It might’ve taken years and years for Years & Years to finally come to town, but the wait’s all worth it when we managed to catch the Brit trio for a quick chat before the showcase for their latest record Palo Santo – the long-awaited follow-up to their 2015 debut album. What have they been up to ever since? We sat down with the band to talk about the making of Palo Santo, discovering themselves and their love for Rihanna.

It took you guys a while to finally get to Singapore! But it’s fine, because you guys were clearly busy with your new record Palo Santo. It’s a great album. What was the mindset of the band heading into this sophomore effort?

Olly: I think we were all kind of like, in a daze. The whole experience of releasing a first album and then touring, is so overwhelming; it’s like a tornado of craziness. And when you come down from that, it’s hard to really know even where to begin. So we kind of struggled [at the start].

Emre: It’s called a difficult second album for a reason – we found out that it’s true. But at the same time, it’s kind of a good problem to have because that means that there’s people waiting [for our music]. Whereas for the first album, we didn’t know if anyone was going to listen to it; let alone like it. So it’s the kind of pressure that you want, but once it’s finished it’s really good to get out there again and perform it for people.

Tell us more about Palo Santo and how this fantasy dystopian world came about.

Olly: I guess it’s something that I’ve been dreaming about for a really long time. With the first album, there was no time to think of a concept that ties everything together because you’re constantly playing catch up. I knew that before we made new music, I wanted to create this kind of fantasy, sci-fi concept that all the music could go alongside, mainly because I thought it’d be fun. The inspiration came from loads of different places, like growing up we all loved sci-fi such as The Fifth Element, Star Wars… I was also inspired by fiction writers like Margaret Atwood and Ursula Le Gui. I wanted to tell the story that asks the question of what it means to be human. That kind of all went into [the album].

Palo Santo is all about self-discovery. Having been through the challenges of finding yourselves, what is an advice you can share with young fans who are still coming to terms with their identity?

Olly: For me, it would be the things that I hated about myself when I was growing up – whether it was my body, my sexuality or I thought I was just weird ­– are now the things that I feel make me special and unique. Take all those things that make you feel bad about yourself and one day, you’re going to love that and that’s going to be what’s special about you.

Emre: Being a human is a weird thing because on one hand you want to be completely unique, but on the other, you also want to be accepted and belong – so it’s this constant balancing act between those two things. But I think if you’re growing up, there’s always people out there who are like you and you’ll find them.

There’s a lot of artificial intelligence and technology elements in this era, especially with the promotional tools for the album. How do you guys see social media in today’s landscape – more hurtful or helpful?

Emre: It’s both. The funny thing about social media is that it’s not all bells and whistles that do it, but the more honest you are with it, it allows us to share stuff with fans without a gatekeeper. They appreciate it and so do we. I think it definitely helps, especially if you’re an emerging artist, to promote yourself. On a personal level, my issue with social media is quite up and down. I delete mine regularly because I know I won’t be able to stop checking it, and it can be quite unhealthy. But for an artiste, it can be a really cool way of speaking to fans directly. Plus it’s fun – everytime there’s a new selfie filter on Snapchat, I’ll think I look great and I’m like “God, I wish I could look like this, but I don’t!” (Laughs)

What’s your favourite filter on Snapchat?

Emre: I like the one that makes your lips go huge and your voice goes high like a frog, like Crazy Frog!

Your current single ‘If You’re Over Me’ sounds so chirpy, but the lyrics say otherwise. What are three essential things Years & Years would recommend to get through a breakup?

Mikey: Lasagna, and Clueless (laughs).

Emre: Maybe have a Mario Kart party!

So Olly, how was it like meeting Rihanna?

Olly: Meeting her was great, it was everything I had hoped it would be. It was very surreal, I don’t really remember what happened because I was so overwhelmed and just trying not to faint. She’s just so cool, you know? I remember seeing her at the MET Gala when she wore the yellow dress and she turned to give the cameras a shot on the steps – I was like, “that’s a star”. Not many people in the world can do that, but Rihanna sure can!

What’s really admirable about Years & Years is that at the end of the day, your music sends an optimistic message not just to fans, but to each other as well. What’s it like having such a great support system?

All: Aww…

Olly: I think it’s quite rare in life to spend so much time with other people whom you aren’t in a relationship with right? (Laughs) You go through highs and lows together, see so much of the world together, and ultimately, there’s a base level of being there for each other no matter what. I can’t imagine what would rip us apart.

 

look !! We <3 each other really!

A post shared by Years & Years (@yearsandyears) on

Emre: I was thinking it’s like Darth Vader [from Star Wars]. There’s hope in him, and at the end he’s a good guy.

