Born in 1999, Likie Low is a rising Singaporean composer, producer and songwriter who specialises in the exciting mix of Electronic Dance Music (EDM) with a live brass ensemble, as well as performing as an erhu soloist and DJ. She has presented numerous shows with rave reviews, including “Let the B®ass drop” as part of band weekend, “The Past and the Present”, as part of Cool Classics, and “Twisted Classics” as part of the Esplanade Huayi Festival.

In August 2022, she presented her debut of a mix of EDM with Chinese instruments and brass ensemble at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, as part of their Voyage festival. Following that, she will be having yet another solo concert as a part Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre’s RE•MIX Festival in November 2022 where she celebrates traditional Chinese music through electronic dance music.

As a dance/pop music producer, she has also released many singles on music stores, such as Spotify and Apple Music, including her debut album, “Tell Me”. As a songwriter, she won various awards such Hitmaker Global Academy and International Seakeepers Society Songwriting Competition in 2020, and The Dream Composition Songwriting Competition in 2021.

Likie started her musical journey at the age of 9 when she started learning the erhu under the tutelage of local erhu master, Ling Hock Siang, who also serves as the Assistant Concertmaster of the Singapore Chinese Orchestra. Over the years, Likie studied composition under several teachers, including Kelly Tang, Chen Zhangyi and Peter Edwards. She graduated from the School of the Arts in 2017, and will graduate from the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music in 2022.

As an erhu soloist, Likie has performed with both Western and Chinese orchestras, including the Singapore National Youth Chinese Orchestra (SNYCO) and the Orchestra of the Music Makers. In April 2019, she premiered Chen Zhangyi’s trio concerto piece, Concerto for Erhu, Ruan and Percussion (三人行) with the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory Orchestra at the Esplanade Concert Hall, and their subsequent tour to South Korea.

How did your foray into music start as a young child?

I started my musical journey at 4 years old by learning the piano, then a few years later at 9 or 10, I started to play the Erhu. I never liked playing the piano, so when the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) came around at 12 years old, I quit playing the piano but continued spending hours of my day practicing the Erhu. Receiving the acceptance letter from School Of The Arts (SOTA) was the highlight of my year in Primary 6. I was always a weirdo in Nanyang Primary School because no one could understand why I was so quirky and why I loved music so much. I never felt like I belonged until I stepped into SOTA for the first time.

It is a common stereotype for Asian parents to discourage their children from pursuing the arts as a career. Was it any different for you?

Both my parents were in the Chinese Orchestra CCA in Hwa Chong JC – they both played the Erhu, and that’s how they met. When my mother was pregnant with me, she was actually doing her PHD physics thesis on the difference between the sound of the Erhu and Violin, exploring why is it that they sound so different despite being string instruments.

It was different for me, because my parents are not that stereotype Asian parents you’d normally find. They have been extremely supportive of me, and believed in me fully for my whole life. They know that I love what I do, and they think that I’m going to create something amazing one day (I hope I prove them right).

You spent many years as an Erhu soloist. How did you fall into the world of music composition, EDM and brass music? 

At about 15 years old, I started feeling a little lost. I didn’t feel like I was creating music anymore, and thought that maybe I’m not that good with following instructions of what’s written on the scores. It proved to be right when I tried to enter the Singapore Chinese Music Competition (SCMC) but did not get into the finals (at 15 and 17), and later realised that I was interpreting the music wrongly.

I started composing that year (age 15) and really loved it, and at the same time also discovered my passion for EDM production – music production (from a violinist friend, Ronan Lim), so I started to learn it myself and with a bit of his help. In my last year of SOTA, everyone around me was so sure that I was going to audition to Shanghai Conservatory for college – and I was. But at the last minute, I backed out, realising that it was not what I wanted, and instead went to Yong Siew Toh Conservatory (YST) for composition – which is where I fell in love with the sound of brass.

How did you come up with the idea of fusing traditional Chinese music (i.e. erhu) with Western music (brasses) and EDM?

To be honest, I kind of got tired of doing these three things (Erhu, Composing, EDM) separately, and I just thought it’ll be interesting to combine them together. I’m not someone who gives up easily, so once I started, I went on to do it for years. It sounds cool to me!

This combination of genres is certainly very niche. Have you ever faced any sceptics who were doubtful of whether this fusion would work? If so, how did it affect you?

Of course! The first year I started performing, my remixes were really bad. I heard from friends that people were saying that I don’t respect the traditions, I’m interpreting it wrong, all sorts of things! Even till now, I know that there are people practising Chinese Music that do not agree with what I’m doing.

