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!)

https://www.fundsurfer.com/project/empress-album-cd-by-makala-cheung