Words by Chong Yoke Ming
Singapore has a special place in the Mandopop industry as the birthplace of some of the most iconic Mandopop singers in history such as JJ Lin, Stefanie Sun and Tanya Chua. The country’s latest graduate to break into the Taiwanese Mandopop market is on her way to following in the footsteps of these legends that have paved the way before her.
25-year-old Boon Hui Lu first caught the attention of the industry as a songwriter, with two of her compositions included in popular female Mandopop star Hebe Tien’s fourth solo album Day by Day in 2016. In the same year, she was signed on by Taiwanese record label HIM International Music as an artist, officially embarking on her music career.
Around the same time, she also found fame as a YouTube singer, with many covers going viral, especially her rendition of Malaysian singer Namewee’s Stranger In The North, which has garnered more than 46 million views to date.
As the latest artist to fly the flag for Singapore in the international Mandopop industry, Boon Hui Lu is the ambassador for LIVE from the Lion City, a partnership between UFM100.3 and Hear65 that presents a series of monthly showcases featuring Chinese music performed by Singaporean talents. The first series begins this Saturday (9 Mar) and will feature Boon Hui Lu alongside fellow local musicians, Marcus Lee and The Cold Cut Duo.
Before her performance this Saturday, Hear65 caught up with Boon Hui Lu to talk about her music career, moving into the Taiwan market, and her debut album, Honestly Me.
1) Congratulations on releasing your first album! How has the response been like from your family and friends, and how does it feel for you to have finally released your first album?
Thank you! It feels surreal because this is something that i have been waiting for my entire life. To be able to realise one of your lifetime dreams, there is nothing more magical than that. My friends have been telling me that they like it, though some of them find that it is a big jump in style compared to previous covers I have made on the internet. But the overall review remains very positive!
2) Tell us more about your album Honestly Me 亲爱的你_怎样的我 and the songs in it. Which are some of your favourite songs and what inspired them?
It’s really true when a singer-songwriter tells you that he or she loves all the tracks from his or her album. When you go through the whole process of making every song happen, you will really fall in love with every final track you hear. I have to say that I really do not have any favourite songs in this album. But, if you really want to talk about the most meaningful song to me, it would be Dear 亲爱的你, because this song was inspired by my grandma. This song was written years ago when she was diagnosed with cancer. I wrote this song to as a reminder to take every opportunity to express my love more profoundly to the people that I care about before it is too late.
3) Moving from YouTube cover singer to a full-fledged professional singer-songwriter, how has your approach towards music changed? How has your life changed after becoming a full-time musician compared to when you were doing it as a hobby?
My approach to music has not changed much, to be honest, because I was already writing songs and accumulating them in preparation for my album. My general rule for my music, be it covers or originals, is always to create something people can relate to and create music which gives the world more meaning. I guess discipline becomes a more important priority than passion once you decide to turn your hobby into a career. There are more things that you will need to do in order to be a better performer or songwriter, even though it may not be your most favourite thing, and you probably would not do it if you were treating it as just a hobby.
4) You are part of a generation of Mandopop singer-songwriters from Singapore who have released their original work in recent years and are moving into the Taiwanese market gradually. How do you hope your music and success can influence the Singapore Mandopop scene or music scene, and what do you think about the current Mandopop scene in Singapore?
I really hope that I can inject a new vibe or style into the Mandopop scene with my music. And of course I hope that by taking bold moves like entering a foreign market with my music, I can inspire fellow Singaporean musicians to dream big and dare to take risks.
5) Describe your songwriting process. How do you usually get inspiration and how does the creative process of a song usually go?
I usually start with the melody, followed by the lyrics. But there are also times where the two elements pop up together in my head as well. I get inspiration from a lot of places - books, novels, movies. It’s hard to go through everything in life at such an age so I try to get inspiration from the stories and experiences of others as well.
6) What are some of your favourite songs by Singaporean artistes? Who are your role models in your music career?
I really enjoyed Stefanie Sun’s music in my secondary school days. There are a few tracks from her, such as 我怀念的 and 逆光 which I sang in competitions. I think Jolin Tsai is a very good role model for me. She is always very hardworking and believes that success comes from hard work. I feel that she has improved so much from when she first started and this is a true testimony to her hard work.
7) What are some of your upcoming plans for the year?
I look forward to holding a music concert for my new album this year, and I really look forward to more work and more collaborations in music this year!