Face to Face with Baskara “Hindia” Putra, singer & songwriter
Our Face to Face to Face series takes you back to Indonesia! For this second time in the Equatorial Emerald, we are meeting with celebrated Indonesian rock singer and songwriter Hindia
After a first episode with pop sensation Yura Yunita, we could not just leave Indonesia and its incredible music scene like that. This is why we met up with another incredible local talent: Baskara Putra, more famous under his artists name Hindia. Baskara first appeared on the radar of all local rock and pop fans as the lead singer of alt-rock band .Feast, whose debut single - released in 2014 - and debut album - released in 2017 - were acclaimed by audiences and critics alike.
In 2018, Baskara began his solo career under the name Hindia, participating with the song No One Will Find Me on a compilation by the label Double Deer Records and co-composing the maxi Tidak Ada Salju Di Sini with his fellow members of the Sun Eater label. After several singles – such as Evaluasi, Secukupnya and Membasuh – and shows in early 2019, Hindia published his first album Menari dengan Bayangan in November of the same year. The critical and commercial success of the album earned him several nominations, including "Best Alternative Solo Artist" at the AMI Awards in 2020. The musicians who toured with him and played on the first record later became his second band: Lomba Sihir.
In the midst of promoting his new double-album Lagipula Hidup Akan Berakhir, Hindia took some time out from his busy schedule to have a chat with Fajar Putra Jaya, Head of Believe Artist Services Indonesia, to discuss not only his new release, but his relation to fans, his creative process and how he works with Believe.
Note: The video above is shortened version of the full interview, which is transcribed below.
Fajar Putra Jaya: Baskara, thank you for being our guest on Believe Face to Face. This is a Believe program of which this is the second episode from Indonesia. So, thank you very much for coming.
Hindia: Thank you, you're welcome.
Fajar Putra Jaya: As these Face to Face videos reach audiences outside of Indonesia, perhaps you could introduce yourself, as Baskara or maybe Hindia.
Hindia: Hello, I'm Baskara Putra, otherwise known as Hindia.. I'm a performer, producer and songwriter on three music projects: .Feast, Lomba Sihir and Hindia. And I'm here talking to Mas Fajar on Believe Face to Face as Hindia.
Fajar Putra Jaya: Hindia was one of the first artists to join Believe Artist Services in Indonesia. At first you started off as a recording artist on the Sun Eater label. Then Hindia became a client of Believe distribution. And then you decided to join Believe Artist Services. Can you tell us more?
Hindia: In 2018 I was still working at another label. Around that time streaming was available but there wasn't much info on how it worked. We were all clueless regarding what to do with the metadata. There were other services, but there was always a feeling of unease, as there were no representatives in Indonesia.
Not that it felt unsafe, but you'd worry that if anything went wrong, you wouldn't be able to reach out to anyone. Because I had that experience on the first .Feast album. We had a problem with the metadata. When I conferred with my team, they said, "We've contacted their team...but we don't know when they'll reply!" And in that moment, tou're just one of many other users.
I forget who, but someone said, "You should distribute with Believe. They do good work." We talked with the team in 2018 ahead of .Feast's second album. So everything from the first single went through there. We worked together for a while, and then after releasing the first Hindia single, there was talk about Artist Services.
But at the time it either hadn't launched or didn't have its team in place. Around the second or third single, about a month and a half later, you got in touch again, although we were always in touch - to talk about distribution and so on. “Seriously, we want to offer this if you're interested." When I asked what the difference would be, Ririe (Pananingtyas Prabantari, Head of Marketing at Believe Artist Services Indonesia) explained to me what I ended up explaining to others. Because a lot of people would ask what I got from Artist Services.
I told them it's like having an extra team handling A to Z. Especially digital matters. So, they handle your distribution, marketing, online presence, etc. They take care of how your music is distributed. They even help your production by providing funding and more. That's what I tell people, because if I say Believe is a record label, that's not accurate. They're not executive producers, either.It's hard to explain because it's an entirely new concept.
And as we know, everything has changed because of streaming. You need to have a new working model, new workflow, new business flow. So I always try to explain to people what you get from Artist Services. You get a team and funding. It's as simple as that. I can't explain any further because I don't know the exact term. I don't have the exact name to explain what Artist Services is. Actually, I think that name is the correct terminology. Which is why the name isn't Believe Label or whatever, I think. But that's how I always try to explain it. That's the easiest way.
