Malaysia’s own Charmaine Koh just dropped “Bonfire”, a track that shows the world the entirety of human emotions bound by the artist’s melodic, beautiful vocals. The song is off her upcoming EP that we cannot wait to hear! Having won the 2016 ‘Champion of the World’ in two categories at a young age, Charmaine later released her very first original piece called “Ordinary Girl” followed by “Find Myself” and a few more singles that have garnered much attention. We had the opportunity to interview the artist about her latest release and more.
Congrats on releasing “Bonfire”! What a stunning track! Tell us more about its creation and how it all came together.
Thank you! I wanted the EP to have a mellower track, contrasting against more upbeat tracks like Montage – the kind of track where you’re just able to sit, really listen to what’s going on and be in your feels, all cozied up. In its meaning, it’s about 2 people sticking by each other through changes in their individual lives: that can be putting consistent effort despite being in a long-distance relationship etc. But, the Bonfire you hear today isn’t the original idea my producers and I came up with. Originally, it sounded more Electro-pop which wasn’t the sound I was going for and the direction I am heading towards as an artist. So we rearranged it, really sat with the lyrics, created the track around this vision. It was quite a process, we literally came up with the chorus in 15 minutes. Coming up with it in those 15mins felt so therapeutic and felt like I did justice to the vision I had in mind.
“Bonfire” seems to be a teaser for your upcoming album, is that right? What can you tell us about the album and its personal significance to you?
‘Sunflowers turn towards the East at night waiting for the Sun to rise again’; metaphorically, this is what the EP is about – realising, being terrified of, confronting change. Be it a change of heart when it comes to love or a transition into a different stage in your life or even not wanting to let go of things, it fits under the same umbrella: change. It also expresses how we are the only ones that control how we react to those changes, and that in turn will define who we are. Whether we choose to embrace things or reject them, that is up for us to decide. And whether we choose to wait for light amid the darkness, that is up to us as well.
Putting Bonfire in this context, the song is about loving your partner through the different changes you go through in life. And for me personally, this EP is reflective of where I am in my life as I just got out of high school and transitioning into a different stage of my life. But, it also is indicative of my journey as an artist as I am growing, and have the intention to grow even more so as an artist now that I get to pursue my career 100%.
How did you discover your talent? Is there an interesting story about how you began singing professionally?
Like most of us, it began as a curiosity! Disney, Camp Rock in particular, drew me towards singing. With all the dancing and singing, I was completely drawn towards the art of performing in general. So, my parents gifted me one of those plastic microphones so I could do mini live performances of different Disney numbers, disturbing my neighbours every night. From there, it became a hobby until I started doing vocal competitions. But the turning point of it all was when I entered the World Championships of Performing Arts where I had the opportunity to experience what the world was doing with music. And when I was there, I had never felt so home that it got me imagining doing this as a career which led me to where I am today.
Do you also compose music and lyrics aside from singing?
Previously, no. But now, yes I do. Even more so these days.
Who supports you most in your musical journey?
I would say my family, which I am so very grateful and appreciative for. To be able to have people around you that support what you believe in is honestly one of the greatest gifts of life. They’re my motivation to work hard at what I do.
What’s the best part of being a pop artist, and a successful one at that?
Well, I would say I am still very much a rising, growing artist. And I intend to be one who can consistently create and better my craft with each release! But, I think the best part of it is being able to wake up and do what I love as a career. Part of it is being connected with what you’re feeling in each moment of every day and being able to create music based off it is an invaluable experience. Though I have to say, it ain’t all rainbows and sunshine: there have been so many challenges on this journey that it can be frustrating and exhausting to continue walking this path but I think that it’s worth it in the end. It better be!
A message to your fans?
The most important thing I’d like to say is thank you. Thank you for listening, wherever you are. I hoped that it impacted you in some way and added value to your life no matter how little. I am here, expressing my experiences and knowing that some of you are going through the same thing is comforting for me as well. The whole EP will be dropping in July 2022 so I hope that you’d be able to show more love towards it when it drops. I promise you it’d be a wholesome ride. I also do hope you’ll be able to continue supporting me on my journey. I wish you a great day/night wherever you are in the world right now. See ya then 😉