taken from Malay Mail 28 July 2007
THANKS to my editor, who has been feeding me about how “diffi cult” it is to interview M.Nasir, a panic attack gripped me when told that I would be interviewing him.
“You better make sure you know your stuff or else, you might come back empty-handed and I would not like that.” That was my editor’s exact words to me as I was about to leave offi ce for the interview.
It didn’t help that I arrived at Luncai Emas Sdn Bhd in Sungai Buloh almost two hours late.
Panicking and sweating, I tried to regain my composure and steel myself to face whatever awaited me behind his office door.
The moment it opened, there he was, seated on his black chair beside his working table, looking comfortable and relaxed.
“I’m sorry. I know I’m late but I couldn’t find the way here,” I said.
“First time here?” asked Nasir with a warm smile while shaking my hands firmly.
I nodded and that was it.
All my doubts and curiosity on why this man is so respected in the local entertainment industry erased with that handshake.
“Don’t worry. You are not the only one. There’s another journalist from a tabloid who also lost her way just now,” he said followed by a laugh.
Then my eyes were drawn to a birthday present on his desk. I knew it was for him as it stated ‘Happy Birthday M. Nasir’ written on it.
It only occurred to me then that M. Nasir or his real name, Mohd Nasir Mohammad turned, 50 on July 4 this year, and it might be the perfect ice-breaker before I proceed with my interview.
“So, you’re really 50 this year, Abang Nasir?” I asked.
He looked at me and gave a wide smile.
“Why?” he replied, sarcastically.
“You don’t look like a 50-year old man. Really,” I said almost gulping.
Nasir laughed again at my words.
This was not the cold, manwith- few-words I interviewed early this year. With his deep manly voice, he said “Thank you” before taking a short pause.
“You see, when I think of my age, I don’t feel the need to do all these entertainment-related things anymore. I should have slowed down by now and spend more time doing my own personal things,” he said, sighing.
“But, every time I tried to quit, the thought that there’s still a lot more for me to do in the industry would always hold me back.
“As if there’s still one more good song to go… I don’t know but I still think that I can’t stop now. I still have a long list of to-do things. Especially with the wider demands in the today’s music industry.
“We are dealing with a big demands from the music audience and the market itself. I see that as a challenge for me to overcome. What thrills me more is the thought that maybe I can produce something that is beyond people’s expectations and demands.” And it seems that Nasir takes his words seriously when he started revealing his to-do list.
“I want to bring back the golden era of our music industry.
I mean, until now, we can still recall those good old songs by acts like the Revolvers, Sweet Charity, Carefree, Alleycats and the rest.
“Today, I fi nd it hard to fi nd any particular outstanding local song and that’s not a good indication of our music scene.
“I plan to gather my new and old friends in the music scene and, perhaps, I will be forming a band with them.” M. Nasir to bring back the magic he once cast with Kembara, a group he founded with S.Sahlan and A. Ali in the late ‘70s? When asked if the new band would be a millennium version of Kembara, he rejected the idea.
“It’s a totally new band which will consist of the best sessionists whom I have worked with,” he said, before again, brushing-off the idea of a Kembara reunion.
“I don’t think it will be possible. I mean, each of us is busy with our own things now.
Time constraints will be a major setback for a reunion,” he said adding that his new upcoming band would be experimenting with a wider range of music while keeping its relevance with the local crowd.
He then elaborated his plan, saying that, in the simplest words, his music would inject different fl avours which can still be enjoyed by music lovers.
“But this can only start after I have completed Aduh Saliha,” said Nasir, who will be directing it.
In case you’ve just woken up from a 20-year coma, besides being a prolific singer and composer, M. Nasir is also a talented actor.
His debut film, Kembara Seniman Jalanan, was released in 1986 and since then, he had acted in various films, including Fenomena, Selubung, Balada, Simfoni Duniaku, Merah and Puteri Gunung Ledang.
Nasir has also acted in a number of television dramas, notably Hambali Seorang Jeneral, Ilhamku and Salam Taj Mahal.
“I’m currently working on the film soundtrack and I want to make sure that the songs will suit the whole feel of the movie.” That’s not all. His time is also tied up with composing duties for other singers as well. With an almost 24-hour-a-day work schedule, I asked Nasir where he gets all the energy from.
His answer made everything that he did seem effortless.
“Anywhere, anytime. I don’t limit my workspace, as long as the idea keeps fl owing.
Sometimes, I’m also composing songs while doing the film shoot.
It’s not a problem to me.” Maybe it’s the same reason why people have been calling him ‘Sifu’ (Master).
It’s the highest form of acknowledgment any artiste could ever dream of but at the same time, the responsibilities and expectations that come with it are pretty astronomical, too.
“Yes, I do feel the pressure.
All the time as a matter of fact.
However, I think it’s just natural for me to feel that way. Like other composers, I am, at the end of the day, only human. What we do is to try to give out our best to the people.” If you want to know how much influence M. Nasir has had in shaping local music, you can begin by getting a copy of M.Nasir Terunggul.
Produced by Sony BMG Music Entertainment, the compilation features 25 essential songs from four of his albums — namely, his 1988’s solo debut as M. Nasir, SOLO in 1981 (he released a solo album, Untuk Pencinta Seni, under the monicker Mohamad MN); its 1992 follow-up Saudagar Mimpi; 1995’s Canggung Mendonan; 1999’s Srikandi Cintaku and 2001’s Prahara Seni Abadi.
Despite all the praises for his latest album, Sang Pencinta, and its predecessor, 2001 Phoenix Bangkit, musically, if you ask me, I’d say Nasir’s first three albums should be in any local music enthusiasts’ collection.
When released in 1988, SOLO raised many eyebrows for its originality. The album saw Nasir shunning the folk music he was known for when he was with Kembara, along with the rocking riffs he had been supplying to rock bands at that time. With SOLO, he went for a fusion of Western instrumentation (guitars, bass and drums) with the traditional Malay/Javanese elements of Asli, Zapin and Jaipong.
This new music — with the exhilarating sounds of gamelan, angklung and gendang — quickly found a name: Balada Nusantara (from the term referring to the Malay archipelago), and everyone, from makciks to kid loved it. This drove SOLO past the 65,000 sales mark. The same can be said about Saudagar Mimpi in 1992.
Praises aside, it was the solo third album three years later that sealed his mythic status in the Malaysian music scene.
When Canggung Mendonan was released in 1995, it hit Malaysian music with the force of a tsunami, riding on the hit song Mentera Semerah Padi that struck a chord embedded deep in the slumbering collective consciousness of resurgent Malay pride and ascendancy.
It went on to dominate just about every Malay music awards ceremony imaginable, selling over 120,000 copies.
M. Nasir Terunggul comes in two discs, along with an illuminating booklet on his history, and journey as musician, composer and artiste. The set also features a previously unreleased song called Senandung Melayuku.
“It was an unreleased song which I recorded five years ago. It didn’t feel right to include the song in Sang Pencinta because it didn’t fit into its concept. So, the best thing is to include it in a compilation like this,” he said.
When asked how it feels to look back 18 years’ worth of songs and the impact they have on Malaysia, Nasir gave the perfect answer any icon would give.
“It’s amazing to look back at the songs but at the same time, I still feel there’s a hole for me to fix. It’s still not enough and I’m going to dig deeper and deeper.” That’s M. Nasir for you … and me, too.