All it took was six seconds on Vine, a defunct social media app, for Nik Qistina to win our attention. She was just 13 years old when Qistina posted clips of her belting out Whitney Houston’s I Have Nothing, Mariah Carey’s Emotions, and Lady Gaga’s Paparazzi (while in the bathroom).
Qistina’s short but sweet videos also caught the eye of Universal Music Malaysia, who signed her up in 2016.
“Honestly, before signing the contract, I was really nervous. I was never exposed to singing beyond Vine. Getting the Universal offer made me more aware of how I want to see myself as an artiste,” she said in an interview.
Under Universal Music, Qistina released her first single, a trippy English-language pop song called Young Hearts. To date, her YouTube video has over 500,000 views.
Though she had signed a record deal and started building a fan base, Qistina continued with her formal education. Her mother, as it were, was against the idea of a teenage girl pursuing a career in entertainment.
“This was in 2016 and I was still in school. My mum reminded me that I had to prepare for SPM. She said if I wanted to do any music related events, it could only be on weekends. It was quite hard at the beginning,” says Qistina.
Now 17 and with national examinations behind her, Qistina is ready for a focused pursuit of music – and her mum is finally on board. “We communicated a lot and she grew to be more understanding,” Qistina revealed.
Now that SPM is done and dusted, what’s next for you?
I’ve been doing a lot of covers of my favourite songs. I’m perfecting the videos and taking my time to release them. I want to start producing more content like video blogs as well. I miss engaging with my fans. It was quite worrying when I had to take a break last year to focus on SPM. I felt that I’ve built up so much. Now, I have to start over again.
Why is it important for you to engage with fans?
Whatever I put out, I believe that there must be at least one person who can relate to it. I’ve been getting mails from people saying thank you for the stuff I’ve posted. It’s a humbling feeling. It makes you believe that you have a voice in the world. I try not to take advantage or be complacent about it. There is always something more than I can do to be better.
When did you realise that you don’t just want to be another girl with a guitar?
Ultimately, I want to be someone who is in control of her life. I realised when I was younger that the world didn’t revolve around me. When I’m on stage performing, people may be looking at me but there must be something more to keep them interested. I try to better myself every day by learning new things so I can be more than just a pretty face. I want to be someone with a meaningful voice that people can listen and relate to.
Since you share a lot of your life on social media, you must have encountered some haters. How do you deal with that?
I was 13 when I started out. In the early stages, I used to get bothered by it. I’d get death threats, messages from people telling me to be someone else or criticising me for what I had done. I would take some of it as constructive criticism. That was in the past. I’ve become stronger. I know who I am. The haters are just judging me from what they see. They don’t know anything.
You’re looking to release an EP soon. Tell us more about it.
We’re planning to include about six to seven songs in the EP. The tracks have a dreamy nostalgic vibe. The songs are related to what I’ve been through and how I’m learning from those experiences. Hopefully, when you’re listening to the EP, you’ll be able to feel the emotions in my songs. Fans have been asking me to record Malay songs and I’m excited to share that there will be one in this EP. I think the song is really lit and awesome!