Don Richmond and Bani Hidir of 53A on 2022 NDP theme song "Strong Together", working with Taufik Batisah, and more

Don Richmond and Bani Hidir of 53A on 2022 NDP theme song "Strong Together", working with Taufik Batisah, and more

National Day is almost here!

Every year, we look forward to the year’s theme song, and 2022 is no different. The theme track, ‘Stronger Together’, performed by Taufik Batisah and The Island Voices is a call for Singaporeans to unite and work towards a bright future as one people, one nation and one Singapore. Following our interview with Lindsay Jialin, the talented director and producer behind the touching music video, Hear65 chats with the musicians behind the magic - Don Richmond and Bani Hidir of 53A.

Don Richmond composed and wrote the track, with Bani Hidir joining him on the arrangement, mixing and mastering. This marks the second collaboration between the two, who also collaborated on the iconic 2016 National Day Parade (NDP) theme song, ‘Tomorrow’s Here Today’. Hear65 chats with the pair about their new collaboration, working with Taufik Batisah, and more.

Hi, Don and Bani! How have you been and what have you been up to recently?

Don: Been great! Just finishing up all the music cues for NDP ‘22 and a few other commercial projects. Keeping busy!

Bani: I’ve been working on a few productions for various artists, and I’m also in the midst of doing a project with The Music Society, Singapore, mentoring younger artists with other great producers.

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A post shared by Bani Hidir (@banihidir1)

Congratulations on the success of ‘Stronger Together’! Please tell us more about how you got involved with this year’s National Day celebrations, as well as the creative process behind the song.

Don: I’m the music director for this year’s NDP show and when the idea for writing the theme song came up, I knew that I wanted to rope Bani in to help produce and arrange the song together. It’s always a walk in the park when I get to work with talented people and Bani has never failed to amaze me.

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A post shared by Don Richmond (@don_richmond)

Bani: I put my spin on an already great initial idea of the song and I most definitely had a lot of fun doing it. It was also a fun process working with Taufik Batisah, whom I need to let everyone know, for the record, I voted for. Yes!

What are the previous NDP theme songs that you strongly resonate with and are there any ways those songs influenced you when creating ‘Stronger Together’? 

Don: I’m always gonna gravitate towards ‘Tomorrow’s Here Today’, not just because I wrote it, but that sorta sparked one of the first times I actually collaborated with Bani. In writing this year’s theme, I knew from the get-go that we wanted to capture that same energetic spirit.

Bani: I truly do love a lot of NDP songs. They are obviously a big part of me being Singaporean but the one that resonates the most with me would be ‘Tomorrow’s Here Today’ because its message is one that inspires people to start on their future dreams right here right now.

What does it mean to you to have been given the opportunity to compose, write and produce this year’s NDP theme song? Were there any unique challenges in writing an NDP song, as opposed to writing and composing other projects?

Don: The process of writing an NDP theme song is not always a walk in the park, because you’re tasked with a checklist to check off in terms of who, what, and where the message behind the song can reach. I wish it was as easy as, “Hey, let’s write a song” but it often involves a long process of revisions.

What was it like working with Taufik Batisah and The Island Voices? 

Bani: I was in awe listening and watching Taufik sing in the studio. He absolutely brings his A-Game 100% of the time and never seems to drop in energy and effort.

Don: The Island Voices are a young crew of the best singers on this island and I can’t even imagine where each of them will end up in our industry in the future. This was a great mix of the experienced singer in Taufik ushering in 12 big yet young voices.

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A post shared by The Island Voices (@theislandvoices.sg)

What important insight do you want our Singaporean listeners to take away from ‘Stronger Together’? Is there a particular lyric or a motif in the song that you think is special to you?

Don: This is a song celebrating our people and it serves as a rallying cry to always band together, especially in tough times. The message was always simple from a writer’s point of view - I wanted to focus on the idea of changing myself, and in doing so, inspiring the next person. In due time, we’ll all inspire one another.

Bani: My favourite line in the song is “And I’m grateful still for the sun that shines”, the reason being the notion that “I get to do things” as opposed to “I HAVE to do things”. The title speaks volumes in that we are always stronger together in whatever we do.

What will you be up to in the near future?

Don: My immediate plans involve taking time off and curling up in the Maldives, not very musical, but definitely refills the creative well… and spending time with the wife!

Bani: It’s back to work for me with 53A and more production with my clients and artists!

In celebration of National Day, Don, who is also the music director for NDP 2022, has curated a playlist featuring tunes from his current favourite local artists. Check it out here: