Lyia Meta is an international multi award-winning singer and songwriter, and an exhibited visual artist. Born in Malaysia and currently based in the country’s capital city, Meta finds her greatest influences in rock and blues, yet she fearlessly defies genre barriers in every project she creates, consistently delivering a refreshing sound that speaks to listeners across generations worldwide. Meta’s inspiring passion for her craft and her phenomenal ability to effortlessly glide in and out of multiple genres, including metal and country, has led her to win remarkable acclaim around the globe.
Upon the release of her debut EP “This is Lyia,” she immediately garnered stunning recognition, receiving six nominations and the award for Best Overall Female Act at the Voice Independent Music Awards (VIMA) in May 2016. Described as “raw,” “organic” and “bold,” the EP is a striking reflection of her roots in rock, blues, and pop and served as Meta’s springboard into the international circuit.
Meta’s EP “15013,” released on May 20, 2021, saw the seasoned multi-faceted visionary exploring new sonic territory, resulting in a gorgeous project that blends her earthy blues roots with compelling jazz. Through six breathtaking songs, including the magnificently nostalgic track “Daylight” (finalist at The Rome Music Video Awards 2021 in the Original Song category and Vesuvius International Film Festival in the Best Music Video Clip and Best Music Only categories), she crafts an impactful story born from a tapestry of the most profound emotions and boldly shares her truth with her fans all over the world. The EP achieved praise in Rolling Stone India and continues to receive positive press.
Now in the wake of the success with her last offering, Meta brings you another release with her signature bluesy soulful voice. ‘YOU THINK ABOUT ME’ the EP, comprises of five tracks which she co-wrote and coproduced with producer, songwriter and artist Bob McGilpin from Nashville, Tennessee. Together they crafted songs that brings a touch of old school, blending the elements of R&B, Soul, Blues and Funk, creating a cohesive sound all the way through that draws in the listener.
- Can you tell us at what point, and how you got started taking music seriously?
Lyia Meta: I was born into a musically inclined family. Art and music has always been an integral part of my life so the step of making music my career and tapping into my creative side has always been something that was ‘expected’. However, I steered clear of the stage, music and art and decided to pursue a life in interior design. It allowed me creative control but was ‘safe’ because (why?). Needless to say, I was wrong and after I met my life partner, also a musician, I never looked back. We’re both in the same industry and it’s always felt right.
- Who were your first and strongest musical influences that you can remember?
Lyia Meta: I would say my Dad was musical touchstone. As a folkloric artist and a singer with a band, my Dad introduced the family to a life filled with colourful characters and a variety of musical genres. It was impossible not to be influenced by the variety of people and music. I grew up influenced by Rock n’ Roll, Country, Pop, Blues, Rock, Reggae and almost everything in between. I listened to the greats and was always in awe of their talent.
- For most artists, originality is first preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you? How would you describe your own development as an artist and music maker, and the transition towards your own style?
Lyia Meta: I definitely used to emulate my favourite artists! I think everyone, whether they are choosing to pursue music or otherwise, does that at some point in their lives. There wasn’t a time growing up that I wouldn’t be belting out some song that was out of my vocal range, often filling the house with cringe-worthy notes! But I didn’t really care. This morphed into me making up melodies and writing lyrics. But I never took it seriously until much later in my career as a live circuit performer. Everything I’ve listened to and still listen to adds to my development as an artist and songwriter. I believe this process does not ever stop. Almost all my art comes from lyrics I’ve written and left incomplete or memories stored away. The stories and emotions poured into them find completion on my canvas pieces or my songs.
- What do you feel are the key elements in your music that should resonate with listeners?
Lyia Meta: Expression and texture. Just like my art pieces. If you listen to some of my previous works, like WE ARE LORDS and WITHOUT WALLS, I love adding textures to my compositions. With my latest album release, YOU THINK ABOUT ME, I was fortunate enough to have Bob McGilpin helming production. He is simply amazing to work with and an equally talented musician who is intuitive and always open to any ideas I may have.
