Danar Pramesti

Hidden Explicitness

Through a video call, we had a chance to make a ‘storytelling’ session with our special guest this time. A joyful and hospitably lady. Spontaneously we got so many compelling stories. From shoes that should be left out dirty, Leonard Cohen, about her musical journey and even a verification from her on how she really believes in statistics.


As one of the scenesters of Jamaican music in Indonesia, her works are so easily recognizable. Together with the band ‘Souljah,’ she has released 5 albums and some singles. They even got recognition through a music award in Indonesia. However, she said that it wasn’t her personal goal. She was more excited responding to Kultur by sharing a story about the band’s interaction with their fans. The appreciation from the fanbase is more organic according to her.

Foto oleh: Robby Soeharlim

The woman, Danar Pramesti who’s born in March 1979 added that the fans are so special to her. Impulsively, she kept having sincere appreciation from them. Souljah is one of the bands of Jamaican music scene in Indonesia that specially honoured their fans through a song. Its title is a designation to their die-hard fans, “bradda Souljah.” With a joyful tone she explained its sing-along formula that inspired the anthem of English soccer teams.

“Actually ‘Mars BraddaSouljah’ (the song) is not a march song (musically speaking). In that time, we listened to ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone,’ ‘Hooligans’ and ‘I’m Forever Blowing Bubble,’’ she explained.    

 She answered our curiosity about their stage outfits which tend to be uniform. Playfully, she admitted that it was Renhat’s (bassist and the leader of ‘Souljah’) idea. “A logical idea to make it easier in matching the colour of the costume. Moreover, I’m not a modish person.” This would lead to another confession about ‘stage blocking and positioning’ that she just recently became aware of. She laughingly said, “our photographer was always complaining, hey sist don’t keep moving to the dark spot! It’s hard to take a shot.”

Foto oleh: Robby Soeharlim

 Our conversation kept rolling. We even got an explanation about the origin of the band’s name. In many of the previous interviews, Danar and her band’s mates often answered a tedious question about it. Luckily Kultur got a more detail of it. The name ‘Souljah’ popped up from a compilation album that was about to be released. Still in the process of its production the band still used their proto name ‘Arigato.’ The name of the compilation was ‘Souljah,’ from the homophone ‘soldier.’ So that is where it came from.

For her, ‘Souljah’ is an evolving form of herself in doing art. Alongside this outfit she went through many processes in life. From a free teenager to experiencing worries about a life choice. However, with a massive energy they have gone through time when ‘Souljah’ got dubbed as “king of high school art performance.” Now Souljah became one unit of Jamaican music from the country which statistically has massive listeners based on a digital streaming provider. Humbly she said it is only because of “x factor.” It is only a game of luck. She possessed a down to earth character while admitting that musically, Souljah is far left behind compared to the new generation of today.

Together we spot this with Arigato and Souljah. Danar is part of the journey of Jamaican music in Indonesia. Of course since the mid 1990’s she has inspired many people.

But again, laughingly she said “That’s how it works. The band players stay monotonous or even getting older along with the fans and then change with the coming of new and much younger fans.”

In this story telling session we also asked how she works on her projects and humbly she responded to it one by one. We made a flash back on how she started her musical journey. She told us how at a young age she was so inspired to become a singer after being exposed to Alanis Morisette, a successful mezzo-sopranos singer of the 1990s. Being able to see a live concert from this superstar was a big moment to her.

She also added “I even wrote a singer as my dream in the school graduation book.”  

Her first exposure to Jamaican music was accidental. It began from her craze to sing songs of Save Ferris, a band from California. She really adored Monique Powell that would introduce her further to ska.

Kultur also got an interesting explanation from Danar as a frontwoman on how she shared her experience. The ups and downs during the tour, and her playlist that is full of joyous 1990s singers and bands.

“By default my music taste is reggae-ska. Out of that I would listen to any kind of music from the latest artist and few names that I can learn,” she added.

 Danar also shared about ideas behind songs she wrote and details of production. She preceded some of her songs with “research” to find the themes. Perhaps this one of the formulas which successfully made Souljah can be enjoyed by everyone, not only those who like Jamaican music. Simplicity through chord progression or updated theme with the condition of its basic fans is like a template product that can be absorbed by the market. As a note, Danar was once a copywriter on a big advertisement agency in the country. She laughed when being asked whether there’s a significant benefit of a copywriter with her capability in music? “Ah, that’s right, I even didn’t notice it. Yes, I began some songs using the same approach (laughing).”  

Foto oleh: Bagus Nuswantoro

We then asked her opinion about the consciousness culture in reggae. Calmly she responded that when making songs she just let her creativity go and flow, She doesn’t bother and burdened by authenticity as long as she can be truthful to her works. “Our song can be freely interpreted by listeners, while we as the creator fully relied on them,” she added. From this session, Kultur eventually found the meaning behind one of her songs, ‘Cuma Kamu.’ (Only You).

“This song can be said to be a love song between lovers but actually I wrote it based on my spiritual experience with God.”    

Danar’s writing ability becomes an interesting thing among her compatriots in Souljah. In the song above she wittingly used “anonym” where she wrapped a message inside its explicitness. She lets the listeners experience the emotions inside every song by themselves. Being critically vulgar and to the point is just not her way, but it doesn’t mean she’s an apathetic person toward spiritual, social and political issues. She is just a witty writer who possesses a sea of dictions. She’s just a poetry lover who softly pours things in her heart into a catchy groove. She is just a frontwoman with a broad vision whose euphony is easily recognizable. She is just a singer who loves the songs that have soulfully sung, and . . a SOUL from Souljah!
(Text:Sam, Translation:Yedi)

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