Fajar Putra Jaya: You did the right thing, Bas! Going back to Menari dengan Bayangan, the first Hindia album… I personally thing it's a hugely successful album. The data says it's reached 636 million streams on Spotify.
Hindia: I didn't know that! Those people have nothing better to do!
Fajar Putra Jaya: And three songs from it have more than 100 million streams each.
Hindia: I know that because you can see it on my profile page. But sometimes I'm reluctant to access the back end.
Fajar Putra Jaya: It's an amazing achievement for that album in just over three years. And by the way, congratulations on releasing your second album, Lagipula Hidup akan Berakhir. This album is also unique and very interesting, because it has 28 tracks.
Hindia: Thank you very much! I bet you had a headache when you first heard of it!
Fajar Putra Jaya: When Ririe told me, I thought "That's crazy!”. Why did you decide that? Although right now, there’s no problem if you fully release it.
Hindia: Regarding the track amount, ever since I decided to make a second album, I knew there would be a lot of tracks. Because of its narrative's nature, it would be hard to keep it short. I needed a lot of room to cover it all.
At first it was 14 full tracks, without the intro, outro and skits. Then it was 16 full tracks, then 18, then 20. It went back down to 16, then up again to 19, 20, 21. It stayed at 22 for a while. It also stayed at 24 for a while. And it stayed at 27 for the longest time.
Then at the last minute, it became 28, because of a song written by Mas Aryo of Twentyfirst Night. He wrote that song and it blew me away. I asked him what it was about. After he explained, I said "It fits the album's context!". Instead of not knowing when to release it, I decided to put it in. In my head I had the perfect spot for the song on the album. And it would be contextual with all the other tracks. So that's why it became 28.
I just like seeing musicians mark creative eras with albums. And those are very clear markers. You can really tell the difference between albums, not just from the musical direction, but also the visuals and other aspects. I look at writing albums like writing novels. It has to be cohesive. There's a story to it. A song or single is like a short story. An album is like reading from Chapter 1 until the end. That's why I want to make albums. As it turned out, this novel is a bit thicker than usual.
But we did think about it. Discussing it with Pananingtyas, we thought of a year-long gap, in between Parts I and II. But that didn't feel right. This was designed to be a continuous story that picked up again on Track 15. The longest gap I was willing to give was those 14 days, so that listeners could digest the first 14 tracks, and then continue a couple of weeks later.
Fajar Putra Jaya: That’s Interesting! I think this choice is the artist's prerogative. At Believe Artist Services we totally respect the artist's creativity, and we will support them through strategic marketing and promotion.
Interestingly, both of your albums - feel free to confirm or deny - were inspired by personal experiences and your environment. Amazingly, it turns out a lot of listeners relate to your songs. They represent how today's youth feel. This is proven by the sustained growth of the Menari dengan Bayangan album. Hopefully this second album will have similar results or even better. What do you think of this phenomenon?
Hindia: Maybe people are just stressed out!
I'm not sure. Because these are very personal stories. The first album was very personal, the second album is likewise. It mentions specific people with specific names and addresses. It's clear who they are. I didn't write universal love songs. These stories are specifically about me. It's like setting music to my personal diary.
To this day, I'm still perplexed by what people look for in my songs. Let's take "Rumah ke Rumah", for example. They don't know what the people mentioned in the song look like! And it was never even released as a single. It suddenly just took off on its own.
But what I've concluded from these past few years, from seeing the reactions towards Hindia songs, it's as simple as they've found their stories within my stories. In the end, perhaps the feelings are universal and the same.
They might not have an ex called A, or a mother named B, they might not have argued with their friend at a place called C. But they must have had an ex, a mother and an argument with a friend. I don't know.
In art, there's no such thing as wrong or right. And I enjoy listening to songs with more general lyrics. But perhaps with so many other songs that provide a blank canvas for you to imagine the story, it might actually be easier to imagine your own story when you're given the details. When I write about heartbreak, it's not like, "I'm sad." It's more specific, like, "You left your hair tie in my car." It's more visceral. It’s a stimulus that doesn't have to directly illustrate it.
And it turns out these very specific incidents are also felt by at least 100,000 people across Indonesia. Once it hits you, it hits more than being told "I'm sad. You're sad too, right?". Maybe. I'm not quite sure.But I assume that's the case. I have no other explanation.
Fajar Putra jaya: There's no certain formula when it comes to Hindia. These are just your stories, which are sincere and unvarnished.
Hindia: That's it. It's just so inexplicable! When Ririe first told me that "Rumah ke Rumah" was taking off, I was thinking "These people are crazy!"
Fajar Putra Jaya: "Rumah ke Rumah" is one of the tracks with over 100 million streams. It's in the Top 3
Hindia: It was never planned to be a single. Not quite filler, more like a B-side or a deep cut on the album. Rayhan Noor and I wrote it to be a deep cut on the album. That's why it's in that spot.
Fajar Putra Jaya: Circling back to Menari dengan Bayangan, if you recall, the track "Evaluasi" was already three years old by the end of 2022. Then it suddenly surged. Its listeners grew, and organically at that! And it got onto DSP charts. What do you think triggered it?
Hindia: I made a deal with the undead! But really, I don't know! We tried to investigate.
Fajar Putra Jaya: You and your team?
Hindia: Everyone. Ririe and Muhamad “Robby” Robbyansyah at Believe were also like, "What happened?", "What's with the sudden spike?". We narrowed it down to one probable cause.
We had started performing live again. "Evaluasi" ended up being used in many Reels and Shorts on social media. A lot of people felt the lyrics related to how they struggled during the pandemic.They were living from day to day. There was one part of the song's audio that they often used, and the videos would usually be of them in their room or at home, because we couldn't go anywhere at the time. When we could finally play live again, there was a user on TikTok who started their video with the same part as everyone else during the pandemic, in their room on their laptop.Then they transitioned by zooming in on the screen or shutting the screen, and after shutting the screen, the next scene was of them attending my show. So the song segued into the live version. Quite creative!
In a way, it was like, "I survived and I finally made it!", "I can go out and work, and I can hear the song performed live!". Since then, many other users did the same thing with the format. But the thing was, in order to use that format, you had to see me perform live. Because you needed to have a video of Hindia onstage in the background. And it snowballed from there. I saw the numbers rising like crazy. When I saw the videos, the formats were all the same but at different shows.
I think that's what started it. I think. I don't know! We'll never know. Or maybe I used the undead!
Fajar Putra Jaya: What's outstanding is that your content has been well-received by the market. Although it's been three years, it's still going strong. It's also organic.
Hindia: The ****thing is, it’s an old song! That's what made it so strange! Suddenly Believe tells me, "It's on the charts!" "What position?" "Number two!". Two? The other day I forgot the lyrics at a show because it was released so long ago!
Fajar Putra Jaya: The interesting thing was we could use that momentum to promote the song again. Eventually you pushed it again. Believe Artist Services pitched it again to digital streaming platforms.
It's worth noting that we have a tool called Believe Smart Discovery or BSD. It's a unique service that we started in 2020. It's an expertly-built technology sourced from two platforms, that can run algorithms on Spotify. We partnered early on with Spotify because we could see the potential, and this was proven by what happened with your song "Evaluasi". An organic trend was detected by this service, and boom! Streams multiplied by the hundreds, if not thousands.
Hindia: And the funny thing is, it didn't matter that it was an old song. From DSPs and Believe's viewpoint, if it blows up then it blows up.
Fajar Putra Jaya: Very true! Now, let's talk about your fan base. At Believe, we realize that Hindia has an active and responsive fan base. We'd like to know how you maintain communication and loyalty.
Hindia: I give them free rein. They can do whatever they like, because it's their right. As it happens, we've come together because we like the same album(s). But sometimes I tell them they'd better do something useful for others. I encourage them to have their own programs, activities and routines. Some of them are ongoing. But there's never been any managing of them into a huge fan base. I want everything to be organic.
Because at the core of it, it's all just word-of-mouth between friends. It may have started off that way, but at the end of the day eventually, they're the first people we contact for activation and activities. For example, if I need ushers or whatnot. "I'm making a music video, can you manage the extras?
Fajar Putra Jaya: And. They're responsive and willing to do so?
Hindia: They're willing, yes. At the end of the day, they're like my co-workers, to some extent. They're part of the team on the second tier. I prefer it that way. If you love the brand, if you love the musician so much, then I'll ask you to work with me. It's better than just watching me or listening to me. You can be part of building something you already love in the first place and be useful to others. It's better to be part of the team and work, and it's already happened a lot.
Fajar Putra Raya: Right, it's also important to note that digital platforms have a huge influence, especially during the pandemic. I also see that you've launched a website for this new album, in collaboration with our team. This is interesting, and it's been fortified by on-ground activation. What are your thoughts?
Hindia: I think it's cool.
