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Tabitha Nauser: On All The Things She Should Have Said

First came her highly personal EP "Things I Should Have Said". Then came the divisive Netflix reality show Singapore Social where she revealed her love life to the world. Never in her over-decade long career has the head-turning 27-year-old R&B singer Tabitha Nauser seemed more of an open book. So what better time than now to get her to really bare all?
tabitha nauser

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On what made her bare it all in Things I Should Have Said

“I don’t even really know what word to use to describe what 2019 was like for me. I dealt with the aftermath of a very toxic relationship, I lost my grandmother, I parted ways with my label of three years. I lost the main structures I had in place for years, all in a short period of time, and that brought its own insecurities and issues that I had to deal with as well. I think for a very long time I put myself in a position of being scared to say no, being scared of upsetting people or asking for what I want, and when I finally realised I was constantly putting myself last on the list, it felt to me like such a waste. And that’s when I kicked into gear. Things I Should Have Said stemmed from those feelings of frustration, being upset, and disappointment. I needed to make a change.”

On the main goal of Things I Should Have Said

“I wouldn’t say my sound has changed drastically from my previous works, but the focus has definitely shifted slightly. With my previous tracks, I always wanted songs that were production-heavy and that would get people moving. With this EP, I wanted to tell a story. The message behind each song was the most important, and I wanted to make it as easy as possible for the listener to understand the story arc and be able to relate to the emotions behind it.”

On what she’s really like

“Some people find this hard to believe, but I was deathly shy in my early teens. It took a lot for me to pluck up the courage to sing to a room full of people. My mother had to practically force me to sign up for Singapore Idol. I remember being so upset about it, but felt slightly better when I found out that my cousin would be auditioning with me. Now the Tabitha most people don’t see isn’t very far from how I am on stage – just a little more dialled down. I’d like to say I have an on/off switch: one minute I’m the loudest person in the room, and the next, I’m a fly on the wall and totally comfortable with that.”

tabitha nauser

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On her current state of mind

“I haven’t been asked this question in a long while! I honestly can say I’m in a good place now. I’ve still got things to sort out and work on, but I’m understanding that it’s a daily process and not something that happens overnight. I think the most important thing I’ve realised this year (2019) is that toxic people do exist (as much as you might want to ignore it), and learning to disconnect is probably the best thing you can do for yourself and your psyche. I’ve learnt to listen to what my body and mind really needs and what makes me really happy, and am choosing to share that with people that I can make meaningful connections with.”

On what she’s most excited about now

“I’m making preparations to move to the UK. I’ve never lived outside of Singapore for more than two months, so this is major! Work’s been very good to me in Singapore for the past nine years, but I feel like I’ve hit a wall. I’ve been reminded time and time again in the past year that life’s short and to be treasured. To make big things happen, I need to make big changes. Moving to the UK will bring me closer to the UK and US markets, as well as to some of my frequent collaborators in music. It’s something I’ve thought about doing for a long time, and I’m happy to be able to do it now.”

Things she should have said… to her younger self

“Listen to your instinct – that weird gut feeling you get in your stomach – because there’s a difference between butterflies and that twisting feeling when something’s not right. And don’t be afraid to back yourself. If you’re wrong, that’s fine. You’ll learn and grow, and come out stronger, but the most important thing is to try.”

Things she would like to say… to her future self

“Don’t compare yourself to an idea of what’s ‘perfect’. That list of all the things that you need to do, achieve or have for life to be ‘complete’ is a farce. You can find happiness and success in the smallest things. Baby steps, girl.”

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Things she should have said… on Singapore Social

“Where do I even start! I’m kidding. I had the least prep time for the production because I was the last cast member to be tapped for it. I never signed a contract, and I’m the only main cast member to have not done so. Knowing what I know now, I should’ve taken more time to sort through my feelings privately beforehand, instead of working them out on air. I love the production crew and director, and I think people forget just how big a task it is trying to tell all these different stories – there were definitely important parts that were edited out. All I’ll say now is that I was in an extremely toxic relationship that made me think I was co-dependent and incapable for many years and should’ve done something about it earlier. I’m happy I’ve worked that out now and can move past it, and would like for someone else in the same situation to see my full story and know that things will be okay when you’ve the courage to step out.”

Things she would like to say… about a social issue

“It’s so important for women, especially young women, to feel supported, empowered and respected. We need to be encouraged to dream and achieve big, not just by fellow women, but also very importantly the men who work alongside us. Feminism isn’t ‘women are better than men’; it’s ‘women are equal to men’.”

This article first appeared in the February 2020 print issue of FEMALE. 

Photography & Styling Franco Schike Hair Tomoaki Usui Makeup Elaine Lynskey