You are my sunshine

Life for third-time Nanyang Alumni Award winner, proud mum and internationally renowned superstar Stefanie Sun is looking pretty rosy right now, especially after her recent sell-out Kepler World Tour concerts. Chrystal Chan speaks with Singapore’s most successful Mandopop singer to find out how she’s keeping it all together

Congrats on winning NTU’s Nanyang Distinguished Alumni Award! How do you feel about the accolade? Is there anyone you’d like to dedicate the award to?

I would like to thank NTU for this third honour. I feel especially privileged to be able to continue doing what I enjoy.

I dedicate the award to my family. Their steadfast love and support has made it possible for me to go further in my career with peace of mind.

Between your second award and this latest one, a lot has happened in your life. If you could sum up your past three years in one word, what would it be?

There’s no one word to describe it; there have been too many emotions and events. Although I have taken on additional roles in life, life feels a lot simpler. The lack of time means I have to focus on the things that matter.

Has being a parent changed your views and thoughts on life and your career?

I think being a parent is demanding and it has made me more self-reflective. Even the most mundane things have to be done; there is no instruction booklet tailored for you, and definitely no entourage there when your child cries.

While it takes some getting used to, the journey has been fantastic, and I mean that both sincerely and sarcastically. (Laughs)

Has it also changed your songs?

I think parenthood has inevitably changed my artistic directions and the things I’m drawn to. Colours are more exciting. Literal things are purely literal. Now’s a good time to recapture the purity of thought.

As a mum, are there challenges career-wise that you didn’t have to worry about before?

Scheduling of activities now requires more thought and I also try to avoid longer trips away from home.

Which of your albums is the most special to you?

I think my latest album, Kepler, signifies a big moment of my life. It feels current to me.

What’s the best or worst thing anyone has said to you or written about you?

I try my best not to take things personally. Articles that upset me are usually the ones written by journalists who attempt to paint an unfair or untrue picture of my intentions. As for music or fashion critics, what they write about is too subjective to be malicious.

What would you say to NTU students and alumni keen on a music career?

No one person is the same. While I wouldn't want to impose my opinions on them, I’d wish them the knowledge to tell between a life calling and a hobby.

The last three years at NTU have been ones of change. We have two new condo-like halls called Pioneer and Crescent Halls, a medical school and a soon-to-be-ready 24-hour learning hub. Would any of these entice you to come back to NTU as a student?

These new facilities sound amazing. Learning can be a lot of fun when it’s with like-minded people and in comfortable surroundings. I’ve always imagined myself going back to school one day. I just have to find the right course!

We would love to have you back! So what do you think your time at NTU wouldn’t have been the same without?

It wouldn’t have been the same without Hall 6. I remember having to plan, host and perform for a show during social night. I also remember performing at Nanyang Lake with our resident band.

What do you think is the main challenge facing local singers in today’s music industry?

The music industry as a whole is facing a soft market. People still want and need music, but there are many other forms of entertainment in bite sizes out there eliciting the same kind of emotions. Perhaps some of these have taken over the space music used to fill.

Your father was an NTU professor and you are an NTU graduate. Will you send your son to NTU in the future?

That depends on his interest, but it’ll be nice to see that happening!

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Still doing the things I enjoy, and being more involved in my son's developmental years. I would also like to find new areas in life to explore.

If you weren’t Stefanie Sun, the singer, you would be...

Stefanie Sun, the closet singer.

What’s success to you?

Having loved ones around you no matter where your life is heading.