Definition of Cool: 707

Merchandise at 707 offers fashion beyond mainstream trends and styles, delivering urban designer brands not yet available in the rest of Jakarta.

“Sometimes we are six months ahead, compared to the other stores in the city,” says 707 General Manager Nana.

Nana, a 20-something young woman with a keen grasp of urban fashion, has been part of the 707 team since day one, when the store opened for business at Kemang Icon building. “We always made the effort and develop the concept from the start to carry cutting-edge brands from suppliers all around the world,” she says.

707 carries T-shirts, jeans, shoes, sunglasses, watches and accessories by such trend-setting brands as APC, Nudie, Surface2Air, Kidrobot, Cheap Monday, YyMC, Richard James, Superfine, Edun, Alife, aNYything and Melissa, and many more.

If you have never heard of 707 before, you are not alone. The owners deliberately refuse to advertise and have always kept a low profile since the boutique opened its doors in 2005. So how do they stay in business? Mostly by word of mouth, says Nana. Also by social media such as Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and weekly newsletters. Over time, 707 has grown and developed a loyal, trend-aware clientele.

Not long after the store opened, 707 expanded to Cilandak Town Square for a micro version of the store called 707 Annexes. In 2008, the two outlets were combined into a bigger space at the current Aksara complex on Kemang Raya. The store’s urban chic design features vintage furniture combined with modern minimalist, large windows, white brick walls and a classic barber chair.

Adam, who has been working at 707 for three years, says most customers at the store come in looking for unique and exclusive brands. “They dig the rare jeans, and it’s all about curve for them,” he says. Dressed in vintage Nike shoes, designer jeans, T-shirt and baseball hat, Adam says he is comfortable working at 707 because it fits his lifestyle. “I like everything original; my style is simple, I want to be able to feel not just see the product,” he says.

Staying One Step Ahead

707 products typically create a buzz; their first launch for Nike drew lines of 400 people, with many sleeping outside the store overnight, because they knew it was an exclusive line not available at Nike stores in the malls or anywhere in Jakarta. Many other brands such as Nudie, Cheap Monday, Ksubi and Melissa only allow their limited-edition products to be sold in 707. “Most of the lines we carry are exclusive,” says Nana.

Monitoring trends is a key aspect in a business that aims to deliver fresh products. “We regularly keep an eye on magazines, the internet, television and follow the current buzz,” says Nana. “We also look into the background and the people behind the brand. That has always been one way for us to consider and choose a product.”

One product always in demand at 707 is denim. At 707 you can easily find rare and high-quality salvage jeans from Japan with brands such as Imperial, Naked & Famous and many others. Rare jeans at 707 can be priced as high as Rp 7 million.

“Preppy style is the new look for the season,” says Nana. Around Kemang and other hip areas in Jakarta, you can easily spot teenagers and young adults wearing retro glasses, buttoned shirts, chino pants and loafer shoes. Being preppy is cooler than ever, in comparison to previous years when sneakers and T-shirts dominated the urban market. The sneaker rack that used to be the Nike shoe display has been replaced with loafers and boots.

How do they deal with competition from knockoff merchandise? “We don’t worry about that because our customers appreciate quality and love the brand they are seeking. I don’t think they would consider imitations; besides it feels much better paying and wearing originals,” says Nana.

Serving only the best and meeting the demand for exclusive products have proven successful strategies for 707. For customers of this high-end boutique, the rare and limited-edition items on offer are worth every penny.

Iwan Putuhena Reports

Original article was published in Kemang Buzz

Definition of Cool: 707

Pictures by Dissy for Kemang Buzz

707

Jl. Kemang Raya No. 8B, (next to Aksara, under Casa)
Tel: 021 718 0051
info@sevenohseven.com
sevenohseven.com

My Kemang: Erita, Public Relation Coordinator

When rain pours in Kemang, puddles form everywhere in no time. Erita Santosa is a Kemang resident who works for IHE Indonesia, a flood management consulting firm. As a public relations coordinator, Erita helps raise public awareness about flooding. Here she shares her views on a subject close to the hearts of Kemang residents.

