Chatterbox: Charlie Lim unveils his influences, sources of inspiration and what’s to come after his sensational album release ‘CHECK-HOOK’

Hey! Could you tell our readers something about yourself that they might not find out otherwise?

Hello! Hmm let’s see… Well, I lived in Wales in the UK for a year when I was a kid and came back to Singapore with an English accent. I also lived in Melbourne, Australia for about 8 years.

What are your musical influences?

I grew up listening to contemporary singer-songwriters like Jeff Buckley, Thom Yorke, Björk, Fiona Apple, Ben Folds, John Mayer and Regina Spektor. But I also got into a lot of late 90s/early 2000s neo-soul in my late teens: D’Angelo, Bilal, Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill and J Dilla…that whole Soulquarian era. Right now, I think my heroes are Sampha, James Blake, Frank Ocean and Annie Clark/St. Vincent.

What do you like to do outside of your career in music?

I picked up boxing over a year ago and have been taking it pretty seriously. It’s been great, not just for exercise but also for my mental health. I work where I sleep at the moment, which isn’t ideal…so that helps me get out of the house.

How would you describe the sound you’ve crafted over your last few releases?

I’m first and foremost a singer-songwriter, but I really enjoy dabbling in different genres to paint different moods and create more interesting juxtapositions to tell a story…but it can also be a lot more work when you want to make sure you do it all well. My last record ‘TIME/SPACE’ was a split album stretched between folk-rock and electronic pop, and this new record is more influenced by dance music.

Where are you based, and how does your city impact your music?

I’m from Singapore and this is my home base. We’re a very young country in a post-colonial world, so on one hand there’s like a mad rush to define a sense of identity, while on the other we’re constantly being inspired by external influences and tend to look to the outside world for validation. I think that tension can make life interesting, but it can also be frustrating. I tend to mull over that a lot, both in my own work and how I would like it to define my idea of success.

What does the new album draw upon thematically?

A lot of the songs are about the relationship with pursuing something you love and dealing with the inevitable disillusionment when passion has worn out. I often find myself questioning the idea of one’s purpose…there’s this Japanese term called ‘ikigai’, which roughly translates to “reason for being”. But I realise a lot of us are under pressure to find that reason quickly, otherwise it feels like we’re not living to our fullest potential. I think that search to arrive at that point, or to “make it”, is quite debilitating in itself. The album is called ‘CHECK-HOOK’, which is a boxing move whereby the boxer throws a hook while pivoting around an opponent, kind of like a matador controlling a bull. In a way, this is my way of trying to figure out what I need to do when I’m being backed into a corner; how do I pivot out and take control of my own sense of purpose and happiness.

What do fans have to look forward to over the next few months?

We’re still on the road promoting the new album for now, a few more festivals to go around the region before doing a homecoming concert back in Singapore early December. But we’ll be touring more parts of Asia and hopefully Europe as well next year.


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