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Creative Couples: The music producer and the photographer

Welcome to our Creative Couple series where we delve into the lives of some of Singapore’s most interesting people working in the creative industry

When a mutual friend introduced photographer Debbie Y to music producer Jason Gelchen, it was their personalities they were thinking about rather than their creative backgrounds.

“We met through a mutual friend who felt our personalities aligned and would be a good match,” explains Jason. “I don’t think our creative pursuits lead to us getting together as Debbie is not a fan of the genres of music I like and I’ve never really dabbled in photography. 

“I wasn’t seriously looking to get into a relationship at that point, but that friend felt we would be a good match – she basically played the cheerleader, and egged us both on individually,” says Debbie. 

popspoken creative couples debbie jason MOONRISE 1
Image: Debbie Y for Moonrise Studio

However, once they got together, both realised that their creative pursuits were actually more compatible than they first thought: “I think it’s after we got into a relationship that we started to learn to appreciate each other’s crafts and art forms,” Jason says.

“I felt our creative pursuits played a part in pushing us closer together, because in the wider scheme of things, we were both under the umbrella of the arts industry,” explains Debbie. “On a micro scale, it was slightly different, as he’s in music and I do photography/video production, so it feels similar enough, yet with a healthy amount of difference, so we complement each other without being direct competitors.”

Debbie is the founder of Moonrise Studio, and is a well-known and established photographer, having shot everything from the Singapore Grand Prix and Ultra Music Festival Australia, to Singapore International Festival of the Arts (SIFA), as well as a range of theatre productions, corporate events and nightlife events. She has a portfolio of work that has been shot on location around the world. 

As the founder of Homeground Studios, Jason is known for his award-winning work with top Singaporean musicians having worked with Gentle Bones, Jasmine Sokko, Benjamin Kheng and Narelle; as well as for his production work for major international brands like Puma and Samsung. However most Singaporeans will have heard his track with Gentle Bones and Benjamin Kheng; Better With You has been streamed more than 5.4 million times! 

This creative couple have now been together for over two years, and have found their lives intersecting on multiple levels, being influenced by their partners’ work and interests, says Debbie.

“Jason likes watching music videos to listen to newly released music; sometimes, when I happen to be in the studio with him, I watch them too – though for me the focus tends to be more on the  visuals than the audio. He also shares interesting video productions or photography that he comes across; likewise, whenever I hear a new song I’m excited about, or if I think a particular beat is sick, I share it with him.”

For Jason, the inspiration has come from the way Debbie focuses: “Debbie’s attention to detail and her attitude to always give her one hundred percent in every project inspires me daily. Even if it’s a hot and long shoot, she rarely complains and doesn’t cut corners, making sure everything is shot perfectly. She makes me grateful to be working in an air-conditioned studio, having no excuses to not perform at my best daily.”

This mutual admiration has led to the creative couple working together on collaborative projects. Debbie has shot creative work for Homeground Studios’ releases for example.

“It was easy to work with Debbie as I trust her proficiency in her craft and I felt that same trust being reciprocated by her as well. We both believe in not letting our egos get in the way of our work so it was pretty smooth sailing!” explains Jason.

‘Smooth sailing’ is obviously a term that comes up often for the couple, as Debbie says the same thing about working with Jason: “It was pretty smooth sailing! The respect we have for each other’s craft built a good level of mutual trust, which meant both Jason and I were confident in each other whenever key decisions had to be made.”

This looks like a match made in heaven as the saying goes, with both Debbie and Jason sharing a strong sense of trust for the other. But nothing is always ‘smooth sailing’, and the couple admit that it can sometimes be hard to be in a relationship where both are working in the creative industries.

“Clashing schedules are the worst. You can’t control when ideas come and we both don’t have fixed working hours so we don’t have many full days that we can spend together. Usually it’s just lunch or dinner where I would head off to the studio right after and Debbie would go on a shoot,” says Jason. 

And Debbie agrees: “Aligning [our] schedules and carving out time for each other. As creatives, there is no such thing as fixed 9-5 working hours, or the ability to leave work behind at the office – there will always be work that needs to be done.”

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Image: Debbie Y for Moonrise Studio

But there are benefits too when you both work in a creative industry: “Not having to explain from scratch how the creative scene works, and that we’re usually on the same wavelength when it comes to understanding industry-specific demands. It is also great that both our crafts complement each other, so it becomes relatively easy to partner up or collaborate when the occasion calls for it.”

“The best thing is the mutual understanding of why we pursue the art form we love and the sacrifices we make having our passion as our career,” says Jason.

Respect for each other’s work is yet another bond this creative couple has. 

“My favourite piece is a photo Debbie took of Salvatore Ganacci performing at Zouk in 2018. The photo is special to me as we went to his concert at Marquee in 2019 for our third date and she got it signed by Salvatore himself with my help,” Jason explains.  “We weren’t really seriously dating until this point and the events of that night led to us getting together. In a way, you can say Salvatore played a pivotal role in where Debbie and I are today.”

Debbie has a couple of favourite pieces that Jason has created; Gentle Bones’ song Help! is one of them, but her ‘biased’ choice is a track entitled Falling With You: “He wrote it with a couple of other creatives and every person had their significant other in mind while working on the song, so self-indulgently, I’d like to think I influenced that track in some way.”

You can check out Debbie’s work at www.moonrisestudio.co, and learn more about Jason’s work for Homegrown Studios at www.homegroundstudios.com

Read about more interesting creative people in our People section.

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