A Cuppa with Yacko (and Alana)

Hello! Like I mentioned in my previous post, starting this month I have a new segment in my blog called “A Cuppa with…” in which I interview people whom I find inspiring. And for the premiere edition of it, I’m so excited to feature my good friend Yacko! Many knows her as the leading female rapper in Indonesia, but she also works as a lecturer/head of program in one of educational institutes in Jakarta. Besides that, she is also a mother to a very cute daughter.  I personally think she’s the perfect role model for young girls; she’s very smart, passionate about life, independent and a go-getter. Since April is the month in which we’re celebrating women’s empowerment in Indonesia, I reckon that she’s the perfect person for this month’s “A Cuppa with…”


She and I have gone way back to more than a decade ago when we both were still university students in Sydney. We both have big passion for music and have shared many unforgettable memories on stage.

image1 (1)

The collaboration didn’t stop on stage. In 2008, I was featured on her deep and meaningful track called “Jalan Keluar” from her 2nd album.

Last Monday I came to her house to have a cuppa with her and Alana. We haven’t met for quite a while so this interview was actually an good opportunity for us to catch up!

I’m sure you’ll be inspired by her too by the time you’ve finished reading😉

Can you tell us a brief story about your musical journey that brings you to where you are now, as the leading female rapper in Indonesia? 
I am always passionate about music since I was a kid. But the turning point was in 1992, when I listened to rap music on the radio. I was curious about the lyrics and the energy from the beat. Then, I began to search for more rap music, learn how to rap, spit some rhymes, write my own lyrics and join many rap gigs. That’s when I decided that I wanted to become a rapper. The stepping stone was when I joined Pesta Rap 2 in 1996, I started to know more people. 2001 was the year when I was featured on Iwa K’s single “Apa Seeh”. My first album, Refleksi was released in 2005, then followed by Mendua in 2008. The Experiment, my third album was released in 2013 and chosen to be one of the best albums in 2013 by Rolling Stone Indonesia. I also joined #HIPHOPISHIPHOP, a charity project initiated by San-E, a Korean rapper that gathers rappers from all over the world including my inspiration, KRS-One, in 2015. Then, finally this year I released THANG.
What made you decide to be a lecturer? Do you find excitement in sharing your knowledge with others or…?
Other than rapping, I’ve always loved to share. By teaching, I get to share my experiences and listen to my students’ experiences. By listening to their experiences, I get to learn new things. Their characteristics, things they like, things they do, the trend nowadays. Knowing these information is like getting fresh materials for my musical journey too. So if people think that these are two different things, yes they might be different, but in my case, they’re related and supporting each other.
Can you tell us how a typical day of Yacko usually goes?
I get up at 6 and quickly prepare my kid for school. I ride a bike to work. I drop my kid to her school and then continue riding to my office. That way I could be faster and not stuck in Jakarta’s nasty traffic. My office hour is from 8 – 5. Normally I teach 1 class in a day, counsel students or just simply manage things around. Then I go back home. Play with my kid, help her with her study until she goes to sleep, then I start to work again. By working here, sometimes If I have recording schedule, I have to push it to the hour when Alana is already sleeping. Or it can also be a midnight gig. Put on my make up, gigging, and go back home afterwards. The cycle continues.
Wow. That sounds exhausting. So we can safely conclude that you’re the type of person that will be bored to death if have to spend one whole day being a couch potato? 
Not really, I love being a couch potato. I rarely have time for that. And when I do have a chance, I embrace it LOL.
I’ve known you for quite a while now and you’ve always seemed full of energy that I wonder how you could manage to stay focused and energized throughout your super packed day. What’s your secret? How do you stay fit to do all your activities?
I am a Libra. Everything around me has to be balanced. Mentally and physically. And the secret is my family. Their happiness is the source of my strength. Another thing is I always have to work out e.g. riding a bike or jogging. In other words, for me to stay fit is by working out and by being happy.
What does motherhood mean to you?
Motherhood means being blessed by all the experiences and moments I enjoy with my daughter, Alana.
I’ve seen you posted videos and photos with your cute daughter on social media. I love seeing how you two seem to be really close, just like friends (dancing to Justin Bieber’s songs, etc). How do you manage to divide your time between your daughter, 9-5 work and musical work? What do you do to stay close to her?
I always tell her this before I have to go gigging at night, “I might not always be beside you when you’re sleeping, but I am always here before you go to sleep and when you’re awake.”  And no matter how late I went to home after a gig, in the morning if she has to go to her science club, I always accompany her.
Also, we talk on the phone when she’s already home from school. I always try to push any schedule away if she has a test and accompany her to study. Any other activities have to be pushed back to another schedule until her needs are met.
Having to juggle so many roles in your life, do you still have me time? What do you usually do?
My me time is sleeping LOL! And riding a bike as well as jogging. These activities keep me sane. Also sometimes when Alana is attending her science club, I use the time to get a massage. But I also love doing it together with Alana since she loves getting a massage too.
From numerous achievements you’ve had, what do you consider as the biggest achievement so far in your career?
At the moment maybe to be able to join the #HIPHOPISHIPHOP project since it’s a worldwide project. But I think as long as I haven’t given back that much to the community, I consider that I still have more to achieve.

