2020 was a great creative year for me. It’s surprising because, at the start of the year, I had this big songwriting trip to London and Los Angeles which COVID-19 cut short. It was a tough year financially too. Still, I was more inspired this past year than I have been in a long time.
Like everyone else, I spent most of last year cooped up in my own space. There were no distractions—it was the perfect time to do music. I set up a makeshift studio in my apartment and got to work. I had just become an independent artist so I wanted to put out as much music as possible. My contract with Sony expired at the end of 2019, which felt like a sign from the universe to pull the plug and try something new on my own. It was terrifying to no longer be signed to a major label, but it was a way for me to take control of my own path. I had just left an abusive relationship so I felt the need to start a fresh, new chapter in every aspect of my life.
With the end of my relationship, there was a lot of healing and processing left to do. People assume you get over these things in a few months, but it took a long time for me. I buried things deep for a while and just ignored it. I was surrounded by people and still felt alone because I didn’t want to talk to anyone about what was weighing me down. My current partner, Louie, encouraged me to confront things and stop ignoring them. I’m unconfrontational by nature, so coming out and saying, “Hey, I was in a toxic relationship and it was awful,” was a difficult thing to do, but it gave me confidence. I wasn’t hiding or making excuses for this person anymore. It felt like I had found a new Tabitha, one who would no longer stay quiet about the things that made her unhappy.
“It sounds corny, but Louie and I are like puzzle pieces. Six months in, it felt like I had known him for years”
That personal change bled into my music too. When I look back on my older work, it sounds to me like somebody who couldn’t quite fully commit to what she wanted to say. I had written a lot about love gone wrong but I was not ready for people to know what was going on in my own life. Now, with my newer stuff, I don’t have that filter anymore. With ‘Keep My Distance’, I went into the writing session and thought about this person I kept seeing and whom I couldn’t stand. It was very honest. With ‘Vices’, the message was that I don’t want to have to follow a template or a set of rules. I just want to live my life authentically and have that be enough. Even visually, my music feels more colourful, more fun. It reflects how I’m feeling.
I’m a creature of extremes and emotionally driven. Depending on which mood you catch me in, you’ll see something completely different. I like partying—I can go all night, dance till 5am. But sometimes I just want to sit in my PJs, eat ice cream and watch Netflix. Louie and I love doing that together. We always find a way to make chilling on the couch fun, we are always laughing. He’s the funniest guy on Earth.
I knew within a week or two of meeting him that he was my person, we had this instant connection. Things progressed quickly too—he moved down here from the UK to be with me pretty early. Six months in, it felt like I had known him for years. We communicate openly all the time, which is important because we work together. Sometimes he has to tell me things I don’t want to hear, but we talk about it and find solutions. It sounds corny, but Louie and I are like puzzle pieces. We just fit together.
“I don’t believe in locking myself into a genre—my roots are in R&B, which I will always love, but evolution is valuable”
2021 for me is about keeping momentum, so I’m releasing a track every alternate month. ‘Slow Down’, my latest single which came out in February, is a meld of club, dance and pop. I don’t believe in locking myself into a genre—my roots are in R&B, which I will always love, but evolution is valuable. As my sound has grown, I have found that my music has an international appeal. When I look at my numbers, it is always a little bit shocking to see Singapore lower on the list of streams and listeners. I have grown up here my whole life, going to local schools, and I have a strong local fan base that I’m so grateful for. But somehow, something about me relates to an international audience a little bit better.
A tour is high priority on my list of things to do. I don’t know when it’ll be possible, but I would love to go around Asia, Australia, the UK, meet different people and perform. Most of my songs translate best live. It’s one thing to put music out online, but completely different to be in the same room as an audience, presenting that music to them—that’s an electric feeling I can’t wait to experience again.
Having spent more time in Singapore over the past year, I have discovered and rediscovered favourite spots that remind me why I love our metropolitan city so much. Let me take you through the places I visit most often for good food, delicious drinks and most importantly— freedom to be who I truly am.
