wherever they are. Prout’s support function also assists LGBTQs in their lives through question boards, helplines and inspirational stories. Pre-register for Prout by visiting proutapp.com.

We’ll keep this update short so you get straight to what matters. Do you want to see more happenings in gay Asia? Let us know in the comments or tweet Popspoken founder Kyle Malinda-White at @kylemalinda.

SINGAPORE: The passing of LGBT advocate Rev Yap Kim Hao

The LGBTQ+ community in Singapore is still mourning the loss of a proud advocate of the community and the first religious leader in Singapore to openly support the community, even contributing to a church welcoming this group. The late Pastor Yap passed on November 16 aged 88 and was the pastoral advisor at Free Community Church, the only LGBT-affirming church in Singapore. In his eulogy, Rev Miak Siew from the Free Community Church said that he urged “that we do not wish for another giant, but wake up to our call and responsibility to participate in liberation, justice and peace making”.

Read the story on Coconuts Singapore, here.

NEW DELHI: New privacy law could mean a win for same-sex marriage

India’s Supreme Court ruled in August that the country’s citizens had a constitutional right to privacy, specially mentioning the gay community. This has emboldened activists keen to repeal Section 377 of the Penal Code in India, criminalising sex between men in India, and has renewed hope that other repressive laws will be brought to task such as marital rape exceptions and the registration of eunuchs.

Read the report on NYT, here.

AUSTRALIA: Could Asia’s same-sex marriage market find a place in Oz?

The introduction of marriage equality in Australia – and the leading voice of the Senate in passing the bill – could possibly lead to a market boom in the marriage industry, according to global marketing consultancy Out Now. The consultancy estimates the LGBT travel market to be worth $211 billion globally, and the destination wedding business could finally begin to see some inflows from Asian couples.

Read the story on The New Daily, here.

NEW ZEALAND/JAPAN: Former NZ MP’s same-sex couple remarks rebut Japan chairman’s take on gay couples

Maurice Williamson has received some fanfare in Japan, a week after the Japanese Liberal Democratic Party’s general council chairman was criticised for saying that gay partners should not be allowed to dine with the Emperor and Empress of Japan. Williamson’s speech four years ago about legalising same-sex marriage was translated in Japanese by social media users and went viral for containing prescient information about the “drawbacks” of same-sex marriage – “your mortgage will not grow, you will not have toads in your bed”.

Read the story on BBC, here.

BANGKOK: World Aids Day marked with positive steps towards mitigating HIV/AIDS in Asia

Today is World Aids Day and APCOM (Asia Pacific Community Network) reaffirmed its commitment to ensuring new strategies are being used to tackle the region’s HIV epidemic, especially in vulnerable communities. Research has estimated 150,000 new HIV infections by men who have sex with men (MSM) by 2020, making up half of total projected new infections. Among new strategies include introducing HIV prevention drug PrEP regionally and controlling outflow of international aid through HIV funding mechanisms for the region.

Read the report on APCOM, here.

TAIWAN: Yup, there’s a new gay popsicle.

The cast of new Taiwan film Dream of Red Mansions were busy peddling a new “1069 popsicle” during the recent Taipei Pride Festival. We don’t really know how it looks like, but you can buy it here. The move follows the lives of twelve men in a remake of the classic, delving into the lives of chaebols. (If you don’t know what that is, Google it up.) There is another popsicle  sold in Taiwan from biggayke that is in the shape of a penis and we’ll just put the link here so you can go check it out.

Read the report on GagaTai, here. GagaTai is a partner of Popspoken’s LGBTQ+ vertical.

LGBTQ+ events happening this weekend:

Singapore: The Singapore LGBTQ+ scene has never been more vibrant than ever – a new gay club called Peaches has taken over the Orchard Road shopping district. Check out their Peach Perfect Fridays here. Also, if you wanna hang out with some womyn, check out She Plus’s Queer Karaoke here.

Taiwan: The Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline Association has put in place a month’s worth of activities to commemorate Worlds Aids Day, under their HIV+OK initiative. Check it out here. Also, if you’re in Tainan, check out the White Party event held by Mr Gay Taiwan.

