Singaporean singer Lily Ann Nuris is paying tribute to one of her all-time favourite artistes, Alanis Morissette, by giving the Canadian superstar’s songs a different take in her upcoming gig at the Esplanade.
Lily has been performing for 13 years and is currently singing at three places - The Connoisseur Divan on Tuesday (8-11pm) & Thursday (9pm-12am), Dubliner Irish Bar on Friday (9:30pm-12:45am) with Roy Dragon, and Quarubar on Wednesday (8:30pm-12am) with Wynne Sandosham. She’s also a vocal coach at The Music Lab – a music school at Middle Road.
Growing up, Lily listened to a lot of Depeche Mode, Madonna, King Diamond, Mariah Carey, The Cranberries and, of course, Alanis Morissette. I caught up with Lily to talk about singing in bars, teaching and the upcoming gig.
How did you get started in the music business?
I used to sing in bands, and did free gigs. Later on, a friend introduced me to SAF Music & Drama Company and there, I learnt more about performing. I also got to know more musicians outside MDC and got more non-SAF shows through that. It was great networking.
What’s your repertoire like when you’re performing in the bars?
My repertoire is a good mix of jazz, pop, latin and rock.
What's the hardest thing and also the most enjoyable part of singing regularly in bars?
The hardest thing is that sometimes we get “deaf” customers. We can have a crowded bar but no one's paying attention or a really quiet night that we end up playing to chairs and tables. Although on some quiet nights, we use it as an opportunity to practice. We get lonely too and we'll try different songs just to engage them but some times it can be very difficult. The best part is when we are appreciated and customers anticipate or request for songs. It’s also nice having familiar faces coming back week after week. Some have also become good friends so that's really cool.
How do you like teaching?
I am currently the Vocal Chief Instructor and it has been very rewarding. It takes a lot of patience to help the students understand an instrument they can't see – the voice. I was uncomfortable at first but the school was confident with me and I am happy seeing results in the students.
Why a gig covering Alanis Morissette songs?
Alanis is like Janis Joplin. You won't know her until you listen to her stuff. She was "like" the Janis when I started listening to rock music. She has this strong personality with a lil’ bit of quirkiness that I love. She's also a great artiste who writes good songs and I thought it would be nice if her music can be shared and remembered, thus the tribute concert. I find that there aren't many good singer songwriters in the mainstream. Good music are those that touch you deep inside. Alanis' were one of those few that touched me.
Have you watched Alanis live in concert?
Do DVDs count? I will be waiting for her arrival here.
In what way do you think your interpretation of her songs is different from the originals?
My delivery. I've been inspired to be someone without being like that someone.
Who are the musicians backing you?
I have my school’s (The Music Lab) principal Alvin Tan to hit the drums, fellow instructors Bani (my funk, soul metal brother) on bass, Daniel Chan and Yusaini on guitars. I am also working with an old time friend, Adi Rosdee, a keyboardist I knew when I was starting out in the industry.
If you had to pick one, which is your favourite Alanis Morisette song?
“That I Would Be Good”. Take a listen to the words. It helps to love one self no matter what others may think.
Lily Anna Nuris – All I Really Want is on at the Esplanade Recital Studio on Friday, June 25 at 9pm. Tickets at $25.
About Patrick Chng
Forever young at heart, Patrick Chng loves going to gigs and checking out Singapore bands. He has also been playing in bands since the late 1980s, writing about music and being an important mover and shaker in the Singapore indie music scene. When he's not checking out or playing gigs, he's at home playing with his guitars and updating his Facebook.