Wednesday, 21 August 2019 14:18

Christinna Kuan

Positive influences only

Article from the Sun daily by Jason Lim (posted on 15 Aug 2019)

WITH a legion of social media followers – currently 281,000 on her Instagram account @ms_kuan – Christinna Kuan is always serving us killer outfits-of-the-day (OOTDs) that have us swooning. Her travel diaries showcasing her jet-setting lifestyle from Finland and Georgia to South Korea and Taiwan, and everywhere else in between, have sparked our inner desire to travel.

Kuan also founded her very own clothing line, Christinna.K, in February this year and has even set up a physical store in Penang. Her distinctive personal style can be seen in her brand; feminine, chic yet strong, and sophisticated just herself.

She shares: “It took years before I chanced upon the opportunity to have my own fashion label, eventually I took the leap of faith that could set on a whole new venture.”

As recognised as she is as an influencer, the 22-year-old is also a talented singer. Her collaboration with Malaysian singer-songwriter NYK on a song cover of Aladdin’s theme song A Whole New World even caught the attention of US actor Will Smith, who plays the Genie in Disney’s recent live-action remake.

What does it mean to be an influencer?

“For starters, I think an influencer is a lot of things.

“An influencer definitely has the power to influence a lot of people, since the amount of outreach definitely knows no boundaries. An influencer also needs to know his or her part in making positive changes in this world, by fully utilising social media platforms to spread information and positive vibes.”

What makes an influencer?

“I think that anybody can be an influencer. The number of followers isn’t really a benchmark to define who ‘an influencer’ truly is.

“As long as you play a central role in influencing a certain demographic then you’re an influencer, just like how my parents have influenced me all this while.”

At what point did you realise you’d made it as an influencer?

“I think a lot of times, people might forget that there’s no ‘industry’ to begin with. However, as time passed, the growth of my followers and engagement from brands are definitely showing positive signs that I have ‘made it’ in this industry.

“On the contrary, I do think that this is an ever-growing industry that requires you to always learn, maintain and evolve, so never be complacent of your current status, no matter how much you’ve achieved.”

What do you wish to see in terms of change when it comes to influencer marketing?

“I hope that influencers could be more sincere when marketing the products, including providing genuine opinions so that the masses won’t be misled.

“On the other hand, I also hope that influencers will get the amount of pay we deserve as well. Far more than often, the creativity and effort we put in marketing products for brands is under-appreciated. I wish that brands acknowledge our effort more, and as for influencers? Never settle for something less than you deserve.”

What would you do differently if you were just starting in the industry now?

“Seeing how competitive this industry has become, I would definitely try to be a better version of myself and create more creative content.

“I will also be more courageous to experiment with new styles. Definitely step out of my comfort zone to experiment with different possibilities.”

How did your music collaboration with NYK start?

“I met him around three years ago in Singapore, and ever since we’ve always kept in contact even before he fully pursued his singing career. After watching Aladdin at the cinema on the first day it was released, I fell completely head-over-heels for the theme song A Whole New World.

“I contacted NYK and we decided to work together to produce a song cover. I was super excited for our first ever collaboration.”

What does a typical day in your week look like?

“A typical day in my week includes lots of meetings and planning with my team, dealing with clients, having photo shoots and attending events.

“I also spend the majority of my time managing my boutique Christinna.K and concept store UFCO in Penang as well. When I’m not working, I love to spend as much time with my family as I can.”

Published in Biographies
Tuesday, 16 July 2019 11:13

Allester Shaun

Swaying to sweet sounds

Article from the Sun daily by Marion Fernando (posted on 11 July 2019)

INSPIRED by old classic rock bands, Kuching-native Allester Shaun was 14 when he joined his first battle of the bands.

“Not just me, there were more people like me during high school,” said the now 22-year-old signed to boutique music label This Way Up Records.

He started writing original songs with the same band and musically inclined circle of friends at 15, playing to a different tune from his dreamy second single after getting signed, Sweet Babycakes.

“I started off with a metal band, actually,” laughed the singer/ songwriter who is bound to take his biggest stage to date at Good Vibes Festival in July.

“That’s where I started making my own songs, like composing for my friends as well.”

With a penchant for composing and creating guitar riffs, Allester only started singing after enrolling into architecture at Taylor’s University, KL.

“I never sing in front of anybody. I usually sing in the shower but that’s about it.”

He soon met “guitar god” Rioan Jasmin Ampuria in uni, formed a band together, and later put music and his studies on hold for a year to return to Kuching.

Rioan is from Sabah and the pair never met until uni, but apparently “his mum used to date my dad,” said Allester.

He flew back to KL, “but this time, I was already wanting to quit performing and focus on my studies. Instead, says Allester: “I got the offer to be in the label,” after record boss Jin Hackman asked to hear an original, which turned out to be first single Blue.

“It was like an adrenaline rush, and I was like, gosh, I don’t know what to write about so I was like I’ll make a song about cigarettes [because] I smoke when I’m like really stressed.

“It took me like a few hours to finish the song, then I sent it to Jin, he liked it, and then he put in my first gig doing a solo, as in by my own name. That was my first gig [Raising the Bar at The Bee] last year, February.

Ahead of his EP Kiss/Kill Me Darling, due out sometime this month or August, Allester will be dropping its title track - Kiss/Kill Me Darling on July 12.

What is the narrative that you want to tell with your upcoming EP Kiss/Kill Me Darling?

This album is like a collective of what I have. I was also inspired by prom songs, cause I’ve been binge-watching like Back to the Future, you know.

They have this soundtrack that is really soothing to your ears. So when you listen to it, it’s pretty cool, and apart from that, that’s just it.

I don’t know. Maybe I’m very emotional, I guess [laughs]. I love the tunes so I just want to put it out there. There’s no other reason. I just want to do it.

What is your songwriting process like?

Most of my songs, are very fictional because I’m more to the guitar, you know, composing riffs and stuff, and I really suck at making lyrics, to be honest. I’m not really good at it.

Sometimes I have to ask my friends, like hey man, is this song right? Is there like a grammatical error or some stuff, so yeah, that’s when I usually put myself in a very fictional situation. And then, I’ll ask myself, how would I feel about this, if this happens and stuff. It’s like ... being in somebody else’body or something.

Do you start with the beat or the lyrics first?

Usually, I will start with the melody, like guitars but sometimes as well, I’ll start singing, and you know, when you have this tune in your head, and you just like [hums tune to weet Babycakes, and I [go] oh, okay, I’ll just record it on my iPhone.

I’ll just [hums tune to weet Babycakes, then I’ll go back to my house and I’ll just try to recollect all the tunes and make a song out of it. That’ what I do. It’ either that or that, so both at the same time.

The music video for Sweet Babycakes says you wanted to direct a love story. Can you talk about the idea behind the video?

Actually, it wasn’ my idea but I loved it. It [was] a friend of mine from RocketMob, he pitched this idea to us, and we ended up [liking] this idea. I think he got the inspiration from this movie, starring Johnny Depp. It’ called Sweeney Todd something like that.

In the video, he didn’ look like he was having much fun, but the end was so sweet.

Yeah, it’s like a person who doesn’t want to show their inner feelings to a person that they love or you know, it’ll take time for him to show his [feelings] and stuff. That’ the idea of it.

What is your idea of love?

Love should derive from, you know, your spiritual feelings. I don’ know, I think love is just a mutual feeling where you can connect with that person or something.

It could be anything, actually, love can be anything. You can love the tree, you can love the guitar.

It’s the thing with passion as well. It’s from your own passion and your own [sense of] belonging, companion or anything, and how you guys can create - what do you call it in chemistry like fuse atoms and stuff –a new element. I guess, that’ how I see love.


A song that never fails to get you grooving: Ode to Viceroy by Mac Demarco. “Anything from Mac Demarco, in general.”

Dream stage: Coachella.

Favourite ice cream flavour: Vanilla.

Current favourite album: Oddments by King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizzard.

Which TV/movie character would narrate your life: Jim Carrey from The Truman Show.

Published in Biographies
Friday, 21 June 2019 15:38

Rufus Sivaroshan

Sing it for the world

Article from the Sun daily by Jason Lim (posted on 28 May 2019)

WITH lyrics like: “You can be the one to bring me down but I will be just fine,” 16-year-old budding songwriter and producer Rufus Sivaroshan’s music blends upbeat electronic soundscapes, soulful blues and acoustic vocals with an understated melancholic charm.

His debut single Fine strikes a chord with most people, with relatable lyrics that flood our hearts with emotions and memories from our teenage years, and remind us that everything will indeed, be fine.

The self-taught guitarist started off performing in his bedroom, posting short covers of songs on his Instagram @heyimrufus, and later venturing out into performing gigs in front of large crowds.

Rufus then became the first Malaysian artiste to sign with British distribution company and record label AWAL, and even caught the attention of international musicians Wrabel, JP Saxe, and Sara Diamond.

He shares: “I just want to see people happy with my music and I hope that they would make something out of it.”

What is music to you?

“It is a form of universal expression. I’ve always had difficulties with speech ever since I was younger, I was never able to form perfect sentences correctly, especially when I’m under pressure, and it got really difficult on top of being bullied in high school.

“Music is this medium for me to express myself, without any barriers preventing me from saying what is on my mind, so it becomes really therapeutic in that sense.”

How did you find your genre?

“The story of how I found my ‘sound’ has been all over the place. When I started producing music, it was all EDM, with influences from Martin Garrix and Avicii, then it came to a point where I decided that I was pretty bad at it.

