Thursday, December 11, 2014

An Afternoon with Abenk Alter

Talking about his new album Selamat Datang, Abenk Alter tells our Editor about his enthusiasm to take his artistry to another new level, well in this case, his huge step in going solo.

What's the DNA of your album?
The genre is eclectic pop. The basis is pop, but with an extra effort to explore on the details. I got mostly inspired by musicians in the late ‘70s, like Marvin Gaye, Hall & Oates, The Carpenters; and from Indonesia like Guruh Soekarno Putra, Candra Darusman, Chrisye and Fariz RM. Those musicians had produced music that’s unexpectedly mind-blowing in a way that soothes me. On the other hand, I also put some local elements like gamelan or keroncong-inspired music compositions.

How long did it take you to finish Selamat Datang?
For the duration, I would say that it took quite a while for me to finish the pre-production, it’s more like the exploration of my musical character. There were moments when I thought that I’ve found “me”, but then it’s not. It took a while for me to learn to practice on writing songs and singing again. I also got a lot of insights from fellow musicians including Jmono, Iga Massardi, Widi Puradiredja and Rifka Rachman. When I finally decided “Ok, go!”, I put aside all my ego and start the recording process. The production itself started in June 2014 and took only less that four months.

Tell us more about the stories behind the songs.
For Pinangan, I wrote it when I remember the moment I proposed to my wife. As for Senandung Riang, it was when I was down and I just wanted to be happy again. And when I was hesitated to decide on going solo or not, I wrote Sekarang; I remember it was during my birthday earlier this year. There’s also an unexpected collaboration with Widi Puradiredja - it was when I showed him my first single Lain Waktu and he invited to work together on one track. I’ve always wanted to produce one song that’s very different from the rest in the album, like a preview to the music I would deliver in the future.

You must have a long list of favorite songs, right?

Are there any songs that you wish you had written?
Man in the Mirror by Michael Jackson, Love by John Lennon, Royals by Lorde, Stay with Me and I'm Not the only One by Sam Smith. And oh, Shake It Off  by Taylor Swift. The song is so spontaneous!

What's the best thing about your career right now?
I'm actually one step closer to express all the potentials within me and become who I really am. So at the moment, I’m actually really proud of myself to finally have the guts to take this huge step of my life.

Do you have any advices for all aspiring musicians/artists?
Well, my answer would be quite long, would that be fine?

Sure, why not?
Ok, I personally think that the most important thing for me is to be yourself. Because if you don’t know yourself, you could be easily dragged by the flow. And to be frank, achieving your absolute self is not easy; it will take you a long and winding journey. But let me tell you something, if you’ve finally reached that point, at the same time, you’ll also reach your own personal idealism. And after that, you could comfortably express yourself and compromise with the society.

But how? 
What? To be yourself? Spare your time to contemplate about what you like, what you care about and what you want to deliver to others. Express yourself through your artwork, either it’s illustration, music, business, way of thinking or anything. But at the end of the day, your artwork will only be a medium and it will become nonsense if you don’t have your own personal language to communicate it to the world. To be able to accept that you’re different from others is not as easy as you think as well; it’ll need a lot of struggle, but it’s all worth it in the end.

If you could swap a day with your lovely wife Alodita, what would you do?
I’ll just do all the beauty photoshoot. What else could it be? Life would be so great, eh? *laughs*

Photographs by Sabila Anjani
Text by Elisa Kuswari
Special thanks to Monolog Coffee

Abenk Alter's debut album 'Selamat Datang' is now available on iTunes! You could also order the album at