It’s hard not to be charmed by Iman Fandi. From her friendly demeanour to the captivating gaze she throws the camera, the model/singer carries herself with a certain je ne sais quoi that makes you feel like she’s destined for stardom.
Of course, one could argue that her family’s fame and popularity gave her a foot in the door. Her father is football legend Fandi Ahmad, and her mother, model Wendy Jacobs. Her two older brothers, Irfan and Ikhsan, are professional footballers. She’s no stranger to the spotlight either, having been modelling since she was a teen. At 14, she joined The New Paper New Face – making her the youngest participant in the competition’s history.
But with her latest foray into music, the 21-year-old is proving that she’s a star in her own right.
Earlier this year, Iman surprised everyone (her family included!) by dropping her debut single Timeframe – a dancey R&B-influenced track about farewells and longing. It quickly garnered more than half a million streams across Youtube and Spotify in less than two months. She’s following that up with an EP, which she’s currently working on and hopes to launch this year.
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Oh, did we mention that she writes her own music too?
“Growing up, I was exposed to different types of music because of my family. My dad loves Linkin Park, my mum loves Destiny’s Child and Beyonce – music from the 2000s. My grandma, who’s in South Africa, loves different genres, and I feel like that has helped me develop a curiosity when it comes to music. “Every time I hear a new song, I’d think about what I could do with it, or how I could have written it in a different way,” she adds. Eventually she started taking note of her ideas and penning lyrics to go with the melodies she’s written. On her 19th birthday, she resolved to record a song and see where that takes her. Next thing she knew, someone from Universal Singapore picked up her Timeframe demo, et voila – a pop star was born.
Iman was understandably nervous about her debut. The self-taught musician even kept it from her family, only telling them about her musical ambitions the night before her press conference.
“I can be quite hard on myself sometimes, so this was something that I kept from my family until I knew I was ready,” she shares, adding that the people around her were very supportive when they found out about her music. She also credits her parents for encouraging her and her siblings to explore their own things, enabling her to take this leap.
“Since I started modelling, my mum has always told me to be professional, but still be yourself; to know when to work and when to have fun. And to take the opportunity to try new things when we’re young,” she recalls.
“And to this day, my dad still reminds us to always be humble – no matter where we go or how big we get,” she adds.
A CONSTANT SURPRISE
We can expect an EP from Iman next, but that’s about as much as she’s willing to divulge for now. What we know so far is that she’s a narrative songwriter who draws inspiration from her experiences, and her EP would be like a peek into her personal diary.
“There will be sad songs and there will be happy songs. It’s going to have a whole range of emotions,” she shares. “I’m experimenting with different sounds and working with as many new producers as I can.
“I’m just so excited to develop my voice and sound,” she gushes.
And the biggest dream for her music career? To perform at a music festival.
“I feel like everybody says Coachella,” she adds with a laugh. “But wherever people want me, or want to take me, I’ll accept!”
When asked what she’d like to be remembered for, Iman pauses.
“That I took a chance,” she finally answers with a small smile. Describing herself as someone who’s always curious and adventurous, she ticks off a long list of things she’s tried just for the sake of it: boxing, tennis, painting, jewellery crafting. And those are just her hobbies. This multi-hyphenate has also been an athlete, model and actress.
“It’s a little bit messy, it’s a little bit of a roller coaster, but I like it, and it’s what makes me, me,” she says of her life and the many interests she’s pursued.
“There are so many career paths in this world, and so many things to do and learn. That’s why I’m so intrigued by new things. There are different chapters in my life, and my chapter now is to do music.”
PHOTOGRAPHY Wee Khim, assisted by Alwyn Oh
CREATIVE DIRECTION Windy Aulia
HAIR Ken Hong/ Evolve Salon
MAKEUP Kat Zhang using Tom Ford Beauty
This article was first published in the June 2021 issue of Her World.