The Jakarta Post
Hands on: Maudy poses with her CD album cover. (RHDProd./Yayat)
A breath of fresh air, both for the listener and for Maudy Ayunda herself, is how the 23-year-old singer-songwriter explains the title of her recently released third album Oxygen.
The release of the album feels different for her, compared to her previous two albums. It has a different energy. For the first time Maudy was involved in every part of the process, from writing the lyrics to arranging the music. The process itself is a statement: She wanted to make the album true to who she is, who she has grown to become.
Maudy, regarded as a high achiever in both her academic and career paths, started her career in the entertainment industry very young. At age 11, she starred in her first feature film, Untuk Rena (For Rena) in 2005. She kicked off her musical career a few years later, finally releasing her debut album Panggil Aku (Call Me) when she was 16.
She continued her journey in the film industry by starring in multiple other films such as Perahu Kertas (Paper Boat) and Trinity the Nekad Traveler(Trinity, the Reckless Traveler) while selling thousands of albums. On top of that, while accruing all these accolades, Maudy managed to study at her dream university, the prestigious Oxford University in the United Kingdom. She graduated in 2016, with a degree in philosophy, politics and economics (PPE).
It was during her time in England that Maudy really got to know herself. In her youth, Maudy conformed to going with the flow, never really questioning things. She mostly depended on the opinions of the people around her.
“I think as a young girl growing up in Indonesia, we have a communal kind of culture,” she said.
“There is a very thin line between what you think and what everybody else thinks. You don’t actually think for yourself most of the time.”
However, during her time abroad she was forced to fend for herself, allowing her to nurture her sense of self. From small life decisions, like choosing which milk to buy or at what time to go to bed, to the deeper and more meaningful decisions — she started to make her own decisions.
“I think that’s how I got to find myself and at least find my own voice, and I realized what the things were that were more culturally enforced upon me or my family, and what was originally from me.”
Love and life: Singer Maudy Ayunda (left) performs during the launch of her latest album Oxygen at Ice Palace, Lotte Shopping Avenue, in Kuningan, South Jakarta, on Feb. 15. (RHDProd./Yayat)
The sense of control that she took back from England culminated in her new album. The decision came about naturally when she was working on the album.
“The time came when I said, ‘I think it has to be this way’ and I was right, so the comfort and confidence slowly developed — although I am still in a learning process,” she said.
“It feels like I have found myself, as I did when I was there, and it’s opening a new page. I feel like I have become a different being. So it feels really nice to be able to show a different side of me in music.”
Music is not the only outlet through which Maudy expresses herself. She has also donned the mantle of activist. Last year, she was appointed as a spokesperson for the movement against modern slavery, and she recently teamed up with private lender Bank CIMB Niaga to spearhead another initiative aimed at cultivating and helping realize the dreams of Indonesian youths from all over the country.
One part of the new initiative is setting up workshops that help young people figure out what they actually want, to pinpoint what their passions are, something to which Maudy now closely relates.
“I am super blessed that I can have different dimensions. I just acknowledge that with this platform I do feel like there is a responsibility to use it very wisely and to amplify things that I think should be amplified,” she said.
She might be young and ambitious, but Maudy also has similar questions to other young people who have just finished their undergraduate study.
“I felt a lot of confusion coming back from Oxford. It’s inevitable in your early twenties, having just graduated from university, still questioning the meaning of life, what love is, basically questioning everything.”
Despite having a string of achievements, Maudy still has other passions to pursue. One thing she would like to add to her repertoire is going back to school to do a master’s degree at some point. Either following in the line of her PPE degree, or something that can be combined with her music, like an MBA.
Having a change in her musical style, which reflects her growth in the past years, Maudy is not afraid she will lose her loyal fans.
“They are also growing, maturing, so if we want to stay friends we have to grow with them. The young people that listened to me in college are about to start work, and maybe they have the same questions and mindset as I do.”
— The writer is an intern at The Jakarta Post