“As time progressed, I found myself listening to pop music, but not the typical kind you hear on most radio stations. I was listening to niche pop on Spotify and music from up-and-coming artistes.

“I slowly realised I was able to write and sing in the same [vein] ... it is something that I enjoy making.”

What is the story behind Fine?

“When I started writing it, I had just gotten out of a really toxic relationship, and at the same time just started my A-Levels, with a lot more things going on.

“I wrote Fine as a way to console myself that things will be alright, and that they’ll resolve [themselves] eventually.

“I wasn’t supposed to release Fine initially, but my friend Daniel who co-wrote the song with me really liked it, and said that it should totally be my debut. The song took me three months to complete, from drafting to perfecting it.

How did you manage to sign with AWAL?

“On the day I was about to submit the song to Spotify, I got an e-mail from AWAL saying that they really liked the demo I sent, and they would love to invite me onto their platform.

“One of the reasons why I was so stoked was that AWAL signed up so many artistes that I look up to, such as Lauv, Bruno Major, Rex Orange County, Verite, and [other] EDM artistes like Don Diablo and R3hab. It is just cool to be among that roster of artistes.”

Do you think it is hard to get noticed, when the music industry is so saturated right now?

“It is not difficult to build a fan base, because that can easily be done through word of mouth, but to break through as a professional is a little difficult.

“That being said, as long as you know what you’re doing, then it becomes a lot easier to go in the right direction and hopefully be where you want to be.

“Social media platforms are incredibly impressionable, and so easy for everyone to get around. We use Instagram to keep up with our favourite celebrities, so why not use that to learn about key people and have conversations with them.”

If you weren’t making music, what would you be doing?

“Honestly, I don’t think I will be doing music full-time, which is ironically weird because everyone in the creative industry is so passionate about what they do, and want to do it with all their hearts.

“I’m planning to study politics in university next year (not political politics but developmental politics).

“I like comparing [progress made by] less developed countries and developing countries to the progress [made by] developed nations, seeing how they have succeeded, and how can we [use] the same framework. I’ve always been intrigued by that.”

Published in Biographies
Tuesday, 11 June 2019 13:01

Tasha Aleia

Made for the spotlight

Tasha Aleia adds hosting to her resume, as the Sony Music Malaysia artiste prepares for her first single

Article from the Sun daily by Marion Fernando (posted on 21 May 2019)

AS a child as young as three, Tasha Aleia found what she loved to do in life, which was to sing. Through massive passion, talent, and supportive parents to boot, the now 23-year-old is looking to release her first single sometime this year after being signed to Sony Music Malaysia.

And with about a year left before completing her business degree, Tasha, who is enjoying the best of her busy but fun schedule most recently expanded her foothold in the entertainment industry with a sweet new gig as one of the hosts of E! News Malaysia.

According to Tasha: “Obviously singing is my top priority but this is also really great exposure for me in terms of hosting - it’s really good exposure. I’m able to say yeah, I can sing, but I can also host.”

This comes after the singer’s brush as the host of local live trivia game show app Dooit Live.

How do you find performing live versus recording in the studio?

It’s completely different in a sense, recording in the studio, it’s just you and the producer, and everything has to be perfect, everything has to be very ...technical. Your pitching, your pronunciation even, and the feel. It’s not just about singing great, right, it’s about how you portray your emotions and feelings and people need to be able to feel your emotions through just listening to you.

When it comes to performing live, [whatever] energy the crowd gives me, I definitely would be able to give back. I’m thinking of my recent performance at No Black Tie recently. It was crazy. Everyone was cheering and singing along. That feeling of knowing people are enjoying what you’re doing and you’re making people happy and being able to sing your heart out - if you make a mistake you’re just oh, whatever, you laugh it off on stage.

In the studio, you can’t just like laugh it off ... I really love being on stage. I really, really love it. Especially when people are just like yeah, you’re amazing. I’m just like yes, this is why I do what I do because it’s amazing to know that you’re able to make people feel something. You’re able to make people feel good through your music and now that I’m in the process of making my own music, that’s like greater because now I can actually tell people the story through my eyes and not just other singers’ eyes.

What is the story or personal style that you want to tell with your music?

In general, I would obviously, love to be able to release an R&B song, because ... I love Beyonce, and I love SZA, and I love Ariana. They have pop and also R&B to it. That’s the direction that I want to take it to but in terms of like what the song is going to be about, it really depends but probably about love, love life. Don’t know if it’s going to be positive, if it’s going to be negative. I don’t mind because I’ve been through a lot these past few years when it came to my love life or whatever. I know, it’s kinda cheesy to say it ... like write a love song, but you know, it doesn’t have to be the cheesy Taylor Swift kind of love song, but yeah, I would love to write a song about love and my experiences with it.

Can you talk about your latest role with E!?

I’ve never done hosting, ever. It’s all been singing, singing, and singing, and then recently my friend, Bryan Foo, he’s the founder of this game show called Dooit Live, so he was like, hey, Tasha, like would you be interested to host this show, it’s a live game show. It’s an app on the phone. So I was like, yeah, I’ve never really hosted anything, so yeah sure. I tried it out and that was basically the start of my hosting career. I got noticed and people enjoyed it, I guess. My manager called me and they’re like hey, you need to go for a casting in TV3. They want to cast you for a hosting job for E!. I’m like, oh, interesting ... I don’t think I can do this ... I’m not a host, I’m not a proper, proper host. I went for the casting and everything went well. They were like, you and the two other hosts are gonna be hosting E! News Malaysia, and I was like, okay! So that’s been great. It’s pretty recent, so we had the launch recently. I’ve already recorded two episodes. It’s on Mondays and Thursdays on TV3’s and NTV7’s YouTube. It’s really exciting and really different from singing for sure, but it’s both as exciting. I really like it and I’m looking forward to what’s more to come.

How did it feel being the one to ask questions?

I was definitely nervous. I was yeah, okay, next question. I looked so stupid. Every time I was interviewing people - and I’m really small. I’m like a straight five-footer - I’m 150cm - so when I was standing up, everyone’s just like so, so, so tall, so that made me more nervous, so the first question ... everyone’s just like um what? Everyone had to bend down, so it was pretty nerve wracking but I think I’m getting used to it.

How are you juggling hosting and singing on top of school?

It makes it so much easier cause it’s fun. It’s something that I love to do. Singing is like second nature to me. And although I’m still warming up to this whole hosting thing, like I still have a lot to work on and brush up on, but it’s still fun Even though the days are very long, I still enjoy it and I’m so thankful that I am able to do something that I love. It’s always been my passion, so it’s great.

Published in Biographies
Monday, 27 May 2019 13:47

Phraveen Arikiah

The performer

Phraveen Arikiah believes theatre will always and forever be a big part of his life

Article from the Sun daily by Bissme. S (posted on 14 May 2019)

SINGER, songwriter and actor Phraveen Arikiah is a rising name in the Malaysian theatre scene.

IN 2016, the 28-year-old was involved in a stage production called A New Musical by Liver & Lung Productions which won him the Innovation in Musical Theatre award at the 14th BOH Cameronian Arts Awards.

He also completed a year-long actor’s residency with The KL Shakespeare Players in 2018 where he performed Shakespeare Demystified: Romeo & Juliet and A Tale That Must Be Told: Macbeth.

His performance as Ben in the musical Parallel garnered him the Best Male Lead Actor award in the 2016 Short + Sweet Musical Malaysia festival.

He was also cast in CS: The Musical, which won the Best Overall Production Award and Audience Choice Award at the same festival.

Phraveen also enjoys hunting down the best cakes in town, hiking, or simply contemplating the existence of dragons.

Have you always wanted to be a performer?

“I have always enjoyed performing. I was active in debates and stage-based activities in my school days. My first love was music and singing, and later acting.

“I was the only child and my imagination kept me company during my childhood days. Imagination gives you the ability to put yourself in different shoes and experience different lives. But I never dreamed that I would [be performing as a] career.”

What changed your mind?

“It happened in 2010. I was studying [Business Administration] in Hong Kong. In my first semester I made a friend from South Korea who was a pianist and a singer. He heard me sing and encouraged [me].

“I was surprised by his encouragement. In secondary school, my voice was breaking. A few friends even told me that I should stop singing.

“I felt renewed by [my friend’s] compliments. My new friend and I started jamming and singing.

“I enjoyed myself every much. I knew I could not give up what I enjoy.”

When did you decide to perform full time?

“After I returned home from Hong Kong, I worked as a health and medical writer. Later, I became a travel and lifestyle writer. I enjoyed writing. But [it] was not my first passion. I wanted to do something more.

“I was still performing then. In 2015, I decided to become a full-time theatre performer. It is not easy to survive as a full-time theatre performer.

“There are times when you are doing extremely well, and other times when you have to learn to tighten your belt.

“You must learn to manage your finances well. But I have no regrets. I am doing something I love.”

Would you consider acting on the big screen?

“Last year, I acted in my first feature film. But the film has not [been released in] cinemas. I cannot reveal the title yet.

“It is an adaptation of a novel that is set in Malaysia. It is collaboration between a Malaysian production company and [some] international companies. It will be in English.”

Describe your childhood years.

“I grew up in an oil palm plantation in Teluk Intan, Perak. I loved climbing trees as a child.

“My father was a manager at the oil palm plantation. My mother was a kindergarten teacher.

