Jeff Satur Wants To Tell You A Story - Men's Folio
Style, Interview

Jeff Satur Wants To Tell You A Story

  • By Charmaine Tan

With buttery vocals, princely features and the penmanship of a lovelorn poet, Jeff Satur is about to sing his way into your heart — one story at a time.

What makes a good story? And what makes a good storyteller? For music savant Jeff Worakamol Satur, these are the two questions that have kept him on his feet the past decade, fuelling his fearless desire to know, love and showcase his most authentic self to the world.

Magnetic in look, sound and craft, Jeff has managed to dabble in multiple genres of music — and play various instruments — without losing his signature, velvety sound. While he did skyrocket to fame portraying Kim on the TV show KinnPorsche: The Series in 2022, Jeff singing its theme song, “Why Don’t You Stay,” was what converted many casual onlookers into full-time Jeff fans (or SATURDAYs). They are now hooked onto his buttery vocals — which not only eloquently and evocatively sing in Thai, English and Chinese — but Jeff is also the very person who produced and wrote the stories in these tracks.

Pictured above: (Cover 1) Jacket, shirt, pants, all Valentino; Earrings, tie, shoes, all Valentino Garavani; (Cover 2) Shirt, Valentino; Rings, earrings, necklace, all Cartier

With ancestral roots tracing back to China, India and Italy, it is no wonder that the Phuket native navigates expression and interaction in these vastly different languages without losing their nuances. It is the openness to embrace diversity in cultures and ideas that his fans continue to grow in numbers from all corners of the world.

Since starting his personal studio — Studio On Saturn — at the end of 2022, Jeff has held concerts all over the region, most recently completing his Space Shuttle No. 8 Asia Tour in April to celebrate the release of his first full album. His appearances on music variety shows like China’s Call Me By Fire Season 3 and, most recently, Chuang Asia: Thailand — a Thai idol survival show spin-off based on the Chuang franchise in China — have also appealed to fans in a new way. His hold over both seniors and juniors in the music industry is a testament to the piercing allure he has that transcends age and gender.

Then there is his relationship with Valentino, which comes to a surging point in this interview’s accompanying visuals — each party egging one another in their courageous pursuit of new, creative frontiers.

This is not the end. There is still so much more power that Jeff has yet to harness from stories — which communicate and entertain without the boundaries of time and space, and have decidedly become a grand purpose that he is working to fulfil. From music, the big screen, and finally the horizon, Men’s Folio sits down with the prodigious artiste to discover what makes him tick and perhaps what kind of tale he would charm us into next.

Shirt, Valentino; Necklace, Valentino Garavani

Hi Jeff! How have you been?
I’ve been very good. Fantastic, actually.

We noticed you have said goodbye to your signature long hair. Why did you decide to cut it?
I had to change my hairstyle for a movie I was filming. I also had to change many other things about myself, including how I spoke, reacted and moved — so much so that I had to attend workshops. So, I thought changing my image would help me immerse myself in the role.

Congratulations on completing the Space Shuttle No.8 Asia tour! You have mentioned before that going on a solo tour has been your dream for the longest time — now that both your debut album and solo tour are done, how are you feeling?
It’s a pretty weird feeling — I just want to do more and more. I wanted to tour more and create more songs. It’s a strange feeling to me. It’s more fun to me now, especially since I’ve completed it. It’s like the end of one dream is leading to the start of another.

What is something new about yourself as an artiste or person you learned from going on tour? It must’ve been tiring, but seeing all that support (from guest artistes or close friends attending) must have been very empowering too.
What I’ve learned along the way is to be present with the audience. They give you so many different experiences and learnings from place to place. The show is never the same, even if the song and setting are. Everything is different. For me, I like to be there with them; I give my all and soak in the moment from my fans. Being in the moment without a script really pushed me to be a better artiste, and I believe it made me a better human being.

