No place like home

Despite England being her base over the past eight years, singer Tin Zar Maw still has a strong following in Myanmar judging by her packed concerts that she stages every April in places across Myanmar. This year, she’s planning to hold her solo concert at the end of the monsoon after a string of shows in the provinces. Myanmar Eleven met up with Tin Zar Maw recently for an update on her life and career in music.

As for your annual visit, do you follow an itinerary as to how long you will stay and how many shows you will do in Myanmar?

I don’t have any specific travel plan. I always try to come back here every Thingyan [festival]. I left Myanmar in 2007. I’ve been back to Myanmar for eight years now. I can take three weeks’ leave from my work. I always spend around three weeks while I’m here. I thought about quitting my job after giving birth to my daughter but I didn’t want to quit so I just took a year’s unpaid leave. I came back here before Thingyan. I will stay here until mid-June. It’s like spending my time with family for one month. Now there are fewer concerts. I will return back to England around mid-June and spend time with my husband and son. I plan to come back here in September since it’s a festive month. I want to spend time with my mother.

Will you release an album containing songs written by Ko Myint Moe [Aung] before you leave for England next month?

I wanted to release it last year since the concert aired on MRTV-4. Ko Myint Moe has been working on [releasing] it. I think it will be released in June before I go back. Everything’s ready.

Tell us about your solo concert. 

I will focus on the songs. I will select the songs I didn’t sing in my last concert. These include songs the audience don’t know as well as hit numbers. I’m consulting the experts on how to make it the best show.

Will you be working on your new album while in Yangon?

I have been working on an album for over two years now. Since that album hasn’t been completed yet, I’m deciding whether I should be working on the songs from that album or doing another album. I’m selecting songs. I plan on making the most of my time with Iron Cross band as well.

Anything different in your album? 

Quite a few differences as a matter of fact. I like the old style from the past. I’ll do my best to sing the songs that are suitable for me.

Will the lyrics be different too?

Yes. In my younger days, I kept telling my composers not to include girly words like darling in the lyrics.  My songs don’t have these kinds of terms. There are love songs, of course, since you can’t separate people from love. I prefer the lyrics from the songs “First Step” and “Solo Beach”, which deal with things like the transience of human life. I need to consult with the composers to come to that arrangement. Given my age and my family life, I want to sing the songs whose lyrics run deep. But it’s down to my fate whether or not I will get to sing these songs. It also depends on writing prowess of the composers. 

How do you reconcile the reality of life in England with your popularity here?

I feel freer here. I have my mother. I have my fans and some work to do. I don’t need to worry about accommodation and food. Life abroad is not as carefree as it is here. I respect those that are trying to survive overseas. 

Are you satisfied with the current state of your music career?

Well, there are a few things that I’m not satisfied with. I started out on my career at the age of 19 or 20. I was only able to release a satisfactory album at the age of 27 or 28. After that, I was unable to do any entertainment work as I was busy with my family life. When I think back about that time, I feel dissatisfied with it. When I had to go and live abroad due to family needs, there wasn’t anyone around to help me out with my entertainment work [in Myanmar]. I had many albums that I was still working on. There were only about two or three new songs that I got to sing when I got a chance. Two years ago, I did a duet album. The songs were good, but the producer didn’t want to continue working on it. I don’t want to blame anyone. I plan to do as much as I can. I will try to release a new album.