Malaysian singer NYK (real name Nick Yungkit) is ready to take on the world with his first solo release of 2021, “On Me”. Over the past year, the 27-year old artist has been nominated for the ‘Anugerah Musik Indonesia’ awards, collaborated with superstars such as Lil Ghost and Eric Chou,while also reaching over a hundred million streams in China through the viral success of “AAA” and “No 808”.
Known for pushing the boundaries with his impeccable blend of pop sensibility and polished musical direction, the dancy, jubilant aesthetic of this new song ventures into a different soundscape than what listeners may be familiar with.
Despite the upbeat soundscapes, “On Me” delves into a deeper, more meaningful connotation. “I wrote this song to be about burdens; about being caught in a spot where you’re left shouldering most of the baggage, whether it’s to do with relationships, work, or family. The character in the song convinces himself that he should be able to tank the problems present, and that he’s to blame for previously complaining about it,” he says.
Since leaving Sony Music Entertainment, Nyk has decided to take matters into his own hands and forge his own path. He adds, “2019 and 2020 proved to be some of the mentally darker years of my life, and being in a better place and being able to look at it in hindsight, there’s a lot I want to say about the things that happened which will be shown both in the lyrics and sound of the new music; exploring themes such as betrayal, loss, confusion at the state of the world, and self-abuse, but all written from the perspective of someone who’s emerged from that, and expressed through this fictional character that is NYK.”
Read on to find out more on what the artist has to say about his new track, Nyk the character, and poking fun at the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown.
Hello NYK, what have you been up to lately?
Hullo HYPE! I’ve been writing music, hanging with my dog, and refreshing Chrome every 5 minutes hoping for a PS5 restock.
Tell us about your new single, “On Me”.
I reckon back when I first thought of the hook and recorded it, it was about a bad relationship and being burdened with the baggage that a partner brought into it. In a sense the song can still be listened to that way… a story about two people arguing all the time, the main character realising he was contributing to the toxic environment, and deciding to shoulder the burdens that came with this relationship.
However by the time I started building off of that hook, a different intention had manifested; I started visualising the toll 2019 had taken on my mental health, be it the stress from my label, friendships going bad, betrayals and a troubled relationship. In a sense the true meaning of the song is a description of my mental state during those times: having so much put on me, but convincing myself I could carry it all. It’s also nice that it’s written from a hindsight perspective, with a third person view of those darker periods. I’m taking an approach of NYK as a character more than me as a human being; his experiences are fictional based on my life. I’m a fan of having subliminal meanings in my songs; one can enjoy it as another pop song, or they can think about it more and relate to it in other, possibly more introspective ways.
How was it like working remotely to make this song over the course of this pandemic?
Pretty easy! I based the entire song off of a one-line hook that I recorded last year on voice notes; when Charlie sent me the track I realised it fitted perfectly, and built the rest of the song within a couple hours. I don’t think being locked down is an excuse to not get work done, not with social media and the internet.
The official video looks incredible, can you tell us about the process of making it and what it means?
Thank you! I approached Hiren (Rocketmob) with the main idea of what the song meant to me; that it wasn’t a song about a toxic relationship, and that it was, in fact, a track about my mental health being pretty shot in 2018-2019. I gotta say he interpreted it beautifully: elements like the characters in my “fever dream” representing different facets of my mental state, like toxic masculinity, love, and depression; the “asylum” I was in, and how the “doctors” kept me under observation and administered drugs to me being an interpretation of record label pressures and also a fun poke at the Covid lockdown.
Your song with Shelhiel, “AAA”, blew up in China last year. How has that been for you and do you have plans to visit when the pandemic is over?
It has been great; I almost wanna say that one song kept me fed for the rest of 2020. I did write that song with the intention of it going viral; like a little experiment on what content could be relatable and shareable to that extent, and it worked, just not where I expected it to.
I do intend to visit; I’ve never been to Shanghai, and I also have close family in Guangzhou who visit us regularly, so I’d probably want to stop by (they’ve got bomb roast goose there).
Do you have other music in store for your fans this year?
I do, and it’s the best music I’ve ever written, no shackles, no restrictions or pressures, it’s just music I like to write and that I’m proud of. We’re not stopping from here on.
Do you have any new music recommendations from Southeast Asian acts for our readers to check out?
I’m pretty sure you’ve heard of Lost Spaces, but he’s one of my mates so do check him out. Besides that I’d recommend checking out Clumsygang and Orang Malaya.
The official video is available here: