Happy holidays ya filthy animals! To round off a tumultuous year, we have enlisted Ayden Sng with his quiet introspections and worldly views to remind us of the joy of positivity: a vibe that he has brought to the big screens, his career and way of living.
I want to start by wishing you a Happy Birthday! You just turned 27 a couple of days back. A year older but a year wiser — what is one thing you gained or learnt while you were 26 and are planning to bring into your 27th birthday?
[Deep exhales] That’s a very good question. There were a lot of things I needed to learn and internalise as a full-time artiste.
One of them is accepting a lot of things you do — no matter how passionate you are or how much effort you put in — will not be recognised. If you release a video, there’s a high chance no one watches it at all despite the time and effort spent. You need to deal with your definition of success, what’s worth spending resources on.
How would you define success then?
Unfortunately, you can’t escape hard metrics such as the number of people watching a drama production or the views, shares and likes of social media content.
Here’s where it gets tough, do you stop doing it if the response isn’t good? That’s when you need to find an alternative definition of success — are you proud of your work, have you lived up to your expectations, have you learnt something or you feel you have grown?
It’s not healthy to always peg your sense of success to external validations, especially in this [entertainment] industry, because it is out of your control. If you always rely on that, you will be left very bruised after some time.
Who has been the greatest influence in your acting career so far?
[Pondering] Greatest influence…?
Mentors or figures in the industry you admire and look up to?
Not anyone specifically. I may not have a mentor but every production I’m on, I’ve met actors and actresses who have been instrumental to my growth.
Bryan Wong as director, Sheila Sim, Jessica Liu, Dawn Yeo, and now Chen Li Ping and Carrie Wong. These are very good actors and none of them have been stingy when it comes to helping me hone my craft. I feel very blessed to have them around to help me out.
I want to touch on the drama you’re currently involved in — Recipe of Life — do you see similarities between yourself and the character you portray?
[Shakes head in disapproval] My real self versus the character is 180 degrees apart, like completely different.
Like poles apart?
Yes, poles apart in terms of drive, our psyche, persona and how we view relationships — which is a challenge when it comes to acting.
Prada Nylon jacket, cotton shirt, nylon pants; (On Ayden’s left hand) Bvlgari Aluminium in aluminium titanium case with rubber strap, B.zero1 Rock pendant with studs in pink gold and black ceramic, B.zero1 Design Legend white gold 3-band ring, B.zero1 Labyrinth ring with pave, B.zero1 Rock 2 bands ring with studs in pink gold and black ceramic, (On Ayden’s right hand) B.zero1 Rock 4 bands ring with studs in pink gold and black ceramic, B01 rose gold ring with black ceramic and pave diamonds.
How do you get into character then? Do you need to switch on and off, or it is pretty natural for you since it is completely different?
There’s character study before production begins, once you’re on set you pretty much have the character’s persona. And I’m one of those who gets affected by the role.
Do you stay in character?
Yes. Productions are usually around three months long while this is eight months so it affects me. This character is very meek and gets bullied a lot. Honestly, it gives me a bit more anxiety.
How do you deal with it or disconnect when you get off set?
I don’t think you can do it because we’re filming almost every day; it affects the way I speak and conduct myself around other people and it is very apparent when I’m on set.
This guy reacts differently — he’s hyper-polite, extremely hesitant and anxious about a lot of things, not to mention indecisive too.
Apart from acting, you are musically-inclined as well — what is one trait you have taken from music and applied to your acting career?
Sensitivity. In music, there is a flow to a melody. When you hear a piece of music, you want to see shapes and waves of which direction that line of melody is going towards. It’s the same in acting, you have a certain level of sensitivity towards emotions.
When we talk about a scene, there is a rhythm to it. Tempo is a word we use very often on set, it needs to flow at a certain tempo. The way I view music is the same way I view a scene, only when the flow is there the scene will be natural.
When it comes to acting and composing music, there is one key difference in your approach when you are tackling both artforms. Music is very independent unless you are in an orchestra but I work as a solo musician. It is about personal expression as opposed to acting which is a team effort.
You are always relying on your scene partners, the rest of the cast to create the scene together. It’s all interdependent. When I’m doing drama, I ask myself what is the most natural, what makes the most sense, what’s the best way to feed off each other’s energy.
View this post on Instagram
Being creative can be incredibly draining, how do you recharge?
