KUCHING PEEPS: Have You Met… Claudia from AF7?
The Kuching Peeps series is about getting to know our home-grown inspiring individuals by asking them all sorts of questions, shuffling from the basics, the intense, the thought-provoking and the just plain random; all through an e-mail.By Karen E. Chin @karenevachin
Kuching-born Claudia Fay Geres, better known as Claudia AF (an acronym for Akademi Fantasia, Malaysia’s first singing competition reality show) has earned herself the spotlight on the local music scene, where her pitch-perfect voice has earned her loyal followers whenever she performs.
This beautiful 29-year-old Bidayuh joined the AF in its seventh season, and several years after that I had the honour to work with her, singing in various locations. She turned out to be a wonderful friend; funny, honest, really cool. Most of all, I admire her confident and positive outlook on life.
Read on to find out more about this one-of-a-kind lady and about her experience on television and life as a singer.
Tell us about your musical history.
I started singing for fun since I was in primary school. My first actual performance was for a fund-raising event in 2003 with my dad’s band. After that show, I became their vocalist at various functions.
Later on, I recorded some original Bidayuh songs in 2005 (my dad, Jimmy Geres, wrote and composed them), which was included in a compilation Bidayuh song album. They are called Joget Peya-Peya, Diki Kuu, Asi Di Tiban and Menu Menu Rindu 😛
Since then, I sang very regularly, be it with my dad or by myself for solo performances.
Are you naturally a singer or did you have to practice and develop skills for it?
I’ve never been to any music schools, so I guess the talent comes from my dad. Of course, practice is needed to ensure a better voice control, so I just sing regularly at home. Haha!
When did you join Akademi Fantasia? Tell us about it.
I joined AF in its seventh season in 2009. It’s a reality TV show similar to American Idol. It was funny how I joined because I never thought about auditioning (I only went on the last day of auditions) but my mom made me go! I remember waking up really late that Sunday and my mom was forcing me to go. LOL!
When I got to the audition, everyone there looked so glamourous and well-prepared. I was not at all prepared but I just thought to myself, “It’s ok, nevermind, just go with it, don’t expect anything.”
How was your first day as a competitor on AF?
It didn’t feel like a competition actually, I just enjoyed the moment and the whole experience of being there.
Give the public an insider’s view: what’s a typical day like on the set of AF?
Our classes started around 9am, and usually it was the vocal class first in the morning. After that, we had another class with Ida Nerina. Basically, she coached us on acting – things like facial expression and body language, etc. The day usually ended with dance classes by Cikgu Aris. So that’s what we did every day on weekdays. Saturdays were the live concerts.
The AF live shows were always very scary… LOL! I loved the wardrobes and the make-up part though. They prepare all the attire & looks for each of us accordingly, to suit our song/performance. As we had less than a week to learn songs, we had to really focus to avoid forgetting the lyrics during the performance.
Being nervous is normal before going onstage (even until now) but once I am onstage, I feel better. But when it came to the judges, errrr… I got nervous again… LOL! I don’t really like to watch myself on TV… I feel very awkward, so I always avoid watching… haha!!
So, how does it feel like to be followed around by a camera with everything you do for the public’s eye?
At first, it was very awkward! We’d always “control-control”… LOL! But after a while, we got used to ignoring the camera and just go on doing our things and focusing on our tasks.
How are the people like in the competition? Were you required to act to dramatize he show or was it authentic?
Actually, the producers told us to be ourselves, and none of the things you see on the show are acting. All of my AF mates were cool and I know it’s cliché but they’re nice! I didn’t feel like we were all competitors against each other; it felt more like we are all students fighting to finish and graduate school. And that explains why it was always sad when one of us were voted out of the show, because the class got smaller and smaller… it was kind of sad! Haha!
How was life after AF?
Very good! I traveled a lot, which I love…
How have things changed for you since you became what you are?
Well, within my family, nothing has changed. Until now, I still get continuous support from them. The same goes with close friends, nothing has changed in those friendships.
However, being a public figure, the difference is that now people recognise me. There’s both good and bad in that. The good part is that I now receive more invitations to sing for shows and events, and the bad part is the gossip.
Some people make stories up about me, even about things I am not aware of. But now, I’ve gotten used to it. We can’t stop people’s mouths, so we just need to remember the most important thing is to be yourself and believe in God.
What was the funniest gossip you heard about yourself?
There was one that was hilarious! Haha! One particular boutique said that I went to their shop and asked for wardrobe sponsorship! I did no such thing! The best part was that I was still in the competition and I wasn’t even allowed to go out, so how would I even get the chance to sneak out and find sponsors for my clothes? Haha!
What is your best and worst experience on the job?
The best experience for me is that I get to travel to many places for functions, and meet different types of people from various background and culture. There’s no bad experience for me.
Tell us about your most embarrassing moment in your work.
My high-heels “putus” (broke) and I had to sing barefooted… lol!
What was the hardest song you had to learn and sing?
‘Listen’ by Beyonce!
Who are the celebrities that you have met while being a singer?
Other than the other AF students (competitors in the show), I’ve met Dato Siti Nurhaliza, Amy Search, Dayang Nurfaizah, Datuk A. Rahman Hassan, Anggun, Anuar Zain, Black Mentor, Misha Omar, and a lot more that I don’t remember ;p
If you could sing with one person for a show, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Pink! I love her voice! I love how she carries herself and expresses herself through music.
What are your views on Miley Cyrus?
I think she’s talented and she does what she loves; she’s not fake.
What was the best live concert you have ever been to?
Maroon 5! It’s the best because I love their songs and Adam Levine is crazy-hot! Haha! To see him live onstage is just crazy! Paramore was also one of the best live concerts I’ve been to actually. ;p
10 years ago, what did you think you would be working as now?
I thought I’d be a draftsman forever. Haha!
How would you like people to be inspired by you? Any advice to people who wants to chase their dreams?
Be patient, do what you love, have faith and never give up.
Describe yourself 10 years from now.
I think I will still be in the music industry; maybe working in a studio, composing songs for others.
What are your hobbies? What do you do for fun?
Haha! I like doing girly stuff! Manicures, pedicures, makeup, shopping, fashion… ;p
What’s your most liked and least liked music?
I love pop… and like hip-hop the least. Hahaha!
If you were a superhero, what powers would you have?
Ability to fly and be invisible! ;p
What is your biggest fear?
Describe your fashion style.
I love simple & elegant styles.
What is your favourite makeup item in your bag?
Eyebrow pencil & mascara, must-have!
How long does it take for you to get ready to go out?
For special occasions, it would take about 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours. If I’m just going to the “kedai” (quick casual errands), it would take me less than 10 minutes to get ready.
What do you think of social media and do you publicise or privatise yours?
There are good and bad with social media. I publicise my work/career but privatise my personal life. However, I currently don’t have any social media for the public to follow.
What is your motto in life? Why?
Be positive and have faith. It takes you everywhere.
Thank you for inspiring us with your talent and your work! Kuching is proud to have you and we wish you all the success in your musical career!