New Releases Featuring Yours Truly

Heya peeps!

Life’s been a little slow for me after the Eid al-Fitr holiday, so I’m very sorry for the lack of update. How’s your holiday, by the way? Mine was filled with food (of course!), books (I am finally reunited with my love for books~yaaay!), friends and family. Hope you had lovely time with your loved ones:)

Anyway… I’m so excited to share with you two new releases featuring me!

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The first one is from this talented Indonesian female electronic music producer Audrey. End of last year MSSVKNTRL sent her track to me and when I listened to it, I was really intrigued. I don’t collaborate that often with EDM producers and I really enjoyed it. I actually got to meet Audrey in person a couple of months after that when we both participated in Hexa Culture event.

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Left to right: CVX, Dotty, DTX, the cat lady who sings :p, MSSVKNTRL, Audrey.

 

She released her EP entitled “Lovest(r)uck) last month, consisting of four tracks and one of them is a track called “Some Time” that features MSSVKNTRL and me. It’s a straightforward song about a person who’s still stuck in their past love (unable to move on) that they need time to accept the love from a new suitor. I guess everyone can relate to that, no?

One interesting fact (and totally unrelated to music) about Audrey, MSSVKNTRL and me is that the three of us are all cat people! Maybe we should make another track about the cute fluffy creature?😀

In case you want to get Audrey’s album (and you should ‘coz it’s awesome!), here are some of the links:

iTunes: http://apple.co/2aF2yPd

Spotify: http://spoti.fi/2a83oFn

And remember my post last year about my collaboration with South African Blaque Essence? His album is out this month and you can listen how British producer Jonny Miller smoothly remixed this track.

Out of the melodies that I made for other people’s tracks, so far this is my personal favorite as it’s just sweet and lovely.

Below are some of the links where you can get his album:

iTunes: http://apple.co/29YMNRj

Spotify: http://spoti.fi/2ar34Ue

Hope you enjoy these albums as much as I do!

A Cuppa with Wizzow

Wisnu Prastowo a.k.a Wizzow is my mentor in music production. We first met in 2005 when we shared the stage to support our girl Yacko (but being an “old forgetful man” that he is, he doesn’t remember :p).

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At Yacko’s crib, preparing for her show.

We then met again in 2008 at Yacko’s concert. He was there with Batik Tribe and they asked me to do a collaboration with me. A few days after, I went to the studio to lay my vocals down to this awesome track that Wizzow produced. The track is called “Give Me Your Love (Global Warming)” and was one of the tracks in their debut album “Melangkah”.

I have never met a person as passionate as Wizzow when it comes to music. With no formal training and proper studio gear, he produced, mixed and mastered Ras Muhamad’s debut album which was released in 2006. Amazingly this album landed an Anugerah Musik Indonesia (AMI) nomination for Best Reggae Composition in 2008!

So far Wizzow have worked with big names in the industry such as Glenn Fredly, Afgan, Dewi Sandra, Tompi, Malaysian singer-songwriter Nadhira, and many more. After my collaboration with Batik Tribe, Wisnu and I became good friends and we also worked several times in some jingle projects.

What I like best from Wizzow is that he happily and patiently answers all my questions regarding music production, from how to set the EQ to how to do a quick mastering. Back then I thought I wouldn’t be able to mix and master my own track but with the help from him, I managed to record, produce, mix and master this track below.

Wow, that’s quite a long introduction. I think it’s time for you to read my conversation with him over my favorite drink from Sharetea to know more about this amazing self-taught MC/music producer😉

Hi Wizzow! It’s been a while, huh? What are you up to now?

I just finished producing the debut album of a neo-soul singer, Bakhes. We were working on it for three years and finally it will be released this September. And I also just finished working on a religious compilation album entitled “Hidayah” with Glenn Fredly, featuring artists like Indra Lesmana and Kamila which was just released this month for the holy month of Ramadan. Right now I’m working on the debut album of Tiara Degrasia of The Voice Indonesia Season 1 and the soundtrack for the film “Ben & Jody (Filosofi Kopi 2)”.

You started your music career as an MC when you were a teenager. Why hip hop?  

I love basketball and the time I was a big fan of Shaquille O’Neal and Gary Payton. Every time I went to the court to practice, there’s always someone playing hip hop tunes. That’s how I fell in love with the music and started to learn how to rap. Besides practicing using the minus one inside the cassette that I bought for 10 thousand rupiahs (around 76 cents), I honed my skill by reading articles in magazines or newspapers in a fast pace, pretending like I’m rapping.

What made you intrigued to learn music production and how did you learn it? Were you relying on Internet and if so, was there any site that you frequented the most?