As you read on, jam to my female-centered playlist of songs perfect for a night out with the girls.
Salted & Hung
Louie and I are huge fans of trying new food and we love interesting tasting menus. In 2019, we celebrated our first Valentine’s Day in Singapore at Salted & Hung. We had the best time seated within the restaurant’s chic walls and chef Drew looked after us and served excellent contemporary Australian fare all night.
12 Purvis St, Singapore 188591
Mr & Mrs Mohgan’s Super Crispy Roti Prata
Anything with bread or cheese is my go-to and I’m obsessed with our quintessentially local cheese prata. This hawker stall has been around for nearly two decades and the prata and curry here is hearty, authentic and reminds me of something my grandmother would have made. I love that it feels like home.
Tin Yeang Restaurant, 300 Joo Chiat Rd, Singapore 429356
We got a dog last year and our current mission is to find great dog-friendly cafes across the island. Our favourite recent find is Canopy, situated in the middle of Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park and open from sunrise to midnight. Not only is the park beautiful, the food at the garden-themed cafe is amazing—and there are cute little dogs everywhere.
1382 Ang Mo Kio Ave 1, Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, River Plains, Singapore 569931
Everyone who knows me knows that I am addicted to bubble tea. Loof is a gorgeous rooftop bar with a killer view, but what I love most about it are the tasty, unconventional drinks. My favourite is the alcoholic bubble tea, which comes in sweet or sour options. Thank me later.
331 North Bridge Rd, #03-07 Odeon Towers Extension Rooftop, Singapore 188720
As one of my favourite local watering holes, the mixologists at Native come up with the most creative concoctions—there’s something here for everyone. There’s a sense of community about the place; when you first walk in, you feel like you’ve known this bar for years.
52A Amoy St, Singapore 069878
In a moment of serendipity, we stumbled upon newly opened restaurant-cum-bar Persea during our shoot for this story. The crew is super familial, the interior is beautiful and the drinks are dangerously delicious and unbelievably carb-free. Do yourself a favour and order Chrysantonic (a delightfully floral, chrysanthemum-infused take on a G&T) for a tipple you won’t be able to put down.
23 Ann Siang Rd, Singapore 069703
If you like your drinks with an extra edge of fun, this retro-themed arcade bar is the place to be. Filling bar bites, comfort food-inspired mains and happy hour deals aside, the main draw of Level Up comes from over 10 game machines you can try your hand at. I’m a little competitive so everything becomes a challenge, but bring the right group of friends and this will be a night you won’t forget.
3A River Valley Rd, #02-04 Block A Clarke Quay, Singapore 179020
PS.Cafe East Coast Park
I love being outdoors and will take any excuse I can to be near the sea. Tranquil and scenic, East Coast Park has always been one of my favourite places to unwind with long walks and we usually head to PS.Cafe right after. The menu is slightly different from other outlets—you must try the Chargrilled Octopus in its gloriously spicy and smoky goodness.
1110 East Coast Parkway, #01-05/06/07 Cyclist Park, Singapore 449880
The Projector is a cool spot for movie buffs or lovers of everything nostalgic. This independent cinema shows classics, indie films and cult favourites. Each theatre within has a uniquely themed interior, so you will feel transported to another time. If you are hungry after, just pop down to Golden Mile Complex and fill up at one of the many excellent Thai restaurants.
6001 Beach Rd, #05-00 Golden Mile Tower, Singapore 199589
Deputy Editor: Amelia Chia
Art Director: Henry Thomas Lloyd
Photographer: Shawn Paul Tan
Fashion Director: Desmond Lim
Hair artist: Den Ng using L’Oreal professional and GHD
Makeup artist: Fiona Bennett using Fenty Beauty
Photographer’s assistant: Melvin Leong
Stylist’s assistant: Jeremy Poh