Hello to all The Hidden Gems’ readers!
I have recently gotten an exclusive chance to interview Kenny Khoo 邱锋泽,
our very own Singaporean singer-songwriter!
Read on to find out more about Kenny, his belief, and his story.
Hello Kenny! Please introduce yourself and your album!
Hi, I'm Kenny Khoo and I'm 25 years old and a singer-songwriter from Singapore.
I have recently launched my debut Mandarin album “Ten Storeys” featuring ten tracks (that has ten stories in it) with various musical styles and heartfelt lyrics, based on my personal observations and experiences.
But in a nutshell, I would say it’s a pop/rock album :)
Who are your mentors and how did they groom you to become who you are today?
I have many mentors but the 2 mentors that I worked most closely with, are Eric (黃韻仁 ) and Xiaohan (小寒). I started from nothing in terms of songwriting and lyrics writing.
They were gracious enough to teach me the craft and consistently check on my progress.
In the whole process of producing the album “Ten Storeys”, we constantly discuss and strategize on how to produce a great album that listeners can relate to.
What are some sources of inspirations when write songs?
Past experiences, observing the surroundings, conversations with friends, reading the news, watching a movie, and many more. All these can aid in the songwriting process.
However, I feel that it’s not enough to rely solely on inspirations to write songs, because inspirations will run dry one day.
Hence, the best way is to just enjoy the process of writing songs. Think of it as playing a game of jigsaw puzzle, joining the bits and pieces (the melody) together.
It’s also important to have the willpower to set writing goals. For example, I will tell myself, '' today I'm going to write a rock song. '' And I will leave the studio only when I have completed the song.
This is a good way to activate the music muscles in the brain.
Are all 10 songs in “Ten Storeys” based on personal experiences?
(If not which ones are?)
(If not which ones are?)
Huge portions are based on my personal experiences.
That includes 伤者, 菲尼克斯, 单人套房, 无关勇敢不勇敢, 再不然, 关于我们, and灵魂.
(Which means 经典对白, 你还好吗天, and 亮就分开 are not!)
Do you personally prefer bright songs like "关于我们" or emotional songs like "伤者"?
I'm a greedy person, I love variety.
Therefore I can’t really pick a side. One of my main goals in the album is for every song to have a different vibe, so that when listeners hear each track, they will feel that it is refreshing and not a replicate of the previous song.
Please describe your voice!
Vocal range wise, I'm slightly nearer to being a tenor. There is a certain airiness in my voice that is pretty effective in terms of expressing my emotions.
People tell me that they feel my pain when I sing sad songs.
If you aren't a singer-songwriter now, what would you like to do?
Probably try out acting as a career, because acting was actually my childhood dream as well.
I enjoy acting a lot, just that I sort of put that on hold at the moment as I want to concentrate on pursuing my music career first.
Have you participated in any past competitions/ auditions?
I have participated in just a couple of small-scaled singing competitions when I was a lot younger, but I was still finding my voice at that time.
What do you think will be different if you were to have gone through a singing competition instead of going the traditional way into the industry?
Assuming I came through a competition and emerged as a winner, releasing a self-penned album after would definitely be a huge plus-point because people would have already recognized me as they have seen me on the television.
It’s easier to gain acceptance in the initial phase. However, with so many singing competitions being held year after year, it is essential for the past winners to continue striving hard in the industry.
Long term wise, the requirements for both methods would work out to be just about the same:
Hard work and dedication.
What are some hard and good times you've been through before you made your debut?
The only hard time I had was when I fell sick with a very high fever to the extent that I had to be taken to the hospital.
That happened halfway through the album production period.
I was so afraid it would be dengue which can be fatal.
Luckily, it was just a minor virus infection.
So, after a week or so, I could get back to work and finish up the album.
It was a huge relief for me as producing this album is really a dream came true.
As for good times, it would be whenever Eric says that the song I had finish writing has potential.
It gives me a great deal of satisfaction because I then know that I’m on the right track.
Also, before I made my debut, I was singing in pubs with my band. After every night of performance, I would feel very happy because I know I brought joy to the audiences.
Is there an untold story you can exclusively share with The Hidden Gems' readers?
My song 单人套房 went through a restructuring phase.
The very first version of the song was a rock’n roll, upbeat song with different lyrics.
Towards the end of the album production, we felt that it didn’t blend in with the rest of the songs because it doesn't match with my personality.
Hence, we finally changed the arrangement as well as the lyrics into the单人套房 you hear now :)
Was there a time you ever felt like giving up on everything you're working on?
Honestly, there isn't any, because I feel that I had put in so much effort in my future career it’s too late to give up.
To me, it’s all or nothing.
I have set a direction in my life and I will do my best to succeed.
What motivates you to keep going?
There are two main factors.
Firstly, it is the love I have for music.
Hearing a good song on the radio gives me a great deal of satisfaction and motivation, hoping one day I can write a song that can reaches out to many people and leaves a positive impact.
Secondly, having a vision is pretty important.
I would constantly dream of having my concert, touring different countries. That seems like a great deal of fun! :)
Some words to say to the younger people in Singapore who dreams to be like you?
I don’t quite believe in talent, I believe in hard work.
I wasn’t born a singer, neither was I born as a songwriter. To be a recording artist today, didn’t happen by an accident, nor by luck.
It was a conscious decision-making process that I made when I was a teenager, finding a direction and purpose in life.
One thing I would say to younger people is to have an open mind. Try out as many things as you can and see which direction gives you the greatest happiness.
Subsequently, dream big, but make practical small goals along the way to help yourself achieve it.
One reason to support Kenny?
Hearing my music is a good way to distress! Hahah!
Some words to your future (Not present!) fans?
Hi future fans!!
Glad to have you onboard!!!
Stick on this ride with me and I will guarantee you are in for a wonderful time :)
Another big thanks to Lj, and Kenny for taking the time to take this interview!