It’s impossible to pin the multi-talented Eric Nam down to one label. One of the most established and successful names in both music and television, the Korean-American singer-songwriter-host has proven that he’s capable of doing just about everything—even going without sleep for 60 hours while running around all over Singapore and Malaysia.
The 30-year-old was in Singapore just two months ago to host the three-day concert, HallyuPopFest, last November. Last weekend, he was back in town to film Viu’s new original production No Sleep No FOMO that’s slated for release in early 2019.
Together with Singaporean host Paul Foster, the duo sought to complete a crazy travel itinerary, including engaging in fun and unusual activities within a span of 60 hours—without getting any shut-eye at all. “Coffee isn’t allowed, actually—all I had was a kopi gao so far and it was super sweet so I didn’t finish it,” Eric says.
Sleepless and caffeine-less, they take part in activities across Malaysia and Singapore, such as gatecrashing a wedding, eating lamb in a river (no typo there) and dressing up in Chinese opera ensemble—with makeup and all.
Despite his packed filming schedule, we sat down with Eric for a little chit-chat. Scroll through the gallery to find out more about his thoughts on playing out a Chinese opera scene with full makeup and costume, looking for ghosts and the idea of FOMO.
On his Chinese opera experience
It was different—not something I would have ever done had not been for the show. It was fun though—wearing the traditional opera costume and the makeup. I’ve seen Beijing opera before and it’s… hard. But it’s really fun to be able to do it and make some good memories with the people here.
Doing the gestures was probably the hardest part because it’s just… I have no idea what I’m doing. In my head I look cool, but I’m sure I looked crazy doing it. I don’t know the full story of the play, but all I know is that they kept asking us to cry [during the performance].
On crashing a wedding
I’ve never crashed a wedding before. (Laughs) The only weddings I’ve been to in my adult life so far have been to perform for people that I usually don’t know, so it was interesting to go a wedding in Malaysia and experience their culture. We also felt so bad… I kind of went like this (in a windbreaker and shorts), while everybody was all dressed up. We were smelly, sweaty and we stole people’s food, but they were completely OK about it, so it was pretty cool.
On how he keeps himself awake
During small periods when we’re travelling between different places, I try to get some sleep, but that’s it. We were at Labrador Park last night to meet ghosts. I don’t know why they thought it would be a good idea, but we were in the forest and it was pitch black. I swear I almost fell asleep for 30 seconds while standing up.
I think my career is pretty much like that. It’s not that I haven’t done something like this before, but there are periods in this show where there’s so much physical activity like running and zip-lining in the hot weather. It’s physically tiring and I’m really sleepy—it’s been a while. I’ve done stuff like this in other shows in Korea that are just as mean, like Jungle and Wizard of Nowhere—but at least they let you sleep!
On ghost-hunting in Labrador Park
We didn’t see any ghosts, but everyone was like, “Will you please come say hi to us?” and I’m like, “No, you don’t need to say hi to us. I’m OK not meeting you.” But Paul was super into it and we had a guide with us who was like, “Please let me know if you were killed in vain”. We were in the forest for an hour and I was like, “Get me out please”—I was scared when they asked if we wanted to ask questions or talk to the ghosts.
Image: Eric Nam’s Instagram
On doing a scavenger hunt in Mustafa
Here’s the thing: we’ve done so many things in such little time that I don’t remember anything—it’s like I’ve blacked out, like this is a big dream and when I wake up, I won’t remember anything. We did go to a bar and made some Milo cocktails. We were also at 1-Altitude for Singapore Sling and that was cool.
I also did a full cardio workout in Mustafa. We did a scavenger hunt and ran around the entire store, up and down every floor, and from front to back trying to find random stuff like goat milk, electric mosquito coil and snake fruit and I was just showered in sweat. After that, they said we were going to a park…
Image: Eric Nam’s Instagram
On his favourite Singaporean dish
This morning, we had nasi lemak. I just really like going to hawker centres because we can get a lot of food to share, so we did that last night. We tried carrot cake, oyster omelette and popiah, and they were all really good. I think popiah is like Pad Thai in a roll.
On how this visit is different from his previous ones
I feel like when I travel, I’m typically only in the hotel and at the event or function that I’m there for because we don’t have really time. Each time I come to Singapore, I’m only here for a few days—I’ve never gone to Sentosa before or really see other parts of the city. So being able to go around the city this time was really cool.
Image: Eric Nam’s Instagram
On the idea of FOMO
I can relate to it because I just did it? (Laughs) But I was actually thinking of the word FOMO and I think I used to have that a lot. When you see friends or people hanging out… especially today where everybody’s on Instagram and social media, you always feel like you’re missing out on something. But for me, I think I’ve moved away from FOMO, in the sense where I’m comfortable with what I have, what I’m doing and what I’m able to do and that makes me feel a lot better.
Images: Cheryl Lim, TPG/Click Photos