- Do you write songs with current musical trends, formulas or listener satisfaction in mind, or do you simply focus on your own personal vision and trust that people will empathize with your vision and sound?
Lyia Meta: No, I don’t write songs with the current trends in mind. I do what I love and, given the opportunity, I can spend every day in a studio churning out the strangest of songs! I have a vision and it’s tough to sway me once I’ve got my mind set on my next goal. With every new release an artist puts out, there is hope that it’ll be well received. And to some degree, acceptance is very important. It really depends on your trajectory. Do you want to create art or do you want to have a song that is radio, people and masses friendly? I try striking a balance and create with art in mind first, but I know fully well that that alone will not be enough. So, I weave through the endless possibilities and bring as much as possible to the plate.
- What is your view on the role and function of music as political, cultural, spiritual, and/or social vehicles – and do you try and affront any of these themes in your work, or are you purely interested in music as an expression of technical artistry, personal narrative and entertainment?
Lyia Meta: Good question. Maybe more of a personal narrative and with a touch of artistry? The music industry is constantly evolving and will continue to do so but the one thing that has never changed is that freedom and music have always walked hand-in-hand and have the power to bring change. I personally have touched on issues that are current issues but we also live in strange times and the political climate is stormy at best. I steer clear of direct confrontation. Music has no creed, colour or age. It’s timeless. I would like to be around making music for a long time. Courting controversies isn’t my cup of tea. However, whether it’s to bring political or social change, I applaud those who stand up for their rights!
- What drives you day after day, more than anything else, to continue pursuing your musical career?
Lyia Meta: I guess it’s the fact that my mantra, “I know I can do better”, wields the magic wand here. I am always looking to better myself in every aspect related to music and art. I haven’t even scratched the surface! As a creative, I am almost always in overdrive. It’s a process that’s never ending so I spend every day working towards achieving something, anything, that brings me to the next whatever, and the next.
- Do you think is it important for fans of your music to understand the real story and message driving each of your songs, or do you feel everyone should be free to interpret your songs in their own personal way?
Lyia Meta: They can choose to interpret my music anyway they want but there are some songs that are very personal and at times I do find the need for my message to be heard. As a songwriter, it’s important to me for fans to understand the real story.
- What has been the most difficult thing you’ve had to endure in your life or career so far? And how did you overcome that experience?
Lyia Meta: Ahhh… I’ve often said that the easiest part about being in the music industry is THE MUSIC. The hardest part is the people and the multitude of characters that come your way. You’ve got to be able to wing it and come out unscathed.
- On the contrary, what would you consider a successful, proud or significant point in your life or career so far?
Lyia Meta: I’ve had a few successes and definitely memorable highlights with plenty of proud and significant moments. This would, of course, include the awards I’ve won, thrilling reviews, great shows, etc. But the most significant point would be the fact that I’ve stayed my course and never strayed far from my target. And my target had always been ME defining exactly who Lyia Meta is!
- Putting aside any accolades or criticisms that fans, the industry, or the media may afford your persona or music, is there anything about you, or your music, you think people may overlook, underestimate or misunderstand at all?
Lyia Meta: I’ve been lucky to not have had any negative press related to my music. I’m very thankful for that! I think the general populace isn’t really interested in me as a person. It’s really what they believe a public persona to be. Nothing I say or do will alter that. So I don’t try! My music speaks for itself. I am multi genre artist who is constantly evolving. As a person, I am quite down to earth. I believe in hard work, have paid my dues and believe in honesty and integrity.
- Have you ever stepped completely and unwillingly outside of your comfort zone, vocally or musically to accommodate the desire of an arranger or music producer etc.? If so, did you consider that a positive or negative experience, and why?ù
Lyia Meta: Hah! My partner is a person who is constantly in pursuit of perfection. He admittedly knows he can never achieve it and I don’t think perfection is at all achievable but with his pursuit comes my willing participation to ‘step out’ of my comfort zone. I’m somewhat used to never being in my comfort zone. It is a good thing and we never know what surprises lay in store for us. With my album ‘15013’ and recently ‘YOU THINK ABOUT ME’, I did just that. There were definitely surprises there.
