Exclusive Feature: Morgan

A SMASHING SUCCESS. As a member of one of Indonesia’s most successful boybands ever, SM*SH, singer and performer Morgan is enjoying life in the fast lane. Although Morgan says it was a long road from zero to hero, it was also one that helped him become a better person. By Petricia Yuvita

Outfit by Etro

It was early morning when we met up with Morgan from SM*SH to do his photoshoot for DA MAN.  Morgan greeted us with a good morning and a candid smile as we prepared for our the shoot in a mangrove forest located in Pantai Indah Kapuk. Morgan, dressed in a simple t-shirt and jeans, got ready for the shoot with humility and good humor. You would never guess he was a member of one of Indonesia’s most successful boy bands ever, SM*SH, unless he happened to walk by a crowd of teenage girls who would instantly turning into a screaming mob, fighting and for a chance to get close to their crush.

Morgan started his life in the capital city of Jakarta as an average college guy from Kalimantan, but when he got a message from a member of a production house on Facebook, his life and his future career path quickly took a sharp turn. Beginning as a model for photoshoots, in 2010 Morgan got an offer to join a music management group that was putting together a brand new boy band. At that time, the rising tide K-Pop music had just hit Indonesia’s, and Morgan’s newly formed group, SM*SH, found out that it wasn’t easy to win the hearts of Indonesian fans. “It was hard. They were supposed to play our first music video on TV, but it got cancelled, so we decided to just upload it on Youtube. But it turns out that online audiences are really harsh. There was a lot of cyberbullies. Out of all the comment, maybe just 5% of them were supporting us.”

Outfit by Hermès

Despite a frosty initial reception, Morgan and his bandmates persevered with their intense schedule of recording, shooting, dance lessons and vocal training. All of that hard work started to pay off and the band’s popularity began to rise, fans started to acknowledge the uniqueness of their dance and music, especially after they started collaborating with other singers and covering famous songs. “For a time, our band was everywhere. Every TV station was following what we were doing from day till night. That’s when people started to recognize us, that’s when all of our struggle started to pay off. And then when we record our first album, which sold a million copies in five months… To thinks that, in an era where everything can be downloaded for free, we could sell that much in five months, it’s really something,” said Morgan.

Jacket by Bally, Pants by Etro, Skull ring and bracelets by Thomas Sabo, Sunglasses by ck Calvin Klein at Optik Seis

Morgan admits the band’s popularity has overwhelmed him at times. He said there were times when they were doing concerts in malls and so many of their fans would show up that they would be spilling out the door, creating a dangerous situation and forcing them to stop early. “There were even one time when we only managed to sing one song and then got cut off immediately because of the overflow of fans.” Being a member of a pop band also means Morgan always faces pressure when it comes to his appearance, though he doesn’t let it worry him too much. “My style is simple. I don’t have any fashion rules that I have to follow. Simple yet sophisticated would be my style.” Outside of work, he said he tries to blend in rather than shows off. “Just be yourself. That way, people will acknowledge who you are, not your appearance. Trends will change every month but being yourself is what matters the most.”

While he acknowledges the great success he has had in Indonesia, Morgan says he still wants more. He still carries a dream he has had
since just after he moved out of his parent’s house. “Back when I was still in high-school, all I wanted to do is to continue to live and study abroad, hoping someday I could settle down and have a family out there.” When asked which countries he had in mind, Morgan said, “If it’s just for vacation, I’d choose the USA, but if it was for good, I would have to choose Europe because I love how classical it feels.”

Outfit by Hermès

But that is still at least a ways off. At the moment, Morgan said he and his bandmates are working on their next projects. “Currently we are focusing on producing our second album. We are also planning on a film project with all of our members, as well as a concert outside of Indonesia. We already got the offer to do the concert, just wait for the date.” While his time and privacy have become more important to him as he has gained popularity, Morgan said it was okay because he had already learned to be responsible for himself. “When my brothers and I graduated from high-school, our parents told us to move out of the house and live on our own. My mom’s principle is that we go to the big city, find experience and be responsible for ourselves, so they allowed us to be free as long as we were being responsible.”

Outfit by Givenchy

Being a member of a boy band is certainly not a lifetime gig, which Morgan understands. “We never know how long the band will last, but it is better to focus on what we have now, give it all we’ve got and, God willing, we can just go with the flow. For now, I am going to focus on our second album because that will be our next big step.” And what about his next big step? Morgan said with a serious smile, “I might settle down in the next few years. I can see myself building a business, though I still don’t know what that might be. For me, the most important thing in business is passion, ideas and creativity. Even if we were to fail the first time, with passion, we can and will always want to try again and again and again. The most essential thing is the process, so we have to appreciate the process, not just look for the result, because the process is the most important thing.”

Photographs: Anton Jhonsen
Styling: Gabriela Batti
Videographer: Dimas Anggakara