Bevlyn Khoo is a Singaporean indie artist. In 2008, her self-released album Lonely Afternoon won “Best Independent Album” at the SPH Singapore E-Awards. She then got signed to Japanese label S2S and subsequently released You Are My Angel (2009), Bistro Affair (2010) – an album of French jazz chansons that charted in Malaysia, Hong Kong and Taiwan – and Feel About You (2011). This musical productivity cemented her status of a versatile singer-song writer in the local music scene. In 2013, Bevlyn released her latest creation The People I’ve Known and we had the chance to talk to her to know more about the story behind the album, her campaign on PledgeMusic and her foreign language skills. Bevlyn is part of SG MUSO’s OPEN HOUSE line-up on 5th October in Singapore – a good reason to drop by the event, and it’s free!
Hi Bevlyn! You released your second album The People I’ve Know《我认识过的人》in April this year. What was the motivation to write these songs? Who are the ‘The People’? Any stories about them?
I wanted to have a concept album this time round, and I realized that the majority of my songs are usually inspired by the people I know in my life, as opposed to ‘fiction-writing’. The songs were inspired by my friends who practically grew up together with me (“Touch Of An Angel”), songwriting friends (“The Letter That Never Came”), ex-relationships, crushes, and… my husband (“Soulmate”)! So in a way, every song in this album happened in reality, and offers a tiny little glimpse into the relationship involved.
You’re comparing passed love as tea, then what kind of love could coffee be?
I compared passed love as tea because the swirling of the tea leaves makes the tea stronger in taste. In a way, it’s the process of finding out who we are or, what kind of character we will turn out to be or what taste we will like. If I would to compare love to coffee, I would say that a great love experience (like great coffee) is a good blend of bitter and sweet (moments); without either of it, it wouldn’t be a complete one.
You are singing in several languages: English, Chinese, Japanese and French. Did you learn these languages from singing?
I learnt English in school because Singapore has a bilingual language school system, and Mandarin is my mother tongue. I learnt Japanese for 2 years in university and though singing in Japanese is not a problem, I have to say that I’ve forgotten most of it, unfortunately. I picked up French soon after graduation, and it opened up a whole new world for me. I would even say that it shaped my character.
France has a very beautiful and romantic language, how has this country’s culture affected you?
In the romantic aspect, I suppose France opened up a new definition of romance for me – for someone bred on Hollywood movies and used to happy endings, it really jolted me when I realized that the French brand of romance (in French movies) is typically a huge dose of melancholia and twisted endings! I suppose it made me more mindful of realism in life.
In what country or region are you developing your music career?
I’m currently finishing up publicity for the new album in Singapore, and we’re talking about going to Taiwan and Malaysia. I’m also working on performing in China if suitable opportunities arise.
As a songwriter, what usually inspires your writing? Do you go to certain places to find inspiration, like seaside, river or mountains? What are your lyrics most about?
I don’t go to certain places for inspiration, if anything, they distract me! Inspiration (for lyrics) usually strikes when I am in deep thought by myself on the road. Melodies typically creep in just before I doze off on the bed, or when I am showering (haha). I suppose those are the two states when I’m most relaxed.
I noticed that you did a crowdfunding campaign on PledgeMusic to raise money to release The People I’ve Known. What does crowdfunding mean to you and what feedback did you get from this campaign?
When I first read about crowdfunding, I thought that the music industry has taken a big step of revolution and this time round, the power is given to musicians. This essentially means that independent artists not only have a better chance of coming up with new albums, they will also have direct communication with their fans to know what they want. I wasn’t entirely sure if I could raise the targeted amount of funds, but I jumped at it mainly because the idea of communicating with my supporters excited me. It has been a few months since the fundraising ended, and through the activities, I have assisted a groom to dedicate a song to his bride on their wedding day, accompanied a male supporter on piano while he sang a song to dedicate to his wife for their 10th wedding anniversary, and assisted a young man to court the girl he loves (they’re now together). I didn’t imagine all these could happen before I signed up!
You’ve designed your album artworks and you are keen to share your creative process and stories with your audience. Some other artists are not so active and close to their fans; for what reason you are enjoying this?
I believe that visuals of the album also play a part to portray the image/style/character of the artist, hence I wanted to be sure that the visuals match my brand of music.
As for sharing my stories, after my EP album Lonely Afternoon was released, I realized that people were genuinely curious about how the songs came about. That was when I started to love to share the stories behind my songs, because I think that is one way of connecting with my listeners better. I remember doing a recent radio interview in which the DJ practically asked me the inspiration behind every song. It was pretty awkward for me to do it on-air, but many fans later commented that it allowed them to appreciate the songs at a deeper level. As a singer-songwriter, I think what we want the most out of our music is resonance with our listeners. It is also why I set up an indie record label called ‘The Storyteller Wave Records’!