“Rock!” was Lyia Meta’s succinct and unequivocal response when quizzed on which genre of music influenced her most while growing up. With a dad living off a diet of Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones, it’s not surprising that she cut her teeth on the more aggressive sounds of the 1970s.
Judging from what’s on the singer/songwriter’s debut album This Is Lyia, there can be little argument. The self-produced effort, a five-song outing, captures the seasoned live circuit performer in fine fettle, her big voice an obvious highlight between cleverly-crafted songs generated from true-to-life experiences.
The idea of releasing an album has been an ambition lying on the back burner for a while, though finally, it has seen the light of day. “I’ve been writing songs for nearly 10 years now, but I never thought they were good enough,” said Meta, confessing to being her own worst critic.
This Is Lyia, while a product of her experiences, also captures the singer living vicariously. “I think I’m a beacon for negative energy … people come to me and tell me their problems. And sometimes, these emotions are too much to contain, so, I put them into song,” she explained, citing For You as one such piece, which details the unravelling of a marriage.
She’s Searching, the lead off-track from the album, though, couldn’t be more personal. It explains Meta’s journey in music. “You think you know everything, but then you learn that you know next to nothing,” she revealed, even though she’s spent close to 16 years plying the live circuit.
This Is Lyia makes pitstops at all her musical cornerstones, from rock and blues, through to jazz and pop. Meta knows her music, and why wouldn’t she. After all, she comes from a family renowned for its musical heritage.
Her older sister is roots music singer Karen Nunis. “My dad was a blues singer and he was good at improvs,” she stated, revealing that he sang in the renowned Kilat Band, which later gained fame with the song Kereta Lembu, sung by siren Helen Velu.
A sole cartridge player (remember those clunky pieces of plastic?), likely a hand-me-down, Meta reckons, served as the main source of music at home, blasting the sounds of Elvis Presley, Cliff Richard and the rock bands of the day in their Malacca home.
Her live scene exploits, with husband Zack Meta, have allowed her to explore every popular music genre … even Gregorian chants. “Being on the live circuit gave me a proper foundation … it gave me time to find myself.”
Finally being able to put an album out is an emancipation of sorts. “I’ve invested so many years in my music pursuit that I felt I needed something to show for it,” said the 45-year-old Meta, relating that it was her mother who pushed her to pursue a singing career. “I wanted a normal life, like being a secretary,” she said, shockingly. Thankfully, mum knows best!
She is pragmatic, and feels that while age may not be on her side, she, at least, has a product she can be proud of, and is willing to give this opportunity a proper whirl. Given the quality of the music on the album, it’s difficult to imagine how age could be a point of deliberation for any listener … but we live in strange times.
There are no grand plans for a nationwide tour, or even an album launch, yet. But she is excited at the prospect of seeing where the album takes her. In fact, she’s already gained some traction for it, winning the Best Overall Female Act gong at this year’s edition of the upcoming VIMA Music Awards. She has also earned a series of nominations, not least for the Best Rock Song category for the album’s closing track, Slumber. She’s also in the running for Best Rock Vocalist, among others, at the independent music awards.
Her song She’s Searching was also picked up by California-based online radio station, Women Of Substance. “The founder Bree Noble sent me an e-mail after hearing my song on Reverbnation and asked me to send the song in officially.” The song received heavy rotation and eventually made it into the Top 20 playlist.
Meta might not be looking too far into the future just yet – she continues to lay one brick at a time, and the latest piece is a new song she’s hoping to record soon to keep her momentum going. And when she’s not singing, she’s painting. “I’m currently working on my second solo exhibition and am looking forward to that.”
It’s hard to tie a good woman down.