Thursday, April 25, 2024
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Brunei Town

Melodies without boundaries

Ade Irawan was only a toddler when his mother noticed his affinity towards listening to different sounds. Being born visually impaired, Ade’s sense of hearing was expectedly heightened. What was unexpected however, was his connectedness; not just for sound but music, in its entirety.

An Indonesian residing in Brunei, Ade Irawan is beyond talented. Despite his disability, the 29-year-old is breaking down barriers not only in the music industry but also in the realm of jazz as an accomplished pianist and musician.

Ade – whose mother is posted at the Indonesian Embassy in the Sultanate – shared that his disability has given him a musical sensitivity that sets him apart with others. “When I am playing music, I get a taste of what it feels to be normal because I play music with everybody else. Different people give me different energy and I just try to take it all in and of course try to send back that energy to them,” he said in an interview with the Bulletin.

Ade has built quite a reputation for himself, as news of his amazing skills in playing the piano at gigs in the United States (US) as well as back home were shared on a number of media publications both local (Indonesia) and international.

He shared how he was exposed to music at an early age; how his mother gave him a toy piano when she first noticed his inclination towards music as a toddler. That of course escalated into a small keyboard when he was about five years old and eventually a full-sized piano when he was seven.


Ade spent his formative years in the US where his mother was posted for more than 10 years. This chapter of his life posed a great influence for his music, where he was able to sharpen his talent through the jazz and blues music that permeated the city of Chicago.

Ade’s music journey has been long, having begun his music journey from a young age. From establishing a blues-rock band back home in 2008 called the Electric