FRIDAY 9 OCTOBER - Singapore pop artist Dominic Chin has finally released his debut EP ‘License to Cry’, via indie label Umami Records.
The 7-track EP is a diverse collection of songs that document the early stages of self-discovery in Dominic Chin’s life, in his efforts to articulate his struggles and explore different sounds.
A Confessional Record
“It was always difficult for me to verbalise my feelings growing up because I didn't ever want to give myself away and reveal my vulnerability to others,” the acclaimed singer-songwriter/producer said. “I feared that they would judge me or find me a burden, and so this album is in a way, me talking about what I didn't want to talk about.”
The recording process eventually felt therapeutic for Chin, as it allowed him to confront some of the personal traumas in his life. He shares, “In the process of making the songs, we always made it a point to make the song not sound too much as what it would lyrically seem to be. For example, HERE is a midtempo and “springy” type of song, but it talks about me missing my late grandmother. SHY is a high energy EDM song, but it talks about my paranoia and insomnia.”
Confessional in terms of songwriting treatment, Dominic Chin’s latest EP, ‘License To Cry’ is the explanation that he finally can give to people. “This is why I am the way I am,” he admits. “I have many reasons for my tears, I have many stories of my past. This album is an extension of myself.”
Cry: Breaking Social Demands
The EP’s focus track, the previously unreleased CRY, is an R&B track with a bit of a late 90’s pop vibe, saying that it’s OK to cry, even as you’re told to “man up.”
“It’s about being yourself and breaking free of the fear and shame from having to conform to others’ silly expectations and rules,” Chin explains. “Growing up, I have always had poor confidence, and hated sports and the general rowdiness that boys would get up to. I would constantly be told to ‘suck it up’ and ‘don’t be a girl.’ The song is about how me, being male, faces society’s demands to behave and act a certain way, but in fact every man is different. I used the term ‘cry’ as a symbol in the song to represent all the unfair expectations that others place on us. We came into this world crying and yet somehow it has become ‘feminine’ to do so.”
With its gospel-inflected arrangements and incredible bigness, CRY marks a milestone for Dominic Chin as it tackles themes that aren’t usually discussed in mainstream pop music in Singapore and elsewhere in Asia-- rejecting conformity, rising above society’s expectations, and empowering self-expression. It’s a powerful song to cap off a brilliant 7-track EP-- a personal statement that no matter how vague and intimate, still manages to capture humanity at its finest.
Listen to License to Cry by Dominic Chin everywhere at this link: https://www.umamirecords.sg/license-to-cry/
Track list (focus track is 3 / CRY):
1 / SHY
2 / HERE
3 / CRY
4 / AWARE
5 / BETTER
6 / ALONE
7 / CLSE2U
About Dominic Chin
Singapore based pop artist Dominic Chin creates music with his distinct voice and a blend of electro-pop, soul and r&b. Fuelled by life and all its awkward contradictions, Dominic writes songs from the heart that resonate deeply with his audience.
The 24 year old singer-songwriter from Singapore started covering songs on YouTube in 2010, and his channel has more than 9200 subscribers and 1.3M views. After the viral success of You First Believed, a tribute song he wrote for Singapore founding father Mr Lee Kuan Yew in 2014, he was compelled to start writing more originals. He released his first single CLSE2U in 2018, followed by SHY, HERE, AWARE and BETTER, and his songs have been featured on major Spotify editorial playlists including ‘Electro Mix’ and ‘Singapore’s Top Acts’.
About Umami Records
Umami Records is a Singapore-based indie record label founded in 2013. Much like the “5th taste” reputation of its namesake, the label strongly believes in discovering new, interesting sounds that run underground and away from the mainstream. The label’s tight-knit, curated roster includes releases from Linying, The Steve McQueens, brb., Evanturetime, CampFire, Martin Baltser, Phoria, Oriental Cravings, and more.
Track by Track Guide: Dominic Chin - License To Cry EP
“'License To Cry' is a collection of songs that document the early stages of self-discovery in my life, in my efforts to articulate my struggles and explore different sounds to express my reality. It was always difficult for me to verbalise my feelings growing up because I didn't ever want to give myself away and reveal my vulnerability to others. I feared that they would judge me or find me a burden, and so this album is in a way, me talking about what I didn't want to talk about.
It was therapeutic almost to finish up the songs with my producers, because it felt like I finally confronted some of the traumas in my life. In the process of making the songs, we always made it a point to make the song not sound too much as what it would lyrically seem to be. For example, HERE is a mid tempo and “springy” type of song, but it talks about me missing my late grandmother. SHY is a high energy EDM song, but it talks about my paranoia and insomnia.
The reason for the title is because for a long time, people have always tried to figure me out and wondered why I am the way I am. This album is the explanation that I can finally give to people - this is why I am the way I am. I have many reasons for my tears, I have many stories of my past.”
1 / SHY
"It's 2019 and it's ok to not be ok" - Dominic Chin explores the blurred lines of mental health in SHY, illuminating the value of acceptance as the first step. Dominic is no stranger to insomnia and all the thoughts that haunt him in the middle of the night. For him the night was a time and space where his demons wreaked havoc in his mind and where nightmares became real. And the day was when he had to hide behind a smile and pretend everything was ok. The overwhelming disturbia of the night inspired SHY.
