THE DASHING SIREN. Beautiful and talented singer Millane Fernandez chats with Gabriela Yosefina about her adventures in independent album production and her love for Indonesia
Amicably opening the conversation with a frank openness rarely seen nowadays, Millane Fernandez exclaims, “I am an ‘everything’ girl. I can be tomboyish; I can be feminine. I can be anyone you want me to be.” The heat obviously does nothing to dissipate her spirit as the interview and photo shoot wears on, and it is a particularly hot day, even for Jakarta. We are meeting at a cafe in Kota Tua, Jakarta’s original downtown area, which is now filled with museums, restored buildings and dining places. Fernandez looks around the place animatedly and tells me that she loves the dynamics of the surrounding area. Then, without further ado, she continues to prepare herself for the makeup session, applying a light base herself before the makeup artist starts working on her face.
Sitting by the window, she allows the sun to perfectly highlight her fair complexion. She puts her hair up in a messy bun, so there is nothing to hide—her clean skin, her sharp nose and her brown eyes are makeup-free, yet she still appears fresh. However, beauty is not the only gift that Fernandez is blessed with. She has been singing professionally since the age of 14 when she moved to her mother’s homeland, Germany. “I was born in Indonesia and grew up in Jakarta. But by the age of 12, I moved to Germany and stayed there until I was 21,” she explains.
By her own admission, the Javanese-Portuguese-German singer has adapted herself pretty easily back at home. This year, however, is another new beginning for her. “For less than one year, I have been preparing my new album. Earlier this year I have finished recording two albums at once, one in English and the other in Indonesian. Yes, it was a lot of hard work!” she enthuses with both relief and pride. The singer has signed off from her previous label and decided to do everything herself. “It was quite a crazy journey because now I have to do everything myself. This is the first time I am entirely free but at the same time challenged, and, therefore, I cannot be prouder of myself.”
It is quite impressive how she managed to do all the hard work since now she has reclaimed full control of her creative life. Not only singing, Fernandez also produced the albums, wrote the songs, created music videos, and even planned the distribution of the albums. “I did a music video in Mexico when I visited my friend there. I also shot a video in London, under a bridge with all the graffiti. It showed a different side of London, and I could not be more excited to show it to you! A lot of the videos were shot spontaneously, and I had a lot of fun doing them,” she gushes enthusiastically.
Outfit by Hermès
“This is the first time I am entirely free but at the same time challenged”
If you have been following Fernandez’s career from early on, you will notice that her songs are almost always spirited, fun and lighthearted. There is indeed a certain charm about the slender singer, something that goes beyond tangible qualities. And now after she recounted the inspiration behind her albums, it dawned on me: Her music comes from the heart, and that’s why she is able to touch the hearts of so many people. “My base is soul and I am always into soulful melodies. Specifically for the Indonesian album, it has that soul root and then it developed with the addition of pop, jazz and reggaeton [reggae electronic]. Hopefully, by doing this I can bring something new to the industry. Meanwhile, the English album has more beats and electronic touches but it still has a soulful flair.”
“Sometimes women don’t have to show their cleavages to look sexy”
In the middle of the makeup work, Fernandez decides to get some food for lunch. She orders sop buntut (oxtail soup) and adds, “Please replace the potatoes with carrots.” Then she turns to me, “I don’t like potatoes. A lot of people find it funny that I am half German but I am not into potatoes. Because deep down, I am always an Indonesian, including my food preferences.” Her proclaimed love for the country is further expressed with her current involvement in the New Wave Competition, an international contest for new stars that at one time was won by Sandhy Sondoro. Representing Indonesia, Fernandez is among the top 15 stars selected out of thousands of applicants, and she will perform in the final round in Russia next October. “I am very excited to represent Indonesia and it will be a great honor to have moral support from everybody,” she says.
“My new album has more beats and electronic touches but it still has a soulful flair”
Music has always been a huge part of the brown-haired singer’s life, but it does not mean that she spares room for nothing else. “When I am not working, I am more of an outdoor person. For instance, when I am in Bali I will not relax by the pool. I will go out and try paragliding, diving and jet skiing. I also love to work out and play soccer, badminton as well as Muay Thai. I like doing fun things in groups, with my friends,” she asserts. That tomboy side of hers is interestingly balanced by her affinity for embellished dresses and, surprisingly, vintage clothes. But when asked when she feels the sexiest, she doesn’t hesitate before replying, “Tight, high-waisted jeans with cropped top. Sometimes women don’t have to show their cleavages to look sexy.”
Watch Millane Fernandez showing her best pose during the DA MAN darling photo shoot.
Photography Wong Sim
Styling Peter Zewet
Styling Assistants Triska Putri and Jay Robert Davies
Makeup & Hairdo Kwee Sandy
Location Historia Food & Bar (Jl. Pintu Besar No.11 Kota Tua, Jakarta; +62 21 6904 188)