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Elizabeth Tan’s music career has grown steadily since since she was discovered on YouTube two years ago. The songstress recently bagged the award for Best New Female Artist at the Anugerah Planet Muzik award ceremony at the Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre. Winning the award was just the beginning for Elizabeth and her promising career in music. Since her time on YouTube, with her glowing rendition of Joe Flizzow’s monster hit, “Havoc,” her name has been buzzing all over the country. It may come as a surprise to some, but it was Elizabeth’s dream of becoming a television host that kick started her journey.
Elizabeth first began to upload videos of her singing when she was 16 years old, based in a fervent ambition of becoming a TV personality. “My sister is quite close to actress, Sarah Lian, and she advised me, “If you want to be on TV, you have to get used to talking in front of the camera.” She suggested that I post up material on YouTube or create a video blog,” she recalls.
She decided to follow the advice because it was good practice. She opted to sing since public speaking was not her forte. Elizabeth continued to upload her videos diligently, and after two years she was finally noticed on the Internet. “I remember feeling so excited, getting up every morning to check out new comments posted and how many hits the videos had gotten,” she enthuses.
Her excitement was coupled with uncertainty of what could results would concretely come from newfound attention she was receiving. At the time, Elizabeth had just completed her studies at a bible college in Texas, and with all the positive feedback she was receiving, singing in real world sounded like a great option, but her mum had other plans for her.
“My mum wanted me to continue my studies and suggested I pursue Mass Communications. I told her that I would try singing for a year. She was quite surprised and told me that I couldn’t make a career out of singing,” says Elizabeth. But she persevered and told her mother, “You never know. Give me a year to just try it out.” It turned out she didn’t need a year. Her videos got a lot more traction than she thought it would, and the rest as they say is history, and Elizabeth has been at the forefront of many projects and collaborations.
One of her more surprising collaborations was with Malaysia’s successful electronic dance music duo, Goldfish & Blink. Elizabeth’s sweet vocals was featured in their single, ‘Somewhere New’. Singing on that track took her out of her comfort zone, she says. She described her style as a folk-jazz-acoustic mix, and lending her vocals to an electronic music track was something she never imagined doing. The response to the track has been nothing but encouraging, but Elizabeth doesn’t plan on looking for projects revolve around electronic dance music.
“I barely knew the both of them. Blink was very nice, while Goldfish was the more serious one. On one end, Goldfish would say, “Do it again”, while Blink will say, “You’re doing a good job”. It was an interesting experience but I don’t think I would pursue it again though,” she says.
Elizabeth is currently preparing herself for 2016. She has stopped taking bookings for the rest of the year, in order to take a well-deserved break and to plan her future. “I’m focusing for next year because I am changing my direction with the image I want to portray,” she reveals.
This budding talent has already begun revealing the shift in her musical direction. It began with the single, ‘Knock, Knock’, which was released by Faithful Music this year. The video has already garnered more than three million views on YouTube, and her latest single, “Setia,” looks like it’s going to be as successful. The ballad sees Elizabeth singing alongside Faizal Tahir, who wrote and produced the song with his partner, Mike Chan, and Ezra Kong. It has garnered almost a million views since the official video was released on YouTube, and the number continues to rise.
When Elizabeth first met Faizal, she knew that it would be perfect for her. “His name alone carries a lot of credibility and for me to be able to work with him is quite a boost for my career. I love his work, the songs he writes are amazing, and he’s an interesting guy,” she says enthusiastically.
Another artist Elizabeth has been inspired by even as a teenager, is none other than Malaysian songbird, Yuna. “I started listening to her when I was 14 years old and I think that’s why a lot of people say I sound like her. She was really my idol and for people to tell me that I sound like her is a big compliment to me.”
For now, Elizabeth and team are focusing on conquering the Malaysian market before progressively moving on to regional markets like Indonesia, and Singapore. “I’m not planning on breaking the international market just yet. I believe it’s important to make a name for myself in my own country first, before I attempt to go abroad,” she explains.
Singing in Malay is also something new for Elizabeth. Aside from Yuna and the defunct band, Estrella, Elizabeth admits that her exposure to local Malay music is limited. She has recently developed a newfound respect and admiration for local artists since joining Faizal’s music label. Ballads aren’t her cup of tea either, but, Elizabeth has been more than willing to try it out in the name of embracing the new in her career.
So what is her definitive style? It’s still a question for everyone, including Elizabeth herself. “A lot of fans label me as the girl next door. I guess I am in a certain way, but I don’t think I’m the cute-sy girl next door. They all think I’m cute, but I’m not,” she laughs.
Things are definitely looking up for Elizabeth, and no doubt that 2016 will be an encouraging year for this budding artiste. With an amazing team, and mentor supporting her, she’s in in good hands. “My mum’s given me the best advice so far. She told me that not everyone will like me. It’s a bit hard to accept especially when you’ve encountered haters who just hate for no reason, and you don’t understand why. But that’s the reality of it all,” says Elizabeth, with her feet planted firmly on the ground.
by Marlina Azmi
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