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The Sam Willows, comprising (from left) Benjamin and Narelle Kheng, Sandra Riley Tang and Jonathan Chua, will be headlining their own concert next month.

All set for their biggest show ever

Jun 17, 2016 5:50 AM

LAST year, music quartet The Sam Willows marked a milestone in their four-year musical journey when they finally recorded and released their full-length debut Take Heart. This is on top of performing all over the world and opening for big acts like Little Mix and The Script.

The group - made up of siblings Benjamin and Narelle Kheng and friends Sandra Riley Tang and Jonathan Chua - are set for another career high in July when they take over the Coliseum at the Hard Rock Hotel in Sentosa next month.

The homecoming gig will be their biggest concert ever, on a stage usually reserved for international artistes.

Naturally, they are feeling slightly nervous. On being the stars of their very own show, Narelle says: "We sat on it for a long time because we weren't ready to do it on a scale that we wanted. Singapore is a small country and there's only so often you can do a huge concert performance and we wanted to get it exactly right."

But the fact that people are buying tickets just to watch them makes the upcoming experience both terrifying and comforting at the same time.

"Every single person in the arena is there for you," she notes, while adding that headlining their own concert also gives them total control over the performance, an opportunity that they are looking forward to.

"We're fully responsible for entertaining the audience and ensuring they enjoy themselves. So the pressure is on," Chua adds.

Formed in mid-2012, the band rose rapidly up the music ranks, breaking into Spotify's global viral 50 chart and even playing at the SG50 National Day Parade.

However, for its young members, going into the music business has not been easy. "I grew up very stereotypically driven to excel in academics and sport. So coming into music was really a very gradual process," Narelle reveals.

They were ready to take on conventional paths until Tang, who was working a day job in business management, got the call that changed her life. "We were given the opportunity to tour three weeks in the US and to play for two festivals," she says. "That was a good enough reason for me to leave my job."

The band hasn't looked back since and has collected a host of memorable experiences on the road. Chua recalls playing in Los Angeles when they were "clueless" and "freezing our hands off". Benjamin recalls snapping two strings of his guitar during the opening strum, when they opened their concert in Korea. "It was the nightmare of all nightmares, and only after three years do I consider it funny," he adds.

As for pre-show rituals, Narelle says she needs to keep jumping and moving to harness energy for the upcoming show. Her brother, on the other hand, takes power naps and Chua talks to his guitar. Together, the band members also huddle up and play games to ensure they perform as one unit the moment they hit the stage.

The Sam Willows will not be resting on their laurels after their biggest show ever next month as they plan to continue making new music and winning over more fans both locally and overseas. "It's the dream to work in this industry and every move you make opens more doors," Narelle says.

  • The Sam Willows Take Heart Tour Live in Singapore will be held at The Coliseum, Hard Rock Hotel, Resorts World Sentosa on July 22 at 7pm. Tickets starting from S$48 are available at Sistic