We all know that the music industry in Indonesia right now is evolving, interesting and has endless possibilities with the growing number of newcomers, including our cover star, Stephanie Poetri. People may know her as the youngest daughter of Titi DJ. But pop diva mother aside, Stephanie is a pop prodigy in the making who has over six million streams.
In the past two months, the Taurean girl has released two self-produced tracks, “Appreciate” and the addictive one “I Love You 3000”, which was inspired by Avengers: Endgame. Her debut single blends pop music with a subtle hint of electronic beats, while the second one is a more acoustic song.
We sat down with the bubbly and cool girl to talk about her music, having music runs in the family and playing online games as a way to release her competitiveness.
Text by Lulu Nisrina. Photographs by Ila Schaffer
Can you introduce yourself a little?
Hi, my name is Stephanie Poetri, it’s pronounced like “poetry” not “putri”, so it sounds cooler. I’m half-Indonesian, half-American, but I grew up here so I find myself as an Indonesian despite my pointed nose.
You’ve just released two singles, “Appreciate” dan “I Love You 3000”, in the past two months. Can you tell us a bit about that?
When I created my first single, “Appreciate”, it was more well-planned. I looked for a music producer, had a director for the video, like a legit one. I guess it was like a more serious project, whereas “I Love You 3000” came like all of a sudden. I was doing this Q&A on Instagram and I was like, “Hey, send me phrase and I’ll make it into a song!” The Q&A was out not long after the release of Avengers: Endgame so I got a lot of people asking me to try the phrase “I Love You 3000”. I then made like a super short chorus and people responded like “OMG, can you make it into a real song?” And I was like, “OK, I got you!” The initial plan was to share the song as an Instagram post only, but when I showed the song to my mom, she was like, “Oh, this is good!” and asked me to make it into a single. And here it is. But to be honest, the production was not as well-planned as “Appreciate”. I produce “I Love You 3000” myself and with the help of my friend, Austin Ong, so everything is much more DIY. And yeah, the title was inspired by the phrase from Endgame, but the song itself is not related. I only added a hint of the movie on the opening line that sounds like this, “I see you standing there in your Hulk outerwear.” [Laughs]
What’s the story behind making “Appreciate” bilingual?
Originally, it was written in English ‘cause I think in English. Right now, when I speak in Bahasa Indonesia, I’m like translating live in my head. But yeah, I wrote the song in English and my mom encouraged me to make the second version in Bahasa Indonesia, just for fun so people know that I am bilingual.
How would you describe your tunes in three words?
I find it, like, my true music is EDM. But then that’s one word! [Laughs] Electronic meets organic, so even though it’s pretty electronic, there’s always an organic sound like a guitar or a piano sound or like gamelan. I love gamelan sounds.
Having a mom who is also a musician, what is it like to come from a musical family?
It’s actually not very different from having parents who are businessmen or businesswomen or anything like that because my mom gak pernah force her ideals on me. But having a musician parent does help because when I decided to become a musician, she knows a lot. Especially with Indonesia’s music industry. She has a lot of things to help me with. It helps a lot. But it’s pretty much similar to everyone else’s experience. If your parent was a lawyer, and then you chose to be a lawyer, they would help you because you didn’t know what to do.
How has your mom influenced your music taste?
I think taste wise, not much. She’s always very open with letting me delve into my own taste. But since my taste is pretty pop, she often introduces me to new music like, “Meni [Stephanie’s nickname], have a listen to this!” I tend to listen to primarily Western music, not that I don’t like Indonesian music, but whenever I open the playlists made by digital music platforms, they mostly filled with songs in English. So, my mom really introduces me to Indonesian songs that I might not have heard.
When did you know you wanted to be a musician?
I guess ever since I was little I knew I liked singing and I knew I liked music. But to think that this could be something was when I started writing songs. I used to think that being a singer is just singing, and then when I started to write my own lyrics, that’s when I was like, “Oh, I can be creative too!” I’m always really into art and creating things and I was like, “Oh, finally, I can create something and sing it at the same time!” It’s the best of both worlds! I think the light-bulb moment came when I was in high school. I took creative art class in high school, but then I started to miss doing music. So I made music on my free time. And when I graduated I realized that I wanted to be a singer, guys!
You have videos talking about PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), are you into that mobile game?
I’m an e-girl guys! I like to play games. Maybe because my brother liked to play games and I kind of copy what he did—like when you’re young you like to copy your siblings. And as I grew up, I started being really into games, mostly because I am a very competitive person! Like, it’s kind of annoying. When I was in school I would do sports and stuff and then when you graduate I don’t do sports anymore, there’s no team anymore. So I find that competitiveness spirit from gaming, especially from PUBG, where it’s like a team work and also like I’m trying to prove myself to my teammates. It’s also like competing against your own team. I kind of always look for something to compete against, which isn’t good.
Do you have a skill you want to explore further?
My art. I used to be really into graphic design and animation and I’m currently trying to dive deeper into those things, so in the future my music videos could have animations made by me. I even edited all of my music videos and I really want to do my own cover arts in the future, so my whole career would be like DIY.
What are you looking forward to at the moment?
I feel like I’m really grateful for how good “I Love You 3000” has been. The song is accepted by the people—Marvel fans, K-pop fans—I’m so happy. [Giggles] I’m really looking forward to how the people perceive my next song. Hopefully they’ll like it. I’m just looking forward to the creation process and also the feedback from people.
When is the next song coming?
I don’t know, really. [Giggles] Everything depends on my mind. If I’m feeling creative then there’s gonna be a song. If not, then we should just wait.
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