The hour of sitting with Jason Ranti felt like breathing in clean air then being handed a shaken-up can of soda––rejuvenating then surprising all together. There was no way of knowing the answers that were going to come next. His performance on that day was also one we Malaysians will remember for a long while. I’ll end this with a short snippet from that day as I was too in awe of watching the live performance to recording anything lengthy. Jason Ranti’s songs can be streamed via Youtube with his lyrics floating on the internet waiting for you to digest and enjoy.
The 19th of October 2019, like every other day, happened differently for everyone. For me, it was the day I shook hands with Jason Ranti, an Indonesian born and based creator who came to Malaysia to perform his work. This was his debut staging outside of his home country. The event, organized by Mendam Rasso, took place at Serambi Karya, Rumah Meranti 2, Jalan Bellamy, Kuala Lumpur. It was a gathering of many good faces and intentions nesting sheltered and barefoot in a homely space.
Before the show, I sat down with Jason Ranti to get to know the person behind the true to life observations, sure, satirical yet political messages written in his albums Akibat Pergaulan Blues (2017) and Sekilas Info (2019). The conversation was a chicken and duck exchange between a Malay girl who has yet to polish her Bahasa Indonesia and vice versa so what you’re about to read is a simplified English translation of it all. This was how our conversation unfolded.
Yasmine: How are you, are you healthy?
Jason: Oh I’m good, healthy. I’m just fine.
Yasmine: How old is your child now?
Yasmine: And how does it feel like, that you’re a father now? Because I think that if I were to have a child one day, I wouldn’t know what I’m doing. I’d just be winging it all the time.
Jason: I don’t know, well, same. It’s one of the things that just happened in my life with my wife that I’ve known since Junior High school. She told me one day and it made me very happy. It put me at ease with everything. I’ve recently been asked by my friends too of what it’s like being a father now but I don’t know. All I know is that I’m very happy. My kid tells me that when he grows up, he wants to be an octopus.
Yasmine: Do you find that you have to censor yourself more now that you have a child in your life? Or do you still stay true to yourself by leading by example so your child grows to be brave and vocal about his truth as well?
Jason: Well, yes, there have been changes. I’m not saying that I’ve completely morphed into another person because I now have a child, no, but I must be held accountable for everything I do, explain, everything I write, everything I announce to everyone. It’s actually the little things that have changed, like peeing where and when I like. Before this, I wouldn’t care about looking like a homeless person or a madman, but now there are things to take into account. So these are the things that I’ve noticed changes in but in general, no.
Yasmine: What’s the best line ever written or said?
Jacob: Just the Kalimah Shahadah. You don’t have to agree with me, but the One that I believe in is so kind. The question was the best line ever written or said, right? There’s so many actually. There are far too many lines and words that I like.
Yasmine: If you woke up in a woman’s body tomorrow, what would you do?
Jason: Oh, I’d inspect myself all over. Look at me and think “Oh so this is what it’s like!” I’d put my fingers in myself and find out what that feels like. Honestly, if I wake up as a woman tomorrow, I’d be a lesbian. I’ll start my new venture as a lesbian woman.
Yasmine: If you were another creature, what would you be?
Jason: A butterfly.
Yasmine: Because of metamorphosis?
Jason: Yes, that’s important, it’s constant.
Yasmine: If you were given a time machine to travel to the past or into the future, where would you go? Or are you fine with just staying in the present?
Jason: To the past or to the future? I’d go to the past.
Yasmine: But isn’t the future more interesting? You can see what might happen in say, 11 years time.
Jason: The future is terrifying.
Yasmine: All the more reason to know what happens next.
Jason: No, leave it to be a mystery.
Yasmine: Pick one film. ‘The’ film of all time according to you.
Jason: One that Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975, dir. Miloš Forman)
Yasmine: In your earliest memory, did you first pick up a pen or a guitar? Which came first?
Jason: It was the pen. At first, I wanted to be in fine arts, I wanted to be a painter. But something happened. I stopped painting and drawing then I started playing football.
Yasmine: Did you get the same ecstatic high as when you were drawing and painting?
Jason: Yes, well, the love for visual things never really left. I like them all, I like writing, drawing, playing the guitar
Yasmine: Since you like them all, must your medium to communicate your message necessarily be through music? As your current craft that you share is your writing and your melodies.
Jason: No, not just music. The music is only the means. It works as a tool to communicate what I have to. I’ve never actually thought of myself as a musician even though I used to train and practice eight hours a day, I’ve never said “Hello, my name is Jason Ranti and I’m a musician” or “Hi, I’m Jason Ranti and I’m a singer/songwriter”. Even my social media page doesn’t state my profession as those things and my social media page is set on private.
Yasmine: Is your social media the only way you interact with the people who follow your work, besides seeing them at your shows?
Jason: No, but it’s one of the ways. I get so many follow requests that I’ve handed my social media page to my wife for her to handle. It’s not the case that I’ve gained a lot of fame or anything like that. I just couldn’t handle my social media. If people see me anywhere in the street or wherever they can of course just say hello.