After making a name for herself in a number of Asian countries, Liyana Fizi wants to conquer Japan, writes Bibi Nurshuhada Ramli
SWEET-FACED singer and songwriter Liyana Fizi dreams of collaborating with English rock band Radiohead, but she thinks the idea may be too far-fetched.
After all, she was nervous enough to be performing on the same stage as Richard Marx when he was here late last year.
“His show had a specific theme: Acoustic. It was just him with a guitar and a piano, so his team was also looking for an acoustic act to open for him. Razman Razali of Pineapple Concerts proposed the idea to me and I accepted it right away,” she says.
Liyana was initially scheduled to open the show with a half-hour performance but four days before the gig, Marx asked, through the management, to do a duet with her.
“We sang ‘N Sync’s This I Promise You, which he wrote. I wanted to die of fright,” she says. “I was supposed to harmonise, which I rarely do, so that was another challenge.”
Marx arrived only on the show day so they did the sound check just once. “I didn’t get to practise much, but he was very nice.”
Growing up, Liyana listened to P. Ramlee, The Carpenters, Elvis Presley and Gypsy Kings. “My family is music-oriented just because they love music, but none of my family members are artistes,” she says.
Liyana began dabbling in music at the age of 14. She had begged her mother for a guitar and taught herself to play. “I composed some cheesy songs. I didn’t think that I’d end up playing serious music,” she says.
After graduating from college, she worked in an office and spent less time on her music. She eventually quit her job.
In 2005, she and her mates formed a band called Estrella and in 2007, an indie label Laguna Music signed them on for a two-year contract.
Liyana says: “When the contract ended, we thought that we could keep the name Estrella, but it turned out that there was a clause in the contract which stated that the label had the rights to keep the name instead.”
She adds that they could continue performing the songs because of author rights but just not under the band name.
When she performs these days, Liyana is accompanied by a band consisting of the bassist and guitarist from Estrella, and a drummer.
“With Estrella, everything was new and we played for a big crowd. Now, I’ve grown in a sense that I’m open to more experiences. I want to go further, do more things and play to an even bigger crowd,” she says.
Just last year, Liyana launched her debut solo album titled Between The Lines. She recorded it in Bandung so that she could work with foreign sessionists. “I just wanted to get a different vibe. It’s not that they are better than us, but their passion is strangely different,” she says.
With songs such as Jatuh, Light Writing and Kaku, she is working on distributing her music in Indonesia, but says that her album is already available in some stores that sell Flashy, a women’s apparel brand for which she is the ambassador.
Besides Indonesia, Liyana plans to spread her wings to Japan. “A guy from Kobe who runs an indie label, knew about me from my Estrella days. He emailed me to ask if my solo music is ready. They have a niche market for girls on guitar, so they welcomed me,” she says.
They communicated through email over a period of nine months and though it all seemed tiring, it was worth it.
Liyana is one of the performers for Rooftop, ntv7’s new musical-documentary programme that will have the nation’s top musicians perform on a roof top.
Joining her are Estranged, Bunkface, Projek Pistol, Azlan & The Typewriter, Aizat, Diandra Junaidi, Najwa Latif, Akim, Adira, Awie Rafael and Hafiz among others.
“I agreed to do this because performing in an open space is entirely different from performing in a cafe or a hall. This way, the music will easily get across to fans.”
Since launching her album, Liyana plans to perform in as many countries as possible. She had played in China, Australia, South Korea and Indonesia.
“I know it’s important for an artiste to churn out albums, like, every year, but for me, I’d like to gain more experience from as many places as I can. I want to build my fan base first.”
Rooftop airs every Thursday at 8.30pm on ntv7.