POSTED ON – 11.09.12
Interview with Indra Lesmana
This September, SSR was very pleased to interview Indra Lesmana, a well-known Indonesian music prodigy who has produced more than 50 albums and has written hundreds of hit singles. Indra dedicates his life to music through his independent community activities called RedWhite to motivate Indonesian young musicians. His virtuoso performances, spirits and movements lead him to be an Indonesian modern-jazz icon.
At SSR Jakarta, Indra shared his experiences through the music industry and gave his warm advice to encourage Indonesian audio engineers to have the taste of professional audio artists.
Indra & SSR…
Q: How important do you think Audio Engineering and Film Production education is?
A: From my experience, the needs of the education have been existing from years ago. As a musician, I have learned a lot from my father and people who have worked with him. They worked as autodidacts in operating audio equipments. Making music is related to the final result, so the creative processes need others competent sound engineering skill in order to create the expected result. I was talking about the music itself. This industry has branched out and therefore the needs of sound education increase. We also need education for audio-visual, even gaming nowadays is essential for this industry. Can you imagine watching a movie or playing games without any audio? Furthermore, to achieve a higher level we need a higher professional level for sound engineers and sound designers. To be a professional with that high level, you need a proper education. As I had learned about sound engineering in Malaysia, Singapore, and Japan, I saw the audio engineering field has been expanding. You need no worries about the growing opportunities to work within the field. It’s a big industry.
Q: What are the criteria of a professional with a higher level?
A: I have worked with two engineers from Japan (one as a Monitor Engineer, the other as a Head of Engineer) who not only talked about techniques, they knew exactly what we needed as musicians, what we wanted, what music we played, and they knew what to do. This is what I considered as a professional with a higher level. They had achieved the audio-level then moved to the next level: understanding the art of the music. Although many musicians have their own home studio recording, we still need the role of audio engineering to avoid the bias in music. Musicians need another point of view which can be input by a professional audio engineer. The higher-leveled audio engineering will play their roles not just as an operator nor executor but also an advisor. They should be able to listen and understand the needs of the music and then examine what is good and what is not within the music. A good sound not only comes from a good mixing but overcomes from the sound you choose, the spectrum. We need sound engineers who have their own ideas to develop music.
Q: What do you think SSR can do?
A: We need professionals who can visualize audio and their imagination. SSR should be able to make Audio Artists because audio engineering is an art itself, not just operating skills. They should know what they create. This school should be capable to direct its students to be more than an operator. It’s about being Sound Artists who can listen to musicians’ interests.
Q: What is the most memorable moment from your music-industry life?
A: When I work with Bernie Grundman, I thought they would be overbearing. But they were not. Though they have worked with famous celebrities, they were very humble. They came earlier, we got into their studio and even though everything was set up, they still asked whether we need anything else or not. They were well-organized and worked properly. The rough mix was ready, and before playing back, they gave us some inputs. The way they suggested us was comfortable, they gave us options instead of bossing around. This was what made us trust them.
Q: So, do you have any advice for SSR Students to study and to be ready in this music industry?
A: It’s a real jungle out there, especially in Indonesia. One mistake can cause troubles. The student has to be mentally ready, become a real good person, and adapt to every community in this big industry.
Q: What is the background of RedWhite Jazz Lounge?
A: We found RedWhite Jazz Lounge to develop the Jazz community itself. We have a lot of Jazz musicians in this country, probably concentrated in Jakarta. Furthermore, we have loyal audiences. It shows us that the locals still attract audiences. We have that big jazz festival but we don’t have enough space for gathering. Like how a gear works, the big gear needs the small one. Jazz is a performing art. The musicians need to perform and interact with audiences, to deliver the music so they can make them feel and get the feedbacks. That is what a jazz club is for, it’s a community to interact with audiences. We are very glad to know many people here supporting us; they feel like this community as a part of themselves. RedWhite gives a chance to musicians, sound engineers, photographers, even writers or journalists to feel music. With a homey nuance, we are building the culture in the business. We are hoping that this culture can be a field where professional artists and workers can develop themselves.
Q: Can our students perform at RedWhite?
A: There a RedWhite program that gives talented people chances to perform on our stage. We let them feel the stage-atmosphere which has been used by many experts.
Indra is also enthusiastic to welcome SSR students who want to perform their talents, to work, to be an apprentice or even just to have a field trip to RedWhite Jazz Lounge. SSR will have a role in some events which will be held at RedWhite Jazz Lounge from now on. Well, here is the chance to move to the next high-level, supported by many music experts!