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In the Studio With MYRNE
With the OPPO Reno4 Pro in hand, Manfred Lim — the Singaporean electronic musician and DJ who’s better known as MYRNE — reflects on his sound and what being his best self means.
By T: The New York Times Style Magazine Singapore
Entertainment & Culture
T | On Set
/26 August 2020
On a cloudy Wednesday afternoon, Manfred Lim arrives at a recording studio in the northern industrial district of the island. The Singaporean electronic musician and DJ is days away from launching his new EP, “Wandering.” During the past several months of coronavirus-induced quiet, he wrote, mixed, produced, filled the vocals for the tracks in the solitary confines of his room. One of the EP’s tracks, “Forbidden Lovers” — a song Lim says is “dedicated to all the lovers in the world currently separated by physical boundaries, societal norms, or laws” — was released earlier in June. A month after it was launched, and at the time of writing, “Forbidden Lovers” has racked up more than 250,000 streams on Spotify alone.
“It definitely has a different feel to most of my previous work,” he says of the song and the EP. “It’s titled “Wandering”, like when you’re wandering in the forest and just living life on a whim, really.”
The 25-year-old has, in fact, done a fair bit of wandering, to say the least. On stage and to his avid listeners, Lim is fondly known as MYRNE. The DJ-producer has played in clubs around the world, from Los Angeles to Mongolia. In 2018, he became the first Singaporean act to play at the dance festivals Ultra Miami and Tomorrowland in Belgium, which had a 400,000-strong attendance. But ever since Singapore’s circuit breaker and travel restrictions kicked in, Lim’s slated international gigs had been put on hold.
Lately, instead of hopping from the buzzy haunts of one metropolis to the other, Lim has been taking regular meditative walks in the park not too far from his house in the Balestier neighbourhood. Sometimes, he would plug in and listen to the kind of music grew up with at home, like disco “or whatever you hear on Gold 90.5 FM today.” Sometimes, it would just be him and his thoughts. “It’s really inspired by Bon Iver and how he would hide in a cabin and make music off living off the land. All the music I’ve written [for this EP] are focused on that,” he explains. “A big part of my inspiration doesn’t come from the sitting at a desk. A lot of it comes from the non-music stuff, just trying to live life. That was definitely a bit hard during the lockdown. But once it was okay to head outside, I tried to just enjoy nature, take walks with no reason.”
When Lim first began making his own music, he was in high school. It was some time in 2011, after he first discovered the existence of Swedish DJs Eric Prydz and the late Avicii — both were then regarded as on-the-fringe up-and-comers. “I think EDM [electronic dance music] was attractive to me because I couldn’t really find that music in Singapore,” he says. At the time, popular local nightclubs like Zouk mainly played mambo music, tech house or house tech. Mainstream electronic has yet to hit Asia.
Classically trained, Lim is a multi-instrumentalist who was used to music’s regimented system. “I was raised as a pianist. My parents sent me to classes. It was very quantised,” he recalls. “For the first few years, it was something that I had to do like it was a chore. Every week, just an hour at this music school. But interestingly, once I stopped going for piano lessons, I got a deeper love for music as a whole.” The unrestricted new world of EDM easily intrigued Lim. “I remember I was in junior college and the first thing I would want to do every day is to come home and either work on beats or scroll SoundCloud and make friends,” he laughs.
Lim’s story is a millennial’s 21st-century dream success story. Devouring Youtube videos and diving deep into SoundCloud’s nexus of burgeoning community, his own music quickly evolved. Equipped with basic audio software and “headphones like those disposable ones you’d get on planes,” he made music in his bedroom. “Back then, it was a lot of mimicry going on and just trying to copy other people — like ‘Alright, I’m gonna make something like this Swedish House Mafia song’,” says Lim. “But eventually my music became more me. It now better fits the story that I want to tell.” His repertoire — a mix of remixes and originals that are “simple, down-to-earth and has elements of musicality” — soon amassed a cult following of its own. And as fate would have it, the creative director of American DJ Diplo’s record label, Mad Decent, stumbled upon Lim’s work and signed him on. At 19, Lim became the first and only Singaporean to be signed to the label. His first EP under the label, “Softsins,” debuted in 2015.
Today, Lim is also signed to Ultra Records (again, the first Singaporean to achieve this feat). He counts EDM heavyweights the likes of Martin Garrix and What So Not as collaborators. “All of this was really just pure luck. It had a lot to do with being at the right place at the right time,” he sheepishly notes. “When I was young, I can’t tell you how many times I’d be on Resident Advisor searching “Singapore DJs” and not really finding anything. But hopefully this inspires a lot more kids here who have dreams of making music to say it’s possible.”
When asked what he considers the apex of his trajectory so far, Lim doesn’t skip a beat. “My best moment was just after I was done with my set at Tomorrowland, just stepping down from the stage and just hanging out in the crowd. I was looking at the sky and I felt really blessed to be able to do this for a living. It was easily one of the top moments of my life. I was very wide-eyed about the world,” he answers. “I still am.”
supports HTML5 video
In the studio, watch as MYRNE shares a glimpse of his upcoming music, what he thinks of “Singapore music” and what he’s currently listening to.
In line with OPPO’s #ClearlyTheBestYou campaign, MYRNE answers what being his best self means: “The best me is the person who wouldn’t say no to anything, who would just live life with a sense of courage and just an earnest need to adventure throughout the world, and do whatever he or she wants to do.”
Achieve the best you with the OPPO Reno4 Pro in hand.
Set to capture your best moments, be it in photographs or videos, the Reno4 Pro comes with a suite of innovative camera features that are enabled by the 32M front camera, and a Rear Quad Camera set-up that consists of a 48MP primary camera, an 8MP Ultra wide-angle camera, as well as a 2MP Macro camera and 2MP mono lens.
The all-new AI Colour Portrait Photo feature allows creative portraits to be captured in their best light. It highlights the subject in the portrait in natural colour — retaining the red, green or blue colours of objects, while muting the background colours in black and white.
The smoothest screen experience is made possible, thanks to the 90Hz display refresh rate, that allows seamless animations and transitions as you scroll through your feed or join in competitive mobile games. The 3D Curved Display also means that your screen is touchable right to the edge and is a comfortable fit on your palm.
The Reno4 Pro, S$899, comes in two shades of ‘Starry Night’ and ‘Silky White.’ It is now available islandwide at Singtel, Starhub and M1 stores, OPPO Concept Stores as well as OPPO’s Shopee and Lazada Flagship Stores.
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