When I was in primary school, I really wanted to impress this girl. So, I was like ‘Wouldn’t it be sick if I wrote a song for her?’ But turns out I did not sing her a song, in fact, I showed no one that song but I was like you know what? It’s kinda cool.
I used to like listening to a lot of ABBA and just seeing them perform on stage, singing their songs and people shouting their lyrics back. . . that hits something in me and I was like ‘I want that’. I want to be on stage, I want to sing my own songs, and be big enough so that people can shout my lyrics back to me. Every time I watch a YouTube video of live performances and the crowd actually shouts the lyrics back, I get so inspired, so emotional. That’s how I got into songwriting.
Speaking of songwriting, I didn’t know how to contain my emotions back then, like I never learned how to let them dissipate – because when you’re angry, you can keep it to yourself but it’ll always be there, so, it has to go somewhere, right? I don’t like receiving comfort like ‘Oh, it’ll be okay’, ‘Oh, you’re gonna be fine’ – I hate it. So, the way I manage this is with songs.
Let’s say you’re listening to a song of mine, and you read the lyrics and go, ‘I don’t get what this guy’s saying’ – but it’s just how I feel at that time. So, when I listen to it, I kind of go like, ‘Damn, I was feeling that at the time’. Also, you know how people go through lyrics and they go ‘Holy shit that’s so deep’ and you can quote it on Pinterest or some shit? I used to have that mindset.
Every line that I wrote, I have to be like ‘Oh my god, can they quote this on Pinterest or use it as a caption on Instagram?’ I’ll be so fixated on that thought that I wouldn’t be satisfied with the things that I write. But now? I think the lyrics don’t need to sound deep all the time. It’s okay to make it sound like it doesn’t mean anything. It’s kind of messy, but like painting, you know? When you look at Picassos painting, yes, there’s no set picture, but you can kinda get how he was feeling at that time so that’s how it is in a sense.
I remember when I was 5, I would write songs but it never really went anywhere because I was 5 right? And then I started making music 3 years ago. I was in a phase where I was like ‘Okay I just want to put my music out, I don’t care’. I used to control myself too much like ‘I don’t want to release this because I don’t think it’s good enough.’
But at this stage in my life, and then coming here as an exchange student in Australia and everything, I realized that it’s okay to make what you want. You don’t have to make things that a lot of people would necessarily like. You just need to make things that you identified with. So, I started doing that and I’ve been doing great so far.
But to be honest. . . this whole thing started out as a joke with my friend. I used to go over to his place in Nadayu and we’ll make songs. I would only rap and I like it because of the satisfaction of hearing it, whether if it’s smooth. . . So, when we made those songs, we’ll post them on SoundCloud. But because I wanted to cater to the masses, I decided to like put up sad boy songs (I was a sad boy back then so obviously).
People— and I mean my friends and the occasional one or two listeners— would compare me to like Keshi or Joji in terms of ‘the vibes’. But yeah, because at that time I already had an interest in this, it then kinda hits something in me as well. I really, really enjoy this and I wouldn’t mind doing this for life. Ever since then, I’ve been trying to like get my shit out there.
Now I would describe my [music style] as my own genre? I can’t even pinpoint it because I’ve been listening to a lot of artists in the past like two, or three years ago, and I just pick and choose those who inspire me.
Scarlxrd, Bring Me The Horizon, Brakenc – these artists have taught me different things in terms of like building up my track. Now it’s kind of like heavy bass, a little bit of screamo, and rap. Plus, now that I’m in my ‘I don’t really care anymore’ phase, I’m merging my Spotify and SoundCloud together so essentially, I’m bringing the rap from SoundCloud onto Spotify.
If I get to start over, I think I would consider posting my SoundCloud songs earlier on Spotify because then the audience that I would’ve been able to reach out to, would be consistent with the audience that I’m trying to reach out to now. I potentially could have gathered a fanbase instead of starting all over like I’m doing right now. I wouldn’t say I would a hundred percent change things, but I would like to see the outcome of that but that’s not possible. I don’t regret it so far, which is good.
Coming here to Australia and people tell you, ‘Hey, your shit’s actually good’ is like my culture shock you know? And when you move to a different place, social media like TikTok especially will change your ‘For You Page’ – like the audience is different. So, I’ve actually had someone from Warner Records LA reach out to me a month plus after coming here – which is great news, yeah! I don’t think that would’ve been possible if I stayed in Malaysia.
My manager has been telling me hey you should push your content; you should start being more active on social media so. . . I’ve been doing that. My view count has gone down but the people who engaged with my content are the people I want to be engaging in my content. Like I don’t need a hundred thousand views, but the five hundred, and seven hundred who watched my content are the people who are interested in what I’m doing. Essentially, I found my target audience, yeah.
Regardless, I can’t imagine a life where I’m not doing music because I’ve set my sights on becoming an international artist and I’m so deep into that hole that I cannot see myself doing anything else. I once had to do an internship where I had to be a social media manager for a company and it was straight hell.
I was told I have ‘creative freedom’ yet it feels controlling. Because at the end of the day, as much creative freedom as I have, I still need to comply to their guidelines. I still need the boss’s ‘OK’ and I understand that as a company, you want to keep your image consistent? And I don’t think I can do [long-term] because when I do creative things, I like to push boundaries, I like to explore new things, I like to see what I can do that can potentially dispose of old ones or better than what people have already put out there, a fresh take or perspective on things you know?
Check out Nic’s latest single titled NOZIROH on his Spotify here !
Follow Nic on social media:
TikTok: @nlsw_ || Instagram: @nlsw_ || Twitter: @nlsw_ || Youtube: Nic
Interviewed and Written by Elly Zulaikha