AS FAR AS I can recall, it was about a month after I got to know Yu Quan that I first heard him sing. It was during one of our agonising area-cleaning sessions at Sembawang Training Camp that he started singing a Jay Chou tune; it immediately caught my attention and left me mesmerised. National Service may have killed my soul, but it definitely did not mess up my skills to judge one’s vocals!
Yu Quan’s initial forays into performing were very much an accident: he often got dragged up to do class performances back when he was still in high school. However, all those performances left him hungering for more! Coupled with positive responses from his audiences, he went on to actively seek out opportunities to showcase his vocal talents. While he has tried to explore other medium such as dance, it is singing that he feels most ‘in-his-zone’.
Quan has always fancied himself a writer, and when he finally realised that it was only through songwriting that he could choose his singing style, he decided he had to give composing a go.
Almost everything I do starts off like that – as a personal quest and exploration. Just good ol’ fun, trial and error, and I.
I’d like to think of some of my songs as self-aware and self-contented fabrications that tap on both experiences and imagination and others as personal anecdotes and anthems that I put out for people to connect with in their own ways.
His songwriting process features no form of predestination; he does not ponder upon a message before penning down a song. To Yu Quan, the song controls its own fate, only it knows where it wants to go - it's no wonder he often feels that his songs have written themselves.
Fast-forward six months from since I first heard him sing, Yu Quan has released his homemade extended play, The Caterpillar Sandwich EP, a project containing four original acoustic pop tracks that encapsulate his journey with music up to its release, one that captures all his youth, excitement and daring.
Inspirations for Yu Quan come from very many different places. From actual scenarios that he had witnessed, a set of words that insisted on being positioned in a particular way, to just a phrase of music that recurred like a motif when he was dazedly plucking strings on his guitar and mumbling random words to them. While he was limited by his lack of production skills, the raw quality of his songs is part of his intentions.
There’s a certain sincerity that comes with amateurism (as opposed to a lot of overproduced sounds we have today) that I always like to hear and have in my music.
It is primarily my passion that keeps me going, but there’s always this strong undercurrent of support that nudges me along.
Through the course of recording the EP, Yu Quan had managed to traverse his mental and emotional landscape rather extensively, knowing them better than before. Some inadequacies and quirks that he would never have previously admitted to, he has since reconciled. It was also through his musical venture that he came to experience the immense support that his family and friends are capable of giving him.
Yu Quan hopes to bring his passion for music further and perform more and at larger platforms. On top of that, he MIGHT just put out a full-length album with the abundance of free time that comes after he is freed from full-time National Service next year.
Just in case you think Yu Quan is going to be on hiatus from now till then, he is one of the final four contenders competing for the coveted spot to open for The Fray during the Singapore's Guinness Arthur's Day celebrations this 27th of September. We sure hope he wins this one!