Zahidah is a Singapore based singer songwriter. Her song ‘All I want is youâ€™ came to our attention when we watched the documentary ‘Here we areâ€™ produced by Daniel Rucerito, about the music scene in Singapore. We were very impressed by her songwriting and singing talent and contacted her to see if she would like to be one of the early artists on Bittunes. So, we were very happy when she accepted.
Recently she agreed to do an interview with us, so we prepared a list of questions so her growing list of fans could understand more about this exciting young artist.
Q: You are at an early stage in your career, what do you think are the biggest challenges for you as a songwriter?
Zahidah: One of the biggest challenges, is actually the lack of a challenge. As someone who is still learning the ropes to write a song, I know that I have a lot more to learn about songwriting. Thereâ€™s only so much I can improve if I keep writing songs for myself.
I feel that writing with, and for other people will definitely help me to hone my songwriting. Unfortunately for me, its rather hard to find such opportunities due to various reasons - conflicting schedules etc. Its really unfortunate, but Iâ€™m always on the look-out for such opportunities.
Q: You write and sing in both Malaysian and English, do you prefer one or the other? and what are the differences from your perspective?
Zahidah: Malay, you mean. Honestly, I speak more English than Malay so sometimes writing in Malay can be a bit of a challenge. With that being said, I donâ€™t exactly have a preferred language to sing/write in, because both languages are definitely different.
For example, Malay is a rather gentle language, so it can be quite difficult to accurately capture the emotions that I want to express in the song, but when I manage to do it, the experience can be pretty exhilarating!
Q: When you are recording at home, like in the ‘Bedroom Sessionsâ€™ video on Youtube, what gear do you use to record?
Zahidah: Haha my equipment has not been upgraded since the day I bought them 6 years ago. Considering that I was still a student back then, my gear are either i) really affordable or ii) second-hand. Iâ€™m not a gear junkie, so to me, as long as they are still working fine, I am good. For my mic, I use the Audio Technica AT2020 and for my USB interface, its the Zoom C5.1t.
Q: When you write songs are you consciously trying to write in a particular genre or is the process more spontaneous?
Zahidah: I donâ€™t exactly confine myself to write in a particular genre. I donâ€™t mean to sound like everything is an arty-farty process, but when I write songs, I just let the words flow. I want my songs to be as organic as possible. Even when I start to proofread what Iâ€™ve written, I try my best to just tie up the loose ends yet let the song retain its original essence as much as possible.
Q: What is the music scene like in Singapore? Do you feel there is much support for independent Artists there?
Zahidah: Singapore may be a small country, but the music scene is definitely growing bigger each day.
I gotta say that when I started playing music, things were starting to pick up. Support from the various stakeholders were increasing - more Singaporeans want to listen to Singaporean-made music, more and more organizations want to be involved etc.
Nonetheless, while support is growing, I would say that we, independent artists in Singapore, would not mind any form of additional help đź™‚
Q: Have you had any interest from Record labels or Distributers? Do you have any thoughts on the main-stream music industry?
Zahidah: I have had a few interested parties but plans did not follow through, which I am completely ok with, because I am not too hard up about being signed and all.
With regards to the mainstream music industry, I donâ€™t really make that distinction between mainstream and non-mainstream at the end of the day, if the music is good, then the music is good. Period.
Q: You have been building a profile on Youtube and Facebook, what do you think are the proâ€™s and conâ€™s of using social media for Artists?
Zahidah: The pro is definitely that youâ€™d be able to reach out to a lot of people - the concept of geographical barriers cease to exist with social media. Also, it allows you to give personalised attention to the fans when you respond to them online.
The con is that sometimes you donâ€™t really know how much of your life that you want to share on these platforms - the great debate that I had was, “Should I only post things about my music, or should I also post about some aspects of my personal life?”
It took me quite a while to find that balance, but when I finally did, it was pretty cool to let the people who follow me on social media platforms know what I was up to.
Q: In many ways you are a kind of crossover Artist, between East & West, writing very accessible songs to a Western audience. Do you have ambitions to continue on this pathway and perhaps work and perform in other parts of the world?
Zahidah: I recognize myself as a Singaporean-born Malay who is bilingual - my background will definitely influence my thought process and how I view the world. I would love to write songs for artistes from the other side of the world. I reckon that would be such a rad experience.
Imagine writing a song about a heartbreak, but with various cultural influences? Not just in terms of the sound produced, but especially more so in the writing? These small and subtle cultural nuances will make the auditory experience an enjoyable one for the listener!
Q: and finally, as you know, Bittunes which will have a major launch later this year, uses Bitcoin as its primary currency. Have you heard much about Bitcoin, and do you think there is much interest in this currency among young people in Singapore and elsewhere?
Zahidah: I think the concept of Bitcoin has yet to gain traction amongst youths in Singapore, particularly because there arenâ€™t a lot of places where we can really utilise it. Even for me, when I first read about Bitcoin, I thought it was such a cool concept and that I would definitely jump on-board to use it, but the problem is where, when and how can I use bitcoin in Singapore?
Definitely a lot more awareness is needed. It might be tough to reach out to Singapore youths, but not impossible.