Astrid Suryanto has a story like no other, with a personality and sound to match. Born February 7th, 1982 and raised in Sumatra, Indonesia, with one channel on the TV and monkeys running across the roof, she now inhabits a studio in New York where she writes and produces an array of electronica, having captured the imagination of big name DJs, industry figures and the public alike.
NY label Statra was playing the demo CD that Astrid had sent in when Victor Calderone, a renowned producer, remixer and DJ in demand with Madonna, Sting, Beyonce, Garbage, Goldfrapp, and many others, dropped by and fell instantly in love with the music. "We were all talking, and in the background I heard this beautiful piano playing, then this amazing voice followed,” Victor remembers. “I was completely distracted, I knew in an instant that this was an artist I wanted to work with". A week later, Astrid was in Vic's studio alongside producer/engineer Dave Micalizzi, working on single Rainwater and beginning her album project.
Astrid was always going to make music. When she was 5, her dad bought her an organ, “the one with big pedals and blinking lights. My feet hovered 30cm above ground, but I was hooked. Days after, we wrote our first song, Sanur Beach, about my favourite beach in Bali.” But within a year Astrid fell victim to that age old problem for musicians living in the jungle – a mouse bit through the organ’s wiring and they couldn’t find anyone to fix it. Astrid then took up piano lessons, but a discipline-happy teacher put her off conventional learning and she subsequently taught herself to play every instrument herself.
And, with a life that can be charted through instruments, that’s a lot of self-teaching. Junior High found Astrid wanting to play hairspray metal songs with the boys, so she picked up the guitar. “Then I learned about love and Kenny G,” she laughs, “so I turned to woodwinds. Shortly after, I discovered heartaches, so my aggression chose the best drum corps in Indonesia: drum line!”
After High School came a 24 hour plane journey to the States, where Astrid studied engineering and art, played her guitar in the subways of NYC, and went to Texas to Jungalize with DJ Blaze (Drum&Bass promoter and DJ Michael Davila, with whom she formed the duo Inner City Soul Project) at raves and clubs. One day, she sold some stuff and bought a keyboard and a microphone. “I downloaded some demo software from the internet, and started writing…and recording…and playing… I met a Swedish boy, J.Axel, online. We started to
exchange songs, then write together, and Statra Recordings signed the first song, You Give Me (Love).
After being snapped up by Victor, who is enjoying his first foray into executive production with Astrid, and Statra label boss Dave Tomaselli she relocated permanently from Houston to New York. In her element, writing, composing, performing and producing all of her own music and lyrics, she began releasing records that resonate with all who hear them.
John Digweed is just one of the figures who’ve been entranced with her contradictory style – fiercely strong yet beautifully delicate, vocals that are simultaneously raw yet polished, heart breaking lyrics set against ecstatically uplifting chords and beats – signing up several releases for his world-famous Bedrock Label. Satoshi Tomiie's SAW Recordings has also fallen for her charms (not surprisingly, given Tomiie’s own penchant for sultry, sexy lyrics and seductive dirty music a la Love In Traffic). Past releases include ‘Way’ (feat. Jephte Guillaume) from the Maestro Documentary Soundtrack, ‘Deepness is Served’ with J.Axel on Boheme/Intergroove, and 'Burn' with Nicole Moudaber as Prime 33. These, alongside releases on Statra Recordings, have propelled her repeatedly into the BBC Radio1 Dance Charts, Billboard Dance Charts, and successful compilation series alongside leading electronic artists.
Her live performances, including a series of impromptu flashmob gigs that stopped traffic in Miami, expose the true luminosity of her voice which sounds incredible with the minimum of accompaniment – though any extras usually come from Astrid herself be it a keyboard or guitar.
From Acid Jazz to House to Electronic to Rock, Astrid's versatile talent has given her the freedom to explore all genres of music. Her future schedule includes a solo release on Morrison Recordings (March 2008), as well as a chain of releases with her new partner, DJ Yellow of the highly respected Yellow Productions which he lead with Bob Sinclar. 3 separate EPs will be released through Deep focus, Project, and Ovum Recordings to lead the way of DJ Yellow & Astrid Suryanto's first full length album, "Intermission", due out winter 07/08 on Project Records.
It’s a far cry from the jungle of Sumatra, but on the futon in her little studio in the concrete chaos of New York City, Astrid has found her home. “I dream, I write my mind, release singles, collaborate with great producers, and talented artists. I spend every second that is left on my own collection of songs - songs that are helping me survive by allowing me to speak,” she says. Not even a mouse with the sharpest teeth could stop her from making music now… - Sally Learmouth
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