Saturday, February 6, 2021

January 24th 2021

Two weeks since MCO had started again and it’s already felt like a month. So, so many Zoom calls. After almost a year, it’s hard to imagine things ever going back to normal. I almost feel afraid to make plans nowadays. I miss my friends, and I miss my grand aunt. She only lives two hours away, but we couldn’t visit her all year. I miss all the things I didn’t think I’d miss doing. Chinese New Year is coming, but we won’t all be together.

January is starting off really busy so far. I got a songwriting job! It’s probably a one-off thing, and it gave me something to dive into and spend my time on. Right as lockdown started I started work on the song, then had meetings with people on the other side of the world, so it was a little convenient that I could schedule stuff following their timezones and not worry about rushing to work after. I’ve pretty much gotten used to writing songs at 7am now and am really grateful for co-writes. Then, I got a second writing job the day after I sent in the previous one. If there’s one thing I learnt about being in the music industry, is that opportunities are fleeting and nothing’s ever really certain. Taking it a step at a time, I’m going to give this my best and hope I get to do this again. There’s been some pretty crazy experiences that are all still in the grey area of “this may or may not happen” so I don’t want to jinx anything. Things are happening. Slowly, but it’s so exciting. 

There’s this underlying pressure to make the most out of every day, to be productive and constantly work on something, especially now that we are in lockdown here again. I tend to feel restless and almost guilty when I have too much free time, and I think I need to learn to be okay with not doing anything sometimes because even at home I find myself still trying to fill up my days with something to do. Home has to be everything now: it’s the office, studio, a cafe, it is where we’re having all our meals, but it’s also still a place to rest. I think that makes me appreciate what we have even more. Electricity, wifi, clean water. Especially after all the water disruptions  last year. I realised we can save so much water just by using the rain water for washing clothes, cleaning the floor, flushing toilets. It’s been raining quite a lot so we’re doing what we can with that. 

We celebrated my Sam’s birthday on Thursday. Last year we were the only two in the family who got to celebrate our birthdays outside quarantine. It’s strange because we’re loving this time, and we have all grown closer in the past year. Every night feels like reunion dinner or thanksgiving, it used to be so hard to have everyone in one place. I remember I used to stay out as long as I could at work, or hanging out with friends. I used to stay out on purpose and now I don’t know why I did. These are hard times but we’ve found a lot of healing in the days that feel the same. I like to think we’re still growing as people and learning to be better to ourselves and the people around us.

Flash forward a few weeks, today is February 6th. That one-time songwriting opportunity has turned out to be what I’ve been doing full-time since then. Sam is now helping me with production while I write the next song. Some days I’ve been writing 2-3 songs, and even though most of the songs aren’t for me I try to help tell someone’s story to the best I can. This feels like I’m a little step closer to being a songwriter/artist, one day I would like to hear my own song and an artist cut on the radio. Hopefully there’s still radio when that happens. By writing to a deadline with specific requirements and expectations took a bit of getting used to. Overall, I really enjoy doing this. The Valentine’s Day rush is a little overwhelming but I think it might quiet down over the next few weeks.

I realised that by writing this way, there’s no waiting for inspiration. It’s showing up to write when needed- kind of creating on demand. So yeah, there’s that. I’m very happy and also a little tired.

Thanks for reading this!


Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Happy New Year's Eve Eve!

To sum it all up, I think we're all pretty much done with 2020. At least, I am. Happy new year's eve eve! It's not like everything is going to magically change in two days, but its nice to hope. How have you been? What was this month like for you? I hope you're well.

Christmas week was pretty insane. I did a video shoot for Chinese New Year (yup, totally skipping ahead) and as usual these things always feel quite strange. This time we're not in China, and we never thought we'd miss it. It's a "you never know what you got till you don't" kind of experience I guess. So I spent the day at the theatre with everyone, very much social distanced and it was the first time I had eaten out in public since this whole cmco. We couldn't film with masks either and it was a little unsettling at first, but we had to give each other the benefit of the doubt that we were all okay. What is the procedure for filming anyway, is everyone supposed to get tested beforehand? There isn't much of a guideline for a lot of things as well, so all of this is quite confusing. 

While I was at the theatre shooting the cny video, I got a call to do another shoot the next day for an online platform (which I'm pretty excited for) and so the next day I played my own songs for the pre-recorded show. There were so many cameras and it was just me. Felt pretty intimidating but I tried to remind myself that it's kind of like recording a youtube video at home. "It's just a youtube video, its just a youtube video." It felt so nice to play out again. I felt as if I had so much I didn't get to say this whole year, so many feelings I didn't get to share with any audiences and so I sang my heart out to the crew in the room. Maybe I'm just a girl singing about feelings to them but its okay. My dad came with me, so I sang for him too. His headphones were a life saver too (mine was a lightning jack earphone. aka useless in these situations), because the monitors and my guitar were not cooperating. Someday maybe I'll play enough shows to get my own proper in-ears. Someday. 

