M. Nasir is a man of few words. He exudes a quiet energy akin to that of a
'strong, silent type'. Many regard him disdainfully for his forthrightness,
though his legion of female fans sees him in a more favorable light.
really talk much unless you ask me questions,' he said. But two hours on, I had
Nasir expounding the merits of certain TV shows. 'My current favourite series is
C.S.I,' he admitted.
While he may have been the idealist, he's mellowed a lot since, admitting to
being an 'entertainer'. Shocking as it's no secret that he detests labels of any
'Well, as you've suggested, I believe I have evolved,' he said, throwing back
his charcoal shoulder-length mane with a roaring laughter. It was a refreshingly
odd sight to witness the M. Nasir this approachable.
As a powerhouse in the local performing arts industry, creating and
advocating Malay-rooted music mainly, Nasir has set the bar quite high for
players in the genre. However, his entry into the music world was quite
Life began simply and humbly in Bukit Panjang, Singapore. 'There are just
flats and malls there now,' said the fourth-born of nine siblings. 'I had a
fairly religious upbringing, but even so, my parents were open-minded. They were
happy knowing I had some kind of a proper job,' said Nasir.
His innate talent in music had to surface, even if he started out as a
painter. Post graduation in 1978 from the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts,
Singapore; his initial plans were to travel to Europe and establish himself as
painter there. 'But I got offered a job to act in radio plays on Singapore
Broadcast Corporation (SBC) and I took it,' explained Nasir, who also wrote the
theme song for the radio play, Kenangan Lalu. 'The people at the station
were surprised. They said I was supposed to be doing voice-overs, but were
impressed that I had ended up writing the song as well,' he smiled in
For someone who never really studied music, save for the six months of
classical guitar at Nanyang Academy to `complete my knowledge in the arts',
Nasir has certainly made an indelible impression in the world of harmonies. At
about the time he was doing the SBC gig, he attracted Polygram Singapore
executive producer Wan Ibrahim's attention, who introduced him to the record
company. Soon his debut as born, Untuk Pencinta Seni, under the name
Mohamad M.N. It was still quite experimental as it offered no specific direction
in Nasir's true musical quest. It wasn't until he was put together with the
group Kembara, that the real man emerged, one of progressive rock, befitting the
contemplative, brooding persona he had cultivated.
His musical expressions mimic his life. After the demise of his first wife,
Nasir married actress Marlia Musa, and has since, undergone noticeable
transformations. For example, his role as the Principal in the local reality
television series, Akademi Fantasia 3, where Marlia assumed the role of
the drama teacher. It seemed unlikely that the wistful artiste would do it, but
he did. 'What I drew from the experience was great. I learnt that I can be
expressive, articulate and affectionate,' said Nasir openly.
His more recent triumph, however, came in the form of an epic movie, the
legendary story of Puteri Gunung Ledang. As Hang Tuah, M. Nasir was a
perfect fit; a model of composure, wisdom, understated yet with brute strength,
will and courage. The movie was subsequently restaged as a musical but Nasir had
to decline the same role as he had committed to producing his own album after a
four-year hiatus since Phoenix Bangkit came out in 2001.
Right now M. Nasir is contented to just be in the music world. I am still
learning. I will still be an entertainer.