According to Urban Dictionary, the term “stan” refers to a “very, very overzealous and obsessed fan” and was born from the Eminem song of the same name (you know which one). It’s also become part and parcel of pop culture today, but some stans are just dedicated music enthusiasts who find community and inspiration for their creative interests through their idols. They’re also super-cool and wholesome and, no, not all of them are into K-pop. Here are five of them.
NAME: Genevieve Sia
TIKTOK ACCOUNT: @genevievesjy
INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT: @genevievesjy
PROFESSION: “I am a year-two communications student and I create content on Youtube, Instagram and TikTok in my free time.”
STAN OR FAN? “Stan! I have travelled to various countries for concert tours, and hosted events as well as organised group orders for albums and merchandise for other fans. When I think of the average fan, I think of someone who enjoys the music, but probably doesn’t keep up with the content of the artiste so much.”
A stan of South Korean boy band The Boyz, content creator/communications student Genevieve Sia has amassed an impressive collection of merch and memories related to the group, including photo booth printouts featuring the band’s members.
WHO SHE STANS: “I’ve always been a K-pop fan, but only really became a stan in 2017 when (the 11-member South Korean boy band) Wanna One debuted. They were a project group meant to disband in a year and a half, so I travelled quite a bit for them and I guess that habit has since stuck. I am now a stan for (the South Korean boy band) The Boyz.”
HOW SHE STANS: “Of course, I buy merch and stream songs regularly, but I’ve also held birthday, anniversary and streaming donation events; joined fancalls as well as travelled for fan meets and concerts.”
MOST EXTREME STAN BEHAVIOUR: “I once flew to South Korea for a concert after class then flew back the morning after and headed to school for my finals. The most effort-intensive endeavours are probably the cafe events organised to celebrate an artiste’s birthday. These take so much planning and coordination. I probably wouldn’t do so again.”
Genevieve Sia has also participated in fan gatherings to watch the group when it was on the reality TV show Kingdom, and flew to Seoul last December to catch it in concert before returning home the next day for an exam.
HER FAVOURITE MERCH: “Probably my signed polaroids? I think they are really unique because there’s only one of each in the world. I also really like animal plushies (that have been assigned to or are associated with a particular idol) as well as lightsticks, which are the quintessential merch item. You just gotta have them and it’s so fun taking pictures with them at events.”
WHAT FRIENDS AND FAMILY SAY ABOUT HER MUSIC OBSESSION: “My parents just remind me not to overspend on it while my friends always go, ‘Again?,’ each time I tell them what I’m up to.”
DEBUNKING STAN CULTURE: “There’s an unnecessarily negative stigma attached to the word ‘stan’ and I don’t really understand why. I don’t think it’s fair to generalise all passionate fans as crazy. There are definitely some aggressive sasaeng fans who stalk their idols and are seriously delusional, but I don’t think stans in general are crazy. I would say we are just overly enthusiastic.”
These plushies and lightsticks are some of Genevieve Sia’s most cherished merch
WHY BE A STAN? “It just makes me happy! Travelling for and watching concerts are such fun things to do and when I’m having a hard time, counting down to things like these keeps me motivated… Being a stan honestly doesn’t eat into my life. I put a lot more emphasis on my education and work since I am an adult now, though I do keep a look out for overseas events that I can attend during the school holidays.”
WILL SHE BE A STAN FOR LIFE? “I think as I get older, I’d probably become a casual fan and listen to the music, but not keep up with the idols so much. I’ll have more things on my plate and I should prioritise my time on other important things.”
NAME: Sabrina Yazid, or call her Dami
TIKTOK ACCOUNT: @damidies
INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT: @fleshedwater
PROFESSION: Full-time graphic designer.
STAN OR FAN? “I’d like to think of myself as a pretty big music fan and what I think differentiates me from the average fan is the cool range of collectibles I’ve gotten from concerts that aren’t merchandise. For example, Beabadoobee’s drummer gave me his drumstick after her show here that I had attended last year… I wouldn’t say I’m obsessive. Music simply helps set my mood for the day and I only spend on merch when I have the extra bucks. I stream music, but I’m not the sort of fan who would try to help a song or album by their idol achieve a million streams or anything like that.”