I finally got to see my friends again! We spent the afternoon together having an early lunch and ice cream, and exchanged gifts. We were all pretty paranoid about going out in times like these, especially during the holidays but my friend Dany found a place where we could have hotpot but each of us could have a section of the pot that isn't mixed with the others. So essentially the pot was divided into four. I'm a vegetarian so I hardly eat at these kind of places, and everything felt so new and strange. I had an awesome vegetable stew with all the veggies I cooked on my side of the stove though. We took polaroid selfies with the cute and quirky sunglasses Amanda got for everyone. 

So yeah, that basically sums up the last weeks of 2020 for me. This year was challenging, but it had taught me so much. As an unofficial tradition on this blog, I try to write down what I had learnt.

It has been a year of so, so many let-downs but so many wonderful things happened too. It was definitely a year of cancelled plans. I got to do a bit of travelling at the start of the year and had planned to travel more this year but oh well. I wrote my first resignation letter, and it was so hard because I loved the place I worked at before. We built a little family there and I was so proud of my students and we had so much planned. I got a job in a new place and am still getting used to it. Started co-writing and writing music outside the genre I was used to and it was like colouring with a 48-coloured pencil set instead of 24. So much fun. I'm learning to produce music a little, and got back into making youtube videos again. I've also been trying to read more about what is happening in Malaysia, and around the world. Anddd we released an electronic-pop song and got to hear ourselves on the radio (woah). 

Everything is changing all the time, and naturally we would change too. I don't know why it was so surprising for me to realise that. I was reading about different characters and personality types of people, and I noticed I didn't quite relate to the personality type I initially was. Obviously with more free time on my hands I decided to read more into it. I realised I started trusting my feelings and instincts more recently when before I was all thinking and head, not so much of a heart/feeling. My sister would proudly attribute that to her influence on me and maybe it's true. She's always been full of heart. I'm realising time changes friendships and relationships with people too. You outgrow friendships, and sometimes they outgrow you. Kind of like a cloud, it moves with the wind and people come in and out of your life and that's natural.

I hope everyone is healthy. I don't know what's going to happen in 2021, but I'm sending a little prayer out into the universe that we continue to learn to be kinder to ourselves, kinder to the people around us, and kinder to this earth we're living in.
I'm ending my last blog post of the year here. Thank you for reading this, thank you for listening to my music and thank you for believing in me more than I believe in myself. 

Monday, November 30, 2020


I've been writing so much lately, and my brain is just in over drive with song lyrics and ideas. After deciding that I was done writing for this upcoming album, it was like everything's just exploding with ideas and melodies. I've been doing a lot of co-writes with friends and new friends lately who are in the US, as well as a few writes here in Malaysia too. Calculating the different timezones and factoring in daylight savings was not easy though. The internet has been so wonderful in bringing us together while we are all apart. Writing songs from different parts of the world and having it feel like we're in the same room is always going to be mind-blowing to me. We had dinner with our family on zoom this evening and I had a group call with my friends the other day. We laughed about how all our backdrops were of our ceiling fans.

Can't believe its already almost December. There's so much to do, but so much that's already been done too. This year has given me the time to really focus on finishing the songs I hadn't, and writing what I wanted to but didn't have the time or wasn't in the right space in my mind to. I'm excited to start working on my album soon! It's taking a lot of planning, and I'm hoping it would work out. I'm diy-ing my album this time around, and I'm really really excited about it. I guess all of this year's letdowns kind of brought me here. I'm not saying that I only want to do this on my own, but this album is done and I had been holding on to maybe for so long. I'm kind of following my gut on this one, and it's scary.. but it feels right. Maybe somewhere down the line, I won't be working on this on my own at home but I'll just see how it goes. I played all my songs for my mom and sister the other day, and they helped me narrow down what really should be on the album. My laptop kind of has a mind of its own whenever I plug in my audio interface but fingers crossed it's going to last me through this recording process.

Last week we celebrated my dad's birthday at home. Every birthday has been home this year except for Sam's and mine and we made a joke that it's like thanksgiving every day. I get to go out a few times a week for work so my choices for gifts are limited to whatever's around the area. We got dad a gigantic mug that is probably as big as three mugs put together. He loves to drink tea, and soup and it was a funny and also useful gift. We had cake, the grandparents played mahjong and tricked me into playing for a very very long time pretending they didn't know the time. 

I'm extremely grateful for this home, and to be quarantined with family. A little kitten came to our house and adopted us a couple of weeks ago, and she (despite my occasional allergy attacks) has been such a joy to be around. She's trying to sleep on my laptop to get my attention as I'm typing this. It's easy to get overwhelmed by all of this. There's so much we can't predict and trying to be prepared and present sometimes makes it hard to look back and appreciate the things that have happened. Thank you so much for listening to my music and being so supportive. 

Hope you stay healthy and safe <3 

Saturday, November 7, 2020

September 20th 2020

Hello again from the draft box.

Its always an eternity between my posts. I write and then never post them, or I just didn't write but I figured that since I'm probably only writing these for myself to read and just to keep track of things it's probably okay (?)

When the stay-at-home order was lifted and we could go out again, it almost felt like we jumped right back into the way things were before all this too quickly. A lot of things have changed though. I didn't think I'd be changing where I worked (again), but here I am a month into working at a new place, and still not sure if I love doing this. But I don't hate it though. Masks and gloves on, keeping a distance from everyone as much as possible, I'm just happy to be working again but you always miss something once its gone and I now miss making music everyday.

This in-between going back to normal and having to stay home every other day was a rather strange time. It seemed like all the quarantine motivation I had for everything had run out. It was hard to adjust to this because there seems to be no end to this. Before, it was like you knew it was only going to be a month. Do what you can in this month to improve yourself, come back stronger. Then it was two months. Okay, let's keep going. Then it became indefinite and it almost felt like "ugh, what's the point?" So I eventually stopped doing everything and did nothing.

I wrote a song with Chris during MCO, and we sent each other files through instagram. He asked if I'd be willing to write on a track of his, and I said yes. It was fun exploring something different, especially when you've got writer's block and a lot of time on your hands. I've had this idea kept in the back of my mind for a while; about being away from someone and looking at the sky knowing that they are looking at the same sky makes the distance not seem so great. That's how I write most of the time. I think my brain had to adapt to not being able to write whenever I want to, and I sort of pin an idea in my head to save for later. My theory is if it's good enough I'll probably remember it. So this idea had been pinned for a while and when I hear Chris' song he sent, the pieces kind of fit together. Then he'd edit the song and send it back to me. I'd re-write some of the lines here and there and send it back to him. He'd let me know what he thought of it and we'd exchange files back and forth, making little tweaks here and there until it was done. I didn't think much of it. I thought it was a fun collaboration and something to occupy our time and so I was pretty surprised when he called me to come to the studio to record and that we were going to release it. 

Flash forward to now, and we're being played on the radio!

Most of the time, its actually like nothing has changed. I'm still just doing our my own thing and working on music and stuff. Every once in a while it hits me that this was something I dreamed about when I was younger and for a short while I'm just like: "Woah, this is real". I get to hear our songs played on the radio. I don't know how long they're going to be playing it, but in this moment I'm trying not to think too much about it, and I'm very grateful for this moment. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Still at home, but kind of loving it.

I like watching the sunrise and the birds start singing. The quiet calm in the air. Today I woke up at 4am to attend a songwriting workshop. I've been trying to learn as much as I can, because right now we have the luxury of time and it's so exciting to get to really dive into the things I didn't get to do before. Obviously, there will be some projects that won't be completed like the scarf I've been knitting since January and still haven't completed. The other day I started a digital drawing for beginners course, and started trying to learn more about music editing and business. I also attended a coaching seminar on Zoom with coaches from all over the world, and it made me miss the ice and teaching.
It still blows my mind how the internet has connected us, especially now when we can't really connect in real life. My laptop is full of notes and random song ideas, projects I've been working on, collaborations, old pictures from my phone, etc etc. There's so much to do, its exciting and sometimes paralysing. During the weekend I was unmotivated and pretty uninspired, so I turned to listening to music and binging on Netflix tv shows. My siblings and I have been doing this a lot lately. We'd lock ourselves in our rooms a long time to work on music, dance, art, writing, schoolwork (in Arian's case) and then we'd do the opposite and watch entire seasons of tv at a go. Today I am sorting through all the files and replying to the texts and emails I have unintentionally ignored lately. There's quite a lot to do today, so this is just a quick post to say hello. Will write more soon.
I hope you are all doing well, and healthy, and safe. I'm learning to trust my process of creativity and coping with all the things that are happening right now, and I hope you know that no matter how you feel right now, it is temporary. And that it is okay <3

Monday, April 20, 2020

I was just thinking

I was just thinking
Casually wondering 

And then I kept thinking 
Now I'm thinking too much 

How I love staying home
Writing and making music
For people, but not many people
to listen to

I can't go to work right now
But I realise I miss it less and less
With every passing day
What if it wasn't even for me at all?
How am I going to go back now?

What am I doing with my life?
I thought I knew, but I maybe I don't

Uncertainty creeps up on you when you are most certain

Then it eats you from the inside out
Slowly, it takes over 
When a minute ago you were happy with everything
A minute ago you were so sure

I had a plan that I thought would work
It has been a long while
Should it have worked by now,
Or am I just not good enough?

Now its a downward spiral
Of thoughts that had been locked behind a door
Never to be opened again

Its open.
Flooding through everything
I can't do this

But maybe its just the fear of loosing what you have
Or the fear of a change you don't know
The future is right in front of us
but there's a sheet covering everything and we can't see

I don't understand this
Making art while trying to make money
Making sure either one isn't compromised

Now I have all this "art"
But I'm not making much money
Its okay
I'm happy making it, and happy with what I have written

I'm living off of the money I made 
Back when I worked too much
When I was kind of happy
Doing a job I thought I enjoyed

What do I do when that runs out?
The bills will still come though, won't they?
Next time when I live on my own
Will I have to drop everything I have now?

Taking deep breaths
Staying in the moment
What I can control, and what I can't 
Work on things, keep busy

False confidence
and temporary clarity kicks in

Everything's fine again.

Friday, April 10, 2020

uh oh, I found another blog I didn't post.

December 9th 2019

I’ve been running on adrenaline and a coffee lately, playing 1-3 shows a week for the past 5 weeks or so. And because its the holidays, I’ve been putting in extra hours at work for the kids’ Christmas show rehearsals and additional classes. Somehow I managed to complete my dance exams and see my students off for their exams one last time before leaving in between the chaotic schedule. (Thank you google calendar)

Write all of this down because you’re going to forget what you want to remember. These last two months of the decade have been insanely busy. So many adventures it’s been hard to keep track. I bought a journal again, realising that I have failed miserably at keeping a digital journal even though its more convenient and a cloud storage space is less likely to get ruined by a water bottle leak in your backpack.

November started with a dance exam I half-regretted signing up for. It has been years since I sat for any exam, and with my busy schedule + lack of commitment I felt I could’ve done way better. I hope I pass, but if I don’t, it would be a lesson learned the hard way and I will try to put 110% into the things I commit to, and I should also know my limit.
With the holidays around the corner, I’ve been putting in extra hours at work for additional classes and show rehearsals. This past week I’ve been waking up at 6am every day, running on caffeine and adrenaline. It has been exhausting and so much fun. 

I start with “what a rush” a lot; but it seems like it always is. Through some stroke of luck, the people at Google Malaysia found me and I got invited to perform at YouTube Festival. I met with the organisers a couple of weeks before the event, and they explained the run-through of it all to me. 
Somehow I envisioned a small room with press and a few invited guests, but when I got there in the morning for sound check, I realised I was so incredibly wrong. It was the opposite of a small room. More like a convention centre huge room sectioned into many parts. There was a pop up speakeasy for the press event, and a huge hall where I’d be performing. It was everything an influencer event in my head looked like. I felt grateful to be a part of something like this, but at the same time I was feeling like an impersonator because I wasn’t anyone famous or anything. I spent a lot of time awkwardly trying to dodge all the video bloggers filming the event. I'm always too shy to do that even though most of the time I regret not doing it because I have no videos or photos to keep as memories. Here the camera saw everything first. Smiling for a selfie before talking to a person. It's networking in a way that I didn’t know how to network in. But then again, I’m not very network-y. It was like the first day of school after a summer vacation and I was the new kid. I got to perform at the main stage, and then again with Josh during the press event at the speakeasy with Lost Spaces and Cassidy. The whole day was so surreal, and I'm so grateful for the opportunity.

December 31st 2019

I'm not sure which event came in what order. Played at Urbanscapes (!!) which was so sunny and so much fun, two days at Citta Fest, KL Journal, hosted my first 'Familiar Strangers and Other Stories' show with Gwendoline Esther Hay, Lofrine and MAYABAYU. It was a really wonderful and intimate show at Gerakbudaya, poetry and music in a bookstore :) Then played Rantai Art Fest, watched over my students Christmas Show performance, and THEN I went to Penang with my family and I just finished playing a few shows here too.
It was all so much fun, and honestly quite a lot of rushing from work to venues (and looking for parking). I'm so happy to have gotten to play my music to people who listened. And I'm so grateful for all your support. The past few days have been so chill, especially after everything that happened this past month and a half. We have been spending time at the beach and hanging out together. It's nice to spend time with family :) We watched the fireworks from a roundabout near the sea, and saw it from a distance. It was two very small and quiet firework displays. Sorry there aren't that many pictures of my adventures. I didn't take many, and my phone can't blog + my laptop doesn't have the pictures so its been quite a hassle (I will figure out a better way to do this soon, promise!)

Happy New Year!!

Monday, March 9, 2020

1 year (and 3 month) anniversary of Familiar Strangers :)

It has been a little more than a year since the Familiar Strangers album launch. What an adventure it has been so far! Going to radio stations and seeing ‘Familiar Strangers’ on not one, but several (!!) radio charts, including at a Chinese station for my song “安东尼” made my heart full with excitement. We launched my album at The Bee, and it was such a big place and people actually came. Back then, I couldn’t enjoy any of those moments fully because it was also terribly terrifying. When you’re dreaming for something to happen, and then seeing it really happening is a mixture of pure happiness and anxiety. I was ecstatic, and I was also afraid.

Now looking back on it all I can feel happy, and I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

I’ve come to realise that there’s so much more that isn’t about the music at all. Trying to figure out where I belong feels like a never ending search and I’m running in circles. I guess I only knew how to navigate through the process of writing a song, writing the lyrics the way I want a feeling to sound, trying to turn an idea into something. But navigating my way in the industry, and existing in a society of social media are skills I don’t have. I’m learning a little more about it with every adventure though.
I started writing the album Familiar Strangers a couple of years ago. I recorded little demos in my room nobody listened to. It was like a collection of feelings over the years. I recorded two songs with a producer and never released them. We made big plans that were probably too big for us to handle anyway. It hit me hard that that it didn’t work out, and maybe I became more skeptical about these things after that. 
Then, Abraham contacted me and we met with Ian and Daniel and all of a sudden I signed a contract to work with them. I am so grateful to pH Music for giving me the chance to express myself creatively, and for turning my songs into something more than what I thought they could be. I think I’ve said it before, but it really has been so surreal to make the album, experience my first mini tour, and travel to different places with them.
They listened to all my songs and we chose the ones that stood out. We recorded the songs, released a few singles while we continued to work on the rest of the album. We didn’t have an album title until just before we recorded the last song: Patterson Street. After that came deciding on the track list, working with Adam and Noah for the design and photos, and printing the album. Everything was pretty much “okay so this is done, now on to the next part” and the next, and the next. It made it less daunting looking at things one step at a time. After all that was done came some of the most challenging parts: (that are still a challenge now, to be honest)
Promoting the album,
Trying to stand out in an ocean of people all doing the same thing,
Writing to companies and venues and not getting a response,
Remembering to post on social media even when you feel like you don’t know how to exist,
Attending events when social situations are scary,
Feeling grateful for an audience who listen,
Worrying I may never write another good song,
Talking to media in mandarin and English,
Trying to be in the moment and enjoy the good things when they come,
Planning and executing plans despite all of the above,

And on top of that trying to create from the same honest place I started. It feels like I have done so much, and at the same time it always feels like I haven’t done enough. So many things that I want to do but I don’t know how. And its so easy to get caught up with that, without realising all the wonderful things that have already happened. 

Sorry I haven't really been performing much lately. I've been writing though. Maybe it will turn into a new project, maybe it wouldn't, but I'm still figuring things out. Writing this was supposed to be a 1-year anniversary post for the album, but I took too long to write it (and it is also now too long for an instagram post) but it has become a reminder that all the little steps actually got me somewhere, and I just hadn’t really noticed. Thank you so much for listening to my music. I hope the songs I wrote when I felt alone made you feel less alone somehow. It sure made me feel that way when I sang them. Thank you for reading this, for supporting my music, for writing comments, and for being there.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

November 4th 2019
I had a conversation with someone I hadn’t seen in over a year the other day.

“you look happier now”

For the hours following our conversation I couldn’t quite get those words out of my head. It caught me by surprise because I didn’t even realise it: I am happy. I may not have been before, and I know I will not be forever. So I’m enjoying it today, because fearing that it wouldn’t last would take the happiness away.

Lately I’ve been looking at life a little differently. I stopped looking at my work schedule like it was a puzzle I needed to fill every gap up with. The world never stops, and if I kept going along with it I’ll probably loose my mind. Taking a break is a scary thing. We’re conditioned to boast about how busy we are, encouraged to keep going and going and going. Having to give a reason on a leave application is so daunting to me that sometimes I’d rather work than to ask for some time off. I finally got the courage to (or maybe I finally got too mentally exhausted) and cut back on my working hours. It's crazy how much a little extra free time in a week can do. 

I started journalling again, on paper because I just can't quite catch on with digital journaling quite yet.
The plants in the garden aren't wilting anymore, and it makes me happy to see them growing. (The other day, we harvested a bunch of mulberries!)
I have breakfast with my grandmother more often now; even though she would question my life decisions every time we sit down over a cup of Milo in the morning.
I’m trying to write again. Trying not think so much about who is reading this, and what you might think.
My mind is full of lyrics I hadn’t written down, and right now I’m just sorting through the mess of ideas.
I made it home in time for dinner with my family.
It’s the little things that make everything feel more whole, and I guess I found it, and then got lost in everything, and am now finding it again.

It seems happiness is something we don’t really prioritise. We’re always looking toward the next thing, getting from one place to another, not really able to be happy with where we are. Sometimes we put our happiness in material things we don’t have. We’re comfortably uncomfortable with the way things are, knowing that it needs to change but not really willing to make a change.

The biggest thing I realised is that I didn’t let myself feel happy because of the fear that it might slip through my fingers, worried I might get too comfortable here, but I'm learning to let it go and just be here in this moment.

Anyway, that's my little journal entry/thoughts on happiness. Thanks for reading <3 

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Album launch, radio charts, and trying not to freak out

“If things start happening, don’t worry, don’t stew, 
just go right along and you’ll start happening too.” 
-- Dr Seuss

March 8th 2019
There are no cherry blossoms here in Malaysia, but the sun has been shining way too much that it almost seems as though it brought thunderstorms as a side effect. The flowers on the trees; pink, yellow and white have been making my drive to work and back a little more mesmerising. I wish I could just stand by the trees and stare in awe of the colour and calmness it brings. 
This is me jumping out of another post I never published. I wrote so many journal entries but couldn’t bring myself to put them on here for some reason. So here’s one of quite a number of posts that have been sitting comfortably in my draft notes finally seeing the light of the day. You’ll be seeing a lot of these in the coming future.

Hi. I’m sorry for disappearing. I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t have noticed- and I don’t mean it in a rude way- its just that there’s so much going on all the time, sometimes I feel like there’s no need for me to add to any of it. Wouldn’t you feel like staying in the quiet for a little while too sometimes? 
It has been an insanely crazy, busy and exciting few months. It’s been such a rush, and I still don’t know how to wrap my head around it all. Today is the first time in a very long time I have absolutely nothing to do but breathe, and let it sink in.

I think I feel happy.
No, in this very moment all I feel is happy. 
(and maybe a little tired)

This year I went to China, did TV and radio interviews, had an album launch, a song placed NUMBER ONE on She Wolf Radio, and top 10 in a few other charts (!!!), amongst many exciting things. I don’t think I will ever get used to media interviews, I have become significantly less panicky though, but it still always freaks me out. I got to do a couple on my own and a few with the pH artists, and (I know I say it a lot) but it doesn’t feel real. April came in such a rush, and now its May. Sometimes- no most of the time, I feel like I’m living in 2018 still. Reminiscing on the carefree summer evenings spent in Nashville. Now, for some reason even more so than ever. Almost every day this week while driving to work I see a car or a motorcycle with the licence plate: ‘BNA’ (Nashville’s airport abbreviation) and I can’t help but wish I were there. 

I turned 23 this February, and we were preparing for a radio interview when everyone managed to successfully surprise me for the first time ever. To be honest I don’t really like surprises, so I try to be on guard and look out for any signs it might be happening. And every single time I managed to figure it out, except for this time. I don’t know, maybe 23 is growing on me. I feel different, but I still feel the same. Happy and sad, and still a lot anxious about a lot of things, but its all okay. It really is. Learning to stay calm through chaos and accepting that everything happens for a reason. Learning to enjoy the peace when it comes- not worrying about how, or why it is here, or when it will be gone. Or when it will be coming back. Maybe its acceptance, maybe I’m learning how to understand my feelings and myself as well as the people around me a little more.

We had an album launch party, and that was really crazy. I felt super nervous, at the same time tried my best to enjoy the moment. I don't think there was much excitement but more nerves and anxiety. I was worried about the turnout, if we booked a place too big, and a million and one other things. Everything went pretty much better than I could've expected, and I'm so thankful for everyone's support. I can't believe my album's out!

Thank you so, so much for supporting me and my music <3 

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Going to China (!!!)

January 17th 2019 
(I know it is almost June, but I don't know what took me so long to actually post all these blog posts up. Sorry about that! This, and the few posts coming up have been very comfortably sitting in my draft folder for half the year.)

It was a whirlwind of an adventure, going to China. Thursday morning, January 11th I rushed to the airport. I didn’t get to say goodbye to my grandparents because they went out and I’m not sure if my grandma knew where I was going.
With a suitcase full of clothes and my guitar as my carry-on, I met the rest of the team at the airport.

I didn’t know what China was going to be like. I had no idea what performing there was going to be like either. In fact, I didn’t even know I was going to China. I thought it was all plans and nothing was decided yet. Until the press conference it hit me “oh it’s actually really happening.”

It was a bit of a culture shock for me at first. Nanning was cold and gloomy this time of year, and everything was covered in a layer of dust. There were electric bikes moving in every direction, and the smell of meat (I don’t know what kind) cooking made me feel a little sick. And even though I am Chinese, I really wasn’t used to eating so much Chinese food. I could speak the language but I couldn’t read it. We went to a bubble tea shop and the menu was a vast array of gibberish. After getting help from the rest with translating the menu, I decided on tea. Without the bubbles (or boba as some of you might call it)- which kind of defeated the purpose of going to a bubble tea shop. 

