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Erik Sondhy

David Weiss

Marthen Eugene Mangempis, a man hailing from Manado, a guide fluent in Dutch and Ni Luh Putu Sri Nulatri Sedani, a professional dancer from Bali, on 10 April 1975 awaited the birth of their baby in a small city in Bali named Denpasar. They then named their first child Eurysondhy Andrean John Imanuel Mangempis and Erik grew up as the eldest of 5 siblings.

When other children had dreams of becoming a doctor or engineer, Erik Sondhy since young, had already known for sure what he wanted in the future, which was to become a famous musician. He formed these dreams because since young, Erik really admired a band from England, which was The Beatles. His love for the band The Beatles drove Erik to study various musical instruments, and the first one he pursued was the guitar. As time went on, Erik also started learning how to play the piano, which has actually turned out to be his passion until today.

Thanks to his seriousness in learning the piano on his own, in 1989, Erik also received an offer to perform for the first time in church. At the time, Erik just turned 12 and he performed playing the organ in front of many people. Erik truly enjoyed it further strengthening his dream of becoming a famous musician someday. His love for The Beatles has never faded. His days are passed while listening to his favorite band. “The Beatles songs are the soundtrack of my life” Erik often tells his friends.

In 1992, after graduating from Junior High School, Erik who knew that his grandmother was a music lover and choir singer in church asked his parents for permission to further his studies in a Senior High School in Bandung, where his grandmother lived. Unable to stop the wish of their child, both of his parents gave their blessings to young Erik to move to Bandung. Here, Erik became more active in playing music with a band that was formed during his school days in Santa Maria 2 High School, Bandung. It was an addictive activity and one that Erik continued to pursue and made him happier, because he continued to receive support from his grandmother to further explore his musical talent. During High School, Erik was the vocalist, guitarist and keyboard player in his band. At the time, as Erik tried to follow the footsteps of his idol John Lennon, together with his band, they would often perform the songs by The Beatles at various school events.

In 1995, when Erik graduated from High School, he steadily began his career by playing the piano solo, while still with his band, Paremeswara. During this time, he began to grow interested in Jazz music so he decided to take a course in Piano Jazz Bandung, which he did for one year. Feeling unsatisfied there, he also took a course in Harmony Music School, Bandung. Erik then together with his band took off to Yogyakarta in 1996 for 3 months.

Unexpectedly, Erik was very comfortable in Yogyakarta. His schedule that should have only been 3 months was changed when Erik decided to settle down here. Since 1996, Erik began living in Yogyakarta. This decision became a new beginning for the career development of Sondhy. In this city, Erik found many musician friends. He fell harder in love with Jazz music that gave him the freedom to improvise and express his mood more freely. And the mentors who were instrumental in developing Erik’s ability were Agung Prasetyo (bass) and Idang Rasjidi (pianist). His band at that time D’Mood Jazz then tried to take part in a Jazz Festival competition throughout Indonesia organized by the University of Indonesia in Jakarta in 1999, and they managed to finish as the winners, carving their names as well as beginning certain steps in the world of Jazz at national scale because they also grabbed the best pianist and keyboardist awards.

Missing his village and family in Bali, after carving his name in the national scale Jazz environment, Erik who had the vision to develop Jazz in the Island of Gods where he was born eventually decided to move back to Bali in early 2000. Here is where he met Rio Sidik (trumpet), who then invited him to join Jiwa Band together with Ito Kurdhi (bass), Koko Harsoe (guitar) and Sonny Riwis (drums). At the time, Jiwa Band grew more popular and performed in various renowned Indonesian Jazz arenas, such as Jazz Merah Putih and Matra Jamz Jazz to the extent that they signed an agreement with the label BMG Records to produce their album. Apparently, after the initial recording process, due to some members of Jiwa Band receiving offers to play overseas, production was forced to be postponed. And finally, Jiwa Band broke up in 2002.

