“Hi, I’m Ben! 22 years old. Shoe size: forty-five, sometimes forty-four and a half. Weight? Hopefully next month I’ll lose about ten kilograms. I’m 182 cm tall. I play music, write songs, and love thrift shopping as a hobby”, that was how Ben responded after being asked to introduce himself. It is apparent that Ben Sihombing is one of those musicians that enticed a following not only with his talent, but also with his witty disposition. Just scroll through his Instagram account and you’ll find it is filled with pictures of Ben’s deadpan expressions with chuckle inducing captions. A self-described least musical kid in a very musical family, (he’s the son of a gospel singer, Franky Sihombing and the younger brother of Petra Sihombing, a fellow musician), Ben only started learning the guitar in high school through Youtube. Sometime later he wrote a song for his brother that catapulted their way to popularity, only then, Ben set foot as a musician. So far, belting out tunes such as the folky ‘Set Me Free’ and the love ballad, ‘Sama-sama Menunggu’, it seems like Ben is going back to his musical roots, only thing is, he’s doing it in his own way.
Text by Lala Claudia. Photos by Ila Schaffer.
Did you always want to be a musician?
I never thought of being a singer. Coming from a family of musicians, I was not very musical. I had piano and guitar lessons growing up but that never really amounted to anything. I was that boy who was all sweaty playing basketball while my brother was in the studio playing the guitar in a John Mayer-level, and he was only just in junior high.
So, how did you end up being one though?
During High School, I taught myself how to play the guitar and I try to merge my love of writing with these several guitar notes I’ve learned. This led to me writing a song [titled: Mine] for my brother, and it ended up being really popular. I really hated that song, to me it’s cringeworthy [chuckle], but I thought to myself, ‘Hey, if people like this stuff, what about if I make the songs that I really love?’. So, here I am, a musician.
You mentioned about your love of writing, tell us more about that!
One thing about me is that I always love to write, I’m always drawn to storytelling, poem, and short stories. As a student I love essay-writing assignments, while hating Science and Math very much. I even wrote like one of those Mario Teguh-esque motivational quotes [laughs].
What is your approach in songwriting?
I love expressing ideas and feelings with a representation of words. I write songs when I feel connected with someone, either that be in a romantic or platonic way. I get ideas from my relationship with other people.
How would you describe your music?
This is the hardest question ever! I love hip-hop, I love pop since forever, I drew a lot of inspirations from R&B, so I think all of this, makes my music, well.., all mine. My recent single, has a very 80’s inspired feel to it, with all these electronic progression. But really, if someone said Ben Sihombing is a pop singer, I don’t mind that at all.
What’s the coolest thing about your job?
Meeting new people for sure, and having conversations with them. I’m a definite listener.
What’s the most precious lesson you’ve had from your job?
How you carry yourself to the people in the industry really matters. Because, you’re going to be evaluated from the littlest thing, so knowing how to balance things out is important. This does not mean forcing yourself to be someone else though.
We’re wondering, what is it you want to be seen as?
I really don’t like pretending, so I want to be seen as I really am. You’ll see if I’m sad, or having fun, or anything through my performance on stage or in interviews such as this. I want to be honest and open in everything I do.
What’s up in your sleeve next?
I’ll be releasing two singles that I’m really excited about after this Lebaran, and before my birthday in August. Of course I’ll be playing gigs everywhere. And, I’ll be hunting for vintage items, I spent lots of my time these past few months looking for old fashion gems, I love the history of the clothes I found. It’s super fun!
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