August 21, 2020

No one likes being cooped up at home for months. It can be a rather agonising experience, but not everyone finds it torturous. For introverts like singer-songwriter Nathan Hartono, the past few months of sheltering in place have not only been liberating but also productive. From practising and preparing for this year’s National Day Parade performance where he sang “Everything I Amto being part of a 900-strong virtual choir in April organised by Voices of Singapore, this beau gosse has made good use of his time in isolation to hone his craft and contribute back to society. 

Apart from sporadic visits to the supermarket, there was also the occasional guitar-strumming and warbling, goofing around on TikTok, bonding seshes with ShihTzu, Nicky, and display of culinary skills. His pièce de résistance? A hearty bowl of “very legit” Vietnamese pho seasoned with a generous helping of MSG. Although this umami-laden version may have a hard time winning over health freaks, his latest English single ‘Dig Deep,’ which just dropped today, is emotionally relatable to anyone who understands how difficult it is to open up and be vulnerable. Here, the 29-year-old talks about his quarantine lifestyle and the importance of creating a routine.

High Net Worth: What habit have you started or broken during quarantine? 

Nathan Hartono: I binge-watched so many television shows that I don’t even remember some of them anymore. I’m not proud of it. Normally, I tend to be picky with the shows I watch, and would only commit time and attention to things I’m particularly drawn to. But lately, I have been watching whatever catches my eye on Netflix.

What part of sheltering in place have you come to appreciate the most?

Forming personal routines has been quite refreshing. Personally, I don’t have many routines in life, because my schedule tends to be erratic and random, especially with work and travel. But since there wasn’t a lot of variety in the day-to-day life at the start of the circuit breaker, I had to adhere to a fixed routine of exercise, work and sleep. If not, I would flounder and get lost in the days.

Was there a book, a movie, an article, a conversation that captured your attention? 

I finished reading this amazing book by Mike McHargue called You’re a Miracle (and a Pain in the Ass). It’s less of a self-help book and more of a guide to self-understanding, with tons of highly digestible scientific insights into the human mind and the decisions that define us. It was fascinating to read a logical breakdown of aspects of our personality that we might not understand like compulsions and anxieties. I highly recommend this book to everyone. 

Did you stock up on anything? 

Frozen fruits for smoothies. And pita bread.

Your most-listened-to songs during the circuit breaker?  

I fell in love with the entire Channel Orange album by Frank Ocean again. “Lockdown” by Anderson Paak is a powerful anthem of the times and is amazingly well-written. Meditations, an album by Cory Wong and Jon Batiste, is the best thing to listen to when you need to focus. And lastly, the Cowboy Bebop playlist on Spotify is great during long drives or when exercising.

Was there a particular person that you wished you could see more of?

My grandma. She has had to stay at home a lot more, so we would try to visit her or invite her over for dinner every once in a while.

Favourite stay-at-home outfit?

BMT shorts and a t-shirt that’s been worn to bits by countless washes.

What was the best thing that happened to you during lockdown?

Forming stronger bonds with friends I hold dear, and even making some new ones in the process. We connected over Zoom, Houseparty, Discord and WhatsApp. It was nice to speak to my overseas friends too. The coronavirus has (strangely) brought everyone closer, regardless of geographical location, because we are all in this together. 

What’s giving you hope now?

The kindness of strangers.