In the third part of our Levi's four-part series on local women in music, we catch up with female Mandopop duo The Freshman
There are many successful female duos in the Western music world, from Canadian indie hipsters Tegan and Sara and US country singers Maddie & Tae to Swedish electronica pair Icona Pop.
However, in Mandopop, the concept of two girls recording and performing together is still an anomaly.
And this is where homegrown folk-pop duo The Freshman come in.
Comprising of Project SuperStar 2 alumni Chen Diya, 29, and Carrie Yeo, 33 - Chen was runner-up and Yeo, a finalist, in the 2007 Channel U reality TV singing competition - The Freshman have two albums under their belt, Life Experiment 101 (2010) and The Dazy Eyes (2012).
In 2013, they bagged Best Local Lyrics at the Singapore Entertainment Awards organised by Singapore Press Holdings.
Now working on their third studio effort, the spunky BFFs have diversified their portfolio, with Yeo being a back-up vocalist for local singer JJ Lin's current concert world tour.
They also took on supporting roles in new Channel 8 drama The Dream Makers 2. Chen plays an assistant producer and Yeo, a director. It premieres on Dec 3 at 9pm.
Carrie, how was the experience of travelling around Asia as part of Lin's concert team?
YEO: It has been great! I'm learning a lot, especially in football. (Laughs) The whole team will play football after rehearsals and it has helped in bonding and making JJ's whole tour super fun.
Musically, I've been really inspired by the stars I get to work with, like JJ and (Chinese-American singer-actor) Wang Leehom.
They are so committed to their craft and so talented.
JJ would write songs during rehearsals and sound checks, as and when inspiration strikes him.
These stars are very nice people, with no diva airs.
Both of you must have been rather busy with acting and working on new material.
CHEN: It's been a really fulfilling 2015 thus far.
Filming on the set of The Dream Makers 2 has been a great experience for me.
I've been acting for more than two months now and when filming wraps up, I think I'm going to miss the crew, the actors and actresses.
Is it more difficult for women to make it big in music in Singapore?
CHEN: I don't think it makes a difference.
But that also depends on your definition of "big".
We're all so unique and different, I can only speak for myself.
You can only be your best and try to stay level-headed.
YEO: Actually, I feel the opposite. I find that it's slightly more difficult.
Just look at the major singing competitions in Singapore, almost all the winners are men... I suspect it's because most fans are girls.
What are the challenges you face as female musicians in Singapore and how do you overcome them?
YEO: For one, relatives are always asking us when we are going to stop dreaming and get married and have kids.
It seems like men can have kids at a more mature age, but women can't. (Laughs.)
To be honest, I think the line separating men and women is thinning.
The bigger problem in our local music industry is the business model.
With illegal downloads, free streaming and the invasion of K-pop, we are at a loss as to how to survive as musicians in Singapore.
- Additional reporting by Jocelyn Lee
They love their Levi's
The Freshman's Chen Diya is not new to Levi's.
"Levi's has always been classic and durable."
She added: "I've had 501s that I've worn for years, and if not for my not-so-reliable and erratic waistline, I think I could go on wearing my 501s for many more years."
The new women's denim collection from Levi's will make Chen a bigger fan because the range is designed especially for Asian women with a slimmer thigh, flattering leg and contoured seat.
Chen's bandmate Carrie Yeo is excited about the jeans too, saying: "I'm really impressed... they make me look like I have skinny legs, yet are so comfortable!"
The Freshmen picked the Levi's 710 Super Skinny, which boasts a legging-like fit and is slim through hip and thigh.
And to make sure this pair looks the best on you, Levi's recommends you try on a shorter inseam than your usual fit to ensure a clean look through the ankle.
Yeo added: "The jeans make me feel like Kate Moss - effortlessly sexy."
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