It’s not often you find an artist who intrinsically makes you groove and move within the first few seconds of a song. When it comes to Claudia’s music, that’s always the case. Bringing a fresh and fun Gen Z sensibility to Malaysia’s music scene, it’s hard to believe that the Kuching-born artist only debuted in 2020. With her knack for creating catchy earworms that have garnered more than 10 million streams and her breezy confidence on stage, Claudia’s star power is undeniable.
In just three years, the singer-songwriter has made several impressive strides in her music career, amassing more than 250,000 monthly Spotify listeners. With the release of Spotify Wrapped this year, 2023 is her most successful year yet, with a total of 2.5 million listeners and 8.9 million streams.
A certified pop princess in her own right, Claudia is our Artist of the Year for the BURO Impact Awards 2023. Ahead, we chronicle her journey from aspiring artist to bonafide star.
Setting the stage
With every great artist, you often hear about how their love of music all started from an instrument. Claudia’s story isn’t much different. She tells us that her songwriting journey began in university when she bought her first ukulele and was navigating the throes of young heartbreak.
Rather than writing a novel (fun fact: Claudia is also famously a popular author on Wattpad whose books have been read over 80 million times), she decided to pour the angst into writing a song with her shiny new instrument. “I started practising on the ukulele and the rest is history!”
Whether she’s writing lyrics or penning her next best-selling book, Claudia is always crafting a world to take her audience into. “I write things from my own perspective and I hope my authenticity will speak volumes,” she shares. A wordsmith armed with a ceaseless imagination, her strength as an artist comes from her creativity and how she relishes in the creative process.
“I just love it when I come up with a melody and the whole song just comes together…it’s an amazing feeling,” she shares with a content sigh. While Claudia admits that songwriting is a muscle you constantly have to train, there is no denying that she has a natural way with words and an understanding of rhythm that other artists would take years to hone.
Then, there was deciding what type of music she wanted to pursue. “I’ve always been a pop girl”, Claudia confesses. She cites artists such as Dua Lipa, Ariana Grande and Taylor Swift as her inspirations. Thus, the answer was crystal clear: it would always be mainstream pop music. Writing on themes such as love, female empowerment and controlling your fate, she sets out to craft the catchiest earworms with the help of her producer-cum-boyfriend, Irwinandfire.
Her greatest hits
Naturally, it didn’t take long for Claudia’s infectious tunes to strike a chord with the masses. She had her first taste of viral fame with the ‘70’s-inspired song Bodies in 2020. “This song has a special place in my heart because the musical journey from our first song to this one was a bumpy one,” the singer recalls.
The pair was still learning how to professionally produce music and had previously released two tracks that didn’t take off as expected. To them, Bodies was the turning point for the duo’s songwriting journey. “It was the culmination of the early start to our musical career”. Currently, it is her second most-streamed song, with just under four million plays on Spotify.
Proving Claudia isn’t just a one-hit wonder, the pair hit their stride and produced hit after viral hit. In 2022, Your Gentleman raked in hours of radio play and two million streams for its bubbly melody and sweet lyrics about pampering your beau—even famously earning BTS Jungkook’s seal of approval after fans saw him jamming to the song on a live stream! “Forever a Jungkook bias so I’m very happy about that,” she squeals to us when discussing some of her biggest milestones.
But it was 2023 that saw Claudia reaching new heights of popstar fame. In June, the 25-year-old released Toast, which would become her best-performing single yet. With its catchy chorus and Sabrina Carpenter-esque vocal riffs, the song had the perfect formula for social media success.
With Toast quickly catching on, Claudia was named Spotify’s Global Equal Ambassador just a month later, where the song was displayed prominently. The single is her most-streamed song, garnering close to five million streams on the music platform.
Singing to her own tune
However, one could argue that being a viral star is a double-edged sword. While it helps them gain exposure, there’s also a danger of their artistry being influenced by social media and falling into a numbers game.
Claudia has a dedicated online following, as seen by her TikTok account, which has amassed over three million likes and 20,000 Instagram followers. And yet, she admittedly grapples with this dilemma herself. “It is hard to find the balance but unfortunately, that’s the way to survive in the music industry right now.”
To alleviate some pressure, Claudia mostly views it as a way to brand herself. “I feel like many musicians can be shy when it comes to marketing themselves but…these days people have to attach a face to go with the music, so you have to put yourself out there,” she elaborates.
In saying that, she is adamant about not singing to other people’s tunes and “tries not to pander to a specific group of people.” For the singer, the best way to traverse the TikTok terrain is to be authentic to your art. “It’s my job to give them what they need, while also staying true to what I write,” she firmly states.
Her next steps to pop stardom
With the success of 2023 hot off her heels, there are many more things to look forward to with Claudia. She already has her newest single Birthday rounding up the year and her debut album is slated for release early next year.
“With the journey I’m on right now, I’ve learned to dream big,” she smiles. She hopes to play her first show out of Southeast Asia and is aiming to do more collaborations with local and international artists.
While talking to Claudia about her aspirations, it’s clear that the global star-in-the-making has much love for Malaysia’s local music scene and has equally big dreams of shaping it as well.
She wishes that singers will have the freedom to create without inhibitions one day. “I hope to leave behind a legacy where artists can pursue a music career independently and without label support,” she starts.
As an independent artist herself who “pour[s] [her] blood, sweat and tears into making this career a sustainable one,” she knows how difficult and intimidating it can be for aspiring artists without label backing.
As Claudia continues to grow, she hopes to be a blueprint to inspire others to follow in her footsteps. “More artists are realising that they have more control than ever over how their music gets to people, and I think that’s awesome.”
Editor-In-Chief / SARAH HANI JAMIL. Creative Direction / SARAH TAI. Text and Interview / MARISSA CHIN. Styling / SARAH HANI JAMIL AND SARAH TAI. Assisted by / EVE LYN LAU. Photography / HERRY CHIA EE | HERRY STUDIO. Assisted by / EURI ERFE, BIRDY LEE AND DAVID ONG. Videography / JIMI RAZAK FOR STUDIO KARYAWAN. Video Editor / DENNIS KHO. Makeup / EZAD IBRAHIM. Hair / LEX SE FOR GHD.
Check out the 2023 BURO Impact Award winners here.
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