By: Patricia Kusumaningtyas |
Jove Satara is an up-and-coming musician based in Jakarta, Indonesia. Behind the intergalactic moniker inspired by artists like Freddie Mercury and Bruno Mars is singer/songwriter/producer Ganendra Satria (Nendra), backed with beats by producer Karirino Pasay. Jove Satara’s music is an ode for the outcasts—written on a narrative from Nendra’s own mind, while relating to those who share the same commonalities. Having released the two-single release αim Above, βound below with the singles “Crossover” and “Out of Water,” Nendra is giving his listeners an introduction to his aesthetic by incorporating electronic sounds like synth and techno to existential lyrics and grand metaphors.
αim Above, βound below is just a beginning; his next project, neverwonder will touch on similar yet more overarching themes from his previous project, and at the same time will explore different sounds and genres with a fresh aesthetic. Introducing Jove Satara to be the first in the roster of our in-house artists, the Speedofsoundmag team talked to Nendra about his creative process, the complications of solitude, and Dante’s Inferno.
Hi, we’re from Speed of Sound! We’ll start with a basic question: how did you start getting interested in music?
I think I started going to music when I realized I had a lot of thoughts that were unprocessed. And I just paid a lot of attention to how these thoughts can never form organized bubbles—it’s restless, it’s always there, it’s always thinking about myself and my surroundings and culture in general … it’s a lot of growth process. Music for me is a growth process. I think music is an exit for me to actually grow and evolve. I used to be such a homegrown kid who never goes outside. It’s actually very relevant to the concept of my music—I like to live in my own bubble, I like to live in my own world and I think music is a way to find an exit out of it, to wake me up, because I I think for about twenty years that I exist in this world, I don’t even live. I lived to survive not live to thrive and I think that’s what most people would do. Well, not always, but a lot of people are not satisfied with their lives and I feel like music kinda brought me out of that.
One significant pattern that I see in your works is that it’s all really confessional, especially “Crossover.” Do you feel like your music is your method of catharsis?
That is correct—catharsis is the ultimate goal. If you write a song it’s a confession, but once you start writing a collection of songs, or a record, I feel like it’s emotional architecture; it’s where you can curate a lot of thoughts, a lot of links, a lot of patterns that is happening to the world, but it’s also happening inside you. This is also happening in your neurons. And you can start to think that we’re all the same, but we just have to find the right patterns on how we can empathize, how these we can find these little things in songwriting. These little things—these pieces of our lives—can really be used to connect with other people.
So it’s something like John Green, right? “My thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations.”
I agree! Yes, I agree. Everything is linked. By actually collecting your thoughts in songwriting, if you go through the emotions like everyone else, chances are they’re also people’s thoughts. It’s not only yours. You just need to pay attention to yourself.
The way I see it from your two singles— “Crossover” and “Out of Water,”—you often encapsulate these feelings into concepts that relate to nature, like air, fire, and water. Why these choices?
A lot of themes I incorporate relates to duality, as what is often employed by a lot of other writers. A lot of song hooks or anything interesting in songs often utilize duality. And I feel like my version of duality is internal and external. I believe that every emotion has a space and form of its own—they’ll mess up if they don’t—so you have to put them in a room. The moment you think about the title “Crossover,” you’re thinking about two different worlds, you’re thinking about terrains and landscapes, and you’re already creating that area where you’re supposed to be. Much like “Out of Water,” where you go from drowning then out of water. Water is a space, and for me, space is the best way to describe everything because everything that’s internal reflects on what I want it to look like externally.
One thing that I noticed from “Crossover” is that you’re portraying getting to know someone as crossing over a barrier. And from what I’m getting at, you write songs based on how you see the world. Do you intend to make these views known to the world? Portraying something as big as crossing over a barrier being a metaphor for emotions, what do you want your audience’s response to it? Do you want to leave it to their own interpretation?
