INTERVIEW: There’s always ‘Room at the Table’ for love and empathy

We delved behind the heartfelt colours of Singaporean singer-songwriter Charlie Lim’s new song ‘Room at the Table’, including what it means to him and the two causes that the proceeds of the song will go to this year.

Released just a couple of weeks ago, ‘Room at the Table’ has gained over 86k streams on Spotify alone. The stripped-down acoustic-like feel of the song with just Charlie and his guitar allowed the listener to focus on the lyric and the rawness of his intimate vocal delivery while at the same time accentuating the thoughtful and somewhat poignant lyricism that makes the song both relatable and heart-rending.

An accompanying lyric music video to the piece was released last week.

AL365: Hi Charlie, Vanessa here from AsiaLive365. Thanks for taking the time to catch up with us. Congrats on your new single “Room at the Table” and its accompanying lyric video. What was the inspiration or initial back story behind this prelude piece?

Charlie Lim: Hey Vanessa! I guess the whole premise of updating We Are Singapore with the new prelude back in 2018 was about taking a snapshot of where we are right now, instead of glazing at everything through rose-tinted lenses. It’s also about reminding ourselves to have more patience and taking more ownership of being the change we want to see. 

AL365: We love the heartfelt and reflective prose in the lyrics. It is such an empathetic piece and we love what you’re doing with the song. We understand that all proceeds for this year from the song will go to Transient Workers Count 2 (TWC2) and Itsrainingraincoats to help our migrant workers during this crisis. Tell us more about this cause or is there any light you like to shed on the migrant community during these strange times of uncertainty?

Charlie: The living conditions of migrant workers have been quite a hot topic lately, arguably only because of this whole pandemic. It’s a heavy issue to try and unpack, and a lot of the stories you hear are really tragic and just should not even have been allowed in the first place. I think the first step is simply for us to recognise their contribution to what we call home today. As much as there are systems in place to try and help the situation, things are bound to fall through the cracks. TWC2 and Itsrainingraincoats are two charities that I’ve been following for some time, and they’ve been doing some really good work in that regard. But they need more help now more than before.

AL365: What was it like performing this piece at the Star Performing Arts Centre on National Day? For instance, this year’s National Day celebration was a bit different compared to other years; what was it like at your end, and as a performer, how did you feel? The visual impact and videography looks exquisite by the way!

Charlie: Thanks – Royston did a fantastic job with the visuals and I’m grateful that he understood the message behind the song and gave me that opportunity. The show was definitely a lot more intimate and reflective compared to the usual parade. But it still takes an army (I guess quite literally, too) to pull something off like that, let alone in just a few months as they had to scrap all their plans before because of Covid. As clichéd as it sounds I’m happy if I can be part of it and contribute one way or another.

AL365: With the circuit breaker ending, some industries are very slowly but surely “returning to life”. Even the tourism sectors/attractions. The arts and entertainment industry however is still on a standstill. As a music artist, what do you miss most about performing live to a physical audience, and what are your thoughts on the impact that this has been on artists such as yourself or even backline crew (casuals) doing tech work or front of house?

Charlie: Yeah I only just realised Sunday’s show was also the first show I’d done in front of an audience this year, so that was also quite surreal to be back on stage and made me realise how much I miss it. I think a lot of us were really emotional to get to do this show because performing in front of an audience is what we love doing. Livestreams are the only stopgap for now, but it’s just not the same. So much of the magic of a performance is tied to being in the same space and experiencing it all together, as opposed to having your audience watch you on their phone through tiny speakers…and getting heckled by trolls in the comments section.

AL365: Besides “Room at the Table”, do you have any other songs coming up, or (music) projects that are currently in the pipeline?

Charlie: This year’s been quite interesting because it’s just been collaborations and a bunch of live stuff. There’s more of that in the pipeline which has been exciting, but I’m also itching to just get back to working on the next record. 

AL365: Any other words you like to add or say to your fans and readers out there?

Charlie: Thanks for listening…I hope we get to see each other at a real show soon. 

AL365: Thanks again Charlie and we hope to see you at a live gig very soon!

Singapore has close to 1 million low wage migrant workers today, making up about one sixth of the population. These are people who are vital to sectors in the economy, including construction, manufacturing, hospitality, sanitation services, petrochemical, and domestic work – essentially the backbone of our society. 

Charlie would like to help continue raising awareness of the various organisations that aid our migrant workers in Singapore, and will be donating all proceeds earned from now until the end of the year, from ‘Room at the Table’ to Transient Workers Count 2 (TWC2) and Itsrainingraincoats.

Find out more about the two causes via Transient Workers Count 2 (TWC2) and Itsrainingraincoats.

Cover photo by: Lee Chang Ming / Charlie Lim Music

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