Relatable lyrics, catchy melodies, and a whole lot of heart are all the ingredients you need for a great love song, and no one makes them better than lullaboy.
Heartfelt, honest, and sincere, the Singaporean singer-songwriter encapsulates life's sweetest (and sometimes, painful) moments into music that you'll keep wanting to listen to.
"I love highlighting what it means to be human so half my songs are happy and half are sad, but I think people can always tell it’s me from the way I lay out my lyrics to tell stories," lullaboy tells Bandwagon.
"The message I want to tell my listeners is that it’s okay to feel."
Known in real life as Bernard Dinata, lullaboy's musical journey started when he joined the army. Despite having always loved music, the 'someone like u' act never thought of pursuing it, wanting to follow a more stable career path.
"Music wasn’t just my hobby, it was everything to me but I was always pushed towards the conventional 'go to business school and do music on the side'. It wasn’t until I joined the Singapore Army that everything changed. I got into the Music & Drama Company and had the chance to create music and rehearse every single day." he says.
"We performed for recruits who trained hard and needed a break, for the country on events like the National Day Parade and even got sent overseas to represent Singapore. I was hooked, and I couldn’t imagine music just being 'on the side'."
Since then, the singer-songwriter has been taking steps towards pursuing music which includes joining Berklee College of Music, and choosing his stage name 'lullaboy' – which he revealed was very close to being 'Saint Bernard' (yes, the dog).
"I chose the name 'lullaboy' when I was ready to give it my 100% without being afraid anymore. My songs are about figuring out the meaning of love and life and finding comfort in the journey so 'lullaby' and 'boy' made perfect sense," he says.
Describing his music as "emotional pop music with the occasional R&B flare", the 'gone too long' act has been making waves with his music, accumulating thousands of listeners all across the region.
While currently en route to release his first-ever album, Bandwagon caught up with lullaboy to talk about his musical journey, the story behind some of his popular tracks, and his upcoming projects.
Hi lullaboy! Tell us, how did you get started with music?
Hello to you Bandwagon, I’ve always loved how you guys elevate the arts scene around me so this is really special for me! I took vocal lessons from when I was a little kid but I started to really fall in love with music when I started going through puberty haha. It was the best place for me to channel my emotions and being obsessed with emo music complemented with leading worship in church showed me that being vulnerable and allowing yourself to feel is the true human experience.
At the beginning of your musical journey, you were posting covers and vlogs on YouTube. How do you think this background has helped shape the artist you are today and the community you have?
That is true, in fact I still post covers and vlogs even though some people have told me not to. My YouTube channel has helped me so much in learning about recording and video editing. If you’re an independent artist that doesn’t know how to edit and create content, then you better start watching tutorials haha. We live in a very DIY age and just having that little bit of experience has gone a long way for me.
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From posting covers to now releasing your own music, what has been your favourite moment from your journey so far?
My first ever meet and greet concert was a big deal for me – definitely my favourite moment. I got to actually meet the people that had been listening to my music and hearing them sing my songs back to me was a crazy feeling. I actually can’t wait to have an even bigger second concert when the world is a little safer.
Who are some artists, both regionally and internationally, that inspire you?
Lauv, Jeremy Zucker, keshi, and Bruno Major, but regionally I really dig Alextbh but that dude never replies to my DMs haha. I’ve also always been a fan of the Korean indie music scene so artists like Zion.T, DEAN, and DPR LIVE are favourites of mine.
One of your most popular songs is ‘someone like u’; can you tell us more about the song and why you think it resonated with so many people?
I’m still so shocked because I never thought that the song would blow up the way it did. It’s so unapologetically cheesy! I’ve always been a hopeless romantic so I couldn’t pretend to be cool with this song even if I tried. Maybe it’s that cheesiness coupled with the sad undertone of being so in love with someone you feel you don’t deserve that makes it a unique song.
I played the guitar but the song was produced by my Berklee buddy, Calvin Ives, who is also so unapologetically himself. Something interesting I remember is scrapping the old vocal recording, dropping the key and telling him, 'dude let me sing this again without pushing so hard and this time like I’m just talking to the person'. Maybe people resonate with honesty and simplicity.
Congratulations on the release of 'mr. lonely'! What is the story behind the track?
Sometimes I feel like the world’s best overthinker but I’m always trying to be a better person and live a better life. This song is an anthem for anyone who feels the same. The lyrics are really vulnerable and highlight what I want to change about myself but it also carries a message of hope that we don’t have to stay strong all the time, we just have to keep trying.
From all of the music you’ve released, is there one song you’re particularly proud of, and why?
There’s a song I released in 2019 called 'Time' played and recorded on the floor of my tiny room when I was living in Korea. I was overcome with emotions at the time and poured it all out into the song, while on the verge of tears. Every time I felt lonely in Seoul, I would open up the project and add some touches. It was my refuge.
The crazy thing is a record executive told me not to release it as a single since it wasn’t radio-friendly. I wanted to listen to him but took the risk and decided to put it out anyways. It ended up becoming my most popular song for a long time and I still receive DMs about it. Just last week I got a message from a fan who said she wasn’t sure she wanted to live anymore, but the song helped her get better.
A lot of your music delve into your personal journey through love and life. How do you translate these intimate and vulnerable moments into songs that other people can also relate to?
I think sometimes people aren’t able to understand how they feel and society often tells them to just toughen up and brush it off. Music speaks when we cannot.
Yes, sometimes it scares me to be so vulnerable and open with the world but if I can be a source of comfort for even just one person out there, it’s so worth it. At the same time, it’s so comforting for me when someone relates to my music because it makes me feel like I’m not alone, so I need my listeners just as much as they need me.
What is your biggest dream for your music career?
I get to live my dream every day, I just hope to do it at an ever-growing scale.
Share with us some of your upcoming plans for your music. Most of your recent releases have similarly styled artworks; are these singles leading up to an album or EP?
Yes, all the singles I’ve released under the same art style will be compiled into an album. I haven’t thought of a name for it yet but I know it’ll be 11 singles I’m releasing plus an additional unreleased song, each touching on a different aspect of love. I’m also prepping for some live shows but more on that soon!
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Listen to lullaboy's 'mr. lonely' here.