Not really. I think that’s what I realize, I don’t wanna leave it to their own interpretation; I actually want to serve them a certain perspective—a certain angle that they can access for themselves. I come from a place where I’m introverted—could be considered a hermit—and I don’t really speak up. Every person has a power of their own sometimes but sometimes they don’t voice that power. The people that the masses like to talk about are the people who actually talk—they’re on Twitter, they’re on Instagram, they’re constantly shaping the world. But on the other hand, there are bigger personality people who tend to stay quiet but they’re actually also keeping the world around. How do I relate to those people, you know, those people who don’t speak up yet creating their own world, living in their own bubbles? I feel like I’m trying to relate to them, like what I said before, I find empathy when I see it inside myself, since I have a principle where everybody goes through the same emotions as you are; there’s no difference in looking inside compared to looking outside, because most likely you’re going to have the same experience as someone else. How you actually create that narrative is actually how you’re going to hit the target and how you’re going to empathize with those people who rarely speak up.
In the long run, do you see your music uniting a subculture—uniting kids who rarely speak up for themselves?
I think so, because I feel like we live in a noisy world. I’m not a big believer of the phrase, “You believe what you see.” You should believe on what you can’t see, too. You should believe on things you can never guess. I used to be overweight and I used to be very unhealthy, and at that point, I only believe in what I see; I only believe that this is my life, this is my reality, and all I can do is fix what’s already been the problem, but once I start to think, No, you can actually grow from it, you can actually see the unseen and expand yourself. When you’re expanding yourself you’re growing to a new person you don’t actually know. You won’t feel it if you’re suddenly turning into a supermodel so you need to believe on what you cant see. I learn to keep believing in what I can’t see rather than what I can see.
Moving on to influences: with the epic, mythical upbringing of “Crossover,” do you have a favorite book that’s related to its mood?
I do, actually. It’s Dante’s “Inferno.”
I love that book! In fact, I’m reading “Purgatorio” now. Which aspects of “Inferno” that speaks to you?
The consequences. We’re very unaware of ourselves. We’re very instinctive creatures so we just do what we’re given, we don’t think too much about it, which is wrong because I know you can’t control anything but at least when you’re given energy, you should mold that energy. You can’t just take things for granted because you don’t know what will hit you. And I think “Inferno” is all about consequences. It’s about how your actions can cause consequences. On the other hand, there’s also the issue of severity; the heavier your sin, the heavier price you pay. I feel like that’s also true for emotions too—the action-reaction aspect to it.
In “Inferno,” Dante is led by Virgil throughout his journey in hell. Do you think music can be the Virgil of someone’s Dante?
Yeah, of course. People who listen to music, we’re searching for something. I know that music is a form of art but people often don’t see why this music sells, why do a lot of people demand this music because I feel like they’re searching for answers, they’re searching for something in culture—something very accessible and something very near and new to them to be able to give a cure for their pain and sorrows, and for all of these questions about existence that none of the people around you can provide but culture could provide. Even a small signal, a small light of, “Oh, this actually exists, this cure exists,” it’s music and it’s art. I think that music is the division of art that’s most accessible to people because it’s so far reaching, it’s so easy to consume, it could change people’s energy that easily.
And of course you believe that digitalization easily enables us to do that.
And how do you plan to use it in your work?
I can’t say a lot because I’m still learning, but for now as much as digitalization is important, I feel like the gatekeepers are more important. People who actually believe in the same idea and believe that a certain kind of music should be popularized is as important as digitalization because in the end technology and all kinds of digitalisation is going to follow what the people want. And there are different kinds of people, higher ups and the common people, the masses. So as much as I want to talk about digitalization, as long as the people are using certain digitalization channels, I’m gonna go there. Anything that makes it easier for people to engage with, any digitalization channels, that’s where I’ll be.
Let’s move to your music style. Why synth?