“When I was 13, we moved to Kuala Lumpur. My father started his own business there.

“My parents always reminded me, if you want something, you must work for it. You just can’t wait for things to happen.”

How did your parents react to your career choice?

“They were concerned whether I would make enough to survive. Their concerns were valid.

“They came from a generation of people with a different mindset of what a professional career looks like, and what you need to do to succeed in life.

“But I have showed them I have managed to sustain myself over the last few years.”

Where do you see yourself in five years?

“Still doing theatre. [Even if] I cannot do theatre full time, I still want to do it part-time. I am [also] working towards cutting my first album.

“My philosophy about performing is to remind people what it means to be human again.

“Sometimes we get so caught up with our daily lives that we forget to be human.”

Published in Biographies
Tuesday, 07 May 2019 12:32

As’ad Motawh

The rising star


As’ad Motawh is slowly making waves as a singer, and might quite possibly be the next big thing in our entertainment industry

Article from the Sun daily (posted on 02 May 2019)

HE MAY be only 18, but As’ad Motawh is slowly climbing up the ladder of success as an artiste and entertainer.

As’ad’s love for music began as a child growing up listening to Michael Jackson.

At 16, he started posting song covers on Instagram and other social media platforms.

His first post was Justin Bieber’s Cold Water, but it was his version of Luis Fonsi’s Despacito which went viral and brought him to the attention of record company BeGood Muzik, which subsequently signed him on.

Since then, he has released two original songs, Senyum, and Percaya, which have increased his fanbase.

In an interview session, the Selangor boy admitted that his parents are not musically-inclined, although he said his mum does sing on occasion. The middle child of five jokingly claimed that he is the only singer in his family.

Not content with being known for his singing, last year As’ad starred in a Raya tele-movie called Batang Buruk Lesung Batu.

While he confessed that he did not enjoy the experience as much as he hoped, he still plans to give acting a shot in the future.

What is it like working with your record company ?

“They provide me with everything. They put me in touch with songwriters and composers, and we explain what we like.

“For the first song (Senyum) I hadn’t started composing songs and writing lyrics yet. For the second song, I wrote the lyrics, and for my third song I plan to contribute more.”

As a young singer breaking into the music scene, do you see social media working in your favour?

“If you were to compare the past and present, people would say it is easier now because of the technology.

“I also hear people saying that [singers who made it big on social media] don’t deserve to be called artistes.

“It is now 2019, and technology has progressed greatly. With the digital platform, I don’t have to go for 101 press conferences. So for me, it is a good and helpful thing.”

Criticism from keyboard warriors is rife. How do you cope with that?

“I always think that haters are the best supporters. In a way, they are the ones who actually care a lot about you, but just don’t know how to put it in words.

“My fans are nice and are always there for me.

“For the future, I just want to be a proper, clean artiste. My job is just to entertain, and to sing.”

Are you concentrating only on your career?

“Last year I was focused on my SPM, but this year I plan to focus only on singing, because I am going to release my first album.

“Senyum and Percaya will be featured on it, along with other new tracks. It will be released later this year.”

Are you writing your own songs for this album?

“I will be collaborating with other songwriters because I have trouble writing songs in Bahasa Malaysia.”

You often sing in a mix of Bahasa Malaysia and English. Is that going to be the trend for your songs on the album?

“I think I am going to stick to that trend. There is also a track that is inspired by the 1980s style of music, and I also rap on one of the tracks.”

Do you plan to have an entirely English album?

“Actually the original plan for Percaya was to sing it entirely in English, but we changed our plans and did it in both Bahasa Malaysia and English.

“So for now, I think I am going to stick to what works for the Malaysian market. In the future, I will do a full English song, and a full English album.”

You have made fans outside of Malaysia, especially in Indonesia. How does it feel having the world at your feet?

“As an 18-year-old, I did not expect my music to grow that fast, that quickly. I am always grateful that I get to go to other countries, and the people there know my music.

“Thanks to digital technology, our music is able to be heard in other countries, but I also feel that we still have a lot of talent here who need the opportunity to grow.”

Many people go on reality show competitions to get recognised. Why did you not try the same route?

“Before this I wanted to join The X Factor in Australia, but I felt I should train a lot more. Right now I am just going to focus on the market I have now.

“Right now I am in the British Academy Of Performing Arts (a Selangor-based pre-university performing arts academy), and I am focusing on my voice, and how to perform properly.”

Published in Biographies
Thursday, 11 April 2019 15:09

Meroshana Thaiyalan

The singing doctor

Article from the Sun daily by S. Indra Sathiabalan (posted on 20 Mar 2019)

KLANG girl Meroshana Thaiyalan, 26, hails from a small close-knit family. As she puts it: “Family is number one to me and nothing comes above it.”

Her father is a businessman and her mum is a retired teacher, while her younger sister is currently in university.

