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Spotlight on Marcus Lee

By Beverly Grafton

Courtesy of @razorsdigital

Today, I put another friend of mine in the spotlight.

I first met singer-songwriter, Marcus Lee, through the auditions for Sing China 2018, where both he and I, together with Dawn Wong and Elizabeth Li, represented Singapore that year. We’ve all come a long way since then and I’m happy to have the chance to catch up with him as he shares his journey through the pandemic, his thoughts on love and his brand new single, 没道理我可以 (Without Reason). Enjoy the read!

Bevie Grafton: It’s been a while since we’ve caught up with each other. I’m sure, just like anyone else in our industry, you’ve got your own story to tell. Let’s start with what were the struggles you faced during the pandemic?

Marcus Lee: The pandemic caused a lot of disruption and put a halt to a lot of my plans.  The marketing and promoting my music outside of Singapore and all around the region was initially planned for me in 2020 but I had to hit pause and find alternatives to growing my audience.

I think I struggled most with staying positive and trying to maintain a good attitude towards the whole situation. I immersed myself into being productive and consistent with producing content and working on new music instead of ruminating over lost opportunities.

BG: So what were the methods you used to cope with these struggles?

ML: I decided to take up new skills, such as self-producing, learning to record on my own, a little bit of videography and doing my own basic edits for videos and photos - things that I would normally try to look for external help with. Looking back, I think the situation pushed me to step out of my comfort zone and got me started on things that I never imagined I'd be able to do. So, I guess there is a silver lining after all.

BG: Indeed! As the year and post-circuit breaker phases progress, it seems that live entertainment has been taking on more of an online presence. Do you foresee live streaming (facebook/IG/zoom, etc) as the future of entertainment?

ML: Probably not entirely because live and online performances are still very different! I do feel that livestreams have served to fill this interim gap and it’s been beneficial in many, many ways to keep people safe and connected with music as a whole. That being said, I still believe that the experience of live performances is irreplaceable! From both a performer’s perspective and as an audience, nothing can replicate that feeling of playing and listening to music performed live.

I think as we adjust to this new life that we’ve had to live this past year, there are many ways that technology will probably advance to continue making the virtual experience better. Tech like AR and VR are really pretty cool and there’s been leaps in the technology already available. With the acceleration of technology consumption during the pandemic, I foresee that the future will find tech infusing itself into live performances.

BG: As a musician, do you accept and welcome that future or would you prefer a return to physical live performances?

ML: Definitely hoping for live performances to comeback! Playing to a live audience means being able to interact with them and bounce off their energy, which is really the best way to connect with the crowd. But yeah, I do think it’ll be a while so for now, moving ahead with technology and learning to adapt is essential, if I intend to stay competitive and ahead of the curve as a musician.

BG: I couldn’t agree more. Anyways, I heard you’ve just recently dropped a new single,  没道理我可以 (Without Reason). Care to tell us more about it?

ML: Yep I did! “Without Reason” is a song about loss and how we sometimes don't get the goodbyes that we want. Sometimes the people we love decide to walk away and we can't do anything about it but to figure out how to let go.

The time frame of the song’s story is not at the initial phase of breaking up but rather, at a point after some time has passed and one finally decides to move on. Which gives it an undercurrent of resilience and hope too.

Sometimes things don't turn out the way we want, I think that seems to be the premise of this year but we always have a choice on how to respond. Its normal to want to drown in our sadness and sorrows but picking ourselves up to move forward is just as important and necessary.

Love is always a conscious choice and it’s a decision we have to keep making. Even when we let go, we have to do it with an open heart and with no regrets and that, takes courage and bravery and strength. That's what I want this song to remind people of; love with no regrets and learn to let go when it’s time to.

BG: Once again, I couldn’t agree more. With that being said, I'm curious to know if the music video reflects this message. Tell us more about what we can find in the MV.

ML: The MV is also the last and final part of my web series, Digital Love - which is a project conceptualized with my team during the CB period. We wanted to tell a positive and uplifting story during a bleak time. So, we figured the concept of falling in love and being excited over another person would provide juxtaposition against all the gloom.

The series is about 2 individuals falling in love in this global pandemic and we watch how they try to navigate it 'cause they can't meet and  because their interaction is purely digital, the relationship dynamic is fraught with its own set of challenges. So, the story attempts to answer the question of how well can we really know a person through strictly digital means and also, can two people who have never met in real life, actually make it work?

As mentioned earlier, the MV is the final part of the series and (spoiler alert!) it doesn’t end well as the novelty wears off and reality kicks in. They realize they're very different people and sometimes, as I’ve repeatedly stressed, we don't get that happy ending, no matter how much we try. So in the MV, the protagonist reminisces and eventually comes to terms with letting go of someone who is no longer there.

Such a profound mind you have Marcus. Not to mention, such emotional maturity in someone so young. I look forward to listening to the track and watching the entire series, not just the MV. Why? Cuz I’m OCD like that. It’s like life and living, no? I don’t want to skip ahead to the finish line. I need the whole story from start to end. Otherwise, there would be no meaning.

With that, I turn my spotlight off again until my next post. Stay safe and like always, find a reason to smile before you sleep and always celebrate yourselves.


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