Dear Straight People,
If you think Beyonce is the only artist who produces emotionally charged music videos, you’re wrong.
Meet 23-year old Singaporean Duane Ho; the artist behind Singapore’s FIRST gay music video in English! Despite the fact that a gay music video alone would have been groundbreaking enough, Duane decided to go one step further by incorporating themes of rape and abuse in his epic cover of Lady Gaga’s Million Reasons.
The central theme of abuse is something I feel is relatable no matter what demographic you make up.
I think we all can say we’ve had our fair share of the ugly side of relationships.
Best known for finishing 6th place on the 3rd season of Singapore Idol back in 2009, Duane recently found himself back in the media spotlight after his impromptu duet with Jessie J at her 2016 concert went viral.
Fresh out of singing with the global superstar, Duane has teamed up with aspiring filmmaker Kieran Cheang (HURT) to produce an epic cover of Million Reasons – the country tinged track off Lady Gaga’s latest album Joanne.
Together, the two budding artists produced what is arguably the most fearless and provocative music video ever made by a Singaporean artist.
Starring Sylvester Tan, Humphrey George Chua and Dillon Ong as the protagonists, there is not a single dull moment in Duane’s 3-minute long music video.
Filled with provocative imagery and intense drama, the music video even features scenes of physical abuse and rape in a same-sex relationship – taboo subjects that even American gay publications shy away from. Kieran explains:
We want to present hurt as an agency in a cyclic environment; the struggle for one to escape his demons like the song suggests.
Duane further elaborates that the groundbreaking scenes aren’t just there for shock value. They serve an important purpose in the video’s narrative of recurring abuses.
In a relationship, most of our actions are a result of pain or a memory from the past, and the visuals show that.
Currently in the midst of promoting his Million Reasons cover, Duane has kindly taken time out of his busy schedule to tell us more about his latest offering.
1. After being inactive on YouTube for 3 years, why come out at this time to do a cover of Lady Gaga’s ‘Million Reasons’
3 years ago I was doing my final year of Poly and then just like any other male in Singapore, army happened.
It was probably one of the most uninspiring times in my life so far but I learned a lot about my self along the way. Finally starting school at NTU’s School of Art, Design & Media in August 2016 however, reignited the flame in me and I was driven to do another music project, now with 3 years worth of newfound experiences.
2. How did the concept for the music video come about?
I had always wanted to work with the director and my good friend Kieran.
He was my junior back in Ngee Ann Polytechnic and I had always admired his courage and fearlessness whenever it came to being himself and expressing how he felt through art.
It was in December that he had come across a snippet of me singing Million Reasons and shortly after reached out to me to collaborate and of course I said yes. Through the many meetings and discussions we had, we came up with a theme and alternative narrative, basically our own interpretation of the song.
3. Why did your team decide to go with the riskier choice of focusing on a gay relationship rather than a straight one?
The LGBT scene in Singapore is something that still isn’t widely or openly portrayed in media and from a personal standpoint, just because we don’t see or hear these stories doesn’t mean they cease to exist.
4. What was the best and toughest part about bringing the music video to life?
The best part about working on this video was collaborating with the many talented people involved that made the production possible. Nicholas, the music arranger floored me with his arrangement of the song and I was initially afraid it was simply too difficult.
That push was necessary however, in breaking through both vocally and artistically, for all of us to do something we’d never done before and make something we’d be proud of.
5. What kind of impact are you hoping to achieve with your music video?
I hope for a conversation to begin between people and within oneself. To discover and acknowledge why we react the way we do and possibly let go of past hurt in order to truly be set free.
The video talked about how the main character’s past abuse led him to become an abusive person himself and I feel that we all have parts about ourselves, both good and bad, that is a result of something or someone.
6. Why should people watch your music video?
People should watch the video because it’s 3 minutes of intense drama, provocative imagery and a different take on an amazing song.
7. What project(s) are you working on next? Any plans to release an album one day?
Kieran and I already in talks to do a follow-up to Million Reasons so do stay tuned for that.
As for original music, I do hope to share my work with the world one day when the time is right.
8. What kind of artist do you aspire to be?
I aspire to be an artist that speaks honestly and is relatable to whoever listens.
Music has always been a huge part in my life and has helped me through some of my darkest times.
I hope to do the same in the future, to excite, inspire and tell anyone who needs it that they are not alone.
9. Is there anything else you like to add?
Always do you and do what you think is right. When you are finally comfortable in your own skin, life becomes beautiful.
Watch the FULL MUSIC VIDEO here:
Once again, Dear Straight People would like to thank Duane Ho for speaking with us.
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