On The Records: Emir Hermono

What I learn from being far from home is that you appreciate your own country more,” ungkap Emir Hermono, seorang musisi dan produser R&B dan Hip Hop berdarah Indonesia yang berdomisili di Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Memulai karier bermusiknya sebagai rapper dengan nama The Shakes, pria kelahiran Semarang 25 tahun lalu yang dibesarkan di Papua ini mulai membuat beats sejak umur 17 tahun lewat eksperimennya dengan software FL Studio saat ia pindah ke KL. “It feels the same tho, like good music is good music. Honestly though, I love being an outcast here sometimes. At times I feel I got more love from Malaysia than in Indo, haha. I look up to DJ CZA a lot here cause he’s an Indonesian that’s been doing big out here in Malaysia and Singapore with his group, Ahli Fiqir,” ungkap Emir menyoal rasanya menjadi seorang musisi Indonesia di negeri orang. “Gue merasa Hip Hop scene di Malaysia lebih manageable as in like it’s a small circle of Hip Hop like everyone knows everyone here and they’re so advance on a production level and the whole style tuh up to date banget. The reason why I kinda stop rapping when I was in Malaysia sebenarnya juga karena minder, man they are so good! Haha!” tandasnya.

Menyebut dirinya sebagai emotional guy, pengalaman pribadi seperti heartbreak dan relationship menjadi katalis baginya dalam berkarya, not that different dari sentimental guys seperti Drake atau Ta-ku yang turut menjadi influens baginya. Emosi mentah yang dibalut oleh production yang slick terangkum dalam tiga beat tapes bertajuk Beats & Breakups, Songs About Her, dan Karma Kisses yang menjadi trilogi narasi tiga episode hidupnya yang melibatkan tiga wanita berbeda yang dirilis dalam kurun waktu setahun terakhir ini. Selain merilis Karma Kisses pada Februari lalu, 2016 has been particularly a strong year for him. Mengerjakan sebuah track bersama penyanyi legendaris Malaysia Sheila Majid dan tampil di Good Vibes Festival for the first time dalam sebuah DJ set sebelum Ta-ku (and get to hang out with him) telah dilakoninya, selain terus berkolaborasi dengan para musisi muda di region Asia Tenggara seperti Jonah Sithole, Shelhiel, Leo Ari, FRS, JNARO, Yosugi, serta rapper Ariel Nayaka dalam single terbaru Emir yang berjudul “3AM in Jakarta”, sebuah R&B track sentimental dengan vibes retrospektif yang kinda bittersweet.

Dengan semua pencapaian yang telah ia raih di luar sana, saya merasa sudah saatnya giliran publik Indonesia untuk lebih mengenal sosoknya beserta karya-karyanya. Tak hanya menjawab beberapa pertanyaan, Emir pun menceritakan beberapa album musik yang berpengaruh bagi dirinya.

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Hi Emir, where are you right now and what are you doing before answering this email? Hellooooo! I’m in Kuala Lumpur right now, just finished my dinner. I had this BOMB ass Japanese rice bowl that I’m a sucker for every time #fattylife.

How do you usually introduces yourself? Usually I would start by saying I produce music here and there, a donut eating expert or a professional Hey Arnold! fan – if there’s even such a thing.

So tell me your story, gimana awalnya lo mulai bikin musik? What really prompted you? And why hip-hop/R&B? Okay so I actually started as a rapper (lol I know even I had to laugh at that) this was when I was like 13-ish in middle school. I grew up in Papua for most of my childhood terus langsung pindah ke KL when I was 14. I only started like making beats at 17 – I remember I was still using FL Studio to like mess around with it and since then I’ve always been making tunes. Why hip-hop RnB? Too Phat was definitely the one that kinda got me on hip-hop. Remember when Too Phat was like BIG AS HELL di Indo? Yeah around that time I fell in love with hip-hop, although I’ve been listening to hip-hop since the Iwa K days. Shoutout to Iwa K tho, he’s the real OG.

Where did you grew up and what kind of records you listen to back then? I grew up in Papua since I was like 2 and I was there since 14 – my parents are still there tho so yeah Papua is the home. My first record that I bought was actually AQUA, man! That “Barbie Girl” album. That shit was FIRE fam hahahaha (I’m actually laughing as I type this)

So I read about your rap name, The Shakes, was based on your wish buat bikin burger shop, masih kepikiran untuk itu nggak? Hahahahaha! Goddamn man I forgot about that – gue aja udah lupa when did I say that to be honest. But yeah that’s part of the plan, I love food in general so most definitely. Mungkin nasi padang shakes deh kayaknya hahaha!

So from what I know, Beats & Breakups, Songs About Her, and Karma Kisses are basically three different albums about three different girls in the episodes in your life, would you mind to elaborate more about that? Yesss I’m such an emotional guy man, haha. So basically Beats & Breakups was the one that started it all; I had a relationship with someone that didn’t work out and at that time I was at my lowest point so I just decided to make a tape you know – to ease the pain, turns out it got a pretty good reception from the scene so yeah (she’s probably reading this right now). Songs About Her tape is kinda like me moving on and found a girl that I like and I did this tape to kinda impress her in a way (I know cheesy banget hahaha) so yeah she came to the actual release party and everything we were vibing tapi ya ujung-ujungnya it didn’t kinda work out you know. The last one Karma Kisses is the end of the trilogy – I met someone that I really like and I got married to this one (my current actual wife) so it has this happy undertone but at the same time I still kept it a bit emo-ish if that makes sense.