Interesting. It’s actually more of an obsession, a technical thing, because I want the emotion to have a form of its own. If we associate that emotion to the piano or guitar, I feel like it’s too familiar, and my definition of a piano and a guitar is not the emotion im presenting. I feel like, okay, I imagine listening to guitar and piano-based music in like family events. I began associating that with family events, and it’s not me, it has nothing to do with the experience because when I’m alone in solitude and I’m thinking about these emotions, I’m thinking about a sound that no one has ever heard before and synths help to create that sound out of nothing. I like that. It brings you into another realm where it’s not familiar and it’s not supposed to be familiar. You’re supposed to give new emotions a new home.
While you think of the sounds of synths while composing, do you have any particular musicians who shaped your vision towards what synth could be like?
I think my favorite is SOHN; he produced for BANKS. SOHN is a really good example, but the other artists I got my inspiration from is Lorde and Frank Ocean; they solidified my love for synths from “Blonde” and “Melodrama.” I love these generational artists; I love how big artists describe which generations they’re in. Synth is a new horizon since it’s benchmark for a lot of artists to say that they’re from the year 2019 and this is how the sonic landscape should sound like, or at least involving that. I feel like by solidly serving that, I became more and more interested in synth, because it’s used to describe newer emotions that past generations didn’t have a chance to describe. Because you have different instruments for different generations, different instruments for different cultures, why can’t this generation have its own set of instruments? I feel like synths is a good start. It’s very unique.
What’s your creative process?
Remember when I said, you have to mold energy? As I started college, when I got really committed to this thing, I never spent a waking moment not writing. I always write, I always observe anything around me, it’s stressful but it works because I can write a shit ton in such a short time just because I keep listening to my surroundings. I collect everything like a madman, I collect everything, I just put it on my Evernote, whether it be words, excerpts of culture, I absorb content like crazy. I watch a season a week of anything on Netflix that I’m attracted to or people I respect recommended me. Every time I consume media, I ask myself, how big is this, in terms of cultural gravity? How can it help me empathize with a lot of people and how I actually deal with the emotions?
After that I start thinking about melodies. I’m a sucker for pop hooks and I think you learn to know what’s catchy and what’s not catchy. It’s something that’s very instinctive, actually, since you might ask yourself, “Why is this beat stuck in my head?” or “This beat never gets out of my head.” You should fucking record that because it’s your loss if you don’t. I also have this fit and proper test: if I forget a melody, I leave it. That melody is not worth it. But if I remember it, that means this melody is something. And it’s not because it’s annoying or something, it’s because it has a soul to it. Also, I’m actually a title person, I feel like the title could shape the arc of the story and everything, it could give the emotions a home. So I think the title is a big part of how I write my songs, and everything should. For example, this emotion, I sing it over this title, does it work? If it doesn’t, then I will delete it. And afterwards, production comes very fast to me, because I usually know what I want since the forms should be similar. And after that it’s smooth sailing. It’s the concept that matters most.
Are you the kind of person who spends more time on concept than recording?
Yeah, I guess so.
Now, how do you create visuals?
A song’s visuals is something that’s both very dear and very alien to me because I feel like there’s a lot of things to be done in visual production. So the way I tackle visuals is just, again, seeing a lot of things, since I’m very much a content absorber. For example, there’s this feature on Tumblr with a compilation of all its best artistic posts. I forgot what it’s called, but it’s the compiled work of designers and creators you’ve never seen before. Through that feature, I collect every picture that’s dear to me and, for some strange reason, it’s always something that’s either dark or rainbowish.
That’s a big contrast.
A big contrast, but I feel like they both live in the same world. They can’t exist without one another, that’s why I like dimensional aesthetics, something that I don’t think a lot of people like to go to, since a lot of people tend to pick culture visuals. And they pick something that many people would get. For me, I usually go to a direction based on whether it feels right or not. For me, visuals are very instinctive.
Why Jove Satara?
For now, you can already see the consistency between space, time, and dimension in my work.
