Home-grown indie singer-songwriter Linying is sending sound waves through the international music scene.
BY DAPHNE ONG
Published on 13 September 2016
BY DAPHNE ONG
LINYING IS ON HER WAY TO FAME, ONE ETHEREAL NOTE AT A TIME. Coming into prominence only two years ago when she took part in the National Arts Council-initiated Noise Singapore music mentorship programme, she is already a sought-after voice for international electronic dance music. Moreover, her first single ‘Sticky Leaves’ claimed a position on Spotify’s Global Viral 50 chart this year.
Having played the piano for as long as she can remember, Linying started singing in her pre-teens, thanks to her parents’ karaoke machine. Putting all that together with her knack for writing poems, creating and performing her own music was a natural progression.
“The first time I performed to an audience at age 13, my right leg was shivering violently! I forced myself to get into the song and block everyone out,” Linying recalls. “It’s different playing your own songs to an audience, there’s a lot more for you to hold on to — what it felt like when you first wrote it, the incredulity of just being in a place, singing to people who are in that very moment trying to listen and understand something only you really know.”
As with any budding songwriter, Linying, who lists “fiction, bravery and dim sum” as sources of inspiration, took time, plus trial and error, to find her own sound. “I struggled with being very derivative in my writing. When I first started writing seriously, I was also listening to and discovering lots and lots of music. Every time I found something I thought was phenomenal, I’d be so taken by it I’d start emulating it in every way. At the end of it, I knew I’d wasted a memory, a feeling, an idea that was mine by trying to convey it in a language that was somebody else’s. I grew out of it, eventually, and let my influences influence rather than define.”
Linying’s angelic voice has claimed the hearts of many, even as she pours her heart into the music she writes. The young artist’s sensitive and intense songs come from her cache of emotional experience. Disillusionment, grief, bitterness and hope are the themes which dominate her craft. “The kind of feelings that are felt so intensely and so rarely, they really make you remember what it’s like to be alive.”
In addition to creating her own well-received works, Linying caught a big break from an unexpected source. Dance music producers from France contacted her, inviting her to collaborate. Since then, she has lent her voice to the likes of German producer Felix Jaehn and French duo Krono.
While her recordings have struck a chord with audiences worldwide, performing live remains both a boon and a challenge for Linying, even though she has crooned at music festivals like the Esplanade’s Baybeats and Yfest, as well as Music Matters Live. “It’s been a challenge trying to translate the intimacy of the recorded tracks into something suitable for a live setting, which involves a whole lot of rearranging, but also stepping aside and having other, more experienced people call the shots. It’s an interesting thing to navigate.”