The heart-wrenching lyrics of Jerry Yan’s brooding anthem ‘Decoration’ are familiar enough to most Chinese pop fans. But few know that the man who penned the successful 2004 hit is a true-blue Singaporean, Beldin Kee.
A member of City Harvest, Beldin, 34, has written songs for international recording artists like Chinese vocalist Na Ying, Taiwanese Yuki Masuyama (of ‘Devil by You’ fame) and local artiste Le Yao.
Songwriting has been a passion for Beldin since his secondary school days.
“There were many interschool songwriting competitions then”, he says, recalling how he first fell in love with song-writing. “I was heavily influenced by the likes of songwriters like Liang Wen Fu and Wang Jie, who were like Jay Chou in their generation.”
After winning the Best Lyrics category in a local competition and coming up tops in the National Songwriting competition organized by Radio 100.3 FM, Beldin knew he had a gift for writing songs.
Knocking on Other Doors
The route to success is often steeped with trials and errors. Prior to his showbiz career, Beldin had experimented with other jobs, from teaching to marketing before finally setting up his own music publishing house, SkyBlueMusicWorks, in 2004. The multi-tasking entrepreneur also recently started an events company that provides networking services for singles.
Beldin describes how he first got his works published by the major record companies. He started by joining a song writers’ guild on Yahoo. There, he met many friends who shared the same passion.
He then teamed up with a few pals to send in a CD of their own demos. That was when he caught the attention of the heads at EMI Records and Warner Music.
Today, Beldin’s company SkyBlueMusicWorks operates by giving songwriters a platform to get their compositions published in Taiwan’s pop music market. Songs that come in are sent to the company’s sub-publisher EMI Music Publishing Taiwan, and from there, to major record companies.
When asked if he thought it would be difficult to pursue a songwriting dream in Singapore, Beldin says matter-of-factly. “It’s all there, it’s whether you choose to look for it.”
However, this talented lyricist advises budding songwriters to start small. “It’s not something you should take up immediately as a full time job. Build your credibility first by making demos.”
Music to the Ears
To this music aficionado, what makes a song pleasing to one’s ears are a strong melody-line, lyrics that make sense and complement the tune, quality arrangement, the right tempo, good beats and the right genre.
“There is a story in every song. A song that can paint a picture is powerful. Listeners should be able to picture it in their minds as if they were watching a music video,” he explains passionately.
Beldin’s songs largely revolve around love and the occasional issues that confront Singaporeans. More recently, Beldin has aspired to write songs that reflect a “greater love”. His latest song ‘Great’, speaks of a sacrificial love that carries one through the crossroads of life.
“The song speaks of Jesus, but there’s no mention of His name. I would like even non-Christians to be able to relate to the love [of God] without feeling uncomfortable.”
That Thing You Do
Along with the industry adulation, chasing this songwriting dream came with a hefty price for Beldin. During the early phase of his career, he had faced family disapproval and rejections. “But we eventually established an understanding that this is my thing,” he says. “I am not a doctor, a lawyer or a scientist. So don’t make me one.”
To aspiring songwriters and people considering venturing off the beaten track to pursue their passions, Beldin advises, “Don’t think about the money, do what you like.”
“If you face failure, take a break to heal. But never give up.”