Just a day after the finals of “Asia’s Got Talent” (AGT), Asian superstar Anggun flew to Manila from Singapore.
It was but natural that the first question that came to mind was her experience on AGT for the second time, and if she missed the first season’s judges Melanie C of Spice Girls and Vanness Wu, who was replaced by K-Pop star Jay Park.
“It was a wonderful experience and I love the fact that Riana (Indonesia) won. I do miss Mel and Vanness but I also love being with Jay and David (Foster),” said the Indonesian-born singer.
But it wasn’t her stint on AGT that brought her to Manila. After 16 years, the Indonesian and French-naturalized icon returned for the Philippine leg of her promotional tour for her latest album “8,” which saw her in two special shows at Uptown Bonifacio Mall Atrium and Eastwood Mall Open Park. She guested on the TV show “ASAP” as well and made the rounds of Metro Manila radio stations.
Anggun’s new album contains 10 tracks with the carrier single, “What We Remember.” She describes the addictive pop-electro single this way: “We live only once and because life is ephemeral, the only thing that we have is only what we can remember. So, making positive memories which impact your life and or others is important.”
Besides being an AGT judge, Anggun may be best remembered for her ‘90s international hit singles “Snow on the Sahara,” “Chrysalis” and “Rose in the Wind,” which put Asia on the world music map. She also penned the main theme song of the movie “The Transporter II,” becoming the first Asian-born artist to have performed the main theme song of a number one US box-office film.
In 2014, she received a legendary World Music Award in Monaco as World’s Best-Selling Asian artist. In 2017, the Indonesian singer premiered her wax figure at the prestigious Madame Tussauds Museum.
Besides her musical achievements, Anggun is also known as a humanitarian activist, representing the UN Food and Agriculture Organization as a Goodwill Ambassador.
Here is Music Geek’s Q&A with the dusky Asian superstar:
What gives you the greatest joy and the greatest satisfaction?
My greatest joy has to be my daughter. The fact that she says “thank you” makes her very polite. She is smart as well and affectionate, giving me the greatest joy. But then, she is only 10, I hope the teen years is not gonna ruin that. My greatest satisfaction is when I’m on stage playing my music in front of a crowd because they want to be there. It’s gratifying to play for the fans.
What makes you smile and what makes you laugh?
Just the small things. I don’t believe in happily-ever-after. I don’t think that exists because if happily-ever-after does exist, there are only fragments of it. A cup of tea, a good chocolate and my husband – that makes me smile and makes me laugh too.
As your own worst critic, how do you reward yourself after a good performance?
I reward myself with a good sleep. I do eat a lot, I’m a foodie. But with my age, I have to be careful. So, I treat myself with a good pasta and we can get away from work. Things like that. Just staying at home and disturbing my daughter in her nap and she’ll be annoyed by it.
What was one thing you wished you knew when you were younger?
I wished I knew my own strength. You know how people sometimes who are negative, they tend to spread their negativity to your own confidence. They try to discourage you from fulfilling your dreams and achieving it. So actually, I wished I knew that I am stronger than I thought that I shouldn’t have let those words get in to me.
Do you have any recipe for success?
I don’t. There are many recipes but there are also none. I guess you have to do what you feel is right. First of all, I think you have to know what you don’t want to do because we [normally]love plenty of things. No, [you should know]what you don’t like, try on that.
How do you balance your music career and family life?
That is hard because I’m away a lot but we have a policy of our family not being away from each other for more than two weeks. Actually, it’s not hard for my daughter. It’s hard for me.
Could you share some stories on how your music has impacted other people?
A journalist earlier was singing back a song saying he liked this and that song. It was very touching. Then he sang it back to me and this is the first time it happened for this album. I have that many times but every single time, I don’t take that for granted. I am just savoring the moment. It’s crazy when the song you wrote in your kitchen can touch someone’s heart that is away 15,000 kilometers from your kitchen.
Is there any particular song or lyrics in the album that stick in your mind?
At the moment, there is this song called “Alive” and I said “Don’t protect yourself from love” because it comes from a Bukowsky line which he said, “find something that you love and let it kill you.” I love that! So the one I wrote in “Alive” says “Don’t protect yourself from love because it’s the only thing worth dying for. And when it haunts you, it makes you feel alive.”
How would you describe the genre of your album?
You know there are so many names and labels which the album belongs to. To me there are only two different genres and types of music – the good one and the bad one. I hope this belongs to the good music selection.
How would you then differentiate between good and bad music?
The difference is when it already hits you here (pointing to her heart). For me, it’s not about the production but the melody and lyrics. That’s the core. It all comes down to that when you stripped a song, when you do an acoustic version. Sometimes, you get surprised with the quality of the song.
How do you think you have grown as an artist, musician and songwriter?
Hopefully in a good way. I know that if I had things the certain way, I might have been selling more records and be world-famous [by now]. But then, I would like to say what I have now isn’t bad at all and I can’t complain. Because everything I do comes from honesty and hard work.
Any tips for aspiring singers/ songwriters who want to be like you?
Be true to who you are. Work on your craft. Get as much experience as you can. Embrace failures because it is the one going to enrich you as a singer or songwriter. Then get yourself out there.
How would you like to be remembered?
As someone who is trying to stay positive, to be a realist and someone who is not fake.