Just keep swimming

Have you heard Dory from Finding Nemo, she says just keep swimming, right?
And  that’s what I keep telling myself at the moment.

You see I’ve been ‘on the grind’ for 9 years as a solo artist, probably only got decent in recent years and now I am super proud of my album Empress and the event I put on (video below). I’ve had a emotional dip after this festival, but people say that’s normal after all the build up. And after some really supportive chats with various people lately I’m like ready to conquer the world again!

But if you are trying to conquer something, whether it’s big or small I want to tell you not to give up. I need people to tell me that often!

I wrote my first song when I was 7, I can still sing it today and it was about my dolly: “Oh baby Anna how I love you so, and when I see you I rock you to and fro”. I wrote about monsters in a jungle!? in early senior school:”Danger danger, run away, Danger danger, don’t let them get you any day (repeat)” and later in my teens: “Well I’ll love you forever if you stay with me tonight, oh I’ll love you forever if you treat me right.”
The melodies and lyrics got slightly better each year, even better when I learned how to play an instrument, even better when I actual dedicated time and believed in myself and had actually lived a life to talk about.

I went through various bands I tried to start, and was always the last one standing. I stopped music during uni only to sing at our final ball and regretting those 3 years I’d stopped (though I did co-host a radio show). I started writing at home when my daughter was little (I had her at uni). On return home my cousin let on she could sing only for me to drag her into a duo with me. 5 years later,  we had many demo songs, one lost album after three years of recording only for the studio to go bust and us not have our files, and she had a baby and decided to take a break. I’d thought like the world was telling me to just give it up! – But I was dragged back into the studio and on stage by rapper friends and they said why don’t I just be a solo artist?

I went from my family telling me I sounded like a cat when I insisted on performing to the family at various parties as a child, to performing at O2 Academy Bristol and celebrating my 3rd solo album (after 3 solo EPs) this year. From tape recordings to studio recordings. From making people screw up their faces (age 5) to making people smile. I was not born good at writing or singing or anything. I just keep working at it because my heart calls me to do that, and that’s all you have to do if you have a dream deep in your heart, keep going, you can do it! And enjoy the journey, ’cause it’s probably a long one!

There’s so much more I could say, and I’m sure I will later, but for now, my point? I suppose I’m telling myself and I’m sharing this message to you, like my friends and supporters shared with me this month: Don’t give up, or as I like to wiggle and sing to myself impersonating Dory ‘ just keep swimming’

So yeah, I did this, what’s next for me, who knows! (But I better start my next vision plan now!)

To hear my song FIRE all about following your dreams, listen to it on my new album Empress on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Amazon and more.

To keep in touch and get a free song subscribe to my emails (the free song is currently ‘Fire’ btw! – depending on when you read this of course!)

Staying strong

So I’ve been on a mad one the last few months getting my Mini Moon Festival 2017 sorted. It was a blast putting on a show with east asian influenced music, street dance and martial arts, and performing at O2 Academy Bristol was pretty epic to say the least. It was lot of work, and sometimes I felt like I was gonna fall apart. In times like this I’m glad I’ve written songs that keep me going, and I hope that they can keep others going too! (p.s. I feel sorry for all event promoters, it’s a tough job, and I really don’t know how they do it – hats off to you!)

FIRE is all about following your dreams and you’ll see the video for that on my artist homepage and at one point I was singing it to my self every morning so that I wouldn’t give up. In all the whirlwind of getting the event ready I didn’t even have a chance to let everyone know that my new video for STRONG is out so here it is!

– And since, as lots of people ask, the line is : ‘The fight made me a strong girl’ – I wrote it to my mum to tell her not to worry about the really tough things that I went through in my childhood and even now it goes to show we can gain from terrible things that happen, they made me stronger – so something like creating a festival – it was much easier to stay Strong.

So I pulled off the biggest event of my life (to date) and I learned a lot for next time. I hope that if you ever need to stay strong, you can listen / watch / sing along and I hope this helps! – though you may wanna replace the word  ‘girl’ with ‘ boy/man/ or if you can think of a gn word like human person that fit’s in one syllable (I couldn’t) etc – and let me know (tweet @makalacheung )

P.S. I really tried this time to take in and watch all the other performances on the day (and not worry too much about my set), and I did and it was amazing. I couldn’t have done it without all the help of the acts on the helpers on the day. Special thanks go to WoE China Bureau, Jelli Records, Life & Soul Communications, Chayster Entertainment, Songsmith, my family, and the team at the venue, plus thanks to Marcus Way for the awesome footage to go on the screen while I performed. I’ll be editing my video (with footage from Yourmusic Productions) very soon and if you couldn’t make it you’ll be able to see it on youtube and facebook – to make sure you get the link you can join me on email conversations and like my page

