Narelle Kheng likes to use the word “like”, like, a lot. “I’m sorry. Like, I’m a bimbo, okay,” she says self-deprecatingly when we bring this up – a big reminder of why she’s one of today’s most well-loved and followed female personalities, both by the media and fellow young millennials.
Not because she’s a ditz, of course. Beyond being the bassist and vocalist of local pop band The Sam Willows, the 24-year-old has interests and endeavours that let on that she’s anything but. A science student in junior college who also dabbled in drama, she lights up expounding on the work and theories of award-winning science fiction writer Ted Chiang.
Last year, she revealed her entrepreneurial side, co-founding the co-working space/bar 21 Moonstone atop an old industrial building near Serangoon Road. Her goal, she says, is to have it become a community space for like-minded creatives. Around press time, it held its first public event, Xiao Kopitiam – a cheeky nod to the space’s former use as a canteen – that offered beers and affordable artisanal grub, alongside wares and services by independent local labels. Like her, the mood was fun, casual, and downright unpretentious.
Therein lies Kheng’s most endearing appeal: that she’s plainly, unapologetically millennial. It’s something that she’s declared repeatedly in interviews, so much so that it could seem perfunctory – except that in person, she exudes many of the best traits associated with Generation Y.