One of the many awards she received. This one is for her track “Ink & Paint”

We’ve witnessed you wearing so many hats: mother, female MC, lecturer, ex-radio announcer, entrepreneur. What’s next in store for Yacko?
I want to give back to the community more. By maybe starting a voluntary program to teach unfortunate children to rap or any activities that help them to aim high and that they can be whatever they want in the future.
Name three tracks that you listen the most recently.
M83 – Go!
Tupac – Changes
Porter Robinson – Fellow Feeling
Since the title of this segment is “A Cuppa with…”, I will ask everyone featured on it to review the drink that they have during the interview. Now, let’s pretend we’re tea experts😀 What do you think about the tea? How would you rate it out of 10?

I must say it’s an 8. Dont put too much sugar in it though, because the original taste is already good. I love the packaging and the tea bag. The tea bag is unlike the usual one with bleached paper. So I guess it’s more healthy.



The tea that we had that evening.

And last but not least. We both know that there’s no business like show business but unfortunately it can be a tough, rough and mean one too. Any tips for any young female artist wishing to make it in the music industry?

First, you gotta decide what your objective is. Play along with the industry or just create your own shape and be yourself. Because honestly the industry can be so harsh and sometimes you have to follow what they want you to be. But the most important thing is for you to be honest to yourself. Be consiflex! Consistent to your objective, but flexible in the way to reach your objective. Also do not skip the process. in order to be where you wanna be, you have to go through each of the process and enjoy every challenge that occur. Don’t mind the haters, just do your thang!


Fun Wednesday

I have always wondered what it felt like being a very busy artist, with days filled with one gig and another. And not to forget rehearsals, dress fittings, interviews, photo shoots, meetings, etc. It must be tiring but fun at the same time! Nothing beats the feeling of doing something you’re really passionate about❤

And last Wednesday (6 April), I had the chance to actually experience a similar thing. Not saying that I was Beyoncé busy, though! Hahaha (although that would be nice)! On that day, I had three gigs in different venues. Thankfully (don’t we Indonesians love to do this – looking at the bright side of everything? :D) each of them was located not far from each other. And I was a bit worried since I just recovered from a very bad flu that I still had a tad bit of a problem with my voice. But the show(s) must go on, no?

So I started the day at around 6.00 am. Not being a morning person (plus I got home around 1 am the night before after the regular gig with Achmad Ananda & friends at Prohibitions, Senayan Arcadia) I struggled a bit to get out of the bed. After breakfast, shower and putting my make up on, I went to Griya Arimbi, an affordable yet very good salon near my house which I have been a regular customer since high school. I decided to pull off the braided updo look since I’d be out until past midnight and I needed a hairdo that would last really long. That morning I had my hair done Mbak Yully and as usual she did a very good job! Such a happy consumer I was *dancing

Then off I went to the first venue: Puri Agung, Grand Sahid Jaya Hotel Jakarta to perform with Nengah & Nanda. In anticipation of traffic jam, I went there a couple of hours earlier. But turned out the traffic was ok and I got there rather early! On top of that, the event was a bit delayed so I had to wait for quite a while at the backstage. It’s a good thing I didn’t have to wait alone.


Food + music + good friends at the backstage.

Finally, showtime! Even though we experienced a couple of technical problems, Nanda & I still managed to have fun. We even performed our rendition of Protonema’s “Rinduku Adinda”.

Gig number one done and I hurriedly went to gig number two. The traffic wasn’t being as nice as before. It took me around hour from Grand Sahid Jaya Hotel to Ritz Carlton Kuningan! Traffic in Jakarta can be so crazy, riiight? But I luckily wasn’t late😀 I got there in time to change into another dress (unleashing the inner diva in me LOL) and discussed the songs we’re gonna perform with the guys. Again, another fun time on stage! Thank you Avia Reps & Chic Outlet Shopping for having us!

image1 (1).JPG

Phew! Two gigs down and one more to go. The next gig is actually a performance that my friends and I have every week at this uber cool bar called The Back Room in Pullman Hotels, Thamrin. We perform every Wednesday night from 9.30 pm to 12 am and it was our first gig ever there.


Dinner before the show!

I’m so blessed of having the privilege to perform with very talented musicians. Although at some points I was singing with my eyes literally shut (was really tempted to sleep!), the crowd in The Back Room nevertheless seemed to be enjoying our performance that we actually finished 15 minutes later than scheduled. It was such a relief for me everything went well as I was really worried that I would lose my voice or whatsoever (why flu takes ages to go away nowadays?).


Can a girl sing while sleeping at the same time, please?

The first word that came to my mind after the day ended? Exhausted, definitely! It amazes me that there are some people capable of doing this daily (having a very full day), including one of my dear friends (name not disclosed yet) who also has a 9-5 job aside of being a busy performing artist and a mother! I don’t know how she manages to do it but am curious to find out. Luckily, she has agreed to be interviewed by yours truly and I will feature her on a new segment in my blog called “A Cuppa with…” Yay! In this new segment in my blog, I will interview people whom I find inspiring.

What about you? Are you that type of person who usually have their day full from early in the morning until midnight? If you are, I would love to know any tips and tricks to stay fit and cope with your hectic schedule. Maybe you can share them on the comment below:) ?

From Jazz to EDM: Global Timeline of Electronic Dance Music in the USA

I’m so excited to take part in this edutainment event held by Hexa Culture in which I will perform with Nengah & Nanda and collaborate with Iqbal (MSSVKNTRL) for the workshop.

Hope to see you all there!

18 Feb - EDM_eposter_1024_english

Broaden your knowledge of Electronic Dance Music (EDM) in a fun way! Don’t miss out this edutainment event by Hexa Culture and @america where you can explore Electronic Dance Music (EDM) roots through decades of history compiled in continuous DJ and live electronic music performances complete with educative visual backdrop. Catch tracks ranging from jazz to the latest style. See how EDM developed into one of the most popular genre today.

Curious about “How to Sound Like and Perform Contemporary EDM” There also will be a short workshop on it in this event!

Watch the video below to learn more.

It’s a FREE event and you don’t need to register yourself.


Highlight of the Day on Digital Platforms

It’s almost been 8 years since the release of Sister Duke‘s debut album and it’s now available on digital platforms such as iTunes, Google Play, Deezer, Spotify and Apple Music!

Sister Duke - Highlight of the Day_Zimbalam

If you haven’t got the album yet, here’s your chance to get it. Thank you for your support!

Tagged , ,

Another South Africa – Indonesia Collaboration

At the beginning of this year I was contacted by a young producer from South Africa, Blaque Essence who expressed his interest in collaborating with me. He sent me the instrumental of the track and I fell in love with it immediately! It sounded so sweet which I really like. So yes, I told him that I would love to collaborate with him and started working on the lyrics and melody as well as recorded my vocals. So far, it’s one of my personal favorite out of all the collaborations I have done.

