Salah satu keuntungan yang saya dapatkan sebagai seorang jurnalis adalah kesempatan untuk berbincang dengan sejumlah sosok yang saya kagumi yang biasanya akan semakin menginspirasi. Hal tersebutlah yang saya rasakan ketika muncul ide dari rekan sekantor untuk mewancarai INES, seorang musisi Indonesia yang tinggal di New York City. Jangan bersedih jika talentanya belum menyentuh pengetahuan Anda karena saya pun pertama kali mendengar suaranya secara tidak sengaja di situs soundcloud.com, and kid you not, I instantly hit the ‘follow’ button! I know that music preference is something subjective and personal, but INES is surely someone that you don’t wan to miss!
Not many people know you, yet! So please, help us to know you better…
I describe myself as someone who always tries to be her authentic self. I also think that am an empathetic person. I always try to look at things from different perspectives. I speak out about my beliefs and opinions, and I am not afraid to express how I feel most of the time.
Is that because how you were raised? How was your childhood?
My childhood was great. I had great parents growing up who taught me the importance of working hard, of being humble and of respect. Also, I was so fortunate to have gone to great schools, which allowed me to explore and connect with people from different backgrounds, cultures, upbringings etc. I had the best of all my worlds!
Now you are based in New York, right? How long have you been staying in the States?
I moved to the states in 2009 to attend Boston University for my bachelor’s degree. After college I moved to New York to intern, then got hired (thankfully!), and have lived there ever since. So I would say around 7 years.
Is it hard to grow up far from your family?
Definitely not easy in the beginning, but having friends and staying active in school helped a lot. After a while, I got used to it and realized that my own personal definition of home started to change. Looking back, I think that it was a beautiful thing – the time I started building connections with other cities other than my home town Jakarta – especially since I’ve lived there my whole life. It’s liberating to somehow let go of that dependency and attachment towards a certain place.
On the daily basis, what do you do in NYC right now?
I am the Events and Engagement Manager at Women Moving Millions. It’s a donor network of over 250 women who have donated or pledged US$1,000,000 to women and girls‘ organizations or initiatives globally. I’m definitely all for women’s rights, and I live seeing through that lens. That’s my north star and my guiding light.
Wow, it sounds really noble, yet quite time consuming, isn’t it! What do you do to on your day off?
I sleep! I do a lot on the weekdays, and so when I’m off, I like to stay home. I am definitely a homebody. I enjoy going out to dinner with friends and/or my brother, who at the moment is also in new York with me a couple of times a month, and maybe see a show when someone I really, really love is playing.
What do you miss the most about Indonesia? Is there a place like Chinatown for the Indonesian community in NYC?
My family mostly. Well, I know I can’t find my family there, yes, there is such place In Queens! I rarely go because it is a trek to get there from my place. But if you’re missing home, that’s where you’d go!
There is actually this small thing that somewhat confuses me. I have mentioned this to you before the interview, but I’m not sure what to call you. Is it Andine or INES? What is INES? Is it your real nickname or just a stage name?
INES is a moniker of mine that is very important and signified a time in my life when I started to finally believe in the music and art that I have and am creating. When you combine my full name, which is Ernandine Sutarjadi: ernandinesutarjadi, you will find the word “INES” there. It also stands for IN ESSENCE. Basically this work is the essence of me.
What does inspire you to do music?
Music is definitely a way for me to vent, to reflect. A distraction. A release. I realize more and more that I don’t like to write or make music when I’m happy because I’d rather be in and soak in that moment of happiness; be in that moment of gratitude. I have said this a couple times before and the more I say it, the more I believe it. So I write and create when I’m in need of a distraction, of a release, when I’m angry, when I’m sad, when I need guidance, or strength. Ultimately, when I am vulnerable. I think there is nothing wrong with admitting that you are vulnerable and have these feelings. They are feelings that are valid and that people can relate to. I want people to be brave to say what they want to say and what they feel. I write for my girls and all girls. I want them to be real and true to themselves and be inspired to do so when they listen or see my work.
