Fri, Sep 05, 2008
The New Paper
They sing for their supper

By Yvonne Phoo

IN the heart of Orchard Road, a singing guitarist-violinist female duo have been stopping shoppers in their tracks with their catchy tunes since their debut in July. Going by the stage name 'Zsa and Claire', Ms Zsa Zsa Scorpion, 22, and Ms Claire Goh, 20, perform at Crossroads Cafe, the alfresco restaurant and bar at Marriott Hotel, from evenings till past midnight.

Unlike most of their peers who are either studying for exams, clubbing or dating, these single girls have readily decided to 'forgo their social lives' and spend their time working, in the hopes of carving out a music career for themselves.

Zsa and Claire had stopped their studies - not because they were academically inadequate - but because of their love of music.

Claire, who picked up the violin at the age of 7, quit her mass communications course at Ngee Ann Polytechnic this year. She hopes to take up violin studies in future.

Zsa, a self-taught guitarist, withdrew from her bio-medical sciences course at Temasek Polytechnic last year to pursue her love for music. She was studying to become a vet.

Both left while they were in their second year at school.

One of the duo's biggest fans is Zsa's best friend, Tiffany Choo, 22, who goes to Crossroads Cafe whenever she has the time to support them.

The full-time architecture undergrad at National University of Singapore said: 'I live my musical dream through Zsa. We used to sing together back in school, but she was the one who went ahead and really did it.'

Both Claire and Zsa have moved out of their family homes for a taste of independence.

Claire Goh and Zsa Zsa Scorpion perform at the Crossroads Cafe in Orchard Road.

They rent HDB flats a few blocks away from each other in Commonwealth and manage their rent with the income they earn from gigs.

And it's not difficult to immediately associate Zsa with veteran Mandopop singer William Scorpion when she tells you her full name.

Both father and daughter wear full-sleeved tattoos, and performing obviously runs in their blood.

Zsa said that her father is the person she admires most, and she has the utmost respect for his craft.

The vivacious 47-year-old resident of St James Power Station's Dragonfly told The New Paper that he was shocked when Zsa dropped the bomb about quitting school.

William said: 'Like any parent, I was a little shocked at first as she was always doing well academically.

'But I support her as a musician now as I know it is in music where her passion truly lies.'

When asked if he had a hand in helping Zsa with her music career, William said: 'Zsa and I specialise in very different genres of music.

'Actually, they (Zsa and his son) are the ones who help me more when it comes to things like diction for English songs.'

Claire - who changes her hair colour according to her moods (her current hue is blonde) - is the daughter of a reverend and an accountant.

Her mother, Mrs Goh Soo Kwan, 55, said: 'I'm happy she's put her musical talents to good use... It's not an easy thing to be a musician in Singapore, so we just pray it'll be a successful career for Claire.'

No regrets

Both girls are aware that the local music scene is unstable and volatile, but do not regret treading down this path.

They were first discovered by Mr Kelvin Lin, president of audio architects firm Linasia, when they were singing at a club in Clarke Quay last December. He offered to manage their careers indefinitely.

The 55-year-old described the girls as 'enigmatic' and said they shared an 'uncanny sibling synergy'.

Claire, the chattier of the two, said that often, they would find each other thinking the same thoughts at the same time, such as suggesting the same tracks to sing impromptu while on stage.

The duo first met through mutual friends in 2006 and started jamming together ever since. And while Claire listens to house and trance music, Zsa prefers jazz.

Unique interpretation

Claire described their own brand of music as 'urban contemporary interpretation', putting their spin on tracks such as Hotel California by The Eagles and One Of Us by Joan Osbourne.

After undergoing Mr Lin's six-month grooming programme which honed their image, personal style and stage presence, the girls landed an exclusive contract with Crossroads Cafe, which has never housed any live entertainment before.

They perform from Monday to Saturday, 9.45pm to 1am.

Mr Lin said he intended for Zsa and Claire to perform at a prominent place, and Crossroads Cafe was ideal because of the heavy human traffic.

Since it opened in 1995, the venue has been a popular haunt for expatriates.

When asked what was the most generous tip they received from a patron, Zsa maintained that it was always 'the things people said' and not the material things that warmed her heart.

But they also enjoy receiving hand-written compliments from appreciative audience members.

Mr Michael Tanaka, a 36-year-old businessman, said he goes to Marriott Hotel 'just to watch the girls' whenever he is in Singapore for work.

He said: 'I enjoy this interesting combination act of a guitarist and a violinist. It is not something you find every day.'

This article was first published in The New Paper on Sept 3, 2008.


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