Interview: LIÊNA – San Francisco

Second single from Russian-born, Swedish-raised Vietnamese singer, songwriter, producer LIÊNA, who is currently a software engineer in San Francisco.

Discovered via


Hi LIÊNA. Introduce yourself please and tell us what’s been happening over the past six months.

I am a singer, songwriter and aspiring producer based in San Francisco. “San Francisco”, my latest single, came together in the last few months before the quarantine. I worked with Elliot “Jireh” Miller, who is based in Portland, to produce my track. He flew in for a weekend to wrap up production and we mixed the track together. It was a super packed but amazing weekend of music for me. Elliot is fantastic.

However, I’ve always wanted to learn how to produce music myself. Going forward, I’ll be working on more music as a singer, songwriter and producer. I’m really excited to learn the technical ropes and be able to take greater control of my musical ideas and expression through production. I’ve got a lot of things I want to try out and I’m really looking forward to being able to do that while still keeping the production quality top-notch.

I’m loving your latest single, ‘San Francisco’. What was the inspiration for the song?

I wrote most of the song, verses and chorus, all in one sitting. However, the idea behind the song is a culmination of many things that’s been happening to me over an extended period of time. The verses are all about the hustle of tech: I describe the stress, the anxiety, the software release schedule, the whole money business. There are many references which I feel are specific to San Francisco, such as the complaint about high rent and the crypto crash (you can’t go to a party around here without meeting someone who is into crypto). All of this madness can get to you from time to time, but the chorus brings it together in a positive light: people come to San Francisco for those reasons, for “a little ride” and for “the riches.” I met my boyfriend around that time as well. What’s a pop song without a love hook to it?

Where did you record it?

All of the vocals on the track were recorded in my bedroom in San Francisco.

If you could perform at any venue in the world, where would it be and why?

I look up to artists such as Es Devlin and Olafur Eliasson for the experiences that they’ve been creating in the art world. (You guessed it, I’ve been watching Abstract on Netflix.) When it comes to performance, I’d like to one day be able to incorporate that kind of multi-disciplinary, visual creativity to my performances and make that part of my music. On the other hand, as someone with a software engineering background, I am really excited about the progress that we’ve been making in augmented and virtual reality technology.

Combine those things together, and you have music at the intersection of visual arts and technology. Some artists are already exploring these mediums: Childish Gambino, Poppy, Gorillaz. That’s where my “dream” venue lies. For example, I would love to be able to give a live augmented reality performance. My audience can put up a screen or put on an AR headset and see my 3D projection in their own spaces as if I were there, giving them a personal, small venue experience. It would have been a great technology to have for this pandemic. Realistically, I don’t think we currently have the technology to do that live yet, but we already have ways to project pre-recorded 3D performances into your space. Check out the Jadu iOS app from Asad J. Malik’s 1RIC studio, for example. It can project different artists performing into your space on your iPhone, and you can record yourself dancing with them. We’re getting pretty close.

Are you planning to make it part of a larger release, such as an EP or album?

I don’t have any concrete plans at the moment, but it is possible that I will make “San Francisco” part of an EP or album in the future. Right now, I am just focusing on making more music, building my music production skills and refining my sound.

What advice would you give to other artists trying to stay productive during this crisis?

Although the pandemic has put a stop to a lot of things in our lives, I think it is an opportune time to invest in your home studio and setting it up so that you can easily be creative at home. For example, treat yourself to a bit of extra equipment, just to make creativity take less effort for you. If it usually takes you 15 minutes to set up your MIDI controllers and DAW before you can start playing, why not reduce that to 3 minutes by buying some racks for the MIDI controllers and some cables to keep all the equipment always plugged in to your computer? Or, you can buy a plugin or two to speed up your music production process here and there. The faster you can get to the actual creation process, the more easily you can put down your ideas instead of being bogged down by technical diversions — the better.

Who are your biggest musical heroes?

Bruno Mars, Amy Winehouse, Eminem, Daft Punk, Quincy Jones. Imogen Heap for her pioneering work at the intersection of music and technology with the Mi.Mu gloves, and her integrating those gloves into live performances as a musician. Also, Glenn Gould… if he counts? That’s my inner somewhat long-abandoned classical pianist speaking!

3 thoughts on “Interview: LIÊNA – San Francisco

  1. Pingback: สีทนไฟ
  2. Pingback: naza24

Leave a Comment