Rui En >>>

Rui En >>>

A life less ordinary A new singer has emerged from the sunny shores of Singapore, and her label HYPE Records has wasted no time dubbing her with the tagline of ‘Hai Pa Ping Fan De Nu Sheng’ (the girl who fears being ordinary).

”I’m a bit embarrassed by that, it sounds arrogant,” says Rui En, laughing, “I hope to express to people who listen to my songs, that I have ideas and viewpoints of my own and that they can understand them you know, everyone wants to be special and be their own individual,” says the 22-year-old.

What distinguishes the 1.69-meter-tall Aquarian, who dropped her surname Lu and picked up a special ‘S’ sign for branding sake? Is it that one of the hottest names in Chinese pop, Jay Chou, writes songs for this newcomer? Or that she shops largely on the Internet in a conscious effort to own things not easily found in local stores? Or maybe her poor grasp of Mandarin resulted in a funny incident in Taiwan last month when she was there for album promotions.

She refused to order food because the menu was not in the simplified Chinese script taught in Singapore schools. Besides, how many Mandarin pop singers are avid fans of Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Macbeth and dig books like The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald and Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy? These less-than-hip reading materials occupy her time apart from her shopping, surfing the Internet, sleeping, and watching TV- if she manages to find any time at all.

I guess in terms of lifestyle [I have] changed dramatically, I don’t have time and have no social life, it’s zero,” laments Rui En.

Call back

Her rise to fame, though, was pretty run-of-the-mill. Like many local models-turned-singers like Shirley Yee, Fann Wong, and Celest Chong, Rui En was picked from obscurity to star in the memorable Singtel ‘Hi!Card’ commercial 2001.

In it, she ran like the wind to top up her Hi! Card just to receive a call from a guy she’d given her number to the previous night. From that promising debut, she landed commercials for MPH’s online bookstore and did some photo shoots for magazines.

She got her first celeb break when, after an audition at HYPE Records, she acted in a MediaCorp Channel 8 drama serial called No Problem opposite Chen Han Wei.

HYPE Records saw Rui Sn’s X-factor in the Singtel commercial. ” [It was] her confidence and energy level that captured our attention, but her unique vocals took us by surprise during our face-to-face audition,” said Yvonne Lim, 27, Promotions Manager at HYPE Records. These days, an artiste has to be multi-talented, and Rui Sn fits our requirements to a T.”

School blues

Things are a lot less peachy in her day job as a 3rd Year Banking undergraduate in Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

“No, I don’t like what I’m [studying] now, it was a mistake. If you give me a choice now, I would choose to do Arts in NUS (National University of Singapore), because I like writing, reading and especially English Literature. At that time I did pretty well for my ‘A’ levels, and I thought of going into something more prestigious and I realised after a while that I really didn’t like Math, so now I’m regretting it.”

“The fact is if I quit now I would have wasted 2 whole years, that’s quite kek sim (agonising),” she says. Rui Sn had considered quitting but decided to be practical instead, heeding friends’ advice to avoid regretting her rashness later.

“What to do, pia lor (just grit my teeth and strive harder).” She’ll be the first to admit that balancing work and school is easier said than done. “I tell you honestly I don’t cope (laughing), I try my best…because once you become an artiste, you think it’s so fun and you go get your pictures taken, you perform in front of a lot of people, and after that you go back home and you realise that you’ve got homework to do.”

After a tough initial period of adjustment, “now it just takes a lot of determination and will power, I basically sit down and force myself to do homework.”

Family ties

Even though the confessed tomboy grew up with an independent streak, playing with boys, watching wrestling, and riding bicycles, as an only child, her parents were understandably apprehensive about her entry into showbiz.

“My dad is very liberal, he gives me a lot of freedom but my mom was a little bit worried about me being cheated by all these terrible men, now she’s pretty okay and [my parents] are pretty proud of me.”

“I have always known I like performing [previously] I was in this Singaporean mindset, where I have to graduate and get a proper job, get married and have 5,000 kids, [then] this chance came along and I realised I really want to perform.”

“In Alfa Music, a very small music company in Taiwan, there are very few artists, so Jay [Chou] and Landy [Wen] really took care of me…especially Landy…[who was] really cool, and I hung out with her. Jay was really nice [too]; he helped me a lot and gave me a lot of [criticism and praise].

It’s like having a big brother and sister; it’s really cool for me because I’m an only child”

The long haul She doesn’t have to have the mind of a banker to know it’s a competitive market out there. “It’s really tough, but I think [the path I’m taking] is worth it. I can’t see myself doing anything else. I think I would die of boredom.

” Heavy efforts were certainly invested in Rui Sn’s debut album, RuiSn vol.01, which was released in January here. Singer/songwriter Jay Chou, famed lyrist Fang Wen Shan, and composer Lin Mai Ke were also roped in to contribute to it.

She briefly appeared in Hong Kong last December and toured Taiwan after that, with Landy and Jay giving her pointers along the way. Her promotional activities include attending countdown shows, appearing on TV programs, and conducting radio interviews throughout Taiwan.

Though she has yet to achieve success similar to Kit Chan and Stefanie Sun, she is slowly gaining popularity judging from the fans that queue up as early as 6 am to attend her autograph sessions. It’s no wonder a 10-year contract with HYPE Records binds her. “I trust Hype [Records] a lot. They explained to me their initial capital outlay is a lot, and it takes that long to establish yourself and make sure you are making money for the company. I figured it would benefit us both ways because I’m really serious about my career.

I really want to have a career in showbiz, and if they really want me for 10 years to push me, they get their money, and I get my career advancement. It doesn’t really scare me because I know I’m being serious about being a singer and actress.” So far, she has completed a MediaCorp TV Channel 5 English comedy/fantasy/drama serial called Chemistry where she stars as someone bitter and jaded about love initially.

But after going through a whole series of events, her character Rachel realizes that she should give love a chance. “All the characters were written for us, so our characters were very much like what we are [in real life]. Rachel is more sharp, mean and more sarcastic then I am, [but] I’m like her in a lot of [other] ways.” The show is slated to air next month. For now, however, acting has taken a backseat, and it’s just album promotions in Singapore, which is her last stop.

She will have to concentrate on her studies soon after. A second yet untitled album will see her compose lyrics for a few songs. There is no official word on the date of release yet. Her parting advice is simple: “Don’t fake anything and just be yourself, have your own style.” If she’s as enduring as she is insistent about being anything but ordinary, we’ll hear of her for a long time to come.

Click here to win 1 of 3 autographed Rui Sn singles!

RuiSn vol.01 album is available in stores.



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