We rehearsed in an underground rehearsal space with the artists from China. There was a lot of cigarette smoke and dust, but the excitement of it all made it okay. We played a music festival together the next day and that was a lot of fun. It was cold and I was shivering so bad I couldn’t hold the mic steady. This was also the first time I performed in Chinese, and without my guitar. Maybe I was shaking because of the nerves too. I looked out and there were so many people. It was pretty exhilarating. 

I learnt a lot that week, and had a really great time. I realised that there’s never really anything happening “by chance”. Everything is carefully planned and involves a lot of thought and hard work, not just from one person but from a group of people collectively. I am paraphrasing something a songwriter once said in a podcast: “Sometimes you’ve just got to get your foot in the door for things to happen”And it feels so weird when that’s happening. Seemed like we pushed it open instead, and maybe that’s what its like. I felt a little uncomfortable getting treated like we were special. Or am I just too comfortable and used to this semi-invisibility? Some moments where it was like like “Whoah, this is actually happening!”, and other times I felt very undeserving of it.

We also did a few tapings for a Chinese New Year program to be aired on Nanning TV as well as on Astro here in Malaysia. We had a rehearsal in the morning, one of the songs with about 20 dancers dancing as we sang. It was wild. We all went full-on glamour mode for the shoot, and after hair and makeup I barely even recognised myself.

We were asked to think about how we wanted the world to see us. To create a sort of “persona” that could possibly become something people would like to follow and know more about. I realised how much of a rebel I actually am- in a sense that I can’t bring myself to do anything that isn’t me or doesn’t feel right. I feel compelled to do the opposite when I have to do something I don’t want to do and I apologise for that. I see social media as an extension of who I am, and not me trying to be like someone else. It is so easy to change the way you look in a picture nowadays. There’s a setting to change the shape of your chin, to make you look slimmer, your eyes look bigger, and it goes on. It’s to tempting to just tune everything to the way you’d want yourself to look like. I made the decision not to do that to the pictures I take. It’s not that I’ve fully accepted and embraced my features, but maybe this way I will learn to. 

I guess I didn’t realise how big a deal all this was, and I didn’t really know how to feel about it until I got back to Malaysia and saw us on TV. Only then did it all sink in. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this adventure with this bunch of awesome people. 

Thursday, February 28, 2019

(no title)

I’ve been wanting to write this for a while now. All my thoughts filling up and spilling over. It still feels strange. Everything does. The longer I am back, the further away I feel from Nashville. All these words sitting in a virtual draft box, collecting virtual dust. Its almost March and I started writing this in December.
What else do I say when someone asks in a casual conversation “So how was living in Nashville?!” except for “It was great, and I had a lot of fun!” 
Maybe I’ve been saying those exact words each time someone asks, but I don’t know how else to react. How do I say that I had a really great time, the best time actually. Travelling was as life-changing as people said it would be. A part of me wished I could've stayed a little longer. And I can’t help wondering what could’ve been if I actually did. 
I went from playing about four to five shows a week and writing every other day to not knowing when my next show is going to be, and writing by myself again but only occasionally. I started working at a new place, hence not posting or writing much (sorry). It has been good so far though. I am happy that I get to do what I enjoy as work. I’m trying very hard not to let work swallow me like it did before. Because I enjoy doing it, its easy to get caught up and so I have to consciously not let it take up all of my time so that I would still have time in the day for family and for music. 
As more and more days go by, I find myself holding on tighter and tighter, trying very hard not to loose all that I’ve learnt and who I have become. At the start of last year, I made a list of all the things I wanted to achieve if I had the chance. I wrote it on a little piece of paper and pinned it up over my desk as a reminder to work harder and to look foward: 

I'm so happy to say that in 2018 I managed to achieve all that I had set out to do. 
It was such a crazy, and wonderful adventure, and in January this year everything just went full-speed. I'm learning that there's so much you can do if you just go out there and try.

Thank you for reading this, and for your tremendous support. Will write more soon! 

Friday, December 14, 2018

My album is out!

