Fighting busking misconceptions in Singapore
They started out performing at weddings, restaurants and cafes. Now, you can find them performing in heartland areas like Hougang Mall.
Xian Za Ren Deng The ETC is a band of local buskers.
"We chose the name ETC for our band because it means we are just ordinary people - we hope people will notice us not for who we are, but for the music we share," band member Tang Yu Xuan, 45, told The New Paper.
Their wish has come true, as shown in a video posted by social enterprise The Hidden Good (THG) on Facebook earlier this month.
In the video, Ms Tang and two other band members, Mr Tristan Ong, 40, and Ms Joey Wee, 41, talk about what busking means to them.
Members of the audience were also featured in the video, describing how they came across the band of buskers and how they feel about their music.
One couple said: "The songs (they performed) resonated with us. They brought back good memories and (the band's) rhythm was good."
The couple could be considered one of the band's long-time followers - the first time they saw ETC perform was at Heartland Mall in Kovan in June.
Busking is not their full-time job - Ms Tang and Mr Ong are vocal coaches in the same music school, and Ms Wee is a freight forwarder.
Mr Ong had introduced Ms Wee, who he had known for years, to Ms Tang, and they started performing together in March this year.
Previously, Mr Ong had performed with Ms Wee and Ms Tang on separate occasions, at weddings and other events.
Ms Tang said: "Joey's boss is a music lover, so he is supportive of our busking. As for Tristan and I, we only busk when we have no lessons so it doesn't clash with our job."
All three of them sing, with Mr Ong accompanying them on his keyboard.
They still offer their services for weddings, but most Saturdays, you can find them at Hougang Mall.
The songs performed are all chosen on the spot and Ms Tang said they even accept requests from the audience.
"When we busked at Hougang last Saturday, 90 per cent of the songs we performed in the 3 1/2-hour set were requests from the audience."
If there are no requests, the band picks a song randomly on the spot. Also songwriters, the band occasionally perform their original songs.
Ms Tang said: "Our favourite part is getting different responses and feedback from the audience. We learn from (their comments) and look forward to doing different things to improve ourselves."
The band's passion for music and how they interact with their audience was what caught THG's attention.
THG was established in 2014, and has since conducted multiple social experiments and events which aim to highlight the good in the people of Singapore.
Director Wu Jiezhen said: "We hope to uncover the good in people and the world around them and in turn creating a warmer, more connected and empathetic society."
The idea of featuring buskers was conceptualised by Team Crescendo, a group of THG volunteers.
"We wanted to subvert the conventional mindset that buskers do not have talent, and that they are forced into the role due to lack of skills in other trades," said a spokesman for Team Crescendo.
"(ETC) has taken steps to build a relationship and grow a community of loyal followers during the performances."
The spokesman added: "We chose to feature them because they are different from other buskers - they interact with their audience, and allow song requests."
The band considers their supporters their biggest source of motivation.
Aspiring buskers should "just give it a try", said Ms Tang.
"If you don't try, you'll never know whether you will like it."
She said: "Many people told us they thought busking is only for the old and the handicapped, but it's really more about promoting music and the arts."
Interested listeners can check the band's schedule by leaving them a message on Facebook.
The band also posts updates on upcoming performances.