Mikey: Who’s the Darth Vader in this situation?

Emre: We’re all Darth Vader!

Thanks to Universal Music Singapore for the interview opportunity with Years & Years!

Years & Years’ new album Palo Santo is now available for purchase and streaming.

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Following the groundbreaking success of Crazy Rich Asians’ $25 million theatrical debut, it has been confirmed that a sequel to the blockbuster romcom is already in the works!

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Warner Bros. has acquired the rights to author Kevin Kwan’s entire bestselling trilogy and is reportedly “moving forward on development” on the highly-anticipated follow-up that is China Rich Girlfriend. Although the film studio has yet to officially greenlit the project, we think it wouldn’t be long before the Crazy Rich Asians gang get back together.

Nothing has been set in stone as of now, but here’s what we know thus far.

Jon M. Chu will still be directing.

What’s Crazy Rich Asians without Jon M. Chu, right? The American filmmaker is currently tied up with a couple of other projects, but sources say that he’s likely to return to helm the upcoming instalment after wrapping up the shooting of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In The Heights adaptation, which is scheduled for a June 2020 release.

There are also plans to bring back producers Nina Jacobson, Brad Simpson and John Penotti from the original creative team, along with screenwriters Peter Chiarelli and Adele Lim.

There’s already a teaser in the first movie.

Trust Jon to sneak in a teaser to the possible sequel as the closing scene of the first film. If you’ve stayed in your seats after the mid-credits scene, you’d have seen Astrid Teo (Gemma Chan) and her ex-fiancé Charlie Wu (Harry Shun Jr.) stealing glances at each other at the engagement party of Nick Young (Henry Golding) and Rachel Chu (Constance Wu). “The idea is to tell the story in the next movie,” Jon reveals to The Hollywood Reporter. “I made a promise to Harry, so I’m going to do it.”

Assuming that the second film follows the plot of the book, the story will pick up two years after the events of Crazy Rich Asians. Besides the love story of Nick and Rachel, China Rich Girlfriend also fleshes out the character arc of Astrid, who’s stuck in an abusive relationship with her newly-minted billionaire husband Michael Teo (Pierre Png) and slowly rekindles the romance with her first love Charlie. Will our former lovebirds get their happy ever after? We’ll just have to wait and find out.

Will the OG cast return?

Thanks to the massive box-office success of Crazy Rich Asians, it served as a major breakout role for many of the actors; a rare opportunity that doesn’t come along often in Hollywood. As the first major studio film to feature an all Asian and Asian-American cast (and even familiar faces from our very own Singapore) since 1993’s The Joy Luck Club, it’s no wonder the cast members hold an incredibly strong attachment to the Jon M. Chu-directed franchise – so much so that they “started hoping for a sequel before we even wrapped the first one”, wrote Nina Jacobson in an email.

We have no doubts that the main cast would make a grand comeback in the sequel, especially leading man Henry Golding. “It would be so much fun to get everybody back together, back to sweaty old Singapore.”

Oh, we can’t wait to welcome you back too.

More related stories: Here’s How You Can Look Like Crazy Rich Asians (Without Being Crazy Rich)Channel Your Inner Crazy Rich Asian At These Iconic Filming Locations In Singapore

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A Fenty x Kai collaboration may just be in the works!

It all started when international EXO-Ls came up with the brilliant concept of having the EXO member as the face of Rihanna’s makeup line Fenty Beauty, then proceeded to flood the social media platform with Kai’s past photoshoots and masterfully done fan-edits in all his sun-kissed glory. Not long after, the hashtag #FENTYxKAI began trending.



With his chiselled features, glowing complexion and magnetic aura, one can definitely see why the 24-year-old would make the perfect model for the Rihanna-fronted brand, which has always been about championing inclusivity and diversity. Just imagine how glorious our resident melanin king would look rocking Fenty Beauty’s iconic Body Lava all over his gorgeous bronzed skin!

With Kai onboard, it would not only make a huge turning point in Asian representation, but also help to break out of traditional gender roles by normalising makeup for men (they even have a whole video about “Makeup For Men” in their latest upload on YouTube, and that’s saying something). And honestly, we’re all here for that.

Turns out we’re not the only ones; the team behind Fenty Beauty has quickly taken noticed of this ongoing movement and wasted no time in sliding into the K-pop star’s DMs. It seems like they’re pretty serious about reaching out to Kai, even going the extra mile of following EXO’s manager on Twitter (@Groovechaja) – and we spied that the latter has also followed them back! From the looks of it, a #FENTYxKAI collaboration wouldn’t be too out of the question.

Make it happen!

