Welcome to my life: I’m a radio DJ married to a local musician, and this is our love story. Get in, it’s a wild ride!
As someone who dated questionable boys and is now married to one of the most recognisable frontmen in Singapore (Kenneth Christopher ‘KC’ Meals, who sang for post-hardcore band Caracal for the better part of a decade), I feel like I have exclusive insight into the workings of a relationship with a ‘rock star’. A little background on our love story: I dated KC for about five years before we decided to get married. We met when I was 23 and I’d be damned if I gave him the best part of my 20s and nothing came from it.
KC comes from a long line of musicians, all of whom hold esteemed places in the history of Singaporean music. Starting with his godfather and namesake, Christopher Vadham. Part of Western Union Band, he was a prolific songwriter who gave us many earworms including ‘Sausalito’. KC’s other uncle, Moses Vadham, was the singer for Gingerbread. He wrote the powerful, tear-shedding ballad, ‘Roses’. Both songs are still in current rotation on local radio stations. His mother Regina Meals was Singapore’s very own Patsy Cline; she sang with Matthew and the Mandarins. To say KC has music in his blood is stating the obvious. He naturally ascended to the role he was literally born to take on with ease and flair.
Watching him perform, commanding the stage and evoking emotions in the audience, is comparable to any international rock act. I say this as an unbiased spectator; I wasn’t a fan of him or his band when we fell into each other’s lives.
In pop culture, the new ‘it’ couple plastered all over social media is Travis Barker and Kourtney Kardashian. Kourtney has been on again and off again with her baby daddy Scott Disick for far too long. The two never tied the knot because of Scott’s inability to get his act together, substance abuse, and infidelity. What a catch. But it begs the question: why go from one bad boy to another? Because something tells me Kourtney wasn’t an avid Blink-182 listener either.
5 things you should know about dating a rock star
1. It’s just an illusion
For the most part, at least. If you grew up in the 90s with MTV, you’d have watched the first real family of reality TV, The Osbournes, followed by Meet the Barkers. A commonality they shared? Showcasing the lives of supposed ‘bad boys’: Ozzy Osbourne (Prince of Darkness) and Travis Barker. What we got wasn’t ill-behaved, bat-chewing, hotel-wrecking stereotypical rock star antics. Instead, it was Ozzy picking up dog poop, taking orders from his wife and being ignored by his children. Meanwhile, Travis was a smooshy, lovey-dovey man-child who constantly craved cuddles, woke up early, exercised and took care of the kids. He also used the word ‘honey’ way too much.
The phrase ‘bad boy’ gets lumped with musicians unfairly. Here’s how I see it: I’ve dated bad boys (not aesthetically, but character-wise). Also known as jerks. They leave you hanging with unread messages. Treat you like you’re the centre of the world while cheating on the side. Real sweet, slick talkers. Kind of like Scott. He has charm and wit, but his treatment of Kourtney, especially after she bore him his first child, was downright repulsive. That, to me, is a ‘bad boy’. A person with charm and charisma, like a cult leader of sorts. The term I feel is more apt for musicians? Wild.
When I met KC, I knew about him and his band because we grew up in the same circle and I’d seen him perform. This was before he got good. I’d liken the performances to a spider monkey running away from his handler and a bath. A far cry from the beast he’s become. Still, I was expecting a boisterous, egoistical attitude from him. What I got was… ordinary. KC was a goofy dude. Not charming, none of that stage energy, not even BDE (big d*** energy).
After our meeting, he added me on Facebook, had ordinary conversations and recommended I watch an ordinary movie. What. A. Dud. There was neither spark nor interest. KC was also a barber at the time, and I took a friend to his shop to get his hair done. I hung back with KC, who got more interesting the more we drank.
2. Alcohol, because it tastes better than tears
I know, how cliché. It’s the unfortunate truth. Musicians rely on alcohol for a plethora of reasons. Travis and KC are no different. According to Travis’ first wife, he was a raging alcoholic who was verbally and physically abusive. Music and substances practically go hand in hand – we’ve all watched the VH1 specials, haven’t we? Why would any sane woman get involved with someone like that?
Answer: we don’t know how bad it gets. The more I drank with KC, the more confident, and dare I say, funny, he became. He was also terribly romantic, something I wasn’t used to. I’d never dated anyone romantic before. That’s what they say about artists being passionate, right? After sending me back, he’d message me while he made his way home. He’d plan our date the next day. What was this? Where were the games? Should I wait for him to ask me out? He did it all, and I wasn’t used to this shameless pursuit. How refreshing.
