Russian student takes the O-levels in Singapore, and makes good. An interview with Roman Tarassov of Shades In Grey!

I first met Roman Tarassov in my early twenties, when we were part of the same rock band. Roman is now the lead singer and mastermind of Shades In Grey, a rock band that has played in places as diverse as Japan, Taiwan’s Spring Wave Festival, and the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Singapore.

Listen to the band as you read the interview!

Who is Roman Tarassov?

I’m a full-time guitar instructor with 6 years of experience in working in various music schools, as well as providing private lessons. I also play guitar and sing in a rock band and write my own songs.

How was life as a student for you?

Life in school in Singapore was actually quite fun. Coming from a different country at the tender age of 15 and doing Sec 3 and 4 and O-levels in a local school was a very interesting experience. Although I knew the basics of the language, I had never really spoken or used any English prior to coming to Singapore, so initially it was a challenge. Having to do the Sec 2 exams and having to do them well before I could be admitted into Sec 3 as a foreign student was tough. Thankfully I managed to pull through, but still struggled a little bit with my English grammar for the next 2 years. Being in a science class didn’t help either as we were always pushed by our teachers to do better as we were the cream of the crop of the whole school.

I think my English teacher was a little bit tough on me, because she knew my background and therefore she wanted me to be even more hardworking in order to succeed and do well. I have to admit that even now I’m a bit of a lazy bum! Down the road, she was right to push me as I scored a solid B3 in O-level English, from just doing the language full-time for 2 years. Not bad, considering she would hardly give me anything more than a C5 in my other in class assignments. Her “tough love” for me was justified in the end.

How’s the English language for you now, away from school?

I still struggle occasionally with the English language, when it comes to writing lyrics. The music part has always been easy for me. So I think its important for anyone who’s looking into songwriting as a hobby or even being a professional in the field to be able to take in as much inspiration as possible during the study years. Just as its important for musicians to listen and to play as much music as possible, its very important for lyric writers to read and take in as many books, poems, novels as they can. Inspiration may come during the time when we least expect it, and it’s important to have a source to draw from, like the books we’ve been reading.

Mr Seah’s ending remarks!

Roman is perhaps being modest about his abilities. He also works as a voice talent, both in Russian and English. He attributes his vaguely American accent to his early English teachers, who were mostly American. If you ever meet Roman, ask him to do his Russian villain accent, it’s hilarious.

Over and above that, Roman writes lyrics that can be surprisingly good. My favourite line of all time, from his song “I can tell you” goes “You say that my life/ Has no meaning/ You are not completely right”. Wowza!

To engage Roman as a guitar teacher or voice talent, contact him at or 9six-six9-five-zero-zero-3.

Russian student takes the O-levels in Singapore, and makes good. An interview with Roman Tarassov of Shades In Grey!

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