Malaysian breakout singer-songwriter NYK talks about his music career, songwriter’s block and more.
Hailing from the humble suburbs of Subang Jaya, who would have thought this talented artist once had a dream to be an archaeologist, exploring the jungle in search of priceless artifacts. “Yo, that’s my dream, man!” Nick reaffirms. “I feel like when I’m 35, I might actually try doing it”, he confesses.
Nick Yung Kit – or NYK for short – dropped his first single FWB (Friends With Benefits) in August 2017 and in no time it hit over 1 million plays on Spotify. On top of that, he recently launched his second single Make It On Me in March 2018 with the idea of a much-anticipated EP to follow shortly after.
Considering both of his songs are quite bold lyrically – especially FWB – that got me thinking: “What makes NYK’s music so special and well-accepted, especially in Malaysia?”
Well, wonder no more as NYK shares with us his take on revolutionising the local music scene – in his own, u-Nyk way.
Tell us, how did you get started in the music scene?
I started playing in an open-mic session at certain venues like The Bee and Merdekarya, but that was just really casual. I didn’t really do much about it.
After a while, when I was studying in the UK, I started writing some music. Then, around the time I came back, I wrote FWB (which was the first song I released). Then, Sony found that song and we signed the record label.
Can you walk us through your songwriting process?
I don’t have a set formula. When I hear some kind of songs in my head, I’ll just tell the producer about the idea and we make the music first. Sometimes, we start with the lyrics first and then we create the song and the music behind it. It’s very flexible.
When I’m trying to figure out the lyrics, I definitely prefer somewhere quiet. Some people like to play the music on loop while writing the lyrics, but I don’t really like that. Every time the producer plays the music and tries to figure things out, I will just go to the next room and think about the lyrics.
Do you have any songwriter’s block? If you have, how do you overcome it?
Definitely. That’s a very common problem. I think a lot of my friends have songwriter’s block as well. I think – the more you write, the easier it gets. The more you write, the less dependent you are on the wait for the perfect moment for inspiration.
So you just need to practice. I think if you’re in a good space, backed with good producers and everything, like when you are in the studio and you’re mental is ready to work, that’s when you can get the songwriting process out easier. You just need to get yourself into the zone and that helps in a way.
The more you write, the less dependent you are on the wait for the perfect moment for inspiration.
In terms of your inspirations or influences, are there any artists that you look up to?
Frank Ocean, Childish Gambino, Mura Masa – these are my top three. Definitely, people like Drake, The Weeknd, and Rihanna as well, they are really good songwriters.
I listen to them a lot, especially the top three. When I listen back to my own songs, I can kinda tell that I borrowed some ‘stuff’ from these guys, credits to them because they are great.
Your first single FWB was quite a bold move. In terms of the lyric, what made you go in that direction?
We did it on purpose. Just because Malaysia’s English music scene is still on the surface – no one’s really gone deep yet. So, I thought – let’s just go all out.
We didn’t really think like – “Oh, should we not say any bad words or should we not talk about sex or anything?” – we kinda just did it. Sony agreed to that as well and I guess, it worked out.
How did the people around you react to FWB?
My friends were really cool about it. Family – you know – typical Asian families, at first they were like “Yo, don’t do music or you’re dishonouring your family” – you know, stuff like that.
But, after they saw the song did well, they were quite impressed. I think maybe because they don’t know the technology that well, so when they realise that a lot of people actually listen to the song, they kinda become more supportive.
I appreciate that they let me do it. Some parents will be like – “NO.”
Actually, they are just worried. So, my parents went “You know what, go ahead. But just make sure you’re financially stable”, which I really appreciate.
Can you tell us the story behind your latest single?
Basically, Make It On Me is about what happens before FWB. Well, FWB is about meeting this girl whom you really wanted to date but she wanted to stay as ‘friends with benefits’, thus FWB.
Make It On Me is the story of meeting that girl; a guy in the club – tired and bored of being in relationships – and that’s when he saw the girl walked in. They finally met with each other and that (situation) lead directly to FWB.
Where do you see yourself in the industry in 5 years?
Hopefully, I will be able to be known across – at least – Asia and I’d like to do tours around countries like China and Korea. That’s the dream.
*Featured image by Nyk.