Back then I had a hip hop group and one of them was the producer. One day he looked at me and said, “Without me, you wouldn’t be able to make music”. I wanted to make music with other producers but couldn’t afford it. So I tried arranging music using a Technic KN 2000 keyboard and bought a computer afterwards. I made several tracks and sold each of them for 50 thousand rupiahs (around 3,80 dollars) that only covered for food. Having not enough money to hire a mixing engineer, I realized that I needed to learn it myself. So I gathered several different speakers in my room and learned the various characters of sound frequency by listening to Dr. Dre’s “2001” album using each speaker.

Do you have any music production mentor? What’s the one thing he taught you that you won’t forget?

Yudis Dwikorana. He taught me to compose song pattern and to differentiate the verse and chorus. For mixing, Nti told me that the first thing that needed to be mixed was the beat (kick, snare, hihat), followed by bass, other instruments, and vocals.

What is the most memorable experience in your music production career?

After listening to Ras Muhamad’s debut album, many thought that I did the recording and mixing in a professional studio when I actually didn’t use a proper studio speaker, only a simple stereo. We also only used a second-hand SM58 dynamic microphone during recording. That was truly memorable.

Do you consider yourself more of a analog or digital person?

Digital.

Who is your favorite producer and why?

Dr. Dre because he is a skillful MC and also really good in producing. With his good technical skills, all artists that he produced like Tupac, Snoop Dogg, Eminem & Mary J. Blige managed to go platinum.

What are the best three tracks produced by him?

Tupac feat. Dr. Dre & Roger Troutman – California Love

Snoop Dogg – Gin and Juice

Eminem feat. Dr. Dre – Guilty Conscience

You collaborated with Akil of Jurassic 5 for your solo album. I’m sure there are other artists you’d like to collaborate with. If you could choose, which artist would you feature in your next album and in which studio would you produce the track?

Talib Kweli, because he has a very cool flow and his lyrics are on point. It doesn’t matter in which studio I get to work with him.

What do you think about popular hip hop nowadays? 

I like new artists like Kendrick Lamar. He is really good. In general, the rapping style nowadays is more simple. Too bad most of the famous hip hop tracks now only expose fame, sex, fortune and drugs in the lyrics.

It’s obvious that you really enjoy producing hip hop, R&B and soul music. What genre of music that you surprisingly enjoyed producing?

EDM wasn’t my cup of tea before but I had to produce an EDM track for several projects and turned out I really enjoyed it.

Last but not least, do you enjoy the drink we had? What do you think of it on a scale of 10?

I had Avocado Coccoa Rocksalt & Cheese with additional pearl. I love how the smooth blend of Avocado mix well with the savory cheese cream. It’s really good so it gets 9,2 from me. Hahaha!

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I had a really good time catching up with Wizzow at his studio. It’s too bad that I had limited time. But hopefully I get to spend more time with him before he’s busy taking care of his baby boy who is due soon. Hope everything goes well before and during the D-day, Wizzow & Ivy!

One Fine Noon at National Gallery Singapore

I wasn’t really interested in museums until my first visit to Europe. Turned out that I really enjoyed spending time there, especially arts museums! I could spend hours looking at a painting that I really like (unfortunately I haven’t got to do that since there were usually other beautiful paintings waiting to be devoured by my eyes!).

When I was in Singapore two weeks ago, I was determined to put a visit to museum in the itinerary. While waiting for the bus, I saw the ad for Reframing Modernism, an exhibition in National Gallery Singapore. The exhibition is organized by the Gallery with Centre Pompidou, Paris. My eyes beamed with joy looking at the name of the artists: from Marc Chagall (loooove “La Joie“!), the maestro Affandi to…Picasso!

So the next day I hopped on the MRT and made my way to the City Hall stop. After taking a brief yet lovely walk passing the stunning St Andrew Cathedral, I arrived at the Gallery.

After entering, I made my way downstairs to buy the tickets. Since I’m not a Singaporean citizen nor a PR, I had to pay 25 SGD for the exhibition. To access other collections in the Gallery, they normally charge 20 SGD to Non-Singaporeans, but they have this offer in which you only have to pay an extra 5 SGD if you combine it with the exhibition. That was a good deal. So I thought…why not?

With tickets in hand, I went up to the third floor where the exhibition took place. It was divided into three different sections (or galleries) and of course I started with the first one. There were so many beautiful pieces including work of arts by names that I didn’t recognize before (since I’m still a newbie art lover!), like this beautiful painting by Japanese-French artist Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita entitled “In the Café”.

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Really “Parisian-ish”, no?

There were also works by Russian artist Natalia Sergeevna Goncharova. I love the color in her painting called “A City”.

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Like I said before, this exhibition exposed me to so many great artists previously unknown to me. Like Emiria Soenassa who was the first most active Indonesian female painter. Born in 1894, she actually started learning to paint when she was 40. She was inspired by Indonesian archipelago, showcasing the Indonesian people from the island of Sulawesi (where she’s from) to the indigenous people from Papua. In her work “Flute Blower and Full Moon”, she featured the landscape of Indonesia under the beam of moonlight.

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Besides Soenassa, there were  other Indonesian artists in like Affandi, S. Sudjojono and I Gusti Nyoman Lempad whose works showcased.

Also in the same gallery were some of the works of Marc Chagall’s. I first came across his works when I visited Nice and went to his museum.

After spending almost an hour in the first room, I proceeded to the second gallery. The first thing that took my attention upon entering was a listening station with four headphones. The exhibition collaborated with several Singaporean music students to create several tracks inspired by some paintings. I looked at the mini paintings displayed for a while before closing my eyes while listening to the electronic music tracks. Very interesting.

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On top of the listening station was a quote by Vassily Kandinsky whose works also displayed inside Gallery 2.

The highlight of my visit that day was Robert Delaunay‘s “Portrait de Madame Heim”. Displayed next to his other works (one of it was his collaboration with his wife, Sofia Delaunay), this piece made me return back to it for several times. I found the combination of pastel colors and geometric shapes very intriguing.

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Robert Delauney – Portrait de Madame Heim. This picture doesn’t do justice!

Still captivated with Delaunay’s work, I hesitantly moved to the third and the last gallery of the exhibition. Upon entering, I was greeted by a very friendly museum attendant. He pointed to my camera and said that I must have taken loads of picture. Then he mentioned about how excited I must’ve been to see Picasso’s work. I’d never seen his work with my own eyes before and of course I was!

“The Cat and the Rooster” was the Picasso’s work in the exhibition. What crossed my mind when seeing it was, “Did the cat kill the rooster? Or did it find it already dead?” Such a silly thought, I know.

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Also in the same room were “Ancient Dance” made in 1968 by Nguyen Tu Nghiem and “Yellow Horse” made in 1941 by Carl Henning Pedersen.

There were also fascinating abstract paintings by Ahmad Sadali. It’s mentioned that this Indonesian painter “merged his spiritual and religious outlook with his interest in abstraction, resulting in deeply philosophical and meditative canvases” which I found true. After looking at his works (especially “Banyuwangi”), you might experience some kind of tranquility that usually comes after meditating. So, meditative is the right choice of word to illustrate them.

The works of Sadali’s concluded “Reframing Modernism”. I got out of the room feeling content that the 25 SGD I spent was worth it (hahah!). I looked at my watch and found that I still have around an hour to get back to my mother who was waiting for me in Orchard Road. So I went to see the other collections that the Gallery had in other levels of the buildings. Turned out this Gallery’s massive! It occupies the former buildings of Supreme Court and City Hall and consists of many galleries.

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Until 17 July, still got time to go there if you’re interested!

One of the works that stole my attention was this portrait of Balinese high priest by Miguel Covarrubias. Always drawn to caricature and cartoon, it’s no wonder I found this Mexican caricaturist’s work fascinating. His extensive travel to Bali yielded to his book “Island of Bali” which was first published in 1937. I might try to look for that book later:)

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There’s also this painting by Prayat Pongdam entitled “Feeding”. It illustrates a woman feeding four black cats. Of course it instantly reminded me to my dear mother, LOL! That’s why I found it very close to my heart.

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Mother, is that you? Oh wait, she never goes topless when feeding the cats :p

I googled Prayat Pongdam after I got back to the apartment that day and found that this late Thai painter actually liked to incorporate cats to his works (like “Cat and Fish“). I’m mesmerized by his works and fingers crossed that soon I’ll be able to visit and indulge in more of his works in Sombatperpoon Gallery, Bangkok.

Of course there weren’t only paintings in the Gallery. There were also sculpture works by artists like Edhi Sunarso and “Wayang Legenda” – a performance installation by Heri Dono.

It’s too bad that my feet were hurting and my mother was already waiting for me that I had to end my visit before I had the chance to explore the whole Gallery. It was indeed a fine noon there and I will definitely come back during my next trip to Singapore! (note to self: wear a comfortable pair of sneakers next time.)

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Parlez-vous français ? (Part 2)

FullSizeRenderAs mentioned in my previous post, my trips to Europe made me fell in love with the continent, especially France. And what’s a better way to immerse oneself in the culture better than to learn the language? So on that sunny day in July, I went to IFI in Thamrin to sign myself up.

I initially wanted to take the regular class so I only had to come for 1-2 times per week. But turned out the regular class had already started a couple of weeks before and the only class that I could enroll myself in was the intensive one. “Do you really want to sacrifice your beauty sleep every weekday morning?” I asked myself (I’m a night owl, you know).

But I didn’t really have anything going on in the morning and didn’t want to wait for a couple of months to attend the regular class. Also, taking the intensive class meant that I got to finish one level in two months, while regular class needed 6 to 9 months (depending on which level). So, why not?

