Eighteen months after the Me N Ma Girls signed an agreement with a US music label, Burma’s only pop girl band says they are making progress on their first international album, which is being recorded in a studio in Los Angeles.
The group is, however, dealing with a major setback after two of the four members departed earlier this month, leaving only singers Ah Moon and Kimi to carry on as the Me N Ma Girls.
Members Hitke Hitke and Cha Cha left the group after disagreements arose over their recording contract, according to Ah Moon.
The group signed a deal with US label Power House Music in Los Angeles in June 2012 and travelled to the United States in April 2013 to record a single entitled “Girl Strong,” an international pop style, English-language song.
Ah Moon said Htike Htike and Cha Cha had been displeased to learn that their contract also gave the company ownership of any of their solo work. They then decided to leave Power House Music and the Me N Ma Girls in order to pursue solo careers.
“The main reason for the split is that they want to be individual artists. Since signing the contract with the company, we are the artists of Power Music, either our individual art activities or group work is owned by the company,” she said.
“The company also wants a 100-percent commitment on this album as we are a first starter. And they were frequently absent, such as missing the practice session and late for work. It happened because the girls gave more times to their individual activities,” Ah Moon said. “So the company did not keep working with them.”
Htike Htike told The Irrawaddy last week that she does not want to discuss leaving the band, adding, “I will hold a press conference later.”
Dan Hubbert, the CEO of Power House Music, could not immediately be reach for comment about the split of the band and the planned release date of their album.
Burma’s only girl band was originally formed under the name the Tiger Girls in 2010 after five girls were scouted by Australian dancer Nicole May in a talent contest in Rangoon that year. Ah Moon is an ethnic Kachin girl from Myitkyina, Kimi is a Chin girl from Kalaymyoe, and Htike Htike, Wai Hnin and Cha Cha are Burman girls from Rangoon.
In 2011, the band was renamed the Me N Ma Girl. They quickly gained domestic and international attention as Burma’s first pop girl band and enjoyed a number of hit singles. Wai Hnin left the group in 2013.
After their deal with Power House they also performed live shows in Asia and Western countries including at the Women in The World Summit in April 2013 in New York.
The remaining two members have recorded a number of songs for Power House and Ah Moon said they would now go ahead with the planned completion of a studio album, which she added is due for release some time this year.
“We have recorded about seven, eight songs, but will still have to go to our studio in Los Angeles again in February for more recording,” said Ah Moon.
“There will be Burmese songs on the album too, but the album title has not been chosen yet,” she told The Irrawaddy, adding that the band had written their own songs and lyrics but had also worked with well-known US composers on the album.
Ah Moon said the band had tried to follow their artistic desire to write their own songs, instead of adapting popular international songs for a Burmese audience by covering them in the Burmese language—a practice that has been popular among local artists for decades.
Yet, the 23-year old, who is a Foreign Language graduate majoring in Russian at the Yangon University of Foreign Language, said she also carefully considers the opinions of the Burmese public and their reaction to the Me N Ma Girls’ international performance style.
“I am prepared to accept any kind of feedback from our Burmese audience, as there could always be different opinions on our appearances and performance,” said Ah Moon.
The singer, who is also known by her Kachin name Lung Sitt Ja Moon, said her first music idol was Michael Jackson, while she also ranks contemporary artists like Rihanna, Beyoncé and Demi Lovato as inspirations.
“Burma’s famous singers Lay Phyu, Ahge and Myo Gyi from Iron Cross band and Burmese women singers Chan Chan, Irin Zin Mar Myint and Ni Ni Khin Zaw are also role models for me,” she said.
The Me N Ma Girls are scheduled to perform in Rangoon on Feb. 8-9 at the Japan Entertainment Festival, which is being organized at National Theater of Yangon. They will sing the Japanese songs as well as their own songs in English.
Earlier this month, Ah Moon and Kimi visited several other Asian countries, including Malaysia, where they had a broadcast interview with Malaysia’s Red FM and also visited local charity the Ti Ratana orphanage.
Ah Moon said she had greatly enjoyed this visit. “There are a lot of kids, from 8 months to 18 years old, we met with those orphans and had fun singing to them. It was our dream to help those people in need. We do such charity works in Burma too,” she said.