Yovie Widianto: Musician on a Mission

Yovie Widianto has reached the highest pinnacle that any musician could dream of. Known best as the musical genius behind the evergreen bands Kahitna and Yovie & Nuno, as well as numerous other musical projects such as Yovie Tulus Glenn and Arsy Widianto & Brisia Jodie, the composer and producer has made his mark as a household name in Indonesia’s pop music scene.

Interview by Vega Probo

He admits that he is sometimes still amazed by the fact that the popularity of Kahitna, the band he founded with eight other musicians 34 years ago, has transcended generations, from their classic 1990s anthems like ‘Andai Dia Tahu’ and ‘Cerita Cinta’ to their2000s hits like ‘Mantan Terindah’ and ‘Rahasia Cintaku’.


“It feels magical, like an anomaly. It’s a blessing that God has given me. I don’t think it reflects my capability as much as it reflects how much people love my work. I also feel lucky to have the best bandmates,” Yovie says.

Amid his music-related activities, Yovie still manages to contribute his time and thoughts to a strategic campaign consultancy firm and a research centre focusing on Indonesian culture called Pusat Studi Indonesia Cerdas (Smart Indonesia Research Centre). He spends around 75 per cent of his time on his creative work, and the remaining 25 per cent on consulting and cultural research. For the past 10 years, Yovie has travelled to remote areas across Indonesia, and visited more than 550 cultural centres in the country.


“I do this not for profit, but to make my contribution to the development of this country. I’d like to see and understand the cultural centres not only for their beauty, but also for the local wisdom they hold. This understanding is critical in the grand design of cultural and tourism development so that it won’t just be limited to industrialisation. The concept of development has to put forward the local wisdom and true colours of Indonesia. That is what we have focused on at the Pusat Studi Indonesia Cerdas,” explains Yovie, who graduated from Bandung’s Universitas Padjadjaran with a bachelor’s
degree in International Relations.

“Through this endeavour, I want to show my love for Indonesia and inspire the creative industry to not only focus on the creative processes, but also to pay attention to the economic growth side of creative projects. To focus also on the people and the environment,” he asserts.


Through his music and his commitment to championing Indonesian culture, Yovie frequently travels all over the archipelago and the world. “I have seen a lot of the country – from Aceh to Papua. As a result, I have collected so many GarudaMiles,” he grins.

As a Garuda Indonesia frequent flyer, Yovie also has plenty of happy memories with the airline. “I am proud of Garuda Indonesia. Let me tell you something that most people don’t know: I actually wrote the phenomenal ‘Untukku’ song that
goes, ‘Walau ke ujung dunia, pasti akan ku nanti’, on a Garuda flight bound for the United States,” Yovie reminisces. “I was on my way to meet someone, and looking down on the islands as we passed by inspired me to write the song.”