Korea: If you’re in Korea, be sure to check out artist Heezy Yang’s fundraiser for his queer-related art projects coming up. Check it out here.

South-east Asia: Hundreds of LGBTQ+ activists and organisations will be in Cambodia this weekend for the ILGA Asia Regional Conference. Check it out here.

This article This Week In Gay Asia: World Aids Day, India’s Gay Marriage Fight & Other Gay Events This Week appeared first on Popspoken.

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Mama White Snake: Children Shine in Getai-Inspired Pantomime http://popspoken.com/arts/2017/12/mama-white-snake-children-shine-getai-inspired-pantomime Fri, 01 Dec 2017 03:15:55 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=58462
Mama White Snake charms with the children ensemble and the glitz of Getai.

This article Mama White Snake: Children Shine in Getai-Inspired Pantomime appeared first on Popspoken.


Monkey Goes West by theatre company W!LD RICE sent audiences laughing all the way to Jurong West last year, and this time are back with Mama White Snake. Transforming the entire Drama Centre Theatre into Ancient China and lighting up the stage with the amazing period costumes, the show is a visual treat for the audiences.

Mama White Snake is set in Ancient China and a spin on the Chinese legend Madam White Snake. Confined within Er Mei Mountain all his life, Meng (by the charming Andrew Mark O) decides to run away from home one day to venture into the world. Meeting Mimi (by the honey-voiced Cheryl Tan) and following her back to the temple to meet her parents, Meng finds himself having to rescue his mother after realising her true form.

Mama White Snake by W!LD RICE pic 1 copy

Bright colours and plenty of shimmer from set to personalities, I could not help but be brought back to the time when Getai (meaning Song Stage in Mandarin) was the main entertainment for the Chinese community right here in Singapore.

Set on a makeshift wooden stage by the road and chairs for any person who chooses to stay for some entertainment, the Getai used to be the go-to place for dialect songs and late-night jokes about current affairs, among other things. The constant banter and breaking of the fourth wall with the audience, a getai performer will reach out to the audience and actively connect with them – be it with a dance or a highly-popular song that every person would know.

Who would ever thought that streetside culture might ever find its way to a theatre in an age where new is always better?

Mama White Snake by W!LD RICE pic 6 copy

The costumes by Tube Gallery by Phisit & Saxit brought out that familiar sense of nostalgia into the theatre space. From the cuts down to every sequin placed, the Peking opera-inspired costumes are exquisite. Personally, I am impressed by the level of detail and have to say that the costume helped to bring the story to life and serve as a reminder of the time and place Mama White Snake is set in.

Then there were the many uses of props as well as puppetry to move things along. One vivid example would be the moment when Madam White (by returning actor Glen Goei) turns into her true form. The person disappears and is transformed into a giant puppet snake that carried on the story.

Mama White Snake by W!LD RICE pic 5 copy

The many tricks and novel experiences created to keep the audiences’ fascinated also brought to mind the Getai’s rojak quality – a mix and match of everything. Besides the impressive wushu skills acquired specifically for this show, the snake sisters manage a little bit of magic to charm as well. Watching mice tails wiggle out of Madam White and Auntie Green’s (by the unmistakable Ivan Heng) mouths anyone?

Not to mention the Chineseness of the songs with the erhu and Chinese percussions playing in the background.

Mama White Snake by W!LD RICE pic 3 copy

However, it is the First Stage! kids and Martial House kids  who truly stole the show this year. Armed with newly acquired martial arts skills and acting chops, the kids aged from six to 15 charmed their way into the hearts of the audience. The constant use of wushu and martial arts throughout the piece makes them a presence to be reckoned with on stage. Their excitement at carrying on their roles also become infectious as the show goes on.

