Easy A, An Interview With Ariel Nayaka

Tanpa perlu menjual kontroversi kacangan dan komentar-komentar miring, rapper muda Ariel Nayaka menunjukkan kelasnya sendiri sebagai bintang baru layak simak di skena Hip-Hop lokal just like a Straight-A student.

Setelah seakan mati suri sekian lama dari radar mainstream, dengan semakin banyaknya nama rapper dan beatmaker lokal yang naik ke permukaan, releasing their tapes, doing gigs here and there, dan crowd yang semakin apresiatif, I think it’s safe to say our local Hip Hop scene is on the rise again and Ariel Nayaka is proud to be part of it. Menghabiskan masa pubernya di Houston, Texas, cowok 22 tahun ini mengaku sudah terekspos pada kultur Hip Hop sejak dini, namun album 50 Cent lah yang menjadi awal dari segalanya. “Basically gue lagi road trip sama keluarga dan stuck di mobil selama 12 jam lebih. Sepanjang perjalanan, hiburan gue cuma album 50 Cent yang Get Rich or Die Tryin’. That was also the first time I ever listened to Gangsta Rap and I was hooked on it immediately. Album itu yang membuka pintu buat gue untuk eskplor Hip Hop, tapi album yang benar-benar mendorong gue untuk mulai nulis lirik adalah album Eminem yang The Eminem Show,” ceritanya.

Sempat main di genre metal dan post-hardcore emo, minatnya pada Hip Hop bangkit lagi saat ia kembali ke Jakarta. Secara otodidak dari video YouTube, ia mulai mempelajari proses rekaman dan menulis lirik sendiri di atas free beats yang ia dapat di internet lalu mengunggahnya ke SoundCloud. After some singles, videos, and one mixtape, tahun ini dengan bangga Nayaka mempersembahkan mixtape anyar berjudul Curriculum Vitae. Seperti yang disugestikan oleh judulnya, album berisi 12 track ini adalah rangkuman dari skill yang dimilikinya. Berkolaborasi dengan beberapa rapper dan beatmaker sebayanya seperti Ben Utomo, Scamy, dan Greybox, Nayaka menunjukkan bermacam warna Hip Hop dan tema lirik, mulai dari old school, new school, R&B, hingga trap, yang semuanya dikemas dengan lafal Inggris yang fasih, wordplay yang asik, dan produksi yang rapi.

To complete this exciting year, single terbarunya bersama produser Emir Hermono yang bertajuk “3Am In Jakarta” dengan video yang ia rekam sendiri menjadi topik viral, menarik respons positif, dan mengantarkan namanya ke pendengar yang lebih luas tak hanya di Indonesia tapi juga di Malaysia dengan tampil di Good Vibes Festival, di Kuala Lumpur beberapa bulan lalu. Not stopping for rest and relax, he’s already got so much more to show and we can’t wait for it.

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So, what are the musical influences for you?

 

Kalau musik secara general, gue akan sebut Michael Jackson. Gue ingat nonton live performance dia bawain “Smooth Criminal” when I was 3, straight up from Laser Discs. Tapi kalau Hip Hop, pasti berubah setiap minggu, haha. Usually I’ll listen to the “new age hip hop” era in the States seperti Lil Yachty, Lil Uzi Vert, Playboi Carti. But then again there are also those moments where I feel like I need me some Bryson Tiller, Partynextdoor, Drake vibes as well. And those melodic sappy ones have been influencing me HEAVY lately.

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Tell me about Curriculum Vitae, apa konsep utama dari album ini?

 

Jadi Curriculum Vitae ini dibuat dengan konsep “This is my CV into the music industry”, that’s why I’ve got a couple different type of “Hip Hop Styles” in one body of work to show my diversity and overall sounds that I am capable of. Lagu pertama yang gue bikin yang eventually masuk ke album direkam sekitar April 2015.

