INTERVIEW: Charmaine Koh

1.) We’re very happy to have with us as a special guest Malaysian chanteuse Charmaine Koh; greetings and salutations, Charmaine! Before we get started, how has the last bit of 2022 been treating you? I think that 2022 has been quite a ride! I’ve been releasing music leading up to the Sunflower at Sundown EP whilst juggling life in Korea. The year so far has just been full of dance, singing, self-development, soul-searching; all of which has fueled my creative energy more than ever so, though it’s been a ride the year has treated me so kindly that I have nothing but gratitude for it.

2.) Congratulations on your upcoming October 21 music video release for your single Dreamin’! Kind of going in reverse here, can you tell us what the genesis was for one of the most memorable songs of 2022, Dreamin’? Fundamentally, ‘Dreamin’ speaks about empowerment. While it may mean differently to each individual, for me it was about facing head on toward the changes that were happening in my life. Among those were moving to a new city, learning to be alone but also learning how to deal with people and finding confidence in communicating with people past language barriers. I think it was the culmination of how overwhelming that process was but still finding the courage to believe, dream, and have faith that everything will work out.

3.) Who was your producer on Dreamin’ and what did collaboration between artist and producer look like in the studio? The producer I worked with on Dreamin’ was Christoper (C-Ray) Roberts. Our approach to every song is to want the best for it: to explore & try new things. With those components in mind, most of which we heavily worked on was the harmony stacking in all of the parts. I wanted it to sound angelic yet powerful so we worked all of it out by ear. I tracked the harmony ideas I had and him the same which created something ever better than I initially had in mind. We worked hand in hand on the comping of the vocals, sharing our opinions on which takes sounded better. We discussed a lot about the intention of everything we did for the song. Dreamin’ was the first song we worked on in the studio and I think the most important thing we agreed on for the song to work was feeling, vocals, minimalistic yet rich production.

4.) For the music video for Dreamin’ did you have complete creative control? Yes. I expressed the main concept, visual, and message I wanted to see in the video and together, we slowly built upon it to the Y2K, coming of age, moody, dynamic video you see now. 

5.)  For your money, how is Dreamin’ different from any other song on the 2022 music landscape? For my money, I think the message within Dreamin’ stands out from the crowd the most. The song speaks about shifting your focus and envisioning everything you’re dreaming of. I think this motif alone isn’t really talked about often in today’s music landscape. Differing from the typical inspirational upbeat Pop song, Dreamin’s empowering message is delivered through moody, groovy, soulful melodies and production; all of which creates a balance of smoothness and dynamics.

6.) The music video for Dreamin’ really evokes the whole Y2K period with its arresting visuals. Whose idea was it to go inj that direction (we think it’s quite brilliant!)? It was an infant idea both my director and I had in the beginning stages of making the video. I wanted to represent today’s youth (‘cause I am just that!)  and that was what decided the style and also my makeup.

7.) Dreamin’ is off of your brillaint gem of an EP Sunflower at Sundown. What made Dreamin’ the perfect choice to be picked as a single from that EP? Dreamin’ is packed with angelic harmonies and a rich underlying baseline. It has that dopamine rush to it which I thought was perfect to start off the EP. It allures and invites you in to listen to the rest of the songs. Just. A. Mood.

8.) What do you hope listeners take away from Dreamin’? I hope listeners take away 2 things – 1. Meaning: that everything you ever dreamed of is within reach. 2. Feeling – that it made you feel more powerful than you thought you were and made you feel like you are always more than what you thought were.

9.) With the release of the EP Sunflower at Sundown and the single release of Dreamin’ from said EP, can fans look forward to an LP release from you in 2023? I am currently working on an LP. Whether it’ll be released in 2023 is yet to be decided but, my goal for the next project is to show a different yet authentic side of myself. So, I best say that listeners should be excited for what’s next. So grateful that they have been such a huge part of my journey, and a huge source of my motivation to create.

10.) Touring-wise, is your dance card pretty full in the coming weeks and months? Yes, I took the whole of this year and dedicated some parts of it to dance. It started out as something I liked that complimented my performance but now I think I can say that it will continue to hold up a larger part in my life. I plan to continue exploring dance and experimenting with ways it can improve my skills as a performer.

11.) Musically, who inspires you and your music? I think LeeHi, an independent indie artist based in Seoul inspires me the most. Her songs feel genuine, speak to the soul, have character and feel so good. This has always been my objective with music – it has to feel good for me for it to feel good for others. (Wow, a tongue twister)

12.) You hail from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. How do those roots inform you and your music? I think my roots have influenced the stories I like to tell. If you were to look at my repertoire, I speak about topics that relate to personal development, things that are pretty serious. I think that growing up as a Malaysian taught me a lot about adaptation and how important it is in our lives that it inspired me to write so many stories based on it. Though with that being said, I’m exploring different topics to write now.

13.) Final – SILLY! – Question: When and where were you happiest?

This is by far the toughest question in this interview.

I think I was genuinely happy recently, when I went for a really short trip with my family. It was then that it occured to me how warm the feeling of being with family was and that having people that really care about you who would love you unconditionally and accept you as you are through different changes in life is something I will never ever take for granted.

RJ Frometa
Author: RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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