My Jakarta: Heiner von Luepke, Advocate for the Environment

In the smoggy streets of Jakarta, Heiner von Luepke is an advocate for the environment. The six-foot-tall expat from Germany begins with his own life choices, like riding a bike to work every day, but he’s also trying to clean up the country at large.

As a climate change adviser for the German NGO GIZ, von Luepke is working to curb global warming in Indonesia, which is in the top-five list of developing countries with the highest rates of greenhouse gas emissions. Here, he discusses his work with the Indonesian government, his passion for distance running and a few simple ways that everyone can live a more eco-friendly life.

What kind of projects are you working on in Indonesia? 

I work for GIZ, a company that’s partly owned by the German government. I’m currently focusing on the climate change negotiations between the Indonesian government and the German government, which is what brought me here originally.

Do you work with a particular Indonesian organization? 

I work closely with the National Development Planning Agency [Bappenas], which is my main counterpart. It’s responsible for developing the action plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020.

Why did you decide to focus on climate change in Indonesia? 

Years ago, there was an NGO study financed by the World Bank and a report by the British government, and they showed how Indonesia has really high rate of gas emissions, just behind the US and China. So the topic came up at the 2007 Climate Change Conference in Bali.

Nobody was really expecting Indonesia to be mentioned like that in the reports. It was controversial because of the uncertainty. For example, palm oil plantations emit a lot of greenhouse gas, but it’s hard to know how much.

How do you measure greenhouse gas emissions?

You can estimate it, but it’s hard to measure exactly because Indonesia is so diverse with so many ecosystems, from Sumatra to Papua. But from my experience in East Kalimantan, I know deforestation led to a higher per capita emissions rate there than in the US or China.

What’s it like to work with Indonesians? 

I really appreciate what they do, though I can’t say that there is one type of Indonesian. Stereotypically, Germans are direct people, straight to the point. But working with Indonesians helps us get the job done and go places that otherwise would be closed.

Part of my job is bringing people together and finding a common interest.

In Jakarta, is traffic still the major cause of emissions? 

It’s obviously a significant cause of pollution here. The government has to regulate, maybe by restricting cars and motorcycles to 20 liters of fuel or to 100 kilometers of driving every week. It can also build greener office buildings, apartments and malls, even starting with lighting and window designs. Unless Jakarta reduces traffic, provides a good mass public transportation system and improves its waste management, it will never be a green city.

Do you enjoy living in Jakarta? 

Within moments of arriving in a city, I can usually tell whether I’ll like it. When I first came to Jakarta, I felt like I was able to find my niche immediately.

In the beginning, I lived in Kemang, then I moved to Menteng, Mega Kuningan and finally an apartment in Sudirman. I think what I need is a place where I can run in the early morning with humane temperatures and not much traffic, which I can do on [Jalan] Sudirman on Sundays. Four and a half years later, here I am.

So, you’re a runner ? 

Yes, I’m a runner, and it’s a challenge to be one in Jakarta. I usually run from my apartment to Gelora Bung Karno. I’ve joined several marathon competitions in the city over the years. When you run in the morning and you’re still sleepy, you have to be really careful and watch the road, especially crossing Casablanca. It’s quiet dangerous, seriously! [Laughs]

What steps do you take in your own life to be greener? 

To reduce my own carbon footprint, I use a bicycle. The only downside is getting sweaty before meetings [laughs]. I really like the idea of Bike to Work [bicycle community], people can enjoy the outdoors.

The biggest thing that I feel guilty about is a trip I took between Europe and Indonesia because the flight emissions are so high.

Where do you go to relax in this busy city? 

I play sports to keep my mind balanced. I also listen to punk music, so sometimes I watch live bands at a bar in Menteng, and I also enjoy eating out or getting drinks at Die Stube, a German pub and restaurant in Kemang.

Do you consider yourself an environmentalist?

Not just an environmentalist, but actually also a professional forester. I started working on climate change when there were still ongoing negotiations on the Kyoto Protocol, which aimed to fight global warming and deforestation.

A climate change forester isn’t a career that many people know about, but I take it as a challenge to be on the front lines, trying to find new solutions and implementing a climate program on behalf of the German government.