Featured image credit: @mrjonginkim

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Remember the time when we welcomed the cast of Crazy Rich Asians to our sunny shores? Well, now we get to retrace the steps they took as characters of the film and see our beloved Singapore in a whole new light. Take a trip down a cinematic memory lane as we re-introduce you to familiar locations that are now a part of movie history.

#1 Raffles Hotel

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Having housed many notable personalities from Queen Bey to Queen Elizabeth II, it’s no wonder the Raffles Hotel (specifically the gorgeous Presidential Suite) was chosen as Rachel and Nick’s home away from home during their stay in Singapore. Opened in 1887, this heritage hotel in the heart of our city continues to be an icon for Singapore; giving tourists and locals the most luxurious experience.

Good to know: Raffles Hotel is home to the Singapore Sling. As the hotel is currently undergoing a makeover, guests are invited to the pop-up Long Bar to enjoy a cup of its signature drink. Raffles Hotel will re-open its doors in 2019 with a more modern concept, complete with improved facilities and new dining establishments.

The Raffles Hotel is located at 1 Beach Road, Singapore 189673.

#2 Marina Bay Sands SkyPark – Infinity Pool

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Yet another iconic attraction in Singapore, the infinity pool at Marina Bay Sands plays host to the Crazy Rich Asians cast for a late-night aqua aerobics session. As the world’s largest rooftop infinity pool, it is helmed as the most Instagrammable spot in Singapore and was once Katy Perry’s press conference venue during her visit in 2010.

Good to know: Entry to the infinity pool is restricted to only registered hotel guests. However, the Marina Bay Sands SkyPark does have an observation deck which offers a breathtaking panoramic view of Marina Bay. Entry ticket is priced at $23 for adults.

The Marina Bay Sands SkyPark & Infinity Pool is located on level 57 of the hotel. Entrance to the SkyPark Observation Deck is at the exterior of Hotel Tower 3 at 10 Bayfront Avenue, Singapore 018956.

#3 Newton Food Centre

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As much as the Crazy Rich Asians enjoy dining in fancy restaurants, not even the most expensive of meals can beat our good ol’ laksa and nasi lemak. The newly-renovated Newton Food Centre gets special mention as the supper venue for Nick, Rachel, Araminta and Colin, which offers an eclectic mix of local delicacies at wallet-friendly prices.

Good to know: Newton Food Centre is also home to two Michelin Bib Gourmand 2018 recipients, Alliance Seafood and Heng Fried Carrot Cake. Be sure to avoid the usual eating hours if you want to try them out!

Newton Food Centre is located at 500 Clemenceau Avenue North, Singapore 229495.

#4 Where the Gohs Live

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Does that sprawling mansion where Goh Peik Lin runs to embrace Rachel actually exist in Singapore? Why, yes, it does – sans the gilded look it’s given in the film. This now-famous property is currently up for sale so if you’re a secret Crazy Rich Asian, you might want to consider this your spanking new home!

Good to know: If you’re not in the market for a new home, not to worry. As the gates are sometimes unlocked, you can still pop in for a quick look or that must-have Instagram snap (#crazyrichlikepeiklin).

The mansion is located at Cluny Park; nearest MRT station is Botanic Gardens.

#5 Ann Siang Hill

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Featured in the film as the backdrop to Eleanor Young and her power suit, Ann Siang Hill is a heritage district where the old and new collide. Though widely known for its cool and trendy cafes, Ann Siang Hill is also home to historical landmarks like the Al-Abrar Mosque, which has been at the same spot since the mid-1850s.

Good to know: Craving for a local bite at this culturally charged location? The recent recipient of the 2018 Michelin Bib Gourmand, The Coconut Club, is the place to visit for its traditional nasi lemak and chendol. As it’s highly popular during lunchtime, head down early to beat the crowd!

Ann Siang Hill is located next to Club Street. To get there, take the Downtown Line to Telok Ayer Station and take a 7-minute walk in from the main street. The Coconut Club is located at No.6 Ann Siang Hill, Singapore 069787.

#6 Humpback at Bukit Pasoh Road

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Located amongst the quaint shophouses on Bukit Pasoh Road is the famous seafood restaurant, Humpback. The alfresco bar table facing the road was the setting for Rachel and Peik Lin’s heart-to-heart, and also where Peik Lin delivered her iconic line, “Bawk, Bawk, B***h”. Surrounded by good food and good company, Humpback’s a great spot to unwind on a weekend or for a night out with the gals!

Good to know: If you’re a huge seafood fan, be sure to order a serving of their signature fresh oysters. Keep an eye out for their happy hour oysters where you’ll get to enjoy four different types of oysters at $3++ or $2++ each!

