Born in Malacca and raised in Kota Kinabalu, Michelle Lee is a full-time musician—when she is not working on her own music, she actually composes music for films and commercials. Better known by the moniker Froya, she had her first breakthrough as a singer in 2012 with the catchy single Fries in Cream. She has since garnered a large following for her whimsical and genre-defying sounds.
Having performed at the last Good Vibes in 2014, Froya will return to charm festival-goers with her unique brand of music this Saturday at The Ranch @ Gohtong Jaya, Genting Highlands alongside Disclosure and Angus & Julia Stone. Get to know her a little better here before you head up for two days of good fun and music:
Why the name Froya?
"I initially wanted something like "Fuschia" but it was taken by another musician so I went on to pick some random letters, jumbled them around and formed "Froya". It was by sheer luck that I later discovered that "Froya" is the Norse Goddes of beauty and love!"
What is your earliest memory of music?
"This might sound pretty cliche but I remember seeing one of my friends playing a Richard Clayderman piece on the piano and I was instantly hooked. Not only because she played it so well, but also because I was fascinated by the idea of playing and creating any tune you want on a single piece of instrument. "
Do you remember the first song you ever wrote?
"The very first song that I wrote was a song for my grandma after her funeral. I can't remember what the lyrics were, but I've never played this song for anyone ever, not even my parents. It was something I chose to keep to myself because I didn't want things to end up in a cry fest."
Your music seems to flit in between genres—how would you describe your sound?
"I try not to pigeonhole myself into any kind of genre or specific sound because I think I should keep on expanding and discovering the possibilities of the unknown. Nothing is more dreadful than knowing that there is a limit to your art. I'd rather keep the boundaries open and that uncertainty will always bring surprises. "
What was the inspiration behind your debut album 'Panic Bird'?
"'Panic bird' is an album recording my growth, challenges, uncertainty, desire , hopelessness and the like. The inspiration came from everything I experienced, saw or battled in my heart over the past 5-6 years in the process of writing this album."
Tell us a little about your single for this year, Rosie.
"Rosie is (you guessed it!) a song inspired by my dog, Rosie. The entire song was spawned by her snoring and her desire to play outside/get in touch with nature. I take her to work with me every day (she stays in a large drawer there) and ever so often, she will make some pretty unique sounds that I just can't help but record. Later on, I thought, why not turn these little sounds into a song? "
Is there a second album in the making?
"I'm definitely working on some new songs at the moment but I'm not sure if it will be an album or EP yet, so stay tuned!"
Who are your musical influences?
"I would like to say Emiliana Torrini in terms of songwriting. I fell for her Nordic style of singing and paraphrasing. In my opinion, she's the most unique singer-songwriter that has ever existed. Another female artist that will always have a special place in my heart would be Imogen Heap! Imogen crafted her own sound and constantly challenges herself to be more innovative in her music. That kind of drive has gotten me really inspired to find my own sound and path along the way."
What do you do when you encounter a creative block?
"Sit back, relax, take a walk, eat something... Unless I'm on a tight timeline. It's not the end of the world cause we are only human. And procrastination can be a good thing sometimes, because even if you're not working on something, you're thinking with an open mind."
Is there another instrument you'd love to pick up?
"Drums! Sometimes it's hard to describe the groove that I want to my drummer. I have always had to sing gibberish to simulate the groove in my head, only to get them looking at me like an alien. So yeah, it would be quite useful to pick up drums so that I could communicate better in the band."
If you were not in the music industry, you would be...
"In the culinary world."
This won't be your first time at Good Vibes. What is the best thing about being part of a festival like this?
"Certainly the amazing opportunity to showcase music to the right crowd. It's one of the best platforms you could ever have, as an indie musician performing in a big music festival like this. Apart from that, it's also incredibly exciting to watch all the other local and international acts giving their best performance for the festival."
And lastly, what are you most looking forward to at this year's Good Vibes?
"Clear sky, chill weather, great music, incident free, successful show from and for everyone."