Aluna Sagita Gutawa was destined to be a singer. It was a pretty natural fit for someone whose name means ‘strain of a song,’ and whose father is the well-known composer Erwin Gutawa.
Better known to fans as Gita Gutawa, she has won a number of domestic and international awards, and has released a handful of singles and albums. She’s also found time to appear in films and on TV. Not bad for someone who just turned 18 this month.
Today, Gita talks about fame, school and balancing the two.
What is singing to you?
Singing has always been a ‘career’ for me. I grew up as the daughter of a well-known composer, so I’ve been surrounded by music from the moment I was born. My first step into the industry was through a collaboration with ADA Band in 2004, and I released my first album in 2007.
But the truth is, I have always treated singing as a hobby — but one that I still take professionally. I’ll always make education my first priority, so I can say that I am just a student who sings professionally.
Do you write songs?
I have written some of my songs. I get inspiration from my own experiences or from stories from my friends. Inspiration usually happens at night, before I go to bed, and I write the lyrics down and find the melodies using my piano or guitar.
But I’m still learning. You know, there are some songs that are still unfinished because I’m not confident enough to complete them and let other people hear them.
You’re quite well known internationally and have performed often overseas. What’s that experience like?
I am grateful to have had the chance to perform in countries outside of Indonesia. I really enjoy the discipline and time management of concert organizers abroad compared with what we have here.
In countries like Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, Egypt and Italy — the countries I’ve performed in — there’s a very strict timetable and everything has to be done on time.
If the schedule says the singer only has 15 minutes to rehearse on stage, then 15 minutes is all she has. This, of course, differs from Indonesia where ‘ngaret’ [being late] is an infamous tradition.
What do your fans, Gita Lovers, mean to you?
Undoubtedly, my fans have given me remarkable support throughout my career. They are the ones who buy my records, listen to my music, come to my shows and vote for me on award shows. However, knowing that they care so much for me, I realize that I cannot mess up.
My fans sometimes do complain if they feel like there’s something that I need to change. It often makes me feel like I cannot really be myself. But I know they care for me and they are only demanding a better version of me.
Is there anything about the Indonesian music industry you wish you could change?
Two things: The quality and the piracy issue. I do think that Indonesia’s music industry today is too overloaded. Although it’s beautiful to see the diversity we have in the industry, I think there are too many bands, including boy bands. It’s probably because of technology, where you can record songs almost anywhere and release them through different kinds of media, such as YouTube.
Nevertheless, these bands need to think more about the quality and stop relying too much on Auto-Tune so the music industry can continue to move forward.
Moreover, piracy is still a big issue that musicians and record labels have to fight against.
Do you see yourself following your current career path or trying something different?
I think I will need to continue growing and developing as an individual. And yes, I want to find other things outside music, that’s why I am planning to get a degree in economics. Honestly, I’m still not so sure of where I’m heading with this degree, but I might just be the next minister of economics or an ambassador to the UN [smiles].
You just graduated from high school. Where do you want to continue your studies?
I’m hoping to continue my studies abroad. I’ve applied to a few universities in Singapore and Australia, but my dream university is one in the UK.
I’ve chosen economics as my degree. A lot of people ask me, why not music? I just want to learn something new and I think economics is essential. I also find it interesting how economics is one of the indicators of a country’s success. So yeah, I am hoping that I can bring about changes for the country. As for music, I’ll keep it as my hobby.
So you’re going abroad soon. What do you think you will miss the most about Jakarta?
I’ll definitely miss my family and friends. Oh, and the food we have here [laughs]. Jakarta will always be my home.
It seems like you’re living the dream life. Is there anything you’re still after at the moment?
I’m currently focused on my studies. I want to get into a good university and earn a good degree. I’m striving to make my family and myself proud.
Aluna Sagita Gutawa was talking to Angie Theresia.