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Hedi Yunus celebrates 33-year pop music career

Josa Lukman

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Thu, February 14, 2019  /  03:50 pm
Hedi Yunus celebrates 33-year pop music career

Hedi Yunus. (-/Mustakim Irsan)

Maintaining a career in the music industry these days can be tough with cross-genre trends popping up along with fresh faces coming in every day.

Musician and pop singer Hedi Yunus has managed to survive in the Indonesian music industry for more than three decades. He said it all came down to consistency and being close with his fans.

Speaking to The Jakarta Post outside a music studio in Pondok Indah, South Jakarta, Hedi said that he constantly juggled between his solo career and providing vocals for pop band Kahitna.

“It’s also about having the drive to create something new, even when you are not releasing them every year,” Hedi said.

Hedi, fresh off a practice session for “Hedi Yunus 33 Years of Musical Journey” – an upcoming solo concert on Feb. 15 in Balai Sarbini, acknowledged the role of his loyal fans, noting that many of them eventually became close friends.

“For example, if I’m ever in Bogor for a gig or an outing, I’ll contact one of them to let them know I’m in the area so we can come together to chat over a bowl of bakso. I would spend time with them until it’s late before going back to Jakarta,” he said.

Hedi is so close to his loyal fan base that when he was in Surabaya and tried to organize a small gathering in the lobby of the hotel he was staying in, over 40 people showed up.

“Eventually we all gathered in a coffee shop in the hotel and I treated them to some drinks because, for me, their support of me and Kahitna is far more than what I could give back to them,” Hedi recalled, adding that some of his fans would even go out of their way to see him in concert.

“If you think about it, they [the fans] spend a considerable amount of money on flight tickets and lodging on top of the concert ticket, so that’s why I think it’s important to do these small things that would keep them happy, to show that we care.”

In terms of music style, Hedi said that he stuck to his tried-and-tested genre throughout all his years in the business: pop.

“I started out as a pop singer and went in the same direction with Kahitna. I never strayed from the basics, but as musicians we still have to keep up with the times. For example, electronic dance music is quite popular these days, so I included some elements of it in my latest album,” Hedi said.

The album Hedi talked about was Hedi Yunus Greatest Hits and it was released in December last year. The album features re-arranged and re-recorded classic hit songs from Hedi with modern influences.

“In essence, I’m still a pop musician at heart and you’ll never see me straying into genres like rock or dangdut, because pop is what I have cultivated all these years and I don’t want to betray my origins.”

Hedi likened the genres to fashion’s cyclical trends. According to him, new trends come and go, with some working to your style, while others are not such a good fit.

“Singing is like that for me. If my voice is perfect for pop, I wouldn’t want to delve too deep in other genres. I’d rather sing ballads and fine-tune it in such a way that people will love it.”

Hedi has a couple of songs that he sings at every concert, including the one on Feb. 15.

“I have a lot of favorite songs, but my absolute favorites would be “Suratku” [My Letter], “Sebatas Mimpi” [Merely a Dream], and “Prahara Cinta” [Tempest of Love]. They’re the ones I will always perform solo, almost like a national anthem of sorts,” Hedi said with a laugh.

For the concert, fans can expect 25 of Hedi’s greatest hits and medleys, but Hedi himself wants his devoted fan base to immerse themselves in his journey that has spanned more than three decades.

“It’s also like storytelling alongside the singing. I want the audience to know my story, what I’ve been up to all these years, not only in my music career but also other ventures like presenting, acting, and even the one time I got into classic Sundanese dancing,” Hedi said.

With the concert being a love letter down memory lane for his fans, it is only natural that Hedi’s devoted fans would jump at the chance to see him. Hedi himself was also surprised when pre-sale tickets that were supposed to be on sale for five days immediately sold out within one hour.

“I already announced on my Instagram that we would start selling the pre-sale tickets soon, but I didn’t realize the number of people who wanted to buy them were so high! Our hotline and a ticketing site even went down for a while due to the traffic,” Hedi recalled, noting that the initial quota of 160 tickets was increased to 210, which also sold out within the hour.

Even when promoters started selling the regular-priced tickets, nearly all of them have sold out as well. Faced with the prospect of his longtime fans clamoring for his nostalgia-filled hits, Hedi said that he already prepared himself both physically and mentally.

“I’m quite an emotional person, and I can tear up when dealing with things that touch me deeply. Like the tickets selling out, because it’s such a huge honor for me when my fans care so much about me,”

“These kinds of feelings can make me tear up, and I don’t want to cry on stage because I won’t be able to sing well for my audience after such an emotional moment.” (hdt)