Sitting in the air-conditioned Flower Dome, it does truly feel like you’re somewhere else away from Singapore. It’s in this cool and breezy plant conservatory, where singers Jason Mraz and Corrinne May make their official appearance.
The two singers look as comfortable as they can be at the Rhythm with Nature press conference, held at the newly opened Gardens by the Bay.
Jason Mraz is set to perform tonight at 8pm at The Meadows, said to be Singapore’s largest outdoor garden concert venue. Corrinne May will hold her concert the following night at the same location.
While Corrinne May is all demure in a white floral dress and taupe heels, Jason Mraz, on the other hand, walks to the stage barefoot. He’s grown his hair out, kept a beard and is wearing a trilby with his tee and jeans.
A journalist asks Mraz about his “new look”; the singer laughs at the question.
“I saw a really cool picture the other day, of someone’s bathroom,” explains Mraz. “There was no mirror in the bathroom. In place of the mirror, it just said, ‘You look fine’. And I love that.”
“It’s this act of not obsessing over what you’re looking like. You just go about your day, it’s more about how you feel inside.”
For all his chart-topping hits and the Grammy Awards that he has won, Jason Mraz still seems quite down-to-earth.
When told that tickets to his concert have sold out fast, Mraz says humbly, “I think Gardens by the Bay has a lot to do with that. It’s such a beautiful setting here, and a lot of people are just excited to come and see what the fuss is all about, to see what’s ‘growing on’ here.”
“And my fans have been very loyal from the beginning, after every show they tell one or two people, it gets a little bigger each time. I’m not taking any of the credit (for this success).”
But he does feel that at the heart of good songwriting, there has to be a “good amount of truth, vulnerability exposed in the song” for listeners to connect to it.
“I write my songs in my bedroom, I write them for myself, to fill any void that I may have or to answer any questions about my existence and then I just put it out in the world and trust that whoever needs that ‘medicine’ at that time will hear it.”
“I do my best to not think, to channel and emote and it’s the in the editing process where I do my best not to be boring. So I pull my hair out and go a little crazier with every album.”
Corrinne May agrees with that sentiment about getting inspiration from her personal experiences and emotions, while keeping it relevant to her fans.
She goes to her journal to look for song ideas, “but I’ll draw the line when (my lyrics) gets too cheesy,” she laughs. “Like about a cat. . . or a hamster.”
May does think that “honesty is a good policy as a songwriter.” She’ll write and sing about “her emotions (or) something that I’ll want to get out of my system.”
This is Corrinne May’s first concert after her four-year hiatus and much has happened since.
May’s daughter is now three years of age and May admits that motherhood has indeed changed her and her music. “It’s the ways that she’d taught me how to love and the value of sacrifice; the proverbial first few months (of childcare) were hard,” admits the singer.
“Now I look at things with a more child-like wonder through her eyes”, says May thoughtfully. “She’ll look at the moon, a butterfly or a flower and she will notice the things that I wouldn’t notice. They teach you things that you’ve forgotten, things that you knew in childhood but cast aside as you grew older.”
Still, she sometimes surprised by the popular reception of her songs. “For a lot of songs that I thought, ‘it wouldn’t work.’ Songs like ‘Fly Away’ for example.”
“I wasn’t sure if people would (relate to) it. Then people responded, writing to me about their loved ones who left (Singapore), or had passed on. They said that the song held them to grieve and to let go.”
Besides being a visibly glowing, happy mum, she’s a tough cookie too: May shares that she “went through labour without epidural.”
“I had my husband’s music on the iPod and we were doing breathing exercises,” says May. “I was just almost ready to give birth with that 7cm (cervix) dilation when the nurse came by and asked, ‘How are you feeling?’. I said that I was okay and she was surprised:’oh, wow you’re a trooper.'”
Jason Mraz: Tour is a Four Letter Word is held at The Meadows, Gardens by the Bay on June 29, 8pm; watch Corrinne May live at 7.30pm, June 30 at the same location. Visit www.sistic.com.sg and www.rhythmwithnature.com for more information.
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