Prema Yin is known as Malaysia’s ‘Pocket Dynamite’ and, if anything, singer-songwriter Prema Yin has been living up to that reputation. We had an opportunity to sit down and talk with this beautiful and talented singer off the heels of her first tour to Indonesia, where she was busy promoting her music from the 11th – 18th March, 2012. It’s a continuation of the energetic pop-rock star’s quest to win over even more fans in the region and to promote her new music as well. Read below for the full interview…
You come a diverse country and family where primarily Chinese and Malaysians live. Your brothers also seem to all be quite athletic as they are all hockey enthusiasts. How did you find yourself learning piano and guitar as a teen admist all this?
Prema: I’ve always had love for music since I was a little kid. Ever since the first time I stepped foot into a karaoke room at a family recreational club with my family. My mom told me that I wanted to be a singer since I was 3 years old. I use to remember whenever we were to travel to Kuala Lumpur and back to Penang (a four hour drive) to support my brothers during their hockey match, I would sing throughout the journey and make up melodies and lyrics as I go with it. Guitar and piano only came into my life when I was 14 onwards, which is when I started songwriting.
How would you describe the indie scene in music? Since the evolution of musical reality shows do you feel it is still the best way to venture as an independent artist in terms of getting your music out there and connecting with people?
Prema: I believe that it is still expanding and definitely gaining more attention than before. With the internet, music is accessible to everyone so the internet is the best way for any artist, especially indie acts to promote and get their music out to the masses. In fact, even on these musical reality shows, there are many contestants who came from an indie music background and gets loads of fans through their unique styles and sound!
Were you nervous to initially start recording your own compositions after being in numerous bands?
Prema: Yes, I was. I have never shown anyone my own music and I was afraid that people would think it wasn’t good enough. I was always just the singer in the band, and not many people knew that I wrote songs. Thankfully with the help and encouragement of loved ones and music peers, I gained the confidence to do it, and I must say I have never regretted it ever since!
Having recorded songs in dual languages, does that play a key factor in recording a particular song? Do you have to keep in mind that a song has to work and evoke emotion in both languages, or is that not a concern?
Prema: I just write what I feel. I always start composing by writing the melodies first before the lyrics. The melodies create the emotions that I want to express in the song. The lyrics come into play next. So when I write the lyrics I try to convey the emotions in words from the melody that I create. To answer your question, I write the lyrics for both languages based on the emotions created by the melody and rhythm of the chord progression.
Last year you released Marilah, which your home country felt was a bit controversial. What are some of the cultural differences in the musical scene that Malaysia has that the U.S. is a bit more lenient towards?
Prema: Malaysia is still a very conservative country. There are a lot of cultural rules that we still believe in. Even though we are progressing positively economically as well as educationally, some are still very strong with their beliefs. Hence, there is definitely a big difference in the leniency on freedom of creativity and self-expression in the artistic department compared to the US.
You just got back from Jakarta and Bandung! What was it like in Indonesia?
Prema: It was amazing! I had an Indonesian Promo Tour there from the 11-19th March. Through that, I had the opportunity to meet the people, to learn about their language and culture as well as experience their delicious food! It was hard to say no to the food. Found myself eating non-stop.
Do you have any favorite Asian films?
Prema: My favorite Asian movie would have to be The Shutter, a thriller movie from Thailand. As well as Stephen Chow’s comedy movies!
What is your opinion of the current state of the music industry and do you feel Asian singers have to work harder to get recognized in the U.S. music industry?
Prema: I think in general, it is hard for ALL musicians/singers to break into the US music industry. However, one thing that I notice and realized through my travels is people outside of the Asian region, who has never come to these part of the world are surprised to hear Asians speak in English. Most of the time, they don’t realize that we Asians do speak English but we speak it with a creole. Hence, that could be one of the reasons where it is a little harder for Asians to break into the U.S. because of this general perception.
What is your favorite part of your live show? How has It evolved?
Prema: Just communicating with the crowd and seeing them have a good time! I get pumped up from a responsive crowd! As well as immersing myself in my music. I always loved performing. I can safely say it is my comfort zone. I have definitely evolved as a performer and singer from the time I first started till now. You are only as good as the crowd sees you, so I always try to give my 150% when I’m on stage.
Lastly, you have had an explosive start to 2012, what can fans expect to see in terms of tour dates or new music video releases?
Prema: There will definitely be a tour happening very soon as well as new releases. New material in the making which involves great writers and producers from the US (to name a few Bill Grainer(Jennifer Hudson), Scott Krippayne(Jordin Sparks) which I am looking forward to share with my fans!
Her new music video “Superstar” can be viewed as the first video in this interview. To stay connected and updated on all things Prema, follow her cookie crumb trail below: