Starting with a smooth and sensible romance with Jazz, this girl grabbed punk rock with just the kind of rough and in-your-face approach that punk rock requires. Born and raised in Bali, she’s Brianna and she’s young, talented and loud.
Look out Indonesia, cause this girl’s got the attention of the big city kids now.
How did you get into singing?
I’m pretty sure I came out of my mother’s womb singing but maybe this is because I was a C-section baby and it was just for mental clarity. You know what, maybe singing was inevitable, in Batak genetics you’re just born with an ability to vocalise…loudly!
Either way, I began classical vocal training at the age of 12. I never really thought I was any good but my vocal teacher seemed to like to put me in the special chair as an example to the other students. This was the first time that had ever felt that I was actually doing something right! So I got hooked (I mean, who wouldn’t want to be made an example of in a positive light, right?). Anyway, that point forward became my history in the making.
Back then you were performing jazz tunes rather than punk rock and yet these days people know you as a rock singer. How did this change come about?
Yeah! Bizarre, right?
Jazzy tunes were second nature, but I always had this little gremlin inside of me who loved to listen to all the devilish bad boy bands like Limp Bizkit, No Doubt, Sublime and even System Of A Down. I grew up listening to my father perform classic old Latin and Jazz tunes, like from the Real Book, therefore these styles were what I knew. I felt comfortable and confident singing them, they’re way more easy going on the vocal chords. Then came my high school days in a Sydney performing arts boarding school, The McDonald College. My world opened up to Jeff Buckley, RHCP, and Nirvana. I felt so connected to those sounds and their song lyrics but I was in serious denial because I was known as the soulful jazzy ballad singer, who was clearly slanted towards the hip-hop scene, so I kept quiet about it until one day an angel by the name of Liz Oprandi came along and asked me to sing a song with her husband Leo Sinatra. She’d written this song called “Hope” for Leo’s band Suicidal Sinatra. Thanks to those cool cats I began my rockabilly/punk rock romance. Oh, just so you know, the first rockabilly band I was obsessed with was The Hillbilly Moon Explosion.
What else do you do, other than singing?
My mother and I have a business creating apps for small businesses so, if I’m not writings songs, recording or touring, I’m in my studio creating apps like the little geek that I actually am. Besides that, I love scuba diving. If I could, I would much prefer to live in the ocean, but not in the “sleep with the fishes” sense.
What’s your plan for the future? Solo album? Continue to tour with the punk rock boys?
Besides my contracted 3 album release with Catz Records Indonesia and some more fabulously wild and wonderful touring adventures with the boys from Superman Is Dead who, may I add, I am very grateful towards, my future plan is to try and keep as much honesty in my art as I possibly can. Despite being part of the industry, rather than a part of a movement/campaign against the crowd, I don’t believe there is such thing as indie anymore so, I think, the tactical move to make is to become part of the system. I mean part of the system first, then break it down from within enemy lines. Kind of like I’m a supa spy ninja!
Any last nagging words?
Yeah, I’d like to end on a sad note cause my heart strings play minor and diminished chords. I recently became aware of a really horrifying and beyond disturbing fact about what is happening to our children throughout Indonesia. Did you know we are actually right behind Thailand in the sex slave and human trafficking industry? Bet you didn’t know that. I’d like to think that as a human being, you’ll have the decency and humanity to acknowledge this frightening fact and not turn a blind eye toward it. Face it and most importantly fight it with an almighty force. Visit www.safechildhoods.org and let’s do something to change these stats.
• Homegrown & Well Known is my biweekly column in The Beat (Bali) mag. Basically it’s an interview via e-mail with Bali’s local big shots. This is the 29th edition, was firstly published—a slightly different version—on The Beat (Bali) #338, May-June 2013
• Co-Editor: Lauren Shipman
• Photos courtesy of Brianna Simorangkir
• For further info, visit her personal website: briannanow.com and Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/BriannaSimorangkir
• Video below, Brianna sings her own song, “Protocol”