Shane Filan, the kiasu parent

The former Westlife member gets candid about his family, future ambitions and what to expect from his upcoming Singapore showcase

Shane Filan, the kiasu parent
Shane Filan, the kiasu parent
07 Feb 2018

Shane Filan, the kiasu parent

Photos: Tammi Tan, Universal Music, Aloysius Lim

What do former Westlife frontman Shane Filan and the stereotypical Singaporean parent have in common?

This anecdote he shared with us in an interview hits a little too close to home: “We were looking for a high school for my daughter, and I was definitely kiasu about our choices because I want her to go to the one with the best academics, sports and everything. It’s a big decision because she’s going to spend the next six years of her life there, but I think we’ve picked the right school so we’re happy about it.”

(We’ll get to the Irish singer-songwriter’s seemingly unexpected use of the Singlish word shortly.)

Despite his ambitious-sounding management of his 12-year-old’s education, Shane, who also has two sons aged 9 and 8 with his wife Gillian, isn’t a dad who expects his children to pursue conventional high-flying careers like medicine or law. In fact, his daughter Nicole attends theatre school and has acted in several plays, which he declared – with palpable fatherly pride in his eyes – that “she’s actually really good” in.

“When she’s in college she might want to go into theatre or the arts, and we’d encourage whatever our kids want to do because there’s no point in pushing them in a direction they don’t want to go,” he said. “I always wanted to be a singer but unless my mum encouraged it, I wouldn’t be here.”

By “here”, of course, Shane means this point in his long and illustrious career, both as a lead singer in Westlife and as a soloist after the iconic group, purveyors of many a nostalgia-inducing tune from the late 90s and noughties, tragically disbanded in 2012. Today, the 38-year-old is still busy making music and touring the globe, and Singapore was his first Asian stop to promote his latest album Love Always over the weekend.

(Continued on next slide)

Photo: Shane Filan/Instagram

Shane Filan performs in Singapore
Shane Filan performs in Singapore
07 Feb 2018

Shane Filan performs in Singapore

Our Monday morning chat happened the day after he held an intimate showcase at Esplanade’s cosy Annexe Studio – a far cry from the colossal arenas that Shane and his former bandmates frequented back in the day, but just as enjoyable for him.

“There were only a few hundred people last night, but I had just as much fun as I did playing stadiums with Westlife,” he told us. “Getting to perform is such a privilege and I wake up every day thinking, ‘This is what I’ve always wanted to do’. I’m always the happiest when I’m on stage.”

And yes, for the record, the crooner didn’t suddenly utter the Hokkien term for “afraid to lose” by himself earlier on (that would have been headline-worthy on its own). We had told him that since he’s becoming such a regular visitor to the Lion City, we reckoned we should teach him a bit of the local lingo, which he was totally game for.

The other word that made it into his vocabulary – albeit temporarily, we’re going to be realistic – was kaypoh (which means “nosy”), a trait so absent from Shane’s personality that neither he nor his minder could think of the last time he displayed such meddlesome behaviour, save for a work-related issue (it was about the final version of a new song that’s going to be his next single).

“I don’t get involved in something that’s none of my business because honestly, I don’t really care,” he said with a chuckle. “Because of that, I don’t like other people being nosy towards my family either, so I’m very private about them as much as possible – I’m quite kiasu about that! (laughs)”

Now that use of Singlish came entirely – and unexpectedly – from him. Shane might as well be a Singaporean now. Read on for more from our interview!

Shane Filan performs in Singapore
Shane Filan performs in Singapore
07 Feb 2018

Shane Filan performs in Singapore

Toggle: Everyone clearly had a lot of fun during your performance at the Esplanade. What was it like for you?
Shane: It was good! It’s funny because the hysteria, to a certain degree, never goes away and it’s nice to get a good reaction no matter what you’re doing, even if it’s a small showcase like that. I know that ‘My Love’ brings back a lot of memories for people and I enjoy singing those songs as well.

To be honest, are there any songs you’re tired of singing?
The ones that I am tired of, I don’t sing. (laughs) I’m not going to lie, there are a lot of songs that I don’t sing, even songs of my own. But I love performing ‘Uptown Girl’, ‘My Love’, ‘World of Our Own’ and ‘You Raise Me Up’, which is probably my favourite song to sing.

Westlife
Westlife
07 Feb 2018

Westlife

At the showcase, you mentioned that your former bandmate Mark (Feehily) once received a turnip as a gift. What are some other weird presents you’ve been given?
Over the years we’ve gotten so many different gifts. Fans used to cut off their hair and send it to us, and we’d get underwear sent to us in the post, all that crazy stuff. But that was back when people used to post letters (laughs), now they just put pictures on Instagram or Twitter to try and get your attention.

So what’s the weirdest thing you’ve been sent on social media?
Nothing stands out, honestly. Most of them are requests to come and sing at their birthday parties and weddings.

Photos: Westlife/Facebook

A promotional image from Shane Filan's new album
A promotional image from Shane Filan's new album
07 Feb 2018

A promotional image from Shane Filan's new album

Your album contains several covers of famous songs. How did you decide which ones to include?
It was a process of elimination: there were a couple of songs I thought would work, but I didn’t enjoy singing them, and there are some songs that you don’t touch because they’re too famous. I also wanted songs that make sense for me, for example, ‘Heaven’ by Bryan Adams is a song I’ve loved all my life.

Tell us more about your upcoming concert in March!
The set list will have a mixture of songs from my own albums and also Westlife songs, obviously. I always put them in because they’re such famous songs and they’re the main reason why I’m here, plus I think people like to hear them and I want to make it an enjoyable show.

A promotional image from Shane Filan's new album
A promotional image from Shane Filan's new album
07 Feb 2018

A promotional image from Shane Filan's new album

You’ve already achieved so much over the years. Is there anything left on your bucket list?
I want to try different genres over time. I love swing music, so someday I might do that Rat Pack style when I’m older. I’d also love to be in a movie just for laughs. (Would you consider making a career switch to acting?) Acting is something I would do just to tick it off the bucket list. I definitely want to concentrate on singing, but you never know!

What’s next for you?
The new version of my album is coming out (but I can’t say when), then I’ll be on tour in the UK for all of May, and after that I’ll be coming back to Asia throughout June to September or October. I want to bring my family to Asia this year if I can, just for a week to let them have a look because they’ve never been here before.

Shane Filan performs in Singapore
Shane Filan performs in Singapore
07 Feb 2018

Shane Filan performs in Singapore

Shane Filan takes a huge wefie with the audience
Shane Filan takes a huge wefie with the audience
07 Feb 2018

Shane Filan takes a huge wefie with the audience

Shane Filan performs in Singapore
Shane Filan performs in Singapore
07 Feb 2018

Shane Filan performs in Singapore

The cover of Shane Filan's latest album 'Love Always'
The cover of Shane Filan's latest album 'Love Always'
07 Feb 2018

The cover of Shane Filan's latest album 'Love Always'

A promotional image from Shane Filan's new album
A promotional image from Shane Filan's new album
07 Feb 2018

A promotional image from Shane Filan's new album

Catch Shane Filan Live in Concert on March 10, 8pm at The Coliseum, Hard Rock Hotel Singapore, Resorts World Sentosa. Tickets are priced at S$138 and S$118 (excluding S$4 booking fees) and are available on SISTIC.

Report a problem