And it was one of the best decisions ever!

The class commenced in the beginning of August last year. Knowing only basic French from Duolingo, I was surprised to find the intricacy of the language. Different groups for verb and each group has their own set of rules for conjugation? Are you kidding me?! I felt like I was running out of space in my brain to memorize all those rules, conjugations, tenses (Le Passe Composé vs L’Imparfait! Hmm…) and other stuffs. And ooh, not to forget the pronunciation? There are different words with obviously different spellings but similar pronunciations like “sourire” (smile) and “souris” (mouse). *pulling my hair

But thank God for Internet! I downloaded the app Vatefaireconjuguer to help me with the conjugations. To speed things up when I’m looking for a meaning for a word, I use the free dictionary by Farlex on my smartphone. And I also use the app iTranslate to help me with sentences. It must be really hard to learn the language before Internet and smartphones were available!

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Le sourire de la souris. Hey, that ain’t a mouse!

Although it gave me headache, learning French became really fun and not boring at all thanks to my classmates. We had good chemistry with one another and became good friends, more like a family – une famille française! I always looked forward to attend the class and spend time with them.

Besides that, everybody was smart and supportive to one another in learning this not-so-easy language. But doesn’t mean we didn’t like to have fun because we joked around almost all the time. I remember one time the teacher came in and was very surprised to find us playing Twister! Sometimes we also liked to go out together – for lunch, bowling, live music, and even out of town to enjoy the beach of Carita.

We also took DELF (sort of like French’s IELTS or TOEFL). Even though I initially had no plan on doing it, everybody was so serious preparing for it that it was somehow contagious. To make it even harder, most of us took DELF for level A2 while we’re still in that level. Yikes!

When the day of the test came, I was really nervous. Didn’t know why it became THAT serious for me because I actually took the course pour plaisir ;p But, phew! It went well. During the oral production test, the examiner asked me, “Combien de chiens avez-vous?” (How many dogs do you have?) after I told him that I share a house with cats and dogs. Yet I mistakenly heard “chats” so I answered, “J’ai trente-sept chats chez moi,” (I have 37 cats at home – it’s 38 now, by the way.). He then stared at me with disbelief. Haha!

After four months of being together, only a few of us continued studying in the intensive class. Some of my classmates had to depart for France for their study, some were busy with their own lives and I had to take regular class instead as I didn’t as much free time as I used to. But we still keep in touch regularly, exchanging news on our Whatsapp group.

The regular class for level B1 started early this year and I was delighted to find myself in the class with people with similar vibes as my former classmates – such a nice way to spend my Saturday mornings! But of course, the lesson’s not getting any easier. Right now we’re studying le subjonctif and I feel like my head’s gonna explode:/

So far the main challenge for me is to comprehend what the Frenchs are saying. They talk in this speed of light that it seems impossible for me to get it! I sometimes borrow DVD and CD from the library to (try to) get myself used to them speaking. My favorite French movie is The Intouchables, which I actually saw on the plane, starring the hunky Omar Sy. Do you have any French movie you recommend?

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C’est Jean-Nengah !

Okay, answering the question of Jean-Nengah: Parlez-vous français ?

Oui. Mais, soyez-patient, s’il vous plaît. Je parle très lentement !😀

(Special thanks to my good friend Vitri who snapped pictures of Jean-Nengah and me!)

 

 

Parlez-vous français ? (Part 1)

Two years ago I decided to embark on a 1-month-and-1-week journey (initially 1.5 month but I had to cut a week off due to chicken pox. Yes, you read it right! Got chicken pox in my 30s – ain’t that cool?) around Europe. The itinerary was: Paris – Prague – Rome/Vatican – Florence/Pisa – Venice – Milan – Nice/Monaco – Barcelona – Madrid – London – Paris. It was a trip of a lifetime, I must tell you. As I was backpacking (even though I also brought a luggage – not really a light packer), I stayed in hostels or used Airbnb and Couchsurfing for accommodation. I will share a more elaborate story about my experiences with Couchsurfing in my other post:)

This trip made me fell in love with Europe. Although I only had the chance to visit two French cities, I fell in love with France the most – especially Paris! But I must be honest, my first impression of the city wasn’t that good. I arrived on a sunny day and found myself a bit surprised to see the view from Charles De Gaulle airport to the city center from the shuttle bus. It’s dirty, messy, dusty and somewhat reminded me of Jakarta. It didn’t get better when I got off in Gare du Montparnasse. I could smell some unpleasant aroma.

A bit tired after almost 20 hours flight, I dragged my luggage to Hotel Innova – the only hotel I stayed in during this trip as I was still recovering from chicken pox (didn’t want to scare other guests sharing the same hostel room!). I picked this hotel because it had good reviews, quite affordable (around 70€ for one night with air conditioner) and is in a walking distance from the Eiffel tower!

