Arts Interview Singapore

Fire In The Rain: Singapore’s First Ever Full Inclusive Music Video Released To Promote Disability Inclusion Campaign ‘See The True Me’


According to findings from the Quality of Life (QOL) study conducted by the National Council of Social Service (NCSS), six in 10 persons with disabilities do not feel that they are socially included, accepted or given opportunities to contribute or fulfil their personal potential. Since 2016, in partnership with the Tote Board, NCSS has been running their ‘See the True Me’ disability inclusion campaign, seeking to actively educate, enable and empower inclusion in Singapore.

With this year’s launch, the NCSS aims to see an increased focus in providing avenues for persons with disabilities to be included and participate in the community. 10 corporate and community partners will be pledging their support to the campaign and in doing so provide over 100 platforms and touchpoints to showcase the talents of persons with disabilities, increase interaction opportunities between the public and persons with disabilities, and empower persons with disabilities to participate in society. In conjunction, the NCSS has commissioned Singapore’s first ever fully inclusive music video.

Written and composed by Don Richmond, with rap lyrics by ShiGGa Shay, Fire in the Rain features an impressive music video directed by award-winning filmmaker Royston Tan, which debuted with the campaign’s launch on Friday, 22nd February 2019. The video is impressive, partially by the sheer skills of the ‘disabled’ stars featured, from the big Broadway voice of visually impaired Adelyn Koh, the rapping of Danial Bawthan aka Wheelsmith, afflicted with muscular dystrophy, dancers from local deaf hip-hop group Redeafinition, and persons with autism and hearing impairment issues.

Says Redeafinition dancer Muhd Ammar Nasrulhaq, who choreographed the dance featured in the music video: “Being involved in this project was a very good experience for us and it brought to our attention that this was really a music video that had persons with various disabilities coming together to celebrate our abilities. Choreographing the dance was quite a challenge for me as the tempo of the music and the lyrics was all different so I went through much trial and error to finally get to the end product. My main goal was to align the movement with the music/lyrics which I think was pretty satisfactory. Everything had to be carefully thought through, from the angle of the camera, to the lighting, to complement our choreography. Working with Royston was a joy and he was very supportive throughout the production.”

The music video includes an over 100 member strong cast, owing to the 100-man strong inclusive choir, comprising differently abled individuals, including their caregivers, teachers and friends, as trained by Irene Jansen, a vocal coach for children with special needs. Says Irene: “ I am thankful for being in this wonderful project  and for allowing me to assist the director Roystan Tan and team to work with the talents who have special needs.  I believe that the talents are no different from any other talents. I had the privilege to work with the singers and the choir and although they take a little longer to learn the songs, they eventually sang it really well.  Some of the talents in the choir are doing an MV for the first time and they reacted really well.  I guess through this project the team has learnt a lot about working with persons with special needs – they do not give up easily and find passion in what they do.”

Meanwhile, we spoke to director Royston Tan and composer Don Richmond to find out more about the project. Read the interview in full as follows:

Royston Tan

Bakchormeeboy: How were you brought on board this project and why did you decide to lend your talents to this campaign?

Royston: When I was first approached to collaborate on this project, I knew immediately that this would be a very meaningful and important one not only for me, but for everyone else that is involved in this project. It is very important for me because I believe persons with disabilities have so many talents to offer and I hope that through the music video, we are able to celebrate their abilities and talents, empowering everyone around to give them the opportunity to shine. I am very honoured and touched by their passion and I hope the video will do the same for you as it did for me.

Bakchormeeboy: The cast of performers featured in the video is huge – did you face any unique challenges in the making of this video, compared to previous projects?

Royston: Due to the large number of performers, we had to spend a considerable amount of time and effort to ensure that everyone can perform to the best of their abilities while ensuring the shoot runs smoothly. We spent a long time choreographing, rehearsing and planning the shoot with various organisations to ensure that everyone is comfortable with the process and to create something that we can all be proud of.

Bakchormeeboy: Outside of campaign-specific projects such as this one, do you think there are enough opportunities for artists with disabilities to perform across mainstream platforms? How can directors such as yourself can help the industry work towards greater inclusivity?

Royston: I think more work can be done to generate more inclusivity in various media platforms. I believe the most important thing is to embrace and celebrate the individual’s talents and to find an appropriate platform for them to shine. We cannot expect immediate results from campaign-specific projects. The public and the industry needs to believe in not only their talents, but also in society’s willingness to embrace their talents and skills. This takes education, time, effort and patience.

Bakchormeeboy: What does it mean to you to “See the True Me”?

Royston: “See the True Me” is a celebration of talents, to look beyond and appreciate what everyone can offer.

Don Richmond

Bakchormeeboy: How were you brought on board this project and why did you decide to lend your talents to this campaign?

Don: I was approached by Royston’s team about a possible project with NCSS. Upon the first meeting, when the concept of the collaborative nature of the project was explained to me, I was on board.

Bakchormeeboy: What was the inspiration behind the lyrics and composition of Fire in the Rain?

Don: What did you want listeners to feel while hearing the song? It came from a place that recognizes that all of us, every single person, struggle in our own way. But within that struggle to go about our lives lies a spirit that is unbreakable. So this song is really about that unbreakable spirit that lies within everyone.

Bakchormeeboy: Beyond this song and music video, how do you see those with disabilities finding a place in society on a daily basis, and what should the community do to include them?

Don: I am not in a position to decide what society should or should not do, but I truly believe that in our given capacity of what we do in our daily lives, we can find it in our hearts to get to know people of all abilities and see what they can offer. As for me, the song only took shape and was possible the minute we auditioned the talents and knew what they could offer. I’m glad I got the opportunity to do so.

Bakchormeeboy:What does it mean to you to “See the True Me”?

Don: It’s to meet the person inside and understand that beyond any preconceived notion of physical or mental abilities lies infinite possibilities if we all only choose to see more than face value.

See the music video in full here:

For more information on See The True Me, visit their website here

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