And months later, look what showed up on my Facebook timeline!

Only You

Since it’s my personal favorite, I’m so excited to share it with you. Will definitely give you update when it’s out so stay tuned, peeps!:)

Tagged , ,

Country Walks in Spring Time…

One of my favorite jazz tunes is “That’s All”, a song composed by Alan Brandt and Bob Haymes and first sung by the great Nat King Cole. It’s so sweet and romantic that I sang it so many times that I lost count!

So when Aimee from The Lady Who Sings asked me to sing a jazz tune, I immediately picked this song. You can listen to it from the recording below.

Now, who would take a country walk in spring time with me while listening to this tune?:)

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Swingin’ with Aimee!


Catch me swingin’ with the lovely Aimee Saras on Hard Rock FM tonight!

For streaming, click here.

See you on air!

Jazz Jazzes Up My Life

I started listening to jazz in university. As a singer, it’s only natural that I’m mostly drawn to jazz singers. My first favorite female jazz singer’s Dinah Washington. I remember I bought her CD in campus, I think there was some kind of a market or bazaar at the time. I love her “Teach Me Tonight”!

Then I stumbled upon the fabulous and scattilicious Ms Ella Fitzgerald! Her musicality is over the top, and like most people, I really admire her scat-singing.

When I’m in love or broken hearted, I seek comfort from Billie Holiday. Listening to her is some kind of emotional therapy for me. She’s just so full of soul, I really could feel every word she sang. Like this next song, it’s just so sad that I got teary eyes.

I always find thick voice fascinating, such as Sarah Vaughan’s. And it also has a hint of opera singer’s voice – so divine.

And who doesn’t know Nina Simone? This singer-pianist recorded “Feeling Good”, a track from the musical “The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd” for her album “I Put a Spell on You” that was released in 1965. This song was a hit, became a standard and got covered by many artists such as jazz crooner Michael Buble, the rock band Muse, and…me! Two years ago I was playing around with this app called VoiceJam on my iPod and was inspired to make a very simple rendition of the tune using only my voice.

For modern female jazz singers, I’m in love with Gretchen Parlato. How could somebody turn the 90s R&B group SWV’s track “Weak” into this super crazy rendition? (big props to Robert Glapser too!)

Many associate me with jazz, because I performed in jazz festivals. It’s true that jazz plays a big role in my musical evolution, but I can’t say that I’m a jazz artist because I’m still learning to be one. And I think I will keep on learning because it has so much to offer and every time I learn something new out of it, it makes me feel more and more alive! Thank God for music and thank God for Jazz! Happy International Jazz Day, peeps:)

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Renewing US Visa Without Interview (Interview Waiver Program)

