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Mosaic Music Festival: Charlie Lim plays with space and time

By Patrick ChngEvents - 11 March 2014 12:00 AM | Updated 24 March 2014

Mosaic Music Festival: Charlie Lim plays with space and time

If you’ve been following the Singapore music scene in the past few years, you’d have come across folk/soul singer Charlie Lim – arguably one of Lion City’s most deserving rising stars.

At the age of 14, Lim relocated to Melbourne with his family. In 2005, he topped the state of Victoria for Music Performance in the VCE, the equivalent of the A-Levels here. Lim returned to Singapore to serve his National Service and in 2011, released his impressive four-song debut EP.

He’s come a long way since his mid teens doing covers of Jeff Buckley and Damien Rice. The 25-year-old is now widely acclaimed as one of the leading lights and a great live act in the Singapore music scene. He’s taken his brand (and band) overseas too, touring Australia and Asia and building up a fan base over the past two to three years.

Tickets for Lim’s show at the upcoming Mosaic Music Festival were selling so well that a second show has been added. That’s a rare feat for a Singaporean artist. previews the Mosaic performance with the YouTube-shy singer and finds out what else he’s got planned for the rest of 2014 (hint: it won’t be in Singapore).

Charlie Lim

What will your Mosaic audience be looking forward to?

Part of the show is going to be a special preview of new material that’ll be on the upcoming record, a double EP called ‘Time/Space’. The songs will be pretty raw, as we’ve never performed them live before; in fact we’ll be heading into the studio right after Mosaic.

So it’s a little nerve-racking introducing these new tunes to the crowd… kind of like a pilot episode but I think that makes it quite special. We’re also working on some visual projection that would reflect the whole duality aspect of the record. Brandon Tay from Syndicate is on board; I’ve never worked with a visual artist before, so this will be a lot of fun and will definitely bring the whole live experience to the next level.

Tell us about the upcoming double EP; when do you think it will be out?

‘Time’ will focus on a more linear, singer-songwriter approach to the way I write music, while ‘Space’ is more about experimenting with textures and electronics. Thematically they are two sides of the same coin, and it just keeps things interesting for me. It ought to be out around July or August, fingers crossed.

Will your recently released singles, ‘Bitter’ and ‘Conspiracy’ be on ‘Time/Space’?

Yup, one from each side of the double EP. ‘Bitter’ is from ‘Time’, and ‘Conspiracy’ from ‘Space’.

You seem to be dabbling more with electronica. What or who inspired that?

Mostly boredom and limitations where I can’t afford to record in studios or have a producer, really. Writing and noodling on the piano and guitar, which I still do primarily, can sometimes be a hindrance because you’re locked into certain ways of approaching composition.

Sometimes you get the best ideas when you’re just messing around on something you have no formal training on, even if it’s just fiddling with synths presets or drum machines and loopers.

Which reminds me… Inch (Chua) bought me this cool and kitsch-y battery-powered autoharp called a Q-Chord last year for Christmas. I should give that another go. 

About three years ago, you told me that you were still trying to develop your sound and find your voice. Do you think you’ve achieved that now?

Not exactly; but I say that with a lot less frustration and more acceptance these days. It took me a long time to understand that you don’t just “discover” or plan to invent your own voice or sound… there’s only so much you can come up with on a conceptual level. What seems original is usually just a combination of varied influences executed selectively and yet in a way that has to feel authentic to you.

It’s really the cliché of the journey that you need to fall in love with, rather than focus on the goal to be unique, let alone for the sake of marketability. The latter is gimmicky and it might get you some attention at first, but there’s very little longevity in that notion.


I’ve come to realise that a lot of who I am today can only be quantified and documented retrospectively… you can only connect the dots when you look backwards. I didn’t set out to be this way, and while it’s not as if I don’t constantly struggle I’m generally pretty happy with how it’s all turned out. I’m still eager to keep learning and growing.

You’ve collaborated with many musicians for videos on YouTube. Any interesting stories to share about some of the videos?

I haven’t been too prolific on the whole YouTube thing. I’ve done a bunch of rearrangements of songs I like just for kicks really, and thought it’ll be fun to get some friends on board.

I don’t like the idea of stuff lurking on the Internet when I’ve already moved on, or when the video was just done out of spontaneity and not really meant to be anything too definitive. There should be like a Snapchat for YouTube; it’s all just a bit of fun.

One of my last videos was with Benjamin Kheng (from the Sam Willows), and we shot at East Coast park around 4am to catch the sunrise. There were some suspicious people lurking around the spot we picked and we weren’t sure if we should leave our bags on the benches a good distance away from the coast, so you can see us carrying them rather awkwardly in the video.

What plans have you got lined up for the rest of 2014?

Mosaic will be our last show in Singapore for a while; once the record is finished I’m going to take the rest of the year to hit the road again, preferably with the band.

I’m working on a few other collaborations as well, just to keep things interesting. And then I head off to the UK for a year to do a music production course. I don’t think I’ve planned this far ahead, ever… it feels good to have some objectives for once!

Charlie Lim at Mosaic Music Festival 2014 | Date: 16 Mar | Time: 7.30pm, 10pm | Venue: Esplanade Theatre Studio | Tickets: $30, $38 from Sistic

Mosaic Music Festival 2014: Charlie Lim

Mosaic Music Festival 2014: Charlie Lim

Date Mar 16, 2014

VenueEsplanade Theatre Studio

Ticket PriceS$30.00 - S$38.00
 (excludes booking fee)