WHO SHE STANS: “I’ve been a pop-punk girl since I was young. It started off with Paramore – still my number one band today – when it released the song Decode for the soundtrack of Twilight in 2008. My sister was obsessed with the tune and me being younger followed suit and ended up really liking the band. Over time, I got introduced to slightly heavier rock genres such as post-hardcore, emo and screamo by my older brother and I became obsessed with bands such as Pierce the Veil and Bring Me the Horizon. My siblings and I mainly grew up with pop punk music and bands such as Green Day and All Time Low – even my mum really likes Avril Lavigne.”
HOW SHE STANS: “With the pandemic over, I make the most out of my big girl paycheck and attend the shows of the artistes I love. Already this year, I’ve been to quite a few. I also collect merch and have an extensive collection of vinyls.”
Dami gifted this band tee she designed to post-hardcore and pop-punk band called Anxious
MOST EXTREME STAN BEHAVIOUR: “Earlier this year, there was a gig by the post-hardcore and pop-punk band called Anxious. Whenever I’m free, I like to come up with designs for band T-shirts and I decided to actually print one out onto a tee to give to the band. I went up to the guys in the group after the gig was over and was feeling really nervous, but they were really nice and appreciative, and even asked for my IG handle and posted about me on their Instagram Stories. I know they’re a pretty small band, but it still felt surreal knowing that my art was appreciated by an artist whom I frequently listen to.”
TOTAL AMOUNT SHE’S SPENT ON MERCH “I’ve probably spent hundreds of dollars on record vinyls because they’re pretty expensive, running between $40 and $60 for a single one. My favourites would be the vinyl by (American rock band) Turnover that I got the band members to autograph when I went to their show last month; an EP vinyl by the pop-punk group No Pressure because its splatter design is really pretty; and the vinyl of Paramore’s debut album given to me by my partner – it’s my favourite album from the band.
Besides vinyls, I have a lot of band tees – my favourites being one from the rock band Fleshwater that I had bought from a friend; one from (the Welsh pop-punk act) Neck Deep that I got at its concert two weeks ago; and one from (the Singapore band) Forests, bought at a gig last year. Most of the band tees that I’ve bought cost around $40, but some can go up to between $80 and $100 range if I were to buy them from the band’s website instead of at the merch booth at shows.”
WHAT FRIENDS AND FAMILY SAY ABOUT HER MUSIC OBSESSION: “I think my mum’s pretty cool about it since I tell her about everything that I get up to. She even made a cake in the shape of a vinyl record and got me a Paramore T-shirt for my birthday this year. She doesn’t necessarily listen to the artistes whom I like, but she supports my interests and I’m very grateful for that. My dad has gotten me a couple of vinyls too. Most of my friends share the same taste in music as me so it’s easy to talk about stuff, jam out to music in the car and go to gigs and shows together. It’s nice to have people in my life who share similar interests.”
Among her most prized records is American rock band Turnover’s Magnolia – she managed to meet the group during its concert here this September and got its members to autograph it.
DEBUNKING STAN CULTURE: “I think in any sort of fandom, there will be people who get too crazy: anime fans who collect body pillows; K-pop fans who cry over music videos; even football fans who get physically angry when their choice of team loses. There should definitely be a limit to such behaviour, but these people don’t represent the entire community.”
WHY BE A STAN? “Being a music stan has played a big part in helping me find my different communities of friends. The friends I made when I was 13 during my emo phase are still my bestest of friends to this day. There’s also always new music to discover and I really enjoy that process.”
WILL SHE BE A STAN FOR LIFE? “I think I’ll always be a music fan – I started out pretty young and am still into music now at age 21. My parents are also huge music lovers and they still listen to their favourite bands – that will definitely be me when I’m older.”
