The Dark Side is not bad if Rozella’s there. Image credit: Joshua Chay
In Malaysia, there are many singer-songwriters and voice over artists. But there are very few who have the vocal and literary flair of Rozella Marie.
The United Kingdom born and Kota Kinabalu bred musician is also one of the go-to people behind True Complexion, a digital project on transforming people’s perception on the word “beautiful”.
What inspired her project was the birthmark on her face which caused her much ridicule and scorn from people. You can read more about it here! (Fun fact: Rozella is a mixture of eight different heritages!)
The chocolate-loving singer and dog lover is the only Sabahan to notch the Tiger Jams top three spot through her collaborative track, Dark Side, with Darren Ashley.
Upon listening to her amazing track, we decided that we simply MUST feature Rozella! Here’s our conversation with her via an email interview.
Tell us three things about yourself that is eccentric that the public should know about.
I usually warm up my vocals by listening to 90’s R&B. The classics always get me singing up a storm.
I organise my books according to the genre, but my clothes according to colour.
I give myself a small treat (either a dessert or some carbs) before going to the gym. It’s a weird method, but the guilt somehow works for me.
How would you describe your music? What’s most appealing about it to you?
I would describe my music as electro pop with a hint of R&B. What I love about this style of music is that it fits my voice and vocal range comfortably. It also combines two of my favourite music genres.
We find a lot of creatives float in and out of passion, so how do you keep the fire burning for music? Or as our tagline screams, “What fuels your genius?”
I am happiest when I’m creating. What fuels me is the joy that I get out of the process of developing different ideas and I think that consistency is the key. Although I have to admit that I’m not always disciplined when it comes to this.
A trick that I learnt from a producer whom I worked with is to force myself to sit and write every day even though my ideas suck. When I exercise my creative muscles, often enough ideas tend to flow better. Another thing that works for me when I’m really stuck is to collaborate with other people. Working with different people gives me a different perspective and that helps with generating fresh ideas.
What’s in your bucket from the vortex of ideas stream lately?
I’m working with a few people at the moment. We’re experimenting with different sounds and I’m trying to push myself out of my comfort zone. We’re still in the development stage, but I will definitely have a new release by the end of the year.
Is there anything you would change about the local music industry? What would it be?
If there is one thing I could change it would be the general mentality that local English music is not worth the time or the price tag. Unless we make it big internationally, we’re often considered second-grade artists. It’s a shame because we have a lot of amazing acts from Malaysia.
We learnt that you’re a writer as well as a musician – does that help you to write your own music? What other bonus talents help to spark your creativity?
Being a writer has definitely helped me when it comes to writing lyrics. I find it quite easy to express my thoughts and emotions. Because I’m so used to the editing process I don’t get super attached to my ideas, which is a good thing when it comes to reworking songs and collaborating with other people.
How’s it like eking a living out of music alone thus far? Is it a definite possibility?
I think that doing music full time is possible, but you have to be open to diversifying. That could mean a lot of things like teaching, organising events, writing or producing for other people, etc.
Any tips to share with aspiring up and coming musicians?
Just keep going. When the going gets tough, you just have to remind yourself why you started this in the first place.
What would you consider some of your proudest achievements in music thus far? And what’s the next big goal?
Winning Tiger Jams last year and having Chvrches remix my song was definitely a big highlight.
So far my favourite moments of 2017 have to be speaking and performing at TEDxYouthKL, and shooting the ‘Dark Side’ music video, which was really fun. I’m taking things one step at a time. At the moment, I’m just really focused on making more music and releasing it soon.
The perfect musician should have three qualities. What are they for you?
Determined, brave and open to change.
You’ve started an awesome project; True Complexion. It seems to engage people similar to what Humans of New York (HONY) is doing. Is that what you’re aiming for?
True Complexion is a social photography project that was very much inspired by HONY. But I wanted to put a twist to the idea and share stories that not only celebrate differences but also create awareness about different conditions that people live with.
The aim of the project is to change the perception of what is considered beautiful and normal in our society. It’s about learning how to love yourself and accepting other people for who they really are. Right now we’re focused on expanding our content bank, but in the near future, I do want to interact with our audience in real life and not only on social media.
Love the stuff that Rozella is doing? Follow her here! To follow True Complexion, here’s the links to their Facebook and Instagram sites. Are you a musician as well? Wanna be featured? Drop us an email at [email protected]!