Photos: Toh Zi Yi, TPG/CLICKPHOTOS
Video: Genice Ooi
Home-grown singer Joi Chua wears many hats – she’s a singer, a trained optometrist, a businesswoman, and now, Cupid’s messenger.
The 38-year-old laughingly revealed her new “job” of sorts during a one-on-one interview with Toggle at One Farrer Hotel yesterday, saying, “ A few years back, when my optical practice had just opened, two fans from China actually came all the way down to the shop to see me. They told me that they had actually met and fallen in love with each other, because of my songs!”
That, was the defining moment for Joi, who confessed that the incident had allowed her to find her “purpose as a singer.”
“As a singer, there are times when you’ll start to wonder, ‘What’s your purpose in life?’. But, when a fan comes up to you and shares that your songs have changed and impacted their lives, [then you will find the answer to your own question],” Joi shared.
After close to 20 years in the music industry, the home-grown singer is still going strong, with no signs of stopping anytime soon. The 38-year-old recently released her latest album, an eight-track affair titled, I Am Me, which boasts two title tracks, the titular ‘I Am Me’, and ‘Bystander’.
Both songs are a marked departure from her usual fare of ballads and tear-jerkers, and to match with the change in musical direction, Joi and her record company decided it was high-time for a makeover.
Now sporting a chic pixie cut, Joi said, “I want to show a more modern, and independent side of me, a different Joi all together. My image used to be that of a docile, and obedient woman, but, I don’t want to stick to wearing flowy dresses all the time!”
Joi also took part in the creation process for a majority of the songs on the album, which took close to half a year to complete, showcasing her composing and lyrical clout.
The singer also took the opportunity to exercise her acting skills, making good use of the skills she learnt from starring in local movie 3688 two years ago.
“We took two days to film the two music videos. For one of the videos, we actually filmed for 22 hours straight with no rest,” Joi shared, adding that it was a very tiring but rewarding experience.
“There was a scene in ‘I Am Me’ where I had to confront my other half, who was cheating on me. It was a very emotionally charged scene, and I had to cry, of course. The director was so worried and scared that I wouldn’t be able to tear up on cue! He kept asking and double-checking to see if I needed eyedrops,” she recalled.
But of course, the 38-year-old was already in character by then, and she immediately teared up once the director yelled action.
“Of course, I have to thank Royston Tan for turning me into a ‘human tap’ [whilst filming for 3688],” she laughed.
Click on to find out if the singer plans to start a family with her husband of seven years.
Unlike many other singers and celebrities, Joi prefers to keep a low-profile online and most of the updates on her various social media accounts are done by her staff.
When asked for the reason behind her reluctance to use social media, the singer replied: “I’m usually working most of the time, the only difference is that sometimes, I’ll be in China or Singapore. My life’s not that different from a normal person, [so I don’t really update my social media accounts].
Due to her busy work schedule, the singer also has to live apart from her husband of seven years frequently.
However, the singer shares that they do not mind the separation at all.
“My husband has to travel overseas for work quite frequently as well, and he understands that my job requires me to travel a fair bit too,” Joi smiled, sharing that her husband is currently working at a multi-national company.
“Technology has advanced so much these days, we can FaceTime each other when we’re apart,” she added. “We make sure to call and text each other every day as well.”
However, the couple, who tied the knot in 2010, is not actively trying for a child.
“I’ll let nature take it’s course. It’s a little hard to plan for a pregnancy at my age as well,” Joi said with a wry smile. “But, if fate knocks on the door, of course we’ll welcome it.”
‘I Am Me’ is now available online on all major music streaming platforms.