Mia Palencia on opening for the 2017 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur

We speak to the songbird about Kuala Lumpur 2017 anthem 'So Many Hands' and her favourite tunes to sing in the shower

By Verinia Khoo | Published: 21 Aug 2017

Mia at the SEA Games

Jazz singer Mia Palencia opened for the 29th SEA Games at Stadium Bukit Jalil in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday. She wore a gorgeous gown by Malaysian designer Hatta Dolmat and performed the song So Many Hands, an epic track that she wrote and composed, in front of an audience of thousands. We spoke to the songbird about her performance and her favourite tunes to sing in the shower.

How did you feel about opening at the SEA Games?
I'm honoured and excited to have represented my country!

Were you very nervous?
During the performance, I had to walk across half the length of the stadium in five-inch heels in Hatta's golden dress on very uneven, soggy ground, so that was a huge challenge in itself. It could have been very overwhelming, but I chose to focus on sharing the message of the song. It was exhilarating, terrifying and life-changing all at once.

What is So Many Hands inspired by?
So Many Hands is a song that was inspired by the 'many hands' that carry an athlete all the way to the finish line; their family, friends, coaches, teachers, and in a broader sense, the community and countrymen who support them.

Watch Mia's performance below from 1:34:45 onwards.

Tell us about how you worked with Tiara Jacquelina on the track.
It was really fun, and also inspiring in its own way. Tiara is very passionate about inspiring the nation, and I guess she swept me along in her wave of vision. She's very good with imagery and details, and those early brainstorming sessions really helped to feed the idea of the song.

What's your favourite genre to sing?
I have many favourites! Folk music for the story-telling, jazz for the camaraderie in the moment, RnB and neo soul for head-bobbing goodness.

What song is your 2017 anthem?
As much as I hate to admit it (and much to my chagrin!), Clean Bandit's Symphony has been firmly stuck in my head for the past couple of months. I think its sound really encapsulates the year, and where pop music is happily living at the minute.

Favourite song to sing in the shower/traffic jam/in the kitchen/stressed?
Anything from The Bodyguard.

You wore a Hatta Dolmat dress for your performance. Did you give any input for the design?
Hatta has been just amazing to work with. In the beginning, we had some discussions about what styles I liked. I sent him some photos, and he listened to So Many Hands lots of times to get a feel of the song. He has been so open and down-to-earth to work with. It is a dream of a dress.

How's work for OlaBola The Musical going?
I'm composing the music for the show, and I hope for it to be a good balance of musical theatre with hip hop elements. Altimet has also come on board to compose the rap sequences in the show. It has been heaps of fun to work on so far! We held auditions last weekend and will proceed with more workshops with the cast soon.

This article has been updated with an additional quotes from Mia Palencia.

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