Electronic song

Shye pushes the limits of his “malleability” in the music video “Corduroy”

Singaporean singer-songwriter Shye has taken things to another level in his new music video for ‘Corduroy’ – which you can now watch exclusively on NME.

Shye – who was crowned Asia’s Best New Act at the 2022 BandLab NME Awards earlier this month – plays with the “malleability” of her image in this video through the lens of a young girl visiting the optometrist for an eye exam.

“Corduroy” is taken from his 2021 mini-album “Hello Trinity”, which showcases his continued explorations of offbeat and infectious pop music following his 2020 debut “Days To Morning Glory”, which was one of the best Asian albums of NME in 2020.

Watch the video “Corduroy”, directed by Huang Junxiang, and read Shye’s conversation with NME about his themes, his new music, his ambitions to write for a K-pop group and more.

Congratulations on winning Asia’s Best New Act – how does that feel? Where were you when you found out you had won?

“Thank you! I had just woken up and saw this NME tagged me in a post, but I had no idea what it was about. So I opened the notification and saw that I had won and immediately got up and woke up my mother.

“I was still pretty tired, I stayed up really late the night before because I was working on some music but couldn’t get back to sleep after that, obviously.”

How did you find the concept of the clip ‘Corduroy’?

“Initially the plan was to do a video for ‘Welcome Back’ but I felt I could do more visually with ‘Corduroy’. The first person I thought of – because I worked with him most recently – was Huang Junxiang, the director of the 2021 National Day music video.

“I gave him complete creative freedom because he’s more of a filmmaker than a music video maker. The story is about a girl who goes to see an optometrist and has an eye exam. He suggested playing with the “malleability” of my image in an enveloping concept of the eye test.

“It was equally important to him that the song and the visuals were in sync so that they captured the essence of the different tones and the changes in the song itself. He paid attention to the smallest details of the music, which is one of the reasons I wanted a music video for ‘Corduroy.’ I felt like there could be a lot of different elements in the video that could complement the song and vice versa.

“For me the biggest takeaway is that we are always looking for answers and sometimes we just need a new eye so we can see things clearly again.”

The track itself is very different from the other songs on “Hello Trinity” – where did you get that inspiration from?

“’Corduroy’ was the last song to be added to the EP. I wrote a song before that was too different and didn’t mix well with the rest of the EP, so I threw it out.

“When I wrote ‘Corduroy’ – and it was very late in the process – the other songs had already been settled and all of a sudden there was this new song that I wanted to add as well.

“I knew I wanted something a little lighter because I felt like that was something the EP lacked but I didn’t want to stray too far from the electronic sound.”

Do you plan to reuse the abandoned song at some point?

“I’m not sure. I already have a few songs that I plan to release this year. I’m a bit more upbeat, less dark and going back to my bedroom pop roots. Electronic was something I had always wanted to try and now I finally did.

“That’s not to say I’ll never do it again, but I do miss the pop sound from my bedroom.” So I thought it would be a good idea to do it again and see how I can create a different bedroom style than what I did before.

You post TikToks of yourself doing K-pop dance choreography. Some of your fans have asked you to audition for major K-pop labels – is that something you’ve ever considered?

“I tried out for a survival show. I sent a minute of me dancing and singing. They called me back and asked when I could fly to Korea, but the time frame was unsuitable as it was around NDP time, and that was my main priority.

“It’s a shame the timing didn’t work out and I can’t speak Korean fluently. It’s kind of funny, though, they included my audition tape in the show, so a lot of people were really surprised.

Is this something you would try again when the timeline works for you?

“If I was fluent in Korean, yes. But I’m happy where I am right now, to be able to produce, sing and dance on the side. These are things that I really appreciate, and I’m grateful for what I have.

“Something I would be more interested in is writing for a K-pop group or producing for them. It’s something on my to-do list, even if it’s just a or two lines.

For your next releases, do you plan another project or several singles?

“Maybe not an album this year, but I will definitely release singles. I don’t know if I want to release an EP, maybe early next year.

“I have a new single coming out in February. It was supposed to be on ‘Days To Morning Glory’, then ‘Hello Trinity’ and now it’s a single.

“I feel like it’s more meaningful as a single because it’s my most personal song. It’s dedicated to the people who listen to me and the people who stopped by to thank them for allowed my music to take space and time in their lives.

You now have two projects under your belt. What are some of the most important things you’ve learned about yourself as a musician so far?

“As a musician, I learned that I like to experiment with different styles. I’m always so excited when I can try more than one genre. I have more self-confidence now and I know what I want now. Last time it was a bit more trial and error.

“I really like a lot of different styles of music and I hope that shows through my own music. Otherwise, I feel like I’m still the same little girl I was when I started. Obviously now she might know a little more, but I still feel the same way in many ways.

Shye’s mini album “Hello Trinity” has been released.