Humpback is located at 20 Bukit Pasoh Road, Singapore 089834. To get here, take the North East Line and stop at Outram Park station. Head to Exit H and walk along the shophouses till you reach the restaurant.

#7 CHIJMES Hall

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Known as the Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus back then, CHIJMES has since evolved into a heritage building that houses many dining options. The Gothic-style chapel has also been repurposed into a function hall where weddings are a common sight – including Colin and Araminta’s lavish wedding scene!

Good to know: Due to the popularity of the location, CHIJMES Hall always seem to be undergoing event prep and is mostly never opened to the public. But not to fret, you can still view the intricately designed architecture from the front entrance of the chapel.

CHIJMES Hall is located at 30 Victoria Street, Singapore 187996.

#8 Gardens by the Bay

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As another one of Singapore’s go-to tourist attractions, Gardens by the Bay was what the National Parks Board envisioned for a City in a Garden. The futuristic-looking enclave is home to gigantic artificial supertrees as well as two domed conservatories, namely the Flower and Cloud dome. This visual spectacle was chosen as the venue for Colin and Araminta’s wedding reception.

Good to know: With exceptions to the domed conservatories, entry to the Supertree Grove is free and visitors can enjoy Garden Rhapsody, a light and music show that takes place every evening. Alternatively, if you’re in for a more spectacular view, you might want to consider getting an $8 ticket up to the OCBC Skyway where you’ll get to walk the 128-metre-long aerial walkway and find the perfect spot to ‘gram your experience.

Gardens by the Bay is located at 18 Marina Gardens Drive, Singapore 018953. If you’re taking the MRT, alight at Bayfront station (for Circle and Downtown Line). Take Exit B and follow the underground linkway till you reach the exit. Once you’ve exited the linkway, cross either the Dragonfly Bridge or Meadow Bridge to enter Gardens by the Bay.

Image credits: Warner Bros Pictures

Catch Crazy Rich Asians in cinemas now!

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The powerhouse pop rebel might have charmed Singapore once before during her maiden performance at 2016’s Singapore Grand Prix, but on Halsey’s first recent headlining concert tour here, she proves that she’s a definite mainstay in today’s music climate. 

You’ll know when you’re at a Halsey concert. On the list of things to look out for: dyed hair (preferably in a shade of blue), oversized streetwear and rainbow flags; and those trademark items were on full display at The Star Performing Arts Theatre, proudly adorned by the many young fans buzzing in anticipation of their queen. But those signature fan honours are also a testament to the kind of celebrity Halsey is: influential, inspirational and unapologetically honest. 

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Following opener Niki’s short but sweet set of R&B-tinged tracks, it was the spoken-word introduction of Halsey’s ‘The Prologue’ that echoed throughout the venue in response to deafening screams, before she promptly followed with the hard-hitting ‘Eyes Closed’ as a mini-mosh pit furiously formed near the front of the stage.

True to her appeal of being a shapeshifting chameleon with her style, Halsey opted for a yellow crop top and baggy jeans combination complete with a chain linked on her pockets – reminiscent of early 2000s Avril Lavigne, coupled with the occasional Britney-esque gyrating dance moves and her signature mic flips in between verses. The main lady herself referenced the throwback theme, proudly announcing that “this show’s gonna be dirty and punk as f***. We are doing it old school!” before belting out ‘Roman Holiday’, off her Tumblr-beloved debut album Badlands.

Both older and newer songs in her catalogue played relentlessly during the next 90 minutes, with Halsey ensuring to drop in a couple of personal anecdotes with her legion of followers along the way. Whether it was shouting out the LGBT community on ‘Strangers’ (“We are safe here so let’s dance!”), advocating self-love on ‘Hurricane’ (“This song is a reminder that you don’t belong to anybody but yourself”) or admitting to not having everything figured out in her life before a stripped-back rendition of her #1 hit ‘Closer’ (“I’m 23 and I still don’t know what I’m doing, but it feels like we grew up with each other”), every moment felt refreshingly unrehearsed and added to the overall concert experience.

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Between rushing down to the crowd during ‘Colors’ and showcasing a more vulnerable side on ‘Sorry’ – that elicited a sea of swaying phone lights – Halsey proved that she’s truly got the mettle of a bona fide pop star in the 21st century. And by the time she re-appeared on stage for her encore of the belty ‘Bad At Love’, she had every audience member in the palm of her hand singing loudly along, with the backdrop of flame bursts, cinematic smoke and her backing band closing the night while she waved her byes and bade farewell (for now).

As Halsey sings on ‘Heaven in Hiding’, “I can put on a show”. And trust us when we say she can and will however she wants to.

Image credits: Peter Donaghy

 Special thanks to Hype Records and Universal Music Singapore for the invites!

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