Nine Emerging Singaporean Music Video Directors to Look Out For10 min readReading Time: 7 minutes
In our previous post, we examined the necessity of brand building for musicians today and how music videos can play an important role. It’s not far-fetched at all to say that music videos are an art form itself, providing a multi-dimensional experience of storytelling for listeners and viewers both. Music videos definitely deserve more recognition, both in the film and music industry.
And who else but the music video directors are responsible for this art form? Maybe it’s time that we acknowledge them for their flair and vision, for their contribution to the music scene. And if we want to celebrate the music video art form, then we should acknowledge the directors as well.
We scoured through the internet to discover up-and-coming music video directors who have at least directed three music videos, with their most recent video released in the last two years.
To be frank, it was difficult to curate this list given the general lack of information around. If there are any names that you feel are prominent in the field but are regrettably left out by us, let us know on our social media pages, or drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The list is by no means definitive and we will always be keen to echo out works by underrepresented filmmakers.
Without further ado, here are the nine Singaporean music video directors whose videos are unique, well-crafted, and visionary.
Amanda Tan (Empyreal)
Amanda Tan might not be well-known in the mainstream music scene, but she definitely made a name for herself in the film scene. She has racked up a long list of accolades for her short films and music videos across multiple film festivals, such as the Singapore Short Film Awards and the Berlin Short Film Festival. Besides directing films, she also does visual work for live music festivals, like ZoukOut and Laneway.
With so much experience under her belt, it’s no wonder that her music videos for indie bands and singers turn out to be so mesmerizing. There’s a kind of Wes Anderson symmetry to her pastel-coloured music video for Vandetta, bringing to life the typically-boring and whitewashed HDB sights. Her direction for MICappella’s music video is equally electrifying, playing on the themes of the female gaze.
Benjamin Ong (hypebong)
A frequent collaborator with Singapore’s popular music artistes like The Sam Willows, Benjamin Kheng, and Nathan Hartono, Benjamin Ong has racked up an impressive portfolio of music videos that have a distinctive visual style. He typically avoids using a traditional narrative style and instead lets medium to close-up shots of the artiste’s facial expressions, body language, and blocking to tell the story behind the music.
But what leaves a bigger impression is how sensual his colours and lighting are, bordering flamboyance. Superimposed with a layer of VHS effect, his music videos become highly-charged with emotions — often of longing and love — while acquiring a unique, almost enigmatic texture that will no doubt affect people in subtle ways.
If you want to watch more of Benjamin Ong’s music videos, click here for his portfolio.
Another name that is no stranger within the music and film industry, Choānn is a filmmaker who has already garnered achievements despite his relative newness in the industry. He was selected to be part of the Asian Film Academy in Busan Film Festival 2015, and he was also nominated for the Best Direction Award at National Youth Film Awards 2015 for his short film, 《随我飞翔》 (Come Fly Away with Me).
So, unsurprisingly, his music videos are just as vividly constructed as his narrative and commercial works. Together with his cinematographer Kelvin Chew, Choānn has directed music videos for artistes like The Sam Willows, Jasmine Sokko, and most recently, Iman Fandi. To try and generalise Choānn’s vision into one idea or sentence is impossible. At times futuristic or otherworldly, at times simple yet contemplative, his videos are eclectic in visual and narrative style. But one thing’s for certain, it’s that Choānn isn’t afraid of popping visuals to dazzle or baffle (in a good way) his viewers.
Jeremy Kieran Ng
Co-founder and managing director of Telescope Studios, Jeremy Kieran Ng first shot his music video with Jude Young while he was still studying at Nanyang Technological University. Since then, he has gone on to work with popular artistes, such as Gentle Bones, with co-director Zhang Minhua. The video has since garnered over 200,000 views on YouTube.
