“27 in a 7-Eleven, I’m just thinking about what I could’ve done more in life; Now I’m at the freezer section, and I don’t remember what I came here for. Sounds right.”
The song caught my ears almost immediately – in fact, the song is still playing in my head now at the time of writing. Perhaps it’s the ear-grabbing beats or the immensely relatable lyrics that hit me right in the feels since I’m in my late 20s as well, but hugely also because the singer is a homegrown singer-songwriter who has multiple amazing numbers under her belt.
SHN, or [shén – rhymes with ten] – as seen written under her bio on her social media – is indeed a great storyteller who aces in rhymes, beats and of course, hearts with her endearing lyrics and her own genre of pop music.
Congratulations on your latest release As Long as You’re There. I especially like how you rhyme the lines with the names of cities, what’s the idea behind this?
Thank you! When I wrote As Long as You’re There, it was to celebrate relationships. It’s about ﬁnding a home and a ‘holiday’ in another person, or even yourself – I think it’s a beautiful and rare thing to ﬁnd an escape, as well as a sense of belonging and security with another person. And I think a bond like that should be celebrated and cherished.
I know you are also collecting snippets of stories – Visualiser for the As Long as You’re There, can you brieﬂy explain this and tell us what’s the idea behind this initiative?
Since the song is about celebrating relationships, I imagined how beautiful it would be if it became a soundtrack to special moments in people’s lives when I wrote the song. So, I invited my friends and fans to submit their special moments with their special someone and turn into a visualiser for the song. It’s also a beautiful way for me to connect with my listeners. I’m so grateful they want to be a part of it!
Is making music and becoming a singer-songwriter always been a dream of yours?
100% yes. I told my parents this when I was a little girl, and they shrugged it oﬀ. You know, like how your 5-year-old daughter tells you they want to be a princess when they grow up, you would think they’d grow out of it. But I never grew out of wanting to be a singer-songwriter.
Making and producing music is not easy in Malaysia, the demand is still not as high, what’s the motivation that keeps you going?
I love telling stories with my music. And I most deﬁnitely am encouraged when my listeners tell me that they resonate with my songs, or that a certain lyric of mine touched them deeply. It reminds me that I have something good to oﬀer, whether big or small. Plus, music’s just fun.
You mentioned storytelling is your motivation. Where do you usually draw your inspiration from?
Inspiration could come from anywhere for me. Most of the time, they come like puzzle pieces. I’m constantly jotting down lyric ideas and recording voice notes – and they might not be complete songs at ﬁrst, but most of the time, they come in very useful when I actually do sit down by the piano to write. I think being sensitive to inspiration is a skill to be developed.
My first song of yours is 27 In 7-eleven; got me hooked with just the first line. What was the inspiration/ backstory of the lyrics?
Thank you! I’m so glad you could relate to 27 In 7-eleven. I think ‘existential crises’ happens regardless of age, but I’ve experienced it the most going into my late 20’s. With Covid-19 and the worldwide lockdown, I felt like I lost some very signiﬁcant years in my 20’s. There’s this overwhelming pressure to be successful as a female artist while you’re young or you’ll be expired by the time you turn 30. I was struggling with this thought a lot – and when the idea came to me when I was having breakfast one day, I just knew what I needed to write this. I especially love the idea of how forgetting what you were supposed to get at a convenience store spiralled into ‘oh wow, I’m getting old’ to ‘oh no, what am I doing with my life?’
What was your reaction to BBC Radio 1’s Future Pop featuring 27 In 7-eleven. Any plans on expanding beyond the local music scene?
Honestly, I was so afraid to be happy. It felt surreal when they reached out. I was looking for signs, to question the legitimacy of this news – and I was feverishly aware that they had the right to pull out at any given moment. So, I only allowed myself to let that sink in after they confirmed everything. The goal is most deﬁnitely to expand beyond the local scene, still in the works.
How would you describe your music? Any other genre you would like to wet your feet in the future?
Singer-songwriter pop – inﬂuenced by the likes of Taylor Swift, Gracie Abrams, Lizzy McAlpine, Sasha Alex Sloan, Maisie Peters and more. I’ve spent a massive portion of my career trying to mould myself into diﬀerent genres – R&B, Mandarin Ballads, Electronic, etc. – I think I’m most comfortable here and I will stay here for as long as it feels authentic.
I see you did a ‘live performance’ trilogy video, reminds me of the term ‘Bedroom Musician’ – a phenomenon in the industry that has been around since Garage Band and Soundcloud era. What is your thought on the growth of this genre in a relatively mainstream way?
Thank you for catching the trilogy! In terms of the growth of this genre, I love to see it. Prior to this, as good as they were, music on the radio always felt so polished and calculated.
Since the emergence of Spotify, Apple Music and other digital streaming platforms, releasing music became so much more accessible. And I think when you write and produce and record and live and sleep and cry and exist all in one place – the bedroom, there is a kind of rawness in the music, it removes the packaged, polished knack.
You do mention feeling ‘expired by 30 as a female musician’ previously. Do you feel like your gender affects your path as a musician – either in a positive or negative way?
Yes, I do, in both positive and negative ways. Being a woman in general comes with its own unfair expectations from society but being a woman in the music/entertainment industry is all that magniﬁed. I spoke earlier about the age problem – how you practically ‘expire at 30’. It’s an issue, I think is more relevant to women than to men in this industry.
At the same time, I acknowledge and am incredibly grateful for the initiative movers of the industry like Spotify, are taking. They see that only 1 in 5 artists are women, and they’re taking action to create space and opportunities, to spotlight women with their EQUAL program. Because I am a female artist, I’ve been aﬀorded these opportunities – and am eternally grateful.
Lastly, any new release or plan we can look forward to?
The plan – or challenge – is to release a new song every month in 2023! We’re on track so far (laughs) I’m nervously looking forward to playing more shows and meeting more people.