Dominic aspires to ignite the conversations around mental health and foster moving forward:
"My whole songwriting journey for all my songs is just about plain honesty and how the more we realize we are not alone, we can all rise above and take the power back. I believe in writing songs that people can relate to." Dominic invites us to see the reality for what it is and take back the power that has been taken from us.
2 / HERE
The singer packages his rendition of one of the toughest human emotions, grief, into a fresh lo-fi doused pop&b track, decorated with pretty instrumentals and a catchy beat. If you didn’t pay attention to the devastating verse, you’d never know it was a sad song.
“HERE is a song about me coping with the death of my late grandmother, who practically raised me as I spent most of my childhood with her,” the singer explains. “She died suddenly in March 2018 and it was a tremendous blow to my family and I. The beginning of the song features a voice clip of her asking me if I was coming back home for dinner. This song is a reminder to me that she has never really left me and she is still here with me in my heart.”
Dominic adds that the song is meant to bolster camaraderie with the fans unfortunate enough to be able to relate: “The message I’m trying to send across is that coping with grief will be something that all of us will have to cope with at some point & will continue to cope with because we never stop missing our loved ones — and that's okay! It's important to talk about it and process it whenever we do feel bad about it.”
3 / CRY
CRY is an R&B track with a bit of a late 90’s pop vibe, saying that it’s OK to cry, even as you’re told to “man up”. It’s about being yourself and breaking free of the fear and shame from having to conform to others’ silly expectations and rules.
Dominic Chin shares more about the message behind CRY: “Growing up, I have always had poor confidence, and hated sports and the general rowdiness that boys would get up. I would constantly be told to ‘suck it up’ and ‘don’t be a girl’. The song is about how me, being male, faces society’s demands to behave and act a certain way, but in fact every man is different. I used the term ‘cry’ as a symbol in the song to represent all the unfair expectations that others place on us. We came into this world crying and yet somehow it has become ‘feminine’ to do so.”
4 / AWARE
AWARE is a fun, tongue in cheek song about having a crush on someone, wanting more than just their attention, and trying everything to please and impress them. “It’s an honour to be able to love and be loved in return”, declares Dominic, “if you like somebody, don’t feel bad about it! Love freely and love openly.”
A minimalistic electro-pop production with bouncy synths and a crisp beat accompany Dominic’s unique voice as he sings about his willingness to do anything to satisfy the subject of his affections: “Tell me what you need, what you need I’ll be / Baby I can take the lead / Or if you want control, if you wanna set the tone / Baby I am yours to own.” Playful whistling and whimsical synth riffs come together in the song’s heady instrumental breaks, “these are my favourite parts, they have such a party vibe to them, I imagined colourful laser lights everywhere”, said Dominic.
5 / BETTER
BETTER is a poppy, free-spirited song about the joys of being high on love. Dominic Chin shares: “This song is inspired by love! There’s a quote that says ‘falling in love is the best high without breaking the law’, and I fully agree! The whole chorus talks about how flowers smell better, time passes much slower, the sky is BLUE-ER. How you don’t ever want time to stop when you’re with the person you love.”
Fun, playful melodies accompany Dominic’s beautiful and infectious vocals, leading up to unapologetically brash and compelling choruses which he proudly belts out. “I felt like it needed a quirky aspect too, and that's why I sang ‘You-you-you’ with a slight yodle. AND I love showing off my whistling skills. I have been practicing for years, finally I can properly show it off!” shared Dominic.
Dominic Chin invites us to embrace the unbridled joy and warmth that emanate in his song: “Sometimes we are afraid to love because we are afraid to be hurt, and we don't say what we feel as much, we don’t communicate enough. Let this song be a dedication to your significant other. Being in love is scary but it’s one of the most beautiful things in the world for humans to experience. ‘The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.’”
6 / ALONE
In this deeply personal song, the singer-songwriter lays bare his struggles with anxiety disorder. “Dear don't let me go, let me go tonight,” he whispers desperately in the chorus, accompanied by a minimalist, gentle electro-pop beat that gives the track its melancholic, intimate vibe. ALONE takes a step back from the dance floor and finds a way to get through life’s darkest tunnels one step at a time.
“The song is about my anxiety order and how it affects all the relationships in my life,” Dominic Chin shares in a statement. “Finding love and peace with good healthy relationships but feeling tremendously undeserving of it, resulting in me wanting to sabotage the relationship. The song talks about feeling conflicted about my relationships, being totally defeated and yearning for some help while I fight my battles with feeling disorientated by all that is going on in my mind.”
The acclaimed Singapore-based artist also clarifies that ALONE is not a song meant to uplift anybody. “It’s a song to let people who struggle with anxiety issues like me to know that they are not alone, and that I too struggle with it on a day to day basis and I’m still here.”
7 / CLSE2U
“CLSE2U is about the pull and push of a relationship, wanting to be close when you're feeling very far from someone. It was written from a place of pain but progresses into a place of peace throughout the song, which is the reason for the change in tempo and time signature to a more vibey 6/8 beat in the chorus. It begins with a lot of uncertainty, and grows to become a voice of love, and when the beat kicks in, it's a repetitive affirmative voice.”
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