NAME: Claire Boon
TIKTOK ACCOUNT: @phrawgcraft
INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT: @phrawgcraft
PROFESSION: Design communication student and freelance designer
STAN OR FAN? “Yes! I consider myself a stan… I’m more dedicated to keeping up with the content released by the people I support, and going beyond casually listening to their music or watching their videos, I tend to also be invested in their personalities and ideals.”
WHO SHE STANS: “I have a lot of admiration for many musicians so it’s quite hard to narrow the list down. The ones I keep up with more frequently are Sabrina Carpenter; BTS; SEVENTEEN; Tyler, the Creator; and Taylor Swift, but I generally enjoy exploring different musicians and styles of music… This love for music started from young – my parents constantly surrounded my sister and I with music and exposed us to a lot of different genres.”
ON HER SABRINA CARPENTER OBSESSION: “I’ve been a big fan of Sabrina Carpenter for eight years now. I don’t really remember how I started loving her music – maybe it was from her shows on the Disney Channel, but I do recall finding it so interesting that she wasn’t afraid to be vulnerable in her songwriting and has always been so open to trying different styles of music. You can say that I kind of grew up with her as she discovered her sound?”
ON HOW HER MUSICAL OBSESSIONS USUALLY START: “It’s rather funny how I’ve ended up supporting the other groups and musicians I’ve listed because I was initially close-minded about them, judging their music without actually sitting down to listen to it. For example, my sister tried for months to get me to listen to Taylor Swift, but I stubbornly refused because of misconceptions that she was over-hyped. When I finally listened to her albums and read all her lyrics though, I was shocked by her talent and how personal her lyric writing is. I was also previously hesitant about getting into BTS, SEVENTEEN and K-pop in general due to the stigma attached to the genre and its fans, but after listening to the music and watching the performances, and learning about the hard work all the K-idols put into their careers, building them from the ground up, I found their dedication too admirable and decided to pledge my support!”
A rare backstage moment between Claire Boon and her idol, Sabrina Carpenter, during the latter’s Singular Tour in 2019
HER PHILOSOPHY AS A MUSIC STAN: “Life is too short to limit yourself to listening only to music that’s familiar. And life is too boring to not be passionate about things!”
HOW SHE STANS: “Musicians make music so the best way to support them is to listen to it and enjoy it! I’m thankful that the musicians and groups that I stan somehow constantly put out music that always falls under the genres I love listening to in general. Taking the time to understand the lyrics that they write or to think about what went into the production and their performances is another form of showing our appreciation for their craft and hard work. I also believe that musicians are at their best when they perform live because that’s when one can see them shine the most so it’s my dream to be able to watch all the musicians I stan on stage in person someday. Lastly, sharing music with others is my love language so I like to recommend the work of the musicians I stan to my friends. I guess that counts as a way of showing my love for the artistes, right?”
MOST EXTREME STAN BEHAVIOUR: “Can I be wholesome and say that the most effort-intensive thing I’ve done as a stan is to become someone who’s less judgmental and instead more open-minded and genuine? You know, I’ve realised that the musicians I support all have something in common: They are people who don’t stop creating and stay true to themselves in the face of hate and opposition. Being a fan of things – not just musicians – has taught me to be more mature and authentic with myself, and to care less about the standards the world imposes on the individual, and learning to love myself and everything around me is not an easy feat.”
Claire Boon (middle) with her twin Paige (right) and pal Matthew (left) at a Sabrina Carpenter gig
TOTAL AMOUNT SHE’S SPENT ON MERCH: “I don’t know the exact number honestly, but I have definitely spent some money. I have vinyls of some of my favourite albums from the musicians whom I stan – they are some of my prized possessions, especially the record of RM’s Indigo and Tyler, The Creator’s IGOR. Another favourite is a signed poster from Sabrina Carpenter’s emails i can’t send vinyl. And something I find really fun about being a K-Pop stan are the physical albums the groups release. Many put a lot of effort into making these physical CD albums superpcreative and well-designed, which truly strikes a chord in my graphic design nerd heart. The ones with fun box packaging or a unique creative direction and inserts really mean so much to me. With K-pop musicians finding ways to bring something new and exciting with every album concept, how can print be dead?”
