Natalie Hiong
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Natalie Hiong

Singapore, Singapore, Singapore | SELF

Singapore, Singapore, Singapore | SELF
Solo Pop Singer/Songwriter


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"With a little heart"

SINGAPORE: There are those who wouldn't recommend becoming a singer-songwriter in Singapore as an appropriate career move.

Which was why it was a bit of a surprise to people around her when Natalie Hiong announced she was ditching her job in a bank in London to come back to pursue her musical interests.

"My boss was shocked and I think some colleagues were, too. Of course, my parents were a little disappointed, but my family is quite musical, so I don't think it was such a shock to them," said the 25-year-old.

According to Hiong - who has just released her debut EP "Little Heart", a collection of five acoustic-driven, pleasant pop songs - she's loved music since she started playing the piano at age three; and started writing songs at 12. "When I was in Methodist Girls' School, there used to be all these songwriting contests, and I'd take part in them."

One day, her Secondary 3 teacher chose her to take part in a national songwriting competition for crime prevention - which she won. "We got a trip to Hong Kong because of that!"

But practicality set in when she graduated from the London School Of Economics.

"There was this whole culture of 'must get a banking job' ... I'd already done an internship in equity sales there, so when I graduated, I had a job waiting in foreign exchange and I didn't think of doing music.

"It was a good experience, but it was very aggressive and male-dominated. And it was not the best place for an Asian girl like me," she added. "I'd be writing songs and music during the breaks."

So she quit after two years at JP Morgan last year, and played a few gigs in London and New York, before finally coming back to Singapore.

"I missed home and wanted to come back," she said. "And I wanted to see what the scene was like."

On her return, Hiong poured herself into writing and recording "Little Heart". She's also teaching piano and pursuing a master's in music at Bath Spa University; took part in the Make Some Noise concerts at the Esplanade in February this year; and she's slated to be part of the ongoing School Invasion Tour.

Things are going pretty well but Hiong isn't oblivious to the long road ahead.

"It is a concern to find an audience here and figure out the best way to find them!" she said.

"I think we have to persevere," she continued.

"You never get known overnight. Look at all those people who had to struggle for years before they were recognised ... You really have to believe in yourself. I gave up my job for this, so I'm definitely putting my all into this."

Natalie Hiong's EP "Little Heart" is out now.

-TODAY/ha - Channel News Asia/Today


Little Heart EP - 2011
Beautiful Mess EP - due March 2013

1) Go Fly A Kite (2012) - radio airplay on Lush 99.5

Part of CD compilations:
1) Perfect (2011) - for Noise Singapore CD
2) Christmas Without You (2012) - for Christmas in Singapore charity album for Rare Disorders Society Singapore
3) Life Is A Battle (2012) - for Methodist Girls' School charity album for National Cancer Centre Singapore



Natalie Hiong, banker-turned-singer-songwriter, writes music of poignant beauty. Her songs showcase her soothing vocals, virtuosity and profound musicality while her heartfelt lyrics bring you on a journey from the heights of being in love to the depths of heartbreak and separation in a style she describes as pop with hints of jazz and rock.

Coming from a family of musicians, Natalie started learning the piano when she was three. She wrote her first song at 12 and won a national songwriting competition at 15. While pursuing her undergraduate degree at the London School of Economics, Natalie found herself without a piano and picked up the guitar, which helped in honing her songwriting skills.

Natalie's hobby became serious when she composed for a musical, Excess Baggage, staged in London in 2007. She began to explore the possibility of a career in music. However, she decided to give the rat race a shot after being offered a job as an investment banker on graduation. Almost two years later, with the realization that she needed to follow her heart, Natalie took the plunge and left her job to pursue her dream of becoming a singer-songwriter. She has performed in various renowned venues including The Bitter End (New York), The Cobden Club (London), Hughs Room (Toronto) and The Esplanade (Singapore).

After returning to Singapore in 2010, Natalie recorded and released her debut EP 'Little Heart', capturing the hearts of local audiences. 2011 saw Natalie making a mark on the local music scene as she was invited to perform at MeRadio Rocks The Marina and Happy 3+65 Countdown Gig. Another notable achievement was a double-finalist finish at the UK Songwriting Contest with her songs Sleepwalking and Little Heart.

In April 2012, Natalie made her debut festival appearance at the Spring Scream Festival in Taiwan. She was also Starbucks featured artist in June and July, performing at various outlets and having her EP Little Heart endorsed and sold in Starbucks islandwide. Natalie was chosen to be the opening act for YouTube sensation, Marie Digby, at the Esplanade Concert Hall on the Singapore leg of her Asian Tour. Natalies second album, Beautiful Mess, is scheduled to be released in March 2013.

Returning to her musical theatre roots, Natalie is also the lyricist for the multi-million dollar magic spectacular, Incanto, currently showing at Resorts World Sentosa, Singapore; and one of the lyricists and composers of Fullout The Musical, a local dance film, slated to be released in 2013.

Natalie is also passionate about inspiring young people to pursue their dreams, speaking at conferences such as National Young Leaders Day and TEDx Singapore and performing for students as part of the School Invasion Tour and Built from Skratch school concerts.

With a diverse pool of influences that include Sara Bareilles, Marie Digby, Sarah McLachlan, Snow Patrol, Coldplay, Disney songs and Broadway songs, Natalies songs capture her life experiences in her signature style of music.

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