Exclusive Interview: Halia Meguid

May 26th, 2013

We are delighted to bring you this exclusive Q&A with singer and songwriter Halia Meguid!

Halia’s voice was first heard in Doctor Who in the Series 6 episode The Curse of the Black Spot. It came about after a Doomsday cover she had posted to her Tumblr page was picked up by composer Murray Gold, who then invited her to record vocals for the Siren, as Halia tells us: “I didn’t think anything would really come from it so I just thought it would be a fun thing to do. But it went kind of viral.”

She added: “I didn’t know Murray had heard it until a friend told me. He then contacted me privately and asked if I’d like to sing in the series. I still can’t believe it’s happened.”

Since then, Halia has recorded various tracks for the series, and chatted to us about the recording process in Murray’s ‘Bat Cave’ and the inspirations behind her Who covers…

Q. So when did you first realise you were passionate about singing?
A. It’s a cliche, but I’m going to have to say as far back as I can remember. There was a lot of emphasis on music in my house when I was a kid. Folk was the biggest culprit. My mom has a lovely voice and plays guitar and she always thought it was important to have a very strong musical presence in her kids’ lives. I also love movies, and old musicals from the ’30s and ’40s were a big thing for me, and I wanted to be like the people in them, so I learned to sing by imitation. Any sort of performance or storytelling has sort of been the core of what I love and what I’m most passionate about since I was very, very young.

Q. What’s a typical recording day like for you? How much time do you have to rehearse the tracks before you record?
A. Murray’s recording studio is in his apartment, so I’ll be summoned down to his Bat Cave and then he’ll play me the bare bones of piece. There’s a simple piano track tied to a metronome that indicates the vocals, so I learn that, and then sing over it. I learn music relatively quickly, so it doesn’t take long at all.

Q. Once Murray has written the music for you to sing, do you have any say in its overall sound and feel?

A. I’ve given some input in the past, but there is usually little to give. Murray is very brilliant at what he does; he always knows what he wants, and he really knows what he’s doing. It’s easy to trust him and know that whatever music comes out is going to be wonderful because he is so clear and concise and understands the emotional life of Doctor Who so well. So I’ve never really seen the need to give much insight. He’s always right when it comes to his music.

Q. So what would you say it is about his music that resonates with so many people?
A. I think Doctor Who resonates with people who feel things deeply. It’s a show full of goodbyes and hellos. There is loss and love, and adventures and adventures ending… Murray is a very generous and empathetic soul. He really attaches himself to his work. It’s very important to him and he takes it very seriously. If you watch him tinkering out one of his pieces, or when he’s listening to the final product, the music physically moves through him. I think he pours his passion and energy into every note, and that can’t help but be contagious. You can hear it in the songs. And you can hear it in the vital moments of Doctor Who, when everything is sweeping and sad or bouncing around and full of joy, I think people relate to it and appreciate it. He knows how to hit people in the gut, emotionally. That’s what makes a great composer.

Q. More recently your voice was heard in The Angels Take Manhattan, in particular as Amy and Rory fell off the building. You’ve used the melody to write your own song, Amelia (below). How did this come about?
A. Each of the covers I’ve written has more or less been an ode to the character the melody was initially written for. I always try to attach things from my own experience to make them a little more relateable. Songwriting to a degree has to be about yourself. It can’t really be total fiction, otherwise I don’t think people will really believe it. If you tap into your own reserves and try to write something through another’s eyes, though, I think it can make for a good piece. And I felt Amy needed a song of her own. That scene where she and Rory fall from the skyscraper was so powerful and a real testament to love and to sacrifice. It moved a lot of people, and to be allowed to sing over such an iconic moment was an incredible privilege.

Q. What are your favourite tracks that Murray’s written for Doctor Who?

A. ‘Doomsday’, undoubtedly. I also really love ‘The Doctor’s Theme’, ‘Mad Man with a Box’, Amy in the TARDIS’, ‘Westminster Bridge’. All the stuff he wrote for the Master in series 3 was just brilliant. ‘Vale Decem’ makes me lose it. So much is so awesome.

Q. Do you know anything about the Series 7 soundtrack release?
A. Murray has compiled the soundtrack for Series 7. I believe it’s his favorite one yet. I’ve heard it, and am quite inclined to agree.

Q. What advice would you give to any aspiring singers out there?
A. Any advice I have to give would be pretty standard (and will make me sound like your mom: practice, breathe through your belly, stand up straight, don’t smoke, learn how to play instrument) – but something I think is important that I never read about is try to keep your vulnerability intact with your music. I know that sounds kind of silly and a little uppity, but to me, the best singers are the ones who can make your heart soar or despair just with their voices. The words coming out of their mouths can be secondary. You don’t need to speak English to understand what Billie Holiday is singing about. Edith Piaf is popular all over the world with audiences who don’t know a lick of French. It’s the conviction and the emotional investment in the story they are telling that matters – and as a singer, it’s your job to channel that emotion in your voice. Even if there aren’t lyrics. Even if you don’t know the language you’re singing in, make sure you know what it is you’re singing and why it needs to be sung. Music always has a story to tell – whether it’s about falling in love, saying goodbye, or a mad man in a box.

A huge thanks to Halia for answering all of our questions! Visit her official website here.

3 comments on this article
  1. Patrick
    May 27th, 2013 at 5.23pm | #1

    I’m so glad I’ve found out the persons name who done the vocals when the Ponds fell off the building. She had a very beautiful voice!

  2. Bailey
    September 3rd, 2013 at 7.35am | #2

    Can’t even begin to explain how much I love this gurl.


  3. Moyra
    April 24th, 2014 at 1.25pm | #3

    Halia is just so super talented, I can’t wait to see what she does next.

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