Young musicians and e-gamers take spotlight at Shine

Aspiring rapper Axel Brizzy will be performing three original songs at Ion Orchard tomorrow.
Aspiring rapper Axel Brizzy will be performing three original songs at Ion Orchard tomorrow.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

Competitive gamer Edward Lim, 16, wishes to debunk some negative stereotypes of gaming.

"People often think that gamers are nerds who stay at home to game the whole day, don't have a life and don't study well," says the Chua Chu Kang Secondary student.

"But gaming is not only fun, it has also motivated me to pass all my exams and helped me make great friends who stand up for me."

He and his friends from the same school - Zheng Kai Wen, Ashton Lim, Joo Byung Don and Ahmad Nur Adli, all aged 16, - will be competing as a team this weekend at *Scape in the multiplayer online battle League Of Legends.

For the first time in 12 years, Shine, the annual youth festival organised by National Youth Council, will be featuring e-gamers, makers and creators.

Mr David Chua, 42, CEO of National Youth Council, says: "We observed young people in Singapore today who have a wide and diverse range of interests, much more than when compared to their parents' time.

"We see a growing interest in e-sports and entrepreneurship in Singapore, and so we decided to include gaming and makers and creators in this year's talent development programme."

  • VIEW IT / SHINE

  • WHERE: Orchard Road, from Ion Orchard to *Scape

    WHEN: Today to Sunday, various times

    ADMISSION: Free

    INFO: www.facebook.com/shinefestival

Edward says he was often bullied in school in his early teen years. Gaming provided an outlet and a support network.

"I could be an avatar in the game and escape reality for a little while," he says. Apart from the social aspect, he believes that gaming has helped him in decision-making, reaction time and time-management skills.

Shine starts today and runs till Sunday, also kicking off Youth Month, which will have programmes and promotions for youth throughout July.

This weekend at the festival, there will be more than 50 performances along Orchard Road by dancers, extreme sports athletes and artists such as K-pop star Jessica Jung as well as home-grown acts Shigga Shay and The Sam Willows.

Also on the programme are workshops and talks such as How Do I Start My Project On Kick-Starter? and How To Make It In Music?, which will be helmed by professionals in the relevant industries.

All performances, workshops and talks are free to attend. The festival's theme this year is #OwnYourDreams - a call to Singaporean youth to take ownership of their everyday choices as they forge the future for themselves and the communities around them.

Mr Chua says: "While our youth struggle to make sense of the bigger world, we want them to have hope, ideals, aspirations and the courage to seize opportunities and be brave in the face of failure."

Taking steps to fulfil his dream to have a career in the music industry is aspiring rapper Axel Brizzy, a 19-year-old Singapore Polytechnic student, whose real name is Axel Teoh.

He started writing his own rap tunes in Secondary 4, with a short work about football as he was the captain of Kuo Chuan Presbyterian Secondary School's football team.

"I just wrote whatever I felt was right," he recalls.

He is currently mentored by guitarist Jon Chua from home-grown band The Sam Willows as part of Shine's seven-week talent development programme.

Chua says: "Working with Axel has been really good. He has an open-minded approach to his music and a very good attitude towards learning. It's heartwarming to see younger musicians being so hungry and focused on their art."

Balancing school, family and music has not been easy for Teoh, but he says he is not one to give up easily.

"People tell you things like 'You won't go anywhere, there's no market here for you in Singapore'. But this just drives me to prove them wrong," says the music and audio technology student, who will be performing three original songs tomorrow at Ion Orchard.

The festival organiser hopes that youth such as Teoh and Edward will inspire others to have the courage to pursue their passions.

Mr David Chua says: "A good number of young people in Singapore might still feel that pursuing non-traditional careers in music and gaming is impractical.

They might face opposition from friends, family and society, but we want youth to realise that their future is in their hands."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 30, 2017, with the headline 'Young e-gamers, musicians in the spotlight'. Print Edition | Subscribe