Xinyao fans from across Singapore attended The Songs We Sang: Blog Aloud session last week on March 22, where director Eva Tong and four of Singapore’s best young musicians held a dialogue session about the music scene in Singapore.

Shigga Shay, Inch Chua, Diya Tan, and Carrie Yeo joined xinyao enthusiasts of all ages in a special preview screening of The Songs We Sang. While the four singers themselves weren’t of the xinyao generation, they acknowledged its influence on shaping the music scene of Singapore today in their discussions.

Shigga Shay, Inch Chua, Eva Tong, Carrie Yeo and Diya Tan at The Songs We Sang: Blog Aloud. Credit: Marcus Goh

Shigga Shay, Inch Chua, Eva Tong, Carrie Yeo and Diya Tan at The Songs We Sang: Blog Aloud.

Growing up on xinyao

Rapper Shigga Shay has always been a very big fan of xinyao music, even though he wasn’t familiar with the history of xinyao before watching The Songs We Sang. “I can see a lot of similarities [of the xinyao era] with today,” he said.

Inch Chua also shared that she grew up in a xinyao environment. “I grew up with seven aunties and they always liked to listen to xinyao, and they liked to sing xinyao.” She added that the film was very touching, especially during the final scenes which show the xinyao stars of yore singing together.

The panel - Shigga Shay, Inch Chua, Eva Tong, Carrie Yeo and Diya Tan at The Songs We Sang: Blog Aloud. Credit: Marcus Goh

The panel – Shigga Shay, Inch Chua, Eva Tong, Carrie Yeo and Diya Tan at The Songs We Sang: Blog Aloud.

Xinyao musicians were better at Chinese

The xinyao generation had an amazing mastery of Chinese, which far surpasses our current standard, said Eva Tang. She posed this question to our local musicians – which language did they prefer?

“We use whatever language best represents us,” said Diya Tan. Every generation has got different talents, so it’ll be impossible for us to write in the traditional Chinese poetic style.”

Shiggay Shay mixes different languages together in his songs because he grew up speaking English and Hokkien. “But we mustn’t forget [Chinese],” he added. “Each language has its own beauty, and Chinese is a very deep, very layered language. For English, I’ve always enjoyed its depth and literature.”

His recent work, “Tapau,” mixes Mandarin, English, and Hokkien lyrics together.

The audience at The Songs We Sang: Blog Aloud. Credit: Marcus Goh

The audience at The Songs We Sang: Blog Aloud.

Musicians will always be struggling

Compared to the past, what do the singers of today think of the industry? Eva Tang fielded this question to the four guests.

“We’re living in a very blessed era,” said Diya Tan. “We do the best we can, but we have to remember that Singapore is still very practical.”

Commenting on the gender bias in the music industry, she laughed and pointed out: “Three of the four singers here are women, so women power!”

But they all agreed that while they did not have such problems as gender bias, they had to face issues that the previous generation did not have, like harsher competition.

“The spirit of the struggle is the same, and as long as we embody the spirit of overcoming struggles, we will get back to the age when xinyao was so popular,” said Shigga Shay. He said that he was optimistic about the future, though. “There’s a market for English music in Southeast Asia.”

Shigga Shay, Inch Chua, Eva Tong, Carrie Yeo and Diya Tan at The Songs We Sang: Blog Aloud. Credit: Marcus Goh

Shigga Shay, Inch Chua, Eva Tong, Carrie Yeo and Diya Tan at The Songs We Sang: Blog Aloud.

Will the real “indie” please stand up?

“A lot of music makers think they are indie, but in the 80s [the music makers] also thought they were very indie (short for “indepedent”), so who’s mainstream?” asked Eva Tong. “So I hope [The Songs We Sang] bridges the gap between generations, and there’s a social impact.”

“After all, there’s only good or bad music, no English or Chinese music,” said Eva Tong.

Poster for The Songs We Sang. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Poster for The Songs We Sang. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

We want _______ to watch The Songs We Sang!

If there’s someone you’d like to watch The Songs We Sang, send an email to [email protected] and the team will invite the nominee to watch the film. Not sure if that person has already seen it? Check their Facebook Page to see who’s been nominated already!