The delightful “Princess” Syahrini tells Ajeng G. Anindita in an exclusive interview about the singing career she worked so hard to build, her whirlwind romance and marriage – and how she handles the haters.
One thing you need to know about Syahrini is that she is a most determined person, and when she focuses on one thing that’s exactly where she’s going to put so much of her attention. Exhibit A is her singing career. Not many people know that she has been in the entertainment business for 11 years now, from when she was a university student to the “Princess” Syahrini everyone knows today.
Exhibit B is her recent marriage. Having tied the knot with businessman Reino Barack, she tells us that her marriage and family life must come first. Going from point A to B was not an easy decision, especially because for just over a decade her life had been about singing and working non-stop. But that’s Syahrini for you. Behind the happy-go-lucky, cheerful personality is a strong-willed woman who is so focused on what she is doing.
But let’s go back to the beginning, when she was an up-and-coming singer doing roadshows from radio station to radio station, one city to another. She is and has always been passionate about singing and music since she was young, but her late father wanted her to pursue a career in law. Syahrini took law major in university, and the plan was to continue on for a Master’s in the Netherlands. Then she found herself in a musicians’ circle, making friends with songwriters like Dewiq and Yovie Widianto. The encouragement from her friends to pursue a career in the entertainment business increased every day. Even more, she wanted to be a singer. She went back and forth between Jakarta and Bogor, where she lived then, and recorded some songs. One thing led to another and she launched her first album, My Lovely, in 2008 with Trinity Optima Production.
“Funny story about the first album,” she laughs. “I enjoy horse riding, and Lovely was the name of my horse. I think it’s a coincidence that Dewiq wrote a song, ‘My Lovely’, for the album. So it only made sense if I made it the title. The horse inspired the title.”
The single became a hit in many cities. Syahrini then started to do some appearances on radio and went on as the opening act for groups like Padi and singers like Ari Lasso, who were really popular at that time, “I think 2008 really was a year where I learned and experienced a lot, especially as a professional singer, and I’m really grateful for that. It was unforgettable and I would forever be thankful,” she says.
Recording a duet with Anang Hermansyah in 2010 was a turning point in Syahrini’s career. That was when the public really started to notice her. The single, “Jangan Memilih Aku”, was a big hit in the radio charts. Almost instantly, she hit many on-air programmes through her appearances with Hermansyah. They made another hit song in the same year, but then they decided to part ways.
Syahrini recorded a cover version of the late Alda Risma’s “Aku Tak Biasa” and reestablished her career as a solo singer. She went on to record two more albums in the next two years. She gained more and more popularity, even before the social media era. Her personality and funny jargon quickly became her signatures. Some would even say this it is what made her even more popular.
“People say what they want to say, honestly,” Syahrini remarks. “It all started from jokes that we said backstage with my team. I’m really not sure how people know, maybe because of media reportage or reporters that followed me every day, but my fans found out about it and it became viral, just like that.”
From jokes and everyday banter came the inspiration for her next few songs. “I guess songwriters quickly picked up that I had quite a fun and cheerful personality. So that’s the kind of song that they presented to me – always positive and happy songs. They know I’m not a mellow person. Life itself is already hard, so don’t make more of a fuss about it.”
Last year saw another milestone for her career. She held a big concert in September to celebrate her 10 years in the entertainment industry at Ciputra Artpreneur in South Jakarta. Promoted by Berlian Entertainment, the concert was a success, attended not only by fans and media, but also by celebrities, musicians and socialites.
She sang some 20 songs, collaborating with some of the most successful Indonesian musicians, such as Randy Pandugo, Glen Fredly and Tompi. Her glamorous and out-of-this-world outfits also gained much attention from fans, as they were designed by some of the nation’s most prominent designers – Rinaldy A. Yunardi, Sebastian Gunawan, Eddy Betty and Didi Budiardjo, “With their own concepts they made truly beautiful pieces that suited my character,” Syahrini says. “And I’m really glad because it made the whole show truly one of a kind. The concert was my tribute to the music industry and to my fans, who had actually requested this so many times – and last year was finally the year that I could make it happen.”
The concert celebrated her first 10 years as a singer. The plan after that was for her to retreat to the United States and take a break for a few months. But fate had other plans for her, as she met businessman Reino Barack a few months later, and married him shortly after that last February.
Their romantic journey was short but sweet. The two tied the knot both in Japan and Indonesia, with a private wedding attended by family members and close friends. Again, Rinaldy, Eddy and her long-time friend Danny Satriadi made her big day special by creating stunning pieces for her.
“I guess this is fate,” Syahrini says. “I didn’t expect to get married this year. After the concert and the break, I was going to make another album this year. I had already put out two singles in collaboration with my sister (Aisyahrani). Then I met Reino.” She launched another two singles for her marriage celebrations, made by singer and songwriter Melly Goeslaw.
“Marriage is not a random decision. It’s a very important and life-changing decision, I think everyone can agree,” Syahrini says. “It’s the next step in my life and I have to focus on this now.” Is it hard for her to adjust? “It’s something that I need to re-learn,” she replies. “Before getting married, I was rarely at home. Three to four times a week, there had to be a singing job. Forget the weekend! It was always packed with weddings, here in Jakarta or in Surabaya, Makassar, Medan and many more places. I rarely had time for myself and family. Once I got any free time, I usually filled it up with travelling overseas, which I love. I was never at home, basically.
“As a wife now, I’m learning to know how it feels to stay at home all the time, being there for my husband. I’m less active on social media these days.” Is that really possible these days? “Not entirely inactive, maybe a few stories of me travelling with my husband, eating out, anything that’s worth to be posted on social media. And considering my husband and in-law are very private people, I need to respect that too now,” she says.
What’s the most important lesson Syahrini has learned in her life? “That everyone can twist your words into something that’s untrue. And after all these years, I learned that it is not my job to clarify rumours about me,” she replies.
“Haters will hate, even if you are doing good. It’s going to be a never-ending story if I keep commenting on stories about me. I have no time for that, and so I’d rather stay silent. Let them gossip about their own versions of the truth. I and those closest to me know the real truth – and that’s enough for me.”
PHOTOGRAPHER VICKY TANZIL
STYLING ALEX LALISANG
MAKE-UP BY ANPASUHA
HAIR BY ANDRA ARUSSA
STYLING ASSISTANTS LINTANG HUTAMI & SALSABILLA ASY-SYIFA
LOCATION GRAND HYATT JAKARTA
FLOWERS BY MAWAR LANGIT
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