After taking a nap, I went out to see the famous tower. I wandered the city on my own, listening to John Legend’s “All of Me“. The song kinda suited my mood on that warm sunny afternoon in Paris.

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Saw this Indonesian movie poster on the streets of Paris!

Having bad sense of direction and no internet connection (wasn’t aware with the app Ulmon at the time), I was a bit worried that I would get lost even though I had a map with me. Luckily on my way I met a Syrian mother and her daughter who were also going there. I tagged along with them until I could see the tower from afar and we parted. I was excited when I entered Champ de Mars and saw the tower in front of me.

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Oooo weee! Finally got to meet this French beauty.

After spending some time around the tower taking loads of pics and enjoying several Pierre Hermé macaroons (I like Ladureé’s better), I took the metro to Gobelins L’École de L’Image. My late brother Gede really wanted to take summer course in that school and one of the reasons I went to Europe was that so I could go there even though I could only took pics in front of it.

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Hey Gede, I’m here!❤

Then I went back to my hotel to rest before flying over to Prague the day after. My thought on Paris after spending half a day there? Still not impressed to be honest. But that would change after 6 nights in the city of light before I headed back to Jakarta.

The second city in France that I visited was Nice. After 5 hours in the train from Milan, I arrived in this nice French city (yes, pun intended). Using Hostel Room, I booked a bed in a 8-bed room in Antares Hostel located right in front of the train station where I got off. That was my trick – find an affordable accommodation not far from the station and city center so I didn’t have to drag my heavy luggage (a nice man in the train looked at it and said, “why do women have to bring the whole house when they travel?”) for too long. When I got into the room, I met two sweet Dutch teenagers who seemed excited when I told them I came from Indonesia. We chatted a bit before they went out to explore the city and I took a nap. After a few hours of resting, I went out to see the city and took loads of picture.

During my three day stay there, I also went on a day trip to Monaco and Èze Village with my kind Taiwanese roomie in Nice, Holly. Èze Village is a medieval French village with hotels, cafes and restaurants. It’s really clean and lovely and it reminded me of those villages in Belgian comics (remember Johan & Peewit?) that I used to read. It’s really beautiful! I recommend you to visit it when you’re staying in Nice or Monaco. You can go to Monaco from Nice by taking bus or train (bus is cheaper) and from Monaco you can take the bus to go to the village. Click here and here for more info on this.

On the last day before I headed to Barcelona, with her and two other sweet Taiwanese girls who also shared the same room with us, Poca and Angel, I went museum-hopping, trying out local dish and ended the day on the beach. Too bad I didn’t bring my bathing suit. But it was still nice enjoying the warm sun on the beach while listening to some summer tunes like Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” which was put on repeat.

After weeks of exploring Europe, the train took me back from London St. Pancras to Paris Gare du Nord. This time, I didn’t explore the city alone. My good friend Bram who’s at the time studying and working in German flew over to Paris. We stayed in this tiny apartment we found on Airbnb. We were happy with our stay there because it’s very strategic (located near two metro stops) and had everything that we needed (kitchen, hot water, internet, etc). Paris was different this time. It wasn’t sunny and warm like the first time I set my foot there; it was raining and a bit cold. But we still had a good time! I actually was kinda happy with the change of weather as the summer sun was getting too much for me (got loads of it back home!).

And I finally got why everybody fell in love with Paris. The city is stunningly beautiful! There are loads of things to see and loads of things do like spending the afternoon in the beautiful Jardin du Luxembourg, exploring Musée du Louvre (I could spend days there!), taking a day trip to Château de Versailles, enjoying ice cream while strolling along Avenue des Champs-Élysées, enjoying the night with cool live jazz music, joining the crowd taking photos of and with the beautiful Eiffel, and the list goes on and on and on…

I loved my stay in Paris so much that I remember I posted a photo of me in front of the Eiffel on our last night in the city with the caption “Last night in Paris…I’ll be back!” on Facebook.

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And gues what…

…I did come back! Less than a year after the trip, my parents, my cousin and I went on a trip to Dubai and Europe. Even though it’s not the first time for them to be in Europe, my parents wanted to do a similar thing that I did so I made a quite similar itinerary for us. We stayed there for 4 nights and although the weather was quite bad for spring, we had a blast nevertheless. My parents were happy to be back in the city of light, especially my mom (shopping!).  I also took them to La Crêperie Bretonne that Bram and I visited before (and loooved so much!), and my dad said the crêpes were really good! Phew, such a relief since he’s hard to please when it comes to food.

