Meet a Fan: Ou Kexin
In the year of Singapore’s 50th birthday, the Duxton Hill area will most certainly be celebrated for its impressive revival in recent years, with handfuls of new restaurants, bars and cafes packing a neighbourhood once known for its brothels, opium and gambling dens.
In some cruel twist of karma, the old headquarters for the Singaporean Police Force has ironically been left untouched. Metal pull-up bars overrun with weeds litter the courtyard and while MediaCorp actresses Felicia Chin and Sora Ma’s Mama Shop café draws sporadic batches of curious fans to the ground floor, 195 Pearl’s Hill Terrace at first glance still seems to be a sleepy shadow of its former glory.
While gentrification does not seem to be part of any short-term plans for this imposing building, it’s the eclectic mix of commercial tenants that makes 195 Pearl’s Hill Terrace one of Singapore’s best-kept secrets. From boutique bridal services to social media influencer networks and ceramic ware traders, the amount of activity buzzing around the halls makes one wonder how this area has gone under the radar and surprisingly emerged as a hotbed of enterprising small businesses.
“I like it this way”, says Ou Kexin, our first interviewee to kick off You and No Other’s Meet The Person Session. Over coffee, we realize Kexin has much in common with 195 Pearl’s Hill Terrace – she’s low-key and full of humility despite being one of Singapore’s premier producers in the music industry. We asked Kexin a few questions about the service she recently founded called Sing A Song, the first studio experience in Singapore, and the role of music in her life. Excerpts below:
Q: Kexin, you’ve been involved in music production on a professional level for the past ten years. Can you briefly tell us about Sing A Song and why you feel now is the right time to open your studio to the public?
A: Sing A Song is a unique experience where music lovers come into our professional studio to achieve their dream of recording a song that they like as a keepsake or to give to someone as a gift.
As mentioned, I previously only produced songs for professional singers. But over the years my friends kept asking me to let them record a song, so one day I finally agreed to do it. At the end of the session, the gratitude from my friends and the happiness gained just by helping them achieve this little dream was really touching. It was such a memorable moment. I realized that I wanted to help all the music lovers out there, for them to achieve their dream and tell their stories to the people who matter to them.
Q: The difference between working with professionals and amateur singers must be quite large. What makes a good song?
A: I have always believed that music empowers people and is really a universal language that speaks to the soul and heart. Everyone can have their own rendition of the song and they each have a story to tell. Songs don’t need to be pitch perfect as long as the emotions get through.
Of course, during the session we will provide guidance and go through vocal exercises to optimize the customer’s vocal quality. After the recording is done, we’ll work with the customer to do editing and mixing to complete the ‘makeover’, so that he or she takes home a final version in CD form that is a nice reminder of the session.
Q: That’s neat. Has music always been a passion of yours?
A: When I was four years old, my mum caught me playing the theme song of a TV series running at that time (Xiao Li Fei Dao) on a toy piano, but perhaps things started even earlier – my parents said I loved to sing and my pacifier when I was a baby was the music from the radio!
Q: When did you decide to pursue a career in music?
A: I should say at the age of 19, after my ‘A’ levels. In fact, most of my friends were not surprised, knowing how music plays an important part in my life, but I surprised myself!
Q: If you didn’t pursue music, what would you have done instead?
A: I considered going to the Arts and Social Science faculty in NUS or taking a media design course at TP. But in the end I realized I couldn’t imagine myself living a day without music, so I just had to do something related to it!
Q: Do you have any favourite local bands or singers who have influenced you as a musician?
A: I like The Observatory and Electrico. As for influencers, probably Santana, The Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Jimi Hendrix, BB King and also quirky singer-songwriters like Tori Amos, Bjork, Fiona Apple. For Chinese pop, I would say I’m more influenced by producers and singer-songwriters like Cheer Chen, Kay Huang, Huang Shu Jun.
Q: Final question, do you have any interesting recording sessions you’d like to share with us?
A: We had one client who needed to record in complete darkness, including in the control room! I had to put a very dim light bulb for her in the recording room just in case she couldn’t see the microphone to sing into it!
Another memorable session was when four siblings came in to record the song Tian Mi Mi for their parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. That was very sweet, although another customer rivals them with a 10 song album for her husband for their 30th wedding anniversary.