About Fred Lin

Fred Lin is a multi-disciplinary creative technologist from Singapore who has worked creatively in Shanghai for 11 years before returning to Singapore in 2017. He has designed identities and user interfaces that have helped companies transform from start-ups to multi-million dollar entities, composed awardwinning music, founded one of Shanghai’s most prolific food blogs, started and cooked at an award-winning restaurant and more.

It could be said that my love for aesthetics and all things beautiful began with music.

Little Fred at his family’s Bungalow in Lorong Melayu, Singapore.
Baby Fred with a veteran Hong Kong actor.

Fred Lin was born 6 November 1982 in Singapore. He grew up in a myriad of houses that changed rapidly across his childhood due to his family’s dwindling income, from a bungalow back in Lorong Melayu eventually to a HDB apartment in Yishun.

Fred started violin lessons from as early as 6 years old. Forced into the traditional progression of earning the musical grades and locked into playing exclusively test pieces, he hated every aspect of playing music.

It was when Fred was 13, that he first experienced someone play Richard Claydermans Ballad Por Adeline. From that moment, Fred fell in love with the beauty of the piece, and was obsessed in recreating it on his brothers piano at home.

10 yr old Fred practising the violin.

One note led to another, Fred somehow managed to recreate the song by ear, and continued playing and learning by ear from then on. 

After years of practice, Fred eventually acquired the ability to play and harmonise practically any melody by ear on the piano. One piece in particular that made him a little famous back in 2001 was this piano theme from the Hong Kong movie, Love on a Diet (2001) starring Andy Lau and Sammi Cheng.

Fred Lin’s rendition of the piano theme from Love on a Diet.

Fred had recorded a rendition of the piano theme in the movie based on his impression of hearing it once from the theatre. The song was uploaded to Napster and became so widespread that Fred Lin was mistaken to be the original composer of the song.

Since his piano playing was based on contemporary and pop genres, Fred naturally got curious about in how those songs were created and put together. 

Having no such thing as the internet back then, Fred studied music production magazines (Shout out to Computer Music and Future Music!) and bought them faithfully every month. Slowly and surely, Fred started investing in a home production studio, starting with a M-audio keyboard, Behringer condenser microphone and a Behringer mixer, along with a licensed copy of Cubase. Those would serve as the foundation of his music journey.

Fred Lin’s makeshift home-studio in it’s very early stage.

Fred Lin self-recorded and produced many compositions and published them on a number of websites he created to showcase his music ( music.fred-lin.com ). Fred’s goal was to become a singer-songwriter.

I had approached and sent my music to many record labels, but never succeeded in getting signed and always got shot down for being not good enough. That didn’t stop me from getting stronger.

Fred Lin learned to arrange music; pairing drum beats and strings with his usual piano base track. Layer by layer, he listened to thousands of tracks and dissected their anatomy in his head while trying to replicate them.

Fred Lin also attended Speech Level Singing lessons from certified coach, Daniel Singh. He was super excited for those lessons because they were from the same system that Michael Jackson used and Daniel Singh was the only person teaching it in Singapore then.

Word of Fred’s music production abilities got out, and he started helping many budding singer/songwriters arrange and record their songs from his home studio. The most famous of these were Yong Bang and Jeric.

Somehow Fred Lin also caught the attention of Musical Theatre producer/composer, Ken Lyen, who convinced him to participate in his music theatre production group, then called Five Foot Broadway, now Musical Theatre Limited. 

Fred Lin arranged, composed, wrote lyrics and even performed for 2 musicals (Closer to your heart and Blue Willow House), one performed at NAFA and the other at the Esplanade. Reference.

Fred Lin at Orientalsky Recording Studio, Shanghai, 2008.

In April 2007, the same year that Fred was accepted to the Ontario Institute of Audio Recording Technology, he was invited by Singaporean singer, Yong Bang to check out opportunities at a recording label in Shanghai called Orientalsky. Fred made the visit to Shanghai in April 2007, arranged a hip-hop track for their upcoming girl-group Baby Monkiz from 10 pm to 9 am on the first day, and got offered the job of production supervisor. He gave up his seat at OIART and officially moved to Shanghai in June 2007, where he would live for the next 11 years.

During his time in Shanghai, Fred Lin wrote and produced a library of works, including Piano Spa 4 and Piano Spa 5 published by Warner Music Singapore, the Unshakable Peace by Streams of Grace and many more compositions.

In 2018, one of his songs from his 2008 album, Piano Spa 5, “Love at First Sight” won COMPASS’s best local contemporary song of the year award based on royalties, a dream that took 10 years to fulfill.

Fred’s music journey was never a smooth one. After a year and half at Orientalsky, he left the company and began to look for other means to survive and remain in Shanghai. Having a strong background in computers, specifically websites, he started freelancing design jobs, starting with odd jobs like designing flyers for the nightlife industry in Shanghai.

Soon after, Fred landed his first web design project for a start-up social platform called City Moments.

