Dira J. Sugandi – “Something About The Girl”
Jazz singer Dira Sugandi might still be finding her way in the music scene, but she firmly believes that where there’s a will, there’s a way. And she definitely has the will.
About eight years ago, when British acid jazz band Incognito performed in Bandung, the then 21-year-old Dira stood in the front row, dancing and singing along with the band. As a huge fan of Incognito, she didn’t have any problems singing their songs. When one of the band members gave her the microphone to sing along at that concert, her fantastic vocals caught band member Jean-Paul “Bluey” Maunick’s attention.
Incognito leader Bluey told Asha Brodie from JazzReview.com, “Dira turned up at one of our shows in Indonesia. In her early teens, she told me of her dream to one-day sing with Incognito. When I listened to her demo, I realized that this kid was serious. So I told her to get her studies (University of Pelita Harapan,Major in music)) finished and work on her vocals and establish herself in her local music market as a performer.” “I knew all of their songs so I sang along with the show,” she recalls. “Then I was asked to sing on stage with the band. I sang ‘Still A Friend Of Mine’ and after that they asked me to go backstage after the show.” The next year, Dira was asked to sing with the band on their Indonesian tour of Bandung, Surabaya, Jakarta and Medan. Dira kept in touch with the band and when the band visited again in 2005, for Java Jazz Festival, they invited Dira to sing with them in Bali, Singapore and just recently for the Incognito Indonesia Tour, this 2011.
Since then, Dira has performed live with other acts, including the Yellow Jackets, Incognito, diane Warren, Keith Martin, and made huge headlines when she performed together with Jason Mraz on the same stage in a beautiful duet at Java Jazz Festival 2009. Her amazing performances through Dji Sam Soe Urban Jazz Crossover tour stunned the audiences of five cities. Her high range and powerful vocals make an enormous impact on all her listeners. It was once again proven, Internationally, through her recent duet with the legendary Andrea Bocelli, in Jakarta.
Although relatively new to the music scene, Dira dreams of going international, and points out that if Indonesian artists want to sell themselves to the world, they have to bring something special and “never compare (themselves) to Christina Aguilera or Beyonce”. She says, “Who doesn’t want to be like them? But just be realistic and don’t offer something that the world already has.” Her recently released debut album, “Something About The Girl”, contains 12 songs. ‘Stylish’ and refreshing blends of R&B mixed with acid jazz, soulful house and bossa flavors, part of which were also recorded in Jakarta. The songs are sung in English, with two in Indonesian, including “Kami Cinta Indonesia” (We Love Indonesia), written by the late Harry Roesli. Bluey brought Incognito collaborators Matt Cooper, Richard Bull, Simon Cotsworth and Ski Oakenful into the project, along with Dira’s favorite male vocalist, Omar from the UK, to do a duet with her.
Although aware of the possibilities if she pursues her music career overseas, Dira, who won the Indonesian “Young Jazz Talent Award” at the 2009 Java Jazz Festival, says she would prefer, “to still be in Indonesia but known to the world”. “I have to be open to any possibilities and it might be a lot easier for me to move to England to become a British singer, the way Anggun C. Sasmi became a singer in France. But I’m not saying that Mbak Anggun didn’t have to go through a lot of challenges before she succeeded,” she hastens to add. Taking up the challenge as always, Dira is optimistic that her debut album will make its way to the international stage.
“People who work with me have told me that although a lot of people will see me as a little Asian girl who knows nothing, I have to prove myself as a woman who has her own opinion and knows what I want.”
INDONESIA DISTRIBUTION LABEL : AQUARIUS MUSIC
UK LABEL : EXPANSION RECORDS
“ Her recently released debut album, “Something About The Girl”, contains 12 songs. ‘Stylish’ and refreshing blends of R&B mixed with acid jazz, soulful house and bossa flavors, part of which were also recorded in Jakarta. The songs are sung in English, with two in Indonesian, including “Kami Cinta Indonesia” (We Love Indonesia), written by the late Harry Roesli.
Bluey brought Incognito collaborators Matt Cooper, Richard Bull, Simon Cotsworth and Ski Oakenful into the project, along with Dira’s favorite male vocalist, Omar from the UK, to do a duet with her.”
Jl. Anggur Barat 1 no. 2