Singapore’s YouTubers who have made it big

Local internet stars and producers who gained mainstream success for their online works

Samantha Rui (aka Sam Rui)
Samantha Rui (aka Sam Rui)
05 Jan 2017

Samantha Rui (aka Sam Rui)

In a couple of weeks’ time, local R&B artiste Samantha Rui (also known as Sam Rui) will be performing solo for the very first time at the Laneway Festival on January 21. This is a huge feat (achievement unlocked!) for someone who started out performing YouTube covers four years ago at the tender age of 16.

Best remembered for her crisp falsetto, a few of Sam’s notable ‘online’ works include a cover of Irish band Kodaline’s ‘All I Want’ with fellow YouTuber-turned-mainstream singer Gentle Bones and her reworked rendition of ‘Come and See Me’(originally performed by PARTYNEXTDOOR and Drake) with local music producer Flightsch, just to name a few. Apart from scoring her first big break at the upcoming indie music festival, the 20-year-old topped Spotify Singapore’s Viral 50 chart in 2016 with her single ‘Better’ and will be releasing her very first EP next month.

Sam is definitely a budding artiste to keep an eye on in the new year and is one of many local ‘internet stars’ and creators who have steadily worked their way up the ladder to gain mainstream fame for their talents.

Read on for more!

Catch Sam Rui and other international music acts at St Jerome’s Laneway Festival 2017 on January 21, Saturday, at The Meadow, Gardens by the Bay. Tickets are priced at $185 online and $200 at the door.

Photos: YouTuber's social media accounts

Benjamin Kheng
Benjamin Kheng
05 Jan 2017

Benjamin Kheng

Benjamin Kheng, founder of local band The Sam Willows, gained popularity after his band took off successfully and caught the attention of the public for more than just his scruffy stubble and trademark black fedora. Capable of mimicking up to seven accents (American, British, Australian, Russian, Irish, Scottish and Singaporean), the older Kheng sibling has made a successful transition to the big and small screen. 

He is a regular face on Channel 5, appearing in programmes such as Unnatural, Code of Law 2 and Mata Mata Season 2, and has proved his flair for the arts as the leading male in theatre productions such as Romeo & Juliet and Ah Boys to Men: The Musical. Keep your eyes peeled as Benjamin will be starring in upcoming Toggle Originals The Breakup List this February and making his big screen debut in upcoming movie Wonder Boy alongside Mediacorp actress Julie Tan.


Wonder Boy is targeted for theatrical release in the third quarter of 2017. It is presented by mm2 Entertainment and Bert Pictures with the support of Singapore Film Commission, in partnership with Dick Lee Asia, a joint venture with mm2.

Nathan Hartono
Nathan Hartono
05 Jan 2017

Nathan Hartono

Although Nathan Hartono produced a number of jazz albums since his debut at the tender age of 14 after winning the Teenage Icon singing competition, he amassed a good part of his fan base on YouTube, where he started posting song covers and self-composed songs while playing the guitar and various musical instruments six years ago. He even released an original single, ‘Thinkin Bout Love’, which was only available digitally, on his YouTube channel in 2013.

Although it has been more than a year since Nathan uploaded a song cover on YouTube (the singer has been busy making the nation proud), we’re sure fans of the multi-talented singer don’t blame him. After all it’s high time he got international recognition for his talent and hard work. Good news though, Nathan’s currently back in the studios and working on a new EP.  

Tree Potatoes
Tree Potatoes
05 Jan 2017

Tree Potatoes

Left to right: Ho Zhen Jie (crew member), Elliot Tan, Janice Chiang, Aaron Khoo, Clifford Yow (crew member)

Led by three ‘potatoes’ Aaron Khoo, Janice Chiang and Elliot Tan, the popular YouTube channel’s trio first originated from Wah!Bananas, before they left the latter and branched out as Tree Potatoes three years ago.

As the faces of their channel, they pulled out all stops for their video productions –both appearing in front of the cameras and working behind the scenes. However, their hard work has paid off as the trio will be working with Toggle to produce their first Toggle Original series, The Breakup List, which will be available for viewing in this February.

Meanwhile, you can catch Aaron, Janice and Elliot in some episodes of Toggle Originals Double Trouble.

Munah and Hirzi
Munah and Hirzi
05 Jan 2017

Munah and Hirzi

Local YouTube scene’s comedic duo, Munah and Hirzi (MHO) have been around for nine years since they first gained popularity with their 10 Dares video series, where they dared each other to do embarrassing deeds on the streets of Orchard Road.

With their content gaining traction online, the comedians started making short (sometimes offensive) comedy sketches to highlight the underlying social stigma against foreign workers in Singapore, with the help of a spinoff on Michelle Chong’s domestic maid character, Leticia Bongnino or Leticiacia Fierce.

MHO eventually got the opportunity to helm their very own television show, Munah & Hirzi; Action! on Suria and work with big names in Singapore’s comedy scene, Gurmit Singh, Michelle Chong and Kumar, in stage production, Happy Ever Laughter, and also Toggle Originals Double Touble.

Unfortunately, they will be shutting down their YouTube channel this year when they turn 10, as they promised themselves that they will only have “10 years of YouTube and that’s it”, but we can’t wait to see what Munah and Hirzi themselves will bring us next!

