Music is her life

ACCORDING to her mum, Lunadira was already singing That’s The Way It Is by Celine Dion before she could even speak English properly.

Lunadira herself said: “Maybe she’s just glamourising the past, but I’d like to think it’s true.”

Regardless, the talented lass has gone from singing effortless, stripped down cover songs, into becoming a trailblazing artiste in the local music scene, all in the space of two years.

“Not to be cliché, but music is life, music is everything, and it’s what I need in every aspect of my life,” she expressed.

“Music is the soundtrack of my life.”

Following the trajectory of her debut single, Forever’s Not Our Thing, which has garnered over 280,000 streams on Spotify to date, the 24-year-old has released another soft and melancholic track to tug our heartstrings, Stuck With You.

Rumour has it to be a slow-burning lover’s anthem that everyone needs in their life.

How did you find your sound?

I don’t want to say I’ve found my sound, it’s more of [how] I present myself as an artiste, and who I am currently. I really believe in the evolution of music, so I’m not making music for the sake of it.

It’s not just the aspect of sound, it’s also asking myself how am I going to implement music in my life. Whenever I do push out music, it’s a certain aspect of me that I’m confident about, it’s a representation of how I felt at a certain time.

I would like to think that my personality is not just one straight line. People always say Geminis are two-faced, but I can’t agree with that. I’m more than two-faced; because if I were to say I belong in R’n’B or Pop, there are lots of people who are way better than I am.

I guess I’m at the middle ground between both genres.

What is the story behind your latest single Stuck With You?

That’s the only song I’ve written that is not based on my personal experience. It stems from the relationship with my best friend. There was a time when she was seeing someone, and every night she was complaining to me about the guy.

So I channelled that frustration through the song. Thank God she liked it when I told her about it, but I don’t know about the guy though.

I don’t want to say that the song is strictly about the guy. It’s about people who are in that similar situation … A few of my friends [were] all in what I like to call ‘situation-ships’.

There was an influx of that at one point, so I asked myself: ‘Why don’t I write a song about it since it’s happening all around me’.

As you are writing a song, how do you know when it is finished?

I don’t. That’s why I’m so thankful that I have my manager Jin, Airliftz, and people from my record label to help. Because if you listen to a song so much and you think it’s ready, then when someone else listens to it and give you a second opinion, you’ll ask yourself: ‘Why haven’t [I] thought of that?’.

It’s a very tedious process, at the end of the day I feel that maybe the song might not be finished, but the only way to find out if it’s good or not is to release it.

What are your thoughts on the current music scene in Malaysia?

It’s improving tremendously. Around the time when Alextbh was popping everywhere, a lot of people started paying attention to the local artistes. I remember [saying] that [this] year is going to be a good year for Malaysia music, and indeed, it is going really well.

Do you think it’s hard to get recognised when the music industry is rather saturated right now?

It’s true. There are so many people doing the same thing, I’m not saying that I’m different, because I’m [one] of those people [trying] to make it.

It’s not an unknown fact that social currency is something important to get recognised. [It’s] a struggle [even] for someone my age, and if you’re willing to push yourself and push the boundaries, you have to really start caring about social media; look at what is trending, study it and just keep doing it.

If [you’re] at a certain point where you’ve done everything, but you feel like you’re still not getting recognised then maybe there is something wrong.

What are some lessons you’ve learned throughout this journey?

Believing in yourself, which is something I’m struggling with.

Know what you really want, because if you [don’t], no one is going to believe your image and the message you’re putting out.

I’ve also learned to self-analyse a lot, in order to be the person I want to be.

Honestly, just carry your own weight and choose to be with people you can trust to create a positive, or at least a conducive environment around you. It’s essential to being the best person you can be.

Smells like team spirit

LOH KHEEN HO got into cheerleading by chance, and decided to make it his career after two semesters doing a foundation programme in a local college.

Initially, his parents were not pleased, but they eventually came around when it was apparent that Loh was not ‘going through a phase’.

The 29-year-old co-founded professional cheerleading company Cheer Aces in 2010 (with partner Heng Li Yen) and currently serves as director of the company.

He devotes much of his time coaching cheerleading teams in local schools, as well as overseeing the more professional team Cheer Aces all Stars.

Loh obviously choose a very different career path but he is having a good time doing what he does.

Cheer Aces has won several national and international awards over the years.

This includes at the Varsity Korea 2012 All-Girl Group Stunt (level 6) where they emerged as champions; and local cheerleading Charm Cheerleading Championships, where they regularly won many awards.

We caught up with Loh during a recent training session at SMK Bandar Utama 4.

How did you get into cheerleading?

It all started when I was in Form Three. I was chasing this girl, and she was in the cheerleading team. So I became a member.

We eventually became friends but cheerleading became a sport that I really got interested in. Before that I was a basketball player, and I was the captain of the school team when I was in Form One and Form Two. When I got into cheerleading I stopped all other sports.

Cheerleading is unique because it combines elements of sports and different skills rolled into one.

Where did you start teaching cheerleading?

I started by teaching a house cheer team at Seri KDU. That house team (yellow house) never won the school games before. That year they became the champions.

