NEW DIRECTION. Afgansyah Reza, one of Indonesia’s most prominent names in music the industry right now, has two new ventures: a musical short movie and a personal album. Gabriela Yosefina chats with the multitalented singer
Tune in to any national radio station, and there will be a fair chance that your ears are soon treated to the enigmatic, slightly raspy and melancholic voice of Afgansyah Reza. Featuring catchy melodies and relatable lyrics, his songs continually top the charts since he released his very first single and, ever since, there’s no escaping his songs when you tune in. Discovered when he created an “album” in a now-closed instant recording studio, Reza’s career has skyrocketed in less than a decade. A combination of good looks and an approachable persona adds to his artistic appeal, making him an especially likeable and admirable pop icon.
His pop icon status notwithstanding, the 26-year-old singer is all friendly and warm during the interview for DA MAN. He happily munches on some apples while answering questions, and does not hesitate to laugh out loud at times. The first topic, however, is not exactly about music. An insider tip we caught earlier revealed that Reza has just been involved in a movie production as a director. “This is my first time directing a movie, which is produced by Ria Irawan. There are five directors involved in the omnibus movie, titled ‘Gila Jiwa’ (Crazy Soul). My part is to direct a musical short movie that is based on Sore’s song, ‘Ssst…,’ together with the band’s vocalist. It’s quite a challenge because I have to invest more time and effort in the project. But it all pays off: The result is a dark, surrealist movie with a twisted storyline,” he excitedly explains. The movie is going to be released in cinemas next year, and will be screened in international film festivals.
“I want to create a soulful record that lets the singer’s soul shine through the music”
“To direct a movie requires such a great effort, but so does preparing myself for a concert,” Reza points out. In early 2015 he held a solo concert with the Erwin Gutawa Orchestra—“my dream since I was little,” he says—which was then followed with a performance in Malaysia and a concert in Esplanade, Singapore, this coming March. “This is a huge opportunity for me, so I take it very seriously. Besides practicing my vocals, I also learn public speaking to entertain and communicate with the audience in between songs. And it requires extra power to sing with an orchestra in a big venue.”
After three years without releasing any new albums, Reza felt that it is time to create one … a really good one. “I want to give it my all in this new album, as I’m now confident enough to write and sing my own songs. I want to be taken more seriously as a vocalist and a songwriter, while showcasing my current musicality that is more mature, personal and toned-down. I am thinking about creating a simple but everlasting album that people will still listen to when I get older, like Chrisye’s,” he calmly asserts. With “the journey that he has been through” as the main theme, this album will be more like a journal for the vocalist. Talking about its genre, pop remains at the heart of his upcoming recording, although he also mentions about a touch of electronic music. “I want to create a soulful record that lets the singer’s soul shine through the music.”
“The Universe conspires to make things happen if you really believe and understand”
The conversation then turns to creative collaborations, as Reza frequently works with other notable Indonesian musicians such as Rossa, Raisa, Sherina and DJ Dipha Barus. “Working in collaboration requires synergy, so you have to be comfortable with your partner. At the moment I am working with somebody to write some songs, and we plan to find a place outside the city to have a calming songwriting session,” the singer states. When asked who his dream collaborator might be, he spares no time in answering: “Adele. She has this magic touch to make people feel what she feels, and I am so excited to listen to her new album. Well, I am not sure if she’s willing to collaborate with me, though. We’re talking about a dream, after all, right?”
But dreams do come true sometimes; being a successful singer was also Reza’s dream a decade ago. “I love singing since I was little, and I have been aware of this talent back then. But I was really shy. Nevertheless, I have always believed that one day I will be a singer. And looking at what I have achieved today, it is true that the universe conspires to make things happen if you really believe and understand what your purpose in life is,” he elaborates. Closing the interview, he shares some advice to his 15-year-old shy self. He contemplates for a while before summoning up the courage to say, “Don’t be too afraid, you should stand up for yourself.”
Photography Wong Sim
Styling Peter Zewet
Styling Assistants Triska Putri and Jay Robert Davies
Grooming Ryan Ogilvy
Location Fairmont Jakarta (Jl. Asia Afrika No. 8 Gelora Bung Karno, Jakarta; +62 21 2970 3333; fairmont.com/jakarta)