What It’s Like To Be The Sam Willows

And be gifted things like Pokemon murtabak


We all know who The Sam Willows are.

Arguably Singapore’s most popular band right now, The Sam Willows — made up of Benjamin and Narelle Kheng, Sandra Riley Tang and Jonathan Chua, like you didn’t already know — broke into the scene in 2012.

Over the past five years, they’ve captured the ears and hearts of fans in Singapore and around the world, and in that time we’ve heard them on the radio, read about them in magazines, and seen them perform live and in videos. 

But do we know what it’s really like to be The Sam Willows? 

What does it take to be Singapore’s hottest musical export? Doesn’t being around one another so much drive them mad? What’s it like to have haters?

Since the band has just released the music video for their single Keep Me Jealous from their upcoming second studio album (watch it below!), we thought it was a good time as any to get an inside look into the lives of the famous four.

Our brand new single 'Keep Me Jealous' is out now. Link in bio ✌️ #KeepMeJealous

2,000 Likes, 32 Comments - @thesamwillows on Instagram: "Our brand new single 'Keep Me Jealous' is out now. Link in bio ✌️ #KeepMeJealous"

What’s a usual day in the life of The Sam Willows like?

JONATHAN CHUA: Everyday tends to be different. Some days I wake up with no plans, and some days we pull 15 hours non-stop with interviews, rehearsals and shows. I guess the unpredictability is the fun part. 

BENJAMIN KHENG: At any one time, someone is eating, someone is holding a dog or cat, someone is saying, “Oh yeah, another thing” and someone is scrolling through Twitter. 

What’s the best thing about being part of The Sam Willows?

JON: You can always depend on and throw responsibility to another three people, haha.

BEN: I throw the responsibility of this question to Jon.

NARELLE KHENG: Sandra will answer this.

SANDRA RILEY TANG: Everyone is so thoughtful and hardworking. 

What’s the hardest part about being part of The Sam Willows?

JON: Our lives and schedules revolve around each other.

BEN: People have lots of preconceived notions about us. I heard a rumour that we only demand to drink only one brand of water. I’m still confirming that.

NARELLE: The commitment. We make a lot of sacrifices for the band which means reevaluating some career goals, life choices etc. 

SANDRA: The sacrifices we have to make to commit to the band. But nothing good ever comes easy right? 

styling by @randolph_tan 🍭

3,455 Likes, 17 Comments - @thesamwillows on Instagram: "styling by @randolph_tan 🍭"

What is it like having fans?

JON: I still can’t comprehend it now, but it’s a great feeling to know that people enjoy our music and the band. 

NARELLE: It’s very cooling.

Share your most outrageous fan encounter.

JON: In Indonesia, this fan gave us Pokemon murtabak during the Pokemon Go craze. It looked and tasted so good. 

BEN: People stop and ask me if I’m Nathan Hartono. The answer is always yes.

NARELLE: I was at Suntec City with some friends and some girls were giggling behind me for some time but didn’t dare to come say ‘hey’. We lost them and suddenly I saw them outside the Starbucks we were sitting at, still suuuuper nervous. They were there for at least 5 minutes trying to figure out what to do and they finally gathered up the courage to come up to my table, and one of them opened her mouth and went: “Hibduvabcnxvznmxbz.” Haha! So I went “huh?”, and she freakkkkked out, screamed “Oh my god!” and ran off. That’s it. 

SANDRA: Two school girls followed me around a mall, and when they finally had to courage to approach me to ask for a photo, one of them dropped her phone. 

How do you guys deal with haters?

JON: It used to affect me a lot, but now I tend to ignore it ’cause haters gon’ hate anyway. 

NARELLE: I either ignore it, or just give a response or acknowledgement of some kind. Sometimes people think it’s okay to say really hurtful things online because they can hide behind their screens, so I call them out. 

SANDRA: Haters gonna hate. Potatoes gonna potate. 

What’s the meanest thing a hater has ever said to you?

JON: Lots of things. I think it’s when they get unreasonably personal and bring family or upbringing into their hate that it gets too much. 

BEN: Are you Nathan Hartono?

NARELLE: Are you Narelle Kheng?

SANDRA: I don’t usually remember mean comments. Haha. 

05-05-17 📷: @mellowedhigh

4,102 Likes, 39 Comments - @thesamwillows on Instagram: "05-05-17 📷: @mellowedhigh"

Honestly, do you think looks matter if you want to make it big as a musician in Singapore?

JON: Not really, I think image and ethics are definitely more important. And most importantly one’s craft. 

BEN: You don’t have to look good. You just have to look like you give a damn.

NARELLE: Nah, not looks, but having a persona that’s interesting enough? 

SANDRA: What Ben said. 

Where do you guys see yourselves and the band in five years?

JON: As a band I hope we continue to release albums. Individually, I hope to open my own restaurant/bar/cafe.

BEN: I see us all chillin’ on an Indonesian beach. I see myself with questionable shorts and sobriety.

NARELLE: Travelling the world and being at a point where I can look back to now and say: “God I sucked so hard then.”


Photo: @thesamwillows via Instagram

Find out what The Sam Willows listen to in the gym here!

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