Jacket, pants, all Valentino; Bag, Valentino Garavani

We have to talk about about your first on-screen mentoring stint on Chuang Asia, especially after that “Dum Dum” performance. How was it like mentoring so many aspiring artistes-to-be at once?
Guiding and mentoring new artistes is a dream that I only just recently realised (I had). It means a lot to be there, to guide and watch these artistes where they are now, doing things they previously couldn’t. I just have so many feelings. I’m so proud.

There are many things in the industry that might break you along the way. While I don’t know it all, I hope what I’ve experienced in my career can be, in some way, helpful to them in their journeys. I hope that with my stories, they can break their boundaries and avoid the same traps they might find along the way.

I hope that they not only become great artistes but also become better humans, stay positive in the industry, and are able to create and find themselves along the way.

Did this experience help you reflect — in any way — on your artiste career so far? In retrospect, would you redo anything?
It reminded me of my childhood. It was a time when I had so much passion for music, and seeing all the high-intensity passion in them brought me back to that time. It freshened me up.

I wouldn’t change anything because I love the way things are now. Changing the past would mean changing the present, and I love where I’m at and what I’m doing right now.

Polo shirt, pants, all Valentino; Shoes, Valentino Garavani; Rings, earrings, all Cartier

What do you feel is the most important trait that any aspiring performing artiste should have?
Every artiste is different, but all artistes should try to be themselves. For me, I want to be true to myself, to be able to discover my own direction, create my own work, and be brave enough to show that to the world.

What about in a song? Everyone likes to ask questions about your views on music because your personal touch does not escape any part of your music’s creative process — from melody-making, lyric-writing to the final performance. What is your definition of a good song?
“Good” in itself is a subjective word, and a good song, to me, can mean something very different to another. You can love jazz; you can love metal. So long as you’re satisfied with what you have released, be able to listen to it back and forth, and even enjoy that track after 10 years — that’s what I define as a good song.

Regardless of shape or form, good music should always capture the essence of a story, one’s feelings, or who the artiste is at their core.

Does any existing song come to mind? Either one you are proud of or one from an artiste you look up to.
The first song that comes to mind is “Endless Rain” by Yoshiki Hayashi. I’m not too sure if he wrote it when his mom or dad passed away. But it’s a song written with lots of emotion, and it very clearly shows his style of music. It’s just very Yoshiki.

I have many songs that I am proud of — actually, every song. But if I had to pick one, it might be “Dum Dum”. I had a lot of bad feelings bottled inside me when I wrote the song, and I really wanted to release that toxicity from inside of me. It sounds as angry as I felt when I wrote it, so listening back and feeling that anger gives me satisfaction. I think I wrote it in an honest and heartfelt manner that was true to my emotions at the time.

Polo shirt, pants, all Valentino; Rings, earrings, all Cartier

In your previous interview with us, you talked about the different charms (and challenges) that come with writing lyrics in Thai and English. Your debut album has both English originals and English translations of your Thai songs — which song’s story or specific lyrics are you most proud of putting together, and why?
Like I said, I love and am proud of all my songs. But if I had to pick one, it would be “Black Tie”. In that track, I had to relive many memories and feelings. Honestly, even at 29, I still feel like a kid. Until today, I still address everyone around me with “P” — how people in Thailand show respect to those older than them — because l feel I have a lot more growing up to do, and that spirit to learn is still alive inside me.

As a kid, I was always told to do this and that, learn this and study that. In retrospect, those who ended up following these instructions all somehow turned out the same. I really don’t like that. I don’t want all these rules and boundaries to limit who we can be, and who I could be. That’s why I chose to sing about this in “Black Tie”, using the concept of the suit to talk about breaking those boundaries, tying in with the freedom and individuality that the Valentino collection at the time championed and empowered its wearers to embody.

Are there any stories you are looking to tell with your next music release?
It’s a secret. You’ll know when you know.

