One hour before our interview, Anggun was recording a duet with local singing group Back2Basixx. It was the first meeting between the 42-year-old French-based Indonesian singer and the up-and-coming quintet but it looked like they have known each other for a long time.
Anggun could be heard behind closed doors laughing away. She even took selfies with each member of the band and reminded them to tag her on Instagram. I asked Anggun if she would consider forming a group with Back2Basixx and then call it Lebih Anggun (More Anggun).
“You know what, I have to consider that!” she said with a laugh.With 30 years of experience in the music industry, Anggun (who was in Kuala Lumpur as a guest performer for Datuk Siti Nurhaliza’s concert on April 2) explained that she is always looking to be surprised.
“I would love to do more collaborations with them, probably when I come back to Malaysia for a concert one day. I’ve done other collaborations before but never in this intimate, acoustic scale. I really enjoyed it,” she said of the duet.
Jakarta-born Anggun Cipta Sasmi rose to international fame when her English single Snow On The Sahara, released in 1997, became a worldwide hit. Since then, she has released 11 albums, including six in French. She is currently based in France where she lives with husband, writer Cyril Montana.
In 2012, she represented France in the Eurovision Song Contest. She also became the highest-paid judge in Indonesian television history when she joined the X Factor Indonesia panel in 2013.
Last year, she was part of the Asia’s Got Talent judging panel alongside notable personalities such as David Foster, Melanie Chisholm and Vanness Wu.
1. Please tell us the secret to your everlasting good looks. Is it all the butter in French food?
Well, I don’t think that is the secret (laughs). The secret is probably not to have any regrets. I don’t believe in miracle creams and make-up can only hide so much.
But who you truly are is what matters. But if I can be of any help, just say the secret is butter!
2. This year marks your 30th year in the music industry. Looking back, is there anything you would do differently?
(Gasps) Oh, really? Yeah, it’s kinda crazy! I don’t actually look back. I think it’s still too early.
There are still a lot of things I’d like to achieve. There are still so many songs I want to write and perform.
Songwriting is a mysterious thing. You never know what you’re going to get or when inspiration hits. I’ll probably write a song inspired by this conversation!
But that’s the thing, I’m inspired by a lot of things. Generally, I’m inspired to write songs about women. I think most women are unaware of how powerful they can be. I believe that we are strong, important and can do a lot of things. It just takes another woman to remind them.
3. Your father started giving you with singing lessons at the age of seven. Thinking back, was it an easy process?
He taught me how to sing without him actually knowing how to sing. He knew that I was keen to be a singer.
My father was an author. His friends who were poets and writers would always gather in our house. I remember them having conversations about various fascinating topics. They were always exchanging ideas.
So I grew up in that kind of artistic environment. To answer your question, everything happened naturally. I was extremely blessed. The road to music and to who I am today was not restricted. I had strong support from my family.
4. How did your parents feel when you left Indonesia in 1994 to pursue a music career in Europe?
My father was very happy but scared at the same time. My mum is still not over it though. She’s still upset even though I’m 42 now (laughs). As any parents, they were concerned. But of course, if you don’t learn how to fly then you’re going to fall.
I owe it to myself. I was a child star in Indonesia. At that time, I thought having success and money at such a young age cannot be good for anyone. You could pollute your relationships with other people and end up as a spoiled brat. I didn’t want any of that. I had to get out of my comfort zone (which was why I left).
5. What can you share about your eight-year-old daughter Kirana Cipta Montana?
She watches a lot of film. We go to cinemas and exhibitions in Paris. She knows about Picasso, Dali and Kandinsky. She loves to draw.
Sometimes I would ask her, “What is cubism?” and she would say, “That’s easy mama. It’s Picasso.”
I’m extremely happy to be able to give her this gift of culture. She is aware of my music career but she’s not impressed. She came to one of my concerts when she was five and fell asleep!
In France, The Voice is a popular television show. Last month, I performed on the show and she said, “That’s it. My mum has made it!”