Mama White Snake is a glamourised version of the local Getai, but the children are really the stars of it all – beyond the sequins and mega-polished set.

mama white snake poster

Mama White Snake

Date: 24th Nov – 16th Dec

Time: Tues – Sat, 7.30pm / Thurs, Sat & Sun, 2.30pm

Venue: National Library Building, Drama Centre Theatre

Admission: From SGD $50 (Concessions available. Purchase your tickets here.)


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This article Mama White Snake: Children Shine in Getai-Inspired Pantomime appeared first on Popspoken.

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How To Become A Musician, Fashionista and Entrepreneur In Singapore – All At Once: Aarika Lee http://popspoken.com/people/2017/11/become-musician-fashionista-entrepreneur-singapore-aarika-lee Wed, 29 Nov 2017 02:48:37 +0000 http://popspoken.com/?p=58452
How does Aarika Lee become a singer, marketer, fashionista and entrepreneur all at once? The secret lies in her drive and gumption.

This article How To Become A Musician, Fashionista and Entrepreneur In Singapore – All At Once: Aarika Lee appeared first on Popspoken.


Prominent serial entrepreneur Chris Ducker identifies one of the most crucial traits of being an entrepreneur as “the ability to be flexible; to move in the right direction when the time strikes and to turn, or pivot in another, when required.” Indeed, Aarika Lee’s knack for changing gears and adapting has earned her a large variety of achievements under her belt, and made her a true career chameleon.

In addition to being part of the founding team at marketing and branding agency Elementary Co., she is a resident artist at The Mad Men Attic Bar, and also a mother to two lovely children.

Instantly recognisable in photos from her iconic headwraps, no one would have guessed that it was a move that happened on a whim. Yet, there is a deeper philosophy to her unique appearance.

“I used it as a way to distinguish myself because that was always in my nature. I feel like you will come to a point where you decide if you want to be part of the status quo, or be different.”

Embracing the hustle life

From the beginning, Aarika had an interest in multiple mediums. “I think my goal was always to be in the creative industry, but I didn’t know what my space was,” she muses. “Advertising always appealed to me because television commercials (TVCs) were more common [in Singapore 12 years ago]. And music has always come as second nature to me, so I always wanted to keep it in my life.”

Her first job out of university was at an ad agency, but she was simultaneously busy with a myriad of side hustles. “I was already doing other things part-time. I was there for a year, but being in an agency requires a specific type of personality and it wasn’t what I wanted,” she says.

Sensing a career change, this led her to pivot towards music and production, performing with her own band. As the band grew in popularity, she began doing music full-time. Opportunities to perform for original bands was still growing at the time, so she also earned by taking on a paid residency with her band where they mostly did covers of songs. On top of that, she also did radio jingles, voice overs, and taught kids speech and drama.

She scaled down her residency gig once her daughter Zola was born. Coincidentally, at the time, her best friends wanted to build something strong that would give them greater time and autonomy on their hands. Aarika decided to join them in their business venture, and thus Elementary Co. was born.

The shift from being a creative artist to starting your own business can be a daunting prospect. Thankfully, the support of her partners Charmaine Seah-Ong and Derek Ong helped push her forward.

“My partners are the ones who handled a large part of the business development at Elementary,” she says. “At the beginning, I handled copywriting, video/photography shoots, client management, and shared the responsibility of overseeing marketing campaigns for the team. Charmaine had marketing experience from Resorts World Sentosa while Derek was a consultant, so all of us had different strengths which played a part in setting up the business.”

“What I’ve learned along the way is that it’s important to recognise your strengths and weaknesses for the greater good of the business. For example, if your business partners are better at something than you are, you let them do it,” she elaborated.

Leveraging on connections

Aarika used her networking skills to her advantage when building Elementary Co. “When we started, it was our connections from work and hanging out with people who were in different fields that helped,” she mentions. “Companies who felt like they needed a marketing campaign would refer us to their friends. It was our duty to follow through and deliver.”

The connections you make in life right now may not seem all that important, but “you won’t know when they will come in handy,” Aarika says. “If there is something you want to work on, be confident to share it. Because you will never know who might be able to offer you an opportunity, or put you in touch with someone who can.”

