For artists, experiencing "firsts" and stepping out of their music comfort zones can be daunting, but those are the very same events that represent artistic growth and will stick for a long time. Just ask Iman Fandi.
On 27 April, the homegrown singer-songwriter dropped her latest single 'Top Bop' under Universal Music Singapore, making her foray into experimenting with rap elements, showcasing dance choreography, and breaking the mould of the artist self that she's presented audiences with thus far.
In just two years of her music career, the multi-talented 23-year-old proved that though she's "born of R&B and bred on pop", she does not shy away from exploring new concepts and maturing together with her music. If her debut with 'Timeframe' in 2021 represented an era that saw a more reserved Iman Fandi, her return with 'Top Bop' sees her present a new, undaunted version of herself.
She shared: "The Iman in 2021... she was a lot more shy. I would say very pop. And I still am pop, but I think now I'm just more exposed to different genres and [I'm] exploring my sound a little bit more. And I think that is where I get to try new things."
With an innate passion for music and fervour to push limits with each music era, Iman keeps audiences anticipating what's next for her. And holding true to her own idea of success and being comfortable in her own skin has led her to become the strong female pop icon in the local music scene that she is today.
In an interview with Hear65, Iman talked about growing with her music, overcoming obstacles while making 'Top Bop', and finding her own definition of success.
What's the first thing that you want people to think of when they listen to your music?
I want people to feel that they can relate to my songs and I want people to feel emotions. I want to take them on a roller coaster [ride] and also tell a story.
"I want to take them (people) on a roller coaster [ride] and also tell a story."
Congratulations on the release of your new single 'Top Bop'. What were some works/who were some artists that inspired you while you were working on this track?
When I wrote this song, I knew I wanted to dip into R&B because that is something that I personally listen to. And so, I had to look up to my favourite and one and only Rihanna. This is very R&B-inspired and the whole visuals and tone of the song were just something that I really wanted to try out [and] explore [and] I really had fun with it.
It has been two years since you debuted with 'Timeframe'. How does the Iman in 'Top Bop' differ from the Iman back in 2021?
The Iman in 2021... she was a lot more shy. I would say very pop. And I still am pop, but I think now I'm just more exposed to different genres and [I'm] exploring my sound a little bit more. And I think that is where I get to try new things. But we're still the same, don't worry.
"The Iman in 2021... she was a lot more shy. I would say very pop. And I still am pop, but I think now I'm just more exposed to different genres and [I'm] exploring my sound a little bit more."
You adopted a new vocal delivery style for 'Top Bop'. Tell us what that was like and if there were any obstacles you had to overcome.
Writing the first verse, pre-chorus, and chorus was very easy for me, but I always have challenges writing the second verse. And because I wanted something different in the song, I got my friend, Tengyboy, to help me a little bit on the rap side of it. This was when, wow, the word spills were just all jumbled up because there's a little bit of tongue twisters in there. So that was the most challenging [part]. I had to test myself but it was really fun to do.
"Because I wanted something different in the song, I got my friend, Tengyboy, to help me a little bit on the rap side of it."
What do you think is the most empowering line from ‘Top Bop’?
The second verse would have to be my favourite just because this is the part where I get to tell a little bit more of what happens behind the scenes. I get to tell people, "Hey, there's so much more that's done behind the scenes and what you see in front of you." That is why I wanted to put those lyrics out.
What was it like filming the song’s dance-focused music video? How did expressing yourself through dancing differ from expressing yourself through singing?
I love songwriting but dance has always played a big part in my life. I used to do ballet, tap, and I love hip-hop, which was why, for this song, I really wanted a dance music video. And it was very important to me that I could show the strength of, you know, [a] woman dancing and to this song where I want you to feel cool. I want you to feel like you're part of this music video, and if you want to learn the dance, go ahead. I just feel like it was a very fun touch to the music video as well.