Tanya Chua: In the mood for love

Tanya Chua met her beau at a three-month baking course in Paris earlier this year. He was a course instructor at the school, Bellouet Conseil.
Tanya Chua met her beau at a three-month baking course in Paris earlier this year. He was a course instructor at the school, Bellouet Conseil.ST PHOTO: DON CHI

Singer-songwriter Tanya Chua shares her joy of being with her beau, a French chef, freely on social media

Local singer-songwriter Tanya Chua is in love and happy to let everyone share in her joy.

On her Instagram account, there are pictures of her and her beau, French pastry chef Johann Martin, 34, having a meal, holding a tray of desserts and just looking comfortable in each other's company.

Many celebrities find it tricky deciding how much of their private lives they should share on social media, but this is not something that vexes Chua, 41.

She tells The Straits Times that she will share whenever she wants to.

"The cool thing is that it brings the power back into our hands. We can start to choose what we would like to share with people. That's more authentic than being snapped by somebody else," she says.

"Whatever I choose to share, it's out of sincerity and I don't want to make it into news. I just want to be as comfortable and carefree as I like to be."

Along with sharing those photos, she told the Taiwanese media in August that he was a course instructor at Paris' Bellouet Conseil, where she did a three-month baking course earlier this year.

Beyond that, however, she seems reluctant to reveal more.

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At a media session at a hotel here on Monday afternoon, she gets a little flustered and tongue-tied when the conversation turns to him.

"There's social media, go look it up," she says with a laugh, looking chic in a white blouse and black print skirt. The Taiwan-based musician was back in Singapore to promote her upcoming Lemuria concert at The Star Theatre on Dec 10.

And do not expect her relationship to become fodder for her songs, a trait of American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift.

She says: "My music will change depending on where I am and who I've become. As to what my next album, or even next song will be like, I never know until the moment of inspiration strikes."

If her mood is any indication, fans should be expecting more buoyant music from one of Singapore's most highly acclaimed Mandopop exports. The three-time Golden Melody Award winner for Best Mandarin Female Singer has released 10 studio albums, including feted works such as her self-titled debut in 1999, Goodbye & Hello (2007) and Sing It Out Of Love (2011).

Chua, who has been taking a break from making music after her album last year, the game-changing electronica work Aphasia, says: "It took such a toll on me as I really had to dig deep into myself. Right now, I just want to live life a little.

"At the moment, I'm very happy being myself. So be it baking or making music or falling in love, you're just being yourself at every stage. And when you enjoy that, everything feels wonderful."

That happiness is something she wants to share with her fans at her concert. Hence the choice of the title Lemuria, the name of a mystical utopia, which represents "a positive energy and a journey of learning to love yourself".

It is a journey that she herself has taken.

Two years ago, she had to cancel her concert at Hong Kong's Coliseum as a bout of flu deteriorated into acute laryngitis and she could not sing. "Looking back, it was a blessing in disguise as my body was telling me I needed to rest and take care of myself."

It was a chance for her to take stock and ask herself some tough questions as she realised she was unhappy.

She says: "When I realised how important happiness was, I made a lot of changes, from the way I dealt with things to how I lived my life. How to love myself and look for things that give me joy apart from music. What can I do to make myself a better person. It's about becoming a Tanya Chua that I like."

Meanwhile, she is anticipating the special dish that chef Martin has planned for her.

"I'm still waiting for it. He has yet to make it for me, but he says he's going to."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 26, 2016, with the headline 'In the mood for love'. Print Edition | Subscribe