Who would’ve thought posting a simple congratulatory message to her favourite singer would go on to change Sissy Imann’s life? Sissy’s musical inspiration Yuna had just won the prestigious Best Song trophy for Terukir Di Bintang at the Anugerah Juara Lagu in 2012.
The then-16-year-old took to YouTube to express her love and support for Yuna and at the end of the recording, she sang a portion of Terukir Di Bintang.
“I had no intention of becoming an artiste or to get famous. I just loved Yuna and I made the video to congratulate her,” she recalls the beginnings of her showbiz journey in an interview with StarLifestyle.
Nevertheless, the brief singing portion caught the ear of revered music producer and Hujan guitarist AG Coco, who had produced numerous tracks for Yuna.
He spotted Sissy’s potential and quickly began working with her, composing and producing some of her earliest works which were used as theme songs for local dramas.
While a few seconds of singing was all it took for Sissy’s talent to be discovered, it would take years before she finally received her big break. “Success in the music industry came really slow for me,” she says candidly.
“For five to six years, I was a sessionist, meaning I sometimes played the piano for other artistes when they have a live performance,” shares Sissy, who has been playing the piano since she was five.
“Or I would sing backup vocals on albums for other artistes. I also sang as part of the national choir of Malaysia.”
Sissy’s original compositions such as Mungkin Kamu, Keliru and Jatuh received substantial attention over the years but as they all served as theme songs for dramas, listeners may not necessary know of the singer’s name.
Sissy adds she would get calls to sing at events, which helps pay the bills. “Sometimes if the phone rings, it rings. And if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. So to sustain myself, I’ve been teaching piano, both theory and practical, to students at a private music centre for many years.”
Sissy also spent these quiet years honing her skills, pursuing a degree in music education, which she graduated with first class honours last year.
The singer finally came into the spotlight when she competed in a reality singing series for up-and-coming artistes, Big Stage, last August. Though she didn’t win, the exposure led to bigger opportunities, from having cameras follow her around in reality series The House to starring in dramas like Tolong Aku Doktor Cinta and most recently, as a host on the live musical and comedy show, Muzikal Lawak Superstar.
Sissy’s whole family has been very supportive of her musical pursuits. So much so, her mum manages her career, her dad helps out with public relations matters, and her brother works as her bodyguard and personal assistant.
Asked if it’s difficult mixing family and business, she responds: “There are pros and cons, of course. Working with a family member, you feel like, ‘Oh, this is my dad, if you need to correct him on something, it’s going to be hard.’ But I’ve learned to communicate properly.
“At the same time, it’s easier because my family knows me well. For example, they know my sense of style. So they’re not going to ask me to wear something I don’t usually wear.”
Sissy, now 23, reflects on her years of pursuing her music dreams behind the scenes and says she doesn’t mind it at all. In fact, she wouldn’t have it any other way. “I prefer it that way,” she talks about not being front and centre for many years, particularly when she sang for the soundtrack of dramas and films.
“I want people to know my song first and if they like it, then only would people start searching for who the singer is. Instead of people judging you by your appearance and go, ‘Oh, she’s beautiful, I want to hear her songs’.”
Sissy says working behind the scenes taught her the importance of teamwork and to have a deep appreciation for musicians. “Sometimes, people only see the singer. But there’s a whole team of musicians behind him or her.
“And a musician’s job is not easy. If you make a mistake, you might affect the singer’s entire performance.”
Sissy played the piano for Hael Husaini during his 2018 Anugerah Juara Lagu performance of Jampi, which was named Best Song. “At the end of the day, my passion is music. That’s why I don’t choose to say, ‘OK, I now have a single, I need to be in the limelight.’ No, no, I do everything that has to do with music.”