The Jakarta Post
Erdian Aji Prihartanto, better known as Anji, is a singer and songwriter with a restless mind behind his calm front.
The former Mandarin teacher ' Anji studied Chinese literature at the University of Indonesia ' was animated as he discussed his projects.
'I have an abundance of energy I use for activities other than performing on stage or studio recording. Most of the time, these side activities take up my time,' he said.
Those activities include maintaining an active presence on social media. When he was still the vocalist of the pop band Drive, Anji joined the Fiksimini lyricist community on Twitter and produced a short film inspired by a 140-word short story. He also facilitated a community for songs.
All this work led to an invitation to attend the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival in Bali in 2010, which he had to bow out of at the last minute after the band unexpectedly landed new gigs.
Anji left Drive, staying with its label, E-motion, which released his first solo album in October 2011.
Titled Luar Biasa (Extraordinary), the album was a wedding present for his wife, offering a complete story of their love journey.
'All of the songs in the album are presented in a particular order, so that the titles can be read as a [single] train of thought,' he said. 'It's a very personal project.'
Among the album's hit tracks are 'Ternyata Cinta' (It's Love), 'Berhenti di Kamu' (You're My Last), 'Kekasih Terhebat' (Best Lover) and 'Karena Aku dan Dirimu' (Because of You and I).
He said that he was satisfied with the album and spent Rp 500 million to make it, although sales were not as expected.
'Not many people still go to the record store nowadays,' he said.
For that reason, Anji said that he waited three years until he inked a distribution deal with a popular chain chicken restaurant before releasing his second album.
'People may sneer and laugh at this sales method, but my album sells ' and they sell fast.'
The self-titled album was released in October. Like Anji's earlier work, the album reflects a well-thought-out concept.
Anji adopted what he called a '1-2-3-4' concept for the songs on the album.
First, Anji covered 'Tentang Rasa', written by his label mate Ade Nurulianto of the pop band Govinda and popularized by the Olif Band and the soloist Astrid.
Second, he picked two collaborative works with other Asian artists ' 'Kekasih Terhebat' with Singaporean Ming Bridges and 'Risalah Cinta' (About Love) with Malaysian rocker Ella Aminuddin - and then wrote three new songs for the album: 'Bukan Lelaki Sempurna' (Not a Perfect Man), 'Hingga Hari Tua' (To Greying Days) and 'Jerawat Rindu' (Missing You).
Finally, Anji included four songs written for his musician friends: 'Merindukanmu' (Yearning) by D'Masiv; 'Resah Tanpamu' (Without You), which was originally sung by Titi Kamal; 'Tak Ada Gading yang Tak Retak' (To Err Is Human) by Gading Martin and 'Cukup 3 Kata' (In Three Words) ' by the duet of Cut Memey and Firman Siagian.
For the album, Anji performed 'Cukup 3 Kata' with label mate Marsheilla Andries.
After the album was released, Anji did not just sit back and wait and separately released three tracks: 'Tentang Rasa' (Feeling), 'Jerawat Rindu' and 'Hingga Hari Tua'.
Again, he used social media to invite people to send photos of themselves with their loved ones to be incorporated into the music video for 'Hingga Hari Tua'.
'They thanked me for writing a song for them,' said Anji. 'Singing is like a prayer you chant over again, so I prefer meaningful lyrics that send positive messages.'
Anji, who says he always had a thrill as a boy when standing before the class after singing the children's song 'Bintang Kejora' (Morning Star), grew up exposed to a wide range of music, including traditional Javanese songs, jazz, dangdut and rock, thanks to his parents.
Born in Jakarta on Oct. 5, 1979, Anji learned to play the guitar in his early teens, forming a band with his school friends. Things changed when two of his band mates, under the influence of drugs, were killed in a traffic accident.
'I left behind my dream of becoming a musician and spent my high school years dating and street racing,' he said.
But the dreams returned when Anji was in university and playing bass for a campus band ' the charmingly named 'Yuck Fou', which covered ska punk bands like Rancid and Sublime.
The irony is that the first time he actually sang on stage was for Independence Day celebrations in the neighborhood.
'The audience liked my vocals. After that my friends got me into auditions as vocalist for a couple of bands.'
Anji eventually joined Flow, a band that played music in the style of the US bands Hoobastank, All American Reject and Muse.
His wide-ranging tenor vocals won a recording contract for the band, which, under new name, Drive, released three albums and a single over four years.
The father of two says that he plans to make more music this year, including turning some poems into songs.
'I'm still learning the trade because I want to get my hands on production, such as the album cover, the music video and sales. I don't think I'm the best in the industry, but I like to try different ways each time.
'Just like they say, hard work is also talent.'
' Photos by JP/Ricky Yudhistira
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