Four artistes celebrate our common threads through music

‘Only Together’ packs in energetic dance moves and musical synergy, in celebration of Singapore’s racial harmony.

  • 22 Jul 2022

In the music video for 'Only Together', four homegrown Singapore artistes embody the heart and soul of cultural diversity. 

Local artistes Aisyah Aziz, Dharni Ng, Suthasini Rajenderan, and Tabitha Nauser, each with their own signature sound, have come together to perform an original song ‘Only Together’. Fusing their distinctiveness into a harmonious medley, the song is a nod to sharing our common spaces, celebrating our commonalities, and recognises that there is unity in diversity. 

Together with the music video’s director, Jake Nam, our artistes had a chat with Kaya to share what this collaboration means to them and more. 

What does racial harmony mean to you?

Tabitha: To me, it all comes down to being understanding. It’s especially important in Singapore where such a diverse community live together. People are always going to be different from each other, but what matters most is that we are understanding and accepting of other people and their beliefs. You do not have to agree with them, but when there’s respect and mutual understanding, there’s an opportunity for love to grow.  

Dharni: I agree, we all have different views on life, but we can still be good friends because of our common interests. Take food for example. It’s such a huge part of Singapore culture and it’s so easy for us to connect when we’re sharing food or just talking about it!

Dharni and Suthasini share a rap verse for the first time in the opening scene of 'Only Together'. 

Can you share with us some of your favourite memories or experiences having grown up alongside friends of different races in Singapore?

Aisyah: I’ve always loved fashion from a young age, so one of my many positive memories growing up was getting excited about dressing up with my friends for Racial Harmony Day. The simple act of “trading” my baju kebaya with my bestie’s Cheongsam was fun, and it was an opportunity for us to share about our cultures and how there are more similarities than we realise.

Block Catching! It’s a game my neighbours and I used to play within our block, every other day. As children, we never cared about our differences, we only cared about having fun together and helping each other out. The only “boundaries” that existed in the game were between levels of the block (laughs). As adults, I think it’s important to take with us the same mindset that we should treat one another similarly. 

What made you want to be a part of this project?

Aisyah: It’s the honour of being able to represent the Malays. Being part of a minority race in Singapore, I’ve always strived to make my community proud while truly expressing myself through music. So, when I found out this project was about spreading love and unity, I knew I had to step up.  

Dharni: I believe that positive energy attracts positive change. As a content creator, I want my audience to see that our shared love for pop culture shows that we’re not all that different. The opportunity to collaborate with amazingly talented artistes was another reason why I wanted to be part of this project! 

In her verse, Tabitha Nauser invites us to share our common spaces. 

How can music be used to make positive change and bring people closer together?

Tabitha: ‘Only Together’ is a great example of how music can change the way we view each other for the better. My verse and scene in the music video, in particular, conveys the importance of showing compassion and not being afraid to be the one that gets the ball rolling. By influencing others to do the same, we’ll see that our journey in life isn’t just about us, but those around us as well.

Totally. Music definitely touches our soul. Listeners also resonate with songs that have relatable and meaningful lyrics. That, on top of a catchy rhythm, helps people remember the message being conveyed. I believe that mainstream music has the responsibility and potential to spread positive change.  

What’s one thing that you’ve come to appreciate about our multi-racial and multi-cultural country?

Suthasini: The way each culture celebrates their festivities and the days leading up to them is just so beautiful to observe – from fasting before Hari Raya to spring cleaning before Chinese New Year, every little thing they do has so much meaning and I believe that there’s something we can learn from each other’s practices!

Recently, I learned that the commonly used Singlish word, shiok, actually derived from the Malay word, seronok, meaning “enjoy”! I love how we reference words from each other’s culture. Diversity is so beautiful like that.

Aisyah Aziz believes that music is a vehicle of self-expression that can spark positive change in society, no matter where you come from.

This project invites us to explore the commonalities we share. What’s one commonality that sticks out for you?

Dharni: Music, for sure. Everybody loves music because it’s expressive, relatable and serves as an opportunity to collaborate. As a teenager, I made a lot of friends of different races when I first dabbled with beatboxing, because they’d always invite me to their jamming sessions to provide my own flavour of beats!

It’s Singlish for me. The lingo we share definitely sets us apart from the rest of the world. It’s such a soulful and flavourful mix of languages, verbs, nouns and everything in between that only we can understand. 

Jake: From what I saw on the set, it’s passion. It doesn’t matter where you’re from when everyone shares the same passion and comes together to do what they love. You can clearly see this in the “dance-off” scenes where everyone had the same chemistry. 

Through the music video, film director Jake Nam wants viewers to see that our community can thrive together as one when we work, play and live together in harmony.

As the director, how did you feel when you started working on this project?

Jake: I was already excited when I found out it’s a music video, and especially on a scale like this! Often, when I work on a music video, it’s a specific genre of music and a specific style of dance. This time, we got the opportunity to showcase talents from all walks of life. Just seeing how different artforms come together seamlessly was definitely a refreshing experience for me. 

What inspired the music?

Jake: It has to be togetherness. Each artiste brought something different to the table, but when put together, it all worked out beautifully. Visually and musically, the music video radiates a sense of harmony, which is exactly what we’re trying to convey. 

Lastly, how do you think we can all do our part to encourage mutual respect and understanding?

Tabitha: All it takes is a little effort to learn more about your friends’ cultures and practices – this allows us to segue into appreciating so much more about the people around you. 

Dharni: Children develop new habits and are easily influenced by what they see around them, so I think it’s crucial that we inculcate mutual respect and understanding from a young age. 

Suthasini: Treat others the way you want to be treated. We all have our own beliefs, but there are a million others that differ from yours. So, if you value your beliefs and don’t want others to disrespect them, we need to be tolerant and accepting of others. 

Aisyah: Be kind, always. We’re all going through different things in life, and a tiny act of kindness goes a long way. It could be as simple as being mindful and taking the time to better understand the cultural practices of our friends and neighbours. 

Check out the music video below: