Photo credit: ZALELO


Zalelo (Zuh-lay-low), 24, is an R&B and hip-hop singer-songwriter, rapper, actress and entrepreneur. She also makes up a third of alternative pop/rock band, PyraMIC!, with Gregory on the keys, Dave on the guitar/bass and her on vocals. She was also the winner of the Zamaera Rap Challenge 2020. Today, she answers some questions for us about the work that she does.

Tell us more about what you do!

I make and write music, mainly in the R&B and hip-hop genres. Sometimes I also rap, act and work on my business, which is an Arabic home-based bubble tea business. Most recently, my band and I wrote the theme song for “Korban”, an upcoming Suria series – so stay tuned for that!

I timidly started uploading covers from the comfort of my bedroom without revealing my face at the age of 13 and gained recognition after my first original, “The One”, which I wrote at 15. It surpassed 50,000 streams within a week of posting. Since winning the Zamaera Rap Challenge in 2020, I have been experimenting with rap, and have released two tracks with some freestyling.

What inspires or motivates you to perform?

I have always loved singing, and when I gained the confidence to perform on stage, I realised that’s where I am the happiest. I feel so alive and I know it is my purpose. Especially now that I’m writing my own music and having people from all over the world telling me that they relate to it, love it, and wish to see me perform live. If that isn’t motivation, I don’t know what is. I’m constantly trying to improve my craft.

Have you faced any challenges thus far? How did you overcome it?

My father, Aman Shah, is a veteran in the Malaysian music industry, and he worries that I may not be able to handle the life of an artiste. Likewise, for my mother, a retired singer and actress, was very wary at the start and wanted me to focus on school. I have taken things one step at a time with all their advice in mind. So far, I have proven to handle this well and they now trust me more. I try to remind them that times have changed, and things are not like how they used to be.

I also had trouble working with some producers at the start as we could not see eye-to-eye and had different goals in mind. Sometimes, things sound too good to be true, and most of the time they are. Now, I’m very careful with my music as my craft is so precious to me – the lesson is to check the terms and conditions before collaborating on any project!

If you could share one piece of advice with your fellow youth, what would it be?

Do not be afraid to put yourself out there. It could kickstart your career! It’s the only way to get feedback and be noticed – and it’s now or never.

What are your hopes or plans for the future? What do you want to see or perhaps do?

I would love to grow more as an artiste and collaborate with like-minded people. Have a tour in Asia, one day… I just want to sing around the world.

This article was published on Dec 8, 2021

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