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Danilla: Traverses new worlds with an old touch

Marcel Thee
Marcel Thee

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Fri, December 15, 2017 | 10:02 am
Danilla: Traverses new worlds with an old touch

Dramatic return: Singer Danilla Riyadi embraces a more daring side of her musicality. (Danilla/File)

Singer Danilla Riyadi has become one of the biggest names in Indonesian pop.

On her new album, Lintasan Waktu (The Trajectory of Time), the 27-year-old experiments with more complex arrangements, but the focus remains on her sense of lush melodies and contemporary jazzy textures.

The album’s biggest change from its predecessor, 2014’s Telisik (Look Up), is that it contains far more songs written by Danilla herself — although co-writer Lafa Pratomo still coproduced the album like last time, alongside Alda Nada Permana from production team Ruang Waktu Music Lab (whose label division also released the record).

Fittingly, the songwriter has stated that the album is a truer representation of herself, her musicality and her ego.

Following the trajectory found in follow-ups to successful albums, Lintasan Waktu pushes forward in every direction, trying its hand at various sonic approaches.

There is a lot of attention paid to ambience, with melodramatic nuance building in tracks such as “Meramu” (Brewing) and “Entah Ingin Kemana” (Don’t Know Where to Go), as well as dreamy, intertwining strings and/or piano flourishes on “Ini Dan Itu” (This and That) and “Usang” (Old).

Still, when asked directly whether she had any particular goals in mind with the album, Danilla waved the assumption away, laughing and saying, “I don’t think there is a goal.”

Danilla Riyadi’s mix of moody pop-jazz and Indonesian neo-traditionalism has garnered her a dedicated fan base.Danilla Riyadi’s mix of moody pop-jazz and Indonesian neo-traditionalism has garnered her a dedicated fan base. (Danilla/File)

“What was new was that I was finally confident enough to start writing music and the accompanying lyrics — and I love what I’ve created,” she said, adding that she gained a lot of insight into the technical aspects of recording and arranging songs as the process became her “daily meal.”

The songs on the record still express the same themes found on Telisik. As before, dramatic melancholy reigns.

“A lot of the lyrics on this record are about anxiety about various things. It tells stories about how we as people, have all felt like being ‘under’ — it’s very sad,” Danilla explained.

Indeed, there are moments of contemplation on the record that should make it easily identifiable to fans. On the title track, Danilla sings in Indonesian, “Nothing can accompany my body/ Nothing can fulfill my soul,” while “Kalapuna” finds her singing of quiet anger and traversing deep oceans.

All the moodiness finds dramatic backing with the lounge-jazz arrangements that pervade the tracks. Instruments move in and out, creating various nuances, while still letting Danilla’s hushed voice be the center.

She added, “There are also stories with animals, plants and people. There are of course also some love songs sprinkled there.”

With her growing fan base, Danilla said she knew more people would be listening. Therefore, she felt like she had more “friends” to share her thoughts and ideas with. With Lintasan Waktu, she wanted to be as true to herself as she could be, both for herself and for her fans.

“I poured a lot of my heart into the songs on this album. And that’s why, this album is also a form of my gratitude toward my fans,” she said.