Music keeps her positive
In the final part of our four-part Levi's series on local women in music, we catch up with singer-DJ Daphne Khoo
Local singer-radio DJ Daphne Khoo has come a long way since she finished fourth in the inaugural season of reality TV singing competition Singapore Idol in 2004.
The 28-year-old former frontwoman of local indie rock outfit West Grand Boulevard released her debut album, Desperate, in 2007, followed by her EP, Wonderland, last year.
This year, her song, Greatest, was featured on Songs Of The Games, the official album of the 28th South-east Asian (SEA) Games.
It had always been her dream to pursue a career in music - and even cancer did not stop her.
In 2012, Khoo had her left ovary and fallopian tube removed, along with a 13cm tumour next to the ovary, after she was diagnosed with a rare form of ovarian cancer.
At the time, she was a student at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston and had to undergo nine weeks of chemotherapy.
The following year, she was diagnosed with stage zero cervical cancer.
Despite the setbacks, Khoo continues to adopt a positive attitude towards life, at times using music and songwriting to help her cope.
Weak from Wonderland was the first song you wrote after undergoing chemotherapy. What was the message behind it?
It is to remind myself that it is okay not to be the strongest version of myself that I can be. Usually, I am a positive person and always hustling. But after chemotherapy, I dealt with losing my hair and felt far from beautiful.
It also brought me back to when I was in school and struggled with fitting in. On Idol, I had my fair share of haters. So it also brought back feelings from those times, no matter how much I tried to stay optimistic.
As a female musician, have you ever experienced gender inequality?
Not at all. I don't even think it's a thing any more. It's about collaborating and working together to make beautiful music because we need each other. The "bloodbath" nature of the industry is not true, there is no competition. And if someone is really good, I look up to him as an inspiration and I am happy for him.
What is your greatest challenge as a musician?
Finding my own sound. You go through life wondering who you are. Even things like your favourite food and colour change with time. I'm still finding the best way I can impact the world and talk to people through my music. It's a lot about knowing yourself and I'd like to think I'm getting closer to finding out.
How did your involvement with EDM (electronic dance music) - in songs like Higher with English DJ Paul Oakenfold and Canadian duo Project 46, as well as Louder with German DJs Paul Van Dyk and Roger Shah - come about?
This was when I was undergoing chemotherapy and I couldn't go out much. I would write the top lines - lyrics and melody - and send them out to the DJs, who would record the beats and send them back.
When I lived in New York last year, I wrote the top lines with two friends in Louder, which was featured in (Van Dyk's 2015) album, The Politics Of Dancing 3. We did not hear from him for a long time until one day my friend said we "got it in the bag". That was really exciting.
What are some of your upcoming projects?
I will be releasing an EDM single with local DJ Atran called Find Me. The collaboration has been a long time coming. I will also be releasing a pop single that is still untitled.
But right now, I am focusing on releasing YouTube videos (of both covers and originals). It is a great way to test the waters and see what people like, like a focus group of sorts.
Levi's for day or night
The new range of women's jeans from Levi's Lot 700 - named after its first ever pair of Levi's women's jeans - has a slimmer thigh, flattering leg and contoured seat for a little lift.
There are a variety of styles available too, from the 710 Super Skinny to the 714 Straight cut jeans.
Daphne Khoo's choice was the 711 Skinny cropped jeans. And since trying them on for the first time for our photo shoot a month ago, she has been wearing her Levi's 711 every day.
She said: "They are my most comfortable pair of jeans at the moment."
The 711 Skinny are mid-rise jeans with a variety of stretches - which adds to the comfort level - and a contoured waistband to curve with the body.
It's also the best jeans to transition from day to night, making it the perfect all-purpose jeans.
And this suits Khoo's ever fluid style choices. She said: "I love dressing up and at the same time, I like to keep things casual."