Singaporean Singer Haven Is On A High Note

With her debut album on the horizon, the homegrown musician talks about the power of following your dreams, falling in love, and telling your story through song
Singapore musician Haven is our GRAZIA Girl of May 2024. On Haven: ONITSUKA TIGER dress, shirt, boots; Haven’s own accessories
Singapore musician Haven is our GRAZIA Girl of May 2024. On Haven: ONITSUKA TIGER dress, shirt, boots; Haven’s own accessories

Haven sure knows how to make an impression. The 20-year-old chanteuse arrived to GRAZIA Singapore’s first anniversary party looking like a bona fide star: she wore a little black dress that was covered in sparkling sequins and feathers, and her auburn hair was done up to flaunt her bejewelled earrings. But if Haven’s sultry ensemble captured the party crowd’s attention that night, then her singing held it. All her charisma and confidence was on display as she performed an exclusive preview of her new song, Ride Or Die

The track appears on Haven’s debut album, which comes out this year. With how easily she took to the spotlight, it’s a wonder that the album will mark the first full-length record of her discography, which is otherwise dotted with singles. Haven, whose real name is Teo Cher Win, made her foray into the music industry at just sixteen, when she signed to the Singaporean music label, AOR Global, in 2019. 

“I’ve always loved singing and dancing, but no one told me it could be a career,” says the artist, adding that her interest in music was sparked when she watched High School Musical as a child. “I was fixated on the idea of becoming a superstar. Whenever adults would ask about my future ambitions, my response was always, ‘A Hollywood star’.” 

The adults were less than kind. Haven says that some of them laughed at her dream, or nudged her to prioritise her studies. She found even less encouragement from her schoolmates as a teenager. “A lot of my peers back then couldn’t understand why I would choose such a career, especially at the age of 14,” she says. “Some of them mocked me and openly disapproved of my choice of being an artist. In Singapore, education is a student’s priority. Anything else is considered a hobby or a distraction.” 

GUCCI top, shorts, mules, bag; Haven’s own accessories

To Haven, being an artist is no fleeting fancy; she believes that it’s her life’s purpose.

Her stage name seems to have been born out of necessity, shielding her from naysayers. “I chose Haven because it means a safe sanctuary,” she explains. “It encapsulates precisely what I aspire to offer through my music: a refuge, a haven for listeners to find solace and comfort.”

That’s not to say that Haven’s musical output has been all rainbows and butterflies. Since she joined Wild Entertainment Group in 2023, her singles have touched on the messiness of romantic relationships, mostly drawn from her personal experiences. On Future Somebody, she describes a less-than-ideal lover, singing, “Here nobody knows your sick and twisted games”. On No Hard Feelings, she reflects on the aftermath of a breakup. The aforementioned Ride Or Die, Haven says, was inspired by situationships. (For anyone above the age of 30: a situationship is a relationship between two people that is not clearly defined, despite its sexual or romantic nature. It doesn’t even warrant the label “friends with benefits”.) 

“Through Ride or Die, I aim to encapsulate the toxicity of being in a situationship, while longing for a dependable, ride-or-die partner,” Haven elaborates. “It serves as an introductory track to my upcoming album, delving into the emotions of falling in love with an idea of a person and obsessively chasing after that.” 

Haven seems to be right at home writing about love. “My own experiences with love are complicated,” she confesses. “I have felt the joy and pain of losing someone that means so much to me, but I’ll never regret falling in love. Love, to me, is the most honest feeling. Outside of romantic relationships, my friendships are equally important to me; I consider my closest friends as my family that I would die for. Life is meaningless without love.”

GUCCI shirt, skirt, stylist’s own leggings; Haven’s own accessories

Unsurprisingly, Haven’s debut album will expand on her perspectives on love. Her record is forthcoming in both senses of the word: the singer calls it “a vulnerable piece”, and likens her songs to “diary entries that are just published for everyone to hear.” She also reveals that many of her tracks were written when inspiration struck, often in the middle of the night. Anyone who has received a “U up?” text message will know that such late hours tend to stir up emotions, which is what Haven’s creative process seems to tap into. That, and her love of storytelling. “Imagine listening to a movie soundtrack, but the songs are the story,” she says. “This album is intended to bring you on a journey.” 

The album has certainly taken Haven on a journey of her own. She’s no longer the girl who was bogged down by the opinions of others, or those of her worst self. “I was mean to myself during my teen years,” she recalls. “I said things to myself that I would never say to a close friend. I didn’t realise how harmful that was for my mental health. I started going to therapy and I started changing the way I treated myself. The change that it had on my life was drastic.”

Haven is now just months away from her 21st birthday, and the artist is optimistic. “Everyday is so different and it feels like I’m living in a movie,” she shares. “I’m not going to lie, I’m looking forward to being legal globally. I’ve always wanted to go to Las Vegas, so that’s definitely in the plans.” 

She continues, “I’m also really looking forward to discovering what I’m capable of in my music career and the songs I’ll be putting out in the future.”

Until now, Haven’s sound has leaned towards a blend of R&B and pop, similar to those of her music idols, Billie Eilish and Melanie Martinez. But following her recent obsession with the Eurovision Song Contest, the singer is ready to embrace other genres. “Listening to songs from that competition has made me curious about how artists from different countries produce their music,” she says, adding that she is keen to explore jazz and Afrobeats. “My upcoming songs are more mature than the songs I’ve released in the past. They are more explorative than what my audience is used to hearing from me.” 

Crafting such a diverse and eclectic sound likely comes easily now that Haven’s songwriting process is more collaborative. She shares that she has a supportive team to work with at Wild Entertainment Group. The record label and marketing agency, which is based in Singapore, represents an array of artists and talents around the world, including fellow GRAZIA Girl Sorn. Haven sees the Thai singer as a mentor, saying, “She inspires me more than anything. She has been in the industry way longer than I have and her knowledge means the most to me. If I ever need advice, she is someone I can count on.”

Other music stars on Haven’s radar are Sabrina Claudio and Tyla, whom she lists as her dream collaborators. “I’ve been obsessed with their artistry, so I will be manifesting those opportunities,” she says. 

ONITSUKA TIGER dress, shirt; Haven’s own accessories

Outside of music, another thing that’s evolving in Haven’s life is her style, which she describes as a reflection of her emotions, like her songs. Currently, she alternates between sporty, streetwear-inspired styles and classic ensembles that are sometimes put together from her mother’s clothes from the ’80s and ’90s. 

Haven’s looks also bear a touch of the vampy, “dark feminine” aesthetic that is trending on Tiktok. She looks to the social media platform, as well as Pinterest, for style inspiration. “I’m a Gen Z, after all,” she says with a laugh. “I love exploring new styles to play around with.”

In her GRAZIA Singapore photo shoot, Haven looks the part of a popstar—one that took a time machine and travelled to the present from the Swinging Sixties. She jokes that if she really did have a time machine, she would travel to the future to listen to all of her as-yet-unreleased songs. When asked about what her life would look like today if she hadn’t pursued music, she offers: “I would have definitely furthered my studies, and probably become a woman in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). I really love studying and I have so much curiosity about the wonders of life.” 

Still, Haven is grateful that her younger self stuck to her guns. “A life without music is definitely not a life I would want to live,” she says.



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