I don’t know why, but I really love planets, and I feel like since I’m an introvert and I have a lot of these excessive emotions, the only way to release it is through songs and through music. It is such a small exit, and I feel like expansive spaces pop out a lot in my themes. That’s why I love planets so much. I’m obsessed with the universe, it’s so unpredictable and unknown. But you can’t take it for granted because you don’t know what will happen and what will become from it. It’s always there but we don’t really think about it because were so caught up in our everyday lives. I feel that it really fits my emotions. “Jove” is another name for Jupiter and “Satara” is just a spinoff from my last name. I’m inspired by Freddie Mercury and Bruno Mars, both are classic and contemporary artists and they’re both still very mainstream in pop. I have a strong connection with empathy and I have a strong connection to wanting people to actually hear my shit, so I think that’s it. In the beginning, the “J” in Jove is just a reverse L. Reverse “love.” That’s another thing because it’s part of my personal story as well. I didn’t really go into relationships and everything until 19 or 20, and it’s just because I spend a lot of my time alone; there’s nothing wrong in being alone. I like it so much and I feel like it gives you an angle that’s different from other people, since other people wouldn’t have the same exact experiences in solitude. People are collecting as much experience as they want, but for me it’s never been about the quantity, it’s always been about the quality. There’s a better quality in picking the bad and the good and how we process through the bad and the good of your own experiences and decisions, it will propel you to growth rather than going somewhere experiencing a lot of things people tell you to experience without your heart being into it. It just leaves you a hollow person.
As a creator, do you feel like you have to make a change through your work or do you think making a change through your works is less important? Do you ever put a thought on your work as life changing or do you just purely create for yourself?
Definitely not just for me, because it’s something that I want to make change in and I want to change how people perceive me. I don’t want to be known merely as an indie alternative, indie pop musician. I’m okay with that but it needs to change; it’s okay to remain indie alternative but the pop needs to be appreciated in a way that people get what I’m trying to say, people get the story that I’m trying to give to them, and how it could help their lives and how the message could apply. So it’s not about my life, it’s about their lives. It’s all about what I can add to their world, how they can see in a different angle.
So, it’s a more communal experience, then?
Definitely, which is a little bit of an antithesis since my approach is very personal and the way I go about producing it—even marketing-wise—is a big antithesis. I don’t like the idea of social media but of course in the end I have to conform to it, whether I like it or not. I have to have a certain angle that appreciates individual space, and I feel like social media is noise. There are ways of using social media that is healthy, for example, you unfollow a lot of people whose content may no longer be relevant to your life anymore. There should be a culture of starting to unfollow people so we don’t have to conform to the social pressure of following people. Don’t reduce your social media to a footprint of who you’ve met—you can use Facebook for that. Instagram is a social media place for you to actively consume, and you should tailor it that way. You should tailor it in a way that gives you direct value. If, for instance, okay, you’re friends with that person, but their posts are not relevant anymore and you guys don’t even keep in touch, it doesn’t even give you life anymore. It’s funny how a lot of big artists like Beyonce or Billie Eilish only follow a few people while having so many followers and I feel like that’s a true testament to their value to others – otherwise all the content we consume will become noise, and I don’t want that for anybody.
Yeah, just Marie Kondo that shit.
Also, along the lines of hermeneutics, people might perceive your works different to you own interpretation. At the same time you want your work to be communal but there might be a personal aspect in consuming. Will it become an inconvenience for you?
Not really; I feel like it’s more of a goal since the more you acknowledge the reality of it, the more you learn, and the more you learn, the more you evolve, the more you can make your music even better because you know which parts are lacking. And I feel like its a part of evolving as a person and as an artist, to actually know. I don’t want to use art as an excuse to be stuck in my own head and to create my own delusions. The biggest thing I want to accomplish is empathy and to connect.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. Ralka Skjerseth contributed to some of the questions.