Margareth: Going soulfully acoustic
Andreas D. Arditya
The Jakarta Post
With many years of competitive singing under her belt, it is no wonder 22-year-old Margareth recorded her long-awaited full album smoothly and with confidence.
The singer, whose full name is Margareth Uliasih Debora Siagian, said she enjoyed singing new renditions from pop rock legends Koes Plus for Acoustic in Love, her debut major label album.
'I heard their songs everywhere as a child ' evey Indonesians would have heard these songs,' Margareth told The Jakarta Post recently.
The album is fully acoustic and features Koes Plus' top hits sung in the style of jazz, bossa nova and blues.
'It is generally somber and laid back but sexy. I had a lot of fun singing,' said the business student.
A total of 12 Koes Plus songs were recorded, including 'Manis Dan Sayang' (Sweet and Caring), 'Andaikan Kau Datang' (If You Return) and 'Kembali ke Jakarta' (Back to Jakarta).
Formed in 1958, Koes Plus were considered a pop and rock and roll pioneer in the country and the band is often referred to as the Indonesian Beatles. They are also famous for the spirit of nationalism radiated through their lyrics.
The band was an icon of youth rebellion in the days when anything western was considered against the national identity: songs were banned from the radio, performances were unheard of and the members were even imprisoned by former president Sukarno because of their music.
Needless to say, Koes Plus gained legions of diehard fans who kept the spirit of the band and their songs alive.
'I sing their songs but to different tunes but I refrain from doing too much improvisation. Koes Plus is an institution, I need to carefully tread the water,' Margareth said.
She recorded the songs under legendary producer Jan D. Djuhana. Jan discovered Dewa 19, Padi, Glenn Fredly and many other top-notch Indonesian artists.
'I received the song list about three weeks before the recording session, so I just listened to the band over and over again.
'Two weeks later the acoustic arrangement arrived. It had so much soul, it was so different from the songs sung by the band. So I listened to it while eating, while doing any activity. I had to understand the spirit of the arrangement; once I got it, it was easy from there,' Margareth said.
She speaks positively of the recording session.
'It was a blitz. It only lasted two-and-a-half hours. I sung the list continuously for two takes and that was it,' she said excitedly.
The singer believed it was thanks to practice and the competitions she had entered throughout her life that had prepared her.
'I've been singing since I was five and I won competitions throughout my childhood and my teenage years. I've been waiting my whole life for this album,' she said with a relieved sigh.
The recording company signed Margareth as a solo artist immediately after she won second place in the reality TV singing competition Mama Mia in 2007.
'Right now I am exactly where I dreamed I would be. I will focus all my energy on this,' she said with optimism.
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