After 20 years in the music industry, Indonesian singer, songwriter and producer Sandhy Sondoro continues to shine. In March, the 44-year-old won Best Foreign Artist in the popular music category at the BraVo Awards, the first ceremony of the International Professional Music Awards, held at the Kremlin in Moscow. The star-studded event also saw performances from the likes of Rod Stewart, Duran Duran and Seal.

“I appreciate and am proud of all the awards I have received, but particularly internationalawards, because I don’t accept them just for myself but also on behalf of Indonesia,” Sandhy says smiling. The accolade comes less than a year after the artist last impressed Russian music lovers by winning the Grand Prix of the White Nights of St. Petersburg International Music Festival.

Entering a competition overseas is not something new for Jakarta-born Sandhy. He initially moved to Germany to study architecture, made it to the top five of a variety TV talent show in Germany in 2007 and was a winner of the International Contest of Young Singers of Popular Music – New Wave in Latvia in 2009.

The singer-songwriter, who is also a father to five-year-old son Aeshan, views the competitions as his turning point for succeeding in the music business. All the busking in streets, trains and subways, as well as performing in cafés in Germany for more than eight years, finally paid off.

Sandhy is currently living between Jakarta and Berlin, where he is exposed to the influences of two very different music scenes.“Indonesians love slow, melancholic songs; meanwhile Germans are more into up-tempo songs,” he explains. “But to me, it doesn’t matter whether the songs are slow or up-tempo, because I love music and I love what I’m doing.”

He has performed on stages across the globe and collaborated with many renowned Indonesian and international musicians. A memorable moment was when Diane Warren invited him to perform for PBS at the Hollywood Palladium in 2010. He had the opportunity to sing with the likes of Eric Benét, Gloria Estefan and Patti Austin. Other artists on the bill included Cher, Celine Dion and LeAnn Rimes.

“Not long ago, I was singing in streets and subways, and the next thing I was singing with Gloria Estefan,” Sandhy remembers. “I couldn’t believe it. Everything has its time – and I feel we just need to be positive and continue enjoying life.”

Blessed with a unique, bold voice that can move from soul to rock and jazz, Sandhy refuses to be labelled in a specific genre. “I am a society singer,” he explains. “I can sing many songs, including dangdut – Indonesian folk and traditional popular music – as long as they are good,” he says, citing legendary bands like the Beatles and Led Zeppelin among his influences.

Sandhy has released six albums to date and will launch his seventh in September: Beautiful Soul, featuring four Indonesian and six English songs. The first single from the album, ‘Sampai Usai Waktu’, featuring Indonesian singer Monita Tahalea, has been released.

He has composed every song on the upcoming album. “Not every song I compose is based on my personal life – there are also some inspired by my imagination,” he says. “As an artist, I get inspiration from everywhere.”

As with his last album, 2016’s Love Songs, Beautiful Soul will be sold as a CD viaa restaurant chain in Indonesia, a strategy the singer-songwriter has found quite effective. “Love Songs sold approximately 300,000 copies, the highest sales for all my records by far,” he explains. While he admits it’s not easy to go down the CD route in a digital era, he sees digital technology as an advantage for promoting his music and building a network with other musicians as well as music lovers around the world.

His future plans? Simply continuing to make great music and getting his songs heard in as many places as possible. To facilitate this, Sandhy often flies with Garuda Indonesia. “I usually take Garuda Indonesia Business Class when I have a business trip,” he says. “The service is the best, and I really enjoy the in-flight meals.”

From Colours AUGUST 2018