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Q&A with Ken Loh: What Can I Do

A talented singer-songwriter who started his musical career through busking along the streets of Orchard Road, Ken Loh has enchanted many with his raw vocals and the poetic lyrics of his songs which often tell stories of love and relationships. Ken’s debut “Songs about Them” reached #2 on iTunes Top 200 Alternative Genre chart as well as #14 on the iTune Top 200 All Genres charts. The tracks, “Confused” (single) and “Lip Service”, reached #6 and #40 respectively on the Spotify Top Viral 50 All Genres chart in 2018. The opening track of the EP, “Shadows”, reached #15 on the iTunes Top 200 Alternative Genre chart. While Ken is currently pursuing his studies in Sydney, the Tropika Club team took the chance during the Circuit Breaker period to catch up with Ken.

Q: Your career in music started from busking along the streets of Orchard Road. How did this trigger your career in music?

A: Yes it indeed started from busking! Well, I did not grow up in a particularly musical household, we mainly did loads of sports; competitive swimming and tennis for years and years. My dad has a strong appreciation for guitars and had a few really nice instruments lying around that he occasionally played. He got me to go for some guitar lessons at the old Timbre (Sophia Road) when I was 15 but my interest in that was short lived. It wasn’t until I transferred schools to do the IP programme at TJC that this interest really grew. I started playing guitar for a friend of mine for school events and other peripheral stuff. It was never a serious thing.

I remember very fondly of my trip down to Melbourne in 2014 where i saw a busking band, Woodlock, play along Bourke Street. I was galvanised by their energy and with the idea of busking/street performing. After graduating from JC, I went on to apply for a busking license and decided to give the whole singing/playing guitar thing a go; I never did sing until then. Hahha, I’m glad my blind faith and slight ignorance turned out okay. Yea, it started along Haji Lane and slowly it just grew into something that was beyond my wildest imaginations. I haven’t been playing/singing for a long time and I am just glad to be able to be doing what I am doing today.

I then decided to go record some music and was introduced to Edric at GRYD Studios and yea, the rest just kind of fell into place after that! Now, I am in sydney pursuing a degree in Music with a focus on songwriting. How wild!

After graduating from JC, I went on to apply for a busking license and decided to give the whole singing/playing guitar thing a go; I never did sing until then. Hahha, I’m glad my blind faith and slight ignorance turned out okay.

Q: Your debut “Songs about Them” reached #2 on iTunes Top 200 alternative chart. What was the inspiration for both the Album and the Album Cover?

A: Ah! Hahah, looking back at those bring back very fond memories and questions of “What were you thinking Ken?” and “Wow, that looked so sad” hahaha. My dear friend and photographer-wiz, Coby Lazaroo, had a chat about how we can approach the photoshoot and we decided to work around the themes of vulnerability as it aligns with the songs in the EP. Looking back i would have definitely done certain things differently but i am very glad with how it all turned out! The shoot was incredibly fun and i had my closest friends with me helping me out!

Q: The third song is titled “Amy”. Could you share more about the title?

A: hahaha! oh yes well, it is what is says it is. I think its very self-explanatory hahaha! Well it is, lets say, its about a particular individual whose name may or may not be Amy. Its very much, as with all my other songs, an exaggeration of what happened (just to be a little more melodramatic) sprinkled with shavings of the truth. The voice memos you hear in the beginning and ending of the story were also of the actual individual and of actual WhatsApp conversations; hahah ill just leave it at that.

Q: Your latest track “What Can I Do” shows a change of direction from your earlier album. Could you tell us more about this change?

A: Yes! Well, i have learnt so much in the last 2 years whilst being in a different country and around different people. This really changed my perspective of music and the music making process. I did not deliberately seek out a different sound and i think What Can I Do is just a snapshot of what i was enjoying during that specific period of time.

I used to only want acoustic guitar as the sole instrument in my songs and was slightly averse to having other instruments in them but after being introduced to various other genres i began to better appreciate different approaches to music making. I guess What Can I Do is my attempt to summarise this change and growth.

Q: How would you describe your sound?

A: Big question! I really don’t have a concise answer to this question. Hmmm, i think, as of now, I would see it as intimate and melodic? I don’t know hahaa! But if it’s of any worth, I have been really enjoying the these works over the last two years: 22, A Million by Bon Iver, Rainbow Valley by Matt Corby, Southeastern by Jason Isbell, III by The Lumineers, Hoax by Kevin Garrett and This Empty Northern Hemisphere by Gregory Alan Isakov.

I guess I enjoy making folk/singer-songwriter music with a contemporary flair.

Q: What’s your favourite song?

A: The questions are getting harder and harder! Hhaha, well currently I am loving The Weather (Acoustic) by Lawrence. If you are talking ALL-TIME favourite song/s, I would have to say any song from O by Damien Rice. That album played such a pivotal role in my musical education and journey and to not mention it would be sacriligious! I listened to that album on repeat in my teen years and tried to learn every song when i started busking. What a songwriter Damien Rice is!

Q&A with Ken Loh: Songs About Them

Reviews

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