Monday, May 19, 2014

Natalie Hiong - Singapore's Next Generation of Singers/Songwriters

Growing up in a family of musicians, it was natural for Natalie Hiong to be touch with music from a very young age. Her first instrument was the piano, followed by the violin, and she even played the oboe at one stage!

She joined the choir and from there on, she fell in love with classical music, especially Broadway musicals, which explains her love for writing musicals later on.

She was, and probably, still is a big fan of Disney songs and has recently even covered a Frozen mashup on her YouTube channel, which was really good.

Her big break came when she joined a songwriting competition in the United Kingdom, and her song Unraveling won the love song category.

She actually wrote her first few songs when she was just 12, and has never looked back since. As she reached her teens, her musical tastes turned to the more poppy sounds of Avril Lavigne, Backstreet Boys and the Spice Girls.

She wrote her first musical, Excess Baggage when she was studying for her degree in the UK and though it was her first attempt, it would have been a liberating experience and galvanized her to pursue her songwriting interests.

Her influences were soon moved on the singer/songwriter model, like Sara Barellies and John Mayer, and her songwriting craft began to mature and blossom at the same time.

In between, she was almost lost to the music industry as she actually studied economics and worked in a bank for some time. But that did not last as her heart and soul was always in music, and that passion finally led her back to where she really belongs.

The Talented Miss Hiong

Eventually, she made her first EP, Little Heart, which contains one of my current faves, the romantic and lingering Perfect. It has such a simple structure, and written from pure inspiration, it is one of those songs that is naturally beautiful and incredibly haunting. So much so, that I eventually covered it myself.

She returned to Singapore after her bank stint in UK, and decided to make a go at the music business. After garnering a few notices, she managed to secure a number of performing gigs and not long after, she has now become one of Singapore's leading indie artistes.

Natalie has a strong sense of independence, which explains why she refuses to cave in to commercial pressure and sign on with a major label which wants here to record Mandarin songs. Her belief in writing her own material and performing her music in her own way shows her own strong identify as an artist.

Despite knowing that being a professional musician in Singapore is very tough, Natalie has since managed to release her 2nd EP in 2013, entitled Beautiful Mess. It is another delightful set of earnest, pop songs that captures her emotions and feelings in a very ear catching manner.

Miss Hiong not only writes and sings her own compositions, but she is also a multifaceted artist. She also does up and manages her own website and marketing, and has a good eye for design. She also supplements her career by co-writing musicals for some projects for Resorts World Sentosa, as well as working on some children's projects.

As a songwriter, she is also probably her own harshest critic, exacting a high standard on herself. Especially now that she has become an established name in the Singapore music scene, she is also working on her next set of songs.

Despite getting good reviews and notices, the thing that surprised me when I was chatting with her is how grounded Natalie is, and how much humility she exudes. And that is also reflected in her music and her singing, which is very distinct and yet there is a sense of comforting familiarity about it.

Her passion and her love for her craft is what keeps her going, and she believes that she has yet to produce her best work. If her current music is any indication, then I cannot wait to listen to her best stuff yet!

Here is Natalie Hiong performing Perfect:

Here is also my cover of the same song:

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