HL: Life is a song for Laura Fygi
It’s one thing listening to Laura Fygi croon romantic jazz tunes and quite seriously another when you meet her in person.
Firstly, that unmistakable raspy voice greets you, followed by a warm hand shake and a hearty laugh that makes even the most serious of personalities chuckle along – the picture of joie de vivre.
The ‘queen of jazz’ was in town for a three-day whirlwind trip to perform at the recent Popular Bookstore 11th Bookfest, held at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.
“They’ve asked me to sing two little sets and while I’m here, I’ll do some promotion.
“My schedule is so full, I have no time for sightseeing – only rehearsals and interviews,” she quips.
Luckily, Fygi is no stranger to Malaysia. She’s been here so many times she can barely recall if this was her tenth or eleventh visit.
She was last here in 2012, when she performed at the Dewan Filharmonik Petronas with the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra’s big band. Although a concert was planned last year, it was cancelled by promoters for reasons unknown.
The multi-genre songstress said a new album is in the works, having signed with Universal Music Singapore. Fygi is in the midst of recording a new album and hopes to swing by Kuala Lumpur for a concert tour end of the year or in early 2017.
The album she says, will be full of “beautiful romantic songs” and though she has already made her selection, the 60-year-old is keeping mum about the song titles.
The multilingual entertainer who speaks Dutch, English, French, German and Spanish also sings in Portuguese and Chinese.
Having travelled far and wide over two decades, Fygi is like fine wine, getting better with age.
“I’m more experienced, I have more knowledge of countries and cultures and my voice is huskier and but for the rest, I’m still enjoying it as much as 26 years ago,” she quipped.
Not one to peg herself to any genre, Fygi described herself as an explorative person, full of curiosity.
“Of course once you get married and you have children, you’re more careful but I would bungee jump, take on challenges, do things that are not good – I was kind of a rebel,” the mother of three young adults said.
Before her solo venture took off, Fygi shot to fame in the ’80s, as one-third of Centrefold, a popular Dutch girl band known for their risqué image.
“You are at a certain age where you would love to do that but if you ask me now, there’s no way I’m going to be on stage with garter belts and sexy lingerie,” she mused.
“I’m very grateful to Centrefold because during that time I got discovered and that’s how got my solo album so it all came out right.”
Born in the Netherlands to a Dutch father and an Egyptian mother, Fygi said it might have been unusual to see a Dutch-Egyptian couple back then but Holland has always been a mixed nations because of former colonies like Indonesia and Suriname.
“It’s not like ‘Oh my god, it’s a woman with black hair!’,” she said with a chortle.
Growing up, Fygi said her dad was the strict one while her mum was more outspoken.
“My father wasn’t musical at all and he couldn’t dance. My mother was very artistic – she knew all the songs and dances but didn’t have a nice voice.”
She revealed her mother stopped working as a belly dancer because of her father’s high ranking position at Philips.
“A belly dancer wife – that doesn’t do any good so she had to stop,” said Fygi.
She added that her late father would not have allowed her to pursue a singing career.
“My father died when I was eight, so I could do whatever I want,” she said laughing.
Her mother loved it and was proud of her; even handing her down an elaborate belly dancer costume.
“I inherited all her genes.
“When she had to stop being a belly dancer and my father told her to get rid of all her costumes, she had beautiful costumes, she did, except for one. She gave that one to me and we hid it from him,” said Fygi.
Sadly, her mother passed away in Fygi’s first year as a solo artiste.
“That’s a shame, she would have loved it,” Fygi said.
When she’s not singing, Fygi loves tending to the garden in her countryside home in Utrecht, a city central Holland.
“I live in a very little village with 1,100 people in middle of the woods, huge gardens and the only thing you hear is birds – it’s lovely and so peaceful,” she said.
When she’s out gardening, the nature lover cherishes her time alone, switching off her phone and laptop.
“Nobody can reach me – I’m not picking up the phone, this is my day and it’s such a wonderful feeling.”
And no, she does not sing to her plants, nor does she listen to music at home.
“Everybody goes in and out, music makes it so noisy and with the dog barking, there’s always something going on in the house; and with my eldest son upstairs with Rammstein, Metallica and Marilyn Manson – it sounds like hell up there,” said the animated singer.
The only time she listens to music is in the car, when she is alone.
“I put on the local station and they play a lot of Motown, soul and pop songs from my era – that’s what I like.”