In 2002, Svara Band was born, consisting of Erik (keyboard), Rio Sidik (trumpet), Koko Harsue (guitar), Doddy Sambodo (bass) and Oni Pah (drums). Svara Band also often participated in various Jazz events, such as Jazz Merah Putih and Indonesian Open Jazz. 3 years later, in 2005, Erik Sondhy began to re-explore a solo career, playing the piano solo in Jazz Merah Putih, Java Jazz but still together with Koko Harsue Quartet and started to have the dream to be able to play many creations, a project without limits in playing music. Then in 2007, the Erik Sondhy Project came to life or more widely known until today by the name E.S.P., where Erik released his first album Introducing Trio 07. In addition to the focus on Erik Sondhy Project, Erik who admired the passion and energy of Keith Jarrett when performing on stage, until now since 2008 still stayed in Rio Sidik Quartet.

Erik who has walked quite a long journey in his music career feels that a good performance must be organic and synergized. Erik has often been amidst the audience first before getting on stage to feel the energy directly, so there is totality created in every one of his performances. In 2012, the Erik Sondhy Project worked with the trio named Karma Jazz Trio, which had members Erik Sondhy (rhodes), Sandy Winarta (drums) and Indra Gupta (bass). And they produced an album titled Karma.

A regular performer in Java Jazz every year since 2005 until now (2015), in 2013, he was nominated as one of the Best Men of the Year by Yak Magazine, often appearing with many projects and bands, among others Erik Sondhy Trio (E.S.P.), Karma Jazz Trio (E.S.P.), Bertha, Dewa Budjana, The Revelation and many other well-known Jazz musicians. The first time Erik performed in Java Jazz was with Bertha in 2005. Whereas in 2009, Erik was on stage together with The Revelation, with members Jeffry Tahalele, Sandy Winarta, Oele Pattiselano and Sierra Soetedjo and Arief Setiady.

In 2010, Erik appeared in Java Jazz together with Dewa Budjana. And he also had the chance to play in the group named Jazz Empat Orang in Salihara together with Rayendra Sunito (drums), Indrawan Tjin (bass) and Donny Koeswinarno (sax). While still in Salihara, at a different opportunity in the same year, Erik played in Dwiki Dharmawan Orchestra. In 2012, Erik Sondhy Trio (E.S.P) performed in Java Jazz with members Erik Sondhy, Sandy Winarta and Kevin Joshua.

In 2015, Erik Sondhy has performed in Mozaic Beach Club, Ryoshi House of Jazz together with Rio Sidik Quartet, Jazz Café, Bali Live International Jazz Festival, Kota Kinabalu Jazz Festival, in collaboration with DJ Wilson and Rio Sidik in the event Midnight Madness Velvet Hypnotized. He performed in Java Jazz as a feature of the band Maruli Tampubolon, together with Mus Mujiono and Rio Sidik and played together with Rio Sidik Quartet. In June 2015, Erik Sondhy left to London, England, to record his third album in Abbey Road Studios. An album he plans to release in early 2016. In his latest album, Sondhy has 3 songs he created on his own, titled London Blues, The Love of My Life and Song for My Mother. In August, Erik reunited to perform with Rio Sidik Quartet in Jazz Market by the Sea held in Nusa Dua.

Erik’s journey until today has seen him perform together with various Indonesian artists such as Indra Lesmana, Dewa Budjana, Pitoelas Bigband, Dwiki Dharmawan, Indro Hardjodikoro, Balawan, Barry Likumahuwa, Sandy Winarta, Rio Sidik, Jefry Tahalele, Monita Tahalea, Sierra Soetedjo, Oele Patilasalano, Ireng Maulana, Mus Mujiono, Maruli Tampubolon, Titi Dj, Krisdayanti, Harvey Malaiholo, Andien, Dira Sugandi, Ruth Sahanaya, Dewi Gita, Syaharani, Tompi, Superman is Dead and Ayu Laksmi.

While at international scale, Erik has performed in Singapore Jazz Festival, Penang Jazz Festival, Kota Kinabalu Jazz Festival, famous Jazz cafés in London, Ronnie Scott’s and Troy Jazz Bar. Erik has played together with popular musicians such as Hadrien Feraud (bass), Toninho Horta (guitar), Andy Davis (trumpet), Nigel Price (guitar), Mark Lewandowski (bass), Saleem Raman (drums) and opened the Latin Jazz pianist concert of Grammy Award Winner Chuco Valdez.