Even as Yazmin Aziz is busy promoting her first R&B-pop ballad single, Lihatlah, the 17-year-old is not neglecting her studies preparing for the upcoming Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM).
This interview, for example, was conducted in the evening after she returned from her school, Sekolah Menengah Sri Hartamas Kuala Lumpur.
“It’s been challenging but I am handling it,” she said, naming Art and English as her two favourite subjects at school. “I hope to pursue a degree either in mass communication or performing arts in the future.”
Nonetheless, her ultimate goal is to become an artiste as it’s something she’s truly passionate about.
Her interest in singing blossomed especially after she took part in Maybank Talent Contest when she was 10 years old, and was placed second.
“After that (competition), I started to go for vocal and guitar lessons. I can play piano a little bit, but that one I play by ear.”
The Malaysian-Filipino teen added: “(In the competition) I sang Adele’s Set Fire To The Rain and Katy Perry’s The One That Got Away. I took part just for fun; my parents who have never heard me sing on stage were surprised I had the confidence to perform.”
Over the years, she took part in a number of singing competitions. She even won gold medal in the junior category at last year’s Malaysian Championship of Performing Arts competition and represented Malaysia at the World Championship of Performing Arts in California where she received silver medal in the junior category.
Yazmin, who speaks Tagalog fluently, also represented Malaysia at the Global Pinoy Singing Idol in the Philippines in February this year and made it in the Top 10 list.
She was signed as a recording artiste after placing second runner up in hurr.tv’s Bakat Ohsem Malaysia 2017. hurr.tv now manages Yazmin, while her music is distributed by Warner Music.
Besides Lihatlah, she is looking to release two more singles titled Stolen and Promises.
“All the songs I have written are based on true stories. Stolen, for example, is about first love.
“Lihatlah talks about becoming strong after a family is torn apart. It’s about my dad who wasn’t there when I was growing up, as my parents divorced when I was four.”
Yazmin shared her mum remarried and she has two younger siblings, who are now 12 and eight. But the abandonment of her real dad has impacted her enough to make that song as her first single.
For Lihatlah, Yazmin collaborated with singer-songwriter Vince Chong and lyricist M. Zulkifli – who between them have written songs like Percayalah Sayang and Ku Milikmu.
“It’s been an amazing experience working with them. I have known Uncle Vince since I was 14 years old so he knows a lot about me. We talk about music and other things as well. And Zulkifli understood my story well enough to come up with the lyrics,” she stated, saying her conversational skill in Malay is not too good but she’s fine when it comes to singing and rapping in Malay, which she does for Lihatlah.
“I feel a song that comes from the truth will be more relatable. I want Lihatlah to boost the listeners’ confidence and inspire them because break-ups – in all forms – happen to all of us. It’s a song about rising up and finding strength through challenges.
“One of my favourite singers is Lady Gaga because she puts so much of herself into her songs and they’re relatable to anyone.
“And I love how theatrical her live performances are … which is something I want to explore as I really love all aspects of performing arts,” said Yazmin, who has participated in two musicals, The Fortunate at DPac and Pop at KLPac.
The making of her music video for Lihatlah where she was submerged in soy sauce and glitter for three hours in a bathtub sounds like something her idol would do.
But there’s just one problem. “I really had to use the toilet but couldn’t. My director asked me to just go in the bathtub, but I had to dunk my face at the end so I decided not to,” remembered Yazmin.
All in the name of art. Lady Gaga would’ve been so proud.