From her early days of tickling the ivories to becoming a multi-talented artist, Mardiana has enchanted the music industry with her dreamscape tunes and irresistible lyrics. In an exclusive interview with Glitz by Beauty Insider Malaysia, the songstress takes us on a soul-stirring journey as she shares her inspiring musical odyssey, creative process, and independently released debut album ahead of her first performance at the Good Vibes Festival 2023.
Interview with Mardiana
Hi Mardiana, can you give us a brief overview of your musical journey and how you began your career as a singer?
Hi! Thank you for having me. I don’t think there was really a specific point in which my career began. It’s not like I woke up one random day and declared, “I’ll go off and be an artist!” Music has always been my passion. I was planting the seeds of my dreams over the years without even realising it.
My mom signed me up for piano lessons when I was three years old. Playing the piano is how I developed my musical foundation. At nine years old, I learnt to compose original pieces and found out that songwriting was something that I had a natural affinity for.
In late December 2020, I released my first single on Spotify. That marked the beginning of me releasing original music and starting to find my footing as a songwriter and music producer. Fast forward to 2023, I have independently released a total of 17 projects (23 songs total).
Can you share some insights into your creative process? How do you find inspiration for your music, and what is the most unusual source of inspiration that has influenced your work?
I find inspiration from my own quiet introspection. Although it sounds unproductive to just sit around and let my mind wander aimlessly, it’s actually a crucial part of my creative process. I need lots of alone time. Songwriting is my form of therapy – to unpack my own feelings, thoughts, and past experiences. Why pay for therapy when I can turn it into music?
Besides that, I feel most creatively inspired when it’s late, past midnight. The magic of creativity comes alive in the tranquillity of the night.
I don’t think I’ve come across any “unusual” source of inspiration. I listen to many music genres. I guess people wouldn’t expect me, a pop artist, to say that I’m influenced by jazz or techno or funk. But I am inspired by all genres, even if it’s not the type that I’d make.
Are there five things about you that people may not know?
1 – As mentioned, I’m most creative at night – so I’m not a morning person. Can’t do it. Basically, you wouldn’t want to be around me until I’ve had my coffee and food.
2 – I have perfect pitch. It is immensely helpful and I’m thankful for it.
3 – I was a freelance photographer during my time in university. I shot portraits for fashion projects, graduations, birthdays, and boudoir.
4 – I’m naturally reserved and private. Initially, it was a struggle when I had to put myself out there to promote my music. When one of my videos went viral on TikTok and I was hit with a wave of DMs, I wanted to crawl into a hole and hide! The attention felt overwhelming. I think it’s gotten easier over time, though.
5 – I’m a KL city kid, through and through. I love how vibrant and interesting the city is. You can take a girl out of the city but you can’t take the city out of the girl.
This year marks your debut performance at the Good Vibes Festival. What was your initial thought when you first heard about it and what are you looking forward to at the festival?
I was bursting with excitement! When GVF reached out to me, I totally didn’t see it coming. I was dying to share the news but had to wait a bit until the full lineup was announced.
I’m going to have so much fun with my performance. I also look forward to meeting my fans who have expressed their excitement to see me perform live. And of course, can’t wait for the incredible lineup of both local and international artists. I’ve not been to GVF in the past, so this will be my first time as a performer and a festival-goer as well!
Congratulations on the release of your debut album, “Don’t Cry For Me.” Could you share with us the story behind the title track and the inspiration behind the songs featured on the album?
The title track “Don’t Cry For Me” is like a declaration to say, “Here I am, as an artist. And this is my journey.” The first verse goes, “On my journey, going solo / Rather stuck in the future than rooted in the past / Leaving is scary, but my biggest fear is standing still in the same place, living life on replay”
It speaks of my fear of staying stagnant. I’m motivated by growth and I always strive to be better at what I do.
The second line is a reference to another song on the album, “Stuck In The Future”. I sampled “Stuck In The Future” to create “Don’t Cry For Me”. Both of these songs carry the message of moving on from the past in pursuit of bigger, better things.
As for the other songs, they were inspired by big life changes over the last year – I moved back to KL after living in the US for several years. I went through heartbreak. I found ways to heal and regain strength. You’ll have to listen to the album to find out more!
You mentioned in your Instagram post that you felt the debut album is “sonically all over the place.” What was the spark moment that influenced your decision to go ahead with the release?
I simply wanted to stay true to my word. My goal was to independently release an album in early 2023, and if there’s one thing about me, it’s that I see things through. I’d hate to keep it unreleased, because I worked so hard on all these songs and they deserved to be out there.
Yes, the songs are in different genres and styles, but that’s the product of all my creative experimentations. And I wanted to be honest with my audience; to put out a body of work that documents exactly where I am, at that point in time.
I figured, I’m going to keep making music anyway, so if this album isn’t as cohesive as I’d like, there’s always a second album to be made. Hint hint.
If you could only pick one song off your debut album, what would you choose and why?
“Please Just Stay In Love”. It’s dreamy, it’s wistfully nostalgic, it’s truthful and emotional. Usually, it takes weeks or months to crack away at a song idea and make something good. But for “Please Just Stay In Love”, the inspiration fell into place effortlessly. It’s like this song was meant to be brought into existence. This song has connected me to many new fans and listeners. It’s definitely special.
You recently independently released your debut album, radio, and festival debut. What is your ultimate goal or dream to achieve in the music industry?
Sky’s the limit. I want to experience everything there is to experience as a music artist.
If you could go back in time and give your younger self one piece of advice about pursuing a career in music, what would it be?
I’d say this: When it comes to working with other people, don’t be afraid to clearly state what you want and need. Trust your instincts.
In the past, I’ve worked with people who didn’t take my ideas seriously. I would give my suggestions regarding the production, but I’d be told something along the lines of, “That’s not how it’s done.” Later on, I found out that I could have, indeed, done it my way! It was incredibly frustrating to be underestimated because of my gender and/or age.
When I was first starting out, I was more vulnerable and more likely to give in to people’s opinions. But always remember that your truth is valid and it holds weight. Speak up! Your best work happens when you stay true to yourself.
What can your fans expect from you in terms of new music releases or upcoming projects?
New music is definitely on the way! Catchy, melodic bops that are lyrically expressive, honest and probably a little more vulnerable. That’s what fans can expect from me. I’m excited to show you what’s next.
Do you have any final thoughts or messages for our readers who are eagerly anticipating your performance at the Good Vibes Festival 2023?
To all my dear listeners, thank you for your support. It makes my day to receive all your cute, kind, supportive messages. I cannot wait to see you at GVF and we’re gonna have such a blast!