Musical Discoveries: Please tell us the story of your musical background.
Sisca: I was born in Indonesia and grew up there. When I was a little girl, I didn't stay with my parents because they were abroad that time, I lived with my grand parents until I was seven. During those seven years, I had been listening to Mandarin songs, since both of my grandparents were listening to that.
My mom told me that I started to sing those Mandarin songs on my own when I was three, though I didn't remember that clearly. I didn't have much music influence from my family but I did from my friends at school. I moved to Jakarta and went for to third grade here.
I went to national plus school in Tangerang and it was the first time I saw my classmates doing their solo singing in front of the public, and I was excited but I didn't have the confidence to sing at that time. They were all trained musically really well and that moment, I have never been to any music studio or even know what exactly is music.
Well, personally I realized that I love singing when I was around thirteen. It was just out of nowhere one day I just sang and pretending to be a soprano and singing like the way a classical singer did. Around that age, I discovered Sarah Brightman, and totally fell in love to her music. From that moment on, I practiced by myself, tried to listen to how she sings and learned myself by using auditory method.
How did you progress from there?
When I was fourteen, mom put me into music studio near my home and let me take the vocal course. It was a very hard time, because my dad never allowed me to do the musical thing based on cultural reasons. But anyway I still took the vocal course with mom's support.
The vocal class I took that time is the pop vocal class. I would have thirty minutes of class each week, but it didn't last long. I can't do the pop vocal well, my voice just didn't come out, even the teacher always got mad at me just because I couldn't reach the high notes without falsetto. By taking that pop class, I once felt I just wanna stop singing. It was just too hard for me, anytime I sang it felt weird and very uncomfortable.
Something must have changed? How were you influenced to go further?
Still hanging on in the same music studio, I switched my class to be with another teacher; she was one of the students of my current vocal coach, Avip Priatna. She told me that I didn't have to do all the pop vocal rules with her, and she allowed me to sing as I like. She taught me only for few months and then she asked me to go directly to Avip Priatna.
That was few years ago, if I'm not mistaken, it was three years ago. I didn't follow what she suggested. I stopped singing when I was sixteen, almost for a year. In that vacuum time, I practiced and sang my own way, as what I thought most comfortable for me. I kept listening to Sarah Brightman, and I also get my influences from many singers such as: Josh Groban, Allesandro Safina, Andrea Bocelli, Emma Shapplin, Cecilia Bartoli, Lea Salonga, Barbra Streisand, Ian Bostridge, Enya, Celtic woman.
At seventeen, I took vocal class with Rio Silaen and he taught me Broadway style of singing. By that time also, I just felt like, I will dedicate myself to classical and Broadway music. I didn't learn much from him since he's also very busy, I stopped the course after six months. In those six months, I sang singing regularly in the malls. I also had the chance to sing in front of the vice president for Children National Day.
After graduating from High School I didn't practice or work on other musical things. I got into University of Pelita Harapan, and majored in Law. Since I got into university, my studies stopped my singing activity. I didn't practice; I rarely had time to listen to music.
In December 2009, Rio Silaen asked me to sing for a Christmas celebration and that night I met a guy singer and he told me that I really have to improve my classical voice and he also suggested me to go to Avip Priatna.
So in January 2010, I finally went to Avip Priatna. He asked me to sing one song that time, I chose "Ave Maria." I just started my first line and he asked me stop.
I thought my singing was extremely bad and he just couldn't listen to what I just sang, but it turns out that he accepted me to be his student. So from January, I started my music class and it was really fun for me.
It felt really nice to learn classical music, and to learn how to read notes, do the side singing and besides he's so strict that it made me learn more quickly.
Did you learn to play any musical instruments?
When I was sixteen, I took a drum class for three months, but I didn't have the drum talent inside; I can play drums but I need to read the notes, I can't play by feeling. I also know the basic rules and how to play piano, keyboard, guitar and violin, I play a bit, but I didn't put myself into it, I didn't take any courses or learn how to really play it. I copied what my friends did, so whenever I saw them playing, I would ask them to teach me or I would just stare at how they played and try to play them myself.
Where does the name Sisca come from?
Sisca is the name given to me by my mom. My full name doesn't consist of a family name; my surname will later exist in my Chinese name, which will be given to me when I reach age 21.
Did you go right into classical crossover or did you perform in other genres along the way?
I started my singing journey in pop. Then I moved to classical music, along with crossover, Broadway, new age and world. By pop music and Broadway, I did my solo performances. My pure classical music officially started this year, in January. Church also gave me the chance to become a Psalmist. It contributed my solo career, since I have to sing solo and lead people to sing.
Initially, before becoming a soloist, I sang with the choir and vocal groups, but since I've gained my confidence, I now don't like to sing in groups, even though I know that it's good for harmonization. I think my calling is to be a solo singer. My music is best categorized as crossover, but while doing the album, we did mix new age, and world into it.
Why were you drawn to the classical crossover style?
