We interviewed Singaporean singer-songwriter Annette Lee to ask her more about her latest EP Song For The Underdog, how her journey for music began and what’s next for her.
Released on October 2, her latest EP Song For The Underdog, offers a series of empowering tunes to lift the spirits of all who might feel downtrodden.
“Growing up, I often felt like an underdog – weak, fumbling, and overwhelmed by odds that were stacked against me. I soon realized that just like the Aesop Fables story of ‘The Tortoise And The Hare’, I can still win despite seemingly lagging in the race of life.”
October also saw the release of the music video for the last single off this EP, titled ‘Crossroads’.
ASL365: Hi Annette, Vanessa here from AsiaLive365. Thanks for taking the time to chat with us. Congrats on your sophomore EP! What can you tell us about the inspiration behind this new EP?
Annette: ‘Song For The Underdog’ is kind of a collection of encouragements, the most anthemic of all being the title track, ‘Song For The Underdog’, which is why I named the EP after that song.
The songs in the EP are words to myself, but also to people around me of whom I know need to hear them. Most of the songs were inspired in the pit of a dark moment, shedding light into my situation. One of the songs, ‘Gold’, was inspired when I was literally in a dark moment – I was hundreds of metres underground in the tunnel of a gold mine.
ASL365: If you could describe this EP as a pantone/colour, what would it be?
Annette: It would be sunset gold! I think that describes the theme behind the EP best – that our ‘sunset’ moments, times when things are getting rough – are actually moments that can be beautiful and golden, and we can take heart in knowing that as long as we don’t give up during the darkest hour, the sun will rise again.
ASL365: Your songs, both on this EP and your previous one have such positive messages. What has been the most memorable thing a fan has said to you that your music has done for them?
Annette: There have been so many memorable messages, but I would say the most memorable one has to be someone being moved to tears listening to my song ‘Remind Me’. This person was going through an illness that made her lose confidence in herself. The song had helped her to regain confidence, love herself, and find hope in the midst of the struggle. I was so moved by her story.
ASL365: There’s a song called ‘Crossroads’ on your new EP? Speaking of crossroads, can you remember a time in your life that you were at a crossroad?
Annette: So many times! But one important crossroad I faced was when I received a job offer from SGAG just 3 months into my 1st job after University, which was at a local production house. I’d always been passionate about video-making, and had to decide whether I should stay at my then-job, or move to the new job where they didn’t make videos. I took the risk, and eventually managed to start a video department at SGAG and it turned out to be a great road I chose to go on.
ASL365: You also regularly appear in the popular SGAG series as the character Sue-Ann. Of all the episodes recorded, which one remains your ultimate favourite?
Annette: Haha it’s been a while since I’ve played Sue-Ann! But one of my favourite videos would be when I went on the streets in character, walking a pet rock (and other strange inanimate pets).
ASL365: Who would you say is your favourite character from SGAG?
Annette: There are so many, but I would go with ‘Becky’, who is a character in a news series who never shows up in front of the camera, but is always correcting a news reporter character called ‘Suezanna Chloe Tan’, played by me, as the latter always makes pronunciation mistakes.
ASL365: How did your journey and your love for music start?
Annette: I’ve always been surrounded by music growing up (my dad would play music from bands like The Beatles and Michael Learns To Rock on the radio all the time), but I think my passion really began with writing before music though. Because I often think in images when I write, I started by adding illustrations to my writings from young, but when I taught myself to sing and play the guitar at 12, I started to add music to my writings as well. That was how it all began.
ASL365: Do you still remember the very first song you ever wrote – what was it about?
Annette: Sooo I think it was a pretty ‘emo’ song about how most of us are only loved by others because we are wearing ‘masks’, afraid to show our real selves. I was 13, and emo punk was ubiquitous haha, so it was probably my teenage ‘no one understands me’ angst convincing me I was a tortured artist and hence that song was birthed.
ASL365: What artists did you grow up listening to, and do you feel their music has influenced your own music journey as an artist?
Annette: Growing up, i listened to a lot of Switchfoot, Coldplay, and Avril Lavigne, and even The Beatles and that really shaped a lot of how I approach music-writing.
But in every new season I have a new artist or sound that I listen to a lot (usually current pop) and that influences my sound at that point of time too. For instance, I’ve recently been listening to a lot of KPOP and Korean R&B.
ASL365: What was the last stage that you performed live at, or the last show that you attended and what do you miss most about live shows in front of a physical audience?
Annette: Oh wow, I need some time to think about this, it’s been such a long time haha. I think the last stage pre-covid live stage I did was probably at a secondary school! I used to perform at schools quite a bit before covid struck.
What I miss about it is definitely the ability to interact live with the crowds, and having them sing along live. That atmosphere of a large crowd of people singing together is really special.
ASL365: Besides the release of this new EP, what’s next for you?
Annette: I’ve been working on a bunch of new series on my social media channels for the next year, and I’m super excited about that – they include a satire news show called ‘News Plannette’, as well as a Youtube series called ‘Glowing Up’, where I have share about things I’ve learned growing up.
I’ve also been working on a bunch of video and music collaborations that would be announced soon – one of them is a remix of my song ‘Gold’, off the latest EP, where I collaborated with a KPOP Artist on a Korean-English remix of the song.
And in my free-time, I’ve just been making a lot of Tiktoks… hahaha.
ASL365: Is there anything else you like to say to your fans out there?
Annette: I’d like to say thank you so much again for supporting my music. I’ve always wanted to use art to bring light to a world that’s getting increasingly darker, and whenever you guys tell me that it’s done that for you, it means everything to me.
ASL365: Thanks again Annette and we look forward to seeing you live again on stage very soon!
Cover photo credit: Daniel Ho