Photos: Jovina Ng
Video: Tay Yixuan
Take one look at local singer-songwriter Reuby Tan and you may think to yourself, “He’s just a pretty boy who probably cannot sing,” but this 19-year-old will prove you wrong with his deep and old-soul voice.
His real name being Reuben Tan, Reuby is a stage moniker used by the singer signed to Warner Music Singapore. “We (both Reuben and Warner Music) felt that ‘Reuby’ was iconic, catchy, yet sincere and down-to-earth,” he shared at a press event for his self-titled debut 10-track album Reuby yesterday.
Discovered by accident, after helping his friend with the guitar and duet for an audition video, the newcomer expressed his gratitude to the music label and quipped, “I was at the right place at the right time and there are a lot of talented people out there so I’m really blessed.”
Born to a pianist mother and financial advisor father, who were both present at the gig to show their support, Reuby called his mother one of his biggest songwriting inspirations besides British rock band Coldplay.
“My mum actually (sort of) helped me write a song (previously). I was trying to get to know a girl and I wrote the song based on her advice,” he said sheepishly. It was her who sparked his interest in music when she taught him the piano and when he started playing the guitar, the urge to sing kicked in.
When prompted which local singer he would love to collaborate with, Reuby chose fellow label-mate Corrinne May, where he later revealed in an interview with xinmsn that he could relate to her style of songwriting “from her own beliefs and convictions and I want to learn from her”.
Writing songs from the heart
Reuby may be only 19 but his album, which was released last month, consists mainly of his original compositions, and his debut single topped the local iTunes chart when it was released this National Day. We had the pleasure to hear the live renditions of his more notable works including ‘Because You Love Her’, ‘Free’ and ‘My Sunshine’, but the 987FM’s “Rising Star of the Month” of September revealed his favourite track is none other than ‘Because You Love Her’.
Interestingly, he had to sing twice as fast for this song while filming the music video to accommodate the slow-motion concept the team wanted.
Being homeschooled since Primary 4 until last year when he started pursuing a Diploma in Music at Lasalle College of the Arts, Reuby had more time and freedom to explore music and has no regrets at all for not being in mainstream school.
“I write songs sincerely from the heart but through the experiences of other people. I hope that when people hear my music they will remember my music for how they can relate to it and that as humans we’re all the same inside,” he said, often coming across too serious for his age but ultimately showing off the kid in him through fun poses during the photo-call.
Nothing stands between him and music
Calling his first recording process a fun experience because it was more digital compared to how he imagined it to “be like a huge analogue studio where everything was done by pressing buttons,” the entire journey took two to three months. Reuby shared, “I was still in school at that time so I had to go to the studio after class. It was tiring but worth it.”
Honestly stating that he is not worried of being judged by his looks as those are mere preferences of the public, the musician is cool with just “doing what I love and singing for who I am”.
As if that declaration was not enough, Reuby, who will be serving the nation after he graduates a year and a half later, went on to say, “I will definitely continue writing music. My team and I are going to work something out, maybe we could still do stuff when I’m out of camp. It’s definitely going to be challenging but not impossible.”
Although this may just be the beginning, the rising talent has already set his eyes on “an ambition” to perform in front of 10,000-strong crowd.
Sincere, earnest and down-to-earth is how Reuby described Reuby but we certainly think these words are as apt to be used on him too.
Reuby is available at all HMV stores islandwide and on all digital platforms including iTunes and Spotify.