MOST people prefer to forget their ex’s name but for Elizabeth Tan, however, it’s her ticket to fame. The 20-year-old singer got her break in the local music industry after her rendition of Joe Flizzow’s Havoc – which happens to be her ex-boyfriend’s name – created a buzz on YouTube and eventually on radio and television.
It all started innocently when in December, upon returning to Kuala Lumpur after completing her studies in the United States, Tan had plans to pursue a career in singing but wasn’t sure how or what to do.
“I was looking for a Malay song to sing and my friend said, ‘Why don’t you do Havoc?’. I just stared at him because it’s my ex-boyfriend’s name, and he was like ‘OK, I was just suggesting …’
“I went home, thought about it and I was like, ‘Okay, maybe I should give it a try’ because at that time, the song had already been on air for quite some time. So I just picked out four chords, tried it, recorded it and posted it online,” said Tan, who took two hours to complete everything before posting the video on YouTube.
It’s a good thing that Tan didn’t let the song title stop her because her soulful voice, charming personality and ukulele skills have won the hearts of over 530,000 people (and counting) on the internet – making it the most viewed video on her YouTube channel, which was initially used as a platform to improve her hosting skills.
Growing up, Tan had always wanted to be a television host but after winning at a talent competition in June last year, she realised that she had found her true calling – singing.
Now, her YouTube channel houses a fine selection of covers including Lorde’s Royals, Ed Sheeran’s I See Fire, Yuna’s Deeper Conversation, Rihanna’s Stay and also some of her original tracks which will be featured in the demo she’s currently working on.
Although it may seem that Tan had an easy way into the entertainment scene, she revealed to having a rocky beginning at the start of her career.
“When I first started, I got a lot of criticism because I was really bad but I believe that it’s all about the experience. I feel that even if people criticise you, take it constructively because you’ll definitely learn and will eventually get better,” she said.
Like most songwriters, Tan – who is inspired by Zee Avi, Yuna, Ingrid Michaelson, Corinne Bailey Rae, Bon Iver and Ed Sheeran – likes to pen songs about “life and choices”.
And of course, there’s no forgetting her beloved ukulele.
Her love for the musical instrument started a year ago when a close friend introduced her to it, and boy, was it love at first sight, or rather first strum. Tan purchased a ukelele right after that and it has been her go to musical instrument ever since.
But why a ukulele?
“I actually do play the guitar but the ukulele is a lot easier because it’s smaller and there are only four strings (compared to a six-string guitar),” added Tan.
As one of the rising YouTube stars in Malaysia, Tan, who is a big fan of JinnyboyTV, believes that the local YouTube scene is “definitely growing” and it is “cool” to be a part of it.
“We live in a really different age now, and it’s amazing to see what social media is capable of doing, even on YouTube. It really changes things.”