FROYA
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FROYA

Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia | Established. Jan 01, 2011 | SELF

Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia | SELF
Established on Jan, 2011
Solo Pop Indie

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"Backstage with... Froya!"

The story of KL-based and Kota Kinabalu-bred Michelle Lee, or Froya as she is known to her growing number of fans, and her cute handmade rabbit mascot dates back to the singer-songwriter’s efforts to complete a music video for her popular folk-pop anthem ‘Fries in Cream’. ‘I just didn’t want to appear in the video,’ laughs the sometime jingle-writer, ‘I don’t act!’ While the video featuring the unnamed rabbit remains incomplete, Froya continues to make waves in the local music scene with her eclectic brand of music and sweet vocals.

How did the name ‘Froya’ come about?
I initially thought of adopting ‘Fuchsia’ as a name because I love flowers, but it was already taken. I then came across a book about mushroom names and found a species with five long Latin words, so I arranged the first alphabet of each word and the best result was ‘Froya’. It doesn’t really mean anything, but the Norse goddess of love and beauty takes after that name.

What’s the difference between jingle-writing and songwriting?
With jingle-writing, you’re writing for the clients and not yourself. You can produce something straight from the heart, but it may get turned down because the clients already have a vision in mind. You have to work under a tight deadline as well, so I learned to just go along with what they want. As for song-writing, you can be passionate and keep it personal. You have freedom to express your art.

Has writing jingles helped you in any way as a songwriter?
I learned to think about what the wider audience really likes, which is a benefit. Now, I also think a lot about the hook and catchiness when writing a song.

Froya

You’ve covered a wide range of music in recent times, ranging from folk to electronic. Which genre are you most comfortable with?
I really like folk, though I used to think I was more into rock music. I used to be the lead singer in a rock band in 2008, but I soon realised my voice was not catered to that genre. Even though I did not enjoy it as much, it was still a very good experience. I adore quiet chirpy folk music, though I have a secret love for electronic as well. I want to keep exploring different genres in order to not stagnate, and I’ll never say that I won’t go back to rock, but I’ve learned to always compose songs that are comfortable for my vocal range.

Any other styles of music you’d like to explore in the future?
I’d like to go into full-on electronic or electro-acoustic someday.

Who are your musical influences?
Some of the musicians I am listening to at the moment include Miike Snow, Gotye, Lykke Li, Kimbra, Boy & Bear, Feist, Sia in her early days and Emilíana Torrini. I’m also a big fan of Bon Iver; he really proves that as a musician, sadness can be an inspiration during song-writing. At your most vulnerable, you feel more, and as you suffer more, you have a better chance to be happy again. My lyrics are usually about bitter topics but I layer the songs with uplifting melodies, so others won’t know that I’m sad.

What are you working on at the moment?
My EP is done, pending touch-ups, further mixing, remastering and the album artwork, so I am hoping for an October release. My full album, on the other hand, is in the works; I’ve composed six songs while the other five are works in progress. My target is to release it by March next year.

‘Fries in Cream’ recently received airplay on Capital FM. What’s it like hearing your song on the radio?
I feel really happy and proud. ‘Fries in Cream’ was actually completed three years ago, so there was definitely a sense of accomplishment and joy there. The song’s a collaboration with an Indonesian composer, whom I met online. He sent me this great four-bar loop; I spent that very night writing the lyrics and melodies and recording my voice. The finished article you hear on the radio was my first recording that night, and it was later digitally mastered at Abbey Road.

What took you so long to release that song then?
I initially wanted to release an EP or LP and not churn out single after single, so the process just kept dragging on and on. In the past few years, I kept myself busy doing film scores and animation as well as dealing with some personal stuff. I just wanted to make sure everything is perfect. Now I know there is no longer time to waste. Wong Boon Ken

For more on Froya visit www.facebook.com/Froya.music. - Time Out KL


"In The Mood For Music"

EVERY piece of art speaks for its creator. When Michelle Lee (better known as Froya, her stage name) said that she could sometimes go a day speaking just 10 words, it wasn't all that surprising; she empties and fills her mind and soul in the studio every day doing what she does best – compose music.

A folk, electronic, and pop independent musician with an EP and numerous collaborations under her belt, Lee has always been very much exposed to the artistic realm; she grew up with both her parents as graphic designers. Despite hoping that their daughter would follow in their footsteps, her parents became beacons of inspiration for the singer-songwriter to leave her home in Kota Kinabalu for Kuala Lumpur to pursue music when she was 19.

Her father had just one condition: "Do it professionally."

The soft-spoken musician took his words to practice and quickly secured a full-time job as a composer upon finishing her music degree at International College of Music.

Paying the bills
At Maveriq Studio where she has been working for the past six years, Lee is one of the composers in charge of churning out melodies and lyrics, arranging and putting together recordings and instruments for television commercials.

Her job as a composer for commercials also meant being vastly exposed to many different genres of music besides coping with requests and direction from clients.

As an artiste faithful to her music and a dutiful composer for the company, Lee knows when to stand firm or give in.

"I had trouble finding that balance but these days, I learn to take a step back, be in [clients'] shoes and look at my music," said the talented musician who has "learnt to respect other people's perspective of music".

When it comes to Froya, she offers no compromise because Froya is a platform for her to do what she wants and that's how she draws the line. As much as Lee would like to further extend the line in favour of her music and take Froya music to greater heights, reality checks in with bills so for now, "Froya is a side project" while she juggles her day jobs and gigs.

