Malaysian songbird Mia Palencia will be serenading the crowd at the opening of the 29th SEA Games on Aug 19 with So Many Hands, the official song for the games which she wrote and composed.

What went through your mind when you first heard you were going to write the official song for the 29th SEA Games?

My first thought was, “Wow, Standing in the Eyes of The World will not be easy to live up to!

The song has garnered over 2.3 million views to date. What were your inspirations for this song?

It was actually Tiara Jacquelina and her team at Enfiniti Productions’ vision to honour all the unsung heroes behind the athletes. Often when we watch sports as spectators, we’re so focused on the game and the game players. The reality is that many unseen faces would’ve supported the athlete over many years for her/him to arrive at that defining moment. This led me to the concept of So Many Hands as a reference to all the many hands that carry the person to that moment when her/his dreams become possible.

What sport would you most likely be watching during the SEA Games?


And most unlikely?

Lawn bowls?

If you could swap lives with any athlete in the world, who would it be and why?

I wouldn’t swap lives with anyone even if I could, thank you very much!

Do you normally have a

pre-show ritual?

Lots of sleep the night before (yeah, right), have something warm to eat two hours beforehand (no banana leaf), lots of water (no carbonated drinks), vocal warm up and then have fun getting dolled up!

When you tell people you’re pursuing your PhD in songwriting, what are people’s first reactions?

“Wow, can you actually study songwriting at university?”

Who would you consider to be some of the greatest songwriters of all time?

When I think of great songwriters, I think of great albums. My current three desert island ones would probably be: Carole King’s Tapestry, John Mayer’s Continuum and Erykah Badu’s Mama’s Gun.

Three years ago you wrote the music for MUD the musical. Now you’re working on Ola Bola the musical. What is the most challenging aspect of writing for musicals?

I think the most challenging thing for me is to get the balance right. I want all the songs to share a sound and tell the story cohesively, but I also want them to be memorable, engaging, interesting and moving. Perhaps the biggest challenge is that they’re not cheesy!

If there was a musical based on your life, what would it be called?

Mamma Mia? No, wait, has that been done?

You’ve been based in Tasmania for a while. Which Malaysian idiosyncrasies do you miss the most?

I miss the spontaneity of Malaysian life. Malaysians love hanging out and a mamak session would often take place within hours of the idea being thrown up. Here, I have to book people two weeks in advance to do any form of socialising.

Your brother Christian is also in the music industry. What’s the best tip you’ve given him so far?

Sing from a real, honest place, always.

You grew up watching a lot of Disney films. If you were a Disney character, who would you be and why?

I would be Baloo because food, sleep, and good music pretty much sum up the bare necessities for me!

What are the three things most people don’t know about Mia Palencia?

I am a nerd on three fronts: I love watching sci-fi (including every single Stargate franchise), reading fantasy novels (I’m convinced I reared dragons in a past life), and I crochet (blankets, baskets, scarves, gloves, and bunnies — mostly bunnies!).

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