City Moments Website, UI and Frontend Coding by Fred Lin.
Shanghai, 2009.
One of Fred’s first websites back in 2000 using Flash. See it in action

Fred Lin’s love for User Interfaces (UI) and User Experience (UX) first stemmed from using Bulletin Board Systems back in the early 90s. After getting access to the internet in it’s early years (think Netscape, Windows 95, Geocities), his curiosity extended to how websites were created. This led him to learn HTML and Macromedia Flash from as early as 17 years old, in 1999.

However, it was only in 2008 that Fred Lin started creating websites professionally. The internet had started going mainstream then, along with the web 2.0 trend. Things changed very quickly and he had to self learn new technologies like HTML4, CSS3, Javascript and PHP in order to stay ahead of the game. That self-improvement mentality has stuck with him ever since.

Fred developed an interest in photography when he moved to Shanghai in 2007. He wanted to document the fascinating cultural shock that he was experiencing at the time. The hobby took a serious turn when Fred Lin started his food blog (theshanghaikid.com) in 2013, and began getting attention for his photos of food. It was then that he started studying photography through books and magazines.

Fishing village in Nha Trang, Vietnam, 2018.
Photo by Fred Lin.

Fred honed his photography skills throughout his travels from Thailand to Hawaii to Melbourne. In 2016, Fred got introduced to Casey Neistat’s videos on youtube, which inspired his new obsession in videography.

One of Fred Lin’s popular drone video of Nha Trang, Vietnam on Youtube.

From 2016 to 2018, Fred dabbled heavily in videography, editing, vlogging and drone photography, eventually shooting a couple of commercial works in Singapore for Gogreen’s Downtown East attraction and Gogreen Scooter Sharing’s press video.

Promotional Video for Gogreen @ Downtown East by Fred Lin.

In 2017, Fred Lin was honored with the job of being the official photographer for a launch event in Singapore featuring international superstar, Jackie Chan.

Jackie Chan at Gogreen @ Downtown East Launch Event.

Fred Lin is also an accidental food and beverage enthusiast. It all started from cooking at home after he moved to Shanghai. Fred was poor at the time but wanted to eat well; The most practical solution was to learn to cook. Little would he know that replicating the food that he ate growing up in Singapore would later end up as a successful enterprise.

“One of my very early attempts at cooking in December 2007, and I was already trying to be fancy with the plating. Not sure where I got the inspiration from, likely from some post on chubbyhubby.net

In 2013, Fred Lin started a food blog called TheShanghaiKid. Inspired by the many food blogs he visited and magazines he read, Fred had a deep desire to create photos and stories to showcase food and eateries that he frequent.

Fred Lin at the 2016 Shanghai Bocuse d’Or Dinner. Photo by Marius Ionita.

One article led to another, many friendships forged between media, chefs, restaurant owners. Fred Lin was soon propelled into the world of Food media, later even hailed as “a walking restaurant encyclopedia” on Shanghai’s official English newspaper, The Shanghai Daily.

Fred Lin featured on Shanghai Daily on 27 May 2016.

By 2014, Fred Lin had already amassed a wealth of knowledge from visiting restaurants, talking with chefs and owners all over Shanghai, and had also grew a healthy following in Shanghai.

Through his Creative endeavours, Fred had also helped a start-up cafe, Mr Nice, in their journey to become a trending restaurant, eventually becoming a leading restaurant chain in 2017, whilst also working as Creative Director for DiningCity Asia.

Midway into 2014, Fred Lin decided to plunge head-first into the very world he scrutinized. He opened his first restaurant, Hello Miss Dong.

Fred Lin at his first restaurant in Shanghai, at 178 Yong Kang Rd, Hello Miss Dong.

Named after his wife, Hello Miss Dong’s name was intended to stick out like a sore thumb, bearing zero meaning to Singaporean food or food for that matter, yet to become the name synonymous with great Singaporean food in Shanghai. A bold and cocky branding move that would only work if the food was exceptional.

Thankfully, Fred Lin’s recipes lived up to the expectations of many. Hello Miss Dong attracted diners from all walks of life including the likes of Singaporean celebrity chef Willin Low amongst many industry-leading professionals in F&B.

In their second year, Hello Miss Dong was awarded CityWeekend magazine’s editors pick for Outstanding Southeast Asian Restaurant of 2016. It was an unbelievable honor — Surreal for someone’s debut in the business as chef-owner and marketer, surpassing all other southeast Asian representatives in the restaurant category.

But all good things had to come to an end. Towards 2017, Fred decided to move back to Singapore because he had grown tired of living in Shanghai for the 11th year.

Living in Shanghai was becoming toxic. It was unhealthy on many aspects, and I knew I had to move on.

Fred, together with his wife decided to embark on a new chapter, settling back at his hometown of Singapore.

In 2018, Fred Lin launched an online service called DrivingTheorySG, for people to prepare for their Singapore Driving Theory Tests online. The venture had proven to be a moderate success, with an average of 100 monthly new users.

Today in 2019, Fred lives in Singapore and continues to work on interesting UI/UX projects under his firm, FLINT Creative. He continues to maintain The Shanghai Kid as a hobby, expanding the blog’s coverage to Singapore. Fred continues to observe market trends, and is currently anticipating new opportunities to emerge.