Heiner von Luepke was talking to Iwan Putuhena

Original interview was published in The Jakarta Globe

My Jakarta: Heiner von Luepke, Advocate for the Environment

For more on GIZ visit

Lio Collection Comes to Kemang

Bali-based furniture maker brings classic and contemporary designs to the capital | Featuring Indonesian-made wood, rattan and bamboo furniture that has won the company international praise and recognition, the Bali-based Lio Collection will soon open its first Jakarta store in Kemang

Lio Collection is especially popular among furniture enthusiasts in Scandinavia, where it is recognized as the rattan and bamboo king. Known for producing top-quality furniture that is durable, waterproof and environmentally friendly, the company is looking to expand its domain within Indonesia and to earn the same credit in the Asian furniture market.

“Everything is made in Indonesia. Our quality is very high; we are not in the cheap business,” said Lio Collection President Director Michel Liokouras. “One of the keys to our success is to maintain quality control in our factories, and we are really serious about that part.”

Designed and produced in Lio’s factory in Java, the furniture collection is complemented by classic and contemporary designs for both indoor and outdoor furniture, top quality handicrafts and house wares, including intricate glass art, carpets and stone carvings, along with a wide selection of original paintings created by local and expatriate residents of Bali.

Lio’s father, Greek entrepreneur Christos Vassilios Liokouras, moved the company headquarters to Bali around five years ago after more than 35 years in the furniture business in Denmark, where he founded Lio Collection. “It was the best move for my father to move the company to Bali. The opportunities here are endless,” said Michel.

Lio Collection has 13 showrooms in various Bali locations, including Kerobokan, Seminyak, Oberoi, Jimbaran, Tuban, ubud and Ngurah Rai. The company has family-owned and franchised enterprises in Greece, Denmark, Australia, Germany, Egypt, Cyprus, Mauritius and the US.

There are more than 6,000 products in the Lio Collection catalog, according to Michel. “It’s thicker than a Bible,” he said. “Each year we export thousands of containers from Indonesia to hotels, restaurants, businesses and to our shops abroad.”

Lio Collection offers a complete customized service to clients looking to create a concept and character for their businesses— realizing design ideas for furniture, as well as interior design concepts for corporate identity. Some of their well-known clients include The Hyatt, Marriott and many other boutique hotels.

“We partner up with hotels, restaurant, businesses, or private residence, and work together with their designers to build one-of-a-kind products for their venues,” Michel said. “We can approach all kinds of people, for any model and design.”

Welcome to Kemang
Lio Collection expects to make its first appearance in Jakarta before the end of the year. “The opportunity is here. We have the network to develop the market,” said Bams Samsons, co-owner of the new Lio Collection store in Kemang (and a musician with the band Samsons). “I love the designs, and this is the first time for me to be in the furniture business. I’m very excited.”

Bams and his partner Lola began considering investing in the furniture business after Lola stumbled upon a Lio Collection showroom while shopping for furniture in Bali.

“I recently built a house in Bali, and one day I was furniture shopping in the Kerobokan area when I spotted a very unique table. The next thing I knew, all the furniture in my new home was from Lio,” said Lola. “I love all Lio models and styles. Everyone who comes to my house always compliments my furniture.”

At Lio you can mix and match furniture pieces or order anything custom-made to fit your specifications. “We can provide everything from the dining table to the spoon,” said Bams.

The new Lio Collection showroom on Jl Kemang Timur is currently under construction and has already begun shipping many containers of furniture to Jakarta.

Iwan Putuhena Reports

Original article was published in Kemang Buzz

Lio Collection Comes to Kemang

Pictures by Dissy for Kemang Buzz

Lio Gallery, Bar & Resto
Jl. Kemang Timur No. 50, Tel: 021 7179 4409,


A body artist specializing in tattoos sheds light on the subculture

Body art became popular in Kemang in the late 1990s, with the arrival of backpackers and skateboarders who made body piercings and tattoos as common as clothing accessories. Today, Kemang is still the place to go for quality tattoos and piercings. Sharon Rose Leasa is a body modification artist at Skin Media Studio in Kemang and a member of Indonesian Subculture, a body art organization founded by Indonesian tattoo artist Ucha Cyberborg

How long have you been a tattoo artist? 
I’m not a tattoo artist. What I do is body art, which has always been my hobby, and I just happen to be into body modification, also known as piercing and tattooing. I’ve been working as a body artist for about two years, learning mostly from my friends.

