By Stella Soon
It’s never easy combining two different musical genres.
But fusing their R&B/soul and lyrical rock styles together in a joint showcase are Singaporean singer-songwriters Ariane Goh 伍芝儀 and Mary Wong 黃麗慧.
Pushing the boundaries of their musical styles, the good friends have also co-written a song and will be dueting each other’s tunes then.
Asian Pop Weekly writer Stella Soon caught up with the musicians about working together and what’s on their plates for the rest of 2018.
The girls, who met at a songwriting competition four years ago, will be presenting their original music at Singapore’s Esplanade Annexe Studio come 24th August.
“It won’t just be like you do my thing, I do my thing - we sing one song together and then go home.” said Ariane.
“It’s more like a collaboration between the two of us. You will get to hear us sing one another’s songs and see the other side of us.”
But since they lean towards different musical styles, that poses a challenge. Ariane’s more of a R&B/soul singer, while Mary finds her grounding in lyrical rock.
“We are trying very hard” quipped Ariane.
New song ‘People & Stories 人事物’ - “It’s all about hope”
Besides performing each other’s tunes, the duo have co-written a new song which they will debut at the showcase.
Thankfully, their differing musical styles haven’t made it much of an uphill task.
Drawing their inspiration from Taiwanese singer-songwriter Cheer Chen 陳綺貞, whom they both like, the duo were able to write their original ‘People & Stories 人事物’ together.
“We are very easy to communicate [with]; no need to quarrel” is how Mary puts it.
And the story behind their new song? Hope.
“Everyone is going in circles ... and finding the point we want to be at.”
“But at the end of the day it’s all about persevering and finding hope in everything that’s happening, and just [to] believe.” explained Ariane.
That’s why the song’s an uplifting, inspiring melody. And it grounds the theme of their entire showcase as well - hope and belief.
“We draw everybody to a central theme of finding hope amidst everything that’s happening around you ... [such as] having feelings of loss or lost, and having happiness.” said Mary.
But really, most of Ariane and Mary’s songs are a peek into their lives.
Some of them are “written out of a very dark place”, others reflect their life experiences - but at the end of the day, both musicians strive to keep it real.
Stories behind the music
“We don’t want to hide ourselves ... we have a dark side; we have a bright side.” said Mary.
And that sad side’s probably evident in her debut single, Miss You Crazy 發了瘋的想你.
The story behind the song? Her break up with her ex-boyfriend.
Though it happened some time ago, the emotions still run real. “Every time I sing that song I will cry... and I’ve cried many times already.”
“I can still see the person [in my imagination] when I sing this song.”
Ariane doesn’t shy away from expressing negative emotions in her music either - one of her songs was written for her father, who passed away when she was 16. “I really missed him.”
The first time she sang it publicly was also at the Esplanade, and it wasn’t a tear-jerker for just her.
“I walked down the stage ... my classmate ran up to me, held me, and she cried. My friends were telling me that my mother also cried.” That was the first time her mother watched her in her element.
“So I felt like, great, my story reached out to people and that’s what I want to do.”
This song was 幸福不同步, which was eventually sold to Singaporean broadcast company, Mediacorp, as a television drama theme song.
Image credit: Ariane’s Facebook
Work doesn’t stop for the girls after their showcase. Ariane will be working with producers to write and release songs - “put out new material”, basically.
When asked if there’s any country she’d like to perform at, Taiwan was her top pick.
“Right now for my Youtube ... I get a lot of people from Taiwan. That’s where I want to go first because I think that’s where they want to hear me.”
“I feel at home when I’m there.”
Image credit: Mary’s Facebook
Meanwhile, Mary will be touring the mecca of Mandopop with Singaporean singer-songwriter, Ng Meiting 黄美婷, come October 2018.
On the cards for her trip: performing her originals and collaborating with other singer-songwriters.
It’ll be a first for Mary, who’ll also be releasing her first Hokkien cover and third single later in the year.
Clearly, the duo’s joint showcase won’t be the last audiences will be seeing of them. But during this showcase, their strong chemistry and friendship will be on display for all to see.
Judging from all the hard work they’ve put into this, it’s bound to be a great show.
“We already [have] the chemistry. I think on the day it’ll be even better.”