Local singer-songwriter Niine tackles depression and insecurity in ‘don’t wanna sleep’

Local singer-producer Niine will be releasing his new track, ‘don’t wanna sleep’, on 19 July 2019 (Friday) on Spotify and YouTube. A mellow tune with poppy sounds thrown into the mix, ‘don’t wanna sleep’ talks about the cycle of spiralling in one’s insecurities during the night, only to go back to being “normal” in the day.

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Talking with Niine

Niine shares with us in a conversation on the song’s significance to him and how he tackles depression.

Your songs tend to be a reflection of your own life experiences. What meaning does this song hold for you?

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Niine: It’s literally as the title suggests – I just don’t want to go to sleep, even when I’m dead tired and really need to sleep. I’ve done a lot of self-reflection and it seems like I can’t appreciate myself and the work I’ve put into the day. It’s never enough for me and I don’t want the day to end just yet. Not sleeping or delaying bedtime is really my coping mechanism.

What was the process in penning/coming up with the lyrics for this song?

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Niine: The environment is always the same when I write lyrics – alone in my room, all lights switched off apart from the diffused orange glow of the IKEA lamp. I think a lot about how I want to express whatever it is that I’d like to express, which becomes the song’s theme. For this track, I wanted to express hopelessness and depression, as well as coping with them. I expressed those things by making sleep the topic.

Fortunately, the inspiration for whatever I’d like to express usually find its own way to me, so I’m constantly acting and building upon that idea.

The lyrics appear to talk of depression and the inability to confide in others about it. Have you experienced that sense of hopelessness before, and how did you overcome it?

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Niine: I haven’t overcome it actually. The healing process has to be lifelong, but staying positive – and seeing the world as an experience that’s much larger than you are and larger than life itself – are a few ways that I employ to ensure that I don’t spiral into a depression too deep to nudge myself out from. 

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Niine: Whenever I feel hopeless, I try to remember how the universe is infinitely vast and that my problems and worries are – metaphorically – two grains of sand in a desert. It’s cool because it’ll not only burst you out of your bubble, it’ll also train you to appreciate life as it is and to constantly think positively. 

About Niine

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Tom Johari, better known as his moniker “Niine”, is a Singaporean singer-producer who has been active in the local music scene since 2005. With songs that paint lyrical vignettes of love and loss, Niine uses every ounce of anguish and heartache to create music that healed him. The result is a lyrically cathartic, honest, and raw portrait of his emotions.

From a lead vocalist in electronic post-hardcore band Aquila Vasica to a solo music artist, Niine’s roots in metal, folk, and even K-pop genres have inspired him to produce a sound that transcends genres – one that is soulful and pensive, yet palatably poppy.

Niine’s music speaks volumes to those who have suffered depression, and is a ray of light of those who still do. To listen to Niine’s songs, visit

Photos by Goh Jing Wen and Soloman Soh of the DANAMIC team.

Deepa d/o Chevi Vadivelu

Animal and music lover, bookworm and movie enthusiast. #blackismyhappycolour

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