The day I interviewed Imel, the sun was shining really bright! I planned to do the interview at an outdoor space, while sitting under the tree, and enjoying the windy weather. But the sun started to burn my face and Christian suggested us to move to the nearest café over there.
I was a fan of Imel, long before we met each other in real life. My friend ̶ Rei ̶ sent me a voice note of her first songs, back in 2012. I was amazed by her beautiful voice and songwriting skill, especially when I found out that we’re at the same age. I followed her on Soundcloud, and become so enthusiast every time she uploads her new works.
Imel learned to play guitar since she was in her fifth grade of primary school, and wrote her own song in her second year of high school.
“I remember that I made a silly song out from Meteor Garden’s theme song, and changed the lyric with my own words. It’s so embarrassing!” She laughed.
Started from that silly song, now Imel has recorded more than 40 songs and uploaded them on her Soundcloud account. In her second year of high school, she often sang her own song while playing guitar during the break time. Many of her friends sang along with her too.
Imel’s friends and family always support her on her music, “I made Soundcloud because my friend forced me to. At first, I don’t really want to show my work to the public. However, now I see that it’s a very useful thing to do.”
She told me that her family didn’t even know that she can sing, “My mom is a very good singer, while I only want to do music as a hobby. I was too afraid that she’s going to give me critics, but finally she listens to my Soundcloud because all of my friends told her about it.”
The first song that Imel wrote was “Cinta Pertama” (First Love).
“I recorded it with my old cellphone, and the sound quality is very poor! Luckily, my friend introduced me to Kak Oni, another Soundcloud musician. He taught me about home recording technique, and now I can improve the sound quality of my music.”
Sometime, Imel feels really shy to share her music to the public. For example; in her last year of high school, Imel used to sing at her school concert and prom. “I was trembling and really nervous on the stage. I’m not a very extrovert person, and I feel shy when I have to interact with the audience while singing.”
She knows that it’s something that she has to improve, and she’s working on it now. Imel’s favorite stage performer is Beyonce. “Beyonce always gives her 100% in her performance. She’s good at singing, good at dancing, and she has a kind heart. Someday, when she comes to Indonesia, I have to watch her concert! I think I need to save my money from now!”
There are so many musicians that she adores, such as: Stevie Wonder, Lalah Hathaway, Jojo, Alessia Cara, Troye sivan, Ariana Grande, Zayn Malik, Pentatonix, Miguel, Ciara, Travis Garland, “And many more! I listen to any kind of songs, as long as it’s a good music,” She laughed.
Imel also loves listening to Indonesian indie musicians such as Kunto Aji, Banda Neira, Endah n Resha, Aditya, Maliq n D’essetials, and Adithia Sofyan.
“I learned many guitar techniques from a Youtube star, named Gabe Bondoc. Few years ago, I always watched his cover videos, and paused it so I can try the technique that he used in his music. I also love John Mayer’s songs, especially Stop This Train.”
Many pop and R&B musicians give her influence in her music, but there’s one musician on Soundcloud that she really adores: Teza Sumendra.
“Teza has an amazing voice, and he’s not afraid to be himself in this music industry.”
Imel used to meet Teza at her high school concert, and asked him for his signature. “After signing my copy, he told me that he listened to my Soundcloud and said that my voice is good!” Teza also follows Imel on Soundcloud, and gave her encouragement through the comment section.
(Teza wrote a comment at 2:20)
“I feel really touched by his supports! He’s my role model on Soundcloud; and someday, when I’ve improved my music skill, I’d really love to make a collaboration with him.” Imel said happily.
Imel tends to share more of her music than her personal things on Soundcloud, “I never put my photo on Soundcloud. I think my guitar is more photogenic than me,” she giggled.
Although she doesn’t show much of her personal information on Soundcloud, a producer discovered her from that platform and contracts her as a freelance songwriter. “It was really unexpected for me to be contacted and contracted via Soundcloud! It’s amazing!”
Another interesting thing about Imel is; she takes Mathematic as the major in her university years!
“My parents didn’t really want me to go to music school. So I made a plan about being a doctor. Both of my elder brothers go to medical school, and it seems like that major is too complicated for me. Then I finally picked mathematic because I like it, and want to learn more about it.”
As a Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) student, Imel keeps developing her music skill by joining ITB Jazz Club. “In this club, my friends and I often have jamming sessions and instrument workshops together. We planned to make a concert in the next January.”
Bandung is one of the artsy cities of Indonesia. Many great musicians born there, and I think Imel could be the next one of them. “I think I will try to put my focus in music someday. For now, my main focus is still on my bachelor degree. Education is also important, right?” She laughed, again.
Some of Imel’s original songs are inspired by her personal experience, and some were born from her imaginations, “I don’t think I have that much personal experience tho,” she said, with her signature epic tone.
In a songwriting process, Imel tends to bring her concept in a form of a story. “It would be too plain if we put the concept in a very lateral, obvious way. For example, when you want to write a song about someone you love, you don’t always have to put ‘I love you’ on the lyric.”
She admitted that it is disappointing to see so many Indonesian musician making awful music just for money. “They usually make it just to achieve their commercial purpose. Just add some catchy melodies and random lyrics to a song, and it’s done.”
Imel told me that her favorite original song is “Sadari, Sadarilah” (which is my favorite too!), and when I asked her which song is the hardest to write, she said, “I think all of the songs that I didn’t finish are the hard ones. There are dozens of them! I keep them on my cellphone and PC, hoping that I can finish them someday. It’s okay to have those unfinished songs as long as I keep trying to make music.”
By making dozens of songs, I think Imel is ready to make her independent album someday. When I asked her about that idea, she said, “I don’t want to be a famous musician or have many fans. I just want to make an album of my home-recording songs, and give it away to my family and friends. I try to save my money from now, so I can buy more recording equipment that will improve my recording quality.”
So, what’s Imel’s secret formula in being a good musician?
“Make and collect your works as a portfolio, and spread it to the public. After uploading the works, don’t expect anything in return. Spread your works because you love to show people your creations. Make your own schedule, and be consistent with it. Keep doing it with happiness, and you might receive many unexpected presents in the end. The most important thing, do it because you love it.”
Then she revealed another epic secret of her: “Many people say that I sound like Justin Bieber.”
We laughed, and in every laugh that we shared, I still can’t believe that this amazing musician that I adore has a very humble and sincere heart.
Imel never expects anything, yet she has so many special things in herself.
She teaches us that a pure-sincere-joyful heart is a main thing that will take us into another better place in our lives, as long as we keep moving. Good luck, Imel for everything that you do! We’ll be waiting for your album! 😀