My Bag

30 years in music and loving it

Jiu Jian will hold a 30th-anniversary concert at the Esplanade Recital Studio on Feb 14 next year.
Jiu Jian will hold a 30th-anniversary concert at the Esplanade Recital Studio on Feb 14 next year.ST PHOTOS: NG SOR LUAN

Home-grown xinyao singer Jiu Jian says he is in a good place in his career

He has been in the local music industry for almost three decades, but Singaporean xinyao singer Jiu Jian says he has never felt more confident and contented in his career than now.

Speaking to The Straits Times last week, the 47-year-old bachelor says: "I think others approaching 50 might be apprehensive about getting older, but I'm enjoying life.

"In the past, I was still searching for what I wanted to do, but I'm sure about why I'm doing music now."

The songwriter, whose full name is Kenn Jiu Jian, has had a busy couple of years.

Earlier this year, he wrote three original Mandarin songs for the stage production, Ge Tai - The Musical. The artist also acted in the 90-minute show produced by Resorts World Sentosa.

A review by The Straits Times said he stole the show with his portrayal of an acid-tongued artist manager.


Jiu Jian will hold a 30th-anniversary concert at the Esplanade Recital Studio on Feb 14 next year.

"It was a lot of fun and I was intrigued by the show as getai is such a different genre from what I usually do."

The singer has always loved music. He took up the violin when he was seven years old, learnt the piano at age 12 and the flute at age 13. He joined the Music and Drama Company of the Singapore Armed Forces during his national service.

While he was with the company, a friend wanted to join a songwriting competition in Malaysia and asked him to help write the Chinese lyrics for a joint entry. Although they did not win the competition, the experience sparked his interest in songwriting.

Two years later, in 1990, he entered his songs in a xinyao festival competition and won the Best Song Award.

After that, he quit his public relations job and decided to pursue music full-time.

At 21, he released his first solo Mandarin album in Singapore. He put out another album the following year and went on to release two more albums in Singapore and Malaysia.

He has written songs for local Chinese TV dramas including Waves Of Courage (1996) and Sparks Of Life (1995).

His compositions have also been sung by regional vocalists such as Hong Kong singers Jacky Cheung, Ronald Cheng and Andy Hui.

In 2013, he won the Meritorious Award from the Composers and Authors Society of Singapore.

The experienced performer is also known for his contributions to xinyao, a local genre of Mandarin music known for its breezy and folksy style that flourished in the 1980s, especially among students. Xinyao is short for "xin jia po nian qing ren zi chuang ge yao", which means ballads created by young Singaporeans.

In the 1990s, Jiu produced karaoke albums for the genre. He also produced the Our Xin Yao Concert last year - a large-scale xinyao concert which involved more than 140 performers at the Suntec Convention Centre.

  • ON HIS BAG

  • I like this bag because it has a wider opening for me to find things easily. The material of the bag is waterproof.

    I also like medium-sized bags because they limit the number of things I can carry around. If I had a bigger bag, I would just dump everything in it.

On Feb 14 next year, he will celebrate his 30th year in the music industry with an intimate concert, Jiu Jian With Luv 2017, at the Esplanade Recital Studio.

The singer will perform some of his compositions and songs that were featured in local Chinese dramas. Tickets at $48 are on sale at Sistic.

On his time in the industry, he says: "Preparing for my 30th-anniversary concert has made me realise what I have done throughout my career. I feel grateful that I am still here and still having fun doing what I love."

Going forward, the singer, who gives talks on original compositions at local schools, wants to encourage students to learn their mother tongue.

"I want to use music to teach others about our culture and heritage. It is such a good tool to use to teach students."


Things in his bag
 

PHONE HANDSET

I got this from a friend. I use it when I have to make long phone calls. It helps reduce the radiation and heat from my mobile phone.

CHIA SEEDS

I carry this around and add them to my drinks. It helps me stay sated for longer and is also good for digestion.

GREEN ECOLOGY CELRO MOISTURE ESSENCE GEL

I have oily skin, so this gel keeps my skin moisturised without making it sticky. It soothes my skin when I get pimples too.

A TRUE STORY OF HARDSHIP AND HONOUR BY NOBORU KAWASAKI

This comic book is by a famous Japanese cartoonist. I've been reading this recently and I like that it is a good reminder to live with honour.

COLLAGEN SUPPLEMENTS

After a certain age, your collagen starts to disappear, so it is good to take supplements to replenish it and help keep your skin looking healthy. I've been taking these for 10 years.

S'WELL BOTTLE

I like drinking warm water because it is better for the throat. I don't take cold drinks. This bottle keeps water warm for at least 12 hours.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 24, 2016, with the headline '30 years in music and loving it'. Print Edition | Subscribe