Entertainment, Lifestyle

10 Minutes With … Emmy The Great – Vanessa Tai

There’s nothing new about writing songs about an ex-boyfriend, but it takes a gifted musician to move past “diary-entry songwriting” (we’re looking at you, Taylor Swift) to a more mature writing style. And that’s exactly what Emmy the Great (real name Emma Lee-Moss) has done. After her 2009 debut album, First Love, the London singer-songwriter released Virtue in 2011. While the second album also revolves around the death of a relationship, the lyrics are penned using an intriguing mix of  themes from myths, fairy tales and saints’ lives. With her mellow vocals and folksy tunes, you’ll probably like Emmy’s brand of music if you’re into singers like Laura Marling or Regina Spektor.


With the local indie music scene blossoming, we thought it would be great to get Emmy’s advice on surviving the cut-throat nature of the music business. We caught up with her after her exclusive showcase at the recent House of Häagen-Dazs party.

What’s your number one tip for struggling musicians?
Know what you want and stick to it. It’s normal to have a lot of self-doubt, but you need to stay focused on your vision and see it through. The industry and its foibles are incidental.

How do you deal with critics?
I try to ignore it but of course most of it sticks, so sometimes, I just play therapist to myself. Also, I do a very weird thing: if someone gives me a bad review, I google their entire back catalogue so I know what kind of tastes they have.

Who are some of your favourite musicians?
My boyfriend Leo Abrahams, is the most incredible guitarist I’ve ever seen. It blows my mind even when I watch him play random notes in the studio. Another musician I really admire is drummer Andy Burrows, who’s with the band We Are Scientists. He once played drums on a track for me and I was mesmerised.

2If you could catch any musician/band – living or dead – live, who would it be and why?
Laurie Anderson, an American experimental performance artist, composer and musician who plays the violin and keyboards, and sings in a variety of experimental music and art rock styles. To me, she’s fascinating. She’s like a hypnotist.

Complete this sentence: “If I weren’t a musician, I would be … ”
A brain surgeon. So someone out there is really lucky I went into music instead. Ha!

Emmy the Great’s second album, Virtue, is available on the iTunes store for S$7.98.

About The Author: Vanessa Tai is a founder of Material World who has previously worked on magazines Simply Her and Cosmopolitan Singapore. Now a freelance writer and a full-time contributor to this website, the 26-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. Follow her on Twitter @VannTaiTweets.

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Family, Lifestyle, Relationships

4 Gift Ideas For Father’s Day – Vanessa Tai

In case you’ve forgotten, Father’s Day is this Sunday! Before you rush to buy Dad yet another tie, check out these fab gift ideas.

1. Grohe Power & Soul Shower Head

Grohe Pacific - Power&Soul Mood 1

If your father works long hours and often complains about having tension headaches, gift him with a Grohe Power & Soul shower head. Designed to offer therapeutic results, the Jet Spray is a welcome relief for tense muscles. Grohe Power & Soul shower heads is available from $250 at Grohe Spa Boutique, #03-333 Marina Square, Tel: 6338 4352

2. Nederburg Heritage Heroes Wine


Does your dad fancy himself as a wine connoisseur? If so, he’ll appreciate this limited-edition range of wines from South African wine producer, Nederburg. These handmade, artisan wines are made with the finest blend of grapes and come in four variants – two reds and two whites. Look out for the wood-fermented sauvignon blanc, The Young Air Hawk, which is less fruity than regular white wines and has a richly nuanced flavour. Nederburg Heritage Heroes Wine is available from $39 at DFS. 

3. +Rehab London Skincare


Whether your dad is still a “soap-and-water” kind of guy or has been known to nick Mum’s skincare products, he’ll appreciate having a skincare set all to himself. +Rehab London was created specifically for modern men and carries just six fuss-free, easy-to-use products. We reckon your dad will love Men’s Scrub Up Daily Detox, a two-in-one exfoliating facial cleanser that’s refreshing and leaves him feeling clean and polished. +Rehab products are available from $24.95 at all Beauty Horizon or Beauty by Nature outlets, or online at http://www.rehablondonsg.com (Delivery takes 3 working days.)

4. Roast Beef Tenderloin at Balzac Brasserie

Roasted Beef Tenderloin

After a long week of work, there’s probably nothing Dad likes more than kicking back with a hearty meal of meat and potatoes. This Father’s Day, award-winning chef Jean-Charles Dubois has created the perfect meal for hungry dads. A generous slab of Roasted Beef Tenderloin topped with French Morel Mushroom sauce and Potato Truffle Gratin Dauphinois. Yum! To further sweeten the deal, all dads also enjoy a complementary house red or white. Available for lunch and dinner on 15 and 16 June. For reservations, call 6336 0797 or email reservations@balzacbrasserie.com. 

About The Author: Vanessa Tai is a founder of Material World who has previously worked on magazines Simply Her and Cosmopolitan Singapore. Now a freelance writer and a full-time contributor to this website, the 26-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. She’s also an unabashed Daddy’s girl. Follow her on Twitter @VannTaiTweets


Everything You Ever Wanted to Ask Your Taxi Uncle – Vanessa Tai

Hands up those of you who often tweet passive-aggressive tweets about your cabbie – “If this cabbie jams his brake one more time, I’m gonna f-ing puke”; “Taxi uncle, please just shut up and drive.” It seems like we passengers have a million and one grouses when it comes to taxi drivers in Singapore – “Why are they always On Call whenever it rains?”; “Why does he get so pissed off when I tell him I need to go to more than one destination? Doesn’t he want more money?”

To clear the air on some of your most common gripes, I sat down for a chat with Mr Vincent Tai (yes, we’re related), who has been driving a taxi for the past 10 years.

Q: Do taxi drivers intentionally activate the “Busy” sign just to avoid certain passengers?

“These drivers probably have a prior appointment to pick up their own family members, or with their regular customers. Some drivers, like myself, prefer to have a pool of regular customers because it ensures a more steady income.”

Q2. In London, taxi drivers are required to take a topographical test to prove they know how to go everywhere in the city. Do you think it’s necessary for taxi drivers to take such a test?

“While it would be ideal that our local drivers have an intimate knowledge of the city’s roads, there are many small roads in Singapore that make it almost impossible to know all the directions by heart. Thankfully, most taxis these days come outfitted with a GPS. Having said that, I know plenty of older-generation cabbies prefer to completely do away with the GPS or any other computerized system for that matter. They find it too stressful. I think more should be done to train up our drivers. Currently, the training sessions for these new systems only take half or one day, which is hardly sufficient for the less tech-savvy drivers to learn anything.”

Q3. When presented with a big note ($50 and above), a lot of taxi drivers will show their displeasure. What are your thoughts?

“The onus should be on the driver to always have sufficient small change with him. Reason being, we cabbies are in the service industry after all and should always strive to give the best possible service. Even if the driver receives plenty of big notes consecutively, he should take the initiative to go to the nearest coffee shop or petrol station to get change.”

Q4. Some taxis reek of pee. ‘Fess up – do some taxi drivers lose control of their bladder because they’ve held it in for too long?

“My cabbie friends and I don’t believe in holding it in – we’ll relieve ourselves whenever we have the urge to pee. That’s because we know of the long-term health problems that arise from controlling one’s bladder. Of course, we don’t always go to proper toilets! (laughs)”

Q5. Is there anything we passengers should take note of?

“If you intend to go to more than one destination, please inform your driver before your journey starts. Sometimes, the driver may need to rush off after sending you to the first destination, so if he doesn’t know about your other intended destinations, conflict may arise.

Another very important point? Please, please inform your driver if you feel unwell or feel like throwing up. He can quickly pull over to let you throw up, and even offer you a plastic bag. I’ve had many passengers who threw up in my cab without warning, and my entire evening was ruined because I had to spend time getting rid of the mess and stench. In my opinion, there should be a law implemented where a flat fee is imposed the moment a passenger throws up in the cab. I usually ask for about $20 to cover my loss of income and car washing cost, but I know of some drivers who demand for up to $50. Despite creating a big mess, some passengers still refuse to pay extra and will only give you $3 to cover the car wash.”

Ever ready with a grin

Ever ready with a grin

During his 10 years as a cabbie, Mr Vincent Tai has consistently received letters of accolades from his passengers. If you wish to experience his sterling service, drop him a call at 8490 0223. 

About The Author: Vanessa Tai is a founder of Material World who has previously worked on magazines Simply Her and Cosmopolitan Singapore. Now a freelance writer and a full-time contributor to this website, the 26-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. Follow her on Twitter @VannTaiTweets