Meet Cleo Hot Shot 2018: Bil Musa

NABILAH MUSA, 25, Singer-songwriter

Baby doll blouse and sash, A By Jane; jeans, Levi’s.

Music has always been a big part of Bil Musa—growing up she adored French singers such as Edith Piaf and Carla Bruni. While she never intended for it to be a career, that totally changed when Yuna’s manager expressed their interest on getting Bil on-board their label. Since then, Bil Musa has put out two albums and she’s a firm believer that she has potential to grow in the music industry.

Fame or success?

Definitely success. I don’t care about not having people know what I look like or who I am. I’d rather make a name for myself among the people in the industry and be respected. I really don’t care about fame.

What’s the driving force behind what you do?

It’s simply people thinking that I can’t. I’m a passive rebel. I won’t say I’m going to do the exact opposite of what you tell me to do. I’ll quietly do it just so that I can prove you wrong. People never expected me to sing and it’s fun to catch people by surprise.

Something you learned early on in your career that made you a better artist?

I think it’s that you will always be compared. Of course, starting out, I was compared to Yuna a lot. I’m not going to lie—it was irritating at first but then I learned to embrace it. I learned that it’s important to ignore the comparisons and just be yourself, even if you remind people of someone else.

“There’s always potential to grow and no one shouldn’t stay comfortable. I’m a singer-songwriter but how do I grow from that? Can I go into producing, writing for other artists, scoring films or making soundtracks? The possibilities are endless. I’ve learned that I have to think big.”

— Bil on the most important thing she has learnt in the past year.

If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?

Getting exposure, solely based on connections. There are so many talented people who deserve the exposure but never see it, and then you see these artists who are well connected with big TV networks backing them having their name mentioned on every media outlet. I want to see radio stations, that cater to the masses, give some airplay to local English songs, that would be great.

How can a person in your position, press for progress in an industry like yours?

I think what’s important is that artists keep making good quality music and not just stuff that they think sells. I’m just going to keep doing me and keep talking about my favourite local music—mainstream or not—whether its on social media or when people ask me who I’m listening to.

Can you tell us any habit you that keeps you creative every day?

I get creative by not creating. I absorb and read. For me, when I’m away from making my music, it makes me crave it more. So, I try to not be creative. I listen to podcasts about the stuff that’s happening in the world or the latest developments in technology or read a book about nature or science or brush up on my French. It makes me itch to look for my guitar or piano when I’m done.

Which artists inspired you the most growing up? And who are the female artists you’re currently obsessed with? Why?

Growing up, I loved Edith Piaf and Carla Bruni because they were so different in their styles of singing and as artists in general. I don’t really know much about their personal life but I know Edith Piaf AND Carla Bruni made a name for themselves despite turbulent times. Currently, I’m obsessed with Jhene Aiko. Her songs are honest and she’s just cool. She is so cool. Lorde’s pretty chill too. She’s just doing her thing, being herself. She’s different without trying and that’s amazing.

Who would your dream artists to collaborate with? Why?

This is so overrated, but I’d love to collaborate with Khalid. I feel like his style of songs would go well with my voice and my style as well. I love all his songs. They’re so easy to listen to and so relatable.

What are your guilty pleasures? Why?

Eating. I love eating and I love food. I have a sweet tooth and I spend all my money on desserts. I think it’s because I grew up with my mum always baking something. She made the best cakes when I was growing up and always invited me into the kitchen. It’s severe. I have cookies hidden in my room that I eat as I’m falling asleep.


Special thanks to Alila Bangsar for venue assistance during the whole production.
Official sponsors: Wet n Wild Malaysia and Sasa Malaysia.