Juwei Teoh, from Instagram star to pop singer
Local social media darling Juwei Teoh has a lot going for her. Her colourful Instagram account is all the rage with the hip and happening crowd. When she posts her pictures, netizens comment that she looks like mainland China’s highest-paid actress Fan Bingbing. When she sings, Mandopop fans say that she sounds like Malaysian pop diva Fish Leong.
Hailed as one of Malaysia’s top new online media divas of the year, the social media celebrity goes by her name Juwei. She recently made a successful transition from power blogger to recording artiste, with 253k views on YouTube for the music video for her first song White Jacket (Bai Se Wai Tao in Mandarin). In fact, her ever-growing online influence made the tune an overnight hit; White Jacket garnered up to 100,000 views in just one day.
Growing up in Tanjung Bungah, Penang, Juwei has always loved singing, but never imagined that she would become a singer, much less release her own album. “As a little girl, I liked pretty and girly things such as makeup and nail art. So, I may have imagined myself to be a makeup artiste or a beauty consultant. But I ended up being a model instead,” she said in a recent interview at a cafe in Kuala Lumpur.
Teoh moved to KL at age 20 to expand her horizons and get a headstart in modelling. Her big break came when she participated in the 2012 Miss Astro Chinese International pageant, which gave her a chance to pursue a more exciting career path.
Her journey to becoming a recording artiste started at the beginning of 2015 when composer/producer Jimi Soo, who has written songs for the likes of Hong Kong pop icon Andy Lau, suggested that she cut an album. Titled Myself (Mandarin title Ai Zi Ji), the mini-album took half a year to make.
Juwei recorded three songs and filmed music videos for the first two tracks in her album.
“The three songs in the album are sort of linked together to relate a story about romance. The first song White Jacket is symbolic of acceptance and letting go. The white jacket represents a memory that a former love has left behind for me. Why Don’t You Love Me is about learning how to accept. The last song Happiness Flower is not as sad as the others, as it is about letting go of a past love.”
As a model, the 28-year-old has appeared in other singers’ music videos, but only realised how much work it was to shoot her own music videos earlier this year. “We went to shoot in Johor Baru. It was especially tiring as the hours were very long, from ten in the morning till eleven at night. Still, I found it to be a fun experience as I learnt a lot.”
Recalling one of the most challenging sequences she had shot for White Jacket, Juwei said it took a lot of effort to make it look effortless.
“There was this scene in the video where I had to pose on a staircase. They were throwing feathers everywhere and the fan was blowing at me for that wind-swept look. It looked like a simple scene where I was just standing on the steps and singing, but in reality, it was not as easy as it looked as there were all these tiny feathers getting into my mouth and into my nose.
“But, of course it is easier to laugh about it now!” she concluded.