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Havana Brown’s Top Tips To Singapore

March 19, 2019 Visit ASEAN No Comments Email Email

Q) What is your connection to Singapore?

I’ve been to Singapore around five times now. My first trip was back in 2009, when I performed at the very first F1 Rocks, a festival in conjunction with the Singapore Grand Prix. It was an epic experience and I got to perform alongside Beyoncé, Pharrell, The Black Eyed Peas and Gwen Stefani. Since then, I’ve been playing at renowned Singapore clubs such as CÉ LA VI and Zouk.

Q) For those that haven’t visited Singapore, how would you describe it to them?

Singapore is a tropical oasis. The skyline is beautiful and features incredible architecture and views you won’t grow tired of. The city is also very green and colourful and the locals are friendly and welcoming. It’s also a city that never sleeps, as both locals and visitors make the most of the cooler temperatures in the evening to grab a bite to eat, catch some live music or enjoy some drinks.

Q) What surprised you most about Singapore when you first visited?

As soon as you arrive at Changi Airport you notice how green the city is. This continues everywhere you go – from hotels to parks and even shopping centres. It certainly makes you feel instantly relaxed and chilled.

This time round, I was surprised by how creative the bar scene is. Singapore is home to five bars in the World’s 50 Best Bars List, so it definitely gives London, New York and my hometown of Melbourne a run for their money. I was lucky enough to visit #13 on the list, which is a bar called NATIVE and I would definitely recommend Aussies check it out.

The bar is owned by local Vijay Mudaliar, and his story is inspiring because he wants to push the boundaries of the bar scene, whilst also ensuring NATIVE maintains an authentic Singaporean feel. His philosophy is about creating cocktails mindfully – using locally foraged produce and partnering with local craft breweries and distilleries like Brass Lion, and they also pledge to be as sustainable as possible, which I especially love. Each month they throw out less than 50g of waste. That’s seriously impressive!

In fact, everywhere you go in Singapore it’s hard not to be impressed by the locals’ dedication and passion for their chosen profession and their desire to constantly push the boundaries to elevate their own high standards. From bars like NATIVE that have a cool story to tell, to rooftop bars with epic views and cool gigs in the city’s backstreet live music venues – it’s hard not to get swept up in the city’s vivacious energy and have an awesome time.

Q) What misconceptions do you think some Australians may have about Singapore?

For me, the biggest misconception Aussies have is around just how much Singapore has to offer. I often hear of friends considering Singapore as a quick pit stop on the way to their main destination when in fact, it definitely deserves a trip of its own. It’s not far from Australia and the city’s really compact so it’s easy to get around and immerse yourself quickly in everything from the cool neighbourhoods, to incredible restaurants, cocktail bars and clubs.

Q) Specifically, how would you describe Singapore’s nightlife and live music scene?

There’s really something for everyone, whether you prefer mainstream music or you have more eclectic tastes. I love that you can be enjoying a stunning rooftop bar one minute and the next you can be in a ‘hole-in-the-wall’ style speakeasy. It’s clear that Singaporeans are passionate about providing experiences that cater to all types of people and tastes and they look after you!

Q) What similarities do Singaporeans and Australians share, when it comes to entertainment, music and nightlife?

Singaporeans and Australians are both passionate about socialising and having a good time with friends. The internet has also made music all the more accessible, so I find we enjoy listening to similar music, especially amongst the DJ scene.

Q) What are your top 3 live music venues, events or festivals that you recommend Aussies should check out in Singapore and why?

  1. LAVO, Marina Bay Sands: it has incredible views of the Singapore skyline and the Spectra Light and Water Show from 57-storeys up so it’s great for Instagram. You can have a delicious Italian-American dinner and then head straight to the nightclub, which is very convenient.
  2. Tanjong Beach Club: a casual, all-day venue located on one of Sentosa’s pretty beaches. On the weekends, you can get amongst the beach parties, or you can chill in the pool whilst sipping on a refreshing cocktail.
  3. Ann Siang Hill: Ann Siang Road and Club Street are lined with cocktail bars and music venues. Each Friday and Saturday night the road is closed to traffic, allowing people to spill out onto the street to enjoy the ambience of the area with friends. This is where you’ll find White Label Records, a hip vinyl concept store by day and a bar at night. There’s no better place to enjoy some low-key drinks and live DJ sets.

Q) Are there any Singaporean DJs / musicians you’re a fan of and you would recommend Aussies to listen to or see perform live?

After seeing DJ KoFlow perform live, I’d say he is definitely one to watch. He’s performing in Sydney and Melbourne this February as part of the Singapore Social events.

Q) In your experience playing there, how passionate are Singaporeans about live music?

Singaporeans are like Australians – they like to experience new sounds and when it comes to live music, they will often go the extra mile to seek out something a little bit different to what they’re used to.

Q) Where do you draw inspiration from for your music? Have any of your experiences in Singapore influenced or inspired your music?

I draw inspiration from all kinds of experiences, but one thing I do like to do before a set is to visit the Flower Dome at Gardens by the Bay. Wandering around the cool dome allows me to reflect and centre myself.

Q) Singapore recently had five bars ranked in the World’s 50 Best Bars List for 2018. Where’s your favourite place to grab a drink in Singapore? Do you have a favourite drink/cocktail?

Lychees are a favourite of mine, so unsurprisingly; my favourite cocktail is a Lychee Martini! Being in the tropics I was able to track down Lychee cocktails in a lot of bars I frequent, so I was a happy girl. My favourite place to grab a daytime drink is beachside at Tanjong Beach Club on Sentosa. In the evening, you can’t go past the spectacular views at LAVO.

Q) The food is diverse in Singapore, from hawker street food to high-end dining. Do you have any favourite places to eat in Singapore? Do you have a favourite dish?

During my last visit, I experienced Peranakan cuisine at the National Kitchen by Violet Oon at the National Gallery Singapore. I love the history behind Peranakan cuisine – the mix of Chinese, Malay and Western flavours. I love spicy food, so my favourite dish was the grilled fish with chopped chilli and garlic sauce.

Q) What neighbourhoods do you think Australians should check out and why?

I love how Singapore is a melting pot of cultures, and in particular, I love Chinatown as there’s always something happening. The hawker culture comes alive during the day and the streets are buzzing with locals, stalls and cultural sites such as the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple.

After dark, Ann Siang Hill is thriving with people enjoying drinks on the street into the early hours of the morning. This time round, I was lucky enough to see the Chinese New Year festivities in full swing, with live performances and a light-up festival.

Q) Singapore has many iconic tourist attractions. Do you have any favourites that you recommend people check out?

The Supertree Grove at Gardens by the Bay is my favourite thing to see. The Avatar-like trees make you feel like you are part of a different universe. It’s a special place.

Q) Do you have any last words of wisdom or tips, to give Australian visitors to Singapore to ensure they have a good time?

My biggest tip for travellers would be to have more than just a few days in Singapore, as there are so many places to visit, things to do and different experiences. And if you can only spare a few days, you know you can easily come back again because the flight time from Australia is decent.

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