My album is out! But my laptop still doesn't work, so I'm copying and pasting this from various places I've written on here and there, and trying to piece it all into a cohesive piece. (If only making sense of emotion were this simple)
Josh and Chris, who play violin and bass in Midnight In Paris recorded the song with me a while back, but we ended up not releasing that version. I’m so glad you get to hear them in this version that we put out. 
Noqizo shot the album cover (and all these photos you’ve been seeing) out at one of my favourite parks in Kota Kemuning, moments before they cut the grass. We could hear the grass cutters behind us as this photo was taken. I was not (and still am not) used to having photos of myself taken, but Noah did an awesome job making it less scary haha.
My friend Adam and I worked on the album design together. We both drew the designs in the album booklet (we have an album booklet this time!) and he put everything together.
My heart is filled with excitement and gratitude. So much is finally finished, but at the same time this is a beginning, and the work starts now.
Recording this was a lot of fun, and quite an adventure. I had to bring back all the feelings I put away, going back in time while in the studio. I learnt so much, and am still learning. And I’m so grateful to everyone at pH Music for EVERYTHING.
Thank you for listening, and reading all this. And thank you SO much for your support.
(ps: if you’d like a physical copy of the album, let me know! I can mail it to you too, if there isn’t a chance to meet)
I'll try to write more soon! 

Sunday, October 28, 2018

October 27th: Last week in Nashville (for now)

I'm sorry for not writing here as often as I thought I would. It is currently 9:15am and its a beautiful gloomy Saturday here in Nashville. I fly home in two days, and I'm so excited to see my friends and family again. Since coming here I've made so many new friends and many of them have become like family, so it will be sad to be leaving them too.
This journey has been one of the best experiences. Last monday I played one of my favourite shows so far; Song Suffragettes at The Listening Room Cafe. My mom and I used to watch the shows when we were here four years ago and getting to play that same stage four years later with Candi Carpenter, Emma White, Trannie Stevens and Michelle Pereira was a dream come true. And it was an added bonus that we got to wear Halloween costumes on stage. I felt like I experienced so much 'american-ness' that evening alone, and it was awesome. I got to meet so many people after the show and it was quite overwhelming. We got to talk to people and listen to their stories after they've listened to ours. I used to I write my songs in hopes that I'd get to play them at the cafe or restaurant while people talked over them and I'd be comfortable in the background, but this was the complete opposite- and maybe I need to reach for something more like moments like these.
I also got to see my songwritng hero, Jason Isbell at The Ryman Auditorium.

It's not the best picture, but it definitely was one of the best concerts I've been to. 

Did a lot of walking and hiking with a friend from the hostel the other day. We went to Radnor lake again this week and it was so beautiful. The leaves on the trees were turning red and shades of yellow and we looked at them in awe like a little kid would. We saw deer and birds and admired the little purple wildflowers. We watched the bees and the squirrels, and took many pictures. Breathing in the cool autumn air, I felt so grateful to be here and for everything that happened. I don't ever want to not get excited over the little things like these.
Some days (kind of like today) I don't really feel like going out. Nashville doesn't rest, there's always something going on and always something to do, but I am not like Nashville. I can't go for every event and sometimes I regret not going out (like the time I almost went to a show at Bluebird but I forgot to buy tickets ahead of time and ED SHEERAN made a surprise appearance) but quiet days in are nice too. Lately I've been baking a lot and skating a lot too. I guess its because I know I'm going back to KL soon or maybe its just because I'm running out of socializing energy that staying in is so much more attractive to me.

It's been 3 months of sharing a room with random people, 
sitting in the passenger seat where the steering wheel should be, 
writing the month before the day, 
riding a bicycle with a guitar on my back (just don't ride with groceries, its a bad idea), 
and singing and writing songs every other night,
cereal for dinner whenever I wanted. 

Now I'm ready to go home and start a new adventure; of a new job and releasing my album (!!!)

Thank you for reading this, and for supporting me so far- even when I didn't believe in myself. See you again, Nashville. 

And see you soon, Malaysia. 

Sunday, September 23, 2018

my laptop can't start, here's a late update.

September 19th:
Life has been a lot of sunshine and songs,
Pizza and good company,
Learning to co-write, and learning to cook.

Everyone here has taught me so many things than I know how to thank them for. I’m learning how to be braver, and to be more comfortable with myself. That was something I didn’t know was possible. Maybe comes with growing up and accepting. Accepting that there are things can’t all be planned out, and accepting that everything changes all the time. Embracing uncertainty. Life is so much more than the little bubble we put ourselves in, and there this wide open space of possibility that is both incredibly terrifying and exciting.

There’s an ice skating rink 15 minute walk from where I stay and that makes me so incredibly happy even though I can’t afford to go there every day. I had a giant brownie the size of my palm the other day. It took me awhile to finish, so I packed it back. My sugar tolerance has increased tremendously since being here but alcohol still tastes bad to me.

I came here to find myself as much as I came to learn about music.
I’m halfway into this adventure and I feel like I’ve been more of myself than I’ve ever been. As much as I love it here, There are moments when I miss home with an ache that I can’t describe. It’s not a hurting ache, more like a hole right through the middle of me. Emptiness and space. Maybe it’s not really the place that I miss, it’s the people, and the familiarity of home that I miss. I don’t know. But I do know that when I leave Nashville I’m going to want to come back.