Sugar and spice – they make for an exquisite combination because each complements and enhances the power of the other in a manner that opens the door to a whole new sensory experience. That is the same philosophy that guides the ethos of Tota Zhiyenkulova, the Kazakhstan-born, Singapore-based singer and dancer who is poised to turn heads in the international hip-hop scene with her scintillating debut single, “Coquette”. The single will be released on all major digital streaming platforms on 25 March 2022, Friday.
“Coquette’ wastes no time in establishing itself as a banger. Striding, triumphant, and oozing a raw, ravishing feminine energy, it is an empowering anthem of self-love and an ode to the importance of believing in yourself. Determined and declarative, Tota affirms that though she is a newcomer, she has her eyes firmly on the prize. “I’m finna finesse you with my perfection”, she coos, her sultry, alluring vocal register affirming the bite of her words and elevating their meaning to a palpable, pulsating level.
R&B and pop are the two disciplines that inform her world. But though inspired, Tota is no blind follower. Melting down both sounds in the crucible of her artistic vision, she creates a new expressive palette that is arresting and irresistible. She rides the beat majestically – balancing vulnerability and strength, quivering singing, and chest-thumping rapping, giving the listener an enchanting glimpse at her multi-faceted personality, all in a single stroke.
Just as the music operates on a dynamic that balances two seemingly opposing forces, the “Coquette” is a profoundly complex character. As Tota explains, “‘Coquette’ is a song about owning my own personality. I believe in astrology and my star sign is Pisces, the twin fish. The two fish are connected together by a cord, and they are swimming in opposite directions, living between fantasy and reality. It means that I am in a constant push and pull when it comes to relationships, my life choices, my habits, and my thoughts. ‘Coquette’ is really about owning my playfulness and assertiveness, my light and shadow, my sides of being introverted and extroverted, my timidness, and my sexuality”.
The song is also accompanied by an arresting music video that showcases Tota’s flair as a dancer. Set in the National Gallery, it presents Tota embodying all the facets of “Coquette”: Playful, confident, vulnerable, and undeniable. “The National Gallery is dedicated to art and culture. As an upcoming artist, I wanted to make an entrance into the Singapore music scene, and I knew this location would be perfect for me”, says Tota of the symbolic weight of the visuals.
So many pop songs these days paint a false picture of what it means to draw strength from within. With “Coquette”, Tota gets it right the first time, juxtaposing conflicting shades of emotion and resolving the tension by presenting it as two sides of the same coin that is the human condition. Her message is timely and timeless – and the impression she leaves is unforgettable.
“Body banging / Young brunette / Six-figure presence / Flirtatious like coquette”.
Tota Zhiyenkulova is a Singapore-based Hip-Hop artist from Kazakhstan, who comes with an unusual combination of classical and afrobeat influences. With her confident delivery and intriguing lyrics, she strives to make music with an air of sexy mystery.
Tota was drawn to the utopian mood of the musical world at the early age of 8, first falling in love with the violin through Kazakh maestro, Ms Zhamilya Serkebayeva. She then carried on with a kaleidoscopic journey through life and discovery, with cosmopolitan London immersing herself in the likes of afrobeat and dance. Thus, her sound was born.
A distinct mantra of Tota’s life has been that unfeigned passion comes when you least expect it; it is subconscious rather than calculated, a moment of realisation of the truth you are so eager to find. Her debut single ‘Coquette’ is a harbinger of this.. and more to come.