The highly anticipated Good Vibes Festival with Day 1 kicking off on Friday, 21st July! Fans have been anticipating to see their favourite artists live on stage and this year’s line-up has gotten everyone hyped up! One of the many talented artists who will be taking the stage is Ipoh-born singer-songwriter Leaism.
Despite her set being abruptly cut short due to technical difficulties at last year’s festival, the singer kept the show going and left fans wanting more. We recently got the opportunity to sit down and chat with the local talent about her upcoming performance at Good Vibes Festival, her experience with last year’s show, and more.
I think it’s because of my street music background. We have this thing where people would just pick a song and they would say “If you sing this song, I would give you RM100”. So we would literally scramble (for) our phones and put them on our guitars. So, even if you messed up, you would keep going. Whatever happens, just keep going.
Also, I care more about what the audiences see and feel, rather than what is happening behind the scene. So, usually, if I forget my words, or if there were any technical issues, we would just keep going. So it doesn’t matter if you mumbled or fell down or the speakers blew up, because these things happen, especially during festivals since it’s live. Whatever it is, the show must go on.
Actually, when that happened, I got quiet. I was like “What’s going on?” and my guitarist was like “Lea! Keep on singing! Don’t stop! You keep on singing!” and I kept on going. So it really was the spirit of ‘keep on going for the audience’ and also because of my band – they got my back. So I was brave enough to finish the song.
2. What kind of feedback did you receive backstage after the incident?
I actually pitied the stage crew because there was a lot of chaos going on backstage at that moment with the technical issues. While we were setting up, the microphone had some issues so we had to go backstage and then waited another 4 to 5 minutes. So I lost about 10 minutes of my set, so I just got to play about 18 (minutes).
We were already on the last song but we didn’t receive the cue to stop so we just kept going. Halfway through as we were about to hit the chorus, we were told to stop but I wasn’t going to ruin the mood by cutting the performance short. So I did my part, but I also made a note to apologise to the next performers for the delay. I’ve done my job and if I needed to be angry, I’ll get angry backstage but as soon as I was done, I just hugged all of the stage managers, like “Sorry, no hard feelings”.
We actually recently met up in Bangsar and had some laughs about it so it was good. I know it wasn’t their fault, it was more of a technical issue and there were a lot of things going on that day like the heat and everything. There were some miscommunications too but I’m glad that me and my band got through it. As for the audience, I was surprised that they cared since it was my first Good Vibes Festival, and even though they couldn’t really hear me when the audio was cut off, I saw that the first 5 lines of people were listening so of course, I had to finish the song.
3. Have you always been good at coming up with a backup plan on the spot or going with the flow?
I would say that it’s more of a rehearsed spontaneity because I would do it in rehearsals. I would be like, “Okay this is the part where I’ll interact with the crowd”, and so on but we’ll make fun of it in rehearsals. I believe that if we rehearse these things enough times, they’ll become a muscle memory, and as long as you trust yourself and let your soul and energy be, some fun surprises will happen, like what happened to us last year. Now we get to perform at the 10th-year of Good Vibes Festival so you know, you have fun with it, you’ll lose some but then you’ll win more.
4. How long have you been preparing for this year’s Good Vibes? How many hours have you spent rehearsing for your set?
I think we only had one rehearsal so far but we’ll have 2 or 3 coming up. So it’s more of long hours rehearsal where one rehearsal takes 3-5 hours because we’re doing the whole thing – the styling, the set, the intro. So we’re really trying to go for it and have fun. But we are trying to see if we’re allowed to be a little picky with the setlist this year because we’ve only ever performed 6 songs from my album and we want to perform the other songs that we never performed before.
5. Do you have plans on releasing new music and will you be performing any at Good Vibes later?
I was planning to perform [new music] but looking at the set and the people and the vibe this year, we scrapped my original set and we’re now going for the b-side of Leaism. So we’re not playing the new songs; those are coming up a month after Good Vibes because we have more shows coming up so I hope people are gonna come and check them out from Leaism.
This is more of a set where I say, “This is what you guys missed out on last year”. It’s that set where we’re just gonna have fun and just go for it, not being shy about it. We’ll be celebrating my album to the fullest before we move on to the new EP.
6. What’s your songwriting process usually like?
I just like to puke out my ideas. Whatever strong emotion I feel at a specific moment, I would just throw words out there like Tetris then I’ll have some fun and re-arrange it. To be honest, I don’t really know what I write most of the time. As long as it makes sense, I’m okay. I would say that I write songs about mixed feelings, things that you can’t understand. Also, it’s the best answer when you don’t know how to explain anything that you’re writing about.
