Of ‘Young Adults’, being a musician in this day and age, and vivid 4am memories
Growing up, Bil Musa has always loved composing songs, a passion that stemmed from her love of writing. But being a rather private person, going into the music industry was never on her mind back then. The turning point came when she was discovered by Yuna's manager while performing at her friend's brother's wedding. One year after that, she got the golden call, and the wheels were set in motion from thereon.
Now, the 24-year-old is signed under Yuna Room Records, replete with an EP and a full-length album under her belt. Her album, Young Adults, sees the singer-songwriter branch out from her acoustic, folksy roots to a more electronic sound—a move that has given an added dimension to her music, while still keeping the charm of her soulful voice and relatable lyrics.
Like what you hear? Slot Good Vibes Fest into your plans because Bil will performing at the music festival next month (21 & 22 July — save the dates!). But before that, get to know Bil Musa and her music a little better from our chat with her here:
Tell us about Young Adults and how it reflects where you're at in your life right now.
"Young Adults is a reflection of what people my age go through. Maybe not even just people my age, I think teens can also relate. It's about the things you go through, transitioning into adult life. Everything becomes a little more real and it takes a lot of emotional strength and time to adjust. It's definitely what my friends and I have been going through the past few years and I think we're just about to start to figure things out. Still pretty lost, but laying the foundations (laughs)."
Which song resonates to you most on a personal level?
"Right now, it's 'Sejarah'. It's about two people who ended their relationship on good terms, despite the long duration of the relationship. I recently went through it, about a year ago and I really expected more turbulence in our lives or in our emotions but it was surprisingly quite smooth sailing. I don't feel bitter or hatred and I only wish the best the world has to offer for the other person."
Do you remember the first song you ever wrote?
"I don't remember the first song I ever wrote. However, I do remember the first few. One was about chocolate fountains and candy being compared to the good things in life (of course, it's me you're talking about), one was about a guy who lost his love in a car crash (another side of me), and the other was a song I wrote for my baby cousins to sing to my grandaunt because she was due to go in for quite a major surgery. I wrote these when I was about 9 or 10, I think."
Take us through your songwriting process.
"I'm obviously a very emotional songwriter. I can only write when I'm extremely happy, extremely sad, extremely angry or when I put myself in the shoes of other people who are. So it's a very strong emotion that I get, and then I pick up an instrument, I think of one word to summarise my feelings at that point and I just write lyrics off of that, figuring out the melody along the way. There have also been times when I'm on the phone with a friend when they rant about something that happened and I write down the key points. It's sounds like a breach of privacy but they end up being ok with it when the song is out."
Who are your musical influences?
"If I were to write this down, the list would be endless. So, I'll narrow it down to the more obvious ones that influenced the Young Adults album—Lana Del Rey, Jhene Aiko, Bahamas and Sam Smith."
What is the best thing about being a musician in this day and age?
"In this day and age, you can make contact with someone who lives on the other side of the world as long as they have internet and that's a beautiful thing because it means the possibilities are endless. You can collaborate with someone who you've never met and you can gain followers, friends and fans from across the globe. When you post something online, it's part of a portfolio that is exposed to the whole world and you never know if someone that matters is going to stumble upon it."
One of our favourite songs from Young Adults is '4am' (love a good song with laidback, chill vibes), which leads us to the next question—what is your most vivid 4am memory?
"Thank you! That's probably my favourite song from the album. I'm a foodie so all the 4AMs I remember are me having good food. I think the last one I can recall, is my friend asking me "Hey you've been wanting to go to Jalan Alor to have seafood right?". So, we jumped in the car and had salted egg squid at Jalan Alor in the middle of the night."
Just for fun, can you construct a sentence using at least 3 song titles from your album?
"I wanna be 'Nineteen' again and 'I Wanna Dance' at '4AM'."
Besides music, what are your other passions?
"Food (baking, cooking, eating), cats, languages, theatre, books, musicals, writing (I love writing!), hiking, travelling and working out (I don't seem like it, but I love learning about fitness)."
What are you most looking forward to about being a part of Good Vibes Festival?
"I went to GVF last year for the first time. I couldn't go the year before that because I was in a cabin in the middle of nowhere (laughs), and I was really sad I missed it. I had a really good time last year though, my friends and I couldn't stop talking about it for months. I'm looking forward to meeting the other performers and of course being among the crowd as well. I hope the vibe was as chill as last year. Everyone was so friendly, helpful, civilised and it was a ball."
And finally, what can we expect from your set at Good Vibes?
"Expect your favourite songs from my album Young Adults and a rad ol' time, that's all I'm gonna say!"