I’m so excited to have launched my first ever crowd funding campaign – #HelpBringEmpressToLife

It all started before Christmas when I finally got the guts to do my website (DIY as I had no funds for a full build) into my idea of Cheung Island, where I live as Empress, and it’s the hidden land where the Far East meets the West -just like my Mini Moon Festival album launch 2015 (so not just about me, but other related stuff). So now it’s a whole online fantasy world, another way for me to help celebrate and share Chinese and East Asian Culture. (I’m so proud and into my heritage, and I love finding out about new things and sharing it.)

Fast forward a few months and I’d got to the point where I’d recorded, produced and collaborated, got mixed and mastered (pro finish on the sound) a load of songs for my 2017 album, which based on the new website concept I’d decided to call Empress. But I’d ran out of personal funds to get the CDs done. I also know some people do not use CDs but like a physical thing still, so I also worked with KWMC The Factory to design some laser cut digital download keyrings, but again the upfront cost added to what I needed to move forward.

I’d been feeling very excited by this evolving story though, it’s been growing with my music, songs, videos and website. It kind of is a metaphor for my life (can you guess what the metaphor is?) – I’m the Empress who rules Cheung Island, who turns into a manga style super hero at night spreading joy with my love stick…

Sound weird? –  check out my FIRE video and maybe this will help you see what I saw when I wrote the song Fire

It’s all about following my dreams and the burning feeling I had to pursue with my whole heart, no matter how hard it feels sometimes, when I nearly give up but I pick myself back up and keep going, keeping making music, keep putting myself out there.

So, after about a few months of looking into crowdfunding sites on and off, and generally procrastinating, feeling really unsure about this new platform and process that I knew nothing about, I got to the point where if I didn’t literally do it immediately I wouldn’t get my album in time for my launch date to coincide with Chinese Mid-Autumn festival.

So, in a matter of days, with a few last-minute pics from Marcus Way (who makes many of my videos) and Lewis (who plays bass in my live band), and a few back and forth emails with Fundsurfer.com I got my new crowd fund campaign going for my CDs and digital download keyrings. In 2 days I’d reached 24%, which I am so grateful for all the support, and actually very surprised how well it’s gone so far.

I’ve had a quiet day of no pledges since, I start to question myself about if I’m doing the right thing, but then I remember all the wonderful backers who have pledged already, and how their generosity and belief means I should stay strong. (More on staying strong in my next blog I think – about my news single Strong, which is out now at online stores.)

For now, I have one last question – Can you help bring Empress to life?
(A pledge, a social media share, a message to others will all help!)




Makala Cheung 張 is a feisty and flamboyant Bristol based singer/songwriter who’s tipped to be big in 2016, so watch this space! She’s been making a name for herself featuring on various hip-hop/grime beats over the last few years, alongside supporting…

World Fusion dance at Mini Moon Festival this Sunday

 0105 Pei-TE1_3629
I am very excited about my Mini Moon Festival coming this Sunday at The Fleece. It’s so exciting to be launching my new album, and putting on a creative cultural event, with music, dance performances, kung fu, lion dance and many activities and dumplings! I’m also super excited after seeing these images from Movema dance company, who will be bringing a new performance to the Mini Moon Festival this Sunday at The Fleece, Bristol, 2-9pm.
Dancers Helen Wilson and Issie Lloyd will be joining Movema Co-director Penny Caffrey to perform a high-energy display of Chinese and Malaysian styles infused with Contemporary, House dance and Martial Arts movement, and the performance will include one of my songs! They are on at 3.45pm, and I can’t wait to see them!
Penny said: “The choreography Sān Jiǎo (Three Corners) has been developed using chance methods inspired by the ancient Chinese text I Ching (Book of Changes).  Interplaying linear shapes and pathways generated by throwing three coins.”
Wow, this just sounds so intriguing! …I was so excited when I found them, while I was looking for acts for my Oriental festival  a few months ago and found Movema. I saw they ran in Bristol (as well as Liverpool) and promoted and celebrated dance and culture from all around the world – just perfect! I saw they did events ( as well as classes and projects) and so got in touch and was over the moon (no pun intended!) when they agreed to perform at the event.
One of Movema’s Bristol activities is World Fusion class and as my music is World Fusion too it just seemed like fate!
Penny told me more: “The World Fusion class is on Tuesdays 7.30pm at The Island in partnership with RISE Dance. It’s a fun, fast-moving community class featuring styles such as Bollywood, Dancehall, Reggaeton, Flamenco and more!
It’s open to adults of all backgrounds with regular performance opportunities at festivals around the city.”
Maybe I should check it out!!!
To find out more about this amazing dance company check out the info below.
The company have recently developed World In A Box a learning resource to support dance in education which is currently available to schools and teachers.
Movema POS

Cats have 9 lives, humans have 10!

