It’s been five years since the release of ‘Sticky Leaves’, but the hype around Linying is ever-growing.
Before the 27-year-old’s debut single, the Singaporean indie-pop star had featured on tracks with European electronic house producers Felix Jaehn and KRONO. Her melodies resonated well with listeners, and they’ve been spun out to the masses at dance festivals worldwide. However, her true centre stage moment would take place when ‘Sticky Leaves’ was subsequently released in June 2016, where the track debuted on Billboard. It was a global success, and it catapulted Linying into international attention. The tune earned a spot on Spotify’s US Viral 50 chart, and most recently had its moment on an episode of HBO’s Industry.
After a two-year hiatus from music, Linying is back to tell her story once more with lead single ‘Daylight Blows Into One Door’ from her upcoming debut studio album. Known for her honest and introspective songwriting, her lyrics shine throughout the song but sonically, it’s a departure from everything else she has done before, the influence of choir music imminent. The track’s slow, hypnotic, and majestic production complements her delicate and ethereal vocals that are reminiscent of Jessie Ware. As well, the introspection in her works and as a person is evident throughout; when asked about her pursuits, the balladeer cites "inner peace, discipline, generosity and mental fortitude".
Sure enough, ‘Daylight’ is already proving to be one of Linying’s best in her discography and there is more that is yet to come from her highly anticipated project.
For ‘Daylight’, she enlisted the help of producer and former Death Cab for Cutie guitarist Chris Walla to help achieve her desired sound, reflecting “the temporality of life”, an overarching theme that’s present in the song and her upcoming studio album. We caught up with Linying to chat about her experience of producing the lead single, her new project, and reflections on her journey since 2016.
Together with the ballad, was there a specific theme that you wanted to explore in your upcoming album?
The temporality of life that I talk about in Daylight is I guess the broadest and most overarching of themes on this album, but as I was making this record, I was at a place where I was also steeping a lot in my own thoughts about faith and scepticism, hope and fear, surrendering to love and relinquishing control. All my work so far has been autobiographical, and this album is no different. It’s just a way for me to process and then document my inner world, which at the time was filled with all these thoughts.
daylight was written with the inimitable @calculizer who i so look up to — whose exquisite work has shaped my own and whose gentleness has informed the way i’d like to make the people around me feel. it’s about panic and happiness and fear and loss. i hope you enjoy it 😌— linying (@linyingmusic) July 13, 2021
How did the collaboration with Chris Walla of Death Cab for Cutie come about, and what was the process like working with him?
I was in LA for a writing trip, and my wonderful team at Nettwerk were sending my music to producers they thought might be a good fit for the record I wanted to make. They told me they had reached out to Chris and that he was interested in doing a session together. I had a full-blown freak out outside the studio just before meeting him because I was so nervous. But he’s the kindest, most intuitive person I’ve ever worked with, and we’ve since collaborated a couple more times: in New York where we wrote Daylight, and then again when he so kindly invited me to a writing conference in Melbourne a few months after. He’s the sort of producer who isn’t a song machine. He interacts with the mood, and the feel of the space, and the time of the day… and that kind of fluidity and lack of pressure is really inviting. I love writing with him.
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Describe the creative process of making the video for the track; it’s an intimate setting, and shows you emerging from darkness.
I have my director Michael Taye to thank for how he brought this song to life. He was my tour videographer before we embarked on this project together, but because of all the time we’d spent with each other, I think he had a sort of natural understanding of my music by the time we decided to make a music video. Daylight is about realising that everything dies, and living through it all anyway, so we wanted to visually detail that process of moving through that heaviness, and then to tentative acceptance, and then to embracing that blinding, divine secret. We worked with a talented, passionate team at Epitome Collective that just got it, and made that idea unfurl beautifully.
It's been about half a decade since ‘Sticky Leaves’. Has your songwriting process evolved over the years, and have you found certain key principles that you've consistently stuck to?
It has been such a long time. I feel like before 'Sticky Leaves', I was floundering a lot in what writing a song was supposed to mean to me, or what it was supposed to feel like. The songs I wrote before I started releasing music were always corrupted with thoughts about how I would like to be perceived or what kind of music I liked at the time and wanted to make. I only started releasing music when I had finally figured out that the goal is to be as honest as possible, and that if you are, you will never regret a song or be embarrassed of it because it was at the very least real. I don’t think that approach has changed, but I think I’ve gotten much better at arriving at that place of emotional honesty during co-writing sessions with new collaborators.
You’ve collaborated with many artists both locally and internationally. Who would you say has been the most memorable, and who else would you aspire to work with?
Ha. Well, I haven’t shut up about Chris Walla ever since I met him, so he’s been the most memorable for sure. It’s a pipe dream, but I would love to get in a room with Jack Antonoff and Dolly Parton. Just imagining that makes me loopy.
Stream ‘Daylight Blows Into One Door’ here: