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Moving to her own beat

27 Feb 2020 / 13:05 H.

SHAMSUDDIN IDRIS, drummer of the 60s band The Zurah II once told his daughter Nurshazwani: “It is not easy to be in this industry. You have to be really strong”.

According to her, she was really young back then, and she felt that her father thought she was weak.

Today Nurshazwani, better known by her stage name Cik Manggis, is one-third of De Fam, a girl band that went viral with a cover of Iggy Azalea and Rita Ora’s Black Widow on Youtube.

Humble beginnings

Considered a ‘triple threat’, Nurshazwani dances, sings and acts. She studied traditional dancing from the age of eight, up until she pursued her studies at Universiti Teknologi MARA in 2010.

There, she joined the street dance group Funky Fresh Family with fellow dancers Sophiatul Liana Mohamed Sobri and Azira Shafinaz Ramlan.

Nurshazwani explained: “Street dancing is obviously different from traditional dancing, but it was there that I met Sophia and Azira.

“We’ve been dancing together since then, until right before [forming] De Fam. Before that point, we also danced back up for several Malaysian artistes.

“When we went for karaoke together, that was my first time hearing them sing. We realised that we could sing [together], and wondered if we could start a group for a Youtube video just for fun. We wanted to share our passion and talent.”

Nurshazwani revealed that after their cover song went viral, the trio were approached by several labels wanting to sign them up.

While they initially intended to record the video just for fun, when the opportunity came to join a music label, the girls did not want to let it pass them by, and eventually signed up with Warner Music Malaysia.

As for the group’s name, there’s a story behind it.

“There was another name before De Fam. ‘Fam’ [comprises] initials for our names. In the beginning, we wanted to go with ‘FAM’, but FAM is a football association and my husband is a footballer.

“So we added the ‘De’,” she said, laughing.

The apple and the tree

Much like the familiar saying, the apple did not fall far from the tree in Nurshazwani’s case. As he was also an artiste in the entertainment industry, her father Shamsuddin had apparently discouraged his daughter from getting into the same line of work.

But she refers to him as her “main engine” when it comes to motivation.

She said: “Throughout the years, I think he has seen that I am following him. The gene is there. I learned film studies, because my dad wanted me to learn film studies.

“He wanted to drag me into another direction, but it’s still the same industry.

“He’s my ultimate supporter. I think I do this [to be] better for him. He’s been through a lot as a single father raising three daughters. I wanted him to believe I can do this.”

As she mentioned earlier, Nurshazwani is married to Selangor state football player Syazmin Firdaus Aminuddin, and claims that her husband has been a great source of motivation and support.

“I knew him for seven years before our marriage in 2014,” she said.

“He is also my motivator and supporter. He has always believed in me. Back then I had nothing as a dancer, but he would always tell me that one day I will have a job with a five-figure salary.”

Nurshazwani further explained that marriage has taught her a lot about life, and that she is blessed to have an understanding husband in an industry that is not easy to be in.

“My husband is very supportive and he doesn’t stop me from doing things. He believes in me.

“For me, in marriage, it’s about your trust. When you trust and you’re honest with your partner, you kerja apa pun (whatever job you have) you can manage your marriage well.”

Supergirls

A running theme in the music that De Fam has put out involves the empowering of women. The group’s first single was even titled #Supergirls.

Nurshazwani explained: “We want to create songs that are not about love or being heartbroken. When we started De Fam, we wanted to be a voice for women as we’re women ourselves.

“There were no girl bands in Malaysia [at the time]. That was our main aim. That is what makes us different from others.”

theSun asked her about what the group is up to in regards to their music and also about the two-year gap between each of the singles they have released thus far (their last single Panas came out in 2019).

Nurshazwani laughed as she assured that she does not think the trio’s next song will come as late as next year.

“It’s probably going to be sooner. We are planning to sit down with our label to talk about the next single.

Right now we each have other things going on.”

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