To tell you the truth, I didn’t expect Parisians to be nice and friendly. I heard so many stories about them being cold and arrogant that I was prepared to have a hard time asking for directions since I only know basic French. But boy, luckily that wasn’t the case! Everybody I met was nice and helpful. Some people I asked help from kindly explained the direction with sign language because they couldn’t speak English. There’s even one time when a guy in front of me suddenly stopped walking, turned his back, and pointed me the way to the right metro line without me asking! Maybe he could read my mind or something?

So, answering the question of the blog – did I speak French at the time? Well, just a tiny teeeny bit (thanks to Duolingo!). But I will tell you how I finally can speak more than just “Bonjour” or “Au revoir” after enrolling myself in a French course a couple of months after my family trip. So stay tuned for my next post: “Parlez-vous français? (Part 2)”!:)

A Night at the Prohibition Speakeasy

That Monday afternoon in end of January this year, I received a phone call from my music buddy Nanda who asked me, “Do you want to sing at the Prohibition?” and to that I replied, “Of course.” So the day after, I went there and had my first regular gig with him, Victor Prabowo (bass) and Afirniar Mustrin (drums).

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I’m lucky to be sharing the stage with these talented boys. Learned a lot from them and besides sharing good vibes on stage, we also liked to goof around and have lots of fun during the break!

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Don’t mind the guy in the middle :p

Last month, Sachiko Asada from the famous youtube channel Senang96, came with our mutual friend, Yoichi Ikeda to see us perform. I never met Sachiko in person but we became friends on social medias after she came to Sister Duke’s show in 2012 and uploaded it on her youtube channel (you can watch the show here). So it was such a pleasure to finally meet this Japanese lady who really supports Indonesian music scene❤ And it was also really nice to be able to reunite with Yoichi whom I last met twelve years ago!

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Thank you for coming and showing us your support!

She recorded some of the songs we performed that night and uploaded them on her youtube channel. Yoichi also took some cool photos of us on stage. It’s a good thing I made the right decision to wear slimming black dress that I got from my good friend Vitri hahahah! (Oh, I also had my nails done a couple of days before-can you see cool arts on my finger nails by two.cents? :D)

We opened the show that night with “Summertime”, one of the first jazz standards that I learned back in the days.

We also performed one of my favorite blues tunes “Moanin'”. I first encountered this song when the contestants of American Idol 2011 Haley Reinhart and Casey Abram sang it on the show.

Reminiscing back to my first moments as a band vocalist, that night we also performed Green Day’s “Basket Case”, a song that I used to sing with my first band in junior high. But it was performed with a twist!

Playing at a jazz bar, of course it don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing! We also did a couple of swing tunes that night, including this soundtrack written for Irving Berlin for Fred Astaire movie “Top Hat”.

Those are four of the seven songs that Sachiko uploaded on her youtube channel. You can simply go to this playlist to see the rest.

We’ll be taking a break during the fasting month, but we’ll be back after that! So hope to see you on Tuesday nights at the Prohibition Speakeasy after the Ramadhan😉

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From Italy to Indonesia

How great is the Internet? Last year my late friend Robert (may his soul rest in peace) introduced me to an Italian Producer, Gigi Frassanito aka Soulbridge. After exchanging a few messages we decided to work on a track together.  He sent over this cool soulful house demo and I wrote the lyrics and melodies to it. He heard and liked the demo that I sent back so I proceeded with a recording session and sent the vocal stems over to him. All of this without meeting in person at all!

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The track title is “In the Moment”. It’s about two individuals who found themselves in a situation where they are aware that their attraction to each other can’t be taken further, thus one of them feel hesitant to give in to this feeling. But the other person believes that they shouldn’t resist the feeling and just enjoy being in the moment.

The best news is, the track is already out! Besides the original mix, there are also remixes by Guido P and Salento Soul (love the remixes!). You can buy/stream them online on various digital stores and streaming services.

Here are some of the links:

iTunes: http://apple.co/1OXubPJ

Spotify: http://spoti.fi/1NYpzxK

Enjoy!

A Cuppa with Melanie Putria

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A month has passed since I interviewed Yacko for the segment “A Cuppa with…” and this month I had the opportunity to interview my favorit Puteri Indonesia (Indonesian beauty queen) who also happens to be a friend of mine, Melanie Putria!

Melanie’s and my paths crossed in 2011 through running. With other fellow runners, we went together for Singapore Standard Chartered Marathon. Although at the time she had just been running for less than 6 months, she went there to do her first marathon (in which she got a quite good timing for a first timer who didn’t really prepare for it!) while I was doing my first half marathon (I obviously didn’t perform as well as her, you can easily tell who the fast runner is and who the fun runner is😉 ).

She’s such a lovely person that everybody loves. I got the chance to work with her once as an MC/Race Announcer. Although she’s more experienced than me, I can tell you that she’s not cocky at all!

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Partnering for Lippo Mall Kemang 10K – Run for Childhood Cancer.

