“I think I started out oblivious to what was happening around me, but with the recent political climate, it’s gotten so intense that I am now forced to pay attention. This has been a blessing, to now know that I can make — however small — an impact to change a person’s perception towards things. To educate, and be educated at the same time.
My music-making process hasn’t changed as much; I feel like I am still writing introspectively, but I have an inkling that it’s going to progress into talking about matters that are more important than what I’m going through.
There are artists out there like Nina Simone (super activist!) and she includes everything in her songs. I think that’s very important; to use your voice, your melodies, and the content of your music to start conversations. I know I’m going to get there. But I’m not there yet, and watching all these artists, dead or alive, is really inspiring.
Shirt, $1,780 and sweater, $1,880, by VERSACE. Leggings, and mules, by BALENCIAGA. B.zero1 Rock rose gold earrings with ceramic, $3,290, B.zero1 Rock yellow gold necklace with diamonds, $7,950, B.zero1 Rock rose gold necklace with black ceramic, $3,120, by BVLGARI.
One day, I want to put this in a song: how the Malay community perceives a more liberal mindset. You know, how it’s not allowed yet for you to have your own set of thinking and for you to be more expressive. It’s a fight that is not new. Anita Sarawak, a diva from the ’80s, has been fighting that fight. That’s something I talk about all the time with my friends. What should we do so that we can still be accepted by the community, with however we look or however we think?
Part of it is rebellion, because I need to push the boundaries. Young girls text me on Instagram all the time saying that they aspire to be as fearless as me, making the choices that I make, even just visually — they don’t know that I’m so afraid too, you know?
It was my fight as a young girl growing up in the music industry. I was always so afraid to speak my mind and wear what I wanted to wear because I needed validation from others. And then I realised along the way that if I validated myself, the validation was going to come anyway.
I have to be myself for the people who follow me, so that those who look up to me — those who grew up in families that are like mine — can know that you can actually choose another path. You can be fearless and unafraid of what other people, or the people closest to you, think. And that will inspire them to change.”
Pick up a copy of ELLE Singapore’s August 2020 issue out now on select newsstands and bookstores. Check out a sneak preview of our latest issue here.