Okay, so have you ever given a tattoo to anyone?
Yes, of course, I’ve tattooed many people, but I don’t do it every day. For me, tattooing is artwork. It’s another media of expression, just like paper, canvas or TV.

How do people react under the needle when you give a tatoo?
Usually someone who wants to get a tattoo kind of knows what to expect. It’s painful Photo dissy eKaPramuditabut the excitement usually tops that. Before I start the whole process, I always do a small line, to see how they react. Then I ask them if that feels alright before I continue.

Do you think a tattoo has to be meaningful?
Well, that depends on the person, but I would suggest getting something meaningful because that way you won’t get bored of it and you will have a story behind it.

So what do your tattoos mean to you?
Well, I was really close to my father when he was alive. Some of my tattoos are for him. I have his name on my right arm, and his zodiac which is a tiger on my left forearm. The flowers behind it remind me of him as well, because when I was little my dad always commented on these particular flowers.

Which part of the body is the most painful place to get a tattoo? 
On my foot, that was the most painful for me because it’s just bone. When I did the henna tattoo on my left foot, it was more of an experience to see how painful it is. I finished it, but if you look closer you’ll see it’s a bit chaotic.

Recently, your other half, Andy Besi, pierced your back and made it into a corset at a Subculture event in Kemang. Did that hurt?
Not at all, he’s a great artist and knows exactly where to pierce. In fact, I didn’t bleed at all. I believe that was the first time this was done in Indonesia.

Do you have any certain rules that you follow?
Whatever I do, there’s no limit. Once I get into something, I want to do it to the max.

What is Kemang to you?
Kemang is family. We are all family under Indonesian Subculture.

What’s Indonesian Subculture?
Indonesian Subculture is a body art community founded in 2004 by ucha Cyberborg. We started with 25 members from Jakarta, Bandung, Bali and Jogjakarta. Today, there are more than 170 members all around Indonesia, who consist of tattoo artists and body piercing artists. My group is based here in Kemang at Skin Media Studio

What’s the main purpose of the club?
Basically, we grant certification to body artists who are qualified to practice and uphold certain standards of body modification, including hygiene and safety. We also have regular events and gatherings to showcase skin art.

Do you think tattoos are becoming more acceptable in Indonesia?
In major cities they are, but in other places in Java tattoos are still unacceptable. Nowadays, tattoos are more of a fashion statement. Many public figures have made tattoos acceptable. It’s not cheap to get a tattoo so for some people it is a status symbol as well — I mean, instead of wearing a Rolex, a great tattoo is becoming an alternative.
Do you have any tips for people who want to get a tattoo?
On the day you’re getting a tattoo, make sure you are fit and sober for at least a day or two. A tattoo artist can tell if you have alcohol or drugs in your system. you tend to bleed more, and the ink color won’t be maximized.
What was the most memorable tattoo that you ever did?
One time my friend who just got out of jail, asked me to give him a tattoo, more of a symbol to start a new life, something fresh. It was an honor for me.

What other media do you use to express yourself?
I used to produced television ads and programs for Metro TV and SCTV. The first time Metro TV channel launched, they came to me for links to major music labels and exclusive one-on-one interviews with international musicians. So I did Metro Saturday Music Special and Music Blitz program for them, and I also did Kick N Rush for SCTV.

Did you ever get to interview anyone famous?
I interviewed James Hetfield from Metallica, Vanessa Mae and other international artists who came to Jakarta.

Sharon was talking to Iwan Putuhena

Original interview was published in Kemang Buzz

My Kemang: Sharon Rose Leasa

Picture by Dissy for Kemang Buzz

My Jakarta: Eman, Video Editor

It’s not that Eman hates sunlight, it’s just that he loves his job. He edits everything from television commercials to corporate instructional videos at Big Pictures Production in Senayan, where he can be found for hours on end cutting clips and dubbing voices to turn raw footage into captivating TV programs.
Today, Eman tells us his thoughts about local movies, describes life as an editor, and explains why he never misses a deadline.