Spending that afternoon with her and listening to her stories at Starbucks, Kota Kasablanka, made me realize how this person could even be more inspiring.

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Also met Helen and Joe that afternoon!

Hi Uni (an endearing term for sister used by the ethnic group of Minangkabau in West Sumatra), thank you for taking your time to have a chat with me for my blog. You are well known as a Puteri Indonesia who has a successful career in the entertainment industry. What inspired you to embark on this career?

It all started from singing. Thinking that I had the talent, my mother got me enrolled in a singing course and had to drag me there because I didn’t think that I had any sense of music. But mother knows better, of course! Eventually I started to really like singing and entered quite a lot of singing contests and became the winner. I became the backing vocal for a couple of bands, performed more and started to make my own money.  Then one day at the campus, I saw an ad for Puteri Indonesia and got intrigued. I thought to myself, “Why don’t I give it a shot?” All those experiences from the singing contests and on the stage gave me enough confidence to present myself in front of a crowd. Even though I was clueless when it came to beauty and modeling, I filled out the form and sent it over. Turned out I got picked as a finalist to represent West Sumatra and won the title. This really opened the door for me as a presenter and MC. I learned how to be an MC by watching my mother who often brought me to work as an MC for Minangkabau weddings when I was little.

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Caught her in the act in Jakarta Marathon 2014.

You’re also known to promote healthy lifestyle, being an avid runner and all. Can you tell us a briefly how your story with sports and health begun?

I used to be this chubby girl who hated sport and often pretended to be sick so I could skip physical education classes. After winning the title of Puteri Indonesia, I still didn’t embrace the healthy lifestyle–I didn’t exercise, didn’t eat vegetables nor fruits. I thought that I had no problem with my body until YPI (Yayasan Puteri Indonesia – the organizer of the beauty pageant) sent me a warning letter saying that I had to lose a couple kilograms. I felt shocked because it was the first time for a Puteri Indonesia receiving such letter. I wasn’t that fat, but I obviously didn’t look toned either. So I decided to join the gym and try to live a healthy lifestyle. It was the turning point. But I was too excited with it that I took things a bit too far for five years. I adopted the lifestyle of a bodybuilder – did their weight training routines, followed their diet without proper knowledge. It was extreme that my health started to be affected.

What made you finally found balance in this quest for a healthy lifestyle?

My body was so lean that it no longer produced estrogen. Doctor told me that I was already in a pre menopause phase and I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to have children. I went to see a gynecologist who told me to gain 3 kilograms and voilà, I got my period back one week before I got married!

What about running? How did you find your love for it?

After I gave birth to Sheemar, I wanted to shed those extra pounds. Going back to the gym was hard because I felt intimidated by other members who looked good and it didn’t help to hear my personal trainer said I looked like a double door fridge. I felt like I had to find other way and saw the running-related posts on social media by my friends Maylaffayza and Yasha. Then I found my passion and have done 5 marathon ever since.

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Our Singapore Marathon trip in 2011.

You just had your last marathon in Tokyo and you worked with Pocari Sweat for the preparation. How was it?

I underwent training for 2 months for Tokyo Marathon 2016. It was hard because I had only been running for a couple of years and had to follow a comprehensive training plan. Although the plan was made for athletes, I was still living my life like normal that I failed to follow the recovery program properly and got typhoid fever. I recovered one week before the marathon and the people from Pocari Sweat told me it’s ok for me not to go but I realized that I had this huge responsibility to finish what we’d started. When I managed to get to the finish line and broke my PB (personal best time), I felt really grateful. It made me realize even more that we could get what we wanted and there’s nothing impossible if we’re really determined and if we really honored the commitment we’d made to ourselves and other people.

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We could say that you’re a hard worker and a go-getter. What drives you to be that person?

I always tell myself to give 100% to everything that I do and to finish what I started. People who don’t know me that well would think that I shouldn’t be overly serious in what I do. I think part of it is because I’m an Aries–we’re known to be uncompromising when it comes to what we want. Besides of that, I had a bad experience at school when I was little. I was this chubby and lousy girl who often got picked on by other students. I want to show that I’m no longer that person. We can say that it’s how I avenge myself in a good way. Also, Sheemar is one of the reasons why I work hard. I want to be a good example for him and make him proud.

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Aww!!!

It’s a bit of surprise to know that a lovely person like you could be a victim of bullying at school. Would you mind sharing a little bit of the story with us?

In elementary school, almost all the girls in the class hate me. They accused me of snitching something to the teacher so the whole class got punished. One time the boys put glue on my chair so my skirt got sticky and dirty. Sometimes they liked to drop my things in front of my eyes and then gave me these mocking facial expressions. They also liked to make fun of me really bad because I was fat and it made me cry. But now things have changed and I’m obviously no longer that fat girl.