How did you end up in Kemang?
I have worked at IHE Indonesia since 2008, and their office is here in Kemang.

What kind of company is IHE?
It’s a consulting firm that focuses on everything related to water. We have workshops, seminars and training programs on water and the environment.

What do you do there?
As a communications and public relations coordinator my job is to maintain networks with the media and stakeholders. I write press releases and organize press conferences to raise public awareness about flooding,

So what’s the best way to solve the flooding problem around Kemang?
I would suggest not building any more high-rises in the area. The investors in Kemang have to gather and find a solution to solve this problem before they start another construction, because the main streets that get flooded are the only access. They cannot rely on the government to do something about it.

The traffic and flooding puts many people off. So why do you think it’s still the “hip” place to be in Jakarta?
I heard about Kemang even when I was living in Jogjakarta. There is a history to this area and people talk about it. It’s an entertainment center.

What do you think about the new high-rise buildings in the area?
Personally I don’t think it’s a good idea. I think their impact has not been carefully considered. Like I said, Kemang is an entertainment center and it is an asset for tourism. I don’t think there should be any high-rise buildings in the area. The roads do not accommodate this.

What other activities are you involved in?
I enjoy doing volunteer work and being involved with social organization activities. I’ve been volunteering at Flowgi Foundation (www.flowgi.org) since 2006 as a coordinator for public relations, and I conduct social activities to enhance the education of poor children who live on the streets and in orphanages. We fundraise by doing several small projects.

Where are you from originally?
I’m from Jogjakarta. I moved to Jakarta in 2006 after the earthquake and after my father passed away.

What do you like about living in Kemang?
It’s near my office and I can walk or ride my bike anywhere. Everything is near — boutiques, spas, bars and restaurants. Everything is here. I enjoy the festivals when the streets are blocked. I also believe that Kemang is a safe neighborhood.

What don’t you like?
The wide gap between the rich and the poor. Just around the corner in the Bangka area you can still spot poverty, while on the other side is luxury. At Bangka you can still find food that costs less than Rp 10,000.

How do you get to work?
I ride my bike to work. Since we have such small streets in the area, and too much traffic, it is convenient for me to ride my bike. Unfortunately, there aren’t any proper places for me to park my bike.

Where are you on Saturday night?
I have a favorite place for Saturdays. It’s called Birdie. It’s an affordable drinking place where you can still find a cup of coffee for Rp 5,000. Or I go to Bremer to have a few beers with journalists.

And Sunday morning?
You can find me at church or at The Wall Street Institute where I study English.

Where is your favorite place to eat in Kemang?
My favorite place is a street stall in Bangka Raya that sells chap chay (mixed vegetables). I’ve been eating there since the owner had only one stall; now he has three in the area.

Erita Santosa was talking to Iwan Putuhena

Original interview was published in Kemang Buzz

My Kemang: Erita, Public Relation Coordinator

Picture by Iwan Putuhena

For more information on IHE, go to www.iheindonesia.com

My Jakarta: Jerry, Online Editor of Provoke! Magazine

If you would have told Jerry five years ago that he would end up becoming a professional writer, he would have laughed. An IT graduate with a dream of becoming a filmmaker, Jerry now works as the online editor at Provoke! magazine. In this interview, the 25-year-old shares his thoughts on his love of movies, the things he dislikes most about Jakarta and how venting on his blog helped him get a job in media.

I’ve been to coffee shops and bookstores, but I don’t see your magazine anywhere. Where can I find it?

We distribute magazines to high schools and distros [local clothing stores]. But Provoke is not solely for high-school students but for all young readers. However, our biggest readership comes from high schools in Jakarta and Bandung. We distribute our magazine to 150 schools in Jakarta and 50 in Bandung. This year our goal is to get into the Yogyakarta and Surabaya markets.

How did the magazine start?

