"Girl on fire"


Kayda Aziz on music, teaching and Beyonce…

Khaleda Aziz or ‘Kayda’ – as many would know her – is no stranger to the urban Malaysian music scene. You might have seen/heard her perform the hit song “Go hard, or Gostan”. Who would have thought that Datuk Sheila Majid (Malaysia’s queen of jazz) can actually inspire her daughter to build a career in the rap/hip-hop. When we caught up with Kay Kay recently, we found out that she wears more than one hat. Besides her music, she happens to be a kindergarten teacher too!

You started out with hip hop music. Where did the hip hop influence come from?
I was so used to pop jazz growing up because my mother sings a lot of it. The hip hop scene was definitely something fresh for me when I first discovered it – being exposed to my mother’s musical environment and all. One day I saw Too Phat on TV and thought ‘Wow!’, I really dig what I was listening to. Then I discovered the likes of Mizz Nina, Arabyrd etc. At that time I wasn’t too familiar with old school hip hop but I decided to give it a try, so I started practising with songs from international female rappers. I honestly chose to start of as a hip hop artist in hopes that I wouldn’t have to be compared to my mom. But people are still comparing and there’s not much that I can do but to just embrace it. In a way I’m still discovering myself, still trying to find my artistic sound.

Although you are still relatively new in this industry, what is your take on the local music scene?
I would say there’s not enough support in the local music industry and that people are easily influenced by the hype. You sort of have to be internationally recognised first before you get recognised in your own country – either that or you have to die first for people to appreciate you, like my mother always say. We have so many great talents here who work hard but they’re so underrated. But on the other hand, I’m grateful cause I’m sort of already born into it. When I was little, I followed my parents around for work so I’ve seen how things function from the beginning. I am privileged enough to get to know a lot of people from the industry.

Do you think people expect you to be as successful as your mother?
Yes. It’s probably a lie if I tell you I don’t care about what people think. But of course we try not to please everyone and make ourselves feel like crap. Those are the things I’m still learning – I’m learning how to differentiate if the opinion of others are relevant enough to me or not.

What is the best advice your mother gave you?
My mother always told me, if you want to do music, do it whole heartedly. My parents only care if I do something that can make me happy and if I can make ends meet. I really enjoy what I do. I may not be earning that much now but then again I still have a lot to learn. People have their own shot of opportunities. I might be successful by the time I turn 40 but who cares? I’m still going to be successful. In anything you do, you just got to stay consistent. Be open to take constructive criticism to improve yourself too.

So, you are a teacher as well. How did that come about?
At the beginning of my career, I realised I can’t depend solely on my music for finances. In our generation we can’t just depend on one income so I listed down my other interests and analysed what I can do. I like music, I like fashion. I have worked in the fashion industry but it wasn’t really my cup of tea. I like children, and I’m good with them. So when my lecturer encouraged us to teach at a refugee school in my final year at uni, I thought I’d give it a shot. Turns out, I really like it. Who knows maybe one day I can open up my own school?

What is the best part about being a teacher?
I teach toddlers, and these kids always have something funny to say – you know, kids being kids. So it makes my job fun. Even if you were to scold them they wouldn’t take it personally. I think of them as my little brothers and sisters. If you love kids you will have patience with them.

Do they listen to your songs?
They do! They would tell me stuff like ‘teacher I saw your music video last night!’.. It’s so cute to have young supporters.

Can you share with us this obsession you have with Beyoncé?
What’s not to like! She’s very driven. I’ve never seen a person who works so hard like her, she’s a visionary. When she wants to do something, she will give her all to it. The woman doesn’t stop, even after having a kid. She may not have a lot of number one hits but it’s all the other things that make her one of my role models.

Have you watched her live?
Yes I did, in Jakarta and Singapore. It still feels like a dream. Now my goal is to catch her LIVE in the United States.
Like Sasha Fierce, do you have an alter ego on stage?
Yes I do, but I don’t have a name. Unless you want to call me Sizezero – my instagram name.

What are you most afraid of?
Still being single at 40. I’m generally a scaredy cat. My mom actually said she had to endure 14hours of labour pain before delivering me. That is how scared I was to even come out and see the world!

​Your ultimate goal in life would be?
I would want to be an extremely influential individual that people could look up to in both teaching and music related areas. I want to be able to contribute many things to the society. If given the chance, I would love to be the special envoy for United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees – like Angelina Jolie. Currently, I’m working on how to get there by doing a lot of volunteer work.

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