There was a period when we got bored of websites. There was an internet boom in which everyone launched websites. All products and brands had websites. There was an app boom in which everyone launched apps. But then we started getting all our information from social media, and eventually I felt there was too much clutter on social media. Sometimes you can miss out on information that reaches everyone else. Due to its nature, algorithms are designed to keep rapidly rolling out info. Unless it's something that many people like, it won't resurface to the top.
That's the first reason. The second one is I feel that everything is so sensitive nowadays. You can easily end up saying the wrong thing on Twitter and social media. Especially Twitter, since it’s one of the fastest sources of information. Those two reasons are what made me think “I want to say a lot of things, but I can't do it on social media." I needed my own space where I could just vent and say anything. For example, providing context for a song. Or just any shit-posting I feel like doing, I can do it on my own website.
Fajar Putra Jaya: It's become the right solution as an easy and official medium, instead of having to deal with responses that limit you.
Hindia: I totally feel that. I can control the tempo and flow of information, on my own website. What I want to say, and when I say it. And it's just my opinion. It doesn't mean my opinion is right or wrong. But you know how opinions are. If I don't want to see your comments, I can just turn off the comments section.
Fajar Putra Jaya: And it's also a place for fans to discover more in an official and accurate way. It really brings you closer to your fans. Now, besides Hindia, you also have the .Feast and Lomba Sihir projects; which are also signed with Believe Artist Services. I would like to know, and probably a lot of people as well, how do you differentiate your position in each of the three?
Hindia: In the spectrum of writing, singing and producing, all three are naturally different. I think I feel the most freedom in Hindia. It's my own project and I can do whatever I want.
.Feast is a bunch of guys getting together to complain. That's how the band actually is. The guys are mouthy and loud, and that's reflected in the music. It's mouthy music, loud music.
Lomba Sihir is interesting. Obviously when we write a song, it has a topic. It could be something deep or something superficial. But there's an unwritten agreement in Lomba Sihir that while music obviously is art, first and foremost it's a form of entertainment. So whatever we do, it has to be fun when we bring it onstage.
I feel that I need the spectrum of all three. I need to be angry, I need to be overly sad to the point of sulking, and I need to laugh too much, to expend the excess of those three emotions, so that I can be a normal person in my everyday life. When Lomba Sihir first emerged, someone asked me: "So which one is the real you?”. I replied, "The real me in everyday life is all three."
It's like if you have a hilarious friend, but the more you know them, you can tell your other friends,"He actually gets sad on his own." But knowing that he gets sad doesn't change the fact that he's also comedic at the same time. There are many parts of the spectrum. Humans are layered creatures. So, all three are me. Just on different days and a different spectrum of emotions.
Fajar Putra Jaya: Cool. I hope that all three projects can keep on going, because you need them, like you said…and Believe Artist Services will keep assisting you as an artist anyway! Next, let’s talk about you second album that you’ve just released. Can we agree to say this is your magnum opus?
Hindia: Extraordinary, isn't it? That's my very pretentious way of describing my own work.
Fajar Putra Jaya: What activation are you going to have to further promote the album?
Hindia: If God and the universe are willing, I want to make videos for all 28 tracks.
Fajar Putra Jaya: Since hearing the first track, "Malaikat Berputar di Atas Pencakar Langit", I was already like, "This is insane!". In a visual sense. I could imagine the visuals even when the tracks were still instrumentals.
Hindia: I had friends from the film world saying: "When you make this into a video, I want to star in it." “I want to direct it.” I told them, "I haven't even written the lyrics yet!" "What are we even going to do?". But that's how it was. It wasn't just me. My team also felt like, "This is a very audiovisual album."
One of my many wishes is to make music videos for all 28 tracks. Me and my team have a pact among ourselves: "When these 28 videos are done, we'll make alternate versions of the tracks!". We'll just keep creating. But the format doesn't have to always be music videos, right?
The hardest part is determining what to do first, because, we don't want to have grand ideas but not see them through. A good idea is actually an idea that you make happen.
Fajar Putra Jaya: I fully agree.
Hindia: So we're figuring out the puzzle. "This comes first, this is second. After that, what's next?". So everything can move gradually and the album has a long life.
Fajar Putra Jaya: Interesting. The bottom line is the Believe Artist Services team will keep supporting you...
Hindia: And will keep getting headaches, too!
Fajar Putra Jaya: No worries, because we're also really enthusiastic about this project! So we have to do it. Well, thank you for your time Bas!
Hindia: Thank you very much, Mas!