Signs of Bravery w/ Ant Utama
Let’s check in with musician, singer, songwriter Ant Utama and find out the lengths he went to to pursue his musical dream, which led to the release of his first single ‘Brave’.
SB (StarBeat): Place: We hear you made a big move to follow your musical dreams, can you tell us about that?
AU (Ant Utama): Yeah, so I am originally from New Zealand, but for the past 12 months have been living in Cologne, Germany. I left behind my corporate career in marketing and traded it for the streets on the other side of the world, busking for a living. Of course this took a bit of getting used to, however through this experience, I’ve grown so much as a person and my perspective has widened dramatically. This has fed into my creative process and I’m able to write much better songs with real meaning behind them. I would have never had such inspiration sitting behind a desk and working 9-5, and while my bank account might not be rich, my soul is.
SB: Song: This flows in to your new single ‘Brave’ – what do you want the audience to take away from that?
AU: I wrote ‘Brave’ 12 months ago after a phone call with my Dad back home. He was concerned that I was drifting in life and was pressuring me to get a ‘proper job’ like I had back in NZ. I tried to explain to him that my focus was music, and even if it meant busking for a living, so be it. I couldn’t get through to him and ended up hanging up the phone upset, I even cried. Then I picked up my guitar and wrote the song as a manifesto to keep my fire burning even when others doubted me and when I doubted myself. It would be so easy to give up and find a so called ‘proper job’ but I didn’t want to fall into that trap. This song would give me strength.
After playing ‘Brave’ a few times on the street and open mic nights, I noticed people would come up to me and say ‘I really relate to those lyrics!’ One girl even cried! So many other people though not musicians, were going through similar challenges; freelance photographers, wedding planners, entrepreneurs, or even just people wanting a career change that paid less, but was more rewarding, for example, a Dentist turned Social Worker. People would share their stories with me and suddenly I knew this song wasn’t just for me, it was for anybody out there taking a risk in life, to help them stay motivated in the times they need that little push.
Moreover, this is how I see my purpose as an artist. To inspire others not to settle in life, and to follow their dreams.
SB: Sides: Are you a dog person or a cat person?
AU: Hands down dog person! My girlfriend Alida and I backpacked through South America and Mexico before moving to Germany and in Mexico we adopted a lovely little street dog who we’ve named Daisy. We got lost hiking in a small mountain town called San Jose del Pacifico and suddenly this dog appeared. We followed this creature for an hour and she led us back to town and hung around with us for the next 5 days. There was no other option, we had to take her with us! She now lives with us in our humble little apartment in Cologne and is always with me when I’m out playing street music.
SB: Streets: What kinds of things have you seen being out on the streets sharing your music?
AU: When you’re out playing 5-6 hours everyday, you have a lot of time to people watch, and you see some interesting things. What I’ve been so blessed to have seen is the good side of humanity. People are so kind and generous. On a cold day people buy me coffee, on a hot day, iced tea. Daisy has a never ending supply of treats because people buy them for her. On occasion people have thought I was homeless and offered me a place to stay!
The highlight however would have to be when I was playing outside a Euro shop (like a Dollar store). A homeless man went inside and came out with two chocolate bars, a Santa toy (it was Christmas), dog treats and a candle. He gave me everything except the candle and went to the other side of the street, sat down, lit the candle and watched me play for the next hour. It was so incredibly humbling to see how generous a man with literally nothing, could be. This changed my whole perspective on people. If you watch or read the news it can be really easy to become negative and think humans are corrupt and evil. I’ve been lucky to see how beautiful humans can be and for that I am so grateful.
SB: Wisdom: What would you say to someone who just can’t quite make that jump to follow their dreams?
AU: Well your first step should be to listen to my single, ‘Brave’, that’ll get the juices flowing! Once you’ve done that, it’s really a shift in mindset. I’ve been in a comfortable job, with a steady pay cheque, and losing that security is so scary. However, you’ve got to back yourself. Surround yourself with people who are also taking risks for happiness and fulfilment. That energy and drive is contagious and will rub off on you. Also, be patient and consistent, that’s key. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, so don’t burn yourself out. One year seems like a long time, but it’s nothing, don’t overestimate what you can achieve in that time. Just build that foundation and celebrate the small wins. Most importantly, enjoy yourself. The whole reason you’re doing it is because it’s what you love. Never forget this!
SB: Steps: What is the next big step to be taken?
AU: Well I’m already preparing for the launch of single #2 which will be coming out 29 November! I’ve been busy in studio and have a string of singles coming out in the next 6 months so please watch this space. Thanks for reading about my story and please join me on this journey!
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