This talented young lady is not only an award-winning singer (she won the SKOWT-VIMA Best New Act for her song Hearts Of Steel), but is also a medical doctor and an Indian classical music teacher.

Meroshana has loved singing since she was a child, putting on impromptu concerts for family and guests. When she was 15 years old, she participated in Yu Hua Idol, a school-level singing competition, and emerged as first runner-up.

With her newfound confidence, she started posting cover songs on social media, took part in singing shows like MTV Twisties Superstars, and started dabbling in songwriting.

She recently got hitched and she credits her husband – whom she met in college five years ago – for being someone who loves her unconditionally and who understands her career demands.

She describes him as “someone who’s always excited to co-manage my shows and an endless source of encouragement.”

Did you have formal training in singing?

“My formal training was the countless hours of singing in the shower.”

Tell us about your Indian classical music background.

“I started learning veenai (traditional Indian stringed instrument) under Shri Lalithalaya, with my coach Prakash Nambiar about 12 years ago.

“He was the best teacher anyone could ask for, and the veenai is such a beautiful instrument, that I knew I would have a lifelong bond with it.

“I graduated with a distinction in both my junior and teaching exams, performed in many cultural shows with Shri Lalithalaya, and joined in teaching veenai with Master Prakash, before I moved to Malacca for my housemanship.

“[When I return to] Kajang, I plan to continue teaching veenai again.

Did you want to be a doctor who sings, or a singer who treats people?

“I am a doctor who wants to, one day, treat people with my singing and my music. I never want to separate both.

“I am a doctor, and a singer, and in both ways I’m able to treat those who are in need of it. Music heals, and I can’t wait to implement that into patient care and medicine someday soon.”

Music and medicine demand 100% commitment. How do you balance things out?

“I won’t lie, sometimes it does get tough to balance the best of both worlds. Being a doctor can be really demanding both physically and mentally, and sometimes it can be tiring to focus on two things at once.

“But at the end of the day, I’m reminded of how much I love both music and medicine, and subconsciously it all falls into place. I wish I could give better advice on balancing careers, but I’m human and still learning too.”

How did you feel when you were bestowed the VIMA award for Best Newcomer?

“I was ecstatic! Never in a million years did I think I would make it up there, among all the big names!

“I’ve always struggled with my self confidence and insecurities, and winning the VIMA award really gave me the boost I’ve always needed in the music industry.

“I’m so happy my first single, Heart of Steel managed to get the recognition it did, because I truly wanted it to reach to more people, as I wrote it with the intention to spread self love and awareness.”

As a young person, what advice would you give another person on career choices?

“Choose what you love. Choose what you see yourself doing 100 years from today. Choose a career that makes you happy, and work from there.

“From then on, never stop working and striving, and build yourself an empire! The sky’s the limit and it’s not wrong to dream as many dreams as you want.

“People will always have things to say, they will always try to choose for you. There will be countless people trying to knock you off your pedestal, but never stop fighting for what you love –in this case, your career.

“I believe if you choose a career that you love and it makes you happy, you’re set for life. It all depends on what your life goal is. My life goal is to be happy. What’s yours?”

Published in Biographies
Friday, 15 February 2019 11:42

Yazmin Aziz

Young & musically-restless

Article from the Sun daily by Marion Fernando (posted on 08 Jan 2019)

MALAYSIAN-FILIPINO singer/songwriter Yazmin Aziz has been performing in singing competitions since she was 11 years old.

Managed under, the now 17-year-old recently debuted her studio single Lihatlah in October, after competing in her latest competition, Bakat Malaysia Ohsem (BOM).

All these accomplishments, and the passionate performer who speaks English, Tagalog, and Bahasa Malaysia has not even obtained her SPM exam results yet.

Yasmin even creates sweet music with boxer Manny Pacquiao’s son - her beau - Michael Pacquiao on her own YouTube account.

Having spent some time in the Philippines before returning to her birthplace of Kuala Lumpur she grew up listening to “oldies” on the radio.

She said: “My grandmother would put on the radio and I’ll just be listening. The first one was My Girl - so I listen to a lot of old songs and Broadway.”

M Zulkifli - known for his work with Siti Nurhaliza, and even her vocal coach Vince Chong - translated the interpretation from her original track in English to Malay.

While the powerful lyrics to Lihatlah can be applied to any romantic relationship, the strength of her voice does not waver as she sings about rising through the hurt caused by an absent parent.

How did you want to approach the writing process of Lihatlah with the intention of having the song as your debut single?

Honestly, I wanted everyone to know my life story first because Lihatlah is basically about my father. My father who left when I was really young.

I wanted to show everyone that through singing, I basically tell my story because all the songs I wrote are really about my life and everything [in it].

