ella & kai (Noella Yan and Kailin Yong) is a zany acoustic duo that plays musical chairs with itself. Their original music draws inspiration from love and life’s million little gifts, helping us notice some of the inconspicuous and precious beauty of the world around us, telling stories about common people doing extraordinary things.
When soulmates decide to join musical forces, the result is a unique and refreshing sound that can only come from a deep and unfaltering trust in each other. They call what they do original Singapore soul-made folk.
Noella and Kailin discovered each other in January 2016 when they both played in a string quartet for their mutual friends’ concert in Singapore. After the concert, they met up a few times for drinks and started to really connect.
During one warm and enchanted night in Joo Chiat, right before Noella’s flight back to Melbourne, they found themselves baring their hearts and souls to each other in a glorious musical improvisation at Kailin’s studio that lasted deep into the night. And so it was that night, witnessed and heard only by the moon, that ella & kai was started.
As it turns out, there are many parallels between the two: both were born and raised in Singapore; both left home around the same time to pursue their musical educations, first in Europe, followed by the U.S.. The two also seek to affect positive changes, through their artistic and humanitarian work. Additionally, music also plays an important role in both their lives as a conduit for spiritual growth and self-discovery.
As passionate educators, Noella and Kai seek to bring the joy of music to underprivileged children from all over the world through outreach concerts, workshops and music camps. They are keen to help set up music schools and orchestras in underserved communities so children can be exposed to the possibilities of a better life through learning a universal skill and through the empowerment that music can bring as a communicative and expressive tool.
Always seeking to bridge, to sooth, to heal and to bring joy, ella & kai’s songs are often inspired by their gratitude for the gift of life. Switching seamlessly between violin, cello, piano, ukulele and voice, this unique duo of soulmates demonstrates through their music, their words and their action how we can all do our little part to make the world a better place for all.
What people say:
“The presentation brought out such depth and the music created perfect synergy”
– Aishwarya Prithviraj’s review of Maya Dance Theatre’s Murmurs in the Wind with original music by Kailin Yong and live cello by Noella Yan
“Ella and Kai make charming music, with a stunning intuitive ensemble”
– Reuben Lai, tenor and co-founder of L’arietta
“Some of the most open-hearted and talented indie music- makers…They shared their gifts not to impress, but to make this crazy world a little better for all of us. Congratulations to the free-spirited Asian gypsy duo Ella & Kai”
– Aaron Lee, award winning poet, founder of Laniakea Culture Collective
“Ella and Kai are an exciting duo that is so much more than the sum of their parts. Infused violin, cello, ukulele, keys and soulful singing, theirs is a unique sound that is not seen anywhere else. Wonderfully emotive, their music and poetry transport you to places you only visit in your dreams and memories.”
– Jameson Soh, actor and co-founder of Rooftop Sessions and L’arietta.
Trained as a cellist and pianist at the Purcell School of Music, Royal College of Music in the UK and the University of Michigan in the US, Noella is an avid musician of new and world music collaborations. She has premiered and collaborated with various composers and inter-disciplinary artistes during her time in the US and has appeared with orchestras across Australasia, Europe and the United States.
Noella is also the resident cellist of Trio Anima Mundi with Kenji Fujimura and Rochelle Bryson. Noella is currently based in Melbourne.
Known to many as the Fiddler for Peace, Kailin believes firmly in the power of music and love to affect profound and positive changes in the world. He was trained in Austria at the Musikhochschule Wien and was the recipient of the Daniel Pearl Memorial Violin in 2004 for his efforts in building cultural bridges through music.
Since his return to Singapore 4 years ago, he has been actively sharing his gift as a music director and composer with theatre and dance groups like Checkpoint Theatre, Flamenco Sin Fronteras, Maya Dance Theatre and In Source Theatre. He is also the founding member of several pan-cultural musical groups including the Kailin Yong Peace Project, NuMundo, Y String Quartet, the Qilin Group and the PLUS Trio.
He currently teaches at Lasalle College Of The Arts, School Of The Arts (SOTA) and Dulwich College.