Provoke began as an underground music magazine. It came in a form of a small, folded newspaper that was distributed to people in the underground music scene. Until it was bought by Gundo Susiarjo, who tweaked the business strategy for the magazine but kept the same sense of idealism and vibrant spirit.

How did you come up with the name?

The idea was we wanted to provoke creative thoughts.

What kind of stories does Provoke cover?

Every issue that’s relevant to the youth. We still cover underground music, but we also have a rubric that we use which we call being “indo-pendent .” Every month, we interview people who we consider to be artists. We also have special reports, a column reviewing special events and many more features.

How long have you been working at Provoke?

I’ve been working here since June 2009. I came in as a writer, a photographer and a reporter. Then I started writing more feature articles. Now I’m the editor for Provoke-online.com, which means I’m more focused on the Web site.

How many people are working at the magazine?

Provoke! has around 20 to 25 full-time employees. It’s small, but we’re all close. Our time is flexible so there are times when we don’t have to report to the office to work.

What’s your circulation? How do you make profit from a readership that’s mostly high-school students?

Our circulation is around 30,000. The magazine is actually free, so we depend heavily on the money we get from advertising.

Tell us something about your college days.

I took up information systems. I know it has nothing to do with what my present career is. I just took it up because my family wouldn’t let me go to film school. So I picked out anything as long as I could graduate and the school was not far from my home.

Do you enjoy writing?

Yes I do. The funny thing is, I began to like writing only when I joined Provoke During my days in elementary and high school I used to contribute stuff to our school magazine, so I had that experience. In college I had a blog, which I used as part of my portfolio to apply for this job.

What kind of blog?

It’s a blog where I share some sarcastic ideas, because I used to be angry all the time [laughs], mad about everything. But lately, I haven’t had the time to blog anymore.

What do you think about the younger readers today?

I think they’re more informed, not only because of magazines like Provoke but also technology like the Blackberry, Twitter and Facebook. Nowadays with the youth’s knowledge of current events, it’s hard to tell if they are in high school, college or working.

What do you like most about Jakarta?

I’ve been living here since I was born so this is my home and I love it. Since I’m a movie buff, I like the fact that I can find or watch any movie that I want. Morally speaking, it’s wrong to buy pirated DVDs, but I can’t deny that I buy them. If I had to buy an original DVD every month, I would be left with no money. It’s a bad thing, but I need it [laughs]. I hope someday when I make more money I can buy original movies.

What don’t you like about Jakarta?

I don’t like the Metromini, the Kopaja and similar vehicles. Even motorcycles. I think there’s too many of them. It has come to the point where they annoy me.

What are your career plans?

I enjoy what I’m doing now and I love my job. It’s fun to write about people and get to know them and obtain experience, but what I really want to do is become a filmmaker.

What’s your favorite thing about Provoke?

The reason I wanted to join Provoke was because of its comic treatment of issues. It’s not really a humor magazine per se, but the first time I read it I thought it was really funny. Since then, I’ve always wanted to write humorous stories.

What do you think makes Provoke unique?

Artwork for the cover is one thing that makes it unique. We feature a different artist every month who comes up with a piece that basically sums up the theme of one particular issue.

 

Jerry was talking to Iwan Putuhena

Original interview was published in The Jakarta Globe

My Jakarta: Jerry, Online Editor of Provoke! Magazine

 

Picture by Iwan Putuhena

My Jakarta: Angie Valerie, Jeans Designer

When friends asked Angie Valerie to help them with a project, she never guessed that it would lead to a business. Though she is still in school, Angie is now a partner in Jakarta-based jeans company Vision Mission. That’s fine by her, because she’s been hustling since elementary school.
Today, the 24-year-old Angie shares with us her passion for her jeans and her love-hate relationship with Jakarta, and clues us in on what might be the next big fashion trend.

What made you decide to start your own jeans company?

