What is being a musician like today? Ipoh Echo had an exclusive one-on-one with Rachel Lee, a local singer-songwriter whose career is known prominently in northern parts of Malaysia, particularly Ipoh and Penang.
Born and raised in Ipoh in 1986, Rachel, also known by her other moniker, SKY LC, received her early education at S.J.K. (C) Perak, Perak Girls’ School, S.M.K. Raja Perempuan and St. Michael’s Institution, before her tertiary education at Universiti Sains Malaysia in Penang, majoring in fine arts with a minor in music.
“Since fine arts is broad-based and generic, I decided to take up music as an extra course because I love music,” Rachel said. “I started composing song lyrics at 17, but my journey in the music industry only formally started after my studies.
“Back then, Ipoh had little space for budding musicians to expand their careers, mainly because the town focused more on visual arts, rather than music,” she elaborated. “I used to compose song lyrics with friends, but it was just a phase as we were young and we were keen on exploring what it was like.”
Rachel’s music is categorised under indie pop, which according to her, does not boast a heavy music production. Instead, minimal instruments are used to highlight vocals.
“Besides that, I’m an independent artist,” she remarked. “With that status, one is free to compose music in any genre following our hearts and real-time inspiration. One is also not bound to any company’s marketing plans.”
Asked how she stayed active in music composition during the Movement Control Order (MCO), Rachel, who’s also a music teacher and painting artist, explained, “I sold artworks and paintings under the name of SKY LC Studio, which I’m running. Half of the proceedings have been contributed to MCO frontliners and the needy.
“Other than that, the lockdown had given many of us unexpected free time. I utilised them by writing more lyrics and listening to more music to obtain further inspiration,” she added.
“I released an extended play (EP) back in 2015, titled ‘Falling Asleep with My Guitar’. It was a collaboration with two other friends, JC and Yong Chai under the band name ‘Messenger’,” Rachel mentioned. She also won the French Malaysia Young Artist Competition in the same year.
“Along my journey as an artist, I’d say the biggest challenge is to find a way to constantly engage with listeners and how to survive the music industry with it,” Rachel expressed. “For me, my ultimate goal is to discover the chemistry formed from interaction between art and music.”
On her plans in the near future, Rachel disclosed that she will be releasing an album some time later this year.
“The album will be an experimental work,” she noted. “Hopefully, listeners will like the album when it’s released.”
She advised aspiring singer-songwriters to keep listening to music and writing lyrics.
“It’s all about being inspired. That’s the basis of being an artist,” Rachel mused.