We are happy to present Sophia Shaan, the star of Spinnup Introducing this month!
The pop, soul and R&B singer-songwriter and producer from Malaysia recently released her track “Without Your Love” with Spinnup, in collaboration with Malaysian producers/musicians Kyeson and Nicole Mah.
The track won the Songwriting Challenge at From The Live Decks, a 3 days 2 nights staycation bootcamp for the music community in Malaysia which Spinnup was involved in. The participants only had 24 hours to complete a song for this challenge and Sophia and her team came through as the winners. No surprises there considering how much of a banger it is!
Besides killing it as a singer-songwriter and producer, Sophia has had various experiences in music from mastering, mixing, sound designer, music composition and more, making her super all-rounded in her musical abilities. She also recently graduated from Sunway University with a B.A. in Contemporary Music and Audio Technology. Read on to find out all about her experience in music thus far!
Hi Sophia! Tell us a bit about yourself and what got you interested in pursuing music.
Hey, I am Sophia Shaan, born and raised in Penang but now I’m based in Selangor. Ever since I was young, I love to sing and listen to all types of music genres from Operatic Pop to Rock music. Musicals were also a huge influence in my life from classics like the 1965 film “The Sound of Music” and the 1953 film “Calamity Jane”.
When I was 10, I started to dabble in music production, making beats and arranging loops to make a song. I also picked up a few musical instruments along the way like the piano, violin and the guitar. I have never fully written a song with lyrics until I entered University and the rest is history.
Tell us a little bit about your various musical endeavors and projects.
I used to perform at my local mall and at the Dewan Sri Pinang in Penang as a young violinist. In the past few years, I was the frontman for my university class band “Last Hour” and we performed at DrumAsia. I also had the privilege to perform with drummer Mr. Lewis Pragasam and pianist/singer Mr. David Gomes at a Jazz Workshop.
Some of my projects include Jiwa Malaysia, my first original Malay song and One Sweet Lover released early last year, with over 18k plays and it managed to be on all of ASEAN’s Spotify’s New Music Friday playlists.
Which artists inspire you and how have they influenced your music and sound?
Sam Smith, Adele, Nat King Cole and James Arthur are some of the artists that inspire me. They influence how I write and the simplicity of captivating people with just their voices.
When I was a kid, I used to imitate how Nat King Cole sings as I was in awe with the richness of his voice. I guess that’s why I love to sing and write songs in a lower key. I also try to add strings into my productions whenever I can as it brings out more emotions to the song.
What’s your latest single, “Without Your Love” about?
“Without Your Love” is about losing yourself in a relationship and then going through a breakup to find yourself again, but you still feel the sense of loss and longing for that person. This song is one of my favorite collaborative works that I have done because it is something new for me as it is skewed more towards the Pop / EDM genre.
You were a participant at From The Live Decks where you met a bunch of talented Malaysian artists and producers. That’s also where you first made “Without Your Love” with your teammates Kyeson and Nicole which you guys won for the Songwriting Challenge. What was that experience like for you guys, having to pull off making a song within a day?
I had voice notes of the lyrics and the melody in my phone so the foundation was there, all we needed was to nail the production and lots of sound editing. We stayed up till 4/5am to finish it, the experience was super fun but we were sleepy the next day.
From left: Kyeson, Sophia, Nicole. Photo credit: Sophia Shaan
Was that the first time that you guys met or were you already friends/collaborators prior to that?
We are actually classmates and close friends, we met at our university. It helped a lot because we’ve worked together on a few past projects so we knew each other’s strengths and what we could bring to the table.
As an artist, producer and songwriter, what are some challenges that you face?
Overcoming writer’s block and making fast decisions during music production – I’m a perfectionist so I love to work on the small details until it’s perfect.
What are some lessons learned?
- If you have stage frights sometimes like me, just remember to focus on your breathing and have fun on stage.
- When it comes to songwriting, don’t stress yourself out by using bombastic words just to sound deep. Just be yourself, let the lyrics flow and write even if the words are simple, that’s okay!
- Always remember to record your ideas on your phone, you’ll never know that one day it will become your next big hit, even if you think it’s bad, keep it.
What advice do you have for people who want to get started with making music?
You do not need fancy equipment or analog gears to start making music, just start with what you have even if it’s just an app on your phone.
You’ve also done collaborations with artists like Joe Flizzow and Kyeson. What is that experience like for you when making music for yourself, versus making music with and for others?
I would say it’s a little different. When I am working for another artist it’s important that you meet their deadline and work fast, as opposed to working alone where you get to work at your own pace. The fun part about working with another artist is that you get to bounce ideas off of one another and that’s super fun.
What do you hope for people to feel and take away from your music?
Most of my songs are about heartbreaks and love so I hope people could feel relatable when they listen to my songs and feel inclusive as I try not to include any pronouns in my lyrics. I hope they can take away a sense of relief and to also move on from past hurts.
What’s next for you?
I hope to collaborate with more producers, songwriters and singers out there. I also have new songs coming out at the end of this year, maybe an EP and a few songs that are in the works so I’m really excited for that!