Flare jeans, platforms, chic-print, more and more fringe, sandals and accessories dominated the 70s-that’s why it’s often considered as the fun era, it was about freedom of expression. About peace and love. Capturing the beauty of 70s era is our second muse this month, the beautiful Monita Tahalea.
The 29-year-old singer recently released her second single “Hai” last August. Her first and second single were from her latest album, Dandelion.
“The second single “Hai” was released on August 24th, from my Dandelion album. The album was digitally released last December, while the physical album was released this January. “Hai” was the first track of the album, the first line is, ‘Hai teman, apa kabar? Lama tak kudengar suaramu’ (Hi, my friend, how are you? It’s been a long time since I hear your voice) which was based on an event in Rotterdam. I had a gig there and just when I stepped out of the hotel, a person riding bicycle warmly greeted me. And I felt happy, realizing that I was in another country but the people are friendly. Similar thing also happened when I had the chance to go to another island outside Java, where people still greet each other in the morning eventhough we barely know each other.”
When Monita arrived for a photoshoot with Letter F, she just finished performing in Yogyakarta and Surabaya, but her spirit and warm persona was real. She also shared her thoughts on writing a good song.
“Through a simple “Hai” from another person can make our day seem a lot better, and with only a simple “Hai” we can start a conversation with other people. I was inspired by these things. And also because of the fact that Indonesia is known for its hospitality. Though the rise of social media also has its effect, I myself am also active on social media, it makes us unapproachable. Meaning, we can easily say hi to other people via social media apps, but not with people that are actually around us. The idea behind my second song is as simple as that.”
Monita admitted this “Dandelion” album was quite personal for her. “7 songs were self-produced. I worked with my old friend, Gerald Situmorang and Gaby for most of the songs, and there are also two songs which were made by my friend. So this album is quite personal for me, I learned to produce, to write lyrics, to create the concept, and to choose the team.” And of course, singers usually have their favorite song with the deepest meaning, but not in her case, she loves all the 9 songs as they all have their moments. “The most interesting is perhaps the last song titled “Breath” because it took the longest production process.”
Long before “Dandelion”, Monita’s first album “Dream, Hope and Faith” was produced by Indra Lesmana. The jazzy-ish album left a big impact to her and led her to this music scene. She often sang in jazz music festivals. But does she consider herself as a jazz singer? “Well, personally, I never put a label on myself. When I did my first album with Indra Lesmana who is a jazz musician, the jazz feel is strong, and so I mostly revolved in jazz community. And in my second album, I got the chance to explore more, I never considered myself as a one-genre singer, because I think music is not about genre. As it happens, in this second album, you might notice a folk nuance, but there’s just so much more to discover.”
Her vocal chord has been trained since she was little, Monita was active in her school’s choir. And honing her voice to be unique has been succesful so far, she often did collab with senior singers and musicians. One of the memorable moments was with Indonesian diva, Vina Panduwinata.
“I was so nervous because she was my biggest inspiration. I couldn’t even properly memorize the lyrics. But she was so nice, guiding me and making sure I did my best. At the end of the show, she told me that, ‘When you’re doing a collab with another performer, make sure to guide them as well, because a collab isn’t about who’s the best, but how they can back up each other to perform well.’”
She reminisced gleefully, and continued saying that Anda Perdana was also her favorite musician with whom she once did a collab. Other than Anda, she also mentioned Chrisye, Glenn Fredly, Harry Connick Jr., Tom Waits and Sting to be her fave musicians.
How about her fave female singer from outside Indonesia? “I’m so inspired by Norah Jones. From her first album to the last one, she always explores, and whenever she did a collab, she never lost herself–even bring the best of herself.”
One thing that she always wanted to do is to have an intimate concert. “Last May I got the chance to do it, so currently I’m trying to od it again in several cities in Indonesia.” Apart from intimate concert, Monita would also love to sing abroad for big music festival, like in Japan.
Musical career wise, Monita already achieved many things that expand her music knowledge and experience, but how about another side of her that is not related to music? Besides singing, she wanted to write books. And, being the graduate of Visual Communication Design, she made and edited her own video. “I’d like to have my own creative project. Currently I’m doing a research on vlogs, which is apparently a trend, and I’m looking for fun stories to share.”
Writer: Adhinda Latifa
Photographer: Vicky Melly
Stylist: Hilarius Matthew
Makeup Artist: Nadia Renata
Videographer: Moody Elisha Wijaya
Video Director: Mario Raymond Bully
Assistant to Photographer: Charisma Agni
Graphic Design: Rusdah Ulfa
Digital Imaging: Dela Naufalia
Wardrobe: Ratel, Project RTW, Khola, Megagamie, and Kendall+Kylie, available at TheFThing.com
Accessories: Rolemodel, available at TheFThing.com