I’m not offended by it at all. It might not seem like it, but I’m taking every single criticism I hear very seriously. I have been spending the last few months trying to tweak every piece to make sure I pay attention to every nuance to get the interpretation right. For example, if the traditional piece was to be sad, I won’t make it light-hearted. And I’m still very sorry if I offended anyone in my search for this combination of genres, I hope to let them know that I’m trying my best to not ruin or disrespect any traditions!

In any case, it is really amazing to see how you have made these seemingly incompatible elements synergise so well. I have to ask – did it take much convincing to get your band on board? How did you rally them and maintain their faith in your vision and direction?

I had so much help! Most of the people that were asked to do this with me agreed instantly and believed in me so much more than I did myself. People who were especially important in this journey include Prof Chan Tze Law, Christel Hon, conductor Ignatius Wang, trombonist/band conductor Hendrik Kwek and trombonist Sam Armstrong! There are so many more people but 4 of them are pivotal in my journey. Every musician that played for me seemed to enjoy this EDM thing and I only wish to keep them this happy.

You have performed at various locations with your band, including prestigious performance venues like the Esplanade Outdoor Theatre and stages in the heartlands like Our Tampines Hub. Could you highlight one performance and elaborate on how it was significant to you?

It would be the Esplanade outdoor show in February 2022. I remember starting to cry on stage, because it was my first time playing with the expanded band, and there were so many amazing, established musicians in that band for the first time – people from the SSO and SAF Central Band like Ignatius, Alex Oon, Sam Armstrong, Kang Chun Meng, Jasper Tan, Ang Yi Xiang and so on. I was on that stage thinking it was a dream, because I still couldn’t believe that all these people believed in me this much to play my pieces! 

In May this year, you released your latest album. “Parts of Me”. Could you take us through the creative process please?

Most pieces are those that I’ve written and always wanted to publish. I wanted to take the audience through my crazy musical journey, so I started off with a (remixed) Erhu traditional repertoire – the first one I ever learnt, before going down the list with significant Chinese music repertoire that shaped my growth. These are followed by brass ensemble compositions, then EDM-symphony remixes, and finally, closing the album off, I included 3 songs that I wrote about my time in YST.

The last song, “I’m Gonna Miss” was composed and directed as a tribute to your time in Yong Siew Toh Conservatory. How did your time in YST contribute to your identity as a multi-faceted musician?

Moving from the composition department into the Music Collaboration and Production (MCP) department was the best decision I made, and was extremely pivotal to my artistic being. I met so many new people from doing projects, people who believed in my work and had different ideas, especially in coming together with other multi-faceted musicians from my studio (Elicia Neo, Wong Yong En, Vivien Chong). We passed ideas around and made each others’ works better.

The last two years of my time in YST were the most inspiring years of my time in school because of the people I met, things I learnt and who I became. After YST, I promised myself to make sure I learn what I need to in order to keep building this branding, no matter how hard it may be. The road ahead is tough for me but I know that one day I’ll come to realise it is all worth it.

Finally, you will be having your performance “齐: A Night of Electro-Fusion Dance Music” as part of the RE•MIX festival presented by the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre (SCCC). What can the audience look forward to seeing during your performance on 20th November at 8pm?

Cool, cinematic sounding electronic dance music spinoffs of symphonies and Chinese classical music. Also a cool party with free (non-alcoholic) drinks and dancing at the concourse of SCCC!

Please include any other comments or closing remarks here!

I’m a big believer of karma, and that what we put into the world comes back to us. So I try my best to always treat people the way I want to be treated, and if I don’t always come across that way, please let me know because I sincerely apologise!

I wanna hear from you so drop me a DM or comment on my Instagram @likielow about anything if you’re feeling it!



Written By Cherlyn

Cherlyn is an educator who enjoys teaching and mentoring young people. She plays the clarinet, drum set and piano.

The first instrument she learnt was the piano from the age of 6 to 16 – a typical trajectory in the life of a stereotypical Asian kid. This opened the doors for her to study higher music as part of the Music Elective Programme, which broadened her perspectives about music history and world music. She picked up the clarinet when she joined her secondary school band, and later played in her university wind band. An advocate of lifelong learning, she started drumming when she became a working adult.

Cherlyn strives to be a Jack-of-all-trades and master of some, and is on the lookout for the next challenge, skill or field of knowledge to dive into.