Humble, soft spoken, a man of few words, and far from flamboyant, Shak’s reserved demeanor is fairly unusual for a regular performer, which made us all the more excited when he agreed to sit down for an interview with us. Sitting down with him, there is an instant sense of someone who has a lot of heart.


Instantly recognizable through his soulful, raspy vocals, clever hooks and thoughtful lyrics (and of course his signature beard), he’s become one of Singapore’s most prominent local acts in the last few years. He has not always thought of musical performance as a career however, “I actually actively avoid it.” he quipped when asked if he thought performance was always something that he wanted to do.

An avid fan of the Lion King at a young age (watching it at least 20 times a year as a child), his first encounter with music was at home, through the music that his parents played. Ranging from Bob Marley, to Celine Dion, and Whitney Houston, it helped to shape his musical taste and style. As he grew older, other influences, along with his appreciation of traditional Indian music, fuelled his curiosity and creativity in his craft. He also had a tenant who lived with his family growing up, who would put a variety of genres up, ranging from lounge music to bagpipes.

“I actually actively avoid it.” he quipped when asked if he thought performance was always something that he wanted to do.

Citing that his performance career was an entire “misunderstanding”, Shak has actually been performing for quite a long time. Having attended open mics and even participating in music competitions, his love for performance started at a particular open mic session at an event “Destination Ink”. Playing to an audience of three, it was one particular audience member that changed his life, telling him to never stop doing what he was doing. The rest, as they say, is history.

Having started honing his songwriting craft at 13, it was during his time serving the army, he looked to songwriting as a form of catharsis for frustrations he was facing at the time, drawing on life experiences to craft songs that would provide an outlet for him. “The first song was actually written about my mom, and the advice she gave me.” Shak shared as he looks back on it.

However, the moment he decided that he wanted to do music was an abrupt, albeit, atypical one. Working in a media production company at the time for over a year, his then boss, who is also a close friend, decided to “fire” him to help him make the decision, having known where his passion truly lies. “He wanted to help me make the decision to pursue it full time”.

Drawing on the influences of local and international performers, his dedication to the craft can really be felt through his performances.

This enthusiasm is further felt in the way he views music, and creating it. “I’m always looking for a sound, and learning theory helped me to stay away from sounds that I don’t like; I’m certainly more capable of identifying sounds that I don’t like now” he responded when asked about his songwriting process, “I draw inspiration from my experiences in life, anything that bothers me really, be it happy or sad”, he adds, “… including a lot of trial and error, practice and listening.”

This work ethic is further demonstrated in the evolution of his first Single “Taxi”, originally an easy listening, Acoustic pop song, it later morphed into a soulful, RnB tune that tugs on the ear, eventually grabbing on to the listener with an almost vice like grip with its dynamic shifts and melodic hooks. When asked further about this change, he said “The band that I was and am playing with, The Baits… We all changed and grew with our time playing together and that’s how the song evolved…When I first wrote it, it was really without a band, and when the band changed, the sound changed. The band helped me see beyond the two or three chords, opening up my mind to a much broader perspective in music.”.

“I have nothing but gratitude for it.”

He is currently working on an EP that is planned for release later this year, and has gone in with an open mind. “I have no expectations of me…I think from what I have heard so far, I really like it, with no regrets as to whether people like it or not.”

Writing and playing has always been exciting to him about music, and looking to the future, he does consider taking a break from time to time. But as long as there is an audience, he is always going to be down to play.

“I’ll never stop playing music though. I think the only way that I’ll stop is when all the music has been taken out of me.”

“I just wanna make sure that everytime I play that it’s honest, and real.”