He captures the music scene in video

SINGAPORE - He's not a singer and he doesn't belong in a band, but his name is making the rounds in the local music industry.

Mr Jasper Tan (above), 22, is a videographer and an aspiring tour diary video maker.

Since the beginning of the year, he has followed two local bands - Villes and The Summer State - to Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta when they scored overseas gigs.

His job was to film the gigs, capture behind-the-scenes footage and string them together as a recollective video.

Mr Tan also documents album launch events and recently released his first music video, an acoustic version of a post-hardcore (an offshoot genre from punk rock) song by Villes titled The Levy.

Although the First Media Design School student seems like a rising star in his own right, his road to discovering his passion was never that clear-cut.

When he was 16, he started sporting tattoos and got roped into a gang.

"I didn't care if I got expelled, I just did whatever I wanted. If the teacher scolded me, I'd scold back.

"I really wanted to rebel against my mum. I ran away from home and slept anywhere when I couldn't find a place."

He also found himself in a gang and had several run-ins with the police.

"You live your life like a risk, either you go out and get beaten up, or get caught by the police. There was no end to it," said Mr Tan, who quit the gang after a few years.

He changed his ways after making two grown men cry.

The first was his discipline master, a tall and imposing figure who struck fear among students and who broke down in tears in front of him one day in school.

The discipline master would march him to the school bookshop every day to buy plasters for him to cover the tattoos on his hand.

He cried in despair one day over how Mr Tan was not changing for the better.

"After I saw him cry, I thought I'd just pass my maths test for him since he was so good to me," said the reformed rebel, who passed his English and maths subjects at the N-level exams in 2008.

The other man was his father, who was in tears after he picked up his then-17-year-old son from the police station for riding a motorcycle without a licence.


"He talked to me in the car and cried. That's when I woke up and realised that it's very stupid to be doing these kinds of things."

Mr Tan's conduct was unlike that of his two brothers, who were well-behaved and excelled in school.

"My family background is quite good. My mum was a teacher and my dad is in charge of student affairs. The only reason I started it all was because I thought they didn't love me as much as my brothers.

"My younger brother was offered a place in the Gifted programme and my older brother went to the Express stream while I went to Normal (Academic).

"The problem was my short attention span. If I liked what I was doing, I could do it very well and very fast."

He left secondary school without completing his O-level exams and enrolled at the Institute of Technical Education. That lasted for half a year. He dropped out and worked at a friend's tattoo parlour.

He quit his job as a tattooist when it was time to do his national service.

He then began goofing around with his mother's digital camera, shooting videos of birthday parties which he received compliments on.

He decided to give video-making a go and paid about $1,000 for the cheapest DSLR camera he could afford, a second-hand Canon 500D.

He uploaded all his videos into a Vimeo video-sharing website account and within two months, Bryan Ulric, the singer and guitarist of Villes, asked if he would shoot the band's extended play launch.

When they got a gig at Jakcloth, a Jakarta music festival, he flew there with them for his first tour diary video assignment.

"Getting to shoot The Levy was a high point because the number of views shot up very fast after it came out on YouTube. I also got to work with Steph Micayle, who is quite big on YouTube," he said of the Singaporean musician and YouTube artist.

The music video hit 5,600 views during its debut last month and made its way to YouTube's trending music page. It has drawn more than 20,000 views.

Mr Tan said it can be tough to make ends meet. "When you work in the music scene, you can't earn much."

But, he said: "I would rather follow my dream... I won't give up on it just because I can't live comfortably. I'll just have to work harder."

Videographer : Mr Jasper Tan

What qualities do you have that make you Singaporean?

If I see a long queue at a hawker centre, I'll think that the food must be good.

If you were to describe Singapore to a stranger, what would you say?

Singapore is very safe, I feel relieved every time I come back.

What are the little quirks you see in Singapore every day?

Singaporeans are very awkward, kaypoh, shy and conservative.

What food do you miss most when you are overseas?

Chicken rice.

Favourite Singlish word/phrase?

"Wah lau" and "eh, brother".

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