Onwards And Up

Off the back of her SXSW debut, Linying discusses her path towards becoming a musician, and how things have changed since her very first performance.

Interview by Charlene Chan
Photography by Jovian Lim

It’s exactly a week after her return from the US when we meet with Linying to take her photograph. She’s been busy preparing new material for an upcoming deadline, she says, and is looking forward to launching her first full-length album next year. Throughout the shoot, Linying is composed and assured, the odd burst of laughter betraying the fact that it’s only been in the last year or so that she’s started garnering the level of attention she’s getting for her soft, soaring vocals and deft writing. We catch up with Linying to find out more about her songwriting process, as well as her first ever appearance at SXSW.

Hi Linying, congrats on the SXSW debut. What was that experience like for you?

I get what everyone meant now when they told me it would be crazy but were unable to elaborate…it’s like if roads had 20 directions and no traffic lights, and cars, bikes, pedestrians and airplanes were travelling on all of them. There’s nothing remotely close to this back home, but what really made the experience was finally meeting the people I’d been working with for months before, names I never had the chance to put a face to until now. That, and watching Francis and the Lights live with Chloë Grace Moretz standing in the crowd.

How does this compare to your first memory of performing in public?

The very first time, it was on a hazy day and I played a set with a loop pedal because I didn’t know anyone to form a band with. At the very last SX show someone came up and told me he drove five hours to come see us play.

Please tell us about how you developed your brand of sound.

It definitely took refining in the beginning. When I first started writing, I was so enthralled by the music I was exposed to that I wanted to emulate everything I liked, so everything I wrote would come out sounding like a straight-out copy. Not to say that I’m not influenced by the music I like and listen to now, but it’s been a hell lot clearer discerning between what is an honest expression of a sentiment I need to put down in music and lyrics, and what’s just me wanting to write songs to a sound I really like.

Read more in The U Press N˚16 (Singapore edition).