Local singer Wiltay hankers for hawker fare after being based in Madrid and LA
From Singapore to Madrid and now, the bright lights of Hollywood.
There's just no stopping home-grown pop singer Wiltay, who seems to be achieving one incredible feat after another.
Last November, the 26-year-old - whose real name is Willie Tay - burst into our collective consciousness upon bagging Best Pop Album Of The Year for his debut studio effort WTF at the Hollywood F.A.M.E. Awards in Los Angeles.
As the rising star told M over lunch on Monday at his favourite restaurant, Shangri-La Hotel's Waterfall Ristorante Italiano, he is not resting on his laurels.
The mentee of former American Idol judge Randy Jackson will soon be embarking on his maiden acting stint in US movie Crash The Sky, co-starring US actor Booboo Stewart of The Twilight Saga fame.
"It's a skateboarding flick, kind of like The Fast And The Furious, with skateboards replacing the cars," he said with a huge grin.
"I play Booboo's sidekick. My character's pretty suave, so I'd need to put on more muscle and grow out a beard."
There were other challenges in snagging the role.
"The director who invited me to audition asked if I could skateboard. I didn't want to miss out on the opportunity, so I immediately said 'yes'," recalled Wiltay.
"The reality was, I hadn't skateboarded in 10 years! When he told me he wanted to see a video of me skateboarding, I spent the next 16 hours refreshing my skateboarding skills at Venice Beach."
The film is in pre-production and is slated to start shooting in the second half of the year.
On the music side, things are also looking up for Wiltay, who is now based predominantly in Los Angeles. Before that, he had lived in Madrid for a couple of years, after being talent-spotted in the Spanish capital in 2012.
"My new English album is almost done, as well as the music videos to go with it. In a month or so, we'll be releasing it single by single," he shared.
"I'm also in talks to do a Mandarin album."
Wiltay, who was in town to perform at the Singapore Red Cross International Bazaar 2015 over the weekend, will be back in Singapore on Aug 7 for local concert Sing50 at the National Stadium, a line-up that includes Dick Lee and Jeremy Monteiro.
"I'm a true-blue Singaporean," he said.
"This is where I belong, and I definitely want to come back more often."
Is Waterfall Ristorante Italiano where you would hang out when you're back in Singapore? Are your choices of seafood salad, beef tenderloin served with potatoes and baked eggplant parmesan from its menu?
Yup, this is a place where I come to relax and clear my mind. It has a lovely pool view and the ambience is fantastic, whether for a meal or a cup of coffee. I love my medium-rare beef. It is absolutely at the top of my list. I am carnivorous.
You spent two years in Madrid. What do you love and dislike most about Spanish cuisine?
I like chorizo (Spanish sausage). And the seafood in Madrid is killer! I had the best seafood in my life there, be it prawns, mussels or lobsters. The freshwater crab is the tastiest. Cooking methods are healthy too; seafood in Madrid is usually cooked with olive oil and salt.
Interesting fact: The prawns in Madrid have "angry eyes", not "round eyes" like the ones in Singapore.
I was once tricked into eating bulls' testiclesby my friends. They lied and told me it was lamb, but I knew they were up to no good when they started giggling. The taste (of bulls' testicles) is plain weird.
I'm sure you get a lot more Asian cuisine in Los Angeles, compared to Madrid.
Yes, in Madrid, it's impossible to find Singapore food. There is Chinese food, but it's usually stuff like hotpot. But in Los Angeles, you can find a wide variety of cuisine.
I live in Hollywood and I like going to The Grove, which is a huge food and beverage complex. There's also Singapore's Banana Leaf, a stall at Los Angeles' Farmers Market which sells dishes like laksa, mee goreng and rojak. Dishes are served on banana leaves.
What are the local dishes you miss most when you're overseas?
Definitely hawker food. Last week, I arrived in Singapore at 3am and at around 7am, I was already at Tiong Bahru Food Centre ordering lots of dishes.
Carrot cake, otah, duck rice, goreng pisang and cheng teng.
I also miss having heavy breakfast like nasi lemak or economical bee hoon at Ghim Moh Food Centre.
How familiar are you with Taiwanese cuisine, considering your mum is Taiwanese?
I return to my mum's hometown in Tainan once a year. I love it when our whole family sits at a table to wrap zong zi (glutinous rice dumplings). My mum's very skilled when it comes to the art of wrapping.
Do you cook? Any specialities?
Well, I can do pasta. I would say my food is edible. I can't do complicated dishes. I once attempted to make macaroons and failed terribly. My older sister tried them and spat them out.
That said, my idea of a romantic dinner date would be to cook for my date. I'd find out what she likes, learn to cook it, light candles and play music as she dines.