Unlike the previously-mentioned music video directors who go for flashy and intense visuals, Jeremy typically opts for quieter visuals, choosing instead to tell a simple narrative that complements the music and lyrics. Of course, that isn’t necessarily always the case, as we can see in this music video his studio has directed for Gentle Bones and Benjamin Kheng, a video partly inspired by Star Wars and Van Gogh.
Mohammad Fakhrurazi Bin Pahrulanam (Zim Goodman)
Fakhrurazi and his founding production studio, Goodman Films, are perhaps best known for their commercial works for agencies, but that definitely didn’t stop them from venturing into music videos. In the latter half of 2020, Fakhrurazi directed two noteworthy music videos for Syed Azmir, a football player-turned-singer.
Notice, for instance, how the Singapore skyline is rendered sweepingly gorgeous with Fakhrurazi’s shots with a drone in “Tuhan Kirimkan Kamu”. The story told in his other music video, “Sudikah Kamu”, is also simple yet evocative, well-edited with jump cuts and visual effects to mark the passage of time.
Fakhrurazi and his studio also work with MTV Asia and The Great Singapore Replay for other artistes. Click here to see his studio’s portfolio.
Award-winning filmmaker Jonathan Choo is undoubtedly one of the few directors whose future films we look forward to watching. Perhaps his most notable work so far is Han, which won the Best Direction Award at the National Youth Film Awards 2016.
With cinematographer Rachel Liew, Jonathan often directs music videos for the one and only Charlie Lim. Their collaboration goes as far back as 2018, with Jonathan making an appearance in the music video himself. And now, fast forward to 2021, he directed another music video for Charlie and Aisyah Aziz. Both music videos are on the opposite ends of the stylistic spectrum — one flashy and hilarious, the other dreamy and contemplative — so we can only wonder what kind of music video Jonathan will direct next, for fans of Charlie Lim and for people eagerly awaiting his next film project.
Island Boys (Izzraimy and Izzadely)
Izzraimy and Izzadely are brothers who founded and lead the production studio Island Boys. Their first music video was back in 2018 with Fariz Jabba — a video that has accumulated over one million views — and since then, they have directed more music videos for local and international artistes, such as Rayi Putra and KEYANA.
One might expect their videos to be eclectic and diverse in style, since the brothers are co-directors. But there is a surprising stylistic coherence to their videos across various artistes. If you’re into well-edited videos chock full of visual effects that create a hip and swaggy aesthetic, and pays homage to street culture, then the Island Boys’ videos are definitely your thing.
Check out the Island Boys’ portfolio here.
Jasper Tan (Vadbibes)
There’s a high chance that you are already exposed to Jasper Tan’s music videos if you love watching music videos by mainstream artistes like The Sam Willows and their individual members, or Yung Raja, or even indie pop bands like M1LDL1FE. It’s probably not an understatement to say that Jasper is the go-to music video director in Singapore today, given his prolific output.
And it should be of no surprise that he’s a genuine lover of music videos as a unique art form. In an interview with Bandwagon, he admits that gut-instinctive emotions are most important to him when conceptualising a music video. That’s probably why his direction is so well-received by local artistes, since he can adapt to the music while imprinting his unique, often psychedelic visual style.
He Shuming is probably not the first name that comes to mind when talking about music videos, since he veers towards narrative films. His short film, And the Wind Falls, premiered in Singapore International Film Festival 2014, and was screened across film festivals in North America. He was also awarded the Young Artist Award in 2019.
But dig a little bit deeper and you’ll be surprised to find out that he directed three music videos, one back in 2018, and the most recent being the National Day Parade 2020 Theme Song. And from his videos, it’s clear that he is just as well-versed in the direction of music videos. It’s exciting to see how much further he can adapt his filmmaking skills reserved for narrative films for music videos, and we definitely hope to see more of his future music videos, if any.
Head over to his website to look at his other music videos and to get updated on his latest film projects.
(Correction note: We originally included “established” as part of the title of this list and in the introduction. We decided to take it out because we wanted to recognise the pioneering music videos directors in a follow-up article.)