ON HOW HER INTERESTS AS A “GRAPHIC DESIGN NERD” AND AS A STAN INTERSECT: “Well my favourite physical album is V’s recent release Layover. The entire box is designed like the parcels one gets in the mail and its use of pixelated graphics placed all over along with its laid back vibe seriously made me so happy. I think the creative studio Odd Hyphen was behind it and did such a good job. That K-pop combines my passions for design and music makes being a fan of the genre so fun… Being a stan has also brought a lot of inspiration for my own design work. I do a lot as a therapeutic escape from school work and client projects, which can sometimes be draining. Having an avenue to express myself creatively is something that is very important to me and a lot of it is based on the music I listen to. Being able to visualise the production of a song and instruments in the background help me to translate emotions into funky posters that I really love making… In that way, I think being a stan helps me to find new meaning in my work as a designer.”
WHAT FRIENDS AND FAMILY SAY ABOUT HER MUSIC OBSESSION? “I am thankful and blessed to be surrounded by friends who aren’t the type to judge me for what I enjoy… Of course I’ve had friends who make slightly snarky remarks about me being a stan, but that doesn’t bother me as much as it used to as I know that there’s nothing wrong with having healthy interests. Whenever did interests become defined as “cool” or “uncool”? My parents are the ones who fostered my love for music so whenever new music from my favourite musicians is released, I play it for them! We have similar music tastes so they do enjoy the music, which is such a great feeling. I have a tight bond with my twin sister Paige and we share everything, including most of the music we listen to. If I listen to a musician, she will somehow start listening to the same person too and we’ll then bond over this. I’m so blessed to have someone who understands my love for music and the people who make it – the both of us have even gotten our mother watching videos of BTS and SEVENTEEN. It’s really a lot of fun.”
Collecting vinyl records is one of the ways Claire Boon expresses her passion for her favourite artistes. During a trip to South Korea, she acquired records by Tyler, the Creator and J-Hope.
DEBUNKING STAN CULTURE: “The typical idea of extreme stan behaviour could be spending a whole paycheck on a musician or waiting to catch a glimpse of him or her live after a concert. This can be perceived by the everyday non-stan as embarrassing or naive, but why do we tend to talk about stan culture in a negative light? I often hear from other stans how the best part about being a stan is the joy, comfort and excitement the whole experience has brought them… I think it’s very important to be a fan and passionate about what you’re interested in because this builds your ability to love and grow. Personally, it made me change my negative outlook on the world… For about a year or so, I lost touch with a lot of things that I had found interest in and it really made me feel a loss of identity and very disconnected. Over time though (as I became a stan of the musicians I love), I built up my confidence, personal style and quirks, and this has helped me to discover new interests and find new meaning to other things I had previously loved… Being a stan and seeing the hard work the musicians I love put into their passions motivates me to keep going as I pursue my own dreams and persevere in the arts. Maybe I too have a shot… Honestly I’m just always really inspired to live a fuller, more joyful life, thanks to the musicians I stan!”
SO STANS AREN’T CRAZY? “I find this statement quite frustrating. It’s easy to jump at the stories and viral videos of fan encounters and to shun the people in them, and I agree that it’s not healthy or safe for fans to sneak into hotels and stalk celebrities. However it’s a shame that we focus so much on the bad eggs and ignore the good that can come out of the stan community. Did you know that BTS’s ARMY fan base holds fundraisers almost every month to give back and make a difference to society? Under the One In An ARMY Charity Project, it recently donated a huge sum to Unicef. In 2020, the ARMY matched the band’s million-dollar donation to Black Lives Matter, corralling over 35,000 donors. Isn’t that insane? The power of a united community led by good people definitely has the power to change lives beyond the bubble of three-minute-long songs that make one shed a tear. So maybe stans are indeed crazy, but this energy and passion can and will also continue to be channelled towards doing good. If you think about it, stans simply bring love to the people they support. Rather than zeroing in on those who bring a bad name to fans with their questionable actions, I think it’s important to recognise that building huge communities of supporters is something so indescribably heartwarming.”
Claire Boon attended an event in South Korea to celebrate BTS’ 10th anniversary, which was also attended by one of the group’s members, RM.
WILL SHE BE A STAN FOR LIFE? “Without a doubt. I’ve been a fangirl for my entire life and I don’t really see that changing. I find myself going back to even old interests that I don’t keep up with as much – musicals or TV shows, for example… I think there’s a charm to being wholly myself and owning my interests, and I don’t want to be embarrassed by the things that past me has liked or future me will like. It’s sad to shun the things you used to like because you’ve ‘grown up’… My priorities and responsibilities will change, but my personality will still stay true and the moments in which I’ve shared the joy of being a fan with my friends and family are those that I will look back on fondly… I have no shame being a stan and I think no one should!”
NAME: Pauline Seraphina
TIKTOK ACCOUNT: @paubeatrice
INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT: @paulineseraphina
PROFESSION: Anthropology student
STAN OR FAN? “When it comes to music, yes, I’d say I’m a stan. I will go out of my way to hear my favourite artists live – it’s such a privilege to be able to and also always an experience that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. I also get to buy exclusive merch that might not be available in Singapore. Sometimes I even catch my favourite bands or artistes a few times a year. In addition, I like collecting vinyls, which adds to the whole experience of listening to and enjoying music.”
Pauline Seraphina met Thai neo-soul singer Phum Viphurit at a meet-and-greet held after his 2022 concert here
WHO SHE STANS: “I like listening to various genres of music and my top Spotify artistes include The 1975, Phum Viphurit, Paramore, Taylor Swift, Arctic Monkeys, Nirvana and the Foo Fighters – all that good stuff. Besides familiar or famous rock and pop acts, I enjoy indie music quite a lot because of how broad it is. I gravitate particularly towards shoegaze and alternative sounds as well as instrumental and math rock. Nirvana and Spotify radio were what got me exploring the genre.”
HOW SHE STANS: “If I can go see my favourite musicians live, I will! However if that’s not possible, I’d go on Wikipedia deep dives to learn about their history and their craft. I do buy merch, but I’m picky when it comes to their design. I don’t see all of this as showing my support for the acts. Instead, it’s more about making their craft a part of me and my life because of how much I like them.”
She took a train from London to Wales to catch Michael Buble perform
MOST EXTREME STAN BEHAVIOUR: “I flew to London to see Paramore! To be fair though, I didn’t do so just to watch the band, but I had scheduled my trip to coincide with the show as well as a few others: James Bay performed a few days after while Michael Buble had a show in Wales, which was somewhat nearby, a week or so after. It ended up being quite a task booking trains and accommodation to see him, to be honest.”
TOTAL AMOUNT SHE’S SPENT ON MERCH: “A ballpark figure would be about $3,000 excluding concert tickets?”
WHAT FRIENDS AND FAMILY SAY ABOUT HER MUSIC OBSESSION: “That it has brought us closer together. I get comments from friends who listen to my Spotify playlists or when I recommend a song that they like that I’m always introducing them to new music. It’s a nice feeling knowing that your friends appreciate what you appreciate! As for my family, music has always been a big part of my parents’ lives and an integral part of my childhood. It’s helped us to bond lots especially whenever I come home with old vinyls. I once brought home one by Glenn Miller (an influential American big band composer and recording artiste who went missing and was subsequently declared dead in the ’40s) and my dad looked at me in disbelief for a good 10 seconds. We’d have a conversation about these releases and through this shared love for all sorts of music genres, we’ve learnt a lot about each other.”
DEBUNKING STAN CULTURE: “There are extreme stans and scenarios, of course. I’ve heard of horror stories about sasaengs (the South Korean term for obsessive fans who would go to the extent of invading the privacy of their idols), or that one time when a fan tried to mail herself to the Beatles. And I’m sure every band and music genre have their share of extreme fans. I don’t think that’s cool at all – these artists are humans. In my books though, true stans are simply people who enjoy the artistes’ craft, full stop”.
