Natalie Tan

Natalie Tan

Music, arts, love, prints, plants and adulting. Natalie and her entourage of two cats, take us through her fascinating home popping with colour as she explains life working in the arts, dj-ing, living alone and the journey of single hood!

 

Natalie wears Cherry Cola Bubble Hem Dress in Yellow, size M

Tell me what do you do!

I’m an arts administrator in placemaking. It’s the concept of turning a space into a place. For example, an empty house isn’t your home until you fill it up and create memories then it becomes a home. I do this for the arts. 

Natalie wears Swagger Jagger Skirt in yellow, Size L

Oh, then tell me about the pieces in your house. You have a very eclectic mix.

In general, I collect a lot of vintage furniture and clothes. I like the design and feel that they’re made to last! Like this tooth chair and mid-century Scandinavian mirror which I hand-carried back from Paris when I was there for work a few years ago.

This is mixed with art pieces from different artists I came to know through my line of work, like a carved skateboard by French artist Remy Chateau. It came as a set of 4 but I could only afford to buy 1.

I also have a collection of dolls. My mother loves dolls too and she has passed me many beautiful porcelain and collector dolls!

 Natalie wears What You Did Ruched Jumpsuit in brown, size L

When did your interest in Art begin?

My parents were really into music, and that was passed to me. From young, I was into visuals. Things had to be designed nicely or weirdly for me to like it. I collected nice looking Zo Cards in secondary school and amassed a huge collection, along with club flyers and a lot of magazines like Raygun. It was a real game changer for graphic design and what a music magazine should be like. The editor went on to create Nylon Magazine, which i also collected at the time. I donated my collection to Lasalle and Nylon Singapore. I regret donating it!

How did you end up become a DJ, Pixiedub?

I started clubbing from a young age and dance music was very big. It was mind blowing that DJs were able to tell a story and play music that was out of whack yet it affected you so strongly. 

I was a salesgirl at a shop after O levels. While serving a customer, we ended up talking and I told him I really wanted to be a DJ. He told me he’d teach me and it happened. 

I played Happy Hour at clubs like Sultans of Swing but didn’t DJ for real until after university. My good friend Cherry who was running an all-girls night called PopMyCherry approached me for a gig in Hong Kong. 

Natalie wears Bergamot Morning Coat in Brown, size L & Birds Don't Sing Dress in Horizon, size L

What was your DJing style?

Generally, my set is like my house - eclectic. I can start with jazz and suddenly Japanese music or chiptune will appear. Nobody really knows what's happening.

I’ve stopped DJing for a while though. As I've gotten older, I no longer have the mental bandwidth or the time. 

 Natalie wears What You Did Ruched Jumpsuit in brown, size L

 Back to your house, you have a huge plant collection.

I started collecting plants for real when I moved in here, 3 years ago. I applied for my HDB Loan Eligibility on my 35th birthday.  Before that I just had stray office plants.

How does it feel to live by yourself?

Adulting! On top of paying bills, I have to deal with things by myself like fixing things, pest control.

But I enjoy living by myself. There’s a lot of freedom! There are definitely perks to being single. I can do anything I want whenever I want. Decision making is easier too, especially when it's income and expenses related like job changes or flying for festivals.

Natalie wears Birds Don't Sing Dress in Horizon, size L

How has it been being single?

I haven’t dated in a long time. I recently signed up for a dating agency and went on a blind date but it was awful!

After all, if I paid someone to find my house, I think I can pay someone to find my partner! It’s kind of the same thing… besides, it's so hard out there.

For me as a Christian, I feel online dating is soul destroying. The swiping, the propositions for one-night stands, the penpal-vibes till someone ghosts. People tend to judge superficially, and you wouldn’t say I look ‘normal’. I feel too left field for most Asian guys to accept.

The fact that I’m Christian also makes it harder because most Christian guys my age are married.

So, how did the blind date go?

To me, I tried to see it as making a new friend. I've got some PR skills so if anything, I figured I'd just keep the conversation going and exit as soon as possible without phoning a friend. Like an adult.

But I think this will be my last active role in finding my partner. If this doesn’t work out, I'll surrender completely to God, and won’t bother playing an active part in this anymore. 

Natalie wears Bergamot Morning Coat in Brown, size L

After meeting lots of people, do you think you’re now quite specific on the type of person you’re looking for?

Yes and no. The person doesn’t need to have all the same hobbies, but share the same values, accept me and be open minded. I think most guys would find this house quite intimidating because it’s a fully formed character, it would be hard to see being able to fit in. You could possibly call this the inside of my mind?

Unlike when I was younger, my preferences have become more generalized. I don't need to find another fan of Smashing Pumpkins, or someone with a cool vinyl collection. There are must-haves, like sharing the same faith and values, but otherwise I am more open minded.

How do you feel about singlehood now?

I’m chill but I think it might be mixed with some resentment that I’m still single. There’s a level of ‘whenever, whatever’ as I have a lot of things going on in my life.

It’d be nice to have someone to talk to about everyday life and encourage me in my spiritual life. As a single person, I find it hard to reach out to others because they are married or have kids. 

How was Circuit Breaker for you?

It was awful! Circuit breaker was a dark time for me because I didn’t know who to talk to. There wasn't anyone I could joke or laugh with.

It was also a very stressful time because there were all these messages about how we need to take care of our parents but in my case they were totally going to do that for themselves, and not listen to me and my siblings.

 I was working a lot and taking very few breaks as we had to find ways to help the arts while working from home. And all my comfort food was taken away too, like bubble tea and cake. So I ended up baking for stress relief and to bless people. 

Natalie wears No Scrubs Kimono Jacket in Horizon, size XS

How did you handle being alone for the 2.5 months and more?

I started the circuit breaker strong, wore makeup every day and dressed up so I would feel great. That started to change slowly to a point I didn’t care about my plants. It felt like too much of the same thing over and over again, like groundhog day.

 And after all of this, what is one takeaway you have?

My faith really helps me in this respect. That in the end, I know God made me go through all this for a reason - the dating, the pandemic, the stress. No weird season you’ve ever been in will ever go to waste. 

How I ended up in this job doing placemaking is an example of this. All the experience and knowledge I’ve gleaned over the years at seemingly random jobs over a weird period of time made it possible for me to do this job.  

I used to be a DJ, did programming, managed a club, did marketing at an architecture firm, worked in F&B opening new concepts. Managing art centers requires all these experiences. No experience was wasted.

 

 

 

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