The laid-back 2016 Gen­er­a­tion T lis­ter is just as se­ri­ous about his teh peng as he is about mu­sic and act­ing

Singapore Tatler - - TATLERSCOPE -

“Be­ing in Won­der Boy, I’ve re­alised that while the play­ing field for mu­si­cians to­day and back in the 1970s has changed, we’re still bat­tling for lo­cal recog­ni­tion, artis­tic in­tegrity and against cen­sor­ship. Artists are still be­ing muted in dif­fer­ent ways. That said, I don’t take it for granted how much eas­ier it is to cre­ate and pro­mote mu­sic th­ese days.”

B en­jamin kheng is one quar­ter of The Sam Wil­lows, the cur­rent poster band of Sin­ga­pore’s mu­sic scene. The 27-year-old is also busy mak­ing a mark as an ac­tor with his first lead­ing film role in lo­cal mu­sic leg­end Dick Lee’s biopic, Won­der Boy, which opens in the­atres on Au­gust 3. Be­sides shar­ing a love for mu­sic and tight pants with his char­ac­ter Richard (a young Dick), Benjamin says they could not be more dif­fer­ent. “Richard is hot-headed, while I’m non­con­fronta­tional. Our song lyrics have a cer­tain

“There isn’t any­one I wouldn’t per­form for, even Don­ald Trump, be­cause there’s al­ways a mes­sage you can con­vey from the stage. I’d love to per­form for a for­eign worker in Sin­ga­pore one day, to show my ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the ef­fort he or she has put into build­ing our city.”

can­did­ness to them, but he tells the story in a lin­ear, bold fash­ion, whereas I don’t adopt that struc­ture.” That said, mu­sic has not taken a back seat. Since its de­but in 2012, The Sam Wil­lows has charted nu­mer­ous mile­stones: the band opened Sin­ga­pore’s Golden Ju­bilee Na­tional Day Pa­rade in 2015; head­lined its first solo con­cert at Hard Rock Ho­tel’s The Coli­seum in 2016; and fea­tured on Spo­tify’s Global Vi­ral 50 Chart— the first South­east Asian band to do so. The band per­forms at Sum­mer Sonic 2017 in Tokyo, Ja­pan this month, and will re­lease a new al­bum in Oc­to­ber.

“The Sam Wil­lows has been for­tu­nate with our bracket of lis­ten­er­ship, and so the chal­lenge for us is to cre­ate mu­sic that res­onates with this de­mo­graphic while mak­ing sure the work sat­is­fies us cre­atively and is also top-notch. We hope to cre­ate mu­sic that in­spires change. This means it’s less about us than we’d like to be­lieve.” “How I would like to be re­mem­bered? Either ‘that guy who butchered an NDP song’, ‘that guy whose lyrics helped me through a bad time’ or ‘Nathan Hartono’ (pic­tured), whom I’ve been mis­taken for a cou­ple of times. But se­ri­ously, I’d love to be re­mem­bered as a ‘Sin­ga­porean mu­si­cian’—it’s al­ways cool to be de­scribed as such.”

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