Charlie Lim is a singer-songwriter/producer based in Singapore, whose debut record TIME/SPACE clinched the #1 spot on the iTunes Singapore chart and was named Best Pop Album of the Year by The Straits Times and awarded Best Song of the Year by Apple Music Singapore. Gathering accolades and prominent festival slots along the way, including a central role in writing and performing the theme song for Singapore’s National Day this year, Charlie has quickly grown into one of Southeast Asia’s most unique voices in modern pop music.
Charlie’s music has spread across the region’s live stages – he’s performed at Summer Sonic (Tokyo), Mosaic Music Festival (Singapore), Clockenflap (Hong Kong), Java Jazz Festival (Indonesia), Singapore International Jazz Festival, Urbanscapes (Kuala Lumpur), Brisbane Festival, Jarasum Jazz Festival (Seoul), OzAsia (Adelaide), Bigsound (Brisbane) and Music Matters Live, alongside international artists such as Kimbra, Sigur Rós, BADBADNOTGOOD, Hiatus Kaiyote, Caribou, Ta-Ku, and Snarky Puppy. Following two landmark, sold-out shows at the Mosaic Music Festival –an achievement never claimed by a Singaporean artist –Charlie premiered TIME/SPACE at Singapore’s premier music venue, the 1,600-seat Esplanade Concert Hall; yet another first.
Charlie is no stranger to experimentation when pushing the boundaries of pop music. Traversing genres has become part of his meticulous approach to songwriting, production and performance –his last record was a split album stretched between acoustic melancholia, post-rock, neo-soul, and electronica –where the sonic palette shifts and expands only to serve the narrative of the song, never pressured by stylistic trends to shape the kind of artist he should be. ‘CHECK-HOOK’ is the latest body of work that is perhaps his most subversive foray yet –but at the same time, also his most focused and catchy.
Accomplished with the production efforts of longtime collaborators Yeo and Simon Lam (Kllo, I’lls), as well as having been mixed by Andrei Eremin (Hiatus Kaiyote, Chet Faker/Nick Murphy) and mastered by Matt Colton (James Blake, Sampha), the new album dives into a different sound that Charlie has seamlessly adopted: frenzied two-step beats, slinky synth basslines, desolate keys, mangled guitar riffs, and re-sampling imperfectly-recorded live instruments, percussion and vocals.
Named after the boxing technique whereby the boxer throws a hook while pivoting around an opponent like a matador controlling a charging bull, ‘CHECK-HOOK’is a moment of contention wherein Charlie comes to terms with his artistic and personal pursuits, wading through his deepest anxieties in the process. “Every day I stare down the barrel, spent too long picking all my battles –now the fight’s gone out of me,” Charlie sings on ‘Welcome Home’, the futuristic UK garage-inflicted single that sets the tone for the rest of the record.
“A lot of the songs are about the relationship with pursuing something that you love doing, and what you do after the inevitable disillusionment when that passion has burned out. I often find myself questioning the idea of one’s purpose and where we get our sense of validation from,” he muses. “I think it’s something we can all relate to, especially in this day and age where we’re constantly trying to find our ‘ikigai’ while FOMO-ing from lack of self-actualisation.”
‘CHECK-HOOK’ is an ode to overthinking and overworking, and expresses the attempt to find equilibrium between chaos and control without being paralysed in the process. Within the frenzied and infectious nature of the music, Charlie’s lyrics that inflict each song are heartfelt, incisive and relatable, and the result is a body of work that blossoms wildly both on the dance floor as well as the late-night commute with headphones on.
Coming off of a successful festival slot at Japan’s Summer Sonic 2018, which also featured the likes of Beck, Chance The Rapper and St. Vincent, Charlie Lim will embark upon an upcoming regional tour in support of the album, followed by a homecoming concert at The Star Theatre in December.
+ New album ‘Check-Hook’ due 12 Oct via Universal Music Singapore