posted on July 01, 2009 07:01
Recently on NPR’s All Songs Considered I got acquainted with Zee Avi, a Malaysian folkie whose cover of the Smiths' First of the Gang to Die I've since listened to a dozen times. It's maybe because I'm not well enough acquainted enough with the local scene to appreciate its treasures, but from what I've seen Malaysia is a fairly conformist land of malls and pop, a larger and slightly poorer version of neighbouring Singapore. As universal as she is impossible to categorise musically, Zee Avi, 23, grew up in a middle class family in Malaysia's westerly territory of Bornep, famous for its jungles. She taught herself guitar amid the jungle tranquil, far from the high-rise tropical capital, Kuala Lumpur. After school in KL however Zee Avi went off to study fashion design in London. Her rise to a deal with a US indie label is remarkable: back home after her London time, Zee began posting fooling-around videos of her and guitar, performing self-composed songs like Honey Bee. An online following led all the way to Raconteurs drummer Patrick Keeler, who recommended her to Brushfire Records, the label owned by Jack Johnson. Now Zee Avi is on tour in the US, opening for Pete Yorn.
I'm listening to her on MySpace, since Youtube remains blocked in China music fans here can't follow her and similar phenomena there. More ...