So when I wrote Lihatlah, I think it’s to just really show how through music I can pour my heart and soul out about my dad and everything.

I wrote that to tell people that look, I was once a weak girl. I was this because I was left and everything but in the end, I showed everyone that, you know, I can do it.

I can still continue whatever I’m doing, even if I’ve been through a lot.

Vince Chong co-composed and produced Lihatlah, on top of being your vocal coach. What is the most valuable career advice you received from him?

He’s always told me to not listen to what other people think. You do you. For him, it’s like look, if you want to reach that note, if you need to go up, on top of a hill, let’s go. That’s him. If you can’t reach that note, what will help you? What will help you reach that note?

We actually tried many ways [and] that hill story is actually real. We actually went up on top of a hill and I actually belted out that note. To him, it’s just you do you. What you think suits you, what you think people would like. Just make sure you have your own mindset.

You’re not only in a relationship with Michael Pacquiao, but the two of you have collaborated on a track titled Heart & Soul. How did the musical aspect of your relationship come to be?

I was honestly really shocked because when I met him, I was just like hey, I wonder what this guy can do, right. He started beatboxing and I thought ouhh, okay, let’s try and do Stolen. So I said look, I’m gonna sing a song, you just go with it, okay. He said wait, it depends on what song. And I said no, no, no. Just go with it. That was our first one. It was Stolen. He did the beatboxing and I thought okay, this guy’s cool.

When he went back to the Philippines, and you know, we started having our normal lives again, he told me to listen to his track, and I said what track are you talking about. The first track I listened to was Heart & Soul. So I was like, you didn’t tell me you could produce music and everything! We should try and do something.

He came up with different tracks until we found that particular track for my lyrics with Heart & Soul. The day he sent me that track, was the same day I wrote the lyrics. Even though we are far apart, to us it’s just like, look, let’s just email whatever we have to each other.

What do you plan to focus your creative energy on after Lihatlah?

I think my plan after Lihatlah is to really produce more of my originals. I already have a lot of lyrics stacked and some songs composed. All we need to do is to clean it up and make music from it.

I’m really hoping that one day someone will call me to do an acting project as well cause I love musicals. I’ve acted in one, which is The Fortunettes, [where] I played Diana.

Published in Biographies
Tuesday, 09 October 2018 13:05

Cheryl Koh

Asian invasion

Article from the Sun daily by Jason Lim (posted on 2 October 2018)

LITTLE did Cheryl Koh know what the future had in store for her after leaving Malaysia for the US to complete her tertiary education in Los Angeles, a journey which would land her in the Hollywood 'hall of fame'.

One day, the 22-year-old singer and songwriter from Shah Alam heard about a worldwide casting call put out by Warner Bros. and director Jon M. Chu for a chance to act in the movie Crazy Rich Asians.

Koh, better known as Cheryl K, had nothing to lose. She did not think the organisers would notice her among the thousands of audition tapes from all over the world, yet she tried her luck anyway.

She read out the lines of a sample script provided to all respective hopefuls, and performed Mamma Knows Best by Jessie J at the end of her audition tape. That performance made an impression, and the rest is history.

Koh was eventually given the opportunity to sing the track Money (That’s What I Want) for the opening and ending credit scenes, in both English and Mandarin verses.

She recalled: “When you hear your own voice on the big screen and see your name appear twice when the credits roll... that’s when you know you’re crazy dreaming!”

What was the most memorable experience during the entire process?

"I think it was when I first got the call from Warner Bros. telling me that I booked the job. I will never forget my very first words in response to that was: “Are you going to make me cry?”

"I was jumping and screaming all over my room followed by multiple spam calls to my mom who was probably still sleeping at the time because of the time difference between Los Angeles and Malaysia."

Did you feel a particular connection with the song Money?

"I was familiar with this classic Motown Money song before and knowing that it’s been popularly covered by The Beatles and Bruno Mars, I am so thankful to be able to put my own spin on it for the world to hear, even with the inclusion of some Mandarin lyrics.

I am ethnically Chinese and I feel represented by not just the movie but the soundtrack of this film. When I first heard that this was the song Warner Bros. wanted me to sing, I knew it was a perfect fit for me because I loved it and thought it completely suited my vocal capabilities.

Why do you think ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ resonates so deeply within the Asian community and possibly even beyond its audiences?

"It’s the first movie to feature an all Asian cast in 25-years since Joy Luck Club. This makes Hollywood movies refreshing and opens a lot more doors for Asians to be in the spotlight - no longer be stereotyped or type-casted.

"It’s also the most successful rom-com movie in 9 years, topping the U.S. Box Office for at least three weeks straight now at No. 1.

"I strongly believe that this movie does not just resonate with Asians feeling represented but beyond that. This story is about love, sacrifice, and the challenge that comes with family, something a lot of people can relate to and identify with, regardless of whether we share the same skin colour or not."

