Ika: Surabaya's Singing Sweetheart
"Did it hurt?" she asked as we sat down to engage in conversation. She pointed to my right ear. I sport an earring in the cartilage which she continued to curiously look at.
"Oh ya, it hurt loads, in fact it took a year for the piercing to properly heal," I answered, grinning. She cringed.
"But you know, kata orang, the least painful body piercing is of the tongue," I continued to taunt playfully. She contorted her nose and winced in disbelief as I chuckled at her grimaced expression.
Whether she believed my statement on the whole tongue piercing issue or not, Ika Putri Widyaningtyas certainly had no need for additional piercing of any sort. No where near the concept of Goth fashion only punk rockers embrace, the sassy Surabaya singer was contrarily the picture of pop sophistication and elegance in her glittery red gown and minimal makeup. After you've heard her sing, you can't help but think of her as a mini Kris Dayanti.
"I don't always dress like this you know, it's just for this TNI anniversary event; the organizers wanted me to appear elegant since it is after all a formal event," Ika said as she straightened up in her tight and sexy attire to ease herself into a comfortable position on the cushy sofa.
Indeed, her take on the stage that Monday night at the Kuala Lumpur's Renaissance Hotel was stunning and breathtaking. With vocals so sultry and polished, she entertained guests the entire night with her own renditions of cover songs such as a duet with Kenny Jo to sing Nat King Cole's Unforgettable and Ruth Sahayana's Keliru, to name but a few.
Meanwhile, a pleasant-looking man named Bambang Harjo approached us to hand me a copy of Ika's latest CD and a profile sheet. I later learned that not only was he Ika's producer, but also her devoted father.
"I have to be honest, I have not heard of you before. Tell me a little bit about you, and what type of music that I can expect to hear from your album," I inquired while examining the cheery portrait that adorned the sweet singer's CD sleeve.
Ika started off: "Ok, I was born in Surabaya on March 15th, 18 years ago. I started out singing at festivals and singing competitions. My music falls into the pop and R&B genre..."
"You're 18?" It was my now turn to be in disbelief.
"Iya donk, don't be fooled by this formal charade I have on. I'm only 18, just graduated from SMA (high school) in fact," Ika said, smiling sweetly.
Apparently I still had that in-denial look on my face because she had started to take out her purse to fish out her KTP for my inspection.
"No, no, ga usah Ika, I believe your age, it's just that you look extremely matured and beyond your real age tonight," I said.
"Iya sih, umur saya 18. Ngomong-ngomong soal album, this is my second one which we decided to call Terlahir, sort of a 'Ika reborn' and fresh concept. Alhamdulilah 75,000 copies of this new album have been sold, which is an indication to me that people have accepted my music," she explained.
And what's not to like about Ika's music; it is infectious, youthful and melodious. Her first song and single from her latest album, Kehadiranmu, is a playful number, and Cemburu is a vibrant song written by Jeffry Thung which I liked very much, a disco number with hints of vocoder effects tastefully applied to the chorus.
And for the romantic at heart, a few ballads await you from Ika; Terlahir and Aku T'lah Jatuh Cinta are but two from a total of 10 songs on the Terlahir album. But quite honestly, I much prefer to hear her fast beat numbers than her slower ones.
The success of Ika's album may also be attributed to the many well-known and talented musicians behind it, from the likes of Riza Arshad, Erwin "ex-Dewa bassist" Prasetya, Anda Bunga, rocker Dewiq, and Pongky Prasetyo. Reputation and quality are everything.
Ika's resume also states that two of her songs have been used in Indonesian "sinetrons", TV soap shows back home. If she is not raking in at least 80% of her popularity and success through that endeavor, I really don't know how else she is. Television is an especially influential media in Indonesia.
"So now that you're done with high school, what are your plans with regards to college?" I asked.
"Well, I am considering taking up Communications as my major as I am interested in Public Relations. As to where I'd like to go study, I haven't decided.
"I like Malaysia, I'd like to come visit for a longer period of time, God knows four days isn't enough. Who knows, I might consider studying here, asik ya?" says this Reza and Alicia Keys fan with a wink.
Well I am sure the college-bound boys here in Malaysia wouldn't mind that!
So what does the young lass do when she's not singing?
"Oh, I enjoy reading and some sports activities. I'm dabbling in Taekwondo as well," she says.
"Oh ya? Keren! Perhaps we could go sparring together sometime, I used to do a bit of the martial arts myself," I started off with a sly smile. She exclaimed, ever more so when I told her my belt ranking.
"Ga mau lah Mbak Farah, takut!" she squealed, half covering her face.
Our meeting had to end abruptly as her father whisked her off for photo sessions with some distinguished guests from the night's party. She excused herself as she went to entertain the requests for photo shoots. We never did have a proper closure to the interview as Kenny Jo was suddenly ushered in to speak with me.
I do have to say that the most memorable and pleasant thing about this vivacious young woman called Ika was her lovable reaction to teasing: implosive and innocent!
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