Local artist Bihzhu is best known for her soulful and melancholic voice that paints the picture of your favourite Sunday morning records, seamed in sweet caramel-coated harmony in your mind.
Apart from winning the award for Song of the Year at the 2013 Voice Independent Music at the VIMA Music Awards, Bihzhu also took home the award for the Vox Pop Cabaret Song category at the international stage for the 2013 Independent Music Awards (IMA). This 28-year-old singer from Penang has a voice that is so rich and soulful, she sends chills down your spine.
The journey of her musical career has seen her grace the stages of major festivals such as Penang Island Jazz Festival, Roots Nights at Palate Palette, No Black Tie and Melbourne’s Miss Libertine. This musical powerhouse will be playing at Urbanscapes 2013 this year and she speaks to Hype.My in an exclusive interview about her musical journey.
When did you first decide to pursue a career in singing?
I started a band called Rhapsody when I was in college, but decided to go solo only in 2011.
What do you think of the current music industry in Malaysia?
I think, like everywhere in the world, it’s challenging. Many musicians can’t afford to dedicate themselves to music head-on simply because it’s not sustainable. But having said that, it’s encouraging to see the amount of music venues, events and young musicians springing up. Hopefully, the momentum keeps going.
What kind of music did you listen to growing up?
I listened only to my dad’s tapes, so it was full of bands like Peter, Paul & Mary and The Brothers Four.
When did you write your first song?
I wrote a poem called ‘So Scared’, my band mate Ywenna put it to music and voila, our first song was born.
What was it about?
It was about unrequited love. So cliché!
Are your songs usually based on personal experiences?
Almost always. I find it hard to be emotionally honest about something I haven’t personally lived. It’s just like life, really–you can read all about something but it doesn’t mean a thing until you’ve experienced it.
How important are lyrics to you?
Very important, because I started out as a lyricist and didn’t write melodies until I became a solo artist. And it’s often the first point of inspiration.
Who is your favourite songwriter and why?
I don’t really have a favourite, but I have favourite songs: Sham A Ling Ding Dong by Jesse Winchester for its simplicity and tenderness; Love Rain by Jill Scott and Mos Def for its evocative rhymes – it’s pure genius.
What about favourite singer?
Am currently obsessed with Laura Mvula and Lianne La Havas, but my all-time faves are the lead singer from Fat Freddy’s Drop and Caetano Veloso.
If you could collaborate with one artist, who would it be?
It’s a hard choice between Fat Freddy’s Drop and Caetano Veloso, but I think the latter, if only for the fact that he’s older.
What is your favourite thing about performing?
Getting to share all of me with the audience. It’s like telling the whole world you love it and then hearing it say it loves you right back.
Tell us more about your style of singing and why you chose this genre.
I consider myself a genre-straddler and I just love how different sounds help you express all the different facets of yourself. So as long as I can, I’m going to keep exploring.
How excited are you to be performing at Urbanscapes 2013?
What can fans and our readers expect from you at Urbanscapes 2013?
They can expect a lot of heart.
Who are you looking forward to seeing perform at Urbanscapes 2013?
I try not to have any expectations and am sure I will be happily surprised by all the acts.
Apart from Urbanscapes, what’s next for you?
I’ll be performing on the main stage of the 10th Penang Island Jazz Festival in December, and am working on my second album.
Where can our readers listen to you/watch you perform?
I host a monthly online concert and they can catch it (and previous shows) at new.livestream.com/Bihzhu.
Here’s something from Bihzhu for you to enjoy, don’t forget to catch her at Urbanscapes 2013!
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