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Like a lot of artists, Singer/Songwriter Xavier experienced the all too familiar 'am I good enough' doubts starting out. Winning the first NAKED Unsigned Singing Competition in 2014 gave enough confidence to take the next step in showcasing her sound full time and with an array of gigs both in Kuala Lumpur and overseas since then, we wanted to find out how it all began, what some of her favourite gigs have been and her advise on trying to break through.
Hi Priscillia, welcome to The City List, your Facebook profile describes you as a Live Performance Artist for over 6 years, how did it all begin?
Thanks! I've always loved have been surrounded by music since a wee kid. My dad introduced me to the guitar at a very young age, and it was all I really looked forward to doing after school. No boys, or homework - just music. Ironically, even though I was really afraid of the stage and the spotlight back then (I still am till this day!), I still yearned to be heard. So, I decided to start playing the guitar and sing in church. It was only after, that I finally found the courage to sing in front of a crowd. From the church to mini youtube videos, to plenty open mics to pretty much where I am right now.
You won the first NAKED Unsigned Singing Competition in 2014, how was that and how has it helped progress your career since?
In a lot of ways, I think I really needed to be assured that I could sing and to know that I was good at it. I know it sounds weird or silly, but I definitely don't think I'm alone in feeling this way; the whole 'am I good enough?', 'will people like my sound' and so on. Winning the competition gave me enough fuel and the confidence I needed to finally make that pivotal leap in my life; to do music professionally full-time and as a career.
It's been about 3 years plus since I made that decision, and I have no regrets. It hasn’t been easy and it has its own struggles here and there, especially with the perils of having to be self-employed. But, being able to say that I passionately work on my dreams every day is really gratifying. : )
Who are some of your musical influences and why?
As a kid, I was influenced by a lot of the music my parents would listen to. (Mainly my dad, can't run away from being a daddy's girl!) The evergreens, The Carpenters, The Beatles. I particularly gravitated to John Denver, and how simply he wrote his songs and yet never falling short from being so meaningful. As I slowly started getting into my own artistry and songwriting, other singer-songwriters I drew influences from were Jeff Buckley and Damien Rice, purely for their crazy honesty and how raw their music is. I will never be able to stop gushing about how brilliant a story-teller both these artists are!
It's always scary to be that honest and raw when you're on stage, but it'll always be something I aspire to attain and keep. And in the last 4 years of my musical journey, I would say… Alanis Morrissette, Joss Stone, Alicia Keys, Coldplay, Lianne La Havas, & Alex Vargas - from songwriting to music and stage personification, to being so uninhibited on stage. I mean… how can you not love and be inspired by artists that lose themselves in their art? : )
Describe your sound?
I would say... Alternative Soul, Folk & Rock, with a huge dollop of the 'feels' in the mix. Always. ;)
You have gigged quite a bit outside of Malaysia, what’s been your favourite and how does it to compare to KL?
Oh wow, it's tough to pick a favourite location ‘cause it’s always such a thrill to play outside of your home country, regardless of location. But if I'd have to choose between the places I have gigged... I'd say Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam). Bangkok for its incredibly vibrant art/music scene, and seemingly never-ending music establishments. I don’t think it’s possible to get bored of the scene! And Ho Chi Minh for its amazingly receptive crowd and its independent scene. The support for originality there is refreshing!
What has been your most memorable moment as an artist?
Oooh.. tough to pick a ‘most’. But these two experiences do stick out to me. I was playing an intimate showcase of some of my originals, and this one particular song, which I wrote about losing my Grandma…was a particularly hard one to share or play. After playing the set, this one girl came up to me overwhelmed with emotions, just to tell me how much she appreciates that song as she had recently lost a very close friend. I felt incredibly touched by it. And a lot less lonely with the pain I was personally going through. I knew she did too, and that just meant a whole lot me as someone who writes songs from the heart. I won’t ever want to take that kind of connection for granted.
The second one is a lot more recent. The YSDArts Festival Satellite Show: ‘…And The Curtain Rises’ where I was part of the 12 singer-songwriters featured to create 12 songs within 12 hours, and have those songs performed live for an audience right after. It was probably one of the most nerve-wracking, challenging and fulfilling projects that I’ve had the pleasure of being part of!
Without naming names what’s the worst experience as a singer to date?
I can't really put a finger on anything huge. But, if I had to name anything at all, it would probably be… having to play and soldier through a show with terrible sound setups/sound errors. ‘Cause, singing with bad sound setups affect the reputation of the performer more than it does anything else.
Any up and coming bands/singers locally we should be looking out for over the next twelve months?
I have too many good ones to name! But, these people here, are definitely movers and shakers in the local music scene. Billie Blue & The Nowhere Men, Dani, Brendan D' Cruz, Volatile, Aina Abdul, Zamaera, Gabriel Lynch, Nadir, Q Sound. Please show these guys some love and check out their music!
If you had one bit of advice for anyone trying to break through what would it be?
The music industry is definitely tough to keep up with. But never lose heart. Keep believing in your art, keep doing and creating. Keep being heard and seen. Eventually, all that hard work will pay off. Also PS: Always dress to look your best! You never know when the opportunity comes knocking, so, always be prepared! Always. : )
Name one Artist/s you would like to work with and why?
Yuna! Love love her stuff, and it would be a dream to be able to work with her.
What frustrates you and what do you love about the music scene here?
What frustrates me as an artist in the scene is ultimately, the lack of support. From performance venues to radio/tv, to the general public. Although, yes... it has gotten much better than it was maybe 5-7 years ago, we've still got a long way to go when it comes to expanding our soundscape and actively going out to support our local art/music scene. Keep discovering your local music and art scene. Buy music from your local artists to support their work and to keep them going. Making records aren’t cheap, especially for someone who is upcoming or trying to break through. Every cent, door charge, CD buys, music streams, social media share, radio play and awareness helps.
What I love about the scene though, is that we have such a vibrant arts and music scape! You’re spoilt for choices when it comes to what you want to indulge yourself in or discover.
What else have you got lined up for 2018?
I’m really excited to be part of the Island Music Festival 2018 this October. I’m also looking forward to my debut single to follow soon after the festival! Whee!
The City List