Aarika also isn’t afraid of asking others for help when she needs it. “Sometimes I may not see the potential [in an opportunity], but others do. I have a strong support system and I trust the people around me. Even if it is something that doesn’t work, I can say that I gave it a shot.”

However, what if you don’t have a very strong network?

“We live in a world where it is easier to make new connections. The business world is very willing to help and collaborate,” she explains. “Find out the people who have done it, speak to them, and try to get them to teach you how to do it. Growth is about figuring out those who have been successful and learning from them.”

Learning to say ‘no’

Aarika Lee Sapio - Popspoken

As a multi-talented creative, Aarika has never failed to reinvent herself over the years, always dipping her toes into new projects that inspire her. How does she make such a smooth transition each time?

To her, it is about figuring out if an opportunity is going to be worth it; “Will it help you grow?” If you find value in it, go ahead. Other times, saying ‘no’ may be much more empowering than doing something for the sheer sake of it.

She recalls some of the times when she had to make such decisions as a musician. “There have been cases where I wondered ‘why am I here?’, but I would come back to why I began doing it in the first place. Being able to connect with people has always brought me joy, and music continues to do that for me, even at times when I feel stretched or challenged. However, time is a precious commodity when you have a young family, so I’ve also learned to say ‘no’ to some opportunities.”

At Elementary & Co., there were similar challenges in its early days, where they had to take on less-than-ideal projects in order to sustain the welfare of the business and its employees.

“It is very important to have a reserve. The directors of the company would take delayed salaries in order to pay the staff when we first began,” she says, citing the importance of adaptability and taking good care of your staff.

Despite being an opportunist, she realises that it is far more important to “stay committed to things I have said ‘yes’ to,” as other great opportunities will rear their head.

Admittedly, branching out isn’t for everyone. Aarika elaborates, “For some people, they have a do-or-die mentality in one area and need that motivation to do well. While they still have reserves, and put themselves out there, their focus is on the one thing they are good at.”

When you have big dreams, it can be tough to decide which passions to pursue. For Aarika, the kicker is to “see if there is an opportunity to grow or learn from. There will always be a lot of fun things to do, but you must learn to be discerning and if something takes you to the next level, you should say yes.”

Leaving a legacy

Aarika Lee Sapio - Popspoken

Never one to rest on her laurels, Aarika has ventured into acting as well, having starred on Toggle’s The Breakup List. Although it wasn’t something she thought she had initially felt comfortable with doing, she enjoyed the experience and challenge it presented.

“I think it is easy to cruise, but you should try to be actively growing in areas that are new to you,” Aarika shares. “And you would be surprised how people are willing to share. It is good to approach people and take a step to ask. That is the first step to moving forward.”

When it came to building a brand, the process was more organic for Aarika. Being clear about her identity and what she represented was crucial in attracting the type of audience who could relate to her. Realising that many teenagers were captivated by her Instagram feed whenever she spoke to them, “[she] wanted to portray an image of positivity and working hard.”

Since having kids, she has become more introspective and selective about what she wants to do. Given that some decisions require taking time out from her kids, “it must not be something I sold out for, but one that I did willingly.” “As long as it is meaningful to you,” is her marker for making decisions.

Finally, she regales us with an anecdote of her time in Boston, where she picked up some valuable advice from her history teacher. “He told me, ‘the world is filled with mediocrity, and it is up to you to stand out.’ I think you should always chase something that inspires you and I’ve struck to that mantra since.”

Photos by No Limits Photography & Sapio

Aarika Lee is one of Sapio’s first 50 experts. Her session, “How to Chase your 99 Dreams without Short-Changing Yourself”, will be held in early 2018!

Sapio sessions are bite-sized talks that allow you to meet the most sought-after entrepreneurs, industry insiders, and thought leaders face-to-face. Sign up now on Sapio’s website before 30 Dec 2017 to receive an exclusive $5 off your first session.


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This article How To Become A Musician, Fashionista and Entrepreneur In Singapore – All At Once: Aarika Lee appeared first on Popspoken.

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