TWICE KICKED OUT OF UNI INDIE SINGER LAUNCH 3RD AND 4TH SINGLE
KUALA LUMPUR, 3 OCTOBER 2017 – Indie singer songwriter, who represented Malaysia to the Asia Pacific English Presentation Contest a while back in Fukuoka, Japan and won the grand prize Asia Pacific Cup, beating other contestants from 29 Asia Pacific countries, is furthering his foray into the local music scene with the launches of his third and fourth singles, Angin and Bertahan.
Both singles, are produced by award winning musician AG Coco, who has worked with the internationally renowned Yuna, since her early years in the industry. Compared to the previous two singles, which was solely written by Nik Nabil, the latest singles are co – written with AG Coco.
” AG Coco has stemmed the idea of writing songs together to me for quite some time. When the opportunity arised, I was so honoured for the chance to work with AG at this level. I learnt a lot, and it will be something I will cherish for years to come,” commented Nik Nabil on the collaboration project.
Nik Nabil’s first single Memori, was chosen to be sung by the crowned champion for TV9’s Idola Kecil season 6’s Daniel Chuer Hamasiah. Nik Nabil was later chosen for Damansara Performing Arts Centre ( DPAC)’s The Next Artist or d’NA project in which he collaborated with World Championship of Performing Arts ( WACOPA) gold award winning dance group Anak Seni Asia and Pandu Puteri Malaysia to perform an experimental dance drama, Memori : The Story of Andhika Pramuthya.
He has since been slowly featured in the local media for his music works.
“Breaking into the local music scene is tough, and personally, when I started cutting my first single, I was at my lowest point of my career, and at a junction in my life.
My career life was not smooth. At all. At my first engineering job, my manager threatened to quit if I was not sacked, so I was sacked. I was recovering from denggue and thought the better of it, at least I have my health back. The other time, one boss died of a heart attack. Instead of patting me on the back for job well done, I was asked to leave because they fear I might run with their clients. At one company, the CEO don’t really agree to hire me but he had to, and I was bullied by him and his management. Glad to say, the other employees saw through it and appreciated the many contributions I did, despite the challenges. This one time, a new CEO wants to bring his own people in, so I was shown the door, perhaps rather gracefully, but it’s still ouch! Tough times calls for tough mindset, but I don’t want to be tough. I want to be strong. For the right reasons.
I was in three institutions before I graduated from a top university in biomedical engineering. Job prospect was bleak. My job’s first of many requirements is to have a car, and I was really broke back then, with nobody to turn to. I mean, I’ve been living on my own after my father said as a matter of factly not to return home because I upsetted my stepmom and the family. I was the only child from my father’s first marriage. I knew the facts, but not having financial support after graduating aka a car, was hard for a fresh biomedical engineer back then. Further more, I had no way but also do sales, which at that time, I was not soo into it yet. I had to learn it the hard way though ..
As one thing led to another, I finally saw through that I don’t even like biomedical engineering that much. I was forced to by my father. I stuck by it and one thing that came out of it was I represented Malaysia for the Asia Pacific Cup in front of Nobel Laureatte,distinguished fellow judges from Oxford, Harvard, Stanford and Cambridge universities and others. I decided to trust in that. So, I pursued public relations.
The few times I contacted my father, he really did dissed me and implied that if I was not an engineer, I was really up to no good. At one time, after much much trouble, I finally arrived at a point I was earning more than junior expats, reaching the 8k figure but he was nevertheless, decidedly unimpressed. He went further to question whether I was on drugs or just someone who doesn’t pray the five obligatory prayers for muslim. My mom most of the time, find it amusing that I try to do it on my own, but later I learnt that she chastised me for not giving in to stability and honourable jobs like an engineer or pursuing higher qualifications, which both of my parents have. If it was not for the fact that they separated after 10 months of marriage, I would have been so broken hearted but I took it in stride.
Mostly, I was team me, and it was okay.
I went on from a twice kicked out of uni guy, to graduating from the number one uni, then becoming a pr manager at once, the biggest pr group in the world, to working as a senior management consultant with a top consulting firm, in the biggest tech project in Asia Pacific of its kind.
I wanted to make sure I am more involved with projects that I have more control of in the future, consciencely. The big dream, to do my own version of management consulting ..the Peaceful Management consulting. I wanted to help create more Peaceful leaders in the market, adopting winning and effective peaceful strategies ..because Peace is what I want to believe as what the last prophet tried to present to us. A peaceful life,360. It was tough. I stumbled and fell so many times trying to sell the idea. Mostly I just failed to clarify even to myself ..what is it that I want to offer.
The last four years were challenging. It was a first because I tasted the real bitter fruit of freelancing and juggling my wish to broaden my musical appeal to the masses. I mean, it’s a no brainer, I thought I will get money from my projects and channel that to my music. It was harder to make it work. My first year was a great success, at least to me, I signed up with clients that in total paid me as if I was just starting work in the annual terms, it means I was surviving. Not rich but fulfilled because I find clients that I want to work with for example Putra Business School, the world’s first school for human governance.
But after that, it went downhill pretty fast. The days were long, the nights were filled with worries about not making rent …and not having much to eat. But during those time, I remember stumbling upon a fellow artist who was trying to make it in the entertainment world too and as he was struggling too, I made a vow to take inspiration from it and work harder. You know what, one day I was barely making it, the next time I helped a fellow struggling artist friend, and God gave me another new opportunity. It’s always like that. I thought I was living it hard but others are too and during those times I opened up a bit more and try to emphatise regarding the topics of rejections in casting calls and being bullied by agencies and intermediaries when it comes to timely payment. Every morsel shared, became a comfort to my grieving heart. I mean, I don’t have a family that shared my passion of trying my luck in music like most kids do nowadays. For me, it means my father or uncle saying it is haram or forbidden. My mom, had selective hearing when I tried to draw a symphaty bone from her regarding music and singing. But she does go on a rave talking about my step brother this and that doing some things or the other in the music scene abroad.
I’ve heard about making it in the music industry is hard, but doing that while also hustling my so called consulting projects ..although liberating and adventurous, was taxing. My mom relented and helped but when she pointed out how many she gave me, I decided to stop asking.
I am learning to take rejections better. I mean, I am fearless to a point. But although I was good to a point at what I do, whether singing, making music or consulting ..I had to daily renew that faith and belief. Some days, I just felt into a stupor of denial, procrastinating..and for a freelancer or an owner of two start ups, that means no money for rent and etc.
The highs and lows really questioned my own self soo many times. Whether I was even that good to begin with. I was comparing myself, perhaps to fresh graduates for instances or people who may have less credentials. Here I was, when one interviewer once said that my resume scared him. Then, how can’t I get decent jobs and projects for my music and consulting?
Those were the parables or questions that kept troubling me. Untill I reread Grit by Anglea Duckworth. A structured, routinezed life works better for me. And I have since became more productive.
I have made three music videos on my own for my singles in a span of one and half week. Have two new singles, co written with an award winning musician who believed in me. And a handful of colleages who is rallying for me to make it.
There were soo many that left, didn’t pick up the phone, including that struggling artist I helped and called a friend. Some clients prey on my desperation and trued to screw me over and over. I mean, I met with lots of pricks with money and titles that made me wary to not ever do business with such people again.
During this tough period of soul searching, I stumbled upon Kamar Seni, AG Coco’s studio. And that was how it all started, 4 years ago. It was a walk in and I was curious about the Morning Rocket boutique and asked about the studio upstairs and wonders if they can accept arranging projects for my songs. I was told to make my way up there and just meet with the owner and have a chat. It was worth a try, I say to myself.
For years, I struggled wheter to pursue even an inch more in music, becaue the prevalent dogma from mu father’s environment is that it is forbidden. Then, one day, I stumbled upon an epiphany. I remembered a passage in an Indonesian blog about Hayam Wuruk, a Majapahit muslim king, who has a voice melodious and silky as honey, sang to his court. And remembering that David, or Daud as, also sang to praise God and goodness. My mom’s side, the lore said was said to have descended from Solomon, a bit maybe far fetched, but the story uplifted the worry in me and that’s how I approached AG Coco that fateful day.
There were two long haired rockers who greeted me and as I did not know AG Coco befor had, yes, I know Hujan and Yuna, but I also didn’t recognise Ully although I’ve heard about Awan band.
So, that was how it started. When AG said he did the AIM winning song with Yuna, I said I know about that song, how it created a stir in the industry in term eof its ingenuity. Even I knew that back then.
We started on Memori, and four years later, we just completed a new song, completely a collaborative project, Bertahan.
For someone who doesn’t know how to read musical notes, play any instrument, this is a big thing for me.
If I had not gone through some pretty tough times, like being kicked out of uni twice, I may have abandoned that dream of becoming good at something I like.
I first got kicked out during the financial crisis, my American degree program was cancelled and I was transferred to a private uni with fees as if I’m studying in the US. My father was caught under the ISA act, and my mother went through a nasty divorce and left penniless abroad. I was, teen angst and all, trying to find myself. In uni, I refused to be the artsy, student body groupie nor the religious type, I friended all but I learnt that I was a bit of an outcast. I remembered seeing the varsity bulletin that highlighted my win in Japan, pinned to a notice board earlier, was left crumpled, laying on the ground some while after that.
If I didn’t had setbacks, met with some bad bosses, I would not have met AG Coco and Kamar Seni musicians. The decision to be open and accepting life’s challenges with gusto, is what led me back to my passion.
Who knew I had some inkling of a talent ..as mooted by AG Coco himself. I even remembered the soprano diva, Shafinaz Selamat telling me that Memori as ‘sedap’ song. I also remembered hearing off hand comments, from camera man of some TV broadcast shows I was on, that I have … good voice.
It kinda opened my eyes, and I am thankful. I am still learning and my songwriting and vocal techniques are rudimentary at best but I put it out, all of me, one bit at a time.
I am a shy person. Born with, I later identify as Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) condition. But music, manages to make me open up and express myself. It’s freeing. Though I criticise myself too much.
Music and faith kept me together. For instance,I was at one point, being let go, but on paper we parted mutually, that meant a very lucrative pay and position. Because.. I was not charismatic. But my clients were very happy, then why?
I remember nobody much believed me. Some think I might have some smart genes in me but was at loss for words seeing me flunking, stumbling and barely making it. One particular incident was I was let go from a company with a hefty pay and prestige. My closest of friends, even my parents ( who separated when I was one months old) said that I was to be blamed and was stupid enough to let such chances go awry. I was lost for words. During that time, I remember a particular scene about a cancer survivor’s tale of recovery by being positive, ..and watching lots and lots of funny stuffs. That,The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, saved me. And of course, God. I also remember that deep, really deep inside I said to myself that when I have some money, after securing a good paying job, I will get some of my music ideas made into reality, a song or maybe a full album, CD worthy of a collection to show to my grandkids one day. That was the dream.
In music, there are many rejections. Many more will ignore and it could be for any reason. I know I don’t have the star idol look, nor the followers to boot, and I could go on doing my own stuffs without truly making a dent inthe musical industry.
It’s okay. I like making music, now that I have the chance to do so. Making music is more so project management, start up environment and leadership as well as trying out my own ideas training that I had ever wished,” added Nik Nabil.
Nik Nabil will be vying for a spot in the DPAC’s reunion d’NA project 2017 in which he hopes to feature his latest two masterpiece in a more holistic and entrepretive medium, perhaps a solo monologue and dance?
“Making music gives me hope. It gives me strength. Even before I hooked up with Kamar Seni, I was already making my own music, mostly I will sing it to myslef while walking to and from classes and later work, and store it in my head. I used to wake up at 4 AM and walk about an hour to get on the bus for work. Those walking time, a bit of solitude, was me time. I even got some motorist cheering for me when I was vocalizing with feel by the road. I guess, I was really embarassed but I didn’t stop doing it though. I used to have an mp3 player that can record my voice, so I recorded my song ideas. They always comes in a flash, a chorus, and sometimes a full song. I hear the full song in my head, then struggle to enuncuate, sing it ..which, with my tepid vocal abilities and key deciphering skill, it was some adventure. I though it was exciting. That was how Memori and Selalu came to be, a 10 years plus wait. I said, one day. One day.
I remember the most about being bullied by bad bosses at work. Of jealousy and office politics that costed me my job. I just wanted to earn my keep and do music. Even then it was not easy. You see, I am a worrier of sortd. Although I keep to my own business, I don’t like ineffective bosses who squander resources just because they can. Years would pass by, but some way or another, I will hear about their demise, fall from grace and thankfully, I never sought revenge because that is God’s territory. It could have been me, I said to myself. If I had strayed just a lil bit, thinking I was infallible, I too could fall from grace like that. I, may fall from grace, it seems like that soo many times because of the setbacks I faced, but I am thankful that God still find it in Him to grace me with another opportunity to get back up on. There were many instances when I got bigger breaks when I fell hard because I was wronged.
Falling again and again sounds like fun. Like a toddler learning how to walk. Never giving up. Why should? But I get weary too. And at times, it feels I don’t deserve this much attention, testing to make me worthier and better person, close to Him. I am scared that I might just go off kilter and go rouge, in a bad way.
You know the story of good, really kind people who turned evil and unrepenting. They have since to stopped thinking about hope. About deliverance. About good triumphing evil. It seems bad, or evil, always wins.
But I want to be strong. To believe that good will win. God will win.
I ask myself what do I want to do, because more than once some recruiter would flaunt the comment that I have no direction and seems lost.
I want to keep doing what I like, even when no one is cheering. Nobody quite believed in me before and even care much after I won the Asia Pacific Cup. Even after that, nobody damn cares. I know I sounded like I am whining but I was questioning even myself at those times, whether it really was something worthy and easy to be dismissed as everyone can do it. The truth is, I did it for me. Nobody actually put much stock in me when I went ahead, on AG Coco’s suggestion, to cut singles and try my luck. I don’t want to go out there aiming to make it big. Enough that I did my best, excellently. I have one life, a short one. Why not try to believe in doing something meaningful, inspiring?
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