Do you think it’s hard to get recognized when the music industry at large is rather saturated right now?

"Yes, getting recognized is definitely challenging because there are so many talented people all over the world working incredibly hard to improve their craft and be noticed.

"While there is also an increasing opportunity in today’s digital media age to showcase one’s talent, there are videos and songs being uploaded every second.

"However, I always believe that with the right determination and humbleness, any artist is on their own journey to success. Someone once told me: 'It doesn’t just take talent to make it in this industry, you must also be at the right place, with the right person, at the right time'.

"I believe we’ve got our own timing and if it’s meant for us, it will come."

What’s the next best thing you could be doing besides making music?

"I want to be an entrepreneur. This is also why I majored in business with an emphasis in entrepreneurship. I want to provide solutions to a problem, possibly related to the music or entertainment industry since my passion will always be somewhat tied into that.

"My end goal is to do something that can inspire and help others – to make a difference in the world.

Published in Biographies
Friday, 14 September 2018 14:33


Music is her life

Article from the Sun daily by Jason Lim (posted on 3 July 2018)

ACCORDING to her mum, Lunadira was already singing That's The Way It Is by Celine Dion before she could even speak English properly.

Lunadira herself said: “Maybe she’s just glamourising the past, but I’d like to think it’s true.”

Regardless, the talented lass has gone from singing effortless, stripped down cover songs, into becoming a trailblazing artiste in the local music scene, all in the space of two years.

“Not to be cliché, but music is life, music is everything, and it’s what I need in every aspect of my life,” she expressed.

“Music is the soundtrack of my life.”

Following the trajectory of her debut single, Forever’s Not Our Thing, which has garnered over 280,000 streams on Spotify to date, the 24-year-old has released another soft and melancholic track to tug our heartstrings, Stuck With You.

Rumour has it to be a slow-burning lover’s anthem that everyone needs in their life.

How did you find your sound?

I don’t want to say I’ve found my sound, it’s more of [how] I present myself as an artiste, and who I am currently. I really believe in the evolution of music, so I’m not making music for the sake of it.

It’s not just the aspect of sound, it’s also asking myself how am I going to implement music in my life. Whenever I do push out music, it’s a certain aspect of me that I’m confident about, it’s a representation of how I felt at a certain time.

I would like to think that my personality is not just one straight line. People always say Geminis are two-faced, but I can’t agree with that. I’m more than two-faced; because if I were to say I belong in R’n’B or Pop, there are lots of people who are way better than I am.

I guess I’m at the middle ground between both genres.

What is the story behind your latest single Stuck With You?

That’s the only song I’ve written that is not based on my personal experience. It stems from the relationship with my best friend. There was a time when she was seeing someone, and every night she was complaining to me about the guy.

So I channelled that frustration through the song. Thank God she liked it when I told her about it, but I don't know about the guy though.

I don’t want to say that the song is strictly about the guy. It’s about people who are in that similar situation ... A few of my friends [were] all in what I like to call ‘situation-ships’.

There was an influx of that at one point, so I asked myself: ‘Why don’t I write a song about it since it’s happening all around me’.

As you are writing a song, how do you know when it is finished?

I don’t. That’s why I’m so thankful that I have my manager Jin, Airliftz, and people from my record label to help. Because if you listen to a song so much and you think it’s ready, then when someone else listens to it and give you a second opinion, you’ll ask yourself: ‘Why haven’t [I] thought of that?’.

It’s a very tedious process, at the end of the day I feel that maybe the song might not be finished, but the only way to find out if it’s good or not is to release it.

What are your thoughts on the current music scene in Malaysia?

It’s improving tremendously. Around the time when Alextbh was popping everywhere, a lot of people started paying attention to the local artistes. I remember [saying] that [this] year is going to be a good year for Malaysia music, and indeed, it is going really well.

Do you think it’s hard to get recognised when the music industry is rather saturated right now?

It’s true. There are so many people doing the same thing, I’m not saying that I’m different, because I’m [one] of those people [trying] to make it.

It’s not an unknown fact that social currency is something important to get recognised. [It’s] a struggle [even] for someone my age, and if you’re willing to push yourself and push the boundaries, you have to really start caring about social media; look at what is trending, study it and just keep doing it.

If [you’re] at a certain point where you’ve done everything, but you feel like you’re still not getting recognised then maybe there is something wrong.

What are some lessons you’ve learned throughout this journey?

Believing in yourself, which is something I’m struggling with.

Know what you really want, because if you [don’t], no one is going to believe your image and the message you’re putting out.

I’ve also learned to self-analyse a lot, in order to be the person I want to be.

Honestly, just carry your own weight and choose to be with people you can trust to create a positive, or at least a conducive environment around you. It’s essential to being the best person you can be.


Published in Biographies
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