When a person graduates from school into the workforce, one might expect that he or she either serves a bond as required, or scout job portals to begin the search for his or her first job.
However, Lai Zi Jie, also known by his moniker The Pudgy Busker, is not like most of us.
Small Steps To Big Dreams
Having just graduated from NTU last year with a major in history, Zi Jie started busking in order to get more exposure – his aim was to play for weddings and events.
Nonetheless, he also shares that it had always been his dream to do music full-time, knowing studies and good grades had not been his forte – “since primary school”, he says.
He explains his foray into busking this way – “I saw busking as a stepping stone (to pursue music full-time)...
Yet, he tells me,
“The only “backlash” I faced was whether (I was going) to continue busking even after graduation, and I did so! Looking back, (I have) no regrets!”
While I ask him if he foresees himself falling back to the "safety" of the corporate world in future, he replies with an emphatic “I highly doubt so!”
Busking: Reality Check
As a full-time busker, Zi Jie gets plenty of flexibility on his time – something he appreciates because he is able to plan his schedule, as and how he would like it to be. Yet, if he were to pick the least favourable aspect of this endeavour, it would be Singapore’s unpredictable weather.
“One moment it’s sunny and the next, it’s raining. When I first started, I would get so annoyed,” he says.
With time, even this is a factor he has since overcome –
“But now I’m used to it and even enjoy running into shelter with all my equipment when it starts to pour,” he continues.
Misconceptions About Busking
When I try to sift out misconceptions the public has about buskers, Zi Jie’s answer catches me by surprise...
After all, while Zi Jie also takes on event packages and wedding gigs – which he is thankful for, and also help him secure a more stable income – he shares that “90% of the events and weddings (he) play(s) for were doors that were opened when people saw (him) busking.”
Highlights Of The Journey
Zi Jie shares some of the highlights in his journey – in terms of corporate collaborations, this includes being featured on the April 2017 edition of Scoot’s in-flight magazine, in an article titled “How to be a busker in Singapore.”
In addition, he has also had the opportunity to work with Metropolitan Productions' Alvin Tan, who co-directed The LKY Musical. The duo were working on a project of recording Home, the much beloved local national song – the cover version can be viewed here.
As a busker, he recounts an incident when an audience member dropped him a message after a busking session – he shared how he used to be suicidal, but seeing Zi Jie busk motivated him to keep going.
“This may have been three years ago, but it still manages to touch and encourage me up till today,” says Zi...
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