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Creativity As Told By Leon Markcus

Updated: Nov 20, 2019

Welcome to the first narrative of our series, Creativity As Told By Singaporeans.

This series will explore what creativity means to talented creatives based in Singapore.

To start off this special series of local narratives, we spoke to Singaporean singer-songwriter Leon Markcus to find out what creativity means to him.

The young, fresh-faced musician has a number of singles under his belt — such as Alive, Circles, and SWX, his latest release. His debut EP Mannequin topped the iTunes Chart in 2016.

Making Music, Making Music and Making Music”

The young yet incredibly talented singer/songwriter is, without a doubt, extremely passionate about his music career.

“Everything inspires me to do music,” says Leon, who reveals that apart from music, he also does painting in his free time to help him relax.

“It’s usually a feeling right inside my gut that kick starts the motivation to finish a song. And when I am up and running, that's when the other catalysts start coming in.”

Right now, inspiration comes in the form of queer individuals and powerful women in his life.

“They’ve taught me how to be strong as well as to share the gift of giving. We should not be selfish with our experiences, and that it’s okay to uplift people on the way up to success.”

On His Single Inspired by Our Little Red Dot

“A Fun Filled Anthem Filled with Lyrical Sarcasm”

Wanting a fun-filled summer anthem filled with lyrical sarcasm about his country, Leon weaved in local themes into his track Hot City, making sure to poke a bit of fun at the self-obsessed nature of the “i-generation.”

Watch the Hot City music video and you’ll notice that it hits very close to home, depicting familiar scenes that we might have all been a part of while growing up. We asked Leon to share how he got his inspiration for the music video.

To our surprise, the rising local musician shares that his concepts aren’t always meticulously thought out — rather, they are “thrown out rather spontaneously”.

“We drew inspiration for the vertical video style from Spotify-exclusive music videos, for example, Chun Li by Nicki Minaj.”

His lyrics, “You're a train wreck if you don't study/ Fill your head with unnecessary copies/ Of equations and these theories/ Let's talk about the Physics and Chemistry” challenges the rote-learning system that Singaporean students have been trained to follow.

Keep your eyes peeled for Leon’s red outfit in the video, inspired by the PCF Kindergarten uniform he once wore as a child. The red outfit, which has strawberries attached to it, pokes fun at the “Strawberry Generation.”

In the same scene, an infant is holding a phone milk bottle, which represents the “i-generation”.

“Mocking popular culture in Singapore where everyone is a trigger and mostly self-absorbed— even myself— hence the lyrics “yes I do it for the people but please buy my track on the i-store.”

“The video was meant to pay homage (to Singapore), while throwing some shade as well.”

On Creative Blocks

“Nothing to Prove, Only to Share”

Has Leon faced creative blocks during his music career thus far? YES, YES and YES was his response (his answer was worded in capital letters to convey his frustration).

Despite being able to come up with creative concepts for his MVs rather spontaneously, Leon is not immune to creative slumps.

Referring to creative blocks as “ the most frustrating thing ever,” Leon shares that as self-doubt gets to him from time to time. Fortunately, he managed to rely on his support system of family friends through these times.

Through the obstacles he has overcome, he has discovered the importance of fun in the creative process.

“Pop culture inspires pop culture, we don't need to constantly be coming up with new ideas, we can also take existing ones and reinvent them to be completely new products. Fun is real [sic] important when it comes to creation, if you are not having fun, your work will not be fun to your audiences as well.”

On what Creativity Means To Him

“To Be Fearless And Dream of the Impossible”

So what is creativity as told by Leon Markcus?

Leon says that a creative person is someone who is able to “see different perspectives and angles”.

He is often inspired by fellow Singaporean creatives in other disciplines, such as @syazmakeup, a makeup artist and @arya.dunn, a drag queen.

When asked about his views on how Singaporeans can become more creative, he says that our little red dot could use a bit more freedom and diversity, literature music and art — according to him, this would widen people’s horizons and perhaps expose them to various mediums of creativity.

To him, creativity requires people to “invent and reinvent ideas, concepts and hypothesise outcomes beyond (their) imagination. To be fearless and to dream of the impossible.”

Now, who ever said daydreaming was a bad thing?