I recently read an article to do with being a songwriter. It said you are a songwriter first and always can bring that to anything you do. This made me smile because there are many moments I’ve written songs on napkins in clubs, written lyrics on the back on receipts on a bus, recorded quietly in a corner on my phones voice recorder in the street. Plus I’ve written poems for funerals, songs for friends, work projects, rhymes in friend’s cards, the list goes on.

It also reminded me of an exercise I read in a book for artists, around self-development, which said that you should imagine 10 alternate lives for yourself and then try and incorporate bits of those into your life. Mine went something life this.

I’d be:                         So I would:

A writer                      Start blogging…again, with this post! (I must make time!)

Be an actress             Experiment with a bit of facial expression in music videos? |

A dancer                     Have morning solo discos, go clubbing more!

An artist                     Go to more art galleries, get inspired, go home and DIM!

A political leader       Join the Green Party, go to meetings, maybe more?

A Mermaid                 Go swimming more often

A tree hugger             Go to the woods, hug trees, get in nature every weekend.

A Kung Fu master    Go to Kung Fu more often, train at home, go to a Temple

A farmer                     Try to grow more than one tomato plant…

A famous musician   Keep writing, recording, releasing, working hard, be true.

Being true was the most important to me, I added that now as actually although fame was this alternate life, it is not a goal, a goal for me is something I’ve achieved without necessarily the need for anyone else’s recognition (although that’s always nice!) like when I can finally do a flip in Kung Fu!

And talking of what people think, I’m also not a brave person, I get scared, I scream, I run away. I’ve been forcing myself to face my fears, one step at a time lately. My dream is to be able to be totally free, to not care what anyone else thinks as long as I am happy. My uncle Man Yan is my inspiration on this, and I am sad he lives so far away and I really should see him more often. But his stories from his visits live on.

I want to be able to dance and sing in the street when I’m walking down the road with a banging tune on in my headphones, because I’m really feeling it – I hate having to restrain myself just because I don’t want to look weird! But like living little parts of our alternate lives, I am taking little baby steps – I went from humming, to swaying, to singing the odd line and one little dance move. One time two people stopped their conversation looked at me, then carried on – it was great, they really didn’t care!

It’s a great feeling to know you are moving closer to who you feel you really are and I don’t want to miss a moment. I know life can ‘get in the way’ but like the advice about being a songwriter always first, whoever you are, surely we can slip in that little bit of us – either as part of all we do, or in slithers in between the things we ‘must’ do? Because whether you get one life or ten, we want to be us right? For me, the only way to be whole is to live in the moment as much as possible AND shuffle in those little tasks and steps that to take me closer to who I want to be, always being true to myself… flashback…that makes me think of my first ever solo EP ‘Who I Am’. I was still searching back then, but I feel a whole lot closer these years later, even now I have to keep up with my other ten lives!

[Audio] Makala Cheung’s ‘A Little Deeper’

electronic rumors

Makala Cheung

Bristolian singer/songwriter Makala Cheung is mixing up ElectroPop with Oriental flavours and a moody atmosphere on her new single A Little Deeper. Released next month, A Little Deeper is the third single from her forthcoming album, Moon, which sounds like it’s set to be her most mature and confident release to date. She’s also one of Bristol’s ‘Happiness Champions’; I gotta’ be honest, I didn’t know we had happiness champions, but somehow feel better knowing that we do.

A Little Deeper is a way from happy though. A melancholy lament set to a dramatic and cinematic symphony of growling subs, rousing synths and an array of oriental instrumentation. With an avant-garde edge to it, this is a tune that draws you into it’s exotic and pain ridden world and doesn’t let you out. Intricately crafted and honestly delivered, A Little Deeper feels both personal and alien at the same…

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Makala Cheung – Take Me (Prod. B-Lash) #Video #Single @MakalaCheung @ParkStreetPR

Monsta Muzik

Makala Cheung – Take Me (Prod. B-Lash)
Release Date: Monday 18th August 2014
Label: Self-Release
Formats: Digital
ISRC: GB-DJ9-14-00001 / UPC: 859712833228

‘Pioneering’* Singer/Songwriter/Producer, Makala Cheung, is releasing her latest track ‘Take Me’, a collaboration with Bristol Producer B-Lash.

