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Sharliza Jelita: Self-approval is power

January 14, 2013

With a typically Singaporean passion for food, Sharliza draws her inspiration from everything around her.


Like the spectacular explosion of fireworks on Singapore National Day, Sharliza Jelita bursts on to the pop scene in a marvellous feast of exciting noise and scintillating colours, drawing you into her eccentric, eclectic and intelligent pop world.

Channelling the diversity that is the essence of the Singaporean identity, this creative powerhouse has already carved out a career many would envy and is set to bring her unique pop sensibility to a worldwide audience.

In a young life furnished with events that have served as a rich palette of inspiration, her flamboyant outlook on life makes for acute observational songwriting that ranges far and wide, covering themes such as the pressures of urban life, lust for adventure, love, money and the afterlife.

With a typically Singaporean passion for food, Sharliza draws her inspiration from everything around her, blends her favourite musical ingredients and adds her own unique flavour to the mix to create a totally new taste in hot fresh exciting pop.

Born and raised in Singapore and orphaned at an early age, this former Tanjong Katong Girls’ School and Raffles Junior College student found her voice in the music of Duran Duran, Culture Club and Radiohead, moving to the UK at 17 through a United World College scholarship to pursue her already well-developed musical vision.

Exemplifying the Asian spirit of enterprise and focused ambition, she was soon fronting her own indie band called the Rrrs, achieving plays on regional radio and performing gigs and festivals throughout the UK. Joining the Access to Music programme, she was presented with the National Student Music Award 2008 by BBC TV presenter Lauren Laverne and renowned jazz maestro Soweto Kinch.

Inspired to improve her craft further, Sharliza joined the Academy of Contemporary Music and set herself the formidable challenge of writing, recording and producing her first album within a year, assembling a remarkable collection of talented musical collaborators in the process.

The result is Strange Things, a bright kaleidoscopic vision of an album in which Sharliza takes you on an exciting musical journey through an astonishing spectrum of genres and themes. It is unpretentious and catchy pop music of the most authentic kind and positively revels in its originality. The title track has garnered airplay on BBC Radio 6 Music via Tom Robinson’s BBC Introducing Mixtape show.

Her greatest strength is her unique, powerful singing voice, which has echoes of other unconventional former divas like Eartha Kitt and the Peruvian chanteuse Yma Sumac but is very her much her own and quite unlike anyone else in today’s pop world.

A consummate and flamboyant performer, on stage is where Sharliza really comes to life with a live show as innovative and visually inventive as her album is musically. In her magical electronic light-up cape and DayGlo heels, Sharliza’s stage persona is inspired by her heroes, Boy George, Tina Turner and Freddie Mercury, making her concerts a must-see, must-hear, must-be-there experience where the audience are positively encouraged to get involved. Every one invariably leaves with a huge feel-good grin on their faces.

Sharliza Jelita’s debut album, Strange Things, is out now (released in June 2012). Download the album at sharliza.bandcamp.com or get a physical CD copy at sharliza.com. You can watch her interestingly captivating music videos on Youtube at www.youtube.com/sharlizajelita and listen to her songs on soundcloud.com/sharliza


How does it feel to be nominated for a VIMA award? What does this nomination mean to you?

I feel very honoured to be recognised especially in Asia as I feel my purpose out here in London is to promote and infuse Asian influences into Western music. I find it ironic when I listen to an Asian track that sounds just like Western music with local language on it. We have to be proud of our rich roots. I’m very pleased VIMA exists to support South East Asian talent – we are the future of music!

What efforts have you made to promote your nominations to your fans?

My fans have been personally messaged, approached, announcements made at gigs, and of course informed on Twitter and Facebook. I always prefer getting in touch personally, which may not be the most efficient or effective way but I believe it’s important to cultivate relationships with people.

Do you believe that social media platforms such as Facebook, Youtube and twitter are relevant marketing and publicity tools for a musician? What efforts have you made to engage with your fans using social media?

They keep you in the public eye – we have to get our messaging to the people and not the other way round, and Facebook, Youtube and Twitter are where people hang out online these days. If you do something good, it’s easy for people to share and spread your message. It is also a way to build links with other musicians and like minded souls. I think humour helps engage people. Whatever makes their day a bit brighter.

If you were a superhero, what sort of super powers would you have and what would you champion or fight for?

The greatest superpower is to grant every child the feeling that they are unconditionally loved. Idealistic, but it would make for a world where humans mutually care for each other, behave ethically and encourage selflessness. There is enough for everybody – there is no need for exploitation or one-upmanship.

What would you like to be remembered for?

I would like to be remembered for bringing joy, enlightenment and relief to people, whether momentary or long-lasting.

Have you championed any good cause? What are your plans to do more?

I got Afghanaid (a charity that does good causes in Afghanistan) to raise funds at the launch party of my first single No Go Pogo. We can only imagine what people are going through in a place ravaged by war and uncertainty. Talk to me about or show me an orphan and I’ll be moved to tears, because I relate deeply to that. So now I’m sponsoring a little girl every month. Bereaved people also need help, especially emotional support, to cope with their trauma. I find that that is often overlooked and if people just stuff down their feelings in an effort to move on with their daily lives it will come back to bite them in other aspects of their life. A little empathy goes a long way.

You look into the crystal ball and see your future? What does it say?

It says, “God will be with you at all times.”

Share with us two of your favourite quotes

“Man is least himself when he is his own person! Give him a mask and he will tell you the truth.” – says Oscar Wilde; I try to speak the truth in my own person though, with difficulty.

“You cannot be deep without a surface” – according to Jonathan Lethem – very true!

Money or fame? Why?

Money and fame are both tools. Tools can be used for good or bad. Fame can be used to bring to light worthy causes and influence the world to get behind them. Provided that one has build up that fame through the right reasons, and their association lends gravitas to these issues. Money can make worthy projects get off the ground – fame alone can’t do that. Things still need to be paid for and people still need to be paid for their efforts. When both money and fame work in synergy, miracles can happen.

What is your advice to up and coming musicians?

Are you sure this is what you want to do? You can seek approval by other means. Start with yourself. Self-approval is power – have that and you can do anything.

Connect with Sharliza



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