Desmond Tan is everywhere this year. He starred in his first theatre production Voyage, was in two Ch 8 dramas, promoted his upcoming movie A Simple Wedding with Taiwanese actress Amber An, and still found time to film a music video for When Duty Calls. The song, ‘Guan Huai Fang Xin Shi’, or 'New Guan Huai Fang Shi', is a modern take on the 1995 Chen Hanwei-Leelian Chua classic ‘Guan Huai Fang Shi’, the theme song to Ch 8 telemovie Cupid Love. Only the chorus of Desmond's version is similar to the original tune.
The 31-year-old actor tells us that the music video took only a few hours to film in the new Mediacorp campus. “It was really hectic. I came back on my day off and filmed it at noon. It was so hot and humid and I couldn’t even open my eyes! (Laughs),” he says. “I was sweating like mad and sipping on my kopi O kosong peng the whole time. I even told Roy Li Feihui, who not only produced the MV but also edited it, that we should not release if it looked bad! Thankfully, we didn’t ‘cos the final product looks pretty good (laughs).”
8 DAYS: We hear the original 'Guan Huai Fang Shi' has a lot of meaning for you.
DESMOND TAN: The first song I learnt on guitar many years ago was ‘Guan Huai Fang Shi’. Three years ago, which was also the 15th year anniversary of the song, I did a jazzy cover of it. I feel like, for the past two decades, this song has always been in my life. So to be able to bring it to the newer generation in a more refreshing way was very fun.
The original song is one of the most iconic Ch 8 tunes ever and every Singaporean of a certain age will be able to sing along to it. So was it stressful for you to come out with your own version?
Of course. I was afraid people would find it cheesy. I took a few weeks to prepare for it - from the moment I got the demo tape till I went into the studio to record. And all of it was done in between my hectic filming schedule. I sang in the shower, sang while driving to work, and practised at home in the evening. I’m sure my neighbours know the song better than anyone else ‘cos they’ve heard me sing every day (Laughs).
You almost wanted to cancel the release of your music video, which has received over 11,600 views to date.
If you watch the MV carefully, you’d notice that my eyes were closed half the time ‘cos it was scorching hot! (Guffaws). I’m a perfectionist, and I was worried that the MV wouldn’t be good enough. I think Roy Li is really a true professional as he managed to edit and put everything together. He also managed to make the MV look as romantic as the song.
So should we be expecting more songs from you?
That’s not my call. I’d like to extend this invitation to all 8 Days readers – write in and say that you like the song! (Guffaws). Well, jokes aside, I hope to have more opportunities to do singing gigs in the future. I’d like to share some of the music productions I’ve been involved with in my free time as well. Now that viewers have seen my acting, I’d like them to see a different side of me (chuckles).
Watch 'Guan Huai Xin Fang Shi' at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_mHZWf0BuK8