As musician and producer, ada yang berubah nggak soal musik sejak married? YES of course! I find it harder to kinda make depressing music when you’re in a proper relationship and I even told this to my wife; so whenever I need to like be in a depressing state I just tapped into my old self like remembering the past and it’ll come out naturally. 

What about the story behind “3AM in Jakarta”? Apa inspirasinya dan gimana akhirnya memutuskan collab bareng Ariel Nayaka di single ini? “3AM In Jakarta” was like my final thoughts before I got married – actually a month before. So a month before I got married I was in Jakarta and started writing and making music – and something about 3AM In Jakarta that just brings that mood you know – that Drake depressed state. I hollered at Ariel Nayaka cause first of all he’s so dope – probably THE BEST right now in Indonesian hip hop but that’s just me. And we vibe and gel pretty well together – he’s the future.

Kenapa cover art-nya pakai gambar Chitato rasa Indomie Goreng? Have you taste it, man? YES definitely – udah cobain and enak banget I even brought some back to KL, hehe. Kayaknya it’s so eye catching aja to be the cover, like people will think like the hell is this dude doing. 

Baru-baru ini lo perform di Good Vibes Festival, how was it? Is it your first Good Vibes or not? Kalau di Indonesia sendiri lo udah pernah perform di festival belum? Yeaah that was my first Good Vibes ever – I did a DJ set right before Ta-Ku’s set and got to meet him and hang out with him which was super dope. I regard Ta-Ku as my BIGGEST inspiration in my music. I brough Ariel Nayaka too on my set! I’ve only played a couple of DJ sets in Jakarta but not festival level yet – I need to make more songs I guess. I tried my luck to perform for WTF but didn’t get through, oh well there’s still next year!

What has been the career highlight, so far? Career highlights probably meeting Sheila Majid to work on a track, playing at Good Vibes and having the ability to work with a lot of young producers and acts from the region most definitely like Ariel Nayaka, Jonah Sithole, Shelhiel, Leo Ari, FRS, JNARO, Yosugi, and a bunch more.

Lo masih ngikutin hip-hop Indo nggak sih? Beside Rich Chigga, sekarang yang lagi populer (and quite controversial) is Young Lex, how do you think about that? Yesss I do keep my ears open and eyes open too. I met Young Lex in KL and it was with Joe Flizzow too in the studio. Young Lex was doing some tracks with Kartel records and I was just around to pass him a few beats for his upcoming album. Rich Chigga is on hot fire right now tho everyone knows him – I’ve been dropping Rich Chigga tracks on my DJ sets and everytime I dropped it everyone always goes nuts. Props to him and Young Lex, all love!

Beside music, apa lagi aktivitas sehari-hari lo? Beside music I’m trying to involve myself with a lot of diplomatic groups and youth political movements to strengthen Malaysia and Indonesia’s relationships. What I learn from being far from home is that you appreciate your own country more.

EMIR’S FAVORITE ALBUMS:

aquarium

Aqua

Aquarium

One thing that you need to know about me: I will always love catchy music, haha. This album was FULL of catchy songs – plus when I was in Papua, the school bus driver always plays this album RELIGIOUSLY, dari TK sampai SD denger lagu Aqua tiap pagi. Shout out to Om Nelson, my childhood bus driver for the plug.

too-phat

Too Phat

360

This was the album that got me like love hip hop for real. It’s crazy that I ended up briefly worked for Malique and got to like in talking terms with Joe Flizzow. I used to listen “If I Die Tonight” before going for my Friday prayers.

mad-season-2000-matchbox-twenty

Matchbox Twenty

Mad Season

The world needs to know that I’m like one of the biggest Matchbox Twenty fans ever. I could literally sing the whole songs on this album. I used to wait for “If You’re Gone” and “Bent” music videos on MTV Asia ‘cause we don’t have YouTube back then.

iwa-k

Iwa-K

Kramotak!

Probably my first hip hop album that I bought – well my dad bought it for me so we could listen to “Kramotak!”. Interesting point: I actually shared a stage with Iwa-K when I and he were the opening acts for Sean Kingston when he came down to Jakarta, and yes I was actually rapping on stage and opened for SK, not bad right? Haha.

project_pop_ok

Project Pop

Pop OK

I LOVE PROJECT POP and this album especially. Remember all the classics in this album tho? One of my life goals right now is actually to meet ANY of them in real life.

kanye

Kanye West

Graduation

Always been a fan of ‘Ye since College Dropout but this album got me through my first year of high school abroad in KL di asrama. I bought this album with like the last 300 ribu Rupiah I had for the month.

drake.jpg

Drake

Take Care

Probably my fave album from Drake, like I make beats right now because of this album. This album has inspired me so much musically and till this day is the best body of work to get depressed to, haha.

taku

Ta-Ku

Songs To Break Up To

I love this album cause it was because of this that inspired me to do beats and breakups – and I LOVE TAKU he’s like a GOD in my eyes and I couldn’t believe I played before his set and actually got to hang out with him backstage during Good Vibes.

nelly-sweatsuit

Nelly

Suit

Remember this came out like with Sweat? Like there’s Sweat & Suit, Suit is like more R&B and more “chill get your sexy time with your girl kinda vibe” plus “My Place” is in this album and that track probably is on my top 3 fave songs of all time.

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