DIANA LIU, prodigy of 8TV Project Superstar 2007, has come out with her sophomore and jazzy album – Sunny Days.
The 30-year-old Kuching singing talent is thrilled with this (jazz-genre) album – her second – comprising seven English and two Chinese songs and released in 2012.
“It’s not easy to be an accomplished musician and I hope my second album will give my career as a jazz-singer and musician a timely boost,” Diana told thesundaypost at her home during the Chinese New Year celebration.
She said making a foray into the music industry and cutting an album, especially for a local Chinese singer, were already a big challenge – and having to “treble” as a jazz singer made it even tougher.
Diana who finished first runner-up in the female category of the reality show some years ago, hoped her fans would continue to follow her career.
“The reality show I entered back then encouraged the participants to sing songs that suited the show. Everyone has his or her own talents.The show was a useful platform to learn about the music industry.”
Diana said she could sing in any style but is more inclined towards jazz, adding that she was also trained in music, majoring in Voice, from the Australian Institute of Music in Sydney, Australia.
She plans to specialise in jazz music and songs, hoping her jazzy style of singing would gel with the fans.
She recorded her first album (in Mandarin) – The Precious Diana Liu – in 2009, comprising 10 of her own compositions.
The album, produced by Malaysian musician Lewis Pragasam and co-produced by herself, was distributed by Warner Music Malaysia in March, 2010.
Diana said she was lucky to meet Pragasam, a well-known drummer on the jazz scene, and his experience in big time local and international gigs had helped her music career.
“He was a great help, especially in producing my first album.”
Diana also performed with a crack team of sessionists, led by Pragasam and comprising a bassist from Indonesia, Harry Toledo, keyboardist Wendy Angerani, also from Indonesia, and Australian Chris Wright, among others across Asia.
In August 2010, she collaborated with a group of talented Indonesian musicians – Maria Da Silva, Nana Lee, Naomi Risamasu, Menu Hentia Santi and Brinets – under Pijar Entertainment Indonesia to produce a compilation album titled Women in Love.
The group was led by famous Indonesian producer-arranger Idang Rasjidi and the album, showcasing the talents of young and up-coming female jazz artistes, was released in Sept that same year.
Diana said working on her first album gave her a valuable learning experience.
“No big labels were involved but Lewis was there to help promote and get the album into the market.
“I didn’t want to involve a big name (well-known recording label) as I liked to try on my own – that was why the album took almost three years to be released.”
But doing it without the big label gave her a real sense of accomplishment and getting her songs into the local market was a dream come true for her.
Her philosophy is to treat music as her life, saying “it’s what keeps me going.”
“I interpret things and give them meaning through my songs and lyrics. I hope they give people positive vibes, rejuvenate their spirits and energise them,” she said.
Diana who said people these days were often very busy leading a stressful existence and mostly forgetting about their own life, believed music is a key to bringing people together and giving them back “that forgetten happiness” to make them human again.
“For me people can be spiritually fulfilled and it can be through music.”
Although Diana sees music as her career, whether she achieves stardom or not does not matter so long as she can have her own music close to her heart.
Support from her parents and siblings has given her the impetus and inspiration to work even harder in her music career, especially in what she does best – as an entertainer.
Despite her busy schedules, she is on track for a third album and looking forward to producing it together with some great musicians and professional colleagues.
The TV8 reality show maybe a thing of the past but this talented Sarawakian singer has big dreams and her hard work is finally paying off.
Spreading her wings
Diana then spread her wings abroad, spending a significant part of 2011, establishing her career in Beijing, performing on the local music circuit as well as at various corporate functions and jazz festivals.
After her demanding first album, she had a slightly different experience when releasing her second album – Sunny Days – under Warner Music Malaysia.
The self-produced album features an array of her original compositions, including a strong suit of four English tracks, further showcasing her musical prowess and cementing her status as an accomplished musician.
The very jazzy second album also took about two years to com-plete before hitting the market in June last year.
“Not only I have a mentor in Lewis, I also did many things with the album – not only the lyrics but also coordinating with all my music friends to ensure everything was working out well. We had to make it right the first time due to financial constraint,” she recalled.
She pointed out that making jazz music was not easy as there was no room for error in the rhythm department, saying it could not be changed or refined technically in parts later because the whole piece had to be replayed.
“It’s expensive and time-consuming to do a retake.”
She said once the recording was done in Singapopre, she had to send it to the US for proper “music mixing” and “tones refining” to give the final product the best quality and balance – neither too sharp nor too murky.
Diana who counts Canadian singer and song writer Joni Mitchell as one of her favourite jazz artists, admitted it was not easy for a Sarawakian singer to find a niche on the international music stage and as a trained musician and singer, she said she got a lot of satisfaction from successfully releasing her own albums.
“It’s what every musician and singer loves to achieve,” she enthused.
Diana said she didn’t mind what may have been said about her songs and her career as all she wanted was to express herself through her songs and music.