Thursday, December 09, 2010

Been There, Loved That: Telihana

Ever wonder what it would be like to hear a great song go on in a club, watch the crowd get pumped up to it, and then realize that it's your song everyone's dancing to? It's a pretty awesome dream and I've fantasized about it for a long time. This is pretty much what got #21 on my list: Record a song.

For my friend, pop singer Telihana, the dream has turned into reality. In the past year, Belgian urban music producers Bionix have taken her under their wing, leading to some exciting collaborations. Telihana recently recorded and shot a slick music video for her single "Party All Night", and her catchy dance tune is now available on iTunes.

So how about we let Teli talk about what it's really like to record a song and have life snowball from there?

So tell me ... what is it really like to record a song?
FUN! Everytime I'm in front of the mic, I can't stop smiling—though I have to say it makes me a little nervous. With your mouth in front of equipment used by the pros, in a studio where award winning songs were created ... takes a little bit to get used to! But it's amazing. Takes time though to get things perfect (we're often in the studio for full full days) but the results are incredibly satisfying.

How would you describe the sound of Telihana?
Fun, flirty beats and lyrics; music made to dance and move to!
I always aim for a positive vibe—think BEP mixed with Gwen Stefani ...
Lyrics are straightforward because of target of an international audience—I want everyone to be able to understand and relate as much as possible with the songs.

Well, it's only fitting since you're very international: part Belgian, part Chinese, and growing up in the US, Australia and Italy to boot. Speaking of which, what were you like growing up? Is this something you've always wanted to do?
I have always loved singing. We used to put on shows in the summertime when I was only 5 years old, and I was on a real stage for the first time in 1st grade with the lead in the school play. I had my first professional job when I was 14 singing in a musical in a nearby town and by 17 I was singing the national anthem in front of 5000 people at baseball games. I loved it. I took a musical hiatus during my University years but got back into it when I moved here to Belgium. I feel so fortunate to be able to do something I love again! Being a singer, an entertainer ... it has always been a childhood dream.

Apart from being Telihana, you're also a pretty serious businesswoman who's constantly jetting around the world. Most people would find it hard to break from something that's so lucrative to pursue something they love. So what made you decide to go after this? At what point did it go from singing for fun to singing for real?
The turning point was sharp. When I began working with talent whom I utterly respected and who believe in me, there was a decision to be made. I worked hard, but now they're going to work hard with me ... It was thrilling! So as a result, the bar was set higher, the goal made bigger and my dreams became clearer. All of a sudden I had to ask myself: 'If this takes off, am I ready to give up everything for it?' The answer was a definite 'yes'.
Telihana at a summer festival in Paris, in the Champs de Mars

Describe what it was like hearing one of your songs played in public for the first time.
It was at a summer festival in 2009 - Amazing! Watching the crowd groove to it and the DJ nodding his to the beat. It was surreal! The weather, the mood ... everything was just perfect. I'll never forget it. First time the tracks were on the radio I beamed too ... my friends were texting me 'I just heard you on the radio!' or calling me from the taxis to say 'I had the driver turn up the volume to 100%!' Haha! Unforgettable ... 

Your friends will agree that you are a total type A personality. What can I say, birds of a feather and all that! When you're wearing your "business woman" hat, you're used to calling the shots and being in control. When you put on the "pop singer" hat, do you take the same approach?
I wouldn't say there's too much that changes—apart from higher heels and more bling! In the music industry I still have a lot to learn, as in the business world. Though once I feel confident with a concept, I'll make sure it's done the way it should be. Which is, again, the same in both worlds. Yes ... I think my approach stays relatively the same. I'm always very hands on and I'm always asking (sometimes too often), "Why?"
Haha and yes you know me, Celine! I like being in control, but if you're asking ... I'm no diva! Or at least not any more than I was before I started singing ... haha!

What's a day in Telihana's life like?
A typical day would be something like: morning gym; desk time—meaning anything and everything that needs to be done on the computer, then music/studio around 5/6 till late. Weekends saved for the social life! (Balance and 'Carpe Diem'—I use whichever one motivates me more at the moment)
Funny thing is that this routine could happen in several different cities in the world... 

What has been the most exciting Telihana moment so far?
First thing that comes to mind I can't tell you about yet ... have to wait a little and you'll see/hear! Honestly, besides the shows, radio, etc ... one of my favorite moments is shaking's hand early in my career and saying 'Yes, I'm an artist.'

What inspires and motivates you to make music?
I believe that our lives have soundtracks. Days, seasons, years, parties—songs bring us back! I want to be a part of that. I want to make music that'll remind people of an amazing summer, an unforgettable guy, a wild trip they took, etc ... To be able to bring a smile to someone's face as soon as they hear the beginning of the beat. I want that. The soundtrack of your life ... once it's written you can't replace it.

What would people be surprised to find out about you?
I am an avid martial artist. Started when I was 12 and studied through different genres (karate, jujistu, MMA, kickboxing). In competition I have a few wins under my (black) belt including vice-champion of Belgium in kickboxing in 2008. In sports, nothing compares! I just love it.

What have you got in store for your listeners for 2011?
Lots! The official EP should be ready in beginning of summer 2011. Expect more upbeat, fun, dance tracks to fill up the summer playlists ... Can't wait to show everyone what we've been working on.

My own dreams of recording a song are far more humble than what Telihana has already achieved. But I think it's pretty inspiring to see this person with enough willpower to follow her dreamsand to see her at the brink of achieving them. She shows no signs of stopping next year, when she's got a mini Aussie tour through five cities scheduled, two more videos in the works, and representing the Asians for Chinese New Year at Noxx in Belgium! I'm looking forward to seeing where life takes Teli next.

Follow Telihana on Twitter, Facebook and MySpace 



  1. Love the 30 before 30 idea! I'll definitely have to put together a list of my own. And of course, I love the telihana post:)

  2. Do it! It's a lot of work but soooo much fun. Glad you liked it!


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