As far as music ambitions go, Eric Ng's fell on the modest end of the scale. "Since I was 16, I just wanted to play in a pub every night and get $800 a month," he says.
His achievements, however, have far exceeded his goal.
Ng, who turns 38 on Dec 27, is now an established tunesmith, arranger, producer and touring musician who has worked with the biggest names in the Mandopop industry.
He has composed hits such as Hostage for A-mei, Paper Plane for Sandy Lam and Alone for Jolin Tsai. The list of singers he has worked with is an impressive who's who in the Mandopop scene, including Elva Hsiao, Wakin Chau, Jaycee Chan, Fish Leong, Stefanie Sun and Tanya Chua, whom he dated for 11/2 years in the early 2000s.
And as part of the creative team for the upcoming movie I Want You, he made it to No. 4 on the annual Power List put together by Life! for 2013.
The film, spun off from the popular reality singing show The Voice Of China, is produced by mm2 Entertainment's Melvin Ang and directed by That Girl In Pinafore's (2013) Chai Yee Wei.
Ng says that I Want You is the first Singaporean movie to hit a mainstream China audience, "and I'm very proud of what we've done".
He composed two original songs for the film and one of them has already garnered more than 290,000 views on China video website Youku, ahead of I Want You's release on Dec 29 in China.
Qu Ming Hui Yi De Shi Guang (Make Up A Name And Remember Last Time The Glory is the translation Ng offers with a laugh) is sung by contestantsturned-actors Wu Mochou and Li Daimo.
The moviecould well herald a new chapter in his Mandopop career, a journey made all the more remarkable by the fact that he started out listening to English-language hard rock bands and is a self-taught musician with little formal training.
By his own admission, the piano lessons his parents tried to force on him as a child were a "disaster". "After I got my Grade 1 certification, my piano teacher told my mother, 'I advise you not to waste any more money because he's hopeless'."
It was not until he came across American rock band Guns N' Roses in 1989 as a secondary school student at St Patrick's School that something clicked.
A loner in those days, he describes himself as "that fat short guy nobody wanted to talk to who was always on his Walkman".
"I didn't really have many friends. I think I didn't know how to communicate with people or maintain a friendship."
Given that he is chatty, open and quick to laugh during a two-hour-plus chat, it is hard to imagine that he once found it hard to make friends.
Years later, when he met his schoolmates from St Patrick's and Catholic Junior College, he says that "nobody remembers me".
This may be why he declares: "I felt that my life started only after I found music."