NDP singer Linying, who was told her music was ‘too sleepy’, is staging first solo concert

Singaporean singer-songwriter Linying will perform many new and unreleased songs at her solo concert. PHOTO: SONY MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE – Home-grown singer-songwriter Linying is taking control of her music career, years after she made her debut in 2016 with the viral hit song Sticky Leaves.

On Friday, she will stage There’s Still Time, a solo concert at the Esplanade Concert Hall.

Despite years of holding gigs and making music festival appearances in countries such as Japan and the United States, it will be her first major headlining show in Singapore.

The concert, part of the Esplanade’s Mosaic Music Series, will be quite significant, given that she has often been told that her kind of music – a soulful blend of folk, pop and electronic music – is not suitable for big audiences.

“For years, I’ve been told by promoters that my music is too sleepy, that you can’t sing along to it,” the 28-year-old tells The Straits Times in a Zoom interview. “It’s not ‘main stage’ stuff because it’s too quiet. People want something to sing along to.”

While her songs have clocked millions of streams – Sticky Leaves has more than seven million streams on Spotify alone – she has decided to fill half the setlist with new and unreleased songs.

“I’m approaching the decisions I make in my career with a lot less strategic thinking now,” says Linying, who is one of the singers and writers of the popular 2021 National Day Parade (NDP) theme song The Road Ahead.

She adds: “I just think it’s a good opportunity to take some of what I feel is the best music I’ve made and share it with the people I want to share it with.”

More importantly for Linying – the first South-east Asian artiste to sign with Canadian record company Nettwerk Music Group in 2016 – the new songs are more representative of who she now is. Nettwerk’s roster includes British rock giants Coldplay.

In January 2022, after years of putting out singles and EPs, she released her first full album, There Could Be Wreckage Here. The body of work was long overdue because the recordings were completed in 2019, she says.

“It was just a lot of discussions about strategy and territories and then Covid-19 happened,” she says. “It was mentally very tough to know that the music wasn’t following my trajectory.

“By the time (the album) had come out, most of the songs, I felt so sick of them. I felt like I had evolved beyond them, and I was just no longer as excited about the songs as I was when I had completed them.”

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It taught her an important lesson – that the music marketing strategy is a guessing game because situations are “constantly changing”.

“No one really knows, so the only thing you can do is really trust your instincts, especially when it comes to things like art.”

Still, There Could Be Wreckage Here was well-received by fans and critics.

American media organisation NPR Music listed it as one of the top albums on the week of its release, alongside those of heavyweights such as British singer-songwriter FKA Twigs and American rapper Earl Sweatshirt. One of the songs from the album, Faith, has clocked more than 1.2 million streams on Spotify.

Global recognition is nothing new for the singer, who built up an international following early in her career through her collaborations with German DJ and music producer Felix Jaehn, Belgian DJ and producer Lost Frequencies, and French producer duo Krono.

Like with many of her works, Linying crafted her latest songs overseas, travelling to London and Los Angeles in the past few months to team up with fellow songwriters and musicians there.

Closer to home, she co-wrote local artiste Benjamin Kheng’s duet with Filipino singer Bea Lorenzo, Good For A Time, and penned The Road Ahead with Evan Low, better known as evanturetime.

Taking on the NDP theme exposed her to a new, mainstream audience, and it was an experience she found “affirming”. Writing a song for the whole of Singapore during the pandemic was no easy task, she recalls.

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“It was nice to have something to tell my relatives,” she jokes about the infectious anthem, which pays tribute to the resilience of the nation and front-line workers and went viral on TikTok for its choreographed dance moves.

“But I think the response was good. People felt like it represented what they were feeling at the time. For my doctor friend and my paramedic friend, they were like, ‘the song was so encouraging to us’.“

Linying – There’s Still Time

Where: Esplanade Concert Hall, 1 Esplanade Drive
When: Friday, 7.30pm
Admission: From $34.20 via Sistic (go to https://str.sg/wKrq or call 6348-5555)

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