Classical crossover music is more acceptable I think. Most of the people have a problem in listening to pure classical music. I was first interested in classical crossover when I listened to Sarah and Josh. I just love the way they developed their music, with the sense of classical, lighter but still very meaningful.
I always dreamed that one day I could be someone like them. It's just very comfortable to sing in this way, very expressive too. Personally I like the way crossover music has the strong touch of classical music but it crossover music translates the heavy classical by mixing it with another sense of feeling which expands the number of people that can enjoy it.
I think it doesn't matter how the music is created, it's the matter of how the singer delivers the song. I sang a little bit of pop, mandarin songs, Broadway and pure classical. I also like world music and new age. My future plan is to become a pure classical singer, an opera singer. I would like to develop my voice into the pure one that has the thrills and be able to sing in the opera house.
What do you do to develop your stunning voice?
Practice, practice and practice. Even if I don't have a vocal class for the whole month or months, I'll keep myself singing whenever I have time. Even humming will do. I also challenged myself for different range of music. I think that helps to develop your voice. From last year I started to avoid consuming ice, chili and oily food.
Please tell us about the writing and recording of your album.
I first talked about this with my mom because my dad wasn't agreeing about this actually. After several discussions, we discussed it with my parents' friend too; his name is Satia. He too the matter seriously and latter we met Mr. Didi. He was the one who helped us in contacting Jamie Huber.
We sent them a demo and then later Audius and Leon came to Indonesia. The first time I met Audius and Leon, they asked me few questions on what is my favorite movie, songs, singer, etc. They asked me to sing along with the piano also and Audius asked me what do I want for the song's theme, and I said "hope."
He liked that and snap -- the song is done. They were both truly musicians; in few hours the first song was finished. Then for the other songs, Audius also asked me the same question, about the idea, themes and asked me to write the lyric or if I can just point and he told me that we will work that out.
Leon give many inputs in the album making process and he played the keyboard, make the arrangements, helped throughout the recording. Leon also kept reminding me about the pronunciation matter. Audius, directed me and gave me great support and advice, musicwise.
Basically all the songs and arrangements were done by the hard work of Audius of course and Leon. Both of them helped me throughout the making of this album making. They gave advice and directed me very well. Mom, Om Satia and Om Didi were always there during the recording sessions, supporting.
Om Didi provided the studio and other things. Mom and Om Satia gave me moral support. Mr. Oyon is the manager of the studio that helped me in many things. Other engineers and staff also lent their hand in this album making process.
Back there in Australia, we got Peter Uqhart who contributed and played his violin beautifully for this album. Michael Lynch did the mixing and mastering. During the making of this album, I didn't have my vocal class, but sure my vocal coach also contributed to this album making indirectly, since he taught me to sound my best. The other very important person is Jamie Huber as the manager. He helped me get the duet with Mark Vincent. He also Sony Music in Australia.
What kind of reactions have you had to this album?
So far, I have gotten positive and very good reactions. The people that have listened to my music gave me good comments.
What's the outlook for your debut album?
At this stage we have finished the album, shot two videos and are now in the process of shopping it to all the major labels. We are planning to go to Midem in Cannes, France in January 2011. It will be a big focus for us.
Tell us about your live performances.
My live show is very simple and elegant. I have an amazing collection of gowns which are my main trademark. I have a violin and cello player accompying me. It feels amazing to sing live and I hope to tour the world in 2011.
How do you interact with the listeners beforehand, on-stage and afterwards?
I love to talk to my fans, and always talk to them after the show once my set is complete.
How important do you think "image" to a female recording artist these days where so much visual information is portrayed in the media?
I try to maintain a position of a positive role model who has the right morals and message in place.
How would you say the internet has influenced your artistic direction and connection with music lovers?
Facebook is important, but I also have an official website, which has my weekly blog, news, images, videos and picture gallery.
In addition to music, what else and who else rocks your world and fills your waking hours?
My family of course. Then my friends also play big roles. My university program also takes most of my time. Besides interested and mostly spend my time for music, I always keep myself updated with pet's news, information, etc. And I am regularly a Psalmist at church.
What are your plans, hopes and dreams looking out through the end of this year and into next?
My plan is to make my music accepted by the whole world if possible. I hope people will like my music and they can get the meaning and the message that I would like people to get. I also hope by my music, there can be a change. I do wish people by my music can appreciate more classical music. I also hope people will stop thinking that classical music is boring.
Hopefully next year, I can have another album, well, if people like my first one. I also plan to get my degree with a very good score and be able to continue my study. Also, I do hope that one I can reach my dream to be a pure classical, opera singer and sing in the opera house and backed by the orchestra.
Is there anything else you want to tell our readers that maybe I forgot to ask?
Thanks for the interview! For readers, never stop dreaming, because without dreaming life is meaningless. Keep trying and believing, plus don't forget to pray. The other thing is, just want to say, remember that life is too short, so use it as wise as you can, do all the good things that you can, spread love and cheer up!