Yang Er, the artist behind The Sam Willows latest music video Keep Me Jealous has created quite an online a stir for its technicolour world. As we talked, Yang shares her artistic journey and discusses why she still isn’t comfortable being labelled an artist.
‘Creatively gifted’ is certainly the phrase to use when describing Yang Er. She’s in good spirits as she discusses her latest project with The Sam Willows. The Sam Willows. Raised in Singapore, the 24 year old spent most of her career working as a freelancer; she started out as a film producer, and then became a fine artist, before starting her entrepreneurial journey in April 2017 with her dive-bar-meets-creative working space, ’21 Moonstone’.
It’s evident that the young multi-disciplinary artist has a deep understanding of art. It only takes a few seconds of watching The Sam Willows latest music video ‘Keep Me Jealous’ to leave you fascinated and perplexed. This eccentric piece of artwork is just one of the few projects that Yang has worked on. She tells me about her artistic journey and how she deals with the uneasiness of labeling herself an artist.
What is a typical day in the life of Yang like?
A glass of water and a 3-minute meditation using the Headspace app after I roll out of bed. If I am not setting up an exhibition, going to a shoot or attending a morning meeting, I try to take the day slow and spend some time in the morning with loved ones — either through phone calls or having breakfast with my Mum.
I spend the rest of the day at the studio or whatever is on the agenda for the day: editing, painting or planning. There isn’t a typical evening or night, so I try to keep to a morning routine since that’s the only part of the day I have control of.
What is your favourite medium as a multi-disciplinary artist?
This is tough — don’t make me choose! But if I have to, I guess it’s a mixed medium where I get to use any material to make an installation or a set. I love getting my hands to work and getting down and dirty! However, it all starts with writing. So that would be my foundation.
Can you share with us your favourite project so far?
A three-part photo series in New York City with my best friend and my all-time muse, Narelle. It was a personal project, and an undeserving graduation trip booked four days before we flew but it was life-changing. We always look back fondly on this trip, and it immortalised something that we hold so close to our heart.
Could you share a setback or the biggest hump in the road you’ve faced in your time as an artist?
Being an artist is the biggest set back thus far. It took over a year to even utter those words of “I work as an artist.” Even now I mumble that sentence when socialising at parties and I hope nobody hears me.
There was a lot of insecurities and coming from the fact I did not attend an art school; my background is in communication and film production. They call it the Imposter Syndrome — that one day I will be found out and everything would collapse from being a fraud.
It took a dear friend of mine who works as an art curator who believed in me more than I did in myself and exclaimed one day, “What do you mean, Yang! You think like an artist, so you are one!” That changed my life.
With the launch of 21 Moonstone, what’s the best and worst part about heading a creative space?
Caring about everything, which is the best and the worst part. However, my family have raised me to be hospitable and to extend the warmth to others. The worst part is when someone takes that effort for granted, so just say thank you and share a hug- I would be happy!
We need to ask this – The Sam Willows’ music video for Keep Me Jealous was mind-boggling and a breath of fresh air. Will you be working with more musicians or even TSW for more projects?
Thank you for the kind words. TSW are dear friends of mine, and their trust is not something I take as a given. This is the base foundation for any good work. Recently, I shot their artwork in Hong Kong for their song “Save Myself”, and I’m currently working on a series of pictures of them.
Even with other musicians, projects are born to tell stories. Work flows from conversations, and I hope to keep it this way.
Finally, what’s next for Yang?
Taking over the world [laughs]. I am looking to pursue a Masters program in New York in strategic management for the creative/arts/media industry that ties in technology. I want to find out what is next in our industry and what we can achieve in this landscape.
Meanwhile, for now, friends can expect more work from me — installations, paintings, photographs and more stories.
21 Moonstone Lane, Poh Leng Building 09-01, Singapore