How did you wind up becoming a video editor?

I know the owner of Big Pictures Production. I started working with him as a tape quality control guy, where my job was to make sure that the sound was perfect and the color was bright on every tape. From there, I learnt how to edit the films by watching, and finally I got this position.

How long have you been doing this work?

Since 2002. And I taught myself everything.

What do you edit?

Commercials, company profiles, music video clips, TV programs, reality shows, educational and travel programs.

How long does it take to edit a 30-minute video?

It all depends on the length of the original material and the difficulties encountered. A rough cut for a 30-minute video is normally complete within a day and the final cut in three days.

What do the industry terms ‘offline’ and ‘online’ mean?

In the film business, we know it as rough cut and final cut, but in the editing room it’s online and offline. Offline is the rough processing video; online is similar to the final cut.

How many rolls of film does it take to shoot a commercial?

For a 30-second commercial, there is usually about 18 minutes of material to work from.

How many hours do you spend in the studio a week?

I’m in the studio at all hours. I only pop home to Bogor twice a week, so I’m pretty much in the studio all the time and stay at my friend’s house when I’m not working.

Do your eyes hurt from editing videos all day?

No, my eyes are good. I don’t wear glasses. I think I’m just used to it.

What was the most recent commercial you worked on?

I edited a 30-second commercial for face powder and soap. It’s already on the air.

What’s your favorite locally produced TV commercial?

I always love the cigarette adverts because whenever they shoot a commercial, they set aside a big budget for it. That means the location and the concept will be unique and, of course, they are using the best effects around.

Would you consider editing a film for the big screen one day?

Yes, of course. That would be a new challenge and would take a lot more time and effort. But there’s no opportunity at the moment.

What’s your impression of locally produced films?

I think that in general they’re getting better, but the story lines are still weak. Too many love stories and too melodramatic.

Have you ever thought about doing some acting yourself?

No, I would much rather work behind the scenes during the production phase.

Do you have any hobbies outside of work?

I spend most of my time inside this editing room, so I don’t have much in the way of hobbies. Just work, work and work. And on my days off, I just rest and sleep all day.

Do you like watching horror flicks?

I prefer watching horror films from abroad compared to the Indonesian ones. The horror movies coming out of Thailand and Japan are much scarier than anything Indonesian directors are making at the moment.

Do you feel that you see more of the world on a TV screen than you do in real life?

Definitely. I see the world through browsing the Internet and in the films that I edit.

Do you get enough sunlight?

Not much at all. I haven’t seen the sun for days [laughs]. Even on my day off, I slept and missed the whole day.

What’s been the longest project you’ve worked on?

This job that I am currently working on has been running for four months and is still going. It’s an instructional video for Indomaret [supermarket chain]. We have to make it perfect because this video is going to be played for many years to come.

If there are cute girls in a scene, does it take more time to edit?

No, it’s the same [laughs]. Everything depends on the deadline.

Do you always meet your deadlines?

Yes, I do. I always meet the deadline because sometimes a film has to be aired a day or two later. The deadline and the time slots are already paid for, so we are responsible if we cannot get it done by the right date.

Do you prefer a Mac or PC for editing videos?

Both have their own strengths and weaknesses, and I can edit using either.

Do you really love Bali, like it says on your T-shirt?

I went to Bali once in 2005. I really enjoyed it, even though I was there to work on a shoot for a commercial. At that time, we were working to a tight deadline so we had to edit it on location.

Eman was talking to Iwan Putuhena

Original interview was published in The Jakarta Globe

My Jakarta: Eman, Video Editor

Picture by Iwan Putuhena

My Jakarta: Moammar Emka, ‘Jakarta Undercover’ Author

Sex sells. Just ask the author Moammar Emka, whose wildly successful “Jakarta Undercover” trilogy exposed the darker corners of the capital. Here, Emka talks about some of his wilder adventures, the lessons he learned from his foray into moviemaking and his latest book.

