Singapore-born, Melbourne-based singer-song writer Charlie Lim was seated in Singapore’s new hip, outdoor venue, The Lawn at The Foothills, when inSing.com arrived. He was there for the Fred Perry Subculture event, where he would be performing later that night, belting out his familiar originals like ‘Pedestal’, ‘There Is No Love’ and a Michael Jackson cover of ‘Billie Jean’. He is also preparing for an upcoming show titled ‘In Transit’ to be held at the end of this month at the Esplanade for the ‘Late Nite’ series.
He is indeed keeping himself busy making music. This year also sees the release of his self-titled debut EP. In spite of his success both in Melbourne and now on our shores, he remains a humble and average bloke, with his own usual set of insecurities. He shared some of them with us, referring to when he got started out in music: “I was trying to [do music full-time); I just finished university. I was performing a fair bit in Singapore and Melbourne; and I was going through a bit of a crisis. I was getting quite down about the whole thing, and I wasn’t quite sure if I could do it.”
Charlie Lim – ‘Bitter’
Five years down the line, he is surer of what he wants and who he is, though the future still speaks of uncertainties: “I think it’s about focusing and keeping your eye on the prize. It’s about the journey. It’s nice to have affirmation along the way, but at the end of the day, for me, being able to make music is a thing that you are given and have to make use of. It’s almost like I can’t choose not to do music. Even if I don’t do this full time, I know that music will never let me go.”
“I am going to be in Asia for six months, after that I don’t know where I’m going to be. I move around a lot at the moment, although Singapore is always home and where I’m most comfortable.”
An artiste is only an artiste if not for his influences, and Lim brought special mentions to the hip hop, neo soul and noise genres, in particular, the recent St. Vincent & David Byrne collaboration, James Blake, SBTRKT, Little Dragon, before citing Robert Glasper Experiment, a covers band, as key collective influences for his band.
“People should play each other’s music a lot more, and then we will have a better community. Everyone’s sort of dying to play original music, even their crap songs. I think it’s better to do a tasteful cover, rearranged really well than rush a bad, original song for the sake of it. Everyone just wants to stand out, and do their own thing, but you’ve got to sometimes question what being original means? You still can be original when you’re doing other people’s music, and paying respect to them.”
His dream collaboration? “D’Angelo, he’s my idol. Neo soul ― and he’s massive now, literally and physically. He’s a musical legend; he’s sort of like my Prince.”
Ahead of his Esplanade show, we asked about what we can expect from it, and the difference between performing to a Singapore crowd as compared with Melbourne’s.
Charlie Lim & Adam Katz Trio - 'Mr Brightside'
“There’s a huge disparity in the way people consume music in Singapore. In Melbourne, from my limited experience, I think people are generally a bit more open-minded. But it can get pretty rowdy as well over there; and here people are tamer. So there’s good and bad,” Lim says.
“There will be lots of surprises at the Esplanade; I am not going to give them away now. But there will definitely be new material, a few rearranged covers, and some slightly more obscure songs. I think it will be the best show we have done so far in Singapore ― it’s looking to be that way anyway,” he adds
Finally, we asked how music had changed him along the way: “I don’t think it’s changed me, it’s just who I am. It’s such a huge part of my life. I can’t switch music off ― I’m always doing music, constantly working out new ideas in my head. My work becomes everything. You got to make sure you love it, otherwise there’s no point doing it.”
Charlie Lim’s self-titled debut EP is out and available for purchase download from https://charlielim.bandcamp.com/.