Iman Fandi's debut single a surprise to parents

Iman Fandi (above) wrote the melody and lyrics for her debut single Timeframe and showed the music video to her parents just a day before its public release.
Iman Fandi (above) wrote the melody and lyrics for her debut single Timeframe and showed the music video to her parents just a day before its public release. PHOTO: UNIVERSAL MUSIC SINGAPORE

Up until recently, Iman Fandi kept her aspirations as a singer-songwriter a secret from her famous parents. She is the daughter of Singapore football icon Fandi Ahmad, 58, and South Africa-born former model Wendy Jacobs, 47.

"Doing music was something that I was just doing on my own in my room," the 20-year-old tells The Straits Times at a press event organised by her record label Universal Music.

Her parents were surprised when they found out that music was more than a mere hobby.

"They were, like, 'What? Really? Oh my gosh, you went to the studio? What? You're filming a music video?'"

Iman, whose singing idols are R&B pop queens Beyonce and Rihanna, has launched her debut solo English single, Timeframe, which is available on streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music. The R&B/pop song's slick, sci-fi-inspired music video premiered last night on Mediacorp's Channel 5 and on YouTube.

She showed the music video to her parents one day before its public release. "There were some tears here and there," she says of their reaction. "But I'm just so happy that they loved it and they're very supportive."

Iman has two older brothers and two younger brothers, aged 14 to 23.

And, no, she did not use her parents' connections to launch her music career.

"I knew that it was something that I wanted to do on my own because I want to prove to myself, and maybe to people, that I didn't do this because they brought me to this place or that place," she says. "That's why I kept it away from them until I knew I was ready to share it, until I knew everything was in place."

She came up with the melody and lyrics for Timeframe while she was in a taxi back in 2019. The song was inspired by how she kept having to say goodbye to the people around her.

"Growing up, my brothers and my dad would always have to fly in and out of the country," she says of her siblings, who are professional footballers like their father.

She also found it hard to part with friends who used to live in Singapore but had to return to their own countries.

Iman made a demo of the song and sent it to her friends. Her initial plan was to release it independently, but Universal Music Singapore got wind of the demo and eventually signed her on.

Timeframe is not the first release that she appears on. Last year, she was one of the 14 home-grown singers, including Aisyah Aziz, Yung Raja and Tosh Rock, who performed Stay Home, a social distancing anthem put out by Universal Music Singapore.

Growing up with famous parents, Iman is no stranger to being in the public eye.

She followed in her mother's footsteps and started modelling early. At the age of 14, she was the youngest contestant to take part in The New Paper New Face contest in 2014.

She did not win, but picked up two titles, Miss Popularity and New Look Miss Fashionista. The contest kicked off a modelling career that has seen her grace the covers of magazines such as Harper's Bazaar Singapore and work with brands such as Adidas.

She is also an athlete like her father and studied at the Singapore Sports School.

"Growing up, sports was in my blood. So it was something that I did - football, basketball, swimming and then track and field and dance. But music has always been a passion of mine... and I think I just found the right time to do it."

Actually, music runs in the family too. She only recently found out from her father that he had released an album, Anugerah (Gift), in 1996.

"That's when it hit me, why he loves to hum in the house," she says. "So maybe that's where I get it from."

She is working on writing and recording more songs and plans to release an EP later this year. She is also learning to play instruments such as the keyboard and guitar.

She is finishing up a degree in psychology at TMC Academy, but hopes to have a long-term career in music.

"It's definitely a new chapter in my life that I am looking to take seriously and pursue."

• Timeframe is available on streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 20, 2021, with the headline 'Iman Fandi's debut single a surprise to parents'. Subscribe