Remember the huge K-Pop boom that happened a few years back? And all the aftermath that came with it? The year was 2008 and the first ever K-Pop (as we know it) concert was announced in Singapore.
Crowds came in droves and its huge success was the first drop of the domino in the domino effect that ensued. Now, on any given day, something remotely related to K-Pop is probably happening around you.
During that period when everything was still met with the utmost excitement, Alpha Entertainment held auditions for aspiring K-Pop hopefuls on our tiny little red dot, dreaming of uncovering the next Hallyu Star. Many came but only a few left with second chances. Today, we have an interview with one of the select few who passed the high demands of that K-Pop audition.
Hey Alfred! Tell us more about yourself.
Hi! My name is Alfred Sng and I’m from Singapore. I enjoy dancing, singing, designing, photography, and filmmaking. Basically, most things that are related to Arts and Music. I aspire to be versatile and competent in all of those fields. I have been dancing for about 8 years now and have been exposed to music since I was 10 years old when I picked up playing the piano.
After I attained my Ba(Hons) in Graphic Communications in 2016, I’ve been working on a freelance basis, doing graphic design/animation, at the same time trying out acting and commercials. I have also recently started to take things more serious with music and trying to actively come up with new covers and currently competing in ‘The Voice SGMY’.
What was your first ever encounter with Korean Pop music?
What dreams came out of it?
What steps did you undergo to set yourself down that path?
Honestly, I did not think of / aspire to be like them. However, then came the JYP/Alpha auditions (which at that point I had zero idea who or what JYP was hahaha), and one of my closest dance crew mates was super excited about it.
She then convinced me that I should step out of my comfort zone and try singing in front of an audience (because back then I couldn’t muster the courage to sing before anyone even though she knew that I secretly enjoyed singing a lot).
After much persuasion and some serious consideration at the prospect of embarrassing myself in front of others, I decided to join her for the audition, not knowing how big of a scale that audition was.
What was your big break?
During the Auditions, I was told to perform another song after I finished singing my first song. I was shocked/confused because I didn’t exactly know the audition process. I hesitated for a good two minutes before I started singing the second song.
After which they asked if I could dance and proceed to play a track for me to freestyle to. After everything was done I still had no idea what went on and my friend told me that I stood a good chance of going through since they wanted to see more. After the entire audition ended I was told that I got shortlisted and I went to a press conference and interviews later that night.
What were the first instructions from Alpha when you were picked in the auditions?
After the first round of auditions, we actually went through two other closed rounds of auditions where we had to sing and dance before the final evaluation. When I was offered a full-time Korean Artiste contract, I was still considering if I really wanted that as a career and there was a lot of hesitation.
During that period, the management suggested that we could travel to Korea for a short period of time to try and see if that was what we really wanted, before proceeding to sign the contract.
What was your daily training schedule when you were with Alpha?
What were some of the everyday things you took for granted?
I wouldn’t say I lost any freedom since I was only there for a really brief period of time. Moreover, getting to do what I enjoy most every day felt super rewarding.
How did you feel when you did not get a deferment from National Service (NS)? Did you lose hope in chasing your dreams when serving the nation?
I was disappointed but not surprised that the deferment was not approved. I did some research about deferment and realised that even sportsmen were not approved of deferments so I did not have my hopes high.
As much as I felt that it was a pity because I was so close to attaining a career that I would love to have, it did not change my passion for music and arts.
Did the two years of serving NS push you further away from your original goals? What path did you decide to move onto as a result? How has being in the K-Pop trainee regime changed you/aided you in your current situation?
Knowing that age is a huge factor when it comes to the Korean Entertainment Industry, I was clear-minded enough to know that it would not be a route for me after I finished my national service. I started dancing more than I did before and also started to do song covers on YouTube. I took part in annual dance recitals and began to gain much more confidence on stage.
If anything, the entire k-pop audition experience only made me more passionate about what I was doing. I also started drawing frequently again and eventually did my Degree in Graphic Communication after I finished my service with the force.
What were your takeaways from the whole experience, being presented with a unique opportunity that almost no one in Singapore could ever come close to?
It was an amazing experience! Through everything, I’ve found many talented people/ some of my closest friends now, who share the same passion. I felt extremely blessed to have been presented that opportunity and even though I did not get to debut in Korea, it has rewarded me in so many other ways that I am very thankful for.
There you have it. Not everything is sunshine and butterflies in the world of K-Pop. So many talented people will fall by the wayside and become victims of reality. As for Alfred, his hands were tied in this situation and he had to give up a once in a lifetime opportunity due to commitments to our nation.
Not all is for nought though, as his forced antics with the whole sunglasses fiasco allowed him to gain notoriety among the K-Pop faithful in Singapore and it has definitely paid dividends.
Now, free of the shackles of National Service, he has moved on from K-Pop and transformed his talents, suited for a more regional taste. Catch him on The Voice SG&MY as he looks to further hone his craft in hopes of making it big one day. Stay up to date with his progress through his social media links below!