The half-Chinese Bristol Woman Magazine cover girl (launch edition), received rave reviews with her ‘infectious’** fusion of Bristol bass and oriental electronic sounds, topped off with many a pop chorus.

‘Take Me’, follows her ‘cracking debut album’*** River, released for Chinese New Year 2014. Featured in Bristol Live Magazine’s album of the month for January, with lead track Kisses heard on BBC1Xtra and BBC introducing in The West. As well as, many of the album’s tracks reaching top positions in The Chart Show, ‘Powerplay’ and A list on Ujima FM and BCFM Radio, including ‘local anthem’**** Bristol Beat.

A kaleidoscopic music video will be online in the lead up to the…

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Album Review :: ‘RIVER’ by ‘Makala Cheung’

Dwfm-Media advance

* Makala Cheung *


2014 is well and truly on the way. As for the new year in Asia, it’s just beginning.

Exploding into the spotlight, Bristol basedMakala Cheungis putting her stamp in the music scene in a big way. 

Being year of the horse things are going to race ahead with lots of exciting new adventures, including the music scene. Fresh new music is what most of us are craving, something with a twist that’s going to get our senses stimulated, this is where I introduceMakala Cheung‘.

Makala CheungThe albumRiveris filled with beautifully blended raw beats, RnB, Blues, Dub and Soul. Cleverly combining an oriental influence, smothered with Makala’s stunning vocal range, topped off with some outstanding piano compositions, this album gets me excited.

Something special is happening here. It’s not just about fresh Bristol beats, something captivates…

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Losing makes you stronger

My dad said to me last night that he had been enlightened.  He realised he could apply Bruce Lee’s 3 principles of Kung Fu to Computer Architecture (his work) with life changing results. I watched beaming as he told me the story and all about his enlightenment and practical implementation. He finished by saying what Bruce Lee said -that to truly succeed you need to learn ‘the art of dying’. What he meant was that to defeat the enemy you have to learn from your previous defeats. We have all heard that you should learn from your mistakes, and that to succeed first you have to fail (sometimes many times to learn and perfect!). I know what he meant to tell me as I smiled nodding in agreement,  and it left me proud and excited to think how I might apply it. Yet at the same time as I later reflected, the thought of death was what was left hanging in the air.

I have always been a person who have never been good with birth or death. I never want to hold people’s newborns or swoon over them, it’s just not my thing. So I avoid people, even people I like when they have a newborn. (What is wrong with me!) Also I avoid people who have suffered a loss, a death of someone close be it a friend or family. So sure I would say something stupid, I’d rather say nothing at all.

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, and that is due to the fact I’ve been lost for words, because I lost someone,  just a few months ago,  and it was the saddest thing I have personally ever experienced.

It all started October last year, I had just started doing some acoustic stuff with a guitarist at open mic nights, and we thought it would be cool to build a band. So I advertised on Gumtree (how I found the guitarist) and a bass player got in touch.

His name was Dan, he was quite enthusiastic via email, shy in person, at least at the beginning. Our first rehearsal went really well, we clicked musically straight away. I always told him what a great musician he was; we vibed well,  him interpreting my bass lines wonderfully for live. He couldn’t praise me and my music enough, and I always felt like he was my little angel, sat on my shoulder telling me only good things: giving me the confidence I never had.

The more time we spent together the more we realised how much we had in common. We had similar views  on environmental issues, and life in general. We both loved the sky and everything in it, and listening to music, live or not. We went out in Bristol, drinking cider (his choice) and sitting in parks or by the river (my choice) or at his flat if it was impromptu after rehearsal/gig chats.

I’ve never made friends with someone so quickly, so deeply. When I have friends I love them, and I really loved Dan to pieces. We’d text in the day about our jobs and funny things at work, he made me really happy. In person he would bring up deep topics of conversation and we’d debate often in strong agreement…it was awesome for us but I’m sure boring to anyone that could hear us blabbering on. I loved that we liked such different music, we played songs to each other and often didn’t even talk for whole songs, just happy to sit in each others company.

7 months later, and I really wasn’t ready for what was about to happen. On an afternoon in May I received a text that really scared me. I went straight to Dans flat, and his flatmate and mum were already there, looking as panicked as me. The next few hours were hell and the text was the last words I was ever to receive from Dan.

I don’t think I left the sofa for days. My family, especially my sister were wonderful. For hours my sister just sat and stroked my hair or held my hand while I cried for hours. This is what loss feels like, I realised, and like I guessed before, there really isn’t anything you can say. The band and closest friends were also a great support visiting just to force me to eat, go for a walk, or have a chat about random stuff. Everyone at work even put up with me being a complete mess, and my first day back my boss let me cry all over her top. I remember warning her with the words “I’m a woman of extremes: you know how happy I usually am – I think that’s how sad I’m gonna be.”

