Photos: Serene Koong, file
Serene Koong may have written the sub-theme song for The Dream Makers 2 in just half a day, but the entire creative process was far more gruelling: The homegrown singer–songwriter–producer locked herself in her hotel room in China, where she was working, to binge-watch the first series twice over two weeks.
“At that time I lived in The Dream Makers’ world and it affected me emotionally, so I would cry along with the show,” she said during a phone interview.
“When the hotel staff delivered room service and saw me with my red, puffy eyes, it gave them a fright!”
The local talent took down lines of dialogue that stood out to her, and one of them, “If the entire world abandons me one day, will you stay by my side?” from Jeanette Aw’s character, became the inspiration behind her song ‘All Alone (Dang Shi Jie Zhi Sheng Xia Wo Yi Ge Ren).’
“All the characters in the show have masks on and only present their best when in the company of others,” Serene said. “But when they’re alone with their true selves, they face obstacles and fight on their own.”
Dream come true
Serene’s voice should be familiar to fans of the television producers-themed year-end blockbuster drama series. Her composition ‘Happiness Isn’t Hard (Xing Fu Bu Nan)’ was selected in 2013 from among works by 55 local musicians and named the opening theme of the first Dream Makers.
The song went on to sweep accolades including Best Song at the 2014 Star Awards, MeRadio Top Downloaded Hit Award (Female Artiste) at the 2013 Singapore Hit Awards, and the Top Dedicated Hit Song at the fourth Global Chinese Golden Chart Awards two years ago.
“So when I got a call from the executive producer (to write a song for The Dream Makers 2), I was over the moon,” Serene said. “Even if I’d been asked to write 100 songs, I’d have done it gladly.”
With a massive store of songs composed over the past two years on hand, Serene could have taken the easy way out and submitted a completed song, but she insisted on writing a tune just for The Dream Makers 2 so that it was aligned with the drama’s plot.
Serene founded her own production company, GoodGirlMusic, in 2013, with ‘Happiness Isn’t Hard’ as its first product. And she handles everything herself, from songwriting to singing, music production, promotion and marketing.
“Other singers may have record companies to settle matters for them and they just concentrate on singing well,” she said. “But if you produce your own material, you have to manage all the minutiae, and as a producer I have to be responsible for my own decisions, so it’s stressful.”
But being her own boss does offer a lot of creative freedom, Serene said. “The music I create is more personal. For example, in All Alone,’ there’s a line that I sang with so much emotion that I broke own,” she said. “If it had been someone else in charge, I might have had to do it over, but I liked the sound of it so I stuck with it.”
The Dream Makers 2 airs weeknights, 9 pm on Channel 8; watch it on Toggle-It-First.
Watch past episodes of The Dream Makers on Toggle.
This story first appeared on toggle.sg/ch
Story by Teo Sijia