The Singaporean artist talks to Apple Music about the themes behind his debut. Read on.
“I thought it would be a lot more meaningful if I were to mask the true meaning of the songs in the lyrics, having the beat and melodies to be something more delightful to hear, without having it plain and simply presented as depressing as the story could be,” Dominic Chin tells Apple Music. He explains why an EP titled License to Cry can sound uplifting even when he mourns for his late grandmother and sings about heartbreaks. It’s why he’s able to relate to young audiences in Singapore and Southeast Asia—where pent-up young adults who are broken inside are often told to “man up”.
“I saw certain emotions as bad and vulnerability as weak. I hid many things from my family and my friends, until the stress of trying to be who I’m not finally exploded in the worst possible ways through panic attacks and I was forced to seek help,” he says. “Writing this album forced me to have conversations with myself again about these thoughts and feelings.”
The EP opens with “SHY”, a track about insomnia. It’s followed by “HERE”, where a grief-stricken Dominic copes with the death of his late grandmother. “CRY”, which Dominic says is “the song that really encapsulates the whole heart of the album”, uses a late-‘90s R&B vibe to discuss the pains of growing up. Throughout, he deals with grief and loss with dance beats and uplifting melodies.
Troye Sivan, Billie Eilish, Khalid, Coldplay and BØRNS are inspirations for the EP, he says. In particular, Sivan’s crying-on-the-dance-floor feeling has influenced Dominic’s sad-boy style. After beginning his career as a cover artist, he says, “The only way I could write good music is when I started writing a narrative that I believe in.” But there are times when he just sounds happy, too. On “AWARE” and “BETTER”, the singer oozes joy and self-acceptance.