Photos: Melanie Ho
The lyrics of home-grown band The Sam Willows’ latest single ‘Take Heart’ share much more about love than the band is willing to talk about their own: “Oh you’re everything to me, loved you ever since the day we parted. All you’re all that I can see, don’t you ever leave me broken-hearted.”
In fact, the band unanimously agreed that their favourite songs off the new album slated for release in August are love songs ‘Take Heart’ and ‘For Love’. 21-year-old singer-actress Narelle Kheng even chuckled and explained that there will be “a lot of love songs”, unlike last time.
However, when the topic of love was brought up during their group interview with Toggle, her brother Benjamin wished to “keep [it] private” on the topic of whether he has found the right one.
Since his Instagram dedication to bandmate Sandra Riley Tang’s birthday in December last year, the public have been speculating if the two are on dating terms from his caption: “Happy to just hang out with you forever.”
However, Benjamin avoided mentioning Sandra when he briefly explained about dating: “I’ve always been pretty terrible at the dating game – so I don’t really put too much thought to it! If the right person comes along, you just know, you know?”
His sister Narelle has shared on Twitter last month, “Are you even worth my time and my heart?”, raising questions about her relationship status but she, too, simply said that “it’s private” and denied to share more information.
If this continues, we can only wonder if the lyrics are actually directed at someone or if the song is just a song. Interestingly, they are known to have written songs about their real lives, such as ‘Night Light’ which is about their mother’s struggle with cancer.
The siblings are part of a group of four, which consists of Jonathan Chua, Sandra and the Kheng siblings, all of whom are aged 25 and under. They’ve toured Malaysia and parts of the United States, as well as performed at large-scale events such as the F1 Singapore Grand Prix.
New music and dream collaborations
Benjamin thinks that “the band has evolved over the years” and explained, “If you listened to the first EP, the new album will be a very different sound from what you’re used to and you’ll hear a lot of new things.”
Regarding dream collaborations, Narelle said that she would want to switch things up for them: “We used to say Coldplay and One Republic, but now I would want to try a DJ or a rapper.” Jon threw in his suggestions to work with Avicii and Hardwell.
The Sam Willows will be releasing their new single ‘Take Heart’ on iTunes, out on May 20. Give the band your social media support with #TSWTakeHeart.
Click to the next page to read more about Benjamin Kheng’s cooking, plus their likes and dislikes of being a part of the successful band.
Life before The Sam Willows
“People think it’s really different, but it’s actually not all that different. People think it’s a whole new world (sings). I was still doing music back then and my life is pretty much the same, but the thing I miss most is sleep,” answered Benjamin.
“It did come with a lot of sacrifice… Like [time with] friends… [and] our parents have to book us in advance,” said Jon.
Apart from family and friends, Narelle doesn’t miss much about life before The Sam Willows: “There’s barely anything I can think of that I don’t like about this life. Also because was in school, I had to wake up at 7 every day, so that kind of sucked.”
Jon added, “The best part [about being in The Sam Willows] is that you have three friends who will always have your back… It’s a good thing that we started off as friends first and we’re still friends today, because the longevity of bands is [based on the ability] to stay grounded and knowing that everyone has the same goal.”
When asked about whether they had a song on the new album that reflects their friendship, Benjamin and Narelle broke out into a short impromptu song, singing, “We were friends three years ago, we are friends today. Yay!” Following that, they said, “We don’t have that, unfortunately.”
Revisiting their New Years’ Resolutions
The band said that they wanted to make more music and tour the world, and they have, but Benjamin was the only one who leaned back and covered his face in embarrassment when he remembered his resolution.
His bandmates attested to the fact that he still has not come close to achieving his desire to improve his cooking. Sandra even commented that Ben’s cooking skills are “non-existent”.
“His cooking hazard is real. So we were in LA and one of the nights, we decided to have an in-house cooking dinner,” revealed Jon, but the Khengs cooked none.
Jon resumed to say, “Sandra and I have this thing where we like to say that the Kheng siblings are very talented, but one thing that they can’t do – and God is fair – is that they can’t cook.”
The band all agreed that the brother and sister can be given points for their ability to clear up a mess. Narelle even said, “We make good house partners.”