You recharge by finding pleasure and meaning in what you do, there’s a lot of excitement once you produce something.
I did a music video, which hasn’t been released, for this Bvlgari watch. There are a lot of experiments. When you have creative output, you get excited because you get to try many different things. You find joy in all these things you do.
And you feed off these?
You feed off those and the team you’re working with. We shot till 3 a.m. and you’re happy the whole team is willing to be there to do it with you. There’s an anxious feeling and maybe the hard metrics don’t perform well, but it doesn’t change the fact that you’re proud of this piece of work.
Valentino Cotton short sleeve shirt; Bvlgari Aluminium in aluminium titanium case with rubber strap, B.zero1 branded bracelet in white gold, B.zero1 white gold bangle, B.zero1 white gold bangle with pave diamonds, B.zero1 Rock 4 bands ring with studs in pink gold and black ceramic, B.zero1 Design Legend white gold 3-band ring
You mentioned Bvlgari so let us talk a little about the shoot, what do you like most about it or what drew you to it?
I’m wearing the chronograph. From a purely visual perspective, it’s more complex than the time-only ones. I find this kind of complexity very attractive because it gives another dimension. It’s versatile too, it can be styled as a sports watch or suited up.
What is the most understated piece of jewellery a man can own?
Watches are entry-level when it comes to accessorising for men. A lot of guys buy into bracelets, and if you move up the ladder, it’s rings and necklaces.
At what point do you think a man has gone overboard with jewellery?
I don’t think there’s a point of being overboard. You can wear whatever you want. If anything, I feel accessorising is a new wave in men’s fashion. For a guy to truly be fashionable, you should assess how good they are at accessorising.
If diamonds are a girl’s best friend, what’s the equivalent for a man then?
I think a generalised answer is a watch. It’s a good telltale sign of what kind of appreciation of style this person has. Fortunately and unfortunately, guys are still pegged to their Rolexes and high luxury watches and they are a statement piece when it comes to status and sense of style.
Prada Nylon jacket, cotton shirt, nylon pants Bvlgari B.zero 1 Rock pendant with studs in pink gold and black ceramic. B.zero1 Rock 4 bands ring with studs in pink gold and black ceramic, B01 rose gold ring with black ceramic and pave diamonds, Aluminium in titanium case with rubber strap, B.zero1 Design Legend white gold 3-band ring, B.zero1 Labyrinth ring with pave, B.zero1 Rock 2 bands ring with studs in pink gold and black ceramic
What is Ayden Sng’s guide to accessorising with jewellery?
Cover your hands! [Laughs] I don’t think there’s a rule book to it. These days, expressing an alternative masculinity is appreciated.
2021 is just around the corner, on a scale of 1 to 10, how optimistic are you for the new year?
This is a difficult question. [Heavy exhale]
In general, I believe in working hard in the present and not looking forward to anything because what comes in the next few months depends on how hard you are working now.
I don’t have a positive outlook, neither do I have a negative one on what’s gonna happen. All I care about is the immediate things I’m currently working on, I hope they succeed! I hope the audiences respond well to the new drama or the music that is going to be released. I hope I can continue to grow as an actor, a musician, a creative; find more opportunities to display what my value- add as a creative is.
View this post on Instagram
Finally, December is next month and it is the festive season as well, what does December traditionally mean to you?
December is traditionally a time of reflection, to be honest. It’s the time when everything winds down and I firmly believe you need to spend some time to evaluate how the past year has been.
2020 for a lot of people is a year of missed opportunities given the whole pandemic. It’s still very important at the end of the year to think back about what you have done with your life for the past year.
Is there anything worth celebrating or reviewing? Moving forward into 2021, what certain actions are you taking to make sure the next year is more exciting?
The main thing is don’t leave any regrets. I’m someone who firmly believes in doing anything you feel like doing rather than thinking “oh ****, I didn’t do it”. Then that would be truly a waste of life.
Editor-In-Chief Wilson Lim
Photography Cher Him
Art Direction Izwan Abdullah
Styling Bryan Goh
Grooming Benji Oo
Hair Gabriel Yuen / Mode Salon
This story with Ayden Sng first appeared in the December/January 2021 issue of Men’s Folio Singapore that’s dropping soon on Magzter and news stands! Follow us on the ‘gram at @mensfolio for updates/