I spoke to his family often, our stages of grief seemed to be similar, though of course I know they felt the pain deeper than me. I learned that to cope you need a task, either for the person or in their name. For others it was sorting the funeral, making a video channel of Dan memories, putting on fundraising events, or going out to help the homeless just like Dan used to.

I  immersed myself in music. I wrote a new song (which will be on my new album) and finished the images with Unearthed and edited my Bristol Beat music video. I realised that many of the photos my friend had already taken of me were places where me and Dan had hung out, and I decided (with his family’s permission) to dedicate the video to him.

Every day I think of him, and every day I miss him. Most of the time now I think of him and the wonderful memories I have and smile. Other times I feel just like I did that first month, my heart sinks through my feet, my body feels empty and I cry a river. But I try to remember the person that he was, and what he would say if he could see me now.

Dan was an empathetic man, who always saw the best in people, yet he never saw the best in himself. You only had to be at his funeral to see how many people were touched by his presence, whether it had been one chance meeting at a party or a whole phase of his life. He was a gaming champion, a talented musician,  a showman in front of the camera, a comedian, a  loved brother, a perfect son, and a best friend to everyone who had the pleasure of knowing him. I always called him ‘the keeper’ the one I thought would be there for ever, that I never wanted to leave or lose, in the band and in life. But lose him we all did, and you could say our lives are so much more emptier without him – yet I prefer to say we are all the richer for knowing him. I know he made me a better person, and continues to do so, even though he is not here, at least not in the way we all knew him to be here. He now lives in all that knew him, all that benefitted from his wit, his charm, his charisma.

This is just a few of the ways he made me a better person when he was here:

– He made me question things

– He made me take risks

– I finally took the leap to vegetarian, something I always wanted to do, and seeing his commitment to veganism encouraged me to take that step.

And this is some of the ways he makes me a better person everyday that I remember him and all he was:

– Believing in myself. I valued his opinion on everything, so when he said such wonderful things about me I have to believe there was some truth to it. I see him on my shoulder, a little angel, encouraging me all the way.

– I took the step to veganism, it’s been difficult and not without hurdles, but I am so much happier with my choices and the impact it has for the planet.

– I have started learning to play the bass. His brother so kindly left Dan’s bass to me. (It was actually his brother’s but he says “Dan got more use in 6 months out of that bass than I did the years I had it.”) I said I couldn’t bare to see it hung on a wall never to be played, so I’ve been learning. It really hurt my shoulder the first time I hung it over me to play, but I couldn’t be a wuss now! I also started playing my piano again, after so long either just producing in the studio, and singing live with the band.

– I value every moment, even more so than I ever did before. I realise how special every moment was with my dear friend, and he must have felt so too from the things he said to me in the last few days and the day he went away and the things his brother and best friend said to me after. So whatever that guy saw in me, I want to be that person to those around me. I know I’m not perfect, and nobody can be, but I hope I can be that person he saw in me, as a relative, a friend, a musician, a human being.

Sometimes I feel guilty, that now most of the time, I am the happy person that everyone knew me as before it happened. But I know he hated attention (being on him), and I remind myself his last wishes to me:

– That I continue and progress my music

– That I forgive

– That I find happiness

I never knew those three things would be so hard for me, they were always the things that came easy to me before. That just goes to show how one thing can literally turn your world upside down and inside out, so that that everything that was once round is now square, and everything that was so easy becomes so hard. The little things in the first days after his death were so hard, eating, sleeping, smiling, talking, getting dressed. The first rehearsal after was so painful. Then it was the bigger things that were a strain, an effort, like exercise, socialising, performing. Now in the long term it’s those things he asked of, and I say them to myself everyday: make music, forgive, find happiness.

When it all happened I honestly couldn’t think how it would get better, you don’t get less sad about what happens you just get used to feeling the sadness when it comes, and then you just have to channel it somewhere. I’ve put it in a song, a video, and now what I am writing in this blog, and I’m sure every musical step I take from here on. I hope that anyone who understands this pain has found a way to turn the pain inside out and upside down. Your world will never be the same again, but you have to find your way to carry on. I know I made Dan happy and he made me happy, for those few short months that I knew him. I carry that thought with me every step I take, every song I make, every time I step on stage, every time I make a new friend. I feel him when I twang the bass strings, so I shouldn’t be sad, ’cause he is here really – he made everyone’s world brighter, and that will never fade.

Dan smiley