More on your love for story-telling — which seems to be a common thread that links all the creative works you have released so far together — what do you think makes a good story?
All stories are worth telling, even those without a happy ending. What makes a good story is how you tell it. Capturing the essence or feeling of the story and delivering that to the listeners is more important. You know it’s good if the listeners can experience the story with you,

Jacket, shirt, jeans, all Valentino; Bag, Valentino Garavani

You mentioned in an interview that if you were not an artiste today, you would be a writer. These days, it is hard to have an original voice, yet yours (both literal and figurative) is quite luminous in its own way. How do you maintain that voice despite all the noise?
I don’t think an original voice is something that can be created. An original voice can only come from trusting your instincts, being honest in your work, and staying truthful to your feelings. Only then can you create work that represents you. You should never lie to yourself.

And more importantly, never lose that kid inside of you. That’s who is creating the all the art, instead of you.

More importantly, how do you rest? Are there any go-to activities (or non-activities) you like to do to return to yourself and rest your voice?
I actually have a lot of time to rest. Then again, I also don’t feel like my work encompasses “working”. It’s also my vacation. Sure, even when I’m actually on vacation, I have to think about work. But I don’t mind it; I love what I do.

If we’re talking about physical rest, I prioritise resting my voice. I used to sing during my free time, but I try not to use it that often now to be ready when I actually have to sing. I think it’s important to know how to control and use my voice in the right way.

For those who are only discovering your music today, can you compile a three-track introduction to Jeff Satur’s playlist and explain why?
“Dum Dum”, “Fade”, and “Loop”. “Dum Dum” shows my darker side because it’s a release of some pent-up frustration and anger. “Fade” is more romantic — it shows you how I experience love and what I am like in a relationship, and I try to tell that story in a more emotional and evocative manner. Then we have “Loop”, a more introspective exploration of who I am. Listening to these three songs will give you a good idea of the breadth of my personality and style as an artiste.

Shirt, jeans, all Valentino

In recent years, you have been bolder with your style. How would you describe your current relationship with fashion? Has it changed over the years?
I think fashion is about doing what you love, wearing what you love, and enjoying what you see in the mirror. Every morning before I go out, I feel like I should love what I see in the mirror — regardless of what other people think. Your body is a canvas, and whatever colour or pattern you choose to put on yourself that day is a form of self-expression you should enjoy.

Over the years, I’ve definitely become more confident about trying on things out of my comfort zone. I used to be scared of wearing certain things because of what others might think, but I’m no longer as shy. I’m just breaking one boundary at a time.

What values of Maison Valentino does Jeff Satur — the artiste — embody?
I think Valentino and I have many things in common. Fundamentally, we both embrace the act of constant reinvention and enjoy the challenge of finding new ground, and there’s no better expression of this chemistry and kindred spirit than the soundtrack I created with and for Valentino. The brand is quite sentimental and romantic, and my body of work doesn’t stray far from these sensibilities — especially if you listen to the three tracks I mentioned earlier. A valiant kind of courage persists throughout, and I feel like that syncs up nicely with what Valentino stands for as a brand.

Shirt, pants, all Valentino

What is next on your cards? Will we get to sees Jeff Satur, the actor again soon?
Without a doubt. In fact, more and more because actor Jeff Satur is an important part of me, and there are a lot of upcoming projects that I’m passionate about and very excited to share with the world.

Last but not least, you have said before that any interaction or activities you do for SATURDAYs feels like an everlasting dream. Is there anything you want to say to your fans right now?
Always be happy. Yes, sometimes it’s hard, and sometimes the world isn’t as beautiful as the ones we read about in our favourite fairytales. Focus on the good and avoid the bad. Surround yourself with good people. Never give up on yourself. You’re beautiful, you’re great, and you’re you — and no one else can do what you do. Even I can’t do what you do. Everybody has something unique they can do. Appreciate and love what you do. Follow your dreams, and I’ll follow mine. Someday, we’ll sing together again.

Photography Chee Wei
Creative Direction & Styling Izwan Abdullah
Interview Charmaine Tan
Fashion Coordination & Production Manfred Lu
Grooming Rasika Thammasin
Hair Chattramongkol Klamsuk
Styling & Production Assistant Oey Ratchada

The June/July 2024 issue featuring Jeff Satur on the cover is available at major newsstands in Singapore. For order enquiries, please email us at [email protected]. We ship worldwide. Alternatively, visit this link.