You’d be hard-pressed to find a fellow Singaporean who hasn’t heard of The Sam Willows, arguably one of the hottest acts that is fast revolutionising our music landscape.
The homegrown quartet, made up of Benjamin Kheng, Narelle Kheng, Sandra Riley Tang and Jon Chua, has been chalking up an impressive record of honourable accolades throughout their six-year career, and they show no signs of losing steam anytime soon. Just take a look at the results of their latest studio record I Know, But Where, which topped the Singapore iTunes charts within an hour of its release. But apart from their musical achievements, they are really just a band of friends who love making music together and fooling around with one another. During our recent interview with the local pop darlings, we found out quite a bit of amusing tidbits about ’em – fanboying shenanigans, memes and all.
#1 They are massive fans of CL.
Teenage: You’ll be playing at We The Fest and Hyperplay soon! How do you feel about performing alongside big names like CL?
Jon: Oh, I’m so excited for CL. We are very big fans. I think it’s perfect because CL is known as the baddest female, and I’m known as the baddest male, so… (laughs)
Narelle: Self-proclaimed. We’ve actually played once with CL before when she was still in 2NE1. We went on right after her and you know when you’re onstage you have in-ear monitors where you sing into a mic and it goes straight into your ears? So right before we went out we had to put them on, which meant that we heard everything that was coming out of her mic, directly into our ears. She’s such a good vocalist, it’s insane. I got goosebumps just hearing her voice.
Teenage: Have you guys met her before?
Jon: No, but I’m planning to find her in her dressing room.
Sandra: Oh my god, don’t say that Jon. That sounds so creepy!
Jon: I’m not gonna lie about it! Like, I’m so excited for CL… so excited.
#2 A TSW x Alessia Cara collaboration, anybody?
Teenage: What other artistes performing in the upcoming festivals you guys would like to collaborate with?
Ben: Alessia Cara!
Narelle: We just love really love Alessia Cara so much. I mean she started off on YouTube as well, writing songs about things that are real to her. And I think she’s so down-to-earth! Ben has a massive crush on her just ’cause of her voice.
#3 They are super into cartoons.
Teenage: Tell us more about the inspiration behind your album’s dystopian concept.
Narelle: We were thinking about how we could put our faces on the cover, but somehow we just couldn’t think of how the four of us would be photographed to represent these songs. It kinda started with ‘Robot’, like we knew from the start we wanted it to have something to do with animation. We were sitting in the studio and Sandra had this idea of a human and robot sitting on a cliff looking out into the distance… then we had our friend do the visual and we all fell in love with it. It just felt right. I think even with all the other cover arts, we also had a bit of a cartoon feel to it. I don’t know, I’m just in a cartoon phase in my life. You’re a cartoon right now, in my mind! (Laughs)
#4 And a pretty competitive band too!
Teenage: What are your thoughts on other bands such as One Direction and Fifth Harmony breaking up recently?
Narelle: I don’t know, we haven’t really given it that much thought. We also know that there is a lifespan of how long we get to be together, but we’re just working through it.
Sandra: We’re also very competitive by nature, so when we hear a different band has broken up we’re like: “Yes!”
Narelle: Hah, we’re still here! We’ll be like fifty and singing Canto songs.
Jon: I think the day that The Sam Willows break up is gonna be a very sad day. Like all this work and what we’ve been through together as a band… definitely that day will come – we know that for sure but well, not anytime soon because we’ve got a new album to promote, so…
Narelle: And we have a contract! (Laughs)
Bonus: Did we mention they make iconic memes?
We asked each of them to come up with a face that best suits their rather unconventionally-titled album I Know, But Where – and well, they certainly did not disappoint.
Can’t get enough of The Sam Willows? Be sure to grab a copy of our latest issue coming out this August, featuring the band’s track-by-track breakdown of I Know, But Where. Plus, a mega poster for you to pin up!
Meanwhile, check out their full album on Spotify.