KR's Rising Stars

Last Thursday evening, four KResidents took part in the Office of Housing Services’ annual talent show – The Rising Star. We had Renee (E Blk) and Jia Jun (D Blk) contesting as Renee & Jia Jun, Jia Sheng (A Blk) as a part of O.KE, and Charmaine (B Blk) of GS.VOM.

It was a night to remember for the hall, as KResidents alike came down to the Ridge View Residential College in droves or tuned in to official contest livestream to show their immense support for our wonderful contestants.

And that support paid dividends, with O.KE and GS.VOM clinching first and second respectively. As for Renee and Jia Jun, despite falling just shy of the top three, the entire hall is extremely proud of them as the hall's only all-KR group. I sat down with the four contestants over the weekend to chat with them about the contest.

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Koh Jia Sheng – O.KE

Jia Sheng's right hand (left) and Jia Sheng (right)

First of all, congratulations on the win! How are you feeling right now?

Happy, of course, but tired. We didn’t expect to win and it came as a very big surprise to us also.

To kick things off, how did you find yourself taking part in this talent show in the first place?

My partner, as well as, GS.VOM are actually my RAG juniors. They joined my item during orientation. When I was training with them I thought they showed very good attitudes and I wanted to train more with them, so we formed our own mini training crew. When The Rising Star came up, I realised it’s a good idea for us to join, and also because I’m trying to venture into more duets. So I joined with my partner and the rest of them joined as another group.

How does it make you feel seeing your protégés do so well for themselves?

Honestly, we didn’t expect to win anything because we didn’t have much time to prepare. That being said, they are pretty professional themselves, and they eventually got it done.

Describe your performance.

For my performance, our audition piece was a love story between two people who met each other and fell in love. During the finals, we decided to continue that story, but this time they breakup. For the start of our item we opened on the breakup, and then after that we reminisced the old times. In our choreography you could actually see glimpses of what we performed in our audition.

What does your group name, O.KE (pronounced 'okie'), mean ?

Basically my partner always says “okie” a lot and we didn’t have any other better thing to call ourselves.

How are you going to be spending your prize money?

Before this, I spent a lot on training gear as I am venturing into circus. So I’m going to try to invest that back into my training. Furthermore, because of the COVID-19 situation, a lot of my jobs got cancelled so the prize money helps with that.

Anyone you would like to shout out?

Definitely my partner, who has been very patient with me. I went to Australia a week before the performance and that was the crunch time. We managed to chiong after that in spite of all her exams.

And of course shout out to GS.VOM, who managed to come through, as it’s hard to coordinate for five people, especially schedule wise.

If there’s one thing you would change about your performance, what would that be?

I think usually for duet pieces, you first of all need to have chemistry with your partner, second of all you need to keep practicing until the piece is a part of you – smoothen transitions, the flow into stunts and the partner lifts, etc. So if there’s one thing I could have done it would be to start working on the item earlier.

From start to finish, how has this process been?

The first video submission we did a one week rehearsal on that, it was just one-minute long so we wanted to do something short and sweet. After that, when we made it through the auditions to the semi-finals, we did our audition video piece and extended it to make it cleaner. That took another two weeks. For the finals, we only started a three days before I went to Australia, when I came back we decided to change the song from Hunger by Of Monsters and Men to Kodaline's All I Want, because we felt that the previous one didn’t tell as much of a story. We had less than a week to complete this, and it was very rushed.

Sum up the journey in a sentence.

As one of the previous winners said, if you have something that you believe in and a passion for, just go it because this is a very good platform for young artists to try out new things and put yourselves out there.

Do you have any words of advice for future contestants?

Definitely try it out, it’s a very nice platform to get comfortable being on a big stage. Also, practice more.

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Charmaine Thong – GS.VOM

Charmaine (centre)

Congrats on second place! How are you feeling right now?

I'm happy! I can't believe we got second place, it was really unexpected.

How did you find yourself taking part in this talent show in the first place?

Jia Sheng managed to convince us to join. He told us that it would be a very good opportunity.

Were you hesitant on joining initially?

Yeah, it was over a very long period of time and I didn't know if I would be able to commit. No regrets though!

How is it like juggling studies, hall activities, block comm duties as well as having to practice for this performance?

I was alright as quite a lot of things got cancelled because of COVID-19, for example, I was very busy preparing for DU but then it got cancelled so I had more time for this.

To those who weren't able to catch it, can you briefly describe your performance?

Basically, we were doing a piece on female empowerment. It was a street-jazz piece that was meant to be a powerful and high-energy performance.

What was the inspiration behind it?

The music was all by Beyoncé, so we were inspired by the upbeat and the powerful bass notes.

What does GS.VOM (pronounced 'jas vom'?) mean?

It means 'got so vibing one meh?', and it's more of Sheares lingo as most of the group is from there.

How are you going to be spending your prize money?

BIAP.

Is there anyone you would like to shout out?

Our group leader, Yuen Yeow, who created the group, acquired the music and choreographed most of it. He was the only one that persisted when most of us wanted to quit.

And to Jia Sheng, please share some of your $1,750. Thanks.

If there’s one thing you would change about your performance, what would that be?

I think we gave it our all, so there's nothing I would want to change.

From start to finish, how has the process been?

Definitely very tiring. After all, it's an external project, so when we plan our timetables, we don't really factor this in. As the deadline drew nearer, it got more and more stressful because we did our preparations last minute. But at least it turned out good.

Sum up the journey in a sentence.

Tiring but worth it.

Do you have any words of advice for future contestants?

Just try, because there's nothing to lose... and you get a lot of money.

