Back to basics
SINGAPORE — Singer-songwriter Bevlyn Khoo has come full circle with her current album, The People I’ve Known, which was released in May. If only because the album, like her first-ever EP, was independently released. In between those releases, Khoo was signed to popular Japanese label, S2S.
“I was really green at that time and had a lot of assistance before it came to fruition. After the EP’s release, to be signed by a label seemed too good to pass on,” she said of those early years.
Being signed to S2S allowed her to record and release more albums without having to fund them out of her own pocket. But after the three-year contract ran out, Khoo decided to head down the indie route again.
“Releasing covers and showcasing a few originals now and then during the three years didn’t quite make me feel complete as an artiste,” explained Khoo. “To produce and release an original album seemed the logical thing to pursue, because I felt a need to remind people that I started off as an original singer-songwriter, and not a covers singer!”
While being an indie musician in Singapore can seem daunting, Khoo thinks that it has become easier for musicians in the local music scene to gain acceptance compared to five years ago.
“When I first started off, I had to sing covers in pubs with second-hand smoke through every pore of my skin,” she said. “Nowadays, not only are the pubs smoke-free — which is great for singers; and there is even an increasing number of cafes and pubs sprouting up which encourage originals. “I actually feel that the local indie music scene is finally taking off, and it’s not because of more government support per se, but because our people are really pushing for things to happen from the ground up.”
Despite her optimism, Khoo is pragmatic enough to recognise the most difficult aspect of being a musician in Singapore: Getting others to understand that heading down that musical path isn’t the end of the road. “I recently caught up with an ex-teacher, and he still asked if ‘I can survive’ (doing music),” she said. “It is this presumption about musicians which made me realise that perhaps, some people neither appreciate the true value of music, nor understand our motivations in following our passion.
“It is this lack of understanding, and mislabelling, that gets to me the most, even now. I understand about the overpowering culture of materialism at work, but I look forward to the day when most people show instant respect for all artists.”
And, Khoo is motivated to keep on making her music on her own terms. “I think that my deepest motivation comes from the realisation that life is fragile, and we all have choices, no matter how tough they are. As long as my passion remains and I’m inspired by life, I will be intrinsically motivated to create music.”
And what does the future hold for Bevlyn Khoo? “I really don’t know, but I will continue to perform and I hope to do more production work. For example, I just wrote the theme song for Miss World Singapore. When I produced this album, I treated it as my last. But I know that I will miss the whole thing: Producing, recording, sharing of my originals, the whole indie marketing thing, and the feeling of going against all odds as an indie artiste.