Eden Ang
Eden Ang
05 Jan 2017

Eden Ang

What Eden did not have in the height department, he made up for with his hard work and guts to experiment with different methods of acting. Despite being told that he “does not have leading man looks” due to his average height of 1.7 meters, the multi-talented break dancer managed to clinch the role of a male lead in Toggle Originals, Yes Mdm, because of his outstanding performance on his YouTube channel, Eden Ang Productions, where he regularly posts short films and comedy skits.

The 28 year-old can also be seen acting as Michael Tong in Channel 5’s long form drama, Tanglin.

Night Owl Cinematics (aka Ryan Sylvia)
Night Owl Cinematics (aka Ryan Sylvia)
05 Jan 2017

Night Owl Cinematics (aka Ryan Sylvia)

Husband and wife team Ryan Tan and Sylvia Chan are the brains behind YouTube Channel, Night Owl Cinematics since 2013 and amassed a strong online following since their comic sketch, Dating VS Married went viral. While Sylvia can be seen in a handful of advertisements, she and Ryan base their projects mainly on their YouTube channel, working with brands such as Golden Village and Singapore Zoo to advertise their products and services. 

Terence Then
Terence Then
05 Jan 2017

Terence Then

Dancer and choreographer Terence Then made his debut on one of Singapore’s leading YouTube channel, Wah!Banana in 2013 in the video, 13 Types of Dancers, and has been a permanent member of the cast and the face of Wah!Banana ever since.

The 29 year-old’s background in dance gave his more diversity to his performance as an actor and he went on to clinch a role in 4Love, a local movie production, starring alongside fellow YouTuber Jonathan Cheok. Terence can also be seen in the recent advertisement for KFC’s Red Hot Chicken. 

The Sam Willows
The Sam Willows
05 Jan 2017

The Sam Willows

Singapore indie-folk quartet, The Sam Willows, started off humbly on YouTube, where they first posted a stripped-back rendition of Fun’s ‘We Are Young’ mashed up with Train’s ‘Hey Soul Sister’ in 2012. Consisting of siblings Benjamin and Narelle Kheng, along with Jon Chua and Sandra Riley Tang, the band’s online presence grew steadily with their regular song cover videos and earned themselves a group of loyal subscribers.

To date, they have launched a total of two EPs, namely The Sam Willows and Take Heart and played to a crowd of 2,500 at their first ever concert held at The Coliseum last July. Despite the growing popularity of their original songs, The Sam Willows continues to update their YouTube channel regularly with song covers. 

Joel Tan (aka Gentle Bones)
Joel Tan (aka Gentle Bones)
05 Jan 2017

Joel Tan (aka Gentle Bones)

Most fans would have heard of Joel Tan, also known as Gentle Bones, when the 22 year-old first uploaded the self-made music video (MV) for his first original single, ‘Until We Die’ in 2012. The singer once admitted that the release of the MV was a turning point in his life and it truly is, as opportunities came knocking at his door.

He became the very first Singaporean to be signed under Universal music, performed at the South East Asian Games in 2014 and has since released two EPs. His first ticketed concert last June, Gentle Bones Live in Concert, sold out two nights in a row at the Esplanade Concert Hall, marking his triumphant breakout from a small time YouTube singer. 

Jonathan Cheok
Jonathan Cheok
05 Jan 2017

Jonathan Cheok

Unlike the other names on the list, Jonathan Cheok actually ventured into the entertainment industry before dabbling with YouTube, which was the next best thing to happen to him. The slapstick comedian actually made it to the top 24 in the third season of Singapore Idol back in 2009, but did not emerge as the winner. He finally launched his YouTube channel, Cheokboard Studios, three years ago, after he failed to make a breakthrough in the entertainment industry as a singer.

After tickling online viewers with his unique brand of humour, the 31 year-old comedian scored an opportunity to star in a McDonald and Nescafe advertisement, both were aired on TV.

Tosh Zhang (aka Toshrock)
Tosh Zhang (aka Toshrock)
06 Jan 2017

Tosh Zhang (aka Toshrock)

You may know Tosh Zhang as a fierce and sarcastic Sergeant Alex Ong from Ah Boys to Men, but the actor actually first gained attention on YouTube five years ago as a vlogger (video blogger) for his lively, animated and funny rants that he posted weekly.

Since the Ah Boys to Men franchise, the 27 year-old has scored roles in international projects such as the second season of Netflix’s Marco Polo and can be last seen romancing Cheryl Wee in My Love, Sinema, a movie set in the 1950s.

In the meantime, hopeful fans who are waiting for Tosh to fulfil his promise to make a return to the vlogging platform can catch the film student in his music videos for his original tracks, ‘What More Can I Say’ and ‘I’m Sorry’.

Chua Jin Sen (aka Dr Jia Jia)
Chua Jin Sen (aka Dr Jia Jia)
05 Jan 2017

Chua Jin Sen (aka Dr Jia Jia)

Age is no barrier when it comes to building an online presence. Five years ago, at the tender age of 6, Chua Jin Sen (commonly known as Dr Jia Jia) had 10,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel, Dr Jia Jia & BigBro’s Show, which was operated by their parents.

The juxtaposition of his cheeky persona alongside his goody-two-shoes older brother appealed to viewers and Dr Jia Jia soon became a household name after their video series, Singlish, went viral. His internet fame has helped him snag acting roles in local movies, like that one time he acted as Mark Lee’s son in Taxi! Taxi!

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