From international hit “Snow on the Sahara” to representing France in Eurovision to being an acclaimed judge on Asia’s Got Talent, Anggun is still the best known Asian singer around the world
Jakarta-born Anggun is best known for her signature hit “Snow on the Sahara”, which gained her international acclaim
In 1994, Anggun Cipta Sasmi, affectionately known as Anggun, bravely sold her record company, packed her bags and left her home in Indonesia to pursue international stardom.
Only about three years later, the Jakarta-born crooner struck gold with her first international album, “Snow on the Sahara”, which became the best-selling album by an Asian artist outside of Asia. The title track also hit the top spot in several charts around the world, and has become her signature hit.
Since then, she has released five studio albums in English and French. She is so well-versed in the language of romance in song that she was picked to represent France in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2012.
This year, Anggun was chosen to join the judging panel of Asia’s Got Talent, together with other musical stars David Foster, Melanie C and Vanness Wu.
Fortunately for us, Anggun will once again perform, at the 20th Asian Television Awards (ATA) to be held at Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre on Dec 3.
She may have made it look easy, with her abundant talent, but Anggun had faced a host of obstacles on her climb to the top.
The international sensation shares with me her story, her guilty pleasures and her thoughts on being involved in the ATA.
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WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN WORKING ON RECENTLY?
My (new) French album is going to be released on Nov 20, and I recently flew to Havana in Cuba to shoot the music video for the album.
WHAT’S YOUR MOTIVATION FOR EXPERIMENTING WITH SO MANY GENRES?
To me, music can be dressed in different clothing, which the media refers to as “genres”, and I like to change its ‘outfits’ sometimes.
But that is not as important as the music itself: What really matters is the melody, the story and whether or not it touches people.
I like to create beautiful music; that is my main concern.
HOW DO YOU FEEL WHEN YOU’RE PERFORMING?
Real and authentic.
WHICH ARTISTES WOULD YOU LOVE TO WORK WITH?
There are so many. My dream would be to work with Trent Reznor, the mastermind of rock band Nine Inch Nails. He is a genius.
I’m also big fan of David Bowie, Sia and Adele. Those people are so talented.
WHAT’S IN YOUR PLAYLIST CURRENTLY?
Lianne La Havas’ “Good Goodbye”. Her voice mesmerises me.
When Anggun first left Indonesia for London, she experienced numerous rejections and began to question her place in the music industry.
WHICH WAS YOUR TOUGHEST PERIOD AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME IT?
I have to say it was when I first left Indonesia for London. I was so far away from anything that I knew; even the heat of the sun felt wrong.
I experienced rejection over rejection, and I had to question everything that I knew about the industry, about life and even about myself. But those times helped shape who I am today.
I had always believed in myself and I saw failure as a process of success. With that in mind, I tried to see [my problems] from different angles, which then gave me a solution. I knew that I could change my destiny, and I did.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO PEOPLE WHO ARE FIGHTING TO PURSUE THEIR DREAMS?
If at first you don’t succeed, dust yourself off and try again.
IF YOU HAD A TIME MACHINE, WHEN WOULD YOU TRAVEL TO AND WHY?
I’d love to go and see the ‘20s, or “La Belle Epoque” era as the French people elegantly named it, where everything seemed so elegant, hopeful, artsy and beautiful.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE GUILTY PLEASURES?
Shoes, chocolate and afternoon naps.
WHAT’S THE MOST TOUCHING ENCOUNTER WITH A FAN YOU’VE HAD?
After the Tsunami hit Aceh, Indonesia, in 2004, I flew down and I learned about mangroves and their benefits for fishermen, fishes and as natural barriers for such waves. So I participated in planting mangroves around the coastal areas in Sumatra.
Years later, I learned that a lot of my Indonesian fans had organised trips for mangrove-planting there almost every year. This is the most touching and emotional feeling ever, and I love them for that.
WHAT CAN YOUR FANS LOOK FORWARD TO?
My French album is coming out on Nov 20 and my English album around summer 2016. And many more projects — some of them are super exciting but they are still confidential!
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON HOW THE ATA HAS GROWN?
Asia is definitely a region of creativity when it comes to television concepts and production… This year’s Awards will be a world premiere and now I’ve heard that other regions in the world are looking to do the same.
By Pamela Chow for Weekender Singapore
The Asian Television Awards will be broadcast live on Dec 3, 6.30pm on Toggle and 9.30pm on MediaCorp Ch 5.