Campus SuperStar 2007 winner Shawn Tok returns with English EP

Singer’s parents fund his record, Chapter 22, for close to $10,000

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Photos: Camelia Ting, Shawn Tok via Facebook
Video: Vanessa Lim

Shawn Tok, who emerged champion of the televised singing competition Campus SuperStar in 2007 at just age 13, has returned to the scene with a five-track English EP, Chapter 22, almost five years after his debut record, a full-length Mandarin album entitled Travel With Time.

Chapter 22 was released digitally on January 8, also his 22nd birthday, and it entered at #2 on the Singapore iTunes album chart, behind Blackstar by David Bowie and ahead of 25 by Adele.

The EP set Shawn’s parents back close to $10,000 and featured the work of his National Service acquaintances and fans turned friends, who contributed their talents in production, videography, photography and more. Shawn helmed the production of Chapter 22 and managed and planned the record from Australia (where he’s based), from selecting the tracks to the recording arrangement and the album art design.

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Shawn Tok and Joshua Goh

Making the EP was his way of saying hello to adulthood, something meaningful when he looks back on it in future, Shawn said, but it might have had a different titled had it not been delayed. The record was supposed to have coincided with Shawn’s 21st birthday, but it was difficult doing the project while overseas and having to juggle various aspects of his life, he said.

Plus, the University of Queensland student said he’s always preferred English music, even during his Campus SuperStar days when he performed hits from Jay Chou, JJ Lin and MayDay. He readily named American actress and singer-songwriter Beyoncé Knowles-Carter as his music inspiration — “I really, really look up to Beyoncé in every way because she’s an all-rounder,” he said — and he listed jazz, rap and hip hop among his favourite genres.

But Shawn said he hesitated for a long time before committing to producing an English EP. “It’d been 7 years since I won the (Campus SuperStar) competition,” he said. “And I didn’t know if I should do it or how the response would be, so it held me back … I’m glad it turned out well.”

“I think we should do everything we can in this lifetime, and we shouldn’t hold back.”

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