Updated: Dec 3, 2020
Priscilla Tan (@priscillatanmusic) is a freelance musician who sings and plays the keyboard. She started singing as a sideline to her corporate marketing job in 2015, before taking a leap of faith and going into music full time in October 2019. Three months later, COVID-19 hit and all her gigs were cancelled or postponed. While that was a scary moment for a mother of one, Priscilla started writing songs about her own life experiences, and plans to release them in 2021. Priscilla hopes to bring joy, nostalgia and comfort to people through her music.
(1) When did you discover your love for music?
I was four when I started learning the piano, but I hated piano lessons and did not practise. In secondary school, I played the piano for chapel services, took part in a musical and found that I absolutely loved performing. Every day at 5 pm, I would be in my living room - dancing, singing to myself and having my own concert with no audience :)
(2) Were your parents instrumental in discovering your musical gift?
Yes, they played a big part! When I was young, while other kids went to math and science tuition classes, my parents would bring me to karaoke places. They had competitive scoring systems where you get lesser points when you don’t hit the notes or rhythm. My friends and family knew that I loved singing, and my first public performance was at my good friend’s wedding. Her husband's cousin, who owns a live music entertainment company, approached me to sing with them. Do what you love + get paid for it? I’m in! And the rest is history.
(3) How would you describe your daily routine?
I start off my days by having breakfast with the family, sending my son to school and my husband to work, which is our family time. After that, there is really no set routine! Every day brings me to a new event, a new project and a new office space – whether it is in a recording studio, a home studio, a theatre, a café, a church, outdoors, at home.
(4) What are some of the challenges you face as a freelance musician?
When you're busy, you’re really busy with back-to-back events. However, there are also months where there is a lull in events. Also, the reality of being a freelance musician is having to do everything yourself – from marketing and building your brand, replying to enquiries, preparing proposals for each event and project, meeting up and liaising with the clients, coordinating with vendors and other musicians, handling the finances and accounting, and administrative work. This means playing a lot of complementary roles so that I eventually get to perform.
(5) What do you think of the freelance music industry in Singapore?
I honestly never knew there were so many freelancers in Singapore until I stepped into the industry. It’s a great industry, and I’ve been really blessed to have met people who have been in the industry for a long time who would show me the ropes, share their contacts, help and advise whenever needed and whom I can completely trust.
(6) How has COVID-19 affected your work?
COVID-19 has forced me to rethink my business strategy and ask myself questions. For example, how do I make music relevant to brands and their following? How do I reinvent my live music services to suit the needs of the market? How should I use my marketing skills to create a new service that people would hire me for?
(7) How do you juggle family life and your gigs?
It really helps that I have a super supportive husband and both sides of the family are always willing to step in to babysit whenever I have gigs. If I have a full weekend of gigs lined up and won’t be home much, I make sure I take time off during the week to spend quality time with the family. Otherwise, I find myself working 24/7, Monday to Sundays, which is not ideal for anyone! Happy mother = happy wife = happy life :)
(8) How has motherhood impacted your life?
Motherhood has completely changed my life. There’s this unconditional love that I never knew that I had until I became a mother. This love drives strength and tenacity through difficult times and before you know it, you’re stronger than you thought you were. I’m still learning and being challenged every day, how to be the best mother that I can be, how to nurture and teach a child to be kind and to love.
(9) What kind of songs do you sing to your son? Have bedtime melodies changed since our parents’ times?
From oldies to nursery rhymes, sometimes we make up our own songs and he’s started to improvise with his own words on familiar songs, which is so so heartwarming to see as a singer. I think many of the classic ones are still the same, which brings the same type of comfort that I had when I was a kid :)
(10) What else do you do besides being a freelance musician?
I do content creation for my Instagram platform, where brands engage me to think of creative ways to market their products/services and create content that is relatable. I also recently co-founded a creative agency called The Fireplace Collective, which puts my 10-year branding, marketing and events experience to good use, coupled with my songwriting and love for music.