It all started with my friends’ school project last year. They created a business plan for a jeans company and since I’m studying visual communication design at UPH [Pelita Harapan University], they asked me to help with branding and design. From there the project became serious and they saw my commitment, so they asked me to become a partner. I’ve enjoyed working on this project since day one, even though I wasn’t paid. I’m the only girl in the team, this brand is my baby.

Where do you manufacture the jeans?

Everything is produced and made in Jakarta, from the raw materials to the buttons, even the packaging. While searching for suppliers, I realized that I could find anything I needed in Jakarta.

How did you come up with the name Vision Mission?

We had a few choices for names, but none of them fit our vision and mission. Then we realized that we kept mentioning the words “vision” and “mission” repeatedly, so we decided to go with that name.

So, what’s unique about the jeans?

At the moment they’re only for men. There’s no hype; we just focus on quality, branding and basic needs, so that the boys in the team would want to wear the jeans themselves. We’re just going back to basics because, at the end of the day, that’s what people are looking for.

What’s the price range?

They’re affordable despite the quality materials that we use. The average price is around Rp 390,000 [$43].

Are you competing with any other jeans companies?

There are several brands in Bandung. Last year alone, around 10 new brands came onto the market. Competition is always out there, although each brand has its own market. However, we support each other because we want people to appreciate local products because they contribute to the country.

Who’s your target market?

Anyone looking for comfortable, quality jeans at an affordable price. I have a few pairs of VM at home. Even though they’re for men, girls still buy them to wear as “boyfriend’s jeans.”

What do you do to relax?

I’m a laid-back person. You can find me at a coffee shop or the movies. There’s this place called That’s Life in Senopati; it’s my favorite coffee spot because it’s on the second floor of the owner’s house, so it’s very homey. It’s a good place to chat and spend time with friends.

Do you consider yourself an entrepreneur or an artist?

I’m more of an entrepreneur, but I never label myself. I love art and music, but ultimately, I want to make something that I can be proud of. Like an artist, I want people to see my work. For people to appreciate your work, you have to be able to market it as well, right?

How many tattoos do you have?

Five. A bracelet tattoo that I drew myself of a Native American feather, one on the back of my neck, a tribute to my grandpa on my back, a triangle behind my ears and one on my elbow that has a very deep meaning.

Any hobbies or businesses outside of Vision Mission?

I enjoy photography, design and cooking. I like to try new things. I used to work as an event organizer and I have contributed articles to magazines. Even back in elementary school I used to print off song lyrics and sell them to friends for Rp 1,000. I like to hustle [laughs].

How do you like living in Jakarta?

It’s a love-hate relationship. I hate the congestion, weather and pollution, we all do. The fact that there are high-rise buildings only served by narrow streets shows a lack of planning, but on the other hand, that’s what makes Jakarta different.

Where can we find VM jeans?

Strictly online at www.visionmissionjkt.com. Starting up with a small budget has forced us to be creative and find an alternative solution to opening a boutique. Selling online is more effective because we can control everything better in real time.

Do you see a future for online shopping in Indonesia?

Yeah, I see a really big future, especially in Jakarta. We make use of media such as Facebook and Twitter to build personal relationships with our customers. The key to online business is trust.

So, what’s in? Are skinny jeans still hip?

They’re out, but it’s all personal preference. We have super slim and slim cut. Dry jeans are in at the moment. These are jeans that you never wash, so it adds lines and character to the jeans. And the prediction is that prewashed jeans will be back in style soon.

Angie was talking to Iwan Putuhena

Original interview was published in The Jakarta Globe

My Jakarta: Angie Valerie, Jeans Designer

Picture by Iwan Putuhena

My Jakarta: Matt Nye, IT Consultant

Matt Nye is fresh off the boat. The 32-year-old American has been in Jakarta for a month, having moved here to start an IT consulting business. Born in California, Nye has lived in 10 different US states, but this is the first time he has worked overseas.
Nye tells us how he is adjusting to life here and how Indonesia allows him to combine business with pleasure.

Why Indonesia? 

