IMPACT 0314: LIBERATION, CATHARSIS AND MEANING THROUGH MUSIC AND ART
Naomi G, 26, is an alternative R&B artiste in Singapore’s music industry. Her music and identity are deeply entrenched in thematic explorations of mental health, feminism and self-awareness. She hopes to use her sounds and lyricism to make sense of these topics on a personal level, and potentially spark conversations with her listeners. Today she answers some questions for us!
Tell us more about what you do!
As a rather fresh-faced alt-artiste in the music scene, my focus has been to build up a body of work surrounding mental health and feminism – two causes I’ve devoted my thoughts and passions to. It is my hope that my voice will be used as a means for greater conversations around some of these intense topics.
With feminism in mind, in particular, I released my debut single “Cage The Animal” in 2020 and “Prey” in 2021, both tackling the issue of unsolicited objectification and coercive intimacy. It was hard to speak plainly about them, given that they were based on my own personal experiences and that of my peers, so I employed metaphors to express how dehumanising they felt.
That was the beginning of discovering my lyrical style, where I thread between the cryptic and realistic. Sound-wise, as an alt-musician, I constantly try to fuse styles together such as dream-pop, R&B and soul to match the profound nature of the issues I sing about.
What inspires or motivates you to do this?
It all began with a music teacher whom I had during my time in Canada, where I studied in college for a couple of years. She was an amazing coach, and beyond that, was also Pink’s guitarist! She inspired me on two levels. One: that I could create original music and that this was not a feat beyond my grasp provided I worked achingly hard. Two: that women could be the upfront personas they dream of being, even in male-dominated markets. I did not have to only sing covers. I could create my unique story as an artiste, a Singaporean and a woman.
Secondly, I spent some time as a social service worker in Canada too. There, I witnessed the many faces mental health (MH) issues took on and found a passion for supporting others in this regard. Coming back to Singapore, I saw how the struggle was just as real here. I was desperate to put these thoughts and feelings I had about MH into words, as I felt that those conversations remained stigmatised here.
Overall, I want to normalise conversations around MH and feminism. I also want to do it through art, to provide some form of liberation, catharsis and meaning as I channel my message into my work.
Have you faced any challenges so far? How did you overcome them?
Definitely, I’ve faced many. The minor ones include songwriter’s block and the major ones entail the actual social anxiety of putting myself out there. It is horrifying to expose my art to the world. I am highly critical of myself and it also does not help that I am a private person. I have to constantly go against the grain and remain uncomfortable to achieve my goals. This has meant posting my work up on my socials, going out for opportunities and getting rejected.
I still have some way to go in terms of my sound and techniques, and I am grateful to those who have been open to working with me. In an industry so brilliant but so small, the technical aspect of the art form like production, marketing and so on can be daunting.
However, the exhilaration of the process and the rewarding outcomes of having a song created really keep me going. And when that proves lacking, I tend to take social media hiatuses in order to better focus on my craft and cope with my mental health.
If you could share one piece of advice with your fellow youth, what would it be?
It is okay to be an open book – to be transparent – about what you are going through around others, and it is also okay to be alone. This is part of the reason why I am so hell-bent on sparking conversations – it can be isolating to live in a culture that is often unforgiving towards issues faced by women, people with mental health struggles, and even artists who want to start on anything creative.
With that said, art is a great way to make these conversations flow and inspire empathy. Don’t give up on art or be coy about it – there’s so much here to love and nurture! It is better to work through something you might perceive to be half-baked and “embarrassing” than to not create art at all.
What is your hope or plans for the future? What do you want to see or perhaps do?
I hope to involve myself in the aforementioned causes at a greater capacity, perhaps at a communal level through campaigns. As for my fellow youth, I hope they will consider taking the time to become acquainted with themselves and others through self-reflection, art, their studies, and other pursuits. The more we are in touch with ourselves and the world around us, the more we will be able to support each other and break the vicious cycles we want to break.
I’ve been back to the drawing board since my former releases and am currently working on a seven to eight-song album detailing the mental health struggles of myself and my loved ones over the past year. It will seek to distil every emotion and condition felt, such as anxiety, jealousy, delirium and so on, based on moments where I’ve found myself overwhelmed by powerful feelings. I am certain many people go through the same, and I’d love to hear from them.