This Arctic Monkeys stan fulfilled her teenage dream of seeing the band on stage earlier this year
WHY BE A STAN? “The thrill of listening to music being performed live is a force I can’t put into words – it’s addictive. And seeing people perform and be in their element is so inspiring. Music in general has been a big part of my life since I was a child and if given the chance, I’d go watch a live performance every week – something I used to do since there’s always something on and free at the Esplanade. I’ve also made a lot of cool friends from attending gigs and concerts, some of whom I know will likely be friends for life.”
WILL SHE BE A STAN FOR LIFE? “Definitely. I can’t guarantee that indie/alternative music will forever be my favourite genre because my tastes have and will continue to change. And I might not like the same bands and artistes forever. However music will always be a part of my life and add some sort of meaning to it.”
NAME: Leah Shannon Neubronner
TIKTOK ACCOUNT: @mizchiefmagikk
INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT @mizchiefmagik
PROFESSION: Full time content creator – see her work on her social media accounts including Youtube, where she has her own podcast and, soon, a new interview series
STAN OR FAN? “I would say I’m a stan as I’ve been a K-pop fan for 15 years and make a lot of content revolving around my journey as a K-pop fan. I’m also lucky to have had quite a lot of organic idol interactions such as meeting (Twice rapper) Chaeyoung in a mall in South Korea; bumping into Jooheon from Monsta X on the road travelling in a van; or having (the rapper Changkyun aka I.M, also of Monsta X) catch me just before I nearly hit and fell into a signboard at the airport.”
Content creator Leah Shannon Neubronner’s love of South Korean pop acts such as Twice and Monsta X has led her to travel to places such as Bangkok, Seoul and – soon – Melbourne to watch their live shows.
WHO SHE STANS: “Twice! My bias is Chaeyoung. I started liking the group casually back in 2018 because I liked what was then their new sound, which was less cutesy and more mature than what had previously been put out. I eventually got into the group’s dynamics more and that was when I became an even bigger fan. I used to be a huge stan of Monsta X and my bias was Changkyun – I supported the group from their debut in 2015 up till 2022, and Monsta X was the first group that I flew overseas to watch.”
HOW SHE STANS: “I buy the musicians’ albums, watch their content, and support their concerts here and overseas.”
MOST EXTREME STAN BEHAVIOUR: “I got someone to custom-make a doll for Chaeyoung and she noticed it at Twice’s recent Singapore concert. I didn’t manage to pass it to her, but I did also make a poster telling her that I made it for her.”
TOTAL AMOUNT SHE’S SPENT ON MERCH “I don’t know how much and I don’t want to either.”
Leah Shannon Neubronner’s most stan move? Customising a doll for Chaeyoung of Twice when the girl group staged a concert here in September.
WHAT FRIENDS AND FAMILY SAY ABOUT HER MUSIC OBSESSION: “They are used to it. My sisters and I are all K-pop fans. They would also like to fly for concerts after having seen me do so for years.”
DEBUNKING STAN CULTURE: “Some stans are crazy, but they make up only a fraction of the community – and the extremely negative stories are what will go viral.”
WHY BE A STAN? “Music has always been a big part of my life so enjoying and supporting the music of Twice comes naturally. One can also make good friends in the stan community – it’s easy to connect with others when you share a common interest and they are just as excited about it as you are. I have so many wholesome friendships with people from different countries whom I had met through Twitter or at concerts, and that have lasted for years. I am thankful that K-pop brought us together.”
WILL SHE BE A STAN FOR LIFE? “I don’t know, but I will enjoy it while I’m at it!”
Photography Lawrence Teo & Athirah Annissa Art Direction Jonathan Chia Production Assistant Kalyse Hoo Hair Tan Eng Chong/Kizuki+Lim Makeup Keith Bryant Lee, using Tom Ford Beauty & Vanessa Drea
This article is an extended version of a story that first appeared in the Nov 2023 Music Edition of FEMALE