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Zee Avi

Zee Avi

Meet Malaysian singer-songwriter, Zee Avi.

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Zee Avi, I’m a singer/songwriter from Borneo Island, Malaysia.

 

Describe the city you’re living in and what it’s like to live there.

I’m currently stationed in Kuala Lumpur, my family moved here from Sarawak, Borneo in 1988. KL is a melting pot of different races, culture, and traditions. It is also one big spiritual umbrella, as it hosts many different types of religions, beliefs, customs and traditions.

 

KL is a melting pot of different races, culture, and traditions. It is also one big spiritual umbrella, as it hosts many different types of religions, beliefs, customs and traditions.

What is the best and worst thing about living in your city?

The best thing about living in KL is, of course, the various different types of food though I would say the worst thing about it is the traffic jam.

 

Give us 3 words that describe what it’s like to be a creative in your city.

Challenging, Niche, Unique

 

How did you start your career in music?

I started in 2007 by posting a video of me singing anonymously on Youtube. I then got discovered by Patrick Keeler, drummer of The Raconteurs who then directed me to Ian Montone of Monotone Management (The White Stripes, Vampire Weekend etc) and then to Emmett Malloy co-owner of Brushfire Records (Jack Johnson, Matt Costa, Rogue Wave) where I was signed to.

 

Were the people around you supportive of your decision on working as a creative?

Coming from an Asian background, of course, venturing into something that doesn’t ensure a stable income may be worrying to parents. However when they realise that this was what made me happy at the time, they decided to put their concerns and fears aside for the benefit of their daughter’s happiness, and they really had to be brave about letting me go and do that, and I had to be brave myself. Turns out that it was the right path for me, and now they are my biggest supporters

 

What are some goals and ambitions you have for your future work?

I would love to be able to still be able to create music for as long as I can, collaborate with as many different types of creatives as possible, as I think, collaboration is key. I eventually would also like to do more behind the scenes, songwriting/ghostwriting work for other artists.

 

I would love to be able to still be able to create music for as long as I can, collaborate with as many different types of creatives as possible, as I think, collaboration is key.

 

If you could collaborate with any person in the world who would it be?

Anyone who contributes goodness to the world.

 

How would you describe the women around you?

The women around me are very unique and special, most of them are very strong in their own ways. They are people who truly are unapologetic about knowing that their journey to knowing their own identity is filled with obstacles and lessons, which is what makes them really strong, in their mind and in their heart. I gravitate towards women who are nurturing and know that there’s a difference between your strength, pride, and ego. They prefer to operate and just move through life with a sense of love above all else.

 

They are people who truly are unapologetic about knowing that their journey to knowing their own identity is filled with obstacles and lessons, which is what makes them really strong, in their mind and in their heart.

Were there any local female creatives that you looked up to when you were growing up?

There are many women that I know of now through working in my industry that I really respect and admire is Datuk Sheila Majid, she is the pioneer of the voice of Malaysian Jazz. Also the late and great, Saloma, wife of Tan Sri P.Ramlee, were both kind of the power duo of the entertainment industry. Noor Kumalasari as well, because of her fashion senses, I think she was kind of our Grace Jones at the time. And oh, my mom. Of course.

 

Are there any challenging aspects of being a female in your industry?

Yes and No. Obviously the music industry is mostly male governed when you go to the music studios, it’s mostly male, my bandmates are all male. However, I think, knowledge is so accessible these days because of the Internet, that everyone can try out something that they are interested in. And now there’s a surge of women in the music industry which made me very appreciative because I know that they have to work extra hard in order for them to get opportunities to showcase their talents instead of their looks. I think now women have a stronger voice as well,  so I’m very happy to be a part of this great time and movement where we are able to have this sort of freedom to be more involved and be a part of something we have passion for.

 

I hope that there are more women out there who would tell their stories because someone out there needs to hear them and relate, so they don’t feel alone.

Do you have any advice to young women who are aspiring to work in your field?

It’s a lot of hard work, ladies. I think we need to understand that music is medicine, music is healing, we need to put more elegance and demurity into music and I definitely hope that we are able to put poetry back into words, song, and melody. Other than that, I hope that there are more women out there who would tell their stories because someone out there needs to hear them and relate, so they don’t feel alone.

 

 

Photos courtesy of Aimanness Harun, Natt Lim, Rafie HS, and Syazwan Basri.

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