If you could choose items in your bag that most represent who you are at this point of time, what would they be and why?
My sketchbook and my headphones both reflect a big part of what I do artistically. I split my time between illustration/design and music. Sometimes the two passions work symbiotically at other times they conflict, especially in regards to time management. But I could never see myself quitting either one.
What means of creative expression gives you most fulfilment when you’re down and out?
It really alternates between creating music and illustrating. My music tends to reflect more accurately and deeply my personal emotions and thoughts. While I do find illustration therapeutic, its function isn’t solely a means of self-expression for me (aesthetics will often taken precedence over any conveyed personal emotion in my illustrated work) and is therefore not quite as intimate.
Tell us about the book in your bag.
In my bag, I have a few staples including my trusty Sony Headphones, which I use to reference and mix music on my laptop with; my notebook which I use for my sketches, poetry and any notes I need to make. I try to carry a good book with me whenever I can as well. Today, I have a retrospective on Dr Martens and their effect on popular music over the last 50 years.
Which artists have had the most influence on your style?
There are few contemporary artists I really like including James Jean, Ruben Ireland and Ken Taylor. My work on Grim Granary 2 was more inspired by artists like Tim Burton, Shel Silverstein and James Gilleard.
What about Singapore appeals uniquely to your creativity?
Being of Eurasian extraction, I find the cross-pollination of cultures and ideas in Singapore truly fascinating and even inspiring. Peranakan culture to be a perfect example of this. My mother is Baba-Nyonya and I have always loved how a wave of Chinese immigrants managed to adopt local Malay customs while still maintaining a distinct Chinese identity. This is how I like approach my art, always looking to incorporate ideas from other artists and cultures while still maintaining my own identity. I find myself drawn most often to Arab Street and Bugis during my visits. A lot of people bemoan the gentrification that seems to have swept many parts of the island nation, but all is not lost when you can still experience old Singapore visiting places like Katong, Chinatown and Little India.
Tell us about your contribution to the Grim Granary apps. What did you enjoy? What would you do differently?
I provided all the illustrations and music production for the books. Additionally, I contributed my voice to several of the poems. I really enjoyed working on what was my first major collaboration with my sister. It was a great bonding experience as well as an excellent opportunity to contribute both my musical and illustration skills to the same project. I come from a multimedia background, but this was one of the few projects where I was able to play so many roles.
Given that you have experience digitising your content (via the app, for example), what benefits do you notice that you wish more people knew about?
Initially, Nadia and I had wanted to publish a paperback series for the Grim Granary, but soon realised that digitising it was the most viable option for us. I had some trepidation with this decision at first because I still favour paperback over digital. There is something about the tactile experience of reading a hardcopy that I don’t think digital technology has been able to match as yet. That said, I believe that there is room in the world for both and I am very excited with how the app and the our journey with Tusitala has turned out.
Yes, I have just released an album with my collaborator and co-conspirator Cherie Ko (Pastelpower/Obedient Wives Club). We’re called Tomgirl and we’ll be dropping our first single in June, so keep your eyes peeled and ears open!