The Sound Cafe
Sandrayati Releases Alternative Live Version Of 'Smoke' With The Reykjavik Recording Orchestra
By Stevie Connor.
Sandrayati has released an alternative live version of her single 'Smoke', recorded in Reykjavik with the Reykjavik Recording Orchestra. Arranged by Viktor Orri Árnason, the track is a reimagined version of the single taken from her profound debut record Safe Ground, produced by Grammy-nominated composer Ólafur Arnalds,
Sandrayati will be playing The Great Escape Festival on May 12th at the Unitarian Church. The singer and guitarist played her debut show at the St Pancras Old Church in March, and has been touring with Mercury Prize nominee Nick Mulvey across Europe and the UK, ending with a final performance at The O2 Forum, Kentish Town.
Talking about the recording of "Smoke Live", Sandrayati explains “We were high up, overlooking the harbour, and Esjan, the mountain looking over us. The room was bare and the large windows blanketed with small beads of water. The day was hazy, a mist surrounded, and we carried in an energy of lightness. I brought my woven circle carpet from my home studio, for my bare feet to stand on. I was glittered up by beautiful friends. And with the support of the Reykjavík Recording Orchestra, we brought a whole new version of ‘Smoke’ to life.”
The singer and guitarist adds: “The awareness of the presence of lives not present is a big part of this song, from ancestors to future generations, and I felt like the way this was captured magnified this part of that story. Gratitude to Árni and Kinsky who framed this moment with so much grace.”
Moving from place to place whilst growing up, to follow her parents' calling in fighting for the rights of indigenous people, meant that human connection became home. Developing an intimate relationship with land also plays a role in defining her home. Sandrayati draws her inspiration for this from a particular indigenous community, the Mollo people from East Indonesia.
Sandrayati recently released "Vast", featuring Ólafur Arnalds, where she welcomed us into her tranquil world. The track circles stages of a woman’s menstrual cycle, which mirror the cycles of the moon. An ode to remembering how physically in sync people are with the rhythms of nature, and the power of this relationship. Watch here.
Born to a Filipino mother and American father, and raised on the islands of Java and Bali, Sandrayati grew up embracing musical culture. Her parents, both of whom work with protecting the land rights of indigenous peoples, share a love of folk music and protest songs. Drawing on the challenges her parents faced in their work, Sandrayati began writing her first songs when the family relocated from Indonesia to the Philippines. She struggled with the sudden upheaval and needed to express coinciding themes of identity and courage. Last year, the singer and guitarist elaborated on this when she collaborated with Damien Rice and Icelandic artist JFDR, releasing a powerful tribute – ‘Song for Berta’ – to slain Honduran environmental activist and indigenous leader Berta Cáceres. She also represented Asia when she performed at the latest United Nations Climate Change Conference (Cop26).
As an individual who’s always felt she “belongs to many places”, 2020’s lockdowns left Sandrayati feeling so far from a home that she could not return to. In this time, Sandrayati formed the belief that life’s safe places sometimes need to be deliberately created and nurtured – instead of expected. Produced by Ólafur Arnalds, this record became the ultimate safe space for Sandrayati, irrelevant of her pin on the map. Describing the writing and recording experience as a personal “landing”, Sandrayati discovered a mature voice in this enthralling new landscape. Eventually reaching out to find many awaiting hands of a new community, she hopes to offer a similar comfort for those lost souls reinventing their idea of home.