Cyril Niccolai falls in love in Singapore
French singer-songwriter Cyril Niccolai has fallen in love with Singapore, especially for its fiery sambal stingray at Makansutra Gluttons Bay Food Centre. What else does he like about Singapore? Find out below.
Dreaming of stingray
After French singer-songwriter Cyril Niccolai touched down in Singapore last Wednesday, he made a beeline for the Makansutra Gluttons Bay food centre at the Esplanade to have some fiery sambal stingray.
“I’ve been dreaming about the stingray for the past six months. It’s my third time here, so I know which places I want to go back to,” the suave 28-year-old rocker tells Life!.
He took an immediate liking to Singapore after his first visit in 2006 to perform in a musical adaptation of Victor Hugo’s 1831 classic novel, Notre Dame De Paris. He returned in March this year to take the stage at a Singapore Symphony Orchestra benefit gala dinner and a performance at St James Power Station’s Movida.
“I’ve been to a lot of places in Asia, but Singapore is special because the weather is good, you can travel easily to places such as Malaysia or Bali, and you can meet people from all over the world from Europe to America – it’s a melting pot of cultures. Everyone speaks English here too, so you can have nice chats with people, even cab drivers,” he says in fluent English.
Back once again for three gigs – he performed at the Esplanade during the Formula One races last weekend, and will have a gig at The Boiler Room on Thursday and a solo concert at the Esplanade on Sunday – he plans to acclimatise to local culture in the 21/2 weeks that he is here.
In fact, he has even learnt a Mandarin song, Teresa Teng’s classic The Moon Represents My Heart, to sing at his gigs here.
The solo concert is a chance to ‘test the songs for my upcoming album’ with a live audience, admits Niccolai, who is signed to Richard Branson’s V2 record label in Paris, where he is based.
Audiences can expect a repertoire of original rock compositions and several covers which are Niccolai’s personal favourites.
“It’s going to be me from A to Z. It’s very brave of the audiences to come see a young artist like me, so I’ll try to entertain them,” he says.
From the outset, Niccolai has done what other rock stars would hardly consider doing: He got cracking with his own publicity and liaised directly with the media, doing away with the usual large entourage of publicists.
“It’s a pre-album tour so I wanted to keep things simple and natural,” he says.
It is not surprising that the downto-earth singer has also opted for an apartment in Tanglin during his stay here, instead of the usual posh hotel.
“I’m here to play music and I want to be a regular person in Singapore. I like the apartment atmosphere because it feels more like home,” says the indie singer, who hails from Nice, south of France.
Later this year, he will go to the studios to begin recording songs for his debut album of rock originals, which will likely contain 12 English and two French songs. It is slated for release next year.
This is a far cry from the nascent days in his musical career, when he landed the role in Notre Dame De Paris at the age of 21 after a ‘fluke audition’ while he was studying to become a doctor, like both his parents.
With the encouragement of the director of his faculty in university, he quit medical school after completing four years in the seven-year course and left Nice.
“My parents were mortified,” says Niccolai, who had been writing songs since he was 15. “But they still came to my show and I think they cried when they saw me on stage.”
Since then, his day job as a musical performer has taken him to places such as the United States, Europe and Singapore. He is also starring in another French musical, Romeo Et Juliette, and its second run next year will take him to Korea and Japan.
Touring for both his stage productions and solo rock career is something that he loves to do.
“I want to visit and play in as many countries as I can. So that’s what I’m doing to share my music in many places,” he says.
“I’m here to play music and I want to be a regular person in Singapore. I like the apartment atmosphere because it feels more like home.”