The Star Malaysia - Star2
Man of vision
Music, movies, TV and even visual arts, M. Nasir has done it all. The legendary artiste looks back at his illustrious 40-year career.
AS a young man in his early 20s, Datuk M. Nasir had a vision of what he wanted to achieve when he entered the entertainment industry: To inject a freshness into the Malay pop scene.
“It wasn’t crystal clear at that time, but I knew I wanted to create new music and new kind of performance style,” Nasir said at a press conference to announce his upcoming concert, Konsert
M. Nasir Satu Hikayat – 40 Tahun Perjalanan.
He continued: “I also looked carefully at the kind of lyrics and melody I would come up with. The lyrics especially; I always try to make the words be more serious although in a pop music format.
“I want to share more about life, our surroundings and human experiences through my songs; the composition has to be mature and has to have depth,” said Nasir, whose evergreen number Suatu
Hari Di Hari Raya serves as a prime example of his aim. While his first solo effort – Untuk
Pencinta Seni, in 1979 (as Mohamed MN) – didn’t get anywhere, he gained fame as a member of the folk rock group, Kembara in the early 1980s.
It produced songs like Ekspress Rakyat, Hati Emas, Sesat Di Kuala Lumpur and Keroncong Untuk Ana that encapsulated Nasir’s ambition of more poetic and higher form lyrics.
In 1989, Nasir went solo again with the aptly-titled album S.O.L.O., and two albums later – Saudagar Mimpi (1992) and Canggung Mendonan (1993) – he succeeded in his vision by creating a new genre of music called Nusantara. He followed with two more albums, Srikandi Cintaku (1999) and Phoenix
This music format combines traditional sounds (using Malay music instruments like gambus, rebana, serunai and kompang) and modern instruments, added with world music vibe. Think
Mustika, Mentera Semerah Padi, Sentuhan Listrikmu, Tanya Sama Itu Hud Hud, Bonda, Raikan Cinta, Phoenix Bangkit Dari Abu and Ghazal Untuk Rabiah (a duet with
Needless to say, all of these songs were big hits in the 1990s as well as early 2000s and remain listenable till today.
At this point, too, the music icon had written multiple hits for other artistes, earning him the moniker Sifu.
Today, Nasir is 62 years old, and he summed up his music career: “My journey in the industry has its ups and downs, and it’s not been easy. (However) I can say that I have done performances as I wanted to do them for the concertgoers as well as for the music listeners, who are mature to understand what I am conveying through my songs.”
And he still has a lot more to offer, said Nasir.
“What is important is, although I am in my 60s – an age when one’s expected to retire from their profession – I want to prove that I am still here and able to continue in this profession, singing, performing and producing songs.”
It is right then his upcoming concert on Nov 23 and 24, at Plenary Hall, Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre celebrates his 40-year career in the music industry. In the planned two hours and 30 minutes show, the artiste will be dipping into his vast back catalogue as a singer and a songwriter. He elaborated: “We are looking back at my involvement in the music industry from the time I started – when I was asked to write the lyrics for Alleycats’ Senandung
Semalam (1979) – to now, and shortlisting all the songs for the final set list.”
Shirazdeen Karim, the executive producer of the concert organiser Shiraz Projects, shared: “Nasir has written over 2,000 songs for himself and every other singer in Malaysia. So choosing the songs for a two-and-a-half-hour concert is challenging.”
Nonetheless, Shiraz said they’ve identified 25 songs but he declined to reveal what they are.
“What I can say is, it’s going to be a momentous concert, and there will be special segments,” he said.
Nasir added: “The old songs that I have written for others like Sudirman’s Milik Siapakah Gadis
Ini ,and Fantasia Cinta Madu (for Search), will be made into a medley if I choose to sing them. I want to make this concert an intimate session.”
Those who have attended his concerts – be it in a smaller setting like at Istana Budaya (2013) or a big stage like at Stadium Merdeka (2000) – know that his performance prowess lies in his soulful vocal, seemingly effortless delivery, his somewhat casual “conversations” with the crowd, as well as his long-serving band, The Gong.
The band, comprising of 14 experienced musicians, is also accompanying him for Konsert M. Nasir Satu Hikayat – 40 Tahun Perjalanan.
“For live performances, I am very much influenced by the likes of Peter Gabriel and Pink Floyd,” stated the Malaysian treasure.
“For every concert I do, I want to make it fresh and different from other performers. I also feel a performance has to carry a meaning to the listeners other than just as an entertainment.”
Although his career is marked with successes, Nasir confessed that there were times when his experiments didn’t quite go well.
“I remember the first time I did a concert, Gong Impian (1992), I wanted to do something serious, and new. But it wasn’t a hit. But I like trying something new with every concert.”
The Singapore-born artiste joked that his parents – who are their 90s – still wonder what he’s doing with his life.
It’s an understandable question as Nasir doesn’t only sing and write songs, he’s also a visual artist (he held his solo exhibition in Shah Alam in 2015), an actor, a director, as well as the man running the record label Luncai Emas,
With so many things going on, no wonder Nasir hasn’t produced an album for more than a decade; his last outing was Sang Pencinta in 2006.
“There is a new album I am working on; it has been a work in progress for the past five years,” he mentioned with a laugh.
“I have written a number of songs for the album, and before this concert, I hope to release at least one single so everyone can listen to a new material at the concert,” Nasir promised.
When asked what’s taking him so long to come out with an album, he answered with a chuckle: “I am always distracted by other things.”
On a more serious note, he explained: “When I was with Kembara, we were happy and honest with what we were doing. But now, the world has changed, music has changed and the way people consume music has also changed.
“So the challenge is to whether I want to adjust to contemporary tastes or not.”
While the music industry may be fickle, Nasir’s objective to introduce something fresh with everything he does remains unchanged. “That is my problem. Even if my ‘new’ is not noticeable, but I know it and that’s what I want to do.”
Konsert M. Nasir Satu Hikayat – 40 Tahun Perjalanan will be held on Nov 23 and 24 at Plenary Hall, Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre. Tickets, priced from RM160 to RM860, are available at myticket.asia.