Sun, 30 Mar 2003

Fascinating Siti willing to try new frontiers

Novan Iman Santosa The Jakarta Post Jakarta

The cute, lovely Malaysian singer Siti Nurhaliza has been around for about eight years and is now looking for new challenges, including song writing and even trying theater performances, especially musical ones.

With five pop albums and another four traditional Malay albums already in her hands, no doubt Siti has extensive experience in the industry, including song writing.

Siti co-wrote lyrics for six songs in her ninth, 10-song album called E.M.A.S. which means "gold" in Malay as well as in Indonesian.

E.M.A.S itself stands for Edaran Muzik Aliran Semasa (Releasing the Flow of Contemporary Music)

One of the six songs, Bukan Cinta Biasa (No Ordinary Love), was co-written with an Indonesian composer cum song writer, Dewiq.

The song's video clip was made by Indonesian director Rizal Mantovani in Indonesia.

"Actually this song has been ready for about a year but it was kept on the shelf because I was working on a traditional Malay album called Sanggar Mestika (House of Precious Stones) last year," Siti told journalists in the Mulia Hotel on Tuesday.

"I try to release two albums every year, one pop and one traditional."

Siti was in Jakarta to promote her latest album as well as perform at several local TV stations.

She emphasized she had not wanted to write so much in the album but sometimes the composers or song writers came to her asking for her opinion.

"I just wanted to co-write lyrics for one or two songs but the composers kept coming to ask for my opinion on the lyrics.

"Sometimes they asked me to change some words here and there to make it sound better. I had to do it quickly as they asked me in the studio during recording sessions."

Commenting on Dewiq, Siti said she was open to cooperating with any Indonesian song writer and composer.

"Dewiq is under Universal Music management just like I am. So I think that's one of the reasons why she was chosen.

"But if I am allowed to choose, I would like to work together with Melly Goeslaw. But I do not have the chance yet.

"Melly's Menghitung Hari is one of my favorites. Her works on the Ada Apa Dengan Cinta (What's up with Love) soundtrack album is very marvelous."

When asked whether she had thought of attempting acting, Siti said she would like to improve her singing career first before trying acting.

"Despite my achievements, I still need to learn more. But I really want to act on stage, especially in musical plays.

"I can still sing a lot of songs in musical plays," she said with a smile.

Aged 24 this year, Siti surely still has a long way ahead of her but she has already thought of other possible careers.

"I have thought of trying my luck in trade and commerce as well as running my own beauty parlor and boutique," she said.

"But I do not have the skills yet to manage such a business. I have to wait."

Siti, however, said that her younger sister was taking a beauty course and could run the beauty parlor once she had enough experience.

"But I still have a long way to go. Those plans can wait.

"Currently, I am focusing on my concert tour back home in Malaysia as well as planning a solo concert here in Indonesia.

"Then I can take a break for a moment and think of my future plans," she said.

Despite her position as a diva, Siti relies on simple methods to maintain her voice, as well as her beauty and physical fitness.

"I avoid iced drinks, to keep my voice from becoming hoarse. I used to like cold drinks and have to live with the consequences.

"On the other hand, I can eat anything, even hot and spicy food -- the hotter the better," she said with a smile.

While, for her physical fitness, Siti said she did not have time for physical exercise anymore, adding that she took vitamins to keep fit, to compensate for her active life.

While dreaming of having a beauty parlor of her own, Siti said she simply washed her face before going to bed because skin needed to breathe too.

"Then there is another important thing: keep smiling."

Siti also resorts to another simple thing to overcome the pressure that might get threaten to overwhelm once and a while, saying: "Usually I go window-shopping with my friends or members of my family."