It’s surprising to learn that 24-year-old singer Beverly Matujal doesn’t rely on social media to get her music out there in today’s digital age.

“It’s just the coldness of singing to a camera as opposed to singing to a crowd. It feels impersonal to me at the moment,” she says in an interview with Star2.

“But I really salute people who do YouTube for a living because they are very organised, and that’s what I lack. I’ve been trying to put up covers on YouTube but I’ve been very lazy,” she adds with a laugh.

Instead, Matujal concentrates on giving live performances: “I love performing at open mic events – that’s where I get to connect to people. I mostly play my own music unless I’m asked to do covers. I also busk about once or twice a month.”

The up-and-coming Sabahan artiste recently released her debut five-track EP Echoes and she has been promoting her music on-ground.

“Some people buy my CD during my busking sessions. Then the next week they’d come back and tell me they really loved the CD.”

But Matujal has come a long way when it comes to singing in public.

Overcoming her fears

Although her love for music began at a young age – picking up the guitar, piano and songwriting at 11 – a painful remark nearly crushed her music dreams.

“It took me a long time before I was comfortable with singing on stage. I had a lot of insecurities as a kid. I was very introverted,” she recalls.

Beverly Matujal

With help from just a producer, Matujal came up with Echoes on her own.

“I took part in one competition in primary school when I was 12. When I joined, I heard some of the kids in my class, say, ‘She can sing meh?’ It took me a long time to get over that.”

A few years later, thanks to Matujal’s friends who were supportive of her musical aspirations, she found the strength to step on to the stage.

“There was this showcase at my secondary school and my friends encouraged me to sing. I sang in a girl group for that performance and the reaction from the crowd was really uplifting.

“From then on, I kept performing in events at school which really built my confidence.”

Matujal put her music dreams on hold and decided to pursue a Mass Communication degree during her university years.

“Being a singer was such a faraway dream for me. I felt I needed a plan B.

“I majored in event management and public relations and kind of forgot about my music. But at the end of my final year, I started going to open mics and played music again,” she says.

And the feedback was encouraging. So much so, Matujal decided to pursue music full-time after graduating.

Going full-time

It has been over a year now since she took that leap of faith. Matujal says she has been able to support herself so far, landing three to four gigs a month, but admits: “I have to give up on a lot of (other) things.”

With the help of her father, Matujal released Echoes last month, describing its sound as “folk with pop tendencies”.

Asked why she chose to release the EP independently instead of approaching a record label, Matujal replies: “I wanted to start with something completely controlled by me so I can tell the audience who I am in the beginning.”

With just some help from producer and arranger Angie Farr, Echoes was completely crafted by Matujal, down to the design of the album cover.

“If I went straight to a label, I’m scared I would lose control of my own artistic vision.”