What was discussed at the Corrinne May (above right) press conference as revealed by Jeanette Chin and Samuel C Wee.
So Corrinne, you’re now based in LA. How do you feel about coming back to Singapore and being the first local artist to perform here at Gardens by the Bay?
I always love coming back to Singapore, because this is where my family and friends are, and where I can get my favourite foods. So yeah, I’m really happy to be back…I’m really excited! It’s a beautiful venue. We were given a tour, took a look around, and went to the Cloud Forest. It’s a beautiful forest with an amazing waterfall, and it’s just a wonderful setting to just reflect, and to just think, and just to be. It opens itself for reflection and I think it goes well with music, so I like that.
Do you think that the venue actually affects your performance, when you’re actually doing the concert?
Usually a venue will affect the way you feel about the music and about how you portray it. It does affect the way that people in the audience feel too. When they’re in the midst of nature, I’m sure it opens up a different feeling when you’re under the stars, versus if you are in a smoky environment in a closed club. So the openness of the space, I’m sure, will blend in well to music.
Your latest album “Crooked Lines” was released in March and it’s already gone Gold right here in Singapore. It was #1 on the local charts for 4 consecutive weeks, beating out Madonna’s “MDNA” album as well, how do you feel about that?
I’m really quite humbled by that, and quite happy that listeners are really supportive of the music that I make, and it’s great.
(Jean Danker interjects) Absolutely, you’re a favourite here. On Class 95, you’re a definite favourite, you’re a staple on our playlist, so congratulations!
CM: Thanks a lot.
“Crooked Lines” is your first album since you gave birth to your daughter Claire. How has motherhood changed you, or perhaps influenced your music?
I find that I look at things with a more child-like wonder through her eyes, because she will focus on something like the moon, or a butterfly, or a flower, and she’ll notice in it things that I wouldn’t notice. Like even in the daytime sky when you usually wouldn’t notice the moon, she would look up and she’d say, “Mama, the moon!”
And I’d look up and there’s the moon in a silhouette, but she notices these things and so, it’s amazing that she brings such joy into my life. And I never knew that joy before, so it’s something that has really helped me to grow as a person, and I hope it translates to the songs as well. And then the way that she’s taught me how to love, and to just learn about the value of sacrifice, because the first few months are really quite rough! You hear about the proverbial, just having to stay up late nights and take care of your kid, it’s all true! You know you definitely go many days, if not months, with 5 hours of sleep, when you didn’t actually realize you could do that. So it’s amazing what motherhood does to you…children teach you about things that you’d forgotten, that you knew in childhood, but maybe you’d cast aside as you grew a little older.
You write about your daughter and stuff and include lots of personal experiences in your music. Where do you draw the line when it comes to writing about personal stuff?
Gee, that’s a hard one. I usually do go into my journal to look for song ideas…I’ll draw the line if it gets too cheesy. I usually don’t get too cheesy, but if there’s something there, you know, like if I’m talking about a cat, or something that I don’t think people will relate to, like maybe my hamster just passed away, I don’t think I’m gonna write about that. But if it’s talking about emotions that I feel, that I want to share, and I want to get out of my system, I think honesty is pretty good as a policy as a songwriter.
A lot of the songs that I thought would not work, songs like “Fly Away” for example, I wasn’t sure if people would understand the emotions behind (it)…for me, it was leaving Singapore and going overseas, and the whole thing about the love of parents having to let children go. I thought it was a personal experience until I put it into a song, and then I sang it, and people responded by just writing or letting me know how they had loved ones in their lives who left, or who passed on, and that song helped them to grieve, or helped them to let go of someone. So it’s amazing how songs are bridges for communication, for just sharing feelings, and how people come together through a song, just to bond. I think that’s an amazing experience.
Thank you for flying the Singapore flag in LA…very simple question. What would you do differently if you had a $50 million dollar backing for your musical career?
CM: Gee, I don’t even know how to comprehend that amount of money…one million would be great! 50 million, what would I do? Gee, the first thing I would do probably would be to buy a nice grand piano, so that I can play on it. Maybe buy a really cool guitar. Maybe run a studio? But maybe also take a trip perhaps. Maybe try to reconnect and get some new song ideas. I don’t know if that would take $50 million. Yeah, something like that… but the piano would be high on my list.
What’s different in the music scene in LA and here? What are the things that you’ve learnt that you’ve applied in your music career here in Singapore?
In LA, there are a whole bunch of singer-songwriters out there where I’m still constantly learning from. I haven’t exactly found a network here that I found in LA… maybe because I haven’t spent all that much time here after graduating from college. But in terms of LA, the network is real important, I think that’s one of the reasons why me and my husband really like the music industry there. You meet someone and you learn from them, and they talk about another person, and you just keep on widening your circle, and as a musician it’s really important to challenge yourself and not to be static, because after you finish one album, there’s a little voice at the back of your mind that says, “OK, what else can I write about? What else can I sing?”
And it’s good to have that geographical space, that’s one thing I notice between Singapore and LA. When I’m back in LA, I could drive for hours in any direction, I can hit the ocean one side, I can drive for 2 weeks in the other direction and maybe hit the East Coast, but that whole mental freedom, in terms of the geographic space, it does affect the way that you create things. And I like that when I go back to LA, I have my own space, I could drive to the monastery, if I needed to, in an hour and a half, and just be in the middle of a desert with nobody else around, and just centre myself and write.
That’s something I probably wouldn’t be able to find here, even though I have my friends and my family here. That’s a benefit of being in Singapore is to just come together, develop those relationships that I love, that have moulded me, sort of zone in on myself. So those two, I feel like I’ve got one foot in one place and one foot in another, but they all come together to make me who I am. And so it’s really cool when I come back, I have been forming some relationships too with other musicians here in Singapore and it will come together somehow. I don’t know if that answers your question.
What about thee difference in terms of the support for the arts and the attitude towards the arts then? What’s your perspective on the way Singapore’s moving and developing in terms of that?
CM: I’d say there are more opportunities now for being a musician than back when I was trying to start up. It’s moving definitely in the right direction. You get more people who are exploring their voice. There are more venues for where you can actually get to express those views, and maybe your creative side. And I love the fact that they’ve got the Baybeats festival, that’s wonderful. It’s also more nurturing in that sense here in Singapore, because I think for example, NAC and other organisations have kind of stepped in to have bursaries and scholarships. In fact I was a recipient of one of the bursaries when I went to Berkeley and NAC helped out with some of the funding that I had when I went to school in music college in Berkeley.
That’s something where you don’t really see much of in LA, and when you’re there by yourself, you kind of swim or you sink. Here, it’s a more nurturing environment, because I think we need to develop music here, it’s not like it’s already there. It’s kind of growing, it’s kind of in its teenager years, and it’s good that there’s support for it, and I hope the support keeps on growing, because it’s much needed. For example, I hope to hear more local music on radio, and that’s something that hasn’t really altogether been addressed.
You know, even from the time I started out till now, there have been little steps, but not enough, I think we need to hear more.
(Jean Danker interjects again) We’ll work on it. We’ll work on it.
CM: Like maybe a percentage, like 20% of the playlist. That would be wonderful.