The singer/DJ is 48 but you sure can't tell his age — throughout our interview, he's got the natural swagger of someone wise, classy, and funny. In fact, he seems like a genuinely happy guy. And why shouldn't he be? He's been in a rock band, has a loving family, headlined a James Bond concert, had his own concert, and runs a suits business. Which makes him very qualified to be dishing out inspirational pointers on his show It’s Afternoons with John Klass on Class 95. The man tells us more below
8 DAYS: In the late ’90s, you were a DJ on Perfect 10. How does it feel returning to Mediacorp, this time on Class 95?
JOHN KLASS: It’s surreal. First of all, I never thought I would come back. A lot of the people — like the receptionists — whom I knew back in the day, are still around. Connecting with all these old friends is great because I feel like I’m part of the family again. It’s like I never left even though it’s now a new building (laughs).
Tell us about your show, It’s Afternoons with John Klass.
[Beside music,] I also share anecdotes about motivational and positive thinking, which I find people respond well to. Listeners have said that they appreciate the segment and it really helps them. I’m always happy and excited when I come on air and I guess that vibe gets through to them. One of the things I try to bring across is perspective — you have to look at the positive side of things and that's how you start to live a better life.
As a songwriter, does writing songs get easier over the years?
It does. It’s just like everything else. The more you do it the better you get. I used to write hundreds of songs for shows with a very tight deadline. I really got to hone my skills as a songwriter because of all that discipline and constant need for creativity. Now, if I am writing a song, I just need to have an idea of what it’s about. Everything, from the chords to the melodies, will then fall into place.
What music do you listen to that would surprise your fans?
I listen to a wide range of music but Elvis [Presley] is my go-to when I’m feeling not-so-good. Elvis is the guy who picks me up. There’s something about his voice that's very soulful. Whenever I need a pick-me-up, I’d tell my wife I think I need some Elvis tonight. I also listen to Michael Buble, Ed Sheeran, and The Beatles too. Ed’s got a lot of depth to his songs.
Last November, you staged your first solo concert at the Esplanade. Why did you take so long to do it?
I was in this band called Kick! before and I always thought a group would have it easier connecting to an audience compared to a solo act. I kept asking myself if I did a solo concert who would come? Then over the years, this urge of performing a solo concert kept coming back. I was really happy to finally do it and the reactions were very positive. I got a call from Marina Bay Sands to do the 007 in Concert gig immediately after. Right now, I'm planning for two more solo concerts — one in August, another in December.
That concert was sold out!
I was surprised people actually paid money to come! (laughs). But because we put it out on Facebook Live, we got a lot of positive feedback from Brazil, Indonesia and the Philippines. There’s even one guy in traditional tribal costumes from Papua New Guinea who saw the concert, and he liked and followed my page. That was amazing.
You launched a bespoke suits line, John Klass Suits, last year. What are some of the most common faux pax committed by Singaporeans when it comes to choosing suits?
Wearing a suit is meant to give a man confidence by looking fine and sharp. Not understanding and not paying attention to cuts that complement their body shape is a common faux pax with many Singaporean men. Many go for oversized boxy suits, defeating the original purpose of wearing a suit, which is meant to ‘smarten’ up your overall appearance.
How many suits should a guy own?
In tropical Singapore, a suit is worn mainly for specific events and/or for occupational reasons. A guy should have at least one or two suits depending on their lifestyle needs. For many years, I spent lots of money on ill-fitted off-the-rack suits which didn’t give me my desired look. It was not until I started tailoring my suits that I got the satisfaction of cut, style and colour which led me to start my own label specialising in bespoke suits.
You’re a Manchester United fan. You even wrote a tribute song to the Red Devils in 2002. What are your football-watching rituals these days?
It all depends. Usually I’d have a bunch of friends over at my place because they don’t have cable (laughs). Because of that, my two daughters [aged 17 and 12] started watching and they became fans as well. Now, if my friends don't come over, they’d wear the jerseys and watch the games with me. It’s great because I’m bonding with my girls over football. If they marry into a family who supports a different club, then the husband will have to change his alliance (chuckles).
It’s Afternoons with John Klass is on weekdays, Class 95, 2-5pm.
PHOTOL: John Klass/Twitter