Q&A: Daphne Khoo Talks New Music as ‘Haneri’

The singer, who recently rebranded as Haneri, talks to ZYRUP about her new chapter in music.
Photo: Haneri

Daphne Khoo is back, albeit under a different name. Following a stint in Los Angeles earlier this year, the former Singapore Idol finalist and radio DJ returned to Singapore, releasing new music under the moniker ‘Haneri’.

Her latest single is ‘Burning Up’, a mid-tempo number that expresses the singer’s emotions and attitude towards former abusive relationships.

ZYRUP talks to Haneri about meaning behind the new name, and discusses the inspiration behind her new music.

What’s the story/meaning behind the new name ‘Haneri’?
Haneri is actually the Hawaiian translation of part of the meaning of my Chinese name. (Editor’s note: The full translation is Haneri Milliona, meaning ‘hundred million’.) I wanted a new artist name that still represented who I am, because I’m still me and my music is still about things I’ve been through or stories I’ve heard. I’m still a songwriter at heart, if not primarily. As “Daphne Khoo” I felt like I had hit a writing block, so I felt [that] having an alter ego would give me a sort of cover to feel safe writing it under.

What can we expect from Haneri that is different from Daphne Khoo as an artiste?
The sound is very different from anything I’ve put out before. I think the image is a little different too, but more than that, it’s the music and the sound. [If] you listen to the new single the beats have an 80s feel that my music never had before. The chorus and verses also have a different, more electric sound that was present in ‘Wonderland’ but more evolved now. I think and hope the sound will continue to evolve as I put more new music out as Haneri.

You spent some time away from Singapore. What was the experience like (being based in Los Angeles)? How did your time there influence you as an artiste?
Being in LA is incredible. It’s so inspiring being around the people I get to make music with, and I feel so thankful to have met the people I work with there. There’s so much more for me to learn and I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface! [To] watch something being created that sets new standards in the music industry is absolutely magical. Watching musicians: guitarists, bassists, keyboardists, pianists, drummers, producers etc etc play is also something I’m completely enamored by.

Photo: Haneri

What inspired ‘Burning Up’?
Part of it was my personal run in with abusive relationships, but also the fact that so many people go through it and that it’s just not given a big enough voice. I was lucky enough to have friends that really cared about me to pull me out of [the relationship], and even then, it took me a long time to start talking about it. I want people who listen to [the song] and have been through similar situations to know that they’re not alone.

You just released the music video for the single. What was the concept behind the video?
It’s a little complicated and pretty open to interpretation, but the idea is that abuse happens to so many more people than we believe. And once we’ve been through it, we feel embarrassed and shameful, and we think everyone who looks at us funny is judging us but really a lot of the times we aren’t the only one going through what we’re going through.

‘Weak’ was featured on ZYRUP’s Ultimate S-Pop Playlist, which features the best of Singapore music. How does it feel to be part of what many consider the new ‘golden age’ of Singapore music?
Oh man, it’s a huge honor especially to be up there with those names. I don’t know if I would consider it the golden age of Singapore music, but it’s getting better. I just feel like there’s so much more to be done, and I’m excited to see it and hope to continue to be a part of it!


‘Burning Up’ is available on iTunes, Apple Music and Spotify.