Aisyah Aziz: A Modern Malay Woman
The name Aisyah Aziz is no stranger in Singapore, especially amongst the Malay community. As a modern Malay woman, Aisyah’s Malay heritage has played a huge role in her life. We got the opportunity to have a chat with Aisyah to find out more about how her culture has influenced both her career and personal life.
Words by Aisha | Photos Courtesy of Aisyah Aziz
Growing up, Aisyah Aziz, 25, was exposed to Malay songs. Influenced by her father and legendary artistes, such as P. Ramlee, Saloma and Anita Sarawak, singing in Malay became automatic. Even though Aisyah sings English covers, she gets back to her roots by reaching out to the Malay community in her native language.
Getting inspiration from various artists in different genres, Aisyah always knew what she wanted to sound like. Describing her source of inspiration as “a whole rojak”, Aisyah listens to renowned artists such as Amy Winehouse, Aerosmith, Ella Fitzgerald, and Celine Dion. She also gets inspiration from current pop hit artists such as Christina Aguilera and Mariah Carey. All these artists have helped her solidify and shape her sound.
Aisyah started to dabble in song-writing about three years later. She was able to express herself through writing and sharing her own stories with others. Although her songs are stories about her life, she keeps her songs open to interpretation, not wanting to explain the meaning of her songs to her.
Her latest hit got her fans excited as it made them wonder about the meaning behind the song. “Bila Entah” literally means “when uncertain”. One interpretation of the song floating on various websites tells a story of a woman longing to have her ex-lover back after he had left her. The woman became obsessed and was willing to do anything to get him back. However, the man just left her without a trace.
“I liked everything about the song. The whole thing works very well; the story and the vibe. It was my vibe completely,” Aisyah said when asked about her thoughts upon hearing “Bila Entah” for the first time.
During the planning phase of “Bila Entah”, Aisyah knew she wanted a classic, poetic Malay song with a modern arrangement. The juxtaposition of the two and the contrast was definitely the selling point for her. Working alongside her producer, Aisyah created a sensational hit. The music video was well-received and reached one million views within the first few months from the release date. “Bila Entah” was something new but at the same time, brought a sense of nostalgia to the listeners.
“It’s fresh but it’s also nostalgic,” Aisyah pointed out, regarding “Bila Entah”.
Through “Bila Entah”, Aisyah reached a new level of creativity by tapping into the classic, cultural side of her. Her Malay heritage has shaped her as it is so embedded in her. Always feeling like she belongs in the Malay community, she looks at this as a positive trait. She feels like she can always connect with the community in ways that most can’t.
“When you know where you come from, you tell a better story to people who don’t know where you come from,” the singer explained.
Malay music is generally melancholic, and that’s exactly how Aisyah is. A “sad love person” is what she described herself to be. She conveys her stories and experiences from the perspective of a Malay. Not wanting her songs to be Americanised, she keeps her songs very rooted in the Malay culture, even if the songs are in English. Without a doubt, her audience will find her songs relatively relatable, especially if they are modern Malay women.
Aisyah voiced out: “It is important for us to be reminded again of our heritage because once it’s forgotten, you lose your sense of belonging or sense of identity.”
Listen to Aisyah Aziz’s Bila Entah below!