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At 22-year-old, the musician Sheryl Sheinafia is quickly becoming a rising star and an influencer to many young Indonesian women. Her talent for playing music started early on, and at the age of 14, she launched her solo career. In 2017, Sheryl landed several leading roles in various films and received awards and recognition in the film industry. Then in the following year, she returned to her roots as a musician and released her self-written hit “Sweet Talk” that became the biggest song of her career by far. Sheryl’s success has become an inspiration to many of her followers, and she is bringing positive vibes though arts to lifestyle.

You’ve been playing music from 5-year-old, how do you get started at such a young age?

I was always in an environment with people who enjoy music, and it sticks on me as I grew older. At first, it was just a hobby but I was so into it that I finally decided to make it my career, and I’m lucky because my parents are all out in supporting me.

How did you learn to play music instruments?

I got basic skills because I took piano lessons at a younger age. My mom wanted me to play the piano because she wants a grand piano in the house [laugh], so I was that child that has to play the piano. But then I realised that bringing a piano to school is too heavy so I pick-up the guitar.

So the guitar is your preferred instrument I assume since you always play with it…

Yeah, I always try to keep it near because of the way I roll. I need to practice whenever I can. Sometimes I have a role in a film, so when I’m on a set, it’s the long wait that I have to fill-in to practice and work on my music.

Who is your role model?

Growing up my role model is my grandma, she is a hard worker. At 82-year-old she still goes to Papua to encourage the women out there to be more active, she is the true feminist that I know today.

(Photo courtesy by Willy Mulyadi)

“I don’t want to generalise my music. I just want to be honest with what I write,”

Tell me about the new single

It’s a remake of Chrisye’s song “Setia”, which will be released by Musika Studios as a tribute album to Guruh Soekarnoputra.

Any film project in the near future?

I’m playing a role in Miles Film project titled “Bebas”, which is an adaptation of Korean box-office hit film “Sunny“. It will be released sometime this year.

Many people see you as a role model. How do you inspire or influence young women?

There weren’t many artists who launch their career as a female singer and songwriter. I wrote my own songs like “Sweet Talk“ and “I Don’t Mind“, and I have a niche market because I write and sing in English. But as it turns out many people liked it, and some told me that I influenced them to pick up a guitar and dive into music… I’m here just trying my best to stay true to myself.

How do you describe your music?

I can’t eliminate the folk vibe that I deliver in my lyrics. I like to tell a story in my songs and I don’t want to generalise my music. I just want to be honest with what I write.

How do you deal with trolls on social media?

I had a first-hand experience from some people who commented on my body. I mean, I don’t want to deceive you, that’s how it is, and that’s how I wear my dress. So I kept the picture and I wasn’t ashamed of it. I cover up a little of my imperfections with make-up, not that I don’t embrace it… I do, but don’t tell me what body type you think is better, because I was born this way.

What’s on your playlist?

Right now I really like James Bay and Julia Michaels, they just release a song called Peer Pressure. I also like Lessons by Sinéad Harnett, and of course from Ariana Grande’s new album I like the song Needy the most.