Backstage with...Bihzhu

Updated: 26 Nov 2012

Bihzhu's cheeky grin and caramel-coated voice is becoming more and more a vital part of our local jazz scene's landscape. Notable for her track, 'The Heart Way', this Penang jazz darling is known for her charismatic stage presence in No Black Tie, Penang Island Jazz Festival and recently, Time Out Live. Here, she shares with Cheng Sim her musical inspiration and the best part about performing in her hometown.

How would you describe your music?
I like to call it ‘heart music’ because it’s from the heart. I know, I can hear people groaning from how cliché I am but it’s the honest truth.

Your debut EP, ‘Nightingale Tales’ dabbled with various music genres. Do you have a favourite genre?
I am partial to jazz but as you discovered with ‘Nightingale Tales’, it’s a bit of a mish-mash, and I love it that way, because I really do love all kinds of music. I would be doing myself a disservice if I only picked one instead of indulging myself freely.

As a songwriter, where do you get your inspiration from?

My experiences. I’m the kind of writer who writes best about what she knows. So unfortunately, you can read the story of my life through my songs. No secrets!

As one of the headliners for this year’s In-Between Arts Festival in Penang, what’s the best part about performing in your hometown?
I think the best part is it feels like I’m contributing something to the place, which had an enormous influence on me which helped shape who I am today. Growing up in Penang was nothing short of paradise and I know most - if not all - Penangites will agree with me. And every time I come home and get to sing, it feels like I’m giving back in some way.

What is your most memorable gig so far? And why was it memorable?
This is a tricky one because there are so many that are memorable for many different reasons. It’s like asking me which is my favourite song! Can I be politically correct and say, I think the best one is yet to come?

Do you have any pre-gig rituals?
I try to drink a spoonful of wild honey before I hit the stage. My most important pre-gig ritual would be to declare myself a clear channel for the sound, so I can be an instrument of love when I’m singing. I also chant this word HU (pronounced hue) as it really helps me become more centered and still, so the music that comes through will be as pure as possible.

If you were caught in-between two of your favourite artists, who would they be?
Caetano Veloso and Fat Freddy’s Drop. Even though the former is a Brazilian artiste and the latter a New Zealand dub band, I think I love them both because their music resonates with a deeper part of my being and I am striving to be able to communicate myself like them, through music

What can your fans expect from your performance in the In-Between finale show?
They can expect to have a fabulous time as they will have to sing-a-long to some of the songs, and there’s nothing quite as fun and cozy as a sing-a-long is there?

Lastly, what’s your favourite thing about Penang?
It’s home. What more can I say?

Bihzhu will be one of the headliners for the In-Between Arts Festival finale show. For more info on this festival, see listing. You can also follow Bihzhu's latest updates on Facebook.

Tags: Features