With his latest release "Summertime" garnering close to 400,000 streams less than three months since its release, Singapore-based musician Dru Chen has released his brand new album, Slow Life, which features previous releases such as "Our Story", "Eiffel Tower" and "Lost". The album release also features a brand new track, "La Di Da", a collaborative tune with prolific Singaporean singer-songwriter Gentle Bones. Slow Life is available on all digital platforms.
Chen shares: “Life in the city rat-race isn't easy, where the weak get trampled and left behind. "La Di Da" speaks to the wounded souls trapped in the pressure cooker of the urban jungle, where work-life balance is sacrificed for fear of losing out to your competition. Having experienced this first hand in Singapore, Gentle Bones and I united to deliver a tonic to stressed out citizens, inviting the listener to take a step back, take a deep breath, and just sing.”
Featuring hushed urban grooves, lilting pop/rock melodies, and reassuring lyrics, "La Di Da" hopes to be a respite from the hustle and bustle of the world, a theme that weaves its way prominently throughout Slow Life. From the sensual pop-R&B vibe of "Summertime" to the romantic lushness of "Eiffel Tower", Slow Life brings a message of love and positivity and a reminder to slow down and enjoy life despite its challenges.
"When Joel and I met for the first time, we spoke about how important it is for music to uplift - for melodies and lyrics to rise and radiate a positive feeling. We truly believe this is what music has done for us, and we wanted to get together to write something which we hope will do the same for our listeners during these troubled times," Chen adds.
Since his debut album ‘Mirror Work’ in 2019, the Australia-born Chen has continuously explored new grounds in his sonic artistry. Having dabbled in a variety of genres that range from funk to soul to pop, Chen brought the accumulation of his recent years into an album launch concert held at The Espanade last November 2021.
One Music PH recently had an exclusive email interview with Dru Chen...
One Music PH: "The 'La Di Da' music video is a parody on reality talent competitions, what's your take on those reality talent shows/singing contests? Ever had real-life experiences trying out for them?
Dru Chen: Based on my competitive upbringing when it came to doing well academically in school, I viewed my music very differently from a young age. It was a safe space for me to express myself, and create as I wished - free from judgment, grades, and competition. While at a later stage in my career, music took on a slightly more business-oriented perspective, I think my aversion to reality talent shows and singing contests was a holdover from my belief and attitude towards music in the beginning. But who knows what the future holds - I may change my mind, should the opportunity arise!
One Music PH: Can you please talk to us about the overall concept and how your album Slow Life came about? Dru Chen: Slow Life was a title I had in my mind immediately after I put out the Mirror Work album back in 2019. As soon as we finished the launch show and promotion for that album, my creative mind was free to brainstorm a new concept and musical vibe. I wanted to look at life very intentionally, and take stock of the meaningful and important things to me. This meant my friends, family, personal time, musical expression, and doing the things worth doing. It also meant putting a priority and spotlight on mental health. The concept of Slow Life is to live life deliberately, and consciously - that is to say, to seize the day, and to not let distractions, reactions, and negative energy influence how you choose to spend your precious time on this planet.
One Music PH: Can you please give the low down on the tracks of Slow Life?
"La Di Da" While I was shifting house, I put my music equipment in my parents home as a temporary location. Joel Tan AKA Gentle Bones came over, and my mum cooked us dinner, and we ended up writing the bulk of the track in one evening. It was a very positive and uplifting lyric, and with some help from my producer friend JZlee, we completed this singalong pop-rock number. Also, check out the hilarious music video for it!
"Summertime" Wow, this one came together very quickly. My wife and I went to sentosa, and the wonderful, romantic, and relaxing vibe of the place brought out this music in me. Once again, we had JZlee, and also my friend Paul McMurray contribute to the production and lyrics, respectively. I'm very blessed to have the opportunity to work with Rangga Jones on this collaboration. He is an amazing artist, and I believe we were able to capture that summertime spirit in this song. We're very glad this one turns out to be a fan favorite!
"Replay" This song has a long history. The original version is from one of my best friends, and most talented musician-producers that I know. His name is Jesse Bear, and a few years ago he showed me "Replay" as an acoustic song. The minute I heard it, I knew there was something magical about it. It had a certain nostalgic and bittersweet feeling. Joel put his unique spin on the chorus melody and helped us work on the arrangement together, and restructured the piece that Jesse and Kathy Hinch originally wrote. This was the first track we completed for this album, and so there is something very special about it for me. It gave us the momentum for the rest of the album.
"Our Story" This song came from an old one I wrote called 'Catch a Feeling', which was about anxiety and depression, though I didn't know that at the time. This is a deep song about a wounded relationship, and fixing things to be better.
"Lost" My take on listening to the folky feeling of Simon & Garfunkel when I was a child.
"Hold You" I love 90s R&B. This song, along with "Replay" are heavily influenced by that sound. Once again, Jesse Bear had a big part to play in this production. It also shows my love for Prince.
One Music PH: What was it like collaborating with Gentle Bones and Rangga Jones?
Dru Chen: Gentle Bones has had a big impact on me as an artist, and also on Slow Life in general. He played a major role in shaping the sound and A&R direction of the project, and I must say, he's one of the most brilliant top-liners I've ever met in this industry. The way he constructs his top-line melody is second to none. Rangga Jones is a very intelligent, and poised artist, with so much stage presence, and energy. I love his songs and productions as well. I'm very lucky to call these two gentlemen my friends, and collaborators. Thank you for being a part of this project!
One Music PH: How would you describe yourself as an artist?
Dru Chen: I have a deep relationship with music. Specifically music-making itself. It's something I stumbled upon when I was about four or five years old. I think I see life through music, and I often write songs as a by-product of living. It's through these experiences, and my innate love for groove, emotional chord progressions, lushly-layered productions, and the history of musicology itself, that propel me to write the bulk of my discography. I am a student of music, and it is my soul and life's work. My most notable teachers would be Prince, Jeff Buckley, Queen, Simon & Garfunkel, D'Angelo, Lewis Taylor, Led Zeppelin, Sly Stone, and Jimi Hendrix.