"Though Malaysia's Ze Rebelle has often been compared with rebellious popstar Lady Gaga, she’s far from an imitator. Born as Sarah Zainal, it is hard not to notice the electronic indie star with a personality as bright as her constantly changing hair colour.
And while she’s earned plenty of well-deserved achievements, Ze’s outspoken personality has also brought fiery criticism from conservative local Malaysians, who take aim at her fashion choices and humorously lewd videos — though there’s a special vitriol saved for her Muslim faith, bringing death threats and calls to repent. But it’s the wrath of Beyoncé’s “Beyhive” that seems to have put more fear in her than anything.
Undeterred, Ze continues to stir the conservative pot with localised covers of popular songs and remixes of her own originals on YouTube. Most of them highlight frivolous social issues, like the supposed “dangers” of Valentine’s Day, which she countered with a Malaysian-language cover of “Only You,” calling it “Kongkek Time” (“Fucking Time”).
Her hard work has paid off, winning AIM's Best Local English Song Award for “In The House”—a collaboration with Malaysian duo Goldfish & Blink—and earning a nomination for Best Lo-Fi Video at the Berlin Music Video Awards for “$ BROKE $,” which she directed herself. And after releasing her third studio album, Univerze, in 2016, Ze is now working on her next single, “Hologram”, recently previewed in a Bvlgari teaser.
We had a chat with the controversial artist on breaking away from cultural norms, incurring the wrath of the Beyhive and why good art should always make some people uncomfortable."
- Marlina Azmi
- Marlina Azmi
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