Best known for clinching the runner-up position in the 2009 season of Singapore Idol, Tabitha Nauser has gone on to make quite a name for herself. From repping +65 in the 2010 Youth Olympic Games theme song ‘Everyone’, to collaborating with Dutch duo Yellow Claw for their latest banger ‘Crash This Party’, and even releasing her own string of hit singles ‘Bulletproof’, ‘Body Language’ and ‘Rules’, the homegrown pop diva’s musical career has been a non-stop whirl of success. Through our short interview with the rising powerhouse, one thing’s clear: Tabitha Nauser goes by her own rules, and she’s winning at it.

Hi Tabitha! We love your new single ‘Rules’, could you share with us what it’s about?

It’s definitely a song that’s meant to be empowering and powerful. I wrote it from the viewpoint of a woman. As a woman, no matter which industry you’re in, people will always try to tell you what to do. So this song is to let these women know: “You know what? It’s okay if you want to do things your own way. You are powerful and you are strong enough to guide yourself.” 

So have you broken any rules in the past?

(Laughs) Oh my god, all the time. There are probably too many to tell you right now, but I’m pretty sure I have.  

You’ve got a new collaboration with Yellow Claw titled ‘Crash This Party’. How did that come about and how was it like working with the duo?

I was actually in Indonesia doing promo for one of my other songs, performing on an Indonesian TV show and Jim from Yellow Claw happened to watch the show and found out who I was, so he DM-ed me on Instagram saying, “Hey listen, I’m working on an album now and I heard you sing on the show. I think you’ve got a great voice, would you be open to collaboration?” And at that time I was like, “Oh my god is this Yellow Claw?!” (Laughs)

They sent me a couple of tracks, but I just felt like they weren’t the right fit for me as they were too EDM. So I passed on the first few ones, but they were super cooperative and really wanted to find a way to make it work. Thus, they kept sending me tracks and eventually we landed on ‘Crash This Party’ and we all agreed that it was a great song – for both Yellow Claw and myself. I flew over to their studio in Amsterdam to record, and that’s it!

It’s no secret that you love Drake. If you could re-record any song in your catalogue to feature him, which would it be?

(Gasps) That is such a good question. Oh my gosh… this is so hard. I would probably do ‘Rules’ with Drake. Yeah, can you imagine? ‘Cause it’s like moody and all, and he would do so well with that track – especially with the outro at the end.

Are there any other dream international and/or local collaborations you would like to make happen in the future?

For local artistes I’ve said this a couple of times, but I think THELIONCITYBOY would be a great person to collaborate with. And international… wow that’s hard. I would love to do something with SZA. I think that will be pretty dope.

You’ve gone from interviewing celebrities as a DJ to becoming a full-fledged artiste yourself. How was the transition like for you?

Oh, I love it! Interviewing people used to stress me out – I don’t know how you guys do it – like I used to be so nervous last time. I’d rather be the one answering questions, it’s just so much easier doing that. I think that would be the only thing that feels different to me. Other than that, everything’s pretty much the same. But I like this better (laughs).

From ‘Bulletproof’ to ‘Rules’, you’ve never been afraid to express yourself through music. What gave you the confidence to be the Tabitha Nauser we know today?

I feel that it takes time. You have to go through and experience different things. You’ve got to surround yourself with very positive people who want to nurture you and support you because when you’re in a positive state, it’s just better for everyone. When you’ve got good energy, it helps with your confidence and everything else so surround yourself with good people.

You’ve always been very vocal on issues such as female empowerment. What advice would you give to women who are struggling with their self-worth?

I would say that they have the power, you know what I mean? It’s easy to just tell somebody that they are beautiful but if you don’t believe it, then you’re never gonna believe it. You just need to find something about yourself that you like every single day and tell yourself about it. For example, if you’re great at drawing, just tell yourself “I’m a great artist!” It starts from there – just these small affirmations to yourself every day, it makes you believe in yourself little by little.

If you could change the rules of the local music industry, what’s one thing you’d wish to change for the better?

I feel like people are very quick to judge local music just because it’s local, and sometimes they don’t really give it a chance because they think it’s not as great as something that comes out of the US, the UK or anywhere else. I would say give it a listen and just forget that it’s local for awhile. Who knows, you might actually fall in love with it! I actually drew inspiration from both Singaporean and Western music – growing up, there were a lot of homegrown bands that I listened to. If I say the names of some of these bands, you’ll know how old I am (laughs).

What would you say was your biggest difficulty trying to make it in the local scene?

I think for me, the biggest difficulty was trying to rebuild myself as a singer and an artiste. I did come from Singapore Idol and a lot of people remember me for that, but after that I did a bit of deejaying, theatre and hosting. So for me, it’s just kinda re-introducing people to Tabitha Nauser. But I feel like people know now – they know I’m a singer and they know my music.

How has the local music scene evolved since your Singapore Idol days?

It’s unbelievable. With the advent of social media, everything is so accessible now. You are exposed to so many more local artistes and so many different genres of local music. It’s exciting because you have your underground rap, your mainstream rap, your indie stuff, your pop and dance tracks – and it’s so nice to see everybody co-inhabiting in that space. And for me to be part of it, is a huge deal for me.

What do you hope to ultimately achieve in this new phase of your career?

I just hope to be able to inspire more people and to empower a lot of other young girls. At the same time, I want to bring awareness to local music; to reach out to the region and to people overseas as well. I’m hoping to make a mark in some way.

Can we expect a full album to drop anytime soon? What are your plans for the rest of 2018?

Not an album, but an EP will be coming out this year. I’m trying to get it done as soon as possible. I have like one or two more songs that I’m trying to finish up and once that’s done I think it’ll come out. But I think the main goal for me in 2018 is to put out more music. I definitely want to do more live shows because I love performing on stage. I just want to put my music out there and have people enjoy it.

Listen to Tabitha Nauser’s latest single ‘Rules’ on Spotify.

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