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Need some help making the first move this Valentine's Day? Get some inspiration from Leon Markcus' new song "Ichigo”. Photo: Leon Markcus

Spotify Spotlight: Leon Markcus

Lai liao, that day is almost here. That day when hearts beat faster and butterflies flutter about in your stomach. Yes, in nine days, it'll be Valentine's Day, and if you still need some encouragement to ask your crush out, then this week's artiste has the perfect earworm for you.

Meet Leon Markcus, who's released his new single "Ichigo" (Japanese for "strawberry") today. The groovy mid-tempo track draws inspiration from the 25-year-old's hesitation in confessing his feelings to his first love during high school. So for those of you who need that last push to just go for it, hopefully this catchy number can provide that.

Wah seh
, you're 25 but you've already had a decade's worth of experience in the music scene. Come, hao lian to us, please.

At the age of 15, I entered the music scene by beginning as a songwriter for a publishing house in Singapore as well as a backup vocalist and performer for corporate events. In 2016, I released my first track called "Mannequin" that went on to debut at the No. 1 spot on its release day. 

I was awarded the Matchbox Grant by the National Arts Council for my single titled "Alive'" in 2017. in 2019, my lead single off my sophomore EP, "Hot City", was nominated for the first ever Youth Music Awards here in Singapore. 

Since then, I've been working on my solo career as a musician and have performed locally and internationally. My second collection of tracks dropped in 2020, and topped the sales charts at No. 4. With the success of my sophomore EP, "Welcome to Hot City", I went on a regional tour that covered countries like Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand and South Korea. 

Currently, I am a BA student at Lasalle College of the Arts, pursuing a degree in contemporary music and majoring in vocals.

"Ichigo" is as sweet as a love song can be - the super catchy chorus goes "Strawberry 甜蜜蜜, 我好想当你的唯一" ("Strawberry, sweet, I want to be your one and only"). How different is "Ichigo" from what you've put out in the past?

I would describe "Ichigo" as taking a step into making music that I would personally resonate with but have always found too personal to put out. Being inspired by my childhood love for Original Soundtracks (OSTs) OSTs, K-indie, Mandopop and RnB music, I hope to be able to incorporate these new musical elements that are both nostalgic and close to home for further upcoming releases.

The lyrics for "Ichigo" are written in both English and Mandarin. Apart from being the first Mandopop track in a discography of exclusively English pop music so far, the track is also the first song that I've worked on as a producer and co-arranger.

We hear that you're expanding your repertoire, and recently entered the film industry! How has that experience been so far?

I am working as a freelance actor and at the beginning of this year, I made my film debut with my first ever lead role as "Zhi Yong" on Viddsee's "1000 Cups to Midnight" web series directed by Kew Lin and Chai Hong, in collaboration with Taipan Films. "Ichigo" will also be coupled with a short pilot film (starring me) about young love.

You mentioned that NS was a fruitful experience for you. How has NS managed to aid your journey in the music industry?

I was from the 8 Singapore Infantry Regiment (SIR). My time during National Service (NS) taught me to be independent and to be capable of making tough decisions. The 8 SIR's motto is "Ready and Vigilant" and it's a motto that's shaped my commitment to this journey - to always be prepared and ready for any obstacle. Also, the people I met in NS were all very supportive of what I was doing and that helped me to continue putting music out during NS. on Spotify

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