I taught at schools only until I was about 22 or 23. After that I formed a company that provides coaching services, camps and music.

After that, I formed my own team Cheer Aces All Stars which comprised students who graduated high school and joined us.

We take part in national level, as well as international level competitions.

How many people are there in Cheer Aces All Stars now?

We used to have more than 70 people. Malaysia actually has a cheerleading governing body called CHARM. They have rules and regulations about who can and cannot take part. So our team has shrunk to about 30 people.

Are all the members of Cheer Aces All Stars full-time cheerleaders?

Well some of them are and the others who hold full-time jobs train with us at night after working hours.

How many schools do you coach?

We have 11 schools and 15 teams. (Most of the schools are in Klang Valley but he also coaches schools in Melaka and Ipoh.)

What qualities must a cheerleader have?

For cheerleading you must have endurance, determination and a strong mindset.

You must be very determined to catch a flier (the person who is tossed into the air), hit the stunt, and also trust your teammates.

What do you think of the reality shows that revolve around cheerleading?

I feel that drama is scripted. In reality we don’t have these problems, because we educate the team members not to bring their personal issues here and to work as a team.

What are your future plans?

Expand the cheerleading scene to make it bigger. It will definitely catch on.

Handmade polaroids

RELYING only on watercolour and an empty polaroid card, Beatrice Eugenie Ho employed her art skills to capture scenic moments of places that she travelled to, most recently Japan.

Born and bred in Kuala Lumpur, she takes capturing moments to a whole new level, creating it on the spot and one piece at a time. As a graduate in graphic design, her pathway wasn’t always a straight line.

Prior to this, Ho actually studied A-Levels and then pursued a degree in Mass Communication. Reaching a turning point in her life, she put that to a halt and started over where she finally had the courage to pursue her dream of becoming a graphic designer.

How did this start?

My 2017 goal was actually to live out alone but I couldn’t do it because my parents were worried about my safety. So instead of moving out, I decided to put my savings towards travelling and that journey was what inspired this Japan polaroid series. I chose Japan first because it’s a safe and informative country.

Throughout that holiday, I’ve been to several cities and captured moments of places I wouldn’t want to forget by making my own polaroids.

Have you always had a passion for art and design?

I have always liked art and my parents influenced my creative flair. But I had a lot of fears and doubts and it took me a while to decide on pursuing graphic design. Deep down, I knew I was going to regret it later in life if I didn’t pursue my dream.

How long does one creation usually take?

Every scenery varies actually. It all depends if I decide to scrap what I created and start over again if I’m unhappy with it. As an artist and graphic designer, I’m always tempted to improve it. More often than not, I need to remind myself to get the job done and move on.

What makes a scenery polaroid worthy for you to capture it?

Firstly, what I look for is if that scenery has a place for me to sit on to be able to capture the moment comfortably. Secondly, polaroid worthy sceneries are subjects that I rarely see in my daily life like special flowers or majestic waterfalls.

How do you incorporate photoshop and illustrator into your work?

Photoshop and illustrator are mainly used to tweak some details that can’t be done by hand. Incorporating digital elements is my favourite. Like the little logo, I designed for the polaroid series to the fonts used to name the places I’ve been. A lot of thought and consideration are put into every polaroid created to give it an extra imaginative feel.

Why choose polaroids?

It’s a sentiment for film cameras. I have a few film cameras and I’m having fun with it. I collect postcards as well. People these days still appreciate postcards even though we can send an email easily. That made me combine the idea of a polaroid and a postcard into one. A lot of my designs can be found and bought online.

Do you find it artistically challenging sometimes? How many creations have you destroyed?

I’d say it’s definitely challenging at times and many artists would agree. When it comes to art, sometimes we can be so critical of ourselves and always get tempted to change our designs. I’ve lost track of how many creations I’ve destroyed but it’s also a chance for me to keep on improving my artistic side and be better.

Are you doing this full time?

Yes, I am and I’m currently in the works of developing other projects as well, exploring different child-like or fantasy themes.

Where have you travelled to and where will you be visiting next?

So far, I’ve only been on a solo trip to Japan and for my next stop I’ll be in Taiwan where I’ll be ringing in the New Year and doing another polaroid series there.

Handmade polaroids

RELYING only on watercolour and an empty polaroid card, Beatrice Eugenie Ho employed her art skills to capture scenic moments of places that she travelled to, most recently Japan.

Born and bred in Kuala Lumpur, she takes capturing moments to a whole new level, creating it on the spot and one piece at a time. As a graduate in graphic design, her pathway wasn’t always a straight line.

Prior to this, Ho actually studied A-Levels and then pursued a degree in Mass Communication. Reaching a turning point in her life, she put that to a halt and started over where she finally had the courage to pursue her dream of becoming a graphic designer.

How did this start?

My 2017 goal was actually to live out alone but I couldn’t do it because my parents were worried about my safety. So instead of moving out, I decided to put my savings towards travelling and that journey was what inspired this Japan polaroid series. I chose Japan first because it’s a safe and informative country.

Throughout that holiday, I’ve been to several cities and captured moments of places I wouldn’t want to forget by making my own polaroids.

