Reaching for the stars
By:Priscilla Tawie

Steff Fleur, a singer-songwriter, recently debuted her song ‘If You Don’t Love Me Now’ in the Netflix film ‘Tilit-Tilit Cinta.’ The drama is the first Sarawak production under TVS to be available on the popular streaming platform.

Baby steps into world of music

Steff Fleur’s music, like her personality, is animated, groovy, and bold — these characteristics that she amplifies in her songs shine their way into the hearts of many.

It is also the sounds of encouragement and perseverance, the words that reflected her personality.

“My future? Is it too far-fetched to say that nowhere but up? No. It is not too far-fetched. I will make it,” the bubbly lass told New Sarawak Tribune in an interview recently.

Her song ‘If You Don’t Love Me Now’ was selected by the Spotify Editors for inclusion on the Spotify Curated Playlist.

To date, Steff has garnered listeners from across the world, namely Thailand, Japan and the United States.

She also released ‘Menari Dengan Musibah’ on YouTube and performed it for TVS in 2018.

Steff performing at the 2019 What About Kuching festival.

Singing with passion and energy, the 32-year-old revealed that music has always been a part of her life since she was a child.
“I grew up in a musically inclined family. We would get together every Gawai Dayak or Christmas. My uncle would be playing the guitar or the drums. They liked my singing ability, so I began singing with them when I was 13 years old.”

Steff, who was born and raised in Sri Aman, spent her time in the music industry of Johor Bahru in 2014, where she studied.

“I played the guitar and tried my hand at songwriting while I was there. These were the days of Soundcloud and YouTube. There was no Instagram or TikTok at the time to promote our music. During this time, I met the people behind Stickybox Co and participated in busking sessions for a launch party.

“I gained a lot of supporters there, and I performed several more times before returning to Kuching in 2017,” she added.

Steff was overcome with anxiety when she returned, wondering how she would re-introduce herself to the local music scene.

“I recall thinking that I needed to start something new in an unfamiliar place. Nobody here knows who I am.”

It also happened to be the launch of HAUS KCH, a Kuching art collective organisation.

“I went and met the Timbre Guys there. They are a collective of musicians and enthusiasts who provide a platform for local musicians. They were the ones who guided me through the local music scene, particularly Farouk Kamil. He helped me advance in the music industry by getting me into shows and gigs.”

A weaver of words, Steff’s flair also lies in songwriting.

“But I also dabbled in poetry, wrote some short stories that were published, and am currently working on a novel that will be published soon.”

Her songs

Steff revealed that she wrote the song ‘If You Don’t Love Me Now’ three years ago because she felt like she wasn’t getting any younger.

“It was a song I was proud of. I decided to release it because I didn’t want to wait any longer. I have a lot of material, but I don’t have the capacity or time to sit in a studio and do a proper mix and master recording to prepare for a proper distribution platform.

“I couldn’t send something I made from my bedroom, so I asked Farouk, my producer, to assist me in preparing it. I had this song in my head for years, and he helped spice it up. When he was finished, he sent the song to me. I recall listening to it at a traffic light. I cried with happiness over it,” she said.

She also revealed that her songs are inspired by HAIM, whose songs exude a sense of calm and relaxation, which she aimed for with her own.

“I want people to feel good when they listen to my songs. While I was looking for my sound, this is the music I listened to while coming up with songs.”

The challenges

Throughout her career in the music industry, Steff shared that one of the biggest challenges she has faced was the struggle to establish herself.

“There are many talented people out there. Just because you can sing well does not guarantee you a career for the rest of your life. There is a lot of work to be done in the background of your development.

“It is more than just singing. It is how you get out there, find shows, and opportunities to present yourself. It is also about the importance of networking and introducing yourself in the scene. At the same time, you must gather materials on your own. All of these are time-consuming tasks, especially if you don’t have a manager.”

She also revealed that when she released ‘If You Don’t Love Me Now,’ she sent an e-mail to 600 of her contacts.
“I made an in-depth press release for the single. I contacted the media as well as radio stations.”

As an artiste, Steff would prepare an Electronic Press Kit (EPK) to send to potential prospects.

The EPK, similar to an electric booklet, would introduce her as a singer. It also contains information about what she has done thus far, as well as descriptions of her shows and music.

Understanding their value

Years ago, Sarawak’s local art industry was underappreciated. Artists, regardless of medium, were paid pitiful sums.

They were less valued. However, things changed in Kuching as art rose to prominence and many artists discovered their worth.

Steff shared that people today are more willing to pay to see local performances.

“If you enjoy the show, that’s great. Of course, if you want more of this enjoyable piece of music, the singer will have to fork out the funds.”

Steff went on to say that making a song is costly.

“We’ll need to hire musicians to provide the soundtrack. We have to pay for the recording, mixing, and mastering fees. Making music is more than just pressing buttons and adjusting the sounds.

“Therefore, artistes should seek compensation when doing a gig or performing at a festival. This has been a long-term struggle. However, local artists are now aware of their worth,” she added.

Tilit-Tilit Cinta

Steff recently made her film debut, as her song was featured as the main soundtrack and theme song in ‘Tilit-Tilit Cinta’ (Spying Your Love).

The TVS drama was also available on Netflix. It is the first Sarawak production to be featured on a global online streaming platform.

Her song, ‘If You Don’t Love Me Now,’ is about two strangers meeting and falling in love.

When asked about her feelings, Steff expressed her excitement about the opportunity.

“When I attended the premiere of the drama’s Netflix release, the director, Josh Nawan, complimented the song and said that it had brought the drama to life. It felt nice. Everyone loved the song, and it felt flattering.”

Steff recalls waiting in front of the television during the first episode of the drama for the credits to roll to her name.

“I quickly pulled out my phone to record my name. It was an unforgettable experience for me,” Steff revealed.

While she wishes for a chance in Hollywood, the ambitious singer hopes to reach the stars in five years.

“I hope to be able to sing in more dramas and movies in the future. I also want to see myself performing on a larger stage, such as at international festivals.”

New Sarawak Tribune e-Paper

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New Sarawak Tribune is a Sarawakian news portal that highlights Sarawak-centric news and other stories of relevance to Sarawak.

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