If you can have a lot, why choose to have just one? Maybe that line is enough to describe the variety of profession that Soleh Solihun have right now. A journalistic bachelor, former music reporter, former stage photographer, radio host, stand-up comedian, an MC, TV presenter, author, Twitter celebrity, a father, and soon enough will be known as big screen actor. Sub-Cult asked Sammy Bramantyo; bassist to rock band Seringai, radio host, commercial voice-over, and lifestyle product shop owner – who seems to really understands and have an equally variation of jobs as Soleh, to interview him.
You just released your latest memoir “Kastana Taklukkan Jakarta” which is really your life journey, specially your career. What made you choose to write this compared to writing a fiction or music biography perhaps?
That’s the publisher’s (Literati) requests. They want to have two series of work-lit novel. There was previously a novel about lawyers, so they wanted me to write my experience as a journalist. The main targets are students and college students who want to know what it’s like to work as a journalist in Indonesia. I don’t think I’m ready yet to write a fiction that is really a fiction (not real life but made as if it were fiction). As for music biography, it’s actually in process. Since five years ago I’ve been preparing a biography for legendary Bandung hardcore band Puppen, but it’s not finished. Just wish me luck.
Why are all the names in this book changed? Why not use their real names instead?
Again, that was the publisher’s consideration. To avoid lawsuits just in case someone feels disadvantaged by my writing. It’s understandable, if I put in real names, then I might be considered giving away inside secrets. If I made it into fiction, then they can’t prove whether it’s really about them or not. Even though it’s really obvious what I wrote in the book, but as long as no names are the same then, they can’t sue us.
You used to work full-time at a magazine, now it could be said that you have multi-profession or what people usually say as “working odd jobs”. I have this point of view that people who work full-time are mostly people who are afraid of working odd jobs, making uncertain amount of salary and having an un-guaranteed career. Do you fall under that category? If you are, why didn’t you find a full-time job at the end and ended up with so many jobs?
I am categorized under the people who are afraid of making an uncertain amount of money. That’s why, even though it seems like I’m working odd jobs here and there, I actually make monthly income as radio host at 91,6 Indika FM where it’s enough to fulfill the monthly needs of my family and I. So, when I left Rolling Stone and turns out that Indika offered to pay more with more relaxed working hours, that made me more tranquil and not think about doing the conventional office hours.
People in their mid-30s are usually already in a career or their dreams, or at least getting there. Would you consider yourself to be?
My ideal job was accomplished when I worked at Rolling Stone. As music lover who can only write and have no skill in creating music or even sing, being a music journalist at the Rolling Stone is one of my dream job even before the magazine was published in Indonesia. My dream job now is to have a cool talk show like the Late Night Show overseas. Maybe right now I’m getting there, starting by getting a job as a presenter at TV station in a small program.
Girls like funny guys. Because you’re a stand-up comedian, does this apply for you as well?
It’s not so bad I suppose. At least, I’ve met housewives a few times on the street and they smiled at me and told me that they like my show on TV. There’s also this time, where the audience coordinator of Metro TV told me “Mas Soleh itu yang suka kebanyakan ibu-ibu lho.” Are housewives considered as “girls”? *laughs*
As a stand-up comedian, what topic is difficult to turn funny?
All things that are unappealing or uninteresting or isn’t the anxiety of a stand-up comedian is going to be hard to turn funny, cause basically a stand-up comedian joke material is their anxiety or whatever attracts their attention. I, for example, am not interested in politics, that’s why it’s so hard for me to make a political joke.
Do you think it’s time for Indonesian people to make jokes about racism? Or do you think our people still take things like that “seriously”?
There are still lots of people who can’t accept racist jokes, not because they’re too “serious”, but because they’re just not used on talking about things like that openly in public. When you think about it, on a small scale, Indonesian people do make racist jokes.
Your debut movie “Cinta Brontosaurus” is also coming out soon. What interests you to act?
I got interested because the producer, Fajar Nugros, asked me to. Suddenly he gave me the part; he said the character can only be played by me. My principle is never to reject fortune. Especially when there are people out there trying so hard to be in a movie that they have to try over and over again, I got offered, it would be out of line if I rejected. Besides, I hope this chance will open new doors to other opportunities. It’s not so bad, it’s not making me rich yet but at least it’s making me stylish *laughs*. Apart from whether or not the movie is going to sell or not, and whether or not I will play in another movie, at the very least I can tell my kids and grandchildren that I was in a movie and on the poster, *chuckles*
Let’s go back to your newest book, as a super busy person, how long did it take you to finish this book?
More than a year I think. There was too much delay. The writing process was fast, I typed it in one go and send it to the editor, I didn’t think again whether the flow was fine or not. But waiting beats my laziness *chuckles* and what’s long is waiting for the equally super busy urban artist, Sir Dandy.
I think the part where you told the story of Kastana who works for an adult magazine that’s been harassed by thugs wearing religious mask was the most interesting. Which part do you love best?
That period about the adult magazine, I love telling all parts of the story because it’s an experience that not many people can have. Many people go through failed working experiences, but working for a magazine that’s been branded as the destroyer of morality, being called in by police as witness, and the news made international headlines, not everyone can experience that.
There’s always a degree of idealism and commercialism in a work. In your opinion, does your book leans towards idealism or commercialism more?
Although the idea came from the publisher, this book is idealist enough. When I wrote this book I was given the freedom to write, they just wanted me to write my experience as a music journalist. They didn’t tell me what topic I should write. As for commercialism, of course when the publisher asked me to write this book they want it to sell, and they believe that if I wrote this book it would sell.
Reading from a few of your Tweets it seems that you want an H-D Sportster or Triumph Bonneville. Would your wife let you?
Not now she wouldn’t *laughs*. That’s why I have to earn and save as much money as I can. I need to finish the house settlement and renovate it, or buy a bigger one so it fits the motorcycle. I can’t have a motorcycle that’s bigger than the house. And as long as the kids’ education fund are covered, I’m sure the wife can’t say no.
You labeled yourself as someone who failed in becoming a rock star. Your current friends who consist of rockers considered the year 2013 is a myth for sex, drugs, rock n’roll, and money. Would you still be one if there was the chance?
Of course, if suddenly I was given the miracle of being able to sing or at least play a guitar I would. I don’t think Indonesia has one yet; a rocker who is also a comedian who is also a talk-show host. It’s not the sex and drugs that I’m looking for, but the charisma and the prestige you know *laughs*. It’s a different charisma between rockers and comedians. Both are entertaining, but rockers are manlier so it seems.
Interview by Sammy Bramantyo