Her staunch professionalism is not the only thing that's keeping her on top of her game. The talented composer had even bagged a BMW Shorties award last year for Best Sound Design for her music composition in local director Dick Chua's short film, Murdered. The collaboration was so successful that Lee was again enlisted to compose the theme song for Chua's latest short film, Pizza, which is set to be released this month.

The name game
Lee began performing a little more than five years ago with an alternative rock band called Mili'z after a solo stint as Michelle Lee. She had also formed an electronic pop band with her current guitarist and called themselves M. However, the project was fleeting and Lee found herself at another crossroad.

"A fresh start," she thought and that meant a new name as well.

"At first I wanted to take on a name of a flower but they were all taken," recalled Lee sombrely who, after much frustration, resorted to looking up a book on everything mushrooms. The various species of fungi did not strike a note with Lee as much as "Fuschia" did.

So in a whim, Lee took the longest mushroom name she could find and picked out five letters before jumbling them around. When the letters shuffled to "Froya", Lee decided that that was it and as though fate had its hand in the quest, it turned out that Froya (also Freyja) is a goddess of love, beauty and war in Norse mythology.

Froya music
Lee's crystalline and silky voice coupled with the unique and enthralling beats that she creates are what gives her music that distinct Froya sound.

One of the most pivotal events for Lee was releasing her EP a few months ago featuring the catchy and groovy radio favourite "Fries in Cream", a collaboration with Indonesian composer Andhika Triyadi whom she met on an online portal for musicians after he heard her music.

While Triyadi produced and arranged the leading track of her EP, Lee wrote the melody and lyrics for "Fries in Cream". The light and quick strums of the guitar may render the song as larky as it sounds but like Lee, it belies that quirky and dark centre that makes Froya music so intriguing and addictive.

The successful collaboration consequently gave birth to Fiona the rabbit, Froya music's mascot. The conception was incidental; Lee's designer friend hand made the paper rabbit after listening to "Fries in Cream" and the rabbit has been a resident in Froya music and well-loved even amongst fans ever since. Fiona will also be starring in the official music video of the popular single that is currently under works.

The second and third songs from her EP carry a much more melancholic note – "My Love is Free" tells of a first heartbreak based on Lee's experience while "Panic Bird", written last year, is about rediscovering love again.

The EP, which was released in August 2012, is not only Lee's first commercial breakthrough as Froya but like an establishment, it is an introduction to her upcoming debut album she hopes to release before the year ends.

"There are going to be colourful and happy songs as well as some bittersweet dark ones [in the debut album]. I try to keep it really different; there will be a mix and match of a different genre but it's not going to put you off because I'm keeping that Froya sound," said Lee who will write and produce the entire album.

Lee basically writes whatever that strikes her fancy – from heart wrenching lyrics about love and loss to self-reflective pieces on family and self-worth which we will hear in the debut album.

Self-proclaimed to be more of a musician than a lyricist, Lee would only start writing lyrics to a song first if there was something pressing at the moment of inspiration. Otherwise, she prefers to begin working on a track starting with the melody and its flow before writing the lyrics. For her, multi-tasking in songwriting is a deal-breaker because if she works on both the lyrics and arrangements at the same time, it would kill her train of thought and inspiration.

When it comes to performing live in front of thousands of concert goers, Lee has become a natural. Where once she felt inferior and inadequate onstage, she overcame her fears and performed beautifully to thousands at Urbanscapes last year and the annual three-day alternative Singapore Baybeats alternative music festival recently.

She was in fact invited to perform at the Canadian and Ireland Music Festival this year but had to turn the offers down and hope to apply next year because of limited funds.

It isn't about questioning if her music is appealing enough or whether she should smile more these days. For Lee, being Froya is all about sharing and giving her love and joy for music, the same way she would insist on dipping her fries in cream as long as it makes her happy. - The Sun Daily


Discography

Froya - "Fries In cream" single release. - 6th August 2012

Self Titled EP "Froya" release date - June 2013 

Debut Album - "Panic Bird" release date - June/July 2014

Photos

Bio


Froya
- the brainchild of Michelle Lee, has been making its way into the
local indie music scene and slowly gaining recognition since late
December 2011. Her unique style of music encompasses and blends a
variety of genres ranging from folk pop to electronica ; can best be described
as eclectic with a tinge of bittersweet quirky folk and a hint of
indie pop.

Her first single "Fries
in Cream" was released in August 2012 and has garnered airplay
on Women of Substance Radio (a radio station based in Los Angeles,
USA) as well as local radio stations. Having the privilege to share
the stage and collaborate with Malaysia teen idol/singer - Najwa
Latiff, Froya was invited to perform the her single "Fries In
Cream" at Malaysia's biggest music award show - SHOUT! AWARD 2013.


Froya has performed as a
speaker at TEDxKL 2012 and also opened for various talented artistes
such as US based indie duo, Wye Oak, UK singer songwriter - Jo
Hamilton and Melbourne based soul singer, Charlie Lim & Gabriel
Lynch. Froya was also one of the featured acts for Singapore Baybeats
Music Festival 2013, Urbanscapes Music Festival 2012 and Penang
Island Jazz Festival 2012. She's also been invited to perform at the
Canadian Music Festival and Ireland Indie Week 2013 via Sonicbids
online.

In between performing,
Froya is also a full time composer for TV commercials, films. Recently, she won
the award for BMW Shorties "Best Sound Design 2012" for the short
film "Murdered" by Dick Chua (D1 Production). In 2013, She made a
brief cameo appearance in the short film "Pizza" where she also
wrote and scored the music for.

On June 14th
2013, Froya's self titled EP was released and her debut album "Panic
Bird" will be release soon in June 2014.





Band Members