Very thoughtful of you! When do you decide to start making music?
I’m pretty new to this – creating and releasing my own work. I decided to try it out in 2014 and have just kept going ever since. There were definitely times when I had doubts and was afraid about people’s responses and reactions to it – I’m still afraid till now! But it was the best decision I made that year and am so grateful that the community appreciates it.
Do you do everything by yourself, or is there anyone helping you?
I work with my producer and good friend Harsya Wahono.
So, tell me the genre of your music!
Definitely not anything that I can categorize in a heartbeat! But I know that I’m very influenced by 80’s-90’s pop and RnB whilst incorporating electronic instrumentals. People don’t really appreciate popular music that much, which to me is, honestly, unfortunate. Pop music is influenced by so many different trends and influences from other genres and how they are combined to create other pieces of work that in the end capture the hearts and ears of so many people is so interesting to me. Listening to pop music has been a major influence in the way that I write.
Despite being so influenced by major pop music, why do you choose to release your music through Soundcloud, which is quite indie actually?
Soundcloud is so easy and I like that it’s free and people can explore as much or as little as they like.
How long does it take to record SANCTUARY?
It was definitely an on/off process as that was the time where I struggled which how much or how little I wanted to commit to this work. It was a year before I decided that I would really go for it and release it. So yeah, I would say 1 year.
Wow, what a dedication! But after the 16 minutes long mixtape, why does STORIES vol. 1 only consist of two songs?
I don’t believe in pushing myself with regard to how many tracks I release in a single period of time. I try to be as genuine as I can with how I express myself. I feel that the quality should represent my commitment to this craft more than the quantity and I believe that in order to create music and art that is ultimately as true as it can be, this is the way to go.
One thing that I’m curious the most since you put it as the tag for STORIES vol. 1, what is #sadgirl poptimism?
Best question ever!! So like I said, I think that feelings should always be expressed and validated. I just want to say that it’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to be a sad girl but still be an optimist… and listen to pop music!
How is the response to your music so far?
Thankfully it’s been really great. I’m so grateful for all the support that I have received. So it’s going well so far.
What does your family say about your music? Are they cool with it?
Yes they are! They’re so supportive and it’s awesome. Sometimes they ask me why I write certain things as in, what prompted me to write a certain verse or line. But as I always say, “It’s open to your own interpretation,“ hahaha!
If a major label is interested in producing your music, will you take it and leave your job?
I don’t know. I don’t’ think that I would ever be able to answer that unless the opportunity comes along which then, I will be so stoked about. What I can say now is that I do not sing and make music for the money, clearly, and I feel that I am not in the mindset to do so yet. I know that if it’s not fun anymore, I won’t do it. I don’t want to force myself to do this ever. Also, I really love my job, so this is the hardest question so far!
Do you agree to “New York City is the place to make it”?
I think that the definition of “making it” is different from person to person. In other words, the definition of “Success” is different from one person to another. My definition of that is just being about to have the freedom to be who I am. Thankfully in New York, I have that freedom.
Sorry that I have to bring this up, but as someone living outside the States, I am pretty interested about this. Is it true that racism still exists in the USA? Have you been a victim?
I think that racism is definitely an issue in the USA and everywhere else around the world. We could definitely go deeper in this issue, but that’s for another story — and/or a one on one coffee date!
So, is being a feminist is the trend in the USA at the moment? Where do you stand about the issue?
It’s definitely “trendy” to be a feminist right now. Yes, I am. But the fact that I am a feminist is not because it’s of trend. As I said before, I live my life truly believing that women and men should be equal. It’s actually great that people are starting to really realize what feminism truly is through media coverage, social media, television and other outlets. I feel that more people understand this belief and it’s a great thing.
Last one, do you see yourself growing old in the States, never going back to Indonesia ever again?
I think I’m going to be here for a while. But who knows! I’d love to settle down in Asia sooner or later, more leaning towards later though at the moment 😉
Teks: Rianti Dwiastuti / Foto: Syifa Fachrunissa / Video: MABES Music