Interview with Chin female singer and songwriter Mai Shwe Shwe
31 January 2013: Mai Khin Khin Shwe, better known by her stage name Mai Shwe Shwe, is to launch her first album in Burmese called ‘A That Shay Say’ in Rangoon, Burma this Saturday.
The Chin singer will perform with other famous artists at Happy World I between 1pm to 3pm and will sign autographs for fans at the event.
Mai Shwe Shwe talked to Chinland Guardian about how she came up with the name of the title, story about her singing talent, and difficult times she went through to finally finish her long-awaited album.
Born in Mandalay to Pu Than Hre and Pi Pum Zi Mai, from Sihcang village of Thantlang Township, Chin State, Mai Shwe Shwe aka Par Chin, the second youngest of six siblings, of whom the youngest passed away, got her bachelor’s degree in psychology.
Chinland Guardian: Your new album will be launched this Saturday. How are the preparations? What is your feeling as this is the first one?
Mai Shwe Shwe: Yes, a DVD production of my album will be released on 2 February and the launch event will take place with a promotion program at Happy World I. Everything is going alright till now by the grace of God. But, I can’t sleep at night properly coz I get so excited about the day!
Chinland Guardian: How did you come up with the name of the album ‘A That Shay Say’, literally meaning ‘life-prolonging medicines’?
Mai Shwe Shwe: I chose this particular title A That Shay Say because everyone wants to live long in their lives. Even a person who’s with a deadly disease wants to live long. So, the question is: how shall we do so? There is an answer. Some proverbs describe that “if you can control your mind happily, you can strengthen your life long.” One more thing that people can’t walk away from is love. Love is important for every one of us.
So, this title “A That Shay Say” explains about how to control our mind, how we manage it to live long and how to accept life. It’s simple, isn’t? If you buy the album and listen to the songs, you will live long (laughter).
Chinland Guardian: Are the songs in the album written by you alone or is it a result of collaboration with other artists?
Mai Shwe Shwe: Aw, yes, yes! There are four artists including me working on the songs. They are Maung Maung Zaw Lat, Pho Thit, Moses and myself. I wrote only one song called “Night Shadow”.
Chinland Guardian: When did you start singing?
Mai Shwe Shwe: I started singing at the age of around 7. I can’t really remember but definitely around 7 or 8. Actually, I started singing gospel songs at a local Christian church.
Chinland Guardian: You appeared on TV several times in the past. How did you manage to get to sing on TV and what was it like?
Mai Shwe Shwe: Oh, it was a long time ago! There is not much to say about it. When I had an opportunity to sing, I sang.
Chinland Guardian: Since your appearances on TV, is it true that people approached you to sign for an album but you turned them down? Why?
Mai Shwe Shwe: Yes, it’s true. After that, several producers approached to me. But at that time, I was nervous and I thought I was too young. So, I didn’t have enough confidence with myself.
Chinland Guardian: Your mother was well-known for singing in Chin State. Do you think you inherited your singing talent from her?
Mai Shwe Shwe: Yes, tons of people said that my mum was a good singer and a well-known person. She loves me so much and (quiet for a while). Yes, I can say I inherited from my mum and on the other hand, it’s a gift from God as well.
Chinland Guardian: What were the challenges and ‘driving forces’ in your life to come this far – to be able to release your own album?
Mai Shwe Shwe: Oh! It took several years to wait for this time. Actually, I tried to manage everything in my life on my own with my own knowledge a long time ago. It’s like I was walking away from God. So, I have gone through very difficult times in my life journey. Especially, I am really thankful to my elder sisters for their unconditional love. It means a lot to me. They are my real world and they support me all the time.
Today, I praise to God that I can stand on my own because His mercy is on me. If He makes me live that way, I will walk through it forever. Finally, that’s the whole story behind how I came up with a “A That Shay Say” album.
Chinland Guardian: Which singers or musicians inspired you most?
Mai Shwe Shwe: I love Dolly Parton. I love her cute voice and her style. And I like Celine Dion. I even thought that she has got one of the best voices I have ever heard. I like Shakira as well.
Chinland Guardian: Quite a lot of singers in Burma do not want to release new albums these days reportedly because of ‘bootlegging’ and widespread piracy on the streets. Do you see it as a threat too or what do you say?
Mai Shwe Shwe: I don’t think much about it. The only thing I am concerned at the moment is whether people will like my songs. If my album is bootlegged and illegally sold on the street, I would think I will be happy on one hand coz it indicates that people are interested in my songs. So, they make it and it helps me.
There are always advantages and disadvantages together along the way. The advantage in this case is that people from different living standard backgrounds can afford to buy my DVD and enjoy it. Everyone already knows what the disadvantage is. I don’t have to say anymore (laughing).
Chinland Guardian: Any messages to your fans?
Mai Shwe Shwe: I would love to say to all my fans a big thank-you for all their support so far but to keep supporting by buying the album and praying for me for my music journey. It takes several years for me to make this album out. I hope you will like it and enjoy my music. All your supports mean a lot to me and I will try the best for you in the future. God bless you all.