Bernard Dinata, better known to his fans by his moniker lullaboy, is a man of many cultures. American-born, Singaporean-raised, and of Indonesian-Chinese origin, the Berklee College graduate has channeled his diverse background and upbringing into all he does, resulting in a musician that’s produced sensitive, honest and vulnerable music listened to by millions around the world.
Signed to RedRecords, Universal Music Group’s and AirAsia’s joint musical venture, lullaboy’s star is fast rising. Not only did he perform at Universal Music’s Music is Universal 2022 alongside stars such as Yungblud and Violette Wautier, he also had his own solo, intimate showcase at The Star Loft at The Star Performing Arts Centre. Making sure that he’s one to watch, we sat down with lullaboy and caught up with him on his artistry, career, and what lies ahead.
I think with perseverance, and if you have real passion for something, and you’re sure that there’s something you want to do with your life, then your chances of succeeding are high.
“Having music as my full-time career was always something I’ve dreamt of,” says lullaboy. “I understand what it’s like where the art I was making couldn’t make me a living, and it can be demoralising at times, but just looking at where I am right now, it shows that if you keep pushing, good things will happen. I remember my mum being worried that it wouldn’t be feasible as a career, but I think with perseverance, and if you have real passion for something, and you’re sure that there’s something you want to do with your life, then your chances of succeeding are high. If you stay consistent, and keep pushing, something amazing will happen.”
With a name like lullaboy, one imagines a man who’s quiet and soft, something that may make it difficult to stand out in the music industry, whose focus has always been on big personalities who can command a crowd. But for lullaboy, he emphasises that beyond the glitz, it’s more important to be real. “I think I’m the same person onstage as in real life, and I always try to be honest and genuine with what I post on social media and in my live performances,” he says. “I don’t like when the artist is unreachable or unattainable, with the fans so far away, and in my career, I want it to make it feel like they’re friends and family, so I talk a lot in my performances and interact with the crowd.”
I remember how Taylor Swift once said that she was afraid once she hit 30, she wouldn’t be relevant in the industry anymore. And yet here she is proving herself wrong, still topping the charts.
“There’s no age limit to making it anymore – I remember how Taylor Swift once said that she was afraid once she hit 30, she wouldn’t be relevant in the industry anymore. And yet here she is proving herself wrong, still topping the charts,” he says. “Looking at the current generation, they’re so good at creating content in a snap, there’s no need to think so much, and they no longer have the need to be perfect – instead, it’s about showing who we are, and share that with people, to show that we are willing to be with each other.”
Speaking of his musical growth, lullaboy comments on his musical influences and how he produces his work, thinking back to his university days at Berklee, where he recalls friends he still remains in contact with where they worked together on songs. “Berklee was a place where you decide what you want out of your college experience, and while I had maybe five or so really good friends coming out, these are the people who shaped me into who I am, and I still make music with some of them too,” he says.
I feel like my music is the center point of all my influences growing up, from R&B to rock, and I then use that to create my own version of art.
“I feel like my music is the center point of all my influences growing up, from R&B to rock, and I then use that to create my own version of art. I do think about if I ever want to explore a different sound, and I love all genres, so I’ve experimented with different things like trap and rap, or even EDM, and what I then put out is the merging of everything together,” he says. “For songwriting, I also find inspiration from movies and TV, because we get to tune out of our own stories, and enter different worlds, where I get to put myself in other peoples’ shoes and perspectives.”
“I’m a big fan of male artists, and I get very inspired by them. In my career, I was lucky enough to meet Jeremy Zucker, who was the opening act for lauv and I followed his career as he continued to persevere and now headlines own shows,” says lullaboy, on his influences. “We’ve even hung out in Singapore and the Philippines, and it’s weird because a year ago, I was telling my team that I’d love to follow in his footsteps and possibly even collaborate with him. Maybe that’s something I’ll explore more, to write songs with others from across different regions, and see what interesting magic we can make together.”
The life of an artist can be difficult, grappling with the stress of dealing with fans, management, and over the last few years, the pandemic. But lullaboy has remained steadfast and able to care for himself. “It’s been getting tougher to take care of self as the months go by, because I do so much, but I will never complain about it,” he says. “I do wish for more sleep, and sometimes I realise I recharge by doing absolutely nothing, maybe just lie down and rest my voice.”
“I’ve always been religious, and I do find my pillar of strength in God, and my connection with the spiritual world. As a Christian, I am always focused on my sense of purpose on this earth, and that keeps me going even when I feel like quitting, that my mission is to make this world a better place and influence it in a positive way,” he adds. “If you asked me if I have a dream, I think I’m already living it every day, and the only way forward is to reach out to more people, bigger crowds and have my music reaching new corners of the world. I hope people understand my message, that it’s ok to feel so much, and will continue to push that message across my career.”
Fame just happens to be a byproduct that comes with what we do, and I will never let it get to my head.
“Fame has never been my goal, but it’s useful for reaching more people, and then more people will be able to listen to my music. Fame just happens to be a byproduct that comes with what we do, and I will never let it get to my head,” he adds. “I hope I’ll always be genuinely me, and if I ever change because of fame, I tell my friends to give me a slap. As I continue to grow, I hope to explore more of my music, as well as my own growth into a better person, a citizen of the universe, and I think if I can be real with that, then people can hear that in my music as well.”
You only live once, and we need to learn to be less afraid, and more willing to give it our all.
“Ultimately, I hope that no matter what, I remember to remain thankful for all the little things in life. I never feel like I ‘deserve’ any of this and that helps me keep going forward,” he concludes. “I always want to tell budding musicians to just go for it, because we are sometimes our own biggest enemies. So many people are so amazing at what they do and afraid of what others might think, but what you do might really impact someone else. Even if you have just one person whose life you’ve impacted in a good way, it’ll be worth it. You only live once, and we need to learn to be less afraid, and more willing to give it our all.”