Singaporean Singer-songwriter Hashy Yusof on Overcoming Paralysis & Depression

This article was first posted on hoolah on 3 August 2020.

In late June, Hashy Yusof released her official music video of her latest single, “someone new”, on YouTube. Showcasing Hashy’s whimsical yet sensual vocals, the music video features the Singaporean singer-songwriter bathing in glitch light graphics of jagged lines and swirling waves, calling to mind the nostalgic visuals of old-school computers. The empowering single, which happens to be Hashy’s own debut creation, speaks of liberation from a conflicting relationship.

Hashy Yusof for hoolah Singapore.
Hashy Yusof for hoolah Singapore.

The lyrics are simple to say the least. And that’s where the beauty lies. It begins with a caveat: “I’m not gonna try”. And develops into a candid (but almost self-assuring) conversation: “Consume me, and then use me / I can’t fight you no more”. In between dreaming and wakefulness, “someone new” seems to be about self-love, self-care and self-liberation. These themes, while especially appealing to the millennial generation, offer a glimpse to Hashy’s distressing past.

At a tender age of 18, Hashy was a top 11 finalist on the first season of Singaporean reality-singing competition show The Final One, where she also met her then-boyfriend Marc Than. But following a bad fall during a performance, she had to pull out.

Hashy Yusof for hoolah Singapore.
Hashy Yusof for hoolah Singapore.

In the years that followed, in between participating in The New Paper (TNP) New Face competition and dating Marc, Hashy struggled with aggravating pain on her back. She soon found herself leaving the competition, and at 23, she was confined to a wheelchair.

In 2016, an MRI scan unearthed the cause: a tumor on her spinal cord.   

“I was told I could possibly be paralyzed,” the 26-year-old recalls of the harrowing experience. “I might not have children in the future too.”

Hashy Yusof for hoolah Singapore.
Hashy Yusof for hoolah Singapore.

Crushed by the news, the singer-songwriter slipped into depression. “It was one of the darkest moments in my life,” she confesses. “To be denied of something as simple and basic as walking was scary.” But even as dismal and dark thoughts start to surface internally, Hashy refused to let them show and bottled up her feelings. “I just felt like a burden to everyone around me … I was sad all the time. At one point, I couldn’t take it and was pushing everyone away,” she says in an interview with TODAY.

Concerned, Marc sought a second opinion and Hashy soon found herself going for surgery where the doctors successfully removed half of the tumor in a nine-hour long operation. And in just two weeks, the singer-songwriter was back on her feet. Even as she struggled with mood swings and depressive episodes post-surgery, Hashy revealed that her husband had become a reliable pillar of support and helped her tide through that ordeal.

Hashy Yusof for hoolah Singapore.

A year after surgery, Hashy returned to competing in TNP New Face competition. To which, she cheerfully elaborates, “I did pretty well and got into Top 20. I also walked on the runway in 6-inch heels, no less.”

“My motto in life is ‘Do it now or never’,” Hashy explains. “I think I lived by that through the many years. When I was 18, I joined The Final One which was quite a feat for someone who has never tried anything. And then TNP New Face after surgery, it was always about challenging myself.”

“I feel like I should never let my youth go by without trying.”

Hey Hashy, how has the recent circuit breaker been?

Honestly, it’s not bad at all! I ‘ve never really had the focus, time and space to really figure out what I want and what I’m actually meant to do. The circuit breaker gave me that focus, time and space! It also allowed me to be alone with my thoughts without distractions.

If you were not a singer, what would you be?

I don’t know if I’m actually a singer though! HAHA I feel like I do it for fun mostly. But in another life, I would have loved to be a PR manager for a luxury hotel or F&B place! 

How would you describe yourself when no one is watching?

Boring. I … sleep a lot when I’m on my own! 

Hashy Yusof for hoolah Singapore.
Hashy Yusof for hoolah Singapore.

What are you currently listening to?

A song that I will be releasing soon 😛

Where does your creativity or ideas originate from?

I never thought about this. It’s mostly just out of boredom and random musings. Sometimes when I’m going through extreme emotions (eg,very happy or very sad or very angry)! 

How do you know when a piece is complete?

When my husband, Marc validates it!!!! HAHAHA he’s the perfectionist! 

Are you a perfectionist?

No, I’m not! It’s both a good thing and bad thing. Cliché but it’s the imperfection that brings out character sometimes! Especially in music. Other than music, I’m hardly ever bothered by things so I’m a very chill person. Which also means I’m very disorganized and messy.

What sort of rejections do you remember facing in your younger days?

I guess when I was on The Final 1 I got kicked out of the show so many times. HAHAHA. I wasn’t upset about it though! I joined the competition to challenge myself and I was so happy that I got that far. For an 18-year-old, that was quite a feat. 

How will you be spending national day this year?

With my husband and good food! 

Hashy Yusof for hoolah Singapore.
Hashy Yusof for hoolah Singapore.

What is one word that describes staying in Singapore?

Safe. I think this is so important to me. We take this for granted sometimes. it’s only because Singapore is safe, that we’re all able to do all our other things without worrying about safety.

What do you think is your life purpose?

My life purpose changes at different stages of my life. I guess for now it is to achieve what 16-year-old me would have been proud of; now that I have the ability and resources to work on and put out my own music, to have a job that allows me flexibility and stability to do things like enjoying brunches and parties with my girlfriends and also have a beautiful home and life with my husband.