- Do you feel that your music is giving you back just as much as you put into it, or are you expecting or aspiring to something more, or different, in some way?
Lyia Meta: On a personal level, I’m quite satisfied with my growth as an artist. As an independent, its always hard to get our work out there and market it because we’re basically doing it all on our own. For a one-man show that’s always running low on fuel, burnout isn’t far off and we know you can’t afford to, so we keep at it. Slave to the grindstone in every sense of the word, as I am also a full time live circuit performer who holds residencies for months on end. I don’t aspire to become anything other than being good at what I do. I fall short many a time but I keep working hard at my craft and allow the process to unfold. It’s difficult living with expectations. I have them, like everyone else, but I have learnt that expectation leads to disappointment. So, I am satisfied.
- You are a pluri-nominated, and multi-award-winning, singer-songwriter. What impact do all these accolades have on your persona and craft?
Lyia Meta: Fame is fleeting. The awards are great in recognition for my work and effort and I am always grateful for that but I’m always hopeful that the next project will achieve the same or better. That’s the goal!
- Could you tell us something about your latest project, “YOU THINK ABOUT ME”, and what the highlights are to watch out for?
Lyia Meta: YOU THINK ABOUT ME is a collaboration between Nashville producer, songwriter and fellow artist Bob McGilpin and myself. As a co-writer and co-producer we both worked closely through time zones to bring together what I believe is an EP worth listening to. With old-school R&B, Soul and a touch of Funk, it has five tracks. The EP opens with the upbeat track UPTOWN TONIGHT as Bob and I set the pace for the rest of the EP. There are highs, lows, sassy and stormy.
- Do you have a personal favourite track amongst those you have already released that has a specific backstory and/or message and meaning very special to you, and why is it so?
Lyia Meta: I never have favorites but if I were to choose, I’d say UPTOWN TONIGHT and YOU THINK ABOUT ME THE WAY I THINK ABOUT YOU. With UPTOWN TONIGHT, it’s really relatable to me as I spend many a night performing, so going uptown is something I do very often. With YOU THINK ABOUT ME THE WAY I THINK ABOUT YOU, I find myself being a little playful, sassy and definitely telling my man that we’re made for each other!
- Creative work in studio environment, or interaction with a live audience? Which of these two options excite you most, and why?
Lyia Meta: Poles apart! I can’t do without either but I love the studio because I get to be creative and come up with numerous possibilities and outcomes as I bounce off ideas with my partner and producer. Live audience is more of an experience. I have to be a magician and weave a spell over my audience as I draw them in and take them through all the highs and lows. I don’t get to rethink or redo, it’s all spontaneous and very in the moment. I’m lucky I have both these worlds.
- Do you have a favorite motto, phrase or piece of advice, you try to live or inspire yourself by?
Lyia Meta: “I Am Everything I Set Out To Be”
- How essential do you think video is in relation to your music? Do you have a personal favorite visual you could suggest fans see, to get a better understanding of your persona and craft?
Lyia Meta: Video is part and parcel of the industry. I try not to watch videos when listening to new music because it takes away from the experience. But that does not mean that videos aren’t important to me. On the contrary, it’s almost crucial for it to be a part of any release. It helps with marketing plus it gives the fans an opportunity to see and experience the vision the artist had. My videos are all self made. Independent all the way! But if I were to share a video that I produced and edited, this would be it, https://youtu.be/TUfVqkN0Hfw. Viscerally exciting, it was meant to convey the emotions of upheaval, anxiety, loss and trepidation when our world was thrown into chaos. Released at the height is the pandemic, WE ARE LORDS, was written by me, coproduced by my partner Zack Meta, and produced by Anthony Noel Yap of Big A Productions.
- What do you find most rewarding about what you do? And do you have a specific vision or goal set in your mind that you would like to achieve in the near future?
Lyia Meta: I get to do what I love. That’s very rewarding because not many people have that opportunity. My music has moved people and inspired many to follow in my footsteps. I set no goals as I don’t want to experience disappointment. I, however, insist on always taking a step forward, every day. I hope my future will include more collaborations and more music.