How often do you hum along with a song on the radio without any idea who sings it? “Baby… baby..tell me whatcha whatcha waiting for” – whether you like it or not, there is no doubt that you have bopped along to this infectious tune. It is also equally likely that you never realised that the singer of said catchy tune was none other than a Malaysian born and bred singer-songwriter who is on her way to super stardom.
Mizz Nina, or Shazrina Azman as she was born, is one of the biggest stars on the local music scene at the moment, following up her ever-so-catchy debut What You Waiting For with a new album and a new track featuring international star Flo Rida. This is a girl destined for greatness. But she is also a girl with her feet firmly planted on the ground.
Shazrina grew up in a family who loved music in all its forms, and while her ambitions varied as she moved through her tender years, music was always a part of her life. “When I was 5 or 6, I wanted to be an air stewardess. Then I wanted to be a film director. And then that changed I wanted to be a graphic designer!” she says with chuckle, “but music has always been an interest and something that I stuck with.”
And, unlike many budding performers, it was never about the fame and the money. “When I was a kid I didn’t really want to be famous,” says Shazrina, “I just had dreams of performing on a big stage, with big lights and lots of people.” Thanks to singing lessons at her Mum’s singing school and a stint in a local band, she has worked her way up the ranks and is now enjoying success as a solo star, playing to the big crowds that she always dreamed of. Music lovers will most recently have seen her playing to a crowd of 20,000 people at the annual Arthur’s Day concert, where she shared the stage with British singer Taio Cruz.
It was over a decade ago though when, with local rap group the Teh Tarik Crew, Mizz Nina – a name she fashioned for herself at 15 – got her first taste of fame. As the band took off in 2000, she suddenly found herself plunged into a world of modelling and hosting, even landing a spot as a radio DJ. By 2009, she decided the time was right – “it was now or never,” she says – to take the plunge and launch herself as a solo artist.
“It was a big jump,” she says with a smile, “it was nerve-wracking but I knew it was something I’d always wanted to do so I just threw myself in the deep end.” Her bravery paid off, and her first single What You Waiting For featured Colby O’Donis – an American artist who has worked with the likes of Akon and Lady Gaga – threw her into the international spotlight.
“It was a huge learning process for me,” she says as I ask about the experience of working with such a star, “I am very lucky to have worked with some great people in the last few years.” Her most recent collaboration was with American rapper Flo Rida, but the top of her collaboration wish list is still reserved for her life-long inspiration: “I would love to work with Janet Jackson,” she gushes, “she has always been a huge inspiration for me. Or Lady Gaga? That could be interesting!”
Despite being busy writing and recording tracks for her second album, Mizz Nina has still found some time to marry her love and jet off to the Maldives for a romantic honeymoon. Her new husband, Mohamed Noh Salleh, is also in the music business and now that they are back from their holiday they are both back working hard. “We are trying to build a strong foundation so that when we have kids it can just follow on,” she explains. Family is clearly very important to this grounded starlet, but children will have to wait a little longer, “after my next album hopefully,” she says.
Family plans will also have to contend with her latest project that sees Mizz Nina dipping her toes into the world of fashion. “I am launching a new fashion label,” she says excitedly, “it’s called Mizz Demeanour. I’m still very new to the fashion industry so I am starting small, I only have 8 or 9 pieces, so we’ll see how that goes.” Unlike many pop icons turning to fashion simply to cash in, it is clear that Mizz Nina has a genuine interest in being creative. “If I stopped doing music now I would probably take fashion classes and design my own stuff,” she says, “I really enjoy it.” It is no wonder that this driven young woman has worked her way to the top, and with such a down-to-earth attitude, Mizz Nina will surely go far. But despite jetting all over the world to perform with big names, nothing beats coming back to the bosom of her family.
“My family are so important to me. My Mum and Dad inspire me. Love, life and my family; that’s what pushes me on.” And onwards she will go. Mizz Nina will be launching her new album next year, and her track Takeover can be downloaded online.
This article was written by Sarah Rees
Source: The Expat November 2012
Get your free print subscription and free delivery of The Expat magazine