Have you always had a passion for art and design?

I have always liked art and my parents influenced my creative flair. But I had a lot of fears and doubts and it took me a while to decide on pursuing graphic design. Deep down, I knew I was going to regret it later in life if I didn’t pursue my dream.

How long does one creation usually take?

Every scenery varies actually. It all depends if I decide to scrap what I created and start over again if I’m unhappy with it. As an artist and graphic designer, I’m always tempted to improve it. More often than not, I need to remind myself to get the job done and move on.

What makes a scenery polaroid worthy for you to capture it?

Firstly, what I look for is if that scenery has a place for me to sit on to be able to capture the moment comfortably. Secondly, polaroid worthy sceneries are subjects that I rarely see in my daily life like special flowers or majestic waterfalls.

How do you incorporate photoshop and illustrator into your work?

Photoshop and illustrator are mainly used to tweak some details that can’t be done by hand. Incorporating digital elements is my favourite. Like the little logo, I designed for the polaroid series to the fonts used to name the places I’ve been. A lot of thought and consideration are put into every polaroid created to give it an extra imaginative feel.

Why choose polaroids?

It’s a sentiment for film cameras. I have a few film cameras and I’m having fun with it. I collect postcards as well. People these days still appreciate postcards even though we can send an email easily. That made me combine the idea of a polaroid and a postcard into one. A lot of my designs can be found and bought online.

Do you find it artistically challenging sometimes? How many creations have you destroyed?

I’d say it’s definitely challenging at times and many artists would agree. When it comes to art, sometimes we can be so critical of ourselves and always get tempted to change our designs. I’ve lost track of how many creations I’ve destroyed but it’s also a chance for me to keep on improving my artistic side and be better.

Are you doing this full time?

Yes, I am and I’m currently in the works of developing other projects as well, exploring different child-like or fantasy themes.

Where have you travelled to and where will you be visiting next?

So far, I’ve only been on a solo trip to Japan and for my next stop I’ll be in Taiwan where I’ll be ringing in the New Year and doing another polaroid series there.

In the spotlight

WITH zero experience and knowledge in performing arts, Mia Sabrina Mahadir has certainly made a name for herself in this tough industry today.

Having moved from Ipoh to Kuala Lumpur when she was a kid, acting was definitely not in the cards for her when she was growing up. After completing her Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communication, she did a string of odd jobs related to her field before she realised she wanted to chase after her dream of being an actress.

What made you pursue acting?

During my A-levels, I was going through a break-up and at the time my friend advised me to distract myself by going for theatre auditions since I’ve always been fascinated with films and stage performances but never had the guts to do so. But attending those workshops really helped take my mind off negative things around me and I’ve never regretted it since.

What does it feel like knowing you acted in Taiping Adagio, a film showcased at the Cannes Film Festival?

It was my first feature film and even though I had a small role in it, it still felt good knowing that I was part of a group of people representing the industry in Malaysia to well-known film producers and critics at one of the most prestigious film events abroad. It has certainly put Malaysia on the map at the Cannes Film Festival.

How do you prepare yourself for an audition?

Every audition means different roles. With that being said, doing research beforehand is a must. Prepare and equip yourself with everything there is to know so you won’t be caught off-guard. Other than that, there’s actually nothing else to do besides relaxing and being your genuine self.

Eating and resting well is also important because television or film roles require you to have more energy than usual whereas indie films are more laidback and soft.

How do you get into character for each role?

It helps to understand what your director wants from you. For example, before filming Girl from Sumatra, the director actually gave me a film to watch and told me to observe how the actors portray their roles and to improve myself.

Other times, I was given the opportunity to daydream and fully immerse myself in the character by thinking what would I do and how would I act if I was in that same situation.

What do you think makes you stand out from your fellow peers?

Firstly, I think it’s an added advantage that I speak three languages as it has really got me a lot of roles in different projects. Besides that, I’ve also been told that I have a specific look that many are looking for in an actress. I realised that I’m also easy to work with and the key is to be humble.

Was there a time during filming that you felt really uncomfortable?

That actually happened once when I was filming with a partner that I have no chemistry with but I had to fake it to get the job done and stay professional as an actress. Other than that, theatre actually brought out another side of me, making me comfortable in my own skin. Ever since then, I’ve become fearless to pretty much any scenario that was thrown my way.

What advice would you give other aspiring actors?

Go to acting classes or workshops and don’t just think about getting that instant fame without putting any effort or hard work into it. Acting isn’t as easy as it seems. Not everyone is born a star.

You acted in Samudera that won the Malaysian International Film Festival Shortfilm Competition. What role did you play?

In Samudera, I played the lead role as a maid named ‘Siti’ who accidentally drowned her employer’s baby and had to decide whether to stay and face the consequences or to run away with her daughter. There wasn’t much pressure I’d say as filming was easy-going for me.

However, during the last day of filming my focus was disturbed and all I could think about was going home to sleep as I was exhausted from travelling to three different film locations.

Would you be writing or directing a movie or short film in the near future?

I’ve had some experience in writing and directing theatre but nothing with films yet. When the time comes, it would be great to be able to dive into that and develop something of my own.