As a secondary school student, Jasmine Sokko shared with her friends her lifelong ambition: To be a rock star.
Thinking it was just a joke and possibly a pipe dream altogether, all of them, including Sokko, laughed.
With chuckles in between, she said:
"We all laughed together, but my heart was breaking inside. I wasn't kidding!"
But she gets the last laugh now, because while she technically isn't a rock star, she lives almost like one.
If you're not familiar with the name, Sokko is an electronic dance music (EDM) singer-songwriter.
In February 2019, Sokko emerged in the top four in Rave Now under the mentorship of Lay Zhang, a member of K-pop group Exo.
Here's Sokko performing her debut single, 1057, in Chinese:
According to Sokko, the show's producers had worked their way through a VPN just so they could reach out to her.
Not only was she the only female to make it to the top 10 of the competition, but she was also the only Singaporean to do so.
However, she didn't think it was something that she could achieve, especially with her "poor" command in the Chinese language.
"My Chinese sucks, most times I couldn't catch what the judges were saying. So I had to remember certain keywords, like 'mask' for example, and memorise my lines in case they asked questions."
For the record, Sokko shared that she got an A1 for Chinese but an F9 for Higher Chinese.
Here are more videos of her performances:
Can't play instruments
However, EDM wasn't the first music genre that she wanted to pursue.
At the age of 13, Sokko was very much into punk rock because she said it was the "cool" kind of music back when she was younger.
For several years, she tried to learn how to play several musical instruments, including an electric guitar and a bass, hoping to make it big as a big punk rock star one day.
However, she came to realise that playing instruments wasn't really her calling.
"I tried very hard to learn these instruments but in the end I wasn't very good at any of it."
But her lack of talent in that department didn't stop her from pursuing music.
When Sokko was 17, she discovered EDM and claimed to have fallen in love with it immediately.
She found herself fiddling with the programme to figure out how it works and even bought textbooks from Amazon so she could hone her skills.
"I'd say that EDM is the music of the future and I love it because even though I can't play real instruments, I can still make music."
The rest, as they say, is history.
The 23-year-old made her debut in 2016 and has gained popularity internationally, especially after appearing China's reality TV competition, Rave Now.
Convinced parents with Excel sheets
Much like your typical Asian parents, Sokko's parents didn't take to her music career at first.
Wanting her to become a doctor, they initially thought her music-making was merely a hobby.
However, unlike how most success stories go, she didn't have to rebel against her parents or make it big first before convincing her parents.
Instead, Sokko received her parents' blessing in a rather practical manner:
"I came up with an Excel sheet and showed how much I would earn if I continued being in school and graduate as a fresh graduate compared to what I would be earning if I started doing music now."
But this doesn't mean she's not taking her academics seriously.
With a laugh followed by an exasperated sigh, she shared:
"I'm trying to finish my degree. I actually came (to this interview) straight after a class."
Apart from being an EDM artist, Sokko is also pursuing a business degree part-time.
And if you're wondering how she juggles between her studies and work, here's her life hack:
"I would take modules that allow me to use music projects. For instance, if my entrepreneurial class requires a marketing proposal, I will submit what I've done (as Jasmine Sokko) already."
You don't know her name
To say that the 23-year-old electronic dance music (EDM) singer-songwriter is a mysterious person is an understatement.
If you didn't know yet, "Sokko" isn't even her real surname.
It is actually the Finnish word for "blind", which makes some sense since she usually covers part of her face with this fancy reflective visor, for example:
Or sometimes with just a simple black mask.
That's because she hopes that by hiding her identity, it would make people pay more attention to her music rather than her physical appearance.
"As a female electronic musician, I think people have the impression that we spin and wear very little clothes. And it seems that people don't focus enough on the music as much as our appearance."
Best of both worlds
Apart from that, the "low-key" musician shared that she covers her face in an attempt to live her life as normally as she can, much like Disney's Hannah Montana.
Keeping her identity private, however, has made her encounter several interesting situations, especially in school, where her mask goes off and no one knows that she is Jasmine Sokko.
"I sat beside this cute boy in class who shared with me that he recently discovered Jasmine Sokko and enjoyed her music. I said 'Yeah, me too!' and felt very happy inside."
To those who want to know if they'll ever be able to see Sokko's face, here's her cheeky answer:
"Maybe, when I perform on stage and my mask flies off?"
Fans are worlds apart
Despite being away from home often for six months due to her filming schedule, Sokko didn't feel homesick because she had to return to Singapore or Stockholm every two weeks to renew her visa.
But to the musician, who has close to 70,000 followers on Weibo, her Singaporean fans are worlds apart from her Chinese fans.
"In China, the fans are more passionate and hardcore. If they love you, they would know your manager's favourite Starbucks drink and get it for them. But if they hate you, they may write a fictional novel of things you've not actually done in real life. Singaporean fans on the other hand, tend to be more relaxed and give you space."
First public performance this year
Which is why she is looking forward to being on stage on the second day of the Gardens by the Bay & Mediacorp National Day Concert.
She will be performing alongside other local talents like comedians Kumar and Fakkah Fuzz, as well as other musicians such as Disco Hue, Dru Chen, and Aisyah Aziz.
"I'm very excited, because I haven't been performing for a while and this will be my first public show in Singapore this year."
Where to go: The Meadow, Gardens by the Bay
When to go: 4pm to 9.30pm. Free admission.
Top image by Warren Tey
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