Waktu itu gue sebetulnya belum berencana rilis mixtape/album karena di Januari 2015 gue baru ngerilis mixtape yang judulnya To Each His Own. Tapi pas summer 2015, gue ke Jerman selama setengah tahun dan gue bawa recording equipment gue ke sana. I travelled around Europe with my friends, and along the way I took in influences from my surroundings and applied them to my music.

Sekitar 70% rekaman vokal di album ini gue kerjain di Eropa. And as for the album cover, it was a picture of a piece of the Berlin Wall in the East Side Gallery that simply said “Curriculum Vitae”. Itu foto gue literally snapped with my iPhone, sent it to my sister to edit a little, and BOOM! That’s the album cover, haha.

Gimana biasanya proses songwriting berlangsung buat lo dari awal sampai jadi?

I always get confused everytime anyone asks me this question, because its always different every single time. Sometimes someone would send me a beat and I’ll just write lyrics to that beat and I’ll record. But some other times I could just be anywhere and I’d get ideas and I would write them down in my Notes app on my phone. Just rhymes and/or random topics. You’d be surprised to see how much idea I have just laying there on my Notes app lol. Then when I do have the time, I would try to use those ideas and mash it together with an instrumental that flows well with the lyrics. To me, the process of songwriting cannot be stuck in just one method of formula. You have to constantly experiment with new sounds/topics. Getting out of your comfort zone is very important, because at the end of the day YOU HAVE to sound different than your peers.

Apa opini lo soal skena Hip-Hop lokal saat ini?

 

The Hip Hop scene in Indonesia is GROWING FASTER AND FASTER! The culture is moving really fast and I see it growing faster than it did with EDM back around 2010-ish. Banyak banget rapper baru yang muncul setiap bulannya and that’s awesome! Sekarang juga ada beberapa Hip Hop events di Jakarta di mana lo bisa ngeliat producer, rapper, DJ hanging out in one place as friends and vibing with one another. Cul De Sac is a collective of very talented young producers and DJs who make events as well. You can probably say that these guys are the ones that are running the underground Hip Hop scene in these weekly parties.

 

What’s the career highlight so far? Yang gue tau tahun ini lo ikut perform di Good Vibes Malaysia, how was it?

 

YES actually so far, performing in Good Vibes alongside Emir Hermono was a really crazy experience. Gue bikin lagu “3AM In Jakarta” bareng dia beberapa bulan lalu dan ternyata lagu ini lumayan booming di Kuala Lumpur, to the point that it actually got radio airplay. Lucunya, pas kita bawain lagu itu di Good Vibes, there were actually people singing and rapping along to the EXACT lyrics. Itu momen yang gila buat gue karena kalau dipikir, gue nulis lirik lagu itu di rumah gue di Jakarta, tapi gue bawainnya di negara lain dan orang-orang nyanyiin liriknya. That feeling right there is what I’ll always crave and that’s the reason that I make music now.

 

Selain musik, apa aja kegiatan sehari-hari lo?

MASIH KULIAH MAN! I mean it’s my last semester but I need to get this out the way first so I can focus on this music 100%. On a daily basis I usually just wake up, go to the gym, go back home and usually the homies would want to hang at my place. My place is where I do all of my recordings and usually we would all just hang out eventually come up with ideas for music.

What’s your dream collaboration?

 

Yo! If could choose anyone, I would want to have a song with Travis Scott on the hook, me doing 2 verses, Drake doing the last verse, and the overall production by Kanye West and Metro Boomin. Terus have DJ Khaled promote it HAHAHA! If I could get that done, I would die happily LOL.

Apa rencana selanjutnya?

Sekarang gue lagi ngerjain beberapa tracks bareng beberapa producers. Bantuin Emir Hermono di album barunya. I’m doing a joint EP with some very talented producers that I can’t tell u about right now and overall I’m just dropping music here and there. Just keep up on my social media accounts cause every announcement I make will go through there.

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Foto oleh: Willie William.

https://soundcloud.com/ariel-nayaka

IG: @ArielNayaka

Twitter: @ArielNayaka

YouTube: youtube.com.arielnayaka

Snapchat: arielnayaka

 

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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:

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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.

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Too Phat

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.