PHOTO CREDIT: @oneclickwonders
ONE hears the music of Haneri and is instantly blown away.
I talk to the young songwriter about changing names (from Daphne Khoo) and what ‘Haneri’ signifies. She gives me an insight into the new single, Burning Up, and whether it was challenging filming the video – one of the most emotion-draining and raw I have seen this year. Haneri talks about the fact her music has been picked up in so many countries – accruing popularity around the globe right now. Looking ahead; she talks about touring and where we can catch her play.
Although born in Singapore; Haneri is based in L.A. – I ask how the music scenes differ and whether her heart belongs to Singapore or the U.S. I learn more about the artists that compel her and am told what advice she offers to songwriters emerging onto the scene.
Hi, Haneri. How are you? How has your week been?
It’s been pretty good so far. I’m on tour in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and it’s always nice to be here.
I’m always well-fed and the audiences are always amazing.
For those new to your work, can you introduce yourself, please?
I’m Haneri, formerly Daphne Khoo (hopefully, I won’t have to be doing that too much). Born in Perth, Australia; grew up in Singapore – and I currently reside in Los Angeles.
I’ve been making music and writing since I was twelve and probably singing since I was able to talk. I started my singing career in Singapore after some time on Singapore Idol – but it’s been a long time since then and I like to think I’ve left that little sixteen-year-old behind – and have gone through many phases in my music since then.
What compelled the name change to ‘Haneri’? Does it have special significance and symbolism?
I wanted a brand-new start.
I had jumped all over the place with my releases in terms of genre and, since I started top-lining and featuring on a bunch of E.D.M. releases, I wanted to really brand myself and give myself a chance to be a little more honest under an alias – almost giving myself permission to sing and write about things that I never would have had the guts to release or write as ‘Daphne’.
PHOTO CREDIT: @oneclickwonders
Burning Up is out now. What can you tell us about the song and its origination?
Well, very honestly, I have to give Zack Djurich a lot of the credit.
He’s a friend I met in school in Boston and we had never really written together till he told me he had this track that he had been sitting on – and we finished the song in one session (which doesn’t always happen) and were pretty pumped about it.
A bunch of tweaks later, Burning Up was born!
The inspiration behind it was my own run-in with abusive/toxic relationships and how I had heard so many of my friends going through the same things – and not having anyone to pull them out of it at the time.
I guess, in that moment, I was feeling the burn from the past and needed to find a way to sing about it. Not just for myself, but to let people who listened to the song know that they weren’t alone – that these kinds of relationships happen so often and that if you’re in one; you need to get out…now.
The song is part of New Music Friday in nine countries – including Singapore and Norway. How does that make you feel?
Honestly, I don’t know how to feel.
I’m overjoyed and I definitely have Charlotte (Project Light Agency) and the Spotify teams to thank for allowing me to be on this amazing playlist in all these countries!
The video looks like it was quite emotional and tough. What was it like filming it?
I’ve never considered myself an actress but Ryan Tan (Director) was so patient and incredible at getting me into a mode.
He was (just) very honest while some of the shots were being filmed; I slid into the frame of mind necessary pretty easily with his help.
Does this mean we are going to see an album or E.P. later in the year?
I definitely have a bunch of new music in the works.
Can’t tell you exactly what, but follow my socials for updates!
Since appearing on Singapore Idol, you have played prominent stages including Singapore Day in Melbourne; a solo ticketed concert at the Esplanade Recital Studio; and Mosaic Music Festival. What has been your most-prized memory and how do you think you’ve grown as an artist?
I think performing at the opening ceremony at the 2015 SEA Games has probably been the highlight of my career thus far – that, and having had Amber and Luna from f(x) and R3verb release something I co-wrote.
I think I’ve grown as an artist as I’ve grown as a human being. My experiences and how I’ve experienced music are intertwined and one definitely affects the other.
I’ve learned to allow myself time to adventure; to open my mind and be open to anything – and it’s given me a multitude of stories that I’ve yet to tell through my music.
Be it in the lyrics or the sounds. It’s really exciting to be working with producers like Zack that bring those experiences to life!
Burning Up has some 1980s nods and modern Electronic sounds. Who were the artists you grew up listening to – that inspired your music now?
I listened to Whitney Huston, Mariah Carey; Celine Dion, Shania Twain; Trisha Yearwood, Britney Spears; The Moffats, Christina Aguilera; Coldplay, All American Rejects; Jimmy Eat World…. The list goes onnnnnn.
You split your time between L.A. and Singapore. How does the music scene of both places differ? Which do you feel most ‘at home’ in?
Well, I just started in L.A. and my family is all in Singapore – so I definitely feel more at home in Singapore.
But, if we’re talking about the stage, I mostly feel at home on any stage.
Can we expect to see you tour at any point this year? Where about might you be headed?
I’m on tour right now!
Over the next year, I’ll probably only do shows within the U.S. and Singapore.
But who knows? Like I said: I’m keeping an open mind!
Is there any plan to visit the U.K.? What do you think of the music and people here?
I would LOVE to visit and play in the U.K.
It’s always been a dream and when I was thinking of being based somewhere else, the U.K was high up there on the list!
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
I just found out about MILCK who is INCREDIBLE – so definitely check her out (she’s not new I’m just slow but, seriously, you won’t be disappointed).
I’m obsessed – and lastly – after a colleague of mine introduced ALOHAHA to me – who is also not new but again, great listen and worth listening to.
If you had to select three albums that have meant the most to you; which would they be and why?
Man, that’s so hard: it’s like asking me to pick my favourite family member – which, of course, I can’t do.
But, really, if I had to they’d be:
Death Cab for a Cutie – Plans
Betty Who – The Valley
John Mayer – Room for Squares
These aren’t necessarily my favourite albums… there are just too many but these albums mean a LOT to me.
What advice would you give to any new artists starting out right now?
It’s gonna be a long road: don’t let anyone tell you it will be easy.
But, reach for genuine smiles from people and from yourself. Wake up grateful you can do what you love; then get on with it.
Those songs won’t write themselves!
Finally, and for being a good sport, you can name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).
Haha, YAY! A treat!
I’m currently obsessed with Lorde’s Supercut
Thanks so, so much!