HE1ST on music mentorships in Singapore | The A List
(Photo: Gabriel Goh)

HE1ST on music mentorships in Singapore | The A List

A good mentor can make a difference to your vocation and life. Just ask the three members of electro-pop and R&B act, HE1ST – Lay Yi, Darren Lee and Boaz Koh (above). The band, formed in 2018, has met and found various music mentors, including through the Noise Music Mentorship 2020 programme. They share what goes on behind the scenes of music mentorships.

Tell us about your experience as a music mentee.
Lay: Our Noise Music Mentorship programme mentor Evan (music producer Evan Low, better known as evanturetime) was so encouraging throughout the mentorship, I felt like we didn’t deserve it at times. He would offer comforting words before and after our shows and that really helped boost our confidence as a team. A big part of our All Things New x Noise Weekend showcase at the Esplanade in January 2020 was inspired by his words. I’m also thankful for his honesty when he shares about what the industry is like today; that really helps us know how to navigate the scene.

Koh: Since childhood, my dad’s best friend, whom I call Uncle Ed, has been a big part of my music journey. He constantly encouraged me with his words and would jio (invite) me to random but fun jam sessions, which really pushed me creatively. Those jam sessions helped me excel in technique and cultivate a better ear for different types of music. I’m more a metal guitarist but he would get me to play jazz with him and his friends and that really bolstered my understanding of music theory and phrasing.

Lee: I’ve sought advice and feedback from (Singapore musicians) Josh Wei and Jasmine Sokko. Despite their success and busy schedules, they have been among the kindest and most helpful people in my life. My conversations with Josh gave me a lot of perspective on music-making, from how one approaches music production to the music industry in Singapore. And it’s always refreshing trading ideas with Jasmine Sokko; I think she’s really balanced out my tendency to cram too many sounds into each song.

Are music mentorships important for musicians starting out in Singapore?
Lay: I think they really help new artists kick-start their careers and dive deeper into the scene. Mentors help you hone your skill and craft. They also expose you to the music industry and you learn how to navigate it.

Any tips on how to make the most of mentorship experiences?
Koh: Be open, be yourself and be bold. I would never have thought I’d dance on stage, but I changed my mind after what Evan said at one of our practice sessions. I paraphrase: “I tell you, work the stage, and everyone will see that there’s something different about you guys.” Lay choreographed a dance segment for our first song and we had a ball of a time.

The replies have been edited and condensed. Check out music by HE1ST here.

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