JK Rowling was rejected 12 times before someone agreed to publish ‘Harry Potter.’ How many publishers rejected ‘Jakarta Undercover’? 

Seven or eight I think, because at that time anything related to the sex industry was taboo. Every publisher that I presented the draft to wanted to revise 40 to 60 percent of it, until finally Galang Press in Yogyakarta, a small publisher at that time, was willing to take the risk. My first book deal, the original “Jakarta Undercover,” had a print run of 2,000. For me, having someone publish and distribute my book was satisfying enough, it didn’t matter how many copies were printed. But who would have guessed it would become a hit.

Now it’s a trilogy. What are the differences between books one, two and three? 

Each book is about different places and covers different people and walks of life. The stories told in “Jakarta Undercover I” are about high-society people and their exclusive parties, while in book two its more about sex entertainment and the working girls, and three is a combination of both. The “menu” in this industry is always changing; yesterday it was “ sashimi girls,” today it’s “ sashimi boys.”

But you can’t be ‘undercover’ anymore, people must know who you are. Don’t the people running or involved in this industry feel threatened by you? 

Yeah, at first. After being on TV and doing interviews, half of high society didn’t want me there anymore, however the other half invited me in. Some places liked the publicity and wanted me to promote their new place or group.

What’s the craziest thing you ever saw while researching the ‘Jakarta Undercover’ series? 

Let’s see, invite-only parties where everyone was having sex. There are also places in the city where you can get mandi kucing, where the girl licks you all over using red wine, milk, ice water, hot water or jelly. In Kota, there is a hotel with theme rooms and girls dress up as mermaids, doctors or schoolgirls, according to your preference. And there is a place in Glodok where you can have sex with a duck.

What’s your new book, ‘Cinta Itu Kamu,’ about? 

It’s not a novel; it’s a compilation of short stories, poems, quotes and thoughts in both Indonesian and English. There’s a CD that comes with it where I read passages aloud with soothing music playing in the background. There’s also a track where I sing. The book covers everything from a broken heart to falling in love, from nice words to whisper to your girlfriend as she’s falling asleep to pick-up lines.

It sounds very different from your previous projects. Why the switch? 

As an author, I can write about anything that I’m passionate about. This project is new for me, I like the challenge; I’m writing in a different style and singing. I think people have already read enough about sex and they might not want to hear more about it for now. Maybe in a couple of years from now, but definitely not now.

Everyone says Indonesia is such a tolerant nation. Would you agree with that? 

I believe that, but I don’t believe that it’s true for everyone. There are people who are open-minded, who see things not simply as black or white.

How so? 

I like to go to modern Muslim universities and speak at seminars or lectures. I graduated from a pesantren, a Muslim boarding school. I believe that you can have a good debate and discussion on any topic with anyone. I’ve had them in Makassar, Yogyakarta, Jakarta, all over. When I do talk shows on air, the computers crash and the phone lines jam with people calling in to say all kinds of things, from “your books are eye-opening” to “go to hell.” It doesn’t always go smoothly. I’ve been kicked off the stage many times, and once there were guys on motorcycles just circling the building and they all had knives. Sometimes I feel like I’m on trial.

You wrote the novel and scripted and produced the film ‘Tarzan ke Kota’ (‘Tarzan Goes to the City’). Have you ever seen that guy walking around Jakarta who looks exactly like Tarzan, loincloth and all? 

No, never, I was inspired by old Tarzan movies. But the whole film was a mess; I should have just made a horror movie [laughs].

You’ve got a girlfriend now. Is she the least bit intimidated by all your experiences?

No. I don’t go to those sex parties anymore. I met her at a seminar on transsexuals in Bandung, she was the MC. I’m 35, I’m slowing down, and I need to think about starting a family.

Emka was talking to Iwan Putuhena

Original Interview was published in The Jakarta Globe

My Jakarta: Moammar Emka, ‘Jakarta Undercover’ Author

Picture by Iwan Putuhena

for more information visit


My Jakarta: June Luhulima, Diver and Doctor

Being both a doctor of physiology and a diver, June Luhulima’s journey of exploration is never ending. Today she talks about her experience as a participant in the world diving record set at Sail Bunaken 2009, understanding how our bodies work and her recent volunteer work in Padang.

