By Stevie Connor.
Sandrayati releases her profound debut record Safe Ground. Produced by Grammy-nominated composer Ólafur Arnalds and inspired by the longing to define home, Sandrayati weaves many worlds into this body of work. A music video for new single "Smoke" is also released, directed by El Hardwick (Porridge Radio, Jasmine Thompson, The Big Moon). Sandrayati will play her first UK headline show at the glorious St Pancras Old Church on March 22nd.
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.
Alongside the album, Sandrayati is releasing today the associated music video to new single "Smoke": “El Hardwick’s vision magnified specific symbols in the song through the relationship with light. I found that the narrative wove itself around translating the idea of having an outer and inner light; opening to the possibilities of creation in the spaces in-between.” she explains.
About the single, Sandrayati adds “This song explores the connection between the seen and the unseen. In the culture that I grew up in, there is a belief that our ancestors continue to live with us, felt, but unseen, both in our bodies and in nature. Smoke is the bridge between these worlds, and rituals work with smoke to keep us connected to those who walked before us, connected to nature. This song is my reflection on the mystery of that connection, as well as a kind of longing to remember the depth that exists there.”
Earlier this month, Sandrayati 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.
Ahead of her debut show at the St Pancras Old Church, which has welcomed performances by names such as Sinead O’Connor, Laura Marling, Tom Odell and Sam Smith, Sandrayati 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 on March 23rd.