Getting personal

16 Jul 2019 / 10:51 H.

FLY FM’s Ili Ruzanna shows she is not afraid to get personal with her music, as can be heard from her first original song, I Don’t Mind, released last month after a five-year wait.

According to the 25-year-old radio announcer, emcee and singer-songwriter, I Don’t Mind was written about five years ago after the demise of a two-month relationship that “for some reason, I thought was something super real”.

“I was so heartbroken for a whole year. And in that whole process, there was this melody stuck in my head,” recalls Ili.

Playing the four chords that were on repeat in her head on the ukulele, she met up with friend Sulaiman Syafiq, who helped her bring out the words to the song.

Sulaiman, she says, is the one person who not only supported her through the heartbreak, but “knew pretty much everything that happened to me in that process”.

For the younger Ili, creating the song was like a form of therapy. She began performing the song during open mic performances or weddings.

Afaro, a producer with FarOffRecords, heard a live rendition of the song and asked if he could produce it for her. He would pose the same question every year.

Then last year, Ili says: “He asked me one more time, and I said: ‘You know what, let’s do it’, and we finally did.”

The wait was partly due to her juggling university at the time, followed by the excitement of her union with Fly FM, where she earned the title of Fly FM’s Flydol in 2017.

“It was just a matter of making it a whole package to sound the best it could,” she said when recalling the moment she and Afaro finally met in the recording studio in January this year.

The song took about six hours to record, where “little things we wanted like the piano, guitar, and beats” were included, and then “three weeks after that was just fine-tuning it”.

Ili admits that “recording is a very weird experience because you sort of find things that oh, maybe we should have done that, maybe we should have done this”.

But, she adds: “You have to just accept one thing because then, your song will never be done. You will never release it.”

Prior to the release of the song, during a segment on Fly FM, Ili asked listeners to call sharing their first breakup story.

“A lot of people called me to tell me: ‘oh my god, my first breakup, like that happened 10 years ago, Ili! I can’t believe you brought this up!’

“That was before the song was released but I had already posted up lyrics on my Instagram. So every time they read the lyrics, they’re like: ‘Ouff, who broke your heart, girl?’

“And that sort of like made me feel, oh, everybody went through that moment before, you know – where you find someone and you’re so in love, then you realise, oh my god, this is not it.”

As to the reaction she hopes to get from those listening to her song, Ili says: “It’s a relatable song, but also it’s my story that I want people to go: ‘Oh, she went through a breakup, I went through a breakup too, and that’s cool’.”

Above all, the singer says that her “goal is to write songs that are very personal to me, and I’m not afraid to sort of tell people about it because I want people to talk about personal things”.

She adds: “It shouldn’t be a taboo to talk about stuff that happened to you. I feel like the more that people talk about it, the more that everybody can connect and realise, oh, it’s fine to go through stuff, it’s not really a big deal.”

Ili is currently working on an acoustic pop EP of the same title, due out by the end of this year.

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