Hope you’re not bored having to answer this question but I’m really curious. How do you balance your family and career?

I must be honest, it’s not easy. It’s such a luxury for me if I could sleep 4 hours in a day. This is such a big challenge for me as I’m still figuring out how I can manage to take care of my family, have my own me time, but also thrives in my career at the same time. But thankfully I have a husband who understands me and is willing to remind me if I start to be overly focused on one aspect in my life and abandon the others.

How do you manage to stay fit to do all the things that you do? Where do all those energies come from? And also, how do you manage your mood? The entertainment business is quite a b*tch and it’s easy for the artist’s mood to be affected.

I’m actually a very moody person and I used to have a hard time in managing it. In the past, you could easily tell if I was sad or angry just by looking at my face. And it’s a big no-no in the entertainment industry, as you must not allow the camera or the crowd to capture that. Then I found my outlet in sports. I have to exercise to get the energy that I need to do my activities as well as to control my mood. If I don’t exercise for three days, I can turn to be this very cranky person. Yes, I’m a self-confessed endorphin addict.

So that’s why you always seem to be this pleasant and cheerful person?

Yes, exercising really helps me with that. But, here’s the thing. Back when I just found the key to control my mood, I felt that I was obliged to be this delightful person in front of everyone, that I had to please them. But we live in a world where people have their own agenda and sometimes your happiness is not in it. I used to try to understand these people and let things go their way. But it was tiring. Two years ago I realized that I actually had to be happy first so I could sincerely make other people happy. So I started to muster up the courage to say “no” or show how I’m unhappy with someone if that how I truly feel.

As a beauty queen, what is your definition of beauty? But please don’t say beauty, brain and behavior. Let us know what Melanie Putria really thinks😀

Beauty is when you feel comfortable. If you think you look pretty but you’re actually hurting, you feel awkward with the clothes and makeup that you wear, then you’re definitely not being beautiful. You exuberate beauty when you can be yourself and proud of it.

Now I get why the judges chose you to be Puteri Indonesia. *chuckles

Awh, you!

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Crowned in 2002 (picture taken from Tempo website).

Okay, this is my attempt to relate this interview with the title of the blog segment, “A Cuppa with…”  What are you having and how would you rate it out of 10?

Non-fat Green Tea Frappuccino with less ice, one shot of espresso di affogato and no whipped cream. I like it so much that I’d give it a 9.

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Back to you. Do you have any tips for people who want to be a successful presenter and host like yourself?

You can’t be a good TV personality and host if you don’t know what your strength and skill is. For me personally, I love to be connected to the people I’m talking to. So I try to have eye contact with them and it actually helps me to talk better, converse better with them. Also you have to know what makes you unique. What sort of image that you want the audience to relate you to? Are you a sexy MC? A funny one? Or a sporty one? And one more thing, always keep a good relationship with everyone in the industry. I’ve met quite a number of new presenters who stick their nose up in the air. Even though you’re very skillful and talented, you obviously can’t thrive in the industry with that unpleasant manner.

You have so many things going on in your life, so many achievements. Is there any particular project that you would like to realize in the near future?

I have one thing that still hasn’t come true yet. I want to release an album. I’ve discussed this with my husband Angga, but he said that I didn’t really have to have an album to be a singer. Well, I still feel the need to have a work of art that can be appreciated by others. Before we got married in 2010, Angga made a promise that he would help me make an album yet it still hasn’t come true! Hopefully soon.

As a singer, what three tracks that you love to sing?

Whitney Houston – I Will Always Love You

Melissa Manchester – Looking Through the Eyes of Love

Rita Effendy – Sebatas Mimpi

I know this is a typical job interview question, but how do you envision yourself in 10 years?

I will be a hot momma, hahaha! Well, I truly love sports and healthy lifestyle and I want to get as much knowledge as I can from this field. So I really want to be a good personal trainer who has certifications in nutrition and hopefully by being one I can eventually inspire and help many people.

 

Summertime and the Living is Easy…

Last night I was having my regular gig at the Back Room and thought of playing around with my TC Helicon Voicelive Touch 2 to make my own rendition of the jazz standard “Summertime”.

My good friend Natalie Dju helped me recorded the performance.

I love love loooove playing with this vocal effect. This is actually the second one that I bought. I also bought the previous model before in 2012, but I sold it after I got this one in 2013 (really regret it because I think both of them are really cool!). I’ve used it during my show with Sister Duke, Nengah & Nanda, etc. Here’s a video of me using the previous model of the vocal effect during my gig with Nanda.

Here’s another video of us performing an original composition in my humble home studio.

I might probably make a more elaborate post on this gear in the future – a bit of tutorial, etc. So those who are interested…stay tuned!:)

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…”

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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.

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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.
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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.

 

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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!

 

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