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Dick Lee
Dick Lee

Interview: Dick Lee bares it all

He’s written songs for movies, musicals and National Day. Now, Dick Lee’s discography takes the stage.

Cam Khalid
Written by
Cam Khalid

He dropped his first pop album at the age of 18. Now 62, Dick Lee is still going strong. He released Wonder Boy, a biopic inspired by his life last year and this month, the music veteran joins a stellar all-star cast to present Singapopera. But before you catch this musical at the Esplanade Theatre on August 25 and 26, get to know the man behind the songs.

Tell us about the Dick Lee we don’t know.
I’m often told I’m still a child at heart as I’m always dreaming, planning and trying to make things happen. As for my child-like nature, my study is filled with toys from Betty Boop to Batman!

What draws you to perform?
I’m inspired by everything I see and how I feel when experiencing life. I draw most from emotions like love and pain as I strive to communicate those feelings through music. What’s the biggest impact you’ve made to Singapore’s music scene? When I started writing music, I began my search for my Singaporean identity. My search has continued throughout my career. I’m proud to say that I contributed to the evolution of our Singaporean identity through the creation of our first folk song Home which was written 20 years ago and still sung today.

You were a judge on Singapore Idol. Now be the judge of the music scene here.
It was tough when I first started out. But today, our musicians are facing even tougher competition as the internet makes so much available. I still believe that in order to stand out, we need a dose of our identity in the music we produce.

If you could, what would you change in the music industry?
I’d hope for a bigger population to support our singers. One of the biggest issues we face is that our market is simply too small to support the music industry here.

You’ve been busy lately. Any upcoming projects we ought to stay tuned for?
Since directing my first movie Wonder Boy last year, I’ve been bitten by the movie bug. I’m working on another film which begins shooting at the end of this year. I’m also writing two new musicals for 2019 and 2020. Besides a couple of passion projects, my new company Dick Lee Asia, in partnership with MM2, is busy with exciting upcoming ventures.

We’re always in the mood for a good plate of fried rice, and since you know a thing or two about the Fried Rice Paradise, where do you recommend we go for a plate?
Other than my late mother’s Nonya fried rice – which I now make at home – I love kampong fried rice from any prata shop.

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