--

Renee Leong and Liew Jia Jun – Renee & Jia Jun

Renee (L) and Jia Jun (R)

How did two extremely busy Y3s end up taking part in a school-wide talent show?

R: JJ and I were just joking if we wanted to do it for the lols, "3.5k, why not right?" But in the end I didn't want to do it but JJ wanted the money to buy AirPods.

JJ: For us, it was easy to join because we already had a dance video of the two of us to reference from, Fir's short film.

Do you want me to link it in?

R: No! Please do not! There's one face that I make at the start which looks like a porno face, a very un-glam porno face...

Sure, briefly describe your performance.

R: For the first dance we presented (the auditions), we followed the same storyline from the short film which shows my character trying to get over the death of JJ's character, where I finally do at the end. Our second performance was slightly different, more of showing the push-and-pull of letting someone go.

JJ, do you have anything to add?

JJ: Nope, Renee is the carry.

Honestly, how are you both feeling about the results?

JJ: We are okay with the results. Ultimately, at the start we didn't aim to get top three, we just wanted to get into the finals. But as we started practising towards the end, we figured that we might as well give it our all. So honestly, when we didn't get top three, we were sad. But, I think we formed something more meaningful than getting what we wanted. From the whole performance up till the results, we already felt like we were winners. It was only when the results were announced then the reality sunk in, like shit we didn't win.

R: We didn't expect to receive the amount of support that we got from the choreography stage all the way to the finals. We sent out mass invitations but we didn't expect that many people to come down, yet 27 people came down and it felt great.

JJ: Ya, we are winners, just without the cash prize.

Anyone you would like to shout out?

JJ: I think Timo(thy Asher Tan) helped us out a lot. We didn't expect him to help us so much, when we sent out the video during the voting stage (to get into the finals), we wouldn't have gotten the most votes if not for Timo. Sometimes we feel that he's the one that deserves this the most, he was more enthusiastic about getting the votes than we were. We were panicking over the votes early on, and he actually went door-to-door to ask people to vote for us. So because of him we went from eighth to first in the voting stage. He even did little things like making cards for us, videoing our practices, etc. We are very thankful for him and his efforts.

R: Timo, and all my friends for their support.

JJ: Yeah, and all my friends as well.

If there’s one thing you would have done differently, what would that be?

JJ: Practice way earlier. Other than that we had our own commitments and issues. I feel that this piece was meant to be a sad one, but I didn't have enough time to prepare to be sad.

R: I'll quote JJ during our drinking session, "I broke up with my ex too long ago to feel sad."

R: We thought that the COVID-19 situation would cancel this whole event, so we didn't really bother too much. But, two weeks before the performance, they called me to say that it's still ongoing. So, JJ and I thought we were just going to half-ass this performance. We were going to call it Insurance Agent and Student Go on Stage for Five Hundred Dollars.

JJ: Then after that we made it more sexual, but we won't say.

*I'm giving them a confused look*

R: THE TITLE! NOT THE PERFORMANCE!

Oh. Yeah, I was going to ask you guys about the title of your performance, because compared to other groups, its just Renee & Jia Jun.

R: I didn't know we were supposed to give our group a name, so we just submitted our names as I didn't read the form properly.

Between the two of you, who gave a better performance on stage?

JJ: Renee.

R: Jia Jun.

JJ (laughing): Don't la... it's Renee. Just say it's you la...

R (laughing harder): But you really tanked all my falls...

JJ: It's Renee... she's damn disgusting, on inside she's like, "It's me, it's me."

From start to finish, how has this entire process been?

JJ: I found this process to be very meaningful. Even though at the start, we just wanted to perform our routine...

R: Insurance agent and girl...

JJ: But we ended up having a very good time. I feel like I've gotten to know more about Renee in this short period than in the past three years. I do feel sad that the journey has ended so quickly...

JJ: Renee is a very nice person to work with.

R: I thought the journey was super tough. Those five nights were really one of the hardest five nights of my life. Both of us had a lot of things to settle together with this TRS thing which was absolutely not necessary, but I'm glad we soldiered through that...

R: FRIENDSHIP! With Timo and Jia Jun... we are now a threesome.

Sum up the journey in a sentence.

R: Can we say, insurance agent and student go up on stage for five hundred dollars?

Ok.

JJ: What the hell...

R: Bless!

JJ: Sure...

JJ: Must say perform on stage.

R: No, perform doesn't sound sexy.

JJ: But goes up on stage doesn't sound sexy also.

R: But, it leaves space for you to imagine stuff.

JJ: How about, does an act... for five hundred dollars...

JJ: Ah no! Student does an act with insurance agent on stage for five hundred dollars.

I'm putting all this in you know?

R: Yes!

Okay, we'll go with that. Lastly, do you have any words of advice for future contestants?

R: If you want, just cry on stage I guess? Makes the whole performance better.

JJ: Just start early.

Something else?

JJ: Use this is a way to get close to someone.

R: If you want to saaap somebody this is the way! That day JJ tried to carry me and his finger went up me.

JJ: It was an accident! But, Renee followed up with, "Oop, we are one step closer now." And gave me a face... I was like...

R: Ya, so if you all want to touch girls this is it!

--

I'd like to thank Jia Sheng, Charmaine, Renee and Jia Jun for their time to speak to me over the weekend, and also congratulations to all of them as they are all winners in their own rights. We hope to see yet another strong performance by KResidents in next season's The Rising Star, together with the same immense support and love that this year's contestants all received!

Check out the full performance here.

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Kent Ridge Hall Reporters 2019