I’m very explanative. I like to write the embellishments of a feeling but this time, after the pandemic, I’m trying to be more in touch with my vulnerability because I’m a very ‘go-for-it’, positive, strong woman, queen kinda person. So now, I’m also trying to also embrace and enjoy the fact that I’m vulnerable and the past few years have been a lot and I would like to celebrate that.
I like to hyperbolise the emotions I’m feeling at the moment. So, for example, in my song, “Murka Jiwa”, from my album, I was really angry but I didn’t want to be petty angry so instead of the word ‘marah’, I used ‘Murka’, like, the Queen is angry. So it’s like wrath, it’s not anger. So that’s how I write stuff. I like to put myself on a pedestal and I believe that whatever thoughts or emotions you’re having, they’re completely valid. So it’s that type of celebration and that type of writing.
It varies but I like to keep the songs “hanging”. I like to write things halfway. I like to do that a lot and then I hate myself for it and then I’m like “You know what? Let’s just write this halfway and let it be.”
I’ll then go back to it sometime later and see if I can expand it. If not, I would just let it be how it is. So it varies. “Muka Jiwa” took about 30 minutes and the longest was “Goodbye”, which took about a month. I wrote it simultaneously with another song because I was feeling overwhelmed but I didn’t want it to take the whole of me. So I just go back and forth between those songs to help balance out the feelings. *laughs*
8. Speaking of keeping songs “hanging”, you must’ve experienced writer’s block, so how do you usually deal with it?
I believe that writer’s block is more of a noise issue within yourself, where there are a lot of things going on inside your brain. Because I’m bipolar so there are a lot of overwhelming things, where it’s racing thoughts, racing words, and stuff. So what I do is I purge it out. I just write things out, and when I’m done, I just put it aside, take a breather, and maybe I’ll get back to it.
Writing is a form of self-expression where you’re allowing yourself to be vulnerable which can be mentally and emotionally draining so rather than forcing it out all at once, it’s more of “Do I want to take a break for a moment? Or should I put this aside for now and come back to it whenever I’m ready?”
So for me, it’s not really writer’s block. It’s just me taking my time, going at my own pace but I think everybody knows when it’s taking too long, right? You can just feel it. If it’s taking too long, then you’re like, “You know what? I’m done procrastinating.” – then you know you’ve been procrastinating! That’s how you know!
Usually, I’ll do a fun little vocal warm-up. I’ll do some breathing exercises and say a few words here and there, like “Gah! Gah!”, like the one you saw in “High School Musical”, the scene that we make fun of when we were younger. So I’ll do that for a little bit. Also, I’ll go take a minute or two to myself and just breathe, so I can get my nerves in check. I’ll then check on the boys – my band. I’ll check on them and make sure everything is ready. Or maybe I’ll find a sweet or something, just to keep the energy up.
10. If you could collab with any artist, local or international, who would it be?
Oh, that’s interesting! I think, if locally, it would be fun to maybe try to see what I can do with M. Nasir or Sheila Majid, or Francissca Peter. That would be fun. I think with the newer artists, there’s always an opportunity to collab. Everybody is so open to collaborating now so I would be interested to collab with the ones that rarely collab with other people.
If internationally, one of my biggest influences is Erykah Badu so that would be a dream come true. Other than that, it would be fun to collab with Hiatus Kaiyote or Tinariwen – artists who are out of this world like ones you wouldn’t even expect a collaboration between us.
Sleep and eat because I would have to watch what I drink or eat when I have shows. I like dairy and I like coffee, so it doesn’t really help my tonsils much. Then, because I don’t sleep much, so when it’s my off day, I would just tell myself to sleep and not do anything, because I like to do stuff. I really can’t sit still in one place.
12. If a friend from abroad were to visit Malaysia, what food or attraction would you recommend for them to try?
Actually, a friend from the Philippines just came last week and crashed at my place – so I took her to Jalan Alor. It’s the simplest and the street with the most variety of food that you can get in KL. I also took her to Perak but we didn’t go straight to Ipoh. We just went to Gopeng and Sungkai, and had some nasi dagang. There’s this one shop that has this cool auntie from Thailand/Kelantan so she cooks awesome Terengganu and Pantai Timur food that I can get in reach.
Here’s a preview of our interview video with Leaism! Stay tuned for more coming soon on YouTube!