Debra Khng wrote her first song ‘Strangers’ on bus rides from Labrador Park, and debuted it at Originals Only Open Mike At Singapore Art Museum (OOOM@SAM) where she was a finalist. After a 4-year incubation period, her debut EP “Wolves In The Night” – a 5-track chronicle of love, loss, and youth – is finally released.
The 24-year-old describes her music as mainly soft-rock tunes that are melody-driven with poetic lyrical leanings. Veering towards the genre Adult Contemporary, Debra lists folk artists like Simon and Garfunkel, Joni Mitchell, and Tracy Chapman as her biggest influences.
Debra first discovered her passion for singing whist trying to sing Disney songs and imitating singers like Leanne Rimes and Mariah Carey while growing up. At the tender age of 3 or 4, the young Debra replayed Mariah’s 1993 Thanksgiving NBC Special concert LD till the LD player broke down. She then joined the school choir in junior college and soon after, singing became something she loved and wanted to pursue. She started professional vocal training at 19. During Debra’s gap year after her A level’s in 2010, she chanced upon a songwriting workshop at the Esplanade, and the rest as they say, was history.
She has since performed at Artistry, MAAD, Hood Bar, Tab, and the Esplanade Concourse. For Debra, she sees every event as an opportunity to better herself. The humble singer-songwriter shared, “I don’t think a particular event has changed me, but rather with each subsequent event, you’d naturally improve. It’s always building on from the previous one.” But if she had to pick one, she would say it was her first performance at Esplanade Concourse, where a woman randomly went up to kiss her after being she was moved by her performance. That was the sweetest thing that has ever happened to Debra.
‘Wolves In The Night’ has been an arduous journey of firsts for Debra. The budding musician shared that the process was filled with a lot of trail and error, and it was only with the guidance of other musicians that her songs were able to materialize. Most of Debra’s material were drawn from her personal experiences and penned down when she was 18 or 19 of age. Debra’s songs emanate a certain poignancy with a thematic element running through the tracks. ‘Prince’ and ‘Wolves In The Night’ are tracks that embody youth (or the loss of), with ‘Prince’ drawing inspiration from a recent high profile drug-mule case in Singapore and the latter, an attempt to recapture Debra’s “reckless, flighty period of youth” when she was studying as an Arts student. Take a listen to Debra’s title track, ‘Wolves In The Night’ here:
When asked to recommend a song to a new listener, Debra picks ‘Mr Somebody’.
As for what’s Debra up to now, the down-to-earth lady says she’s practising and improving on her musical skills. She is also writing new material, at the moment poetry, which she’ll eventually transform into lyrics.
Here are some fun facts about Debra Khng:
1. She’s a vegetarian.
2. She’s intensely introverted and cordial talk scares her.
3. A person in his/her element is immensely attractive to her.
4. She’s inclined to sexy, artistic hands that look like they know what they’re doing. Needless to say, the ability to draw draws her.
If you’d like to catch Debra perform live, she has an upcoming gig this Wednesday, 11th February 2015, at Artistry.
The Fifth Parlour would like to thank the lovely Debra Khng for the interview and her manager, Yuka Ng for coordinating the interview. We wish Debra all the best in her future endeavours.