Vocal pop-rock band MiCappella sings for the money

Local acapella group MICAPPELLA doesn’t just sing for a living. One of them moonlights as a nasi padang towkay too

The Moneymakers

Meet the MiCappellas, an acapella group and winner of the Best Local Artiste trophy at the 2013 Singapore Hit Awards: (Clockwise from left) Eugene Yip, 33, Peter Huang, 33, Calin Wong, 29, Tay Kexin, 27, Goh Junyi, 29, and Goh Mingwei, 28.

Their acapella renditions of popular tunes like Our Times’ theme song ‘Little Happiness’, You’re the Apple of My Eye’s ‘Those Years’ and, er, a more in-tune version of the viral hit ‘Unbelievable’ have garnered over a million YouTube views. After releasing their debut album 'Here We Go' in 2013, they’re currently working on their second album, slated to be out in April.

THEIR HOMES ARE: Her parents' condo in Bedok for Kexin, a “rented room from my parents” for Mingwei, a rented condo room in Somerset for Junyi, a condo in Bukit Timah for Calin, His parents' Jurong condo for Eugene and a Bedok HDB flat for Peter.

THEIR RIDES ARE: All the singers drive the family car or their own car, except for Junyi.

WHAT’S IN THEIR WALLETS: Junyi’s Comme des Garcons wallet is never without a safety amulet, Mingwei’s handphone case doubles up as a wallet, Calin never leaves home without her NTUC membership card in her ‘paper’ wallet, Peter’s billfold is stuffed with $500 in cash as “I need to pay the air-con maintenance guy”, Eugene’s wallet is brimming with namecards and Kexin’s red Calvin Klein purse “only has $6 now”.

8 DAYS: Congrats on reaching one million views on YouTube.
EUGENE YIP: Thank you! We’ve been getting more gig requests [for occasions like weddings and events], which means potential income.

TAY KEXIN: Those of us who have regular singing gigs too get more requests for our songs now. People actually know MiCappella, which I think is a great thing. (Laughs)
[Ed: Kexin and Goh Junyi sing weekly at live music restaurant and bar Switch by Timbre].

Who’s most likely to become the first millionaire in the group? 
PETER HUANG: It’s hard to say. Singapore’s music industry is tough. We wouldn’t be doing it if we wanted to strike it rich. If we did, we would go into banking.

GOH JUNYI: Maybe Kexin. She only joined MiCappella late last year but she already has a strong following as an individual singer-song, writer and gets lots of requests for wedding gigs. Or Eugene, ‘cos he owns a nasi padang shop! 

EUGENE: It’s just a food court stall. I invested in a business ’cos I was attracted to the idea of passive income. I cook there sometimes when we’re shorthanded. But F&B is always risky so I wouldn’t nominate myself to be the next millionaire.

What’s your 2016 money resolution?
KEXIN: Of course we’ll try to earn as much as possible. It sounds crude, but we’re a business. We need to pump in money for things like marketing and sales for the band to get more outreach.

EUGENE: I consider MiCappella as an investment too. Even if we hire someone to handle our sales, it generates income and we’ll still get some money back at the end of the day.

JUNYI: To me, it’s less about the dollars and more about the standard of living. The actual figures don’t really matter to me. Lots of people think full-time performers are always broke but it’s not that true. We still get by. We have music-related side jobs. Some of us teach, perform or produce.

How much do you tip buskers?
JUNYI: I heard that the walkway leading out from Orchard MRT station is the golden busking area [’cos it’s crowded]. If I walk past buskers, I’ll give $2. If I don’t contribute, it would be ’cos I don’t have small change. But I’d feel bad ’cos we’re all singers. (Laughs)

EUGENE: I don’t go to Orchard Road so I never tip.

KEXIN: Like Eugene, I don’t go to Orchard Road much. I used to busk a few years ago. Sometimes I get individual tips of $40 or $50. Once, I earned a $100 tip.

PETER: If I have no change, I’ll just unload whatever is in my pocket. I used to busk back in 1999 too so I know how it feels to not get any tips!

MINGWEI: I’ll give $1 or $2.

'Here We Go' is available on iTunes. 

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