As Phnom Penh slowly reopens for gigs, one of the faces and voices making a big splash is Intan Andriana. Both of her Friday night Jazz and the City series concerts with co-collaborator Metta Legita at Green Pepper Italian restaurant, were sold out. This week she is at Farm to Table with Anthony Armenti on guitar, then she’ll be back at Green Pepper the following week for number three. She somehow had time for a chat with Leng Pleng this week to talk about what has become a busy time.
“I know!” she laughs. “After a while of not singing, finally when the moment is there, okay, I will do it – here and there, and there, and there.”
The connection with Green Pepper (formerly of Otres beach, relocated to Phnom Penh last June) goes back to Christmas and New Year gigs. “I came up with the idea of Jazz and the City because I want to bring jazz music into the city of Phnom Penh. I thought let’s try out different kinds of jazz with different instrumentalists, a different set of stories and different vibe every time, a new guest is every time. An instrumentalist, or a singer like Euan.”
Euan Grey was there to launch the series on the first weekend of June. Since then each concert (rather than a gig; it’s reserved seating for fine dining) has been planned with a theme in mind. “I choose the theme, and then I choose the songs,” says Intan. “At the beginning I was so excited that Green Pepper were open to the idea. We didn’t really expect it to be fully booked, but hoped to attract enough people. In the end it was sold out, both times. I’m very happy to have found a place where we can explore more ideas about jazz. For now it’s sit down fine dining, because it’s very limited space. But there is no cover charge.”
Number two compared and contrasted the styles and songs of Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday. “I really enjoy creating a theme,” she says. “Next week will be cool jazz with Gerard Evans. This is going to be a whole new thing. Cool jazz from between the 1940s and the 1960s, more smooth and soft compared to bebop and swing. After the cool jazz it’s going to be more related to groove, groovy music, but that’s still a secret.”
Tomorrow night is the debut of another project, the voice and guitar blend with Anthony Armenti. “This is a new thing that I’m trying. I like to work with different musicians, I don’t want to just limit myself to just work with specific people, I say yes to working with other people who ask me to collaborate or perform with them. Why not? It’s a very good experience to work with people from all of the world; before I only worked with Indonesians in Indonesia.”
Phnom Penh opened up to Intan slowly. “I’ve been singing professionally since high school, so 2004, 2005. I travelled to Australia and when I came back I started singing in hotels, different venues in Indonesia. When I moved to Phnom Penh in October 2017, I stopped singing because I didn’t have any connections – after eight months I was able to get in the Phnom Penh music scene.”
And it was here that she met keyboard player and composer Metta Legita. “We are in the same music, jazz, and so we connected. And also we are both from Indonesia, so it’s easier to communicate. In jazz, we challenge each other to do new things. For example, Metta and I like to challenge each other – do this one! You can do it! There is a seven or eight year age difference but we are so close, we get along like sisters. She has started to sing, I’ve encouraged her, and now I’m learning piano from her, so we exchange, supporting each other.”
Her musical hero? “Ella Fitzgerald. I was very inspired by her, and everything I learned I got from her. For scatting, the male version is Louis Armstrong, but the female version is Ella. I really enjoy scat, it’s a new thing that I want to explore more. If I stay with the same format every time with the same instrument I can never grow or explore my musical skills. For the scat it’s also very good, because I try to copy the sounds of all the instruments.”
The grass will not be growing under her feet; apart from her anticipated return with Hot Club de Phnom Penh, new projects keep popping up. “I have maybe two or three of my own songs, and Metta has many more than me, and we are thinking about working on this together. She has one song in particular that she really really wants me to sing. At the moment we are busy with the gigs, but we’ll find some time to do this new one.”
Intan and Anthony do A Swing Thing at Farm to Table tomorrow, Friday 9th. Then it’s Jazz and the City #3, Intan and Friends with Gerard Evans, on Friday 26. Patrons are advised to book early for both to avoid disappointment.