Bil Musa (real name, Nabilah Musa) has always loved writing and composing music but never dreamt of becoming a singer herself. This all changes when she attended the wedding of one of her friends and was approached by a music label that changes the course of her life.
The label is none other than the brainchild of Malaysian pride Yuna which she started 10 years ago together with her friend, manager and partner, Wawa. The music label Yuna Room Records, approached Bil Musa in 2014 with a deal after hearing her singing at a wedding and reviewing some of her self-written songs.
Under Yuna’s guidance, Bil has been performing at various events and festivals like Urbanscapes, Laneway Festival, Festival Belia, Rock The World, Iskarnival and more. She released her self-titled EP in 2015 and an album called “Young Adults” in 2017.
Bil sings and writes songs in both English and Malay, and she also knows a little bit of French as she previously collaborated with indie band, Enterprise to write a part English – part French song.
Most of her songs has a dreamy feel to it with hints of R&B, pop and alternative rock, while her lyrics hit pretty close to home as her music is influenced by real life events.
Bil is part of the upcoming Urbanscapes festival’s lineup together with breakout R&B star Khalid, Grammy-nominated British rock quartet Wolf Alice, Brooklyn punk band Bodega, Korean rock trio Se So Neon, Thai crooner Phum Viphurit, and fellow Malaysian indie artist Midnight Fusic.
Urbanscapes 2018 will be happening from 3rd to 18th November. But before you let Bil Musa enchant you with her bewitching tunes, get to know her first through our exclusive interview!
How do you feel performing at Urbanscapes?
I’m very excited because I just love performing at festivals in general. I’ve always been a fan of Urbanscapes, so it’s great to finally have my own set in it.
Who are you most excited to meet at Urbanscapes?
No doubt, I’m excited to see Khalid because who isn’t? I’m also excited to see Phum Viphurit and Midnight Fusic.
How has your music career been for you so far?
It’s been very exciting. As with anything else, there are ups and there are downs. I’ve had so much fun, though. Every bad experience is a lesson to learn and I’ve met so many great and inspiring people. This past year has especially been great for me, having just released my full length album just before the start of 2018, so many opportunities have been given to me and I’ve taken them, aiming to do better and better with each opportunity that comes my way.
Do you enjoy singing / writing Malay or English song more?
I actually don’t have a preference. I write what I feel or think. So, if I’m thinking in English, I’ll write in English. The same goes for Malay.
Which language is easier for you?
When it comes to writing songs, writing in English and Malay are both easy for me. It comes naturally. When I write songs in Malay, I feel that I write more “poetically”. My vocabulary is definitely bigger in the English language, though.
Where do learn French and how good are you at it?
I took a gap year after my SPM, before I went to college. That’s when I took intensive French lessons at Alliance Francaise in Jalan Gurney. I went for classes, took exams until about what would be considered secondary school level of the French language. I lived, breathed and ate French culture. Now, my French is very rusty. My skills would probably only get me far in a conversation with a Frenchman in a short elevator ride.
You have released several French songs, do you plan to break into the French market?
Right now, I just want to focus on English and Malay because that’s what I’m fluent in. If an opportunity comes up in the French market, though, of course I would work at improving my French language skills.
Is this the music direction you will be going, or are you open to experience different genre and style as well?
I think this is a good start in the right direction. However, I do want to work on having a very distinct style, maybe mesh other genres with the ones I’ve already experimented with. A good benchmark would be to have people recognise me through a very unique sound.
Are there any different genre that you would like to explore?
I would like to explore more of R&B. I grew up with that in the 90s. I grew up with rock music too, but I don’t think my voice is suitable for that genre. When it comes to hip hop, I myself am not interested in rapping but I am definitely considering collaborations and features.
Do you have any local influences?
Yeah, definitely. I try to surround myself with people in the industry whom I respect, hoping that all the things I love about them will rub off on me haha. One of the ways I do that is by following people like NJWA and Taka, just to name a couple.
So you’re related to Joe Flizzow. Have you catch up with him lately?
The last I saw him was at a show he had and I had just performed at a nearby venue. We haven’t had a proper catch up recently but I’ll always remember how he really helped me out, giving me advice on what to do, when I was first diving into the local music industry. I have great respect for him and he’ll always be “abang” to me, that’s why I really value his advice.
Do you plan to do any collaboration with him?
That’s a question you have to ask him haha. Of course I would want to but I don’t think I’m at that level in my career yet. Who knows, maybe in the future!
What are some of the songs that you are currently obsessed with?
That’s easy. Fair-Weather Friend by Bruno Major, New Light by John Mayer and Don’t Tempt Me by MiC Lowry.
What is the weirdest rumour you ever heard about yourself?
It’s not a weird rumour, it was more of a joke that I kept making that people started to think it was true. People started thinking that producer, Izzy Musa was my real brother. He was the one who produced my song ‘Leave it All’. When people asked us, we would just go along with it. It doesn’t make it any better that I call him “abang” and he calls me “adik”.
What do you wish to achieve in another 5 years?
Win a Grammy. Just kidding. I mean of course I want to but I feel like that would be further down the line. I want to spread my music across Southeast Asia and ultimately break into UK Charts, play festivals around the world, collaborate with people overseas.
What are you doing next?
I just want to get into the studio and start on new singles, work on collaborations and features as well. Hopefully by the start of next year, I’ll have new music out for everyone to enjoy.