In the same vein, Travis is a romantic. Renting a plane to pull an ‘I love you Kourtney’ sign in the sky. Getting her handwriting tattooed on him. It was hard and fast love. In the most exciting, pure and reckless ‘live fast, die young’ way.
3. Not being able to like yourself
Travis’ marriage didn’t work out for a couple of reasons: alcohol and revenge cheating. They got caught in a vicious cycle. The same goes for Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee, Amy Winehouse and Tyler James, Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez. A toxic back and forth relationship is synonymous with musicians.
The deal with KC: there’s a level of loneliness when you’re a creative. There’s constant doubt wondering whether the next project is as good as the previous one. Being liked and popular is addictive. The feeling of wanting to be liked but unsure if you even deserve to be liked makes for a sensitive, delicate soul. That’s what draws you in. The vulnerability. The belief that you’re the mirror to show them how amazing they are. In turn, they’ll write a song or paint you something to thank you for being the one who always believes in them.
That’s the dream, huh? But here’s what usually ends up happening: musicians get together with their fans (see Sid and Nancy or John and Yoko) or they date someone who isn’t an admirer of their music. But when this second option happens, the partner sees the musician getting love and attention for something they don’t understand. It often leads to resentment. The musician never truly believes your support, and you belittle their achievements. So they seek approval from groupies or ‘yes men’.
4. The inner circle, the most difficult club to get into
Anyone high profile has an inner circle – people who’ve been there from the start, like childhood friends or family members. Most of the time, they have the musician’s best interests at heart. They’re the gatekeepers who always have the ear of the creative. They quietly and skillfully point out flaws in a newbie, making the creative question their intentions.
This sounds dramatic, but it’s true. A turning point in KC’s life was when he had to decide to carry on with music or commit fully to himself. For the first time, he had an opportunity to bet on himself. To open his own barbershop where he called the shots. Venturing out to be your own boss is intimidating for anyone. More so for a 25-year-old who knows nothing other than music. Did I push him to invest in himself? Sure. Was that how the inner circle saw things? Not quite.
5. The battle with the big M: Mental health
Chester Bennington, Chris Cornell, Mac Miller. All rock stars who, one way or another, couldn’t cope and ended it.
2015 was a scary year for us. Alcohol caused KC and I to become the worst versions of ourselves. I thought I was handling everything fine. How was it a bad thing to want your boyfriend to have his own business, become financially independent and start a life? What I quickly learnt were the signs of someone spiralling into a deep depression.
Things like not wanting to get out of bed, paranoia and erratic behaviour were difficult to spot because of the alcohol. Having an argument with a drunk is just as fruitful as arguing with a two-year-old – they make no sense and throw tantrums. That was us for the better part of a year, drunkenly fighting and saying awful things just to get the last word. I thought I was right and wanted the best for him; he felt pain and stress but was unable to communicate because his mind was in chaos.
When I realised this was something bigger than the rants of a drunken man, I got the number for a therapist. KC was finally diagnosed correctly. He had depression and anxiety. He was put on medication that he’d wash down with a beer on the way to work. So that was money down the drain. It made things better, now that we knew the name of his demon: depression. However, alcohol was still the greater evil.
It all came to a head one night when KC was out with friends running away from his feelings and reality at the one place where only good things happen. Not. They got into a fight at Orchard Towers. KC was taken to jail for assaulting a police officer and had to do a stint in prison.
Rehab, jail, call it whatever
During his time in jail, he didn’t have ‘yes men’ around. Best of all, he didn’t have alcohol clouding his confused mind. He had to sit with the decisions he made and the people he hurt and reconcile the things he’d done.
He came out a different person. Six years on, he’s stone-cold sober, but still the goofy, kind-hearted guy I met almost a decade ago. He has so much more drive and confidence, now that the need to please and be liked isn’t ruling his life. I see the strength he has that comes from within, which was missing all those years ago. No more relying on people telling him he’s right.
I can say with confidence that no matter how bad things get or what life throws at us (it won’t be a bed of roses), we’ll be able to handle it. The best part of jail, aside from giving KC time to sit with his thoughts? He dreamt of a little girl who wore a white dress and was named Lily. Five years later, we welcomed our baby girl, Lily Indie Meals.
What’s next, you ask? More babies (I’m hoping!) and more music. I can’t wait for Lily to see her dad on stage for the first time and fall even more in love with him.
Got an incredible love story you’d like to share? DM us @Honeycombers!