The musical world of Tulus
Novia D. Rulistia
The Jakarta Post
Since the release of his album Gajah (Elephant) last year, singer-songwriter Tulus has enjoyed rising popularity, with his solo concerts jam-packed with fans, who are also known as Teman Tulus (Friends of Tulus).
But the 27-year-old singer does not want to be lulled by his rising stardom, insisting on working hard to maintain the quality of his music.
'I'm not overly concerned about how many records I sell,' Tulus said during an event held to celebrate the success of Gajah that coincided with the premiere of his latest music video entitled 'Jangan Cintai Aku Apa Adanya' (Don't Love Me as I Am).
'I want the quality of the music I produce in the future to improve or at least stay the same, not worsen.'
Gajah is Tulus' second album and has sold more than 85,000 copies, comparatively higher than his previous album Tulus, which has sold around 37,000 copies.
Tulus' producer and older brother, Riri Muktamar, said Gajah had jacked up the sales of his first album and that many fans picked it up after they watched Tulus perform songs from it.
However, the singer, whose full name is Muhammad Tulus, said his rise to fame did not happen overnight. His determination and love for music had guided him to where he was today, he said.
Tulus was born in Bukittinggi, West Sumatra, on Aug. 20, 1987, and he has been in love with music since he was just a little boy. As a young man, Tulus liked to buy cassettes and was gifted some from his mother.
After high school, he moved to Bandung in West Java and studied architecture at Parahyangan Catholic University. His passion for music continued to grow and he regularly performed with a band in a jazz club in Bandung.
During his third year in college, he learned to write lyrics from a friend and recorded his own songs, which he copied to CDs and distributed around campus.
Instead of becoming an architect after upon graduation, he decided to pursue a career as a musician.
'I realized that I wanted to be a musician because I loved music and it instantly made me happy,' Tulus said.
With support and help from Riri, Tulus finally made his way onto the professional music scene.
With pages of lyrics in hand, Tulus teamed up with music producer Ari Renaldi but failed to lock down any deals with major labels.
Refusing to give up, they set up their own record label, Tulus Record, partnering with independent label Demajors for distribution.
In 2011, Tulus released his debut album, which consisted of 10 jazzy pop tunes with simple, but poetic and romantic lyrics.
The singles topped the radio charts and in 2013 he was named Best Newcomer by Rolling Stone Indonesia.
One year later, he released Gajah, which has garnered many awards.
'Each award surprises me. I never thought that people would appreciate my work that much.'
Riri said that Gajah was successful because it was honest and reflected on personal experiences.
'When I was a kid, I looked like a big ball, so many called me an elephant. But an elephant is a strong and smart animal, and when I recalled this period, I decided to write a song based on this,' Tulus explained while referring to hit song 'Gajah'.
Despite his huge exposure on account of Gajah, Tulus does not have any immediate plans to follow up with another album.
With so many achievements under his belt, Tulus' future plans include learning how to arrange music.
Tulus said that everything he did in his music career was part of his dream to contribute in a significant way to the country.
'I want to have a good influence on Indonesia's music scene; I want my work to be a part of Indonesia's strong music history.'
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