So, that afternoon I received an e-mail from a US embassy official with the subject “Important Message Regarding Your US Visa”. I was instantaneously reminded with my US visa that was about to expire soon. The e-mail explained that there’s a new program called IWP or Interview Waiver Program in which a person with prior visa didn’t have to come in person to the embassy to renew their visa. But of course, not everyone is qualified for this program. To check whether you’re qualified or not, click here. I was thrilled to find out that I was qualified for the program, meaning I didn’t have to wake up so early in the morning and then queue in front of the embassy while feeling anxious that the interview wouldn’t turn out well and all. So, yeah, I thought why not go ahead and apply? Turns out, the process is really simple once you understand all the required steps, but I found the website a bit complex (hence I made this blog post in hope that it can help anyone wanting to renew their visa through IWP). And it’s relatively fast too! I dropped off all the required documents on Thursday at the drop box location, and picked up my passport with the issued visa the next Wednesday. Here are the steps for applying for US visa renewal with Interview Waiver Program: 1. Pay the NIV Application Fee This fee depends on the type of visa you’re applying. Find out what type of visa you’re applying, and check the amount you have to pay here. In my case, since I was renewing my B1/B2 visa, I had to pay USD 160. There are two payment options: online or straight at a local bank. Because I don’t have any account in Permata Bank, I opted for the latter. If, like me, you choose to pay at a local bank, you must first print out the deposit slip that you can find here and then take it to the bank. You can pay at any Standard Chartered or Permata Bank listed here. At first I went to Permata Bank branch in Setiabudi as it’s closer to my house. After more than half an hour of queuing, it was finally my turn but contrary to what the website says, the teller told me that it took more time for the payment to be processed if done in their bank (5-7 working days) compared to Standard Chartered (4 hours after payment)! Luckily there’s a Standard Chartered bank nearby that’s still open so I went there instead. *phew* So yeah, I guess you better go straight to Standard Chartered instead if you don’t want to wait that long. At the bank, I filled out the USA MRV Fee slip with my name as shown in the Passport, my Passport number, the visa fee amount and then sign it. I then gave this along with the deposit slip I printed at home to the teller. After validating them, she returned the payment receipt for the MRV fee and the Customer Copy of the deposit slip. Don’t lose the payment receipt, as you will need to submit it along with all other documents. For step-by-step procedures of this payment, click here. 2. Complete the DS-160 form Make sure you have a digital 5×5 cm formal photo in color with white background which was taken no longer than 6 months ago before you fill out this form as the first thing they’ll ask you is to upload this photo. You can read the photo requirements here but if you’re not sure you can take and edit the photo by yourself, just do what I did: go to the nearest  photo service and tell them you need a photo for US visa. When you’ve already got the required photo, go to this link and follow the steps to fill out the DS-160 form. After you fill out the form, electronically sign it and submit it online, you will get the DS-160 confirmation page, which you will submit along with all other documents. 3. Retrieve the Drop Box Confirmation Letter If you pay at the Standard Cartered bank, four hours after you made the payment (or one day after the payment just to make sure it’s already processed) go to this link, create an account and then login with that account. Even though with IWP we don’t have to make an appointment for an interview, just click “New Application/Schedule Appointment”. Answer the questions and after you finish, you will see “Drop Box Confirmation Letter” on the homepage. Click this and print it out. 4. Submit All Required Documents to the Drop Box Location As stated in the Drop Box Confirmation letter, drop off the following documents:

  1. Drop Box Confirmation Letter
  2. Current passport and prior passport which contains your most recent US visa
  3. Original Standard Chartered Bank or Permata Bank payment receipt for MRV fee
  4. DS-160 confirmation page
  5. One color, white-background, 5×5 cm photograph (just use the same one as the one you submitted online when filling out the DS-160 form)
  6. Children under age 14: original birth certificate (which will be returned along with the passport once the visa is issued)
  7. Student (F) visa applicants: original form I-20; Returning students – evidence that you continue to be a student in good standing, for example transcript or grade card; Exchange (J) visa applicants: original form DS-2019
  8. Crew (C1/D) visa applicants: Sponsor employment letter from crewing agency

at the nearest RPX courier. You can find the locations of the courier here. You don’t need other documents beside those mentioned above, not even a bank statement. And that’s it! Those are the 4 simple steps that you need to do to renew visa without having to go through the interview. Again, I hope you find this blog post helpful and if you have any question, just shoot! Hopefully I can help:)

Tagged , , ,

Two Nominations from VIMA Asia!

Another happy news in 2014!

“I Miss You” got nominated for “Best Pop Song” while Chymamusique’s track featuring yours truly, “Live Your Life” got nominated for “Best Genre Bender Song” by VIMA Asia:)

But we need your vote to help us win, and I promise you, it’s no hassle!

To vote, simply go to:

http://bit.ly/vimaasia-pop (for “Best Pop Song” category)


http://bit.ly/vimaasia-gbender (for “Best Genre Bender” category)

Then log in with your Facebook or Twitter account, click on the “Follow icon” or “human” icon at the bottom of the card and you’re done! It’s as simple as that:)

Voting will be closed next Monday, 10 February 2014, so please cast your vote before that😉

Thank you!


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,097 other followers