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Art & Life with Jesica Yap

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jesica Yap.

Jesica, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I am an Indonesian composer, educator, and pianist who currently resides in Los Angeles, California.

I remember growing up listening to my three older sisters played the piano, my dad on the electone (my elder brother decided to withdraw from piano lesson at his very young age due to the strict teacher) and my mom sang. On some week days or weekend, my parents’ friends visited us for a Karaoke night. My days were filled with music.

    My music lesson started from my mom’s wish to play the beautiful instrument, piano. Mom went to visit relatives in another city, Medan (North Sumatra – Indonesia). During her visit, she heard neighbor played the piano and was mesmerized by it. She would stand next to the door for hours and listen to the piano. Upon her return to hometown, she expressed her interest to learn the piano to my grandfather. Unfortunately, back in the 1960’s they haven’t figured out how to transport a piano to Rantau Prapat, a smaller city than Medan. Instead, my grandmother decided to get an accordion for mom. Fast forward, she sent all of us to piano lesson, classically-trained. That was how my musical journey began.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
I believe music is another language or a form of expression. It is important to understand the customers’ vision for their projects prior to composing. Therefore, I try to portray customers’ proposal through my creation. The fun part is, I am free to experiment and be adventurous through my writing, it was a white canvas and I am the artist. As a composer and producer, I write a wide variety of musical style. Most of my clients are producers, directors and professionals who need music for their projects either visual or audio.

I found my love as a film composer, all started back from my study in Malaysia. As a teenager growing up in Indonesia, life is full of academic, extra curriculum, sports, dancing, and music. Movies wasn’t on the list of activities, not until my college year in Malaysia, my friends and I would spend weekend watching movies. I remember watching Bourne Identity, and John Powell was the composer for this film, and the music in the movie captivated me. Soon after that, I saw a presentation on film music, and at that moment I knew I wanted to be a Film Composer for Visual Media. Prior to that, I wanted to be a Jazz Pianist and didn’t know a career as film composer existed.

Upon my graduation from Berklee College of Music majored in Film Scoring with Asian World Tour Scholarship, I moved out to Los Angeles in 2014 to pursue my career. I had the opportunity to intern at Hans Zimmer’s Remote Control Productions (The Dark Knight Rises, Interstellar, Dunkirk) and Henry Jackman’s Sacred Tiger Music Publishing (Captain America, Big Hero 6). Two weeks after completing my internship, I worked closely with Henry Jackman at Sacred Tiger Music Publishing where I had the opportunity to observe and assist in his studio while freelancing on the side.

In early 2016, I walked a new path on becoming a freelance composer and producer and had assisted few other composers. Some of the films I worked on were nominated and some won the awards at film festivals: Colorado Environmental Film Festival, London International Film Festival, Cinemambiente Environmental Film Festival, International Kuala Lumpur Eco Film Festival, Warner Brothers Studio, XXI Short Film Festival, LA Shorts Film Festival, Los Angeles Indonesian Film Festival and many more. Some of my works have been screened at the Laemmle Royal, Regal Theater, and many more. Some compositional works have been performed by several orchestras including The Kalistos Chamber Orchestra, The Esterházy String Quartet, and Triple Helix. In addition, I composed and conducted the Silent Film “Safety Last!” at The Coolidge Corner Theater, The Cutler Majestic Theater, Dreamland Film, and Performing Arts Center and The Martha’s Vineyard Film Center. Since then, my career started to blossom.

On November 2018, I am beyond grateful to win the HMMA award for Best Original Short Film Score for Foreign Language (2018) for the short film “Sigek Cokelat” (A Chocolate Bar). Ashram Shahrivar, the director of Sigek Cokelat, requested some traditional music to be recorded from West Borneo to depict the authenticity of his short film. I dove along with his vision and had fortunate enough to be able to work with talented musician from West Borneo for this project which has opened another door for me to expand my composition skills. The same year,  my music was nominated in Jerry Goldsmith Award Best Ads Category 2018, HMMA (Hollywood Music in Media Awards) for Original Commercial Advertisement Score (2018) and Original Short Film Score for Foreign Language (2018). I can’t thank everyone who has involved in it enough (directors, producers, and my music team)!

Currently, I am working on a new EP Album. English is not my first language. So, producing this EP will be exciting and challenging for me. As an artist, I want to always grow and evolve. I enjoy writing song and producing them! Through this project, I believe that if I show courage, then the confidence will follow. I want to send a positive message through my lyrics and music. I want to challenge myself to do what I’m not comfortable with; which is singing and also singing in English. I want to put out an empowering message because I’m sure it will relate to everyone at some degree and for all of us to feel like we have each other in life. Each one of us really matters, and each one of us has something to offer to the world.

In addition to being a composer (song writer) and producer, I found my passion in teaching, I have been teaching for 13 years on and off (Indonesia and United States). Currently I have 60 students learning piano, theory and composition. I learned how to play classical piano at the age of 6 along with my older siblings. I was introduced to playing other genres outside of classical by playing the piano the church and other events. Playing at church gave me confidence and had sharpened my skills over time as I taught others how to play. I was asked to join the worship team and started writing and producing songs. Soon, I fell in love with music and composed my first song at the age of thirteen (13). Later, it was recorded on a Christian album and was produced under the leadership of Ev. Edwin.

When time allows, I performed with different bands. Some evenings you can catch me playing with Indie bands in LA or Hollywood. Recently, I just did a gig playing keyboard/synth with WALLA Band (Indie Pop Alternative Band) for their latest single, “Golden Nights” at The Continental Room Fullerton, CA.

Any advice for aspiring or new artists?
Artists don’t have to starve. I believe we can be resourceful to see what our strengths and weaknesses are. We must be willing to explore and see what other options are available to us on our journey to our dreams. Quoting from the old sayings “All roads lead to Rome.” We can do so many things that can benefit us along the way. I believe success depends on the individual; how hard and perseverance you’re willing to work to get there. It depends on what you’re trying to achieve. It is important to surround ourselves always with our family and friends (support groups).

As a female artist; the industry has changed, and the woman’s voice is being heard more. I am very grateful for The AWFC (Alliance of Women Film Composers) Organization that was created to support women composers along with other organization; SCL (Society of Lyricists and Composers), WIF (Women in Film), IWA (Indonesian Women Alliance), and Berklee Alumni community. Life and art are better when we are all together in it.

I move to Los Angeles five years ago. The first few years wasn’t easy at all. I am glad that with the support from family and friends, I have been brave enough to show up every day to pursue my dreams. Frankly saying, I have never been so far away since I was born until my high school year. I grew up with the same friends from when was in my kindergarten up till high school. My life adventure began in 2008, the first time I was far away from my hometown. I went to Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) and then on to Boston (United States) for college and finally landed in Los Angeles for work. It has been a wonderful adventure so far. I encountered with many amazing people. Each of us are “artist” in our own unique way with or without us realizing it. Life is not going to get easier, but we will only get stronger each day. Life is a process. It didn’t stop here. Same goes to art. We will figure out our life and our art along the way as we go.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
I currently live in Los Angeles, California. You can check me out on Instagram or Facebook for my latest music updates, and I’m currently revamping my website. For bookings, you can contact me at jyap@jesicayap.com
(Jesica with one “s”). I am open to working with anyone around the world. It’s amazing how technology connects us!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Photo Credit by HHMA, Diana Salier and Julian Chan, Boston Lynn, Ashram Shahrivar, Miranda Guzman, Christopher Musella.

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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