Shine bright, be bold, reach high
Oh, to be young and have opportunities abound, waiting to be seized. Yet passion without purpose and focus can be foolhardy; just ask Singapore musicians who have been there, done that.
We get Singapore Idol Season 3 winner Sezairi Sezali, singer-songwriter Joel Tan, who goes by the stage name Gentle Bones and rapper Kevin Lester, whose moniker is THELIONCITYBOY, to spill the beans on their youth and offer advice to young ones.
The trio are part of SHINE LIVE, a music festival happening this weekend as part of YOUTHx. The event, organised by the National Youth Council, celebrates youth and their myriad talents through various activities including an interactive art installation, a dance competition, e-sports matches and conferences for music and dance lovers.
Read on for the trio’s replies (edited and condensed) and find out how THELIONCITYBOY went from dreaming about flying to rhyming.
What were you like at age 18?
Tan: A chubby student studying for my A-levels, contemplating the possibilities of a career in music. Life was much simpler back then.
Lester: I was studying at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, convinced that I would become an engineer like my father. I signed up for Chemical Engineering because it was always my dream to become an engineer or pilot. But I was also trying to figure out who I was and my identity, as someone who comes from a mixed-heritage family.
Sezairi: I felt invincible, like there was nothing out of my reach. If I set my mind to it, it usually turned out well for me. I had no time for second-guessing my actions, but also barely enough wisdom to think things through.
In hindsight, what advice would you give your 18-year-old self?
Tan: It doesn’t matter how young you are, as long as you have the drive to pursue your passion you don’t need to seek the validation of others.
Lester: Be smarter with your money and be savvier online. As music transitions towards analytics, online streaming will become important. Learn how to market yourself online.
Sezairi: Slow down, relax, gather your thoughts and think deeper. Take care of yourself first. The world wants you to be like everyone else but don’t fall for that.
What advice do you have for 18-year-olds trying to discover their passion today?
Tan: Find what you love and question how you fell in love with it. Do you want your art or passion to inspire others the same way it inspired you?
Lester: Be present in your journey. In rap, we say it is important to be a student of the game because the journey keeps changing and there will always be obstacles. That is why you should keep learning, especially from the people around you. That has really benefitted me in my career.
Sezairi: It is okay to not know what you want yet. It is okay to not want to rush into things. Life is short, but in the grander scheme of things, you have a lot of time. If you love something, immerse yourself completely in it and learn everything you can about it. Be the best version of yourself first, everything else will follow.
Details of YOUTHx here.