August 18, 2016
Stefanie Sun holds a special place in our hearts. As one of our nation’s biggest musical exports and Singapore’s undisputed Queen of Mandopop, that previous statement holds true for Singaporeans in general; but over here at NYLON Singapore, this rings even more true as Sun was the face of our first ever issue, back in April of 2012.
Throwback to NYLON Singapore #1, featuring Stefanie Sun.
Back then, her latest album was It’s Time, released under her own record label Wonderful Music, and she told us she was in the process of working on her next, which turned out to be Kepler, released in early 2014 under Universal Music.
And as of yesterday, 17 August 2016, Sun has a new single to her name, titled Rainbow Bot. This time, it’s being released on Apple Music first, following what seems to be the trend in the music industry these days (read: Kanye’s The Life of Pablo and Beyonce’s Lemonade were briefly Tidal exclusives upon launch, and more recently, Drake’s latest album Views was also available to stream exclusively on Apple Music.)
Rainbow Bot will be part of a five-track EP of the same title, which will also include four cover tracks and will be available in full tomorrow, 19 August. The theme of this EP is childhood, and the innocence and simple beauty associated with it – to remind adults to take the time to view the world through a child’s eyes again, and to the young ones to not be in such a hurry to grow up. The new single is expectedly upbeat, with plenty of guitar strumming, and a cheerful reggae-influenced beat with a whistled hook, a track that quickly brings listeners back to the more carefree days.
There’s also a visual element to Rainbow Bot: Sun has worked with Apple Music to create an exclusive three minute-long short film, also available to stream on Apple Music. It was shot in the Botanic Gardens, our very own UNESCO Heritage Site, and fans can look forward to her sharing her inspiration behind the tracks on this new EP.
Here, we reconnect with our original cover girl after more than four years, to quiz her on Rainbow Bot, making the documentary, and of course, how becoming a mother has changed things since.
Why the decision to launch this album on Apple Music?
Apple Music approached Universal a couple of months back to do this project. Initially, what seemed impossible and even frivolous to me, became something that rested close to my heart. While debating on whether to do the project, I knew that it had to have a solid existence. The concept of being a child was formed, together with my production team, we took it and flew with it.
Take us through your journey towards deciding on the childhood-related themes for this album.
Since the theme of childhood is something that resides in all of our hearts, and since becoming a mother, the concept feels right to me. It also felt like an opportune time to let the inner child out. Once the concept was formed, I find myself finding delight in each of the songs’ message. “Rainbow Bot” is full of imagination, with no pretenses, no fear – everything appears as it is. “Sweet Child of Mine” is a Mardi Gras-type of celebratory fanfare, and “Lullaby 1987” is pensive and explores topics with regards to a child’s rights. The five songs, when put together, are cohesive and exciting to work on. It feels pretty complete.
Is there any particular track on this album that’s especially meaningful to you?
I think “Lullaby 1987” was one of my inspirations for the project. I had chanced upon it while doing my research on Dr. Liang Wern Fook (local writer and musician, one of the pioneers of the xinyao movement) and was taken by the beauty of the lyrics. While this had been penned almost 30 years back, the issues still feels fresh and extremely relevant in today’s environment. Kenn C, my producer spun a new melody for it, giving it new depth and life. It reminds me to appreciate the meaning of life, from child to the end.
What are your thoughts about the emergence of digital music platforms like Apple Music and how they have affected musicians?
Apple Music had been largely supportive of artistes’ creativity and efforts. It had been a pleasure working with their diligent team and their marketing plan had been on par with what we had put in. I think working with supportive platforms encourages artistes to explore new territories, whether by sound or by the channel in which they are delivered.
How involved were you in the production of the documentary series?
When Apple decided to send the award winning director Mai from New York, I was quite taken with how she embraced the production with such simplicity. She had listened to the album and paid careful attention to my music videos. I like how she worked with intent and seriousness but never losing her smile. We had a good run through about what the album meant for me and the intention of each song. It was a good learning opportunity.
What was your biggest takeaway from filming this documentary? Was there anything about the experience that took you by surprise?
I think I never imagined that explaining a concept such as “childhood” could be difficult. Fear, fearlessness, simplicity, complexity, it exists in all of us and yet it could be quite elusive.
How has motherhood changed the way you create music?
I think embracing it has been the most rewarding experience in itself. Looking through the eyes of a child is very rewarding, you see things for the first time and emotions are unfiltered and pure. There is a certain freedom that comes with this new vision when recording a project such as this!
What are your plans for your music for the next few years ahead?
My next album is under way, please watch out for it. 😉
Rainbow Bot is now available for streaming on Apple Music. Rainbow Bot the EP is available in full on 19 August 2016. applemusic.com/rainbowbot