Singapore's contemporary pop culture scene thrives with diverse arts and entertainment, reflecting a dynamic fusion of tradition and modernity that captivates and resonates with its vibrant society. Two key players in the scene are Annette Lee and Benjamin Kheng, who have paved their paths in music, acting and comedy.
Fuelled by their passion for creating positivity amidst a global pandemic, Annette and Benjamin decided to work on a joint venture titled ‘The Ann & Ben Show’ in 2021—a special collaboration to harmonise the musician and comedy writers in them. Debuting with a comedy music video series, it aimed to delve into the true blue experience of being an Asian kid.
The National Arts Council (NAC) acknowledges the passion and artistic excellence fueling our vibrant creative economy in Singapore. This support extends to members of the arts community who are developing works that showcase the uniquely Singaporean experience to the world. Following their successful online run in 2021, The Ann & Ben Show has since launched their music singles across streaming platforms and worked on live shows at The Esplanade’s Outdoor Theatre.
One half of the duo, Annette, tells us more about the collaboration’s inception, and how it has cultivated a stronger love for her country and its people through their work on the show.
Artwork for viral hit ‘The Caifan Song’ Image Credit: The Ann & Ben Show
1. Tell us more about this project.
Ben and I had been acquainted for years through the media scene. When the pandemic hit, we decided to work on something together since we both had free time on our hands. We combined the strengths that both of us possess—making music and comedy sketches—to see if we could create songs that are funny and relatable.
Behind the scenes of ‘K-DRAMADDICTION’ music video. Image Credit: The Ann & Ben Show
2. The songs and music videos received lots of positive comments from Singaporeans. How were you able to find the intersection between local culture and music to bring Singaporeans together?
It doesn’t have to be a song with a message about patriotism or heritage. Whatever personal experiences that a Singaporean goes through falls in that intersection. I think we showed pride in the way we portrayed local scenes and settings, and we worked with very talented fellow creatives to shape an artistic vision (musically and visually) that was pleasing to the audience, which I believe helped Singaporeans foster a stronger love for their country.
Artwork for ‘Da Shi Teng’. Image Credit: The Ann & Ben Show
3. What do you hope people took away from The Ann & Ben Show?
That, if we just look around, there are local stories all around us that are beautiful, funny, and make us proud of our home.
4. What were some tangible advancements you were able to make with NAC’s support?
NAC has been so supportive of artists like myself, even right from the onset. In fact, I made my first EP in 2017 with the help of an NAC grant.
As The Ann & Ben Show was done during the pandemic, the grant was a great way to help encourage artists to keep our culture alive even during those difficult times. Seasons 1 and 2 of The Ann & Ben Show is only possible with the financial support of the grant. For example, because of the grant, we could involve even more arts practitioners, such as dancers, traditional musicians and more, during the second season.
5. What is one unforgettable memory you had while working on this project?
Filming one of the music videos (The Longest Goodbye) while 8-months pregnant was an unforgettable experience… I had to pretend to fall down and even leopard-crawl sideways! More importantly, I wouldn’t forget how kind Ben and the team were to me when I had to do all those stunts!
Learn about the Council’s efforts to support the growth of the arts scene at: https://www.nac.gov.sg/support/funding-and-schemes