At first it was the beaches. I came here for a visit two years ago and I went to Bali, Lombok and the Gilis. I fell in love with Indonesia and immediately tried to find a way to come back.

So for the past two years you’ve been dreaming about the beaches while sitting in your work cubicle? 

I’ve told my friends that when I die, I want my ashes to be spread on Gili Trawangan.

What was your previous job in the States? 

I was the director of professional services for the business intelligence practice at a consulting firm based out of the New York City metropolitan area.

That’s sounds complicated but also like a good job. Why did you quit your job during a recession? 

Yeah, well, I felt like I had gotten all that I could in that position and that if I was going to progress I would need to look at other opportunities. The recession factor actually encouraged the decision since competition tends to be the lowest during and especially after a recession. Additionally, an increased demand for technology-driven data services, combined with the investment opportunity in Indonesia and the fact that Asia is going to be the dominant global market in the next decade or so, if not quicker, led me to believe this was a great time to start this venture. 

Have you had experience working with Indonesians?

I haven’t, but I have local partners that I’m working with who are getting me acclimatized. Something I’ve noticed in my job and my personal life is that people across the world have a very segmented view of themselves and their country.  The same struggles you find in the US or Europe market, I’ve heard framed as Indonesian-specific traits; lack of motivation, difficulty in corporate politics, etc. There is the thought that because two people speak a different language their worlds are so far apart that their cultures are vastly different. But our world has become so small over the past 30 years with the Internet and other technologies that I feel cultures have been moderately joined in a way.

What do you do for fun? 

Benhil is fun. They have great street food and at the corner, near Sudirman, is that two-story shopping area that has everything you could want. Few people speak English, so it challenges me to use what little Bahasa I do know. Also, it’s way cheaper and the vegetables tend to be fresher and more diverse than the mall grocery stores.

Have you had a bout of food poisoning yet? 

No food poisoning yet, even though I have braved the food vendors, but so far, so good. I think the amount of chili sauce I ingest kills off all the bacteria.

Have you had experience working abroad before? 

No, although when I was young, I traveled a lot. Once I started my career I didn’t leave the States for 11 years. I had an opportunity to start traveling quite a bit in 2007 and have been exploring many different countries. I jumped at the opportunity to live and work here as soon as it presented itself.

Could you explain your job again, because I don’t get it? 

It’s essentially helping companies understand and manage the information within their organization, utilizing a strong technology infrastructure. With the advent of the technological age, you have access to far more information than before. I think the story goes that there is more information in a single issue of The New York Times than a person during the Renaissance would get in their entire lifetime. The companies that learn to control, understand and empower their employees with that information will be the ones to thrive in the post-recession global economy. Our company has several decades of experience in this and is hoping to share that with Indonesian and Southeast Asian companies.

So what’s your plan for the next six months? 

Professionally, I want to build a name in the market. But more importantly, I want to get my diving certification. I’m planning a trip to Karimunjawa in April and want to do some diving.

If you had to survive on $10 a day, how would you spend it? 

On printing a resume and an ojek [motorcycle taxi] to take me to apply for a job so I wouldn’t have to live off $10 a day.

How is your Indonesian? What words have you learned? 

“Tolong saya tolol ” [“Help, I’m stupid”].  I think this phrase can be used in almost every situation. The other essential one is “ satu lagi ” [“one more”].  I’ve started counting in Bahasa when I work out. I’m switching to counting in thousands, which gets some interesting reactions from people in the gym. Either they think I’m amazingly fit or I’m delusional.

Nye was talking to Iwan Putuhena

Original interview was published in The Jakarta Globe

My Jakarta: Matt Nye, IT Consultant

Picture by Iwan Putuhena

For more information visit www.westwind-consulting.com

My Jakarta: Melvyn, World Traveler

Melvyn knows her way around the country. But in due time, she may know her way around the world as well.

