Local singer quits banking job to pursue music career

10 April 2013 / 4 years 1 month ago

There is no better way to kiss an old, dissatisfied life goodbye than by writing a song about it and calling it Go Fly A Kite no less.That is exactly what local singer-songwriter Natalie Hiong did, after quitting her banking job in London two years ago to pursue music full-time.But the 27-year-old’s ode to her old job is no pained ballad.Instead, Go Fly A Kite (an expression used to tell people to buzz off) is a light-hearted ditty with 1990s acoustic-pop leanings and pretty much sets the tone for the theme running through Hiong’s second solo EP, Beautiful Mess.Embracing life and facing the fear of the unknown in pursuing one’s dreams are major themes in this EP, told through Hiong’s poignant lyrics that are carried by wisps of simple melodies.She sings on Go Fly A Kite: “I tried to convince myself you were the one for me/Wanted to prove I could handle you easily/But I’m sick of this facade and it’s time to admit/You and I just aren’t a good fit.‘Hiong, who is single, says of her self-funded five-track EP, released last month: “They’re based on personal experiences, two of them are love songs and three about life. Like with the song Beautiful Mess, it started out as a song a friend wanted to use for a film she made about going overseas to live, but as I was writing it, it, developed into something more like how your life is your own beautiful mess to create.‘She adds that Beautiful Mess (2013), which took about a year to write and record, is a “less quirky and less cute-sy‘ follow-up to her debut EP Litte Heart (2011), which has a more upbeat, whimsical pop feel compared to her sophomore effort.Indeed, lyrically, Beautiful Mess sees Hiong more open with her emotions, like in her song Time Of Our Lives, in which she sings: “We made a promise to be friends forever/But where’s forever just three years later?/Oh everything changes/Numbers add to our ages/These hands, these hands, they just keep on ticking‘.But there is a lingering sense of optimism that can be felt on the new EP, and she keeps to her signature sound which stays rooted in the pop realm.In fact, her music sounds similar to other piano- driven singer-songwriters such as Sara Bareilles, Christina Perri and Vanessa Carlton.She says that she is in a good place and has no regrets about quitting her stable job.The London School Of Economics graduate, who worked in currency sales at a leading global investment bank in London for two years before she left, told The Straits Times: “I didn’t hate my job, but it was not for me, working in an aggressive, sterile environment while I was dreaming of, songs and lyrics and melodies.‘She says her parents ‘“ her father is a doctor and mother is a housewife ‘“ have been supportive of her decision to pursue music full-time, which comes as no surprise, given that she was raised in a musical environment.Her mother was a former piano and organ teacher, and her aunt owns Prelude Music Studio in Novena.Hiong’s 25-year-old sister is studying the cello at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music at the National University of Singapore. She has a younger brother, 19, who is serving national service.She adds: “There are times (after quitting) that you feel insecure... but you have to just keep working at your craft.‘Last month, she opened for American YouTube singing sensation Tiffany Alvord at her concert here and was also the lyricist for Resorts World Sentosa’s new magical production Incanto, which opened last November.There are no plans to put out a full-length album yet but Hiong says she is working on a new release.As for what she wants listeners to take away from her music, the chirpy artist says: “I guess it would be like, to live life to the fullest.‘Beautiful Mess is available at nataliehiong.bandcamp. com ($6 for the digital album and $12 for a physical copy)

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