What did you study and what exactly do you do for a living? 

I learned physiology; it’s the logic of life, understanding how your body works. I earned my degree from Christian University of Indonesia (UKI). I enjoy learning about how the body works while exercising, diving or being exposed to hot or cold weather. Today, I consult and teach, specifically in relation to diving. I was a consultant for a Kempo martial arts team when it won two National Games’ [PON] competitions. I worked with the trainers to enhance the performance of athletes by giving them accurate calculations for their training programs, workouts and nutrition.

What organizations are you involved in? 

I’m a member of the Association of Maritime Doctors [Perdok-LA], an organization that focuses on the condition of people that live and work near the sea, such as fisherman or divers, and also the All-Indonesia Sport Diving Association [Possi], as chairman of its research and development commission. The two associations collaborate to teach the proper way to dive and the dangers, and I’m involved with both organizations.

How long have you been diving? 

Since 1976. It’s my hobby and I’ve always been interested in learning what happens to our bodies underwater. I was a dive instructor before I got my degree, that’s why I focused on underwater physiology at school.

Where have you dived, and where is your favorite place? 

In the Banda Sea, Manado, Thousand Islands, Kalimantan, Bali, Ambon, Lombok and many other places. The Banda Sea is my favorite because there’s a straight drop off a cliff face and the fish are much more beautiful than any other place I’ve been to.

The world diving record was broken at Sail Bunaken 2009, and you were a part of that. Tell us about it. 

We planned it in 2008 and it became an event for everyone, including the Navy, tourists and dive clubs. Our marine territory in Indonesia is vast and we were concerned because that there weren’t as many divers as before. Our mission was to attract a younger generation of divers and have them consider jobs related to the ocean and underwater themes. We had 2,486 divers and zero accidents.

What are the benefits of diving? 

Well for me personally, going underwater really helps me to be more creative, clear my head and fuel my imagination. So if you are stressed, I really recommend it. Also, when you’re breathing underwater from a tank, you’re breathing six times more oxygen than on land. It’s good for your skin and it helps you to look younger [laughs].

When and where is the next big diving event? 

Sail Banda Sea is coming up in 2010. This time we’re aiming to get instructors involved. However, in nearby Ambon we’re going to have other activities and competitions like underwater photography and underwater orientation, so everyone can join in.

Is there anything that you take from the ocean and adapt to your everyday life? 

Yes, the way I dress. The color coordination of my clothes is inspired by the sea. Like the fish in the ocean, if its white and grey with a yellow tail, I try to wear the same colors. For example, I would wear a white blouse, with a black skirt, yellow scarf and a grey belt.

Can you compare the human body and the ocean? 

Well, the fact is that the body is a universe in itself. Sometimes, when I teach, I show two different pictures, one taken underwater and one of a human body under the microscope. My students can’t tell the difference.

You just came back from Padang, how was that experience? 

I went with friends from the Global Rescue Network two days after the earthquake. I was chosen because they had medicine but no doctors. We were sent to Padang Pariaman, since the bigger cities were already provided for. When we arrived there was no rescue station, no leadership and conditions were bad. The central government was not there to organize and there were no specific instructions. The other rescue teams just went in and out of the area, dropping off food. But what the people really needed was to restore the water supply and construct toilets and a public kitchen. That’s what we did and we stayed with the locals until everything was ready.

Did the money from Jakarta get distributed properly? 

There is more than one door. For example, one of the TV stations provided food and medicine with donations from viewers, but I didn’t see anyone coordinating the distribution properly. They just gave everything away as they traveled for good photo opportunities. The government should assign each organization to focus on one area to rebuild schools, mosques and build basic facilities.

How do you feel about living in Jakarta? 

I like the rhythm, everything is at a fast pace. But it no longer suits me because I have asthma. Travelling abroad or going out of town is like servicing your car every couple of months, I do it to recharge my batteries whenever I’ve had enough of the city. And when I return, I’m motivated, I have new ideas.

June was talking to Iwan Putuhena

Original interview was published in The Jakarta Globe

My Jakarta: June Luhulima, Diver and Doctor

Picture Courtesy of June Luhulima

My Jakarta: Hendro, Rock Star Middleman

Trying to please a diva or a rock star during a tour is no easy task. Just ask the Jakarta-born Hendro, who has worked in artist relations since 1993. Hendro and his team are responsible for ensuring every aspect of an artist’s comfort and well-being.

And anyone who thinks working in the entertainment industry is all fun and games had better think again. Hendro gives us a breakdown of what it’s like traveling around the country trying to keep the talent happy.

How did you get to work with famous bands and artists? 

In this business it’s all about word of mouth. People hire me and my team based on the quality of work that we do. Bands recommend us to other bands.

What exactly is an artist relations officer? 

I’m a middleman. I work between the artist and the event organizer. I have to make sure that everything that the artist needs is prepared.

What’s the biggest difference between working with people in Jakarta and outside the city? 

It’s hard to say because I was born in Jakarta, so I’m used to this pace. But I’ve traveled to many places around Indonesia, from the countryside to major cities, so I can really see the difference. In Jakarta, it seems like you are always chasing the clock. Elsewhere, everything tends to be more relaxed, like you are killing time. It’s a really different lifestyle.

Which local artists have you worked with? 

I have worked with a lot of well-known bands and artists, like Padi, Gigi, Agnes Monica, Peterpan, Nidji and many more. I maintain a good relationship with them and earn their trust; they always rehire me for their shows.

Have you worked with any international artists? 

Yes, in 2003 I worked with Linkin Park for their concert in Jakarta. International artists have their own relations officers, so at that time my job was to manage 700 internal security officers. It was a really good experience.

Can you describe a typical day with an artist?

When an artist is on the way to the airport we ensure the boarding passes and seat numbers are ready. The bags and equipment are already checked in, so they can just jump on the plane. Before arrival, we have the event organizer standing by with transport from the airport to the hotel. Then we need to evaluate the situation with the team, such as crowd control for example, just to make sure everything is secure. Before arriving at the hotel, we already have the artist’s room prepared according to their wishes. They don’t need to check in, just go straight to the room.

Then on the way to the venue, we have to coordinate backstage preparations, for example a clean bathroom, food, drinks, backup security and other requests. From the beginning to the end of the concert, our team has to be aware of and control the crowd. Three songs from the end, we have to be ready to evacuate the artist back to the hotel. I constantly have to confirm and reconfirm everything to make sure it’s all smooth.

Have you ever had an incident involving an artist and a fan? 

Well, there was one incident where an artist’s hair was accidently pulled by a fan. I think it was unintentional; the fan was just really excited and trying to reach the artist. Once in Kalimantan there were mothers forcing their kids to meet Peterpan, but it turned out that they were the ones who wanted to meet the band [laughs].

Why choose this job? 

I don’t know [laughs]. Somehow I ended up here. It all began when a friend became an event organizer. A cigarette company sponsored a 15-city concert tour and I was on the team as a relations officer. Because I did a good job, since then it has never stopped.

What’s your plan for the future? 

Everyone wants to grow. My friend and I want to create our own artist management company. It will be called FOH (Front of House).

What’s the difference between local and international artists? 

International artists are better timekeepers than local artists, but they make twice as many requests. And more interesting ones [laughs].

Have you ever had obsessed girl fans who would try anything to meet the band? 

Yes, all the time. We make reservations under different aliases and we have to monitor all the artists’ phone calls. Calls must be directed to us first.

Do you need basic martial arts training to be able to protect the artist? 

Basic martial arts is good, but it’s not necessary. You have to use your brain first to solve a problem. If we get physical or use a weapon, it can damage the reputation of the artist. It’s better to think first or use persuasion to solve any conflicts.

What are you doing over the next couple of months? 

I still have to go to five more cities with two bands and four more cities with Agnes Monica. And I’m also working with The Changcuters and Nidji. I’m looking forward to it.

Hendro was talking to Iwan Putuhena

Original interview was published in The Jakarta Globe

My Jakarta: Hendro, Rock Star Middleman