As a travel consultant, she has virtually figured out the global road map like the back of her hand. But her recent trip to Europe as a lone backpacker gave her a more intimate insight into other countries to which most of us only dream of going. It also helped her gain a better understanding of herself and how to travel on the cheap with help from a very useful Web site.

You just recently came back from a trip to Europe. Tell me about that experience. 

It was great. I finally got to travel by myself. I’ve been dreaming of going on a backpacking trip all my life, and I think I just spent all of my life savings [laughs], but it was worth it. I went to Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, France and the Netherlands in 45 days. I gained a lot of experience during that trip. There are just so many stories to tell.

Do you think it’s better to travel alone or be with friends?

I used to be indecisive when I was with my friends, but because I went on this trip alone, I felt like I learned to make decisions on my own. Traveling alone is nice because you make decisions by yourself. If you want to do something or go somewhere, you just do it. But I did constantly meet up with people everywhere I went, mostly from CouchSurfing.org

Tell me a little bit about CouchSurfing.org. 

It’s a nonprofit organization with members from around the world. Basically, it’s a Web site that helps you find a host who can accommodate your stay in a country you choose to visit. And you can also be the host yourself. To be able to experience a new culture right at your home is cool, but it’s also a good way to meet people. And not everyone just wants to find a place to crash. Some just want travel tips from locals.

You are a couch surfer representing Jakarta. How long have you been doing this? 

About two years. I’m living with my cousin, so I can’t always invite people to stay at our place. But being a host doesn’t always mean that your guests have to stay at your place. You can also serve as their guide and take them out for a good time.

Where do you usually take your guests? 

Standard sightseeing, which includes going to Monas, the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle, the old city and the highlight, of course, is making them eat durian. I also take them out to the city and ride the ojek , the bajaj and the bemo .

Where do your international guests usually come from? 

From Singapore, the US, Portugal, Holland and England.

How many couch surfers are there in Indonesia? 

In Indonesia there are thousands, but in Jakarta there are only a few hundred. I don’t know the exact number, but I know not everyone is active.

Don’t you think it’s dangerous to invite strangers into your own home? 

There are people who think it isn’t appropriate to invite strangers to their homes. But by letting them stay, I think you’ll eventually get to know them better. And there’s a reference system that you can also use. I’m sure there are incidents, but that can happen at any networking site.

Where are you do you originally come from? 

I’m from Palembang, South Sumatra. I was born there and I stayed there until I was in high school. I moved to Bandung to study at a university where I took up communications science and public relations. I moved to Jakarta in 2005.

Why made you decide to move to Jakarta? 

When I lived in Bandung, I spent most of my weekends in Jakarta. After I graduated, I got an offer to work at a company that was into wedding photography. Then one day I saw an ad from a travel agency, and I thought it could be interesting. I applied, got accepted and I’ve been working in the field ever since.

Tell me a little bit about working at a travel agency. 

I work as a travel consultant. I make reservations for plane tickets and hotel accommodations. I’m also into product development and serve as tour leader. I do a lot of research, organize information and get in touch with local travel agencies everywhere that can work with us. I’ve arranged tours to China, Egypt, Thailand and several more countries. I’ve also served as a tour guide for destinations around Southeast Asia.

So you managed to ‘couch surf’ throughout your recent trip? 

Pretty much. I was serving as a host before my recent trip, so when it was my turn to travel, some of the people that stayed at my place kind of returned my hospitality. I was sleeping in all sorts of rooms. I stayed in a living room, a guest room with a private bathroom and at times on the floor with only a blanket. You just can’t be picky.

Have you been able to coach-surf around Indonesia? 

Yes, at Bandung, Bali, Solo, Semarang and Yogyakarta. Even though I have friends living in Bandung, I stay with other couch surfers because I travel with a guest. This is to meet people from other parts of Indonesia with the same ideas in mind: traveling on a budget.

Melvyn was talking to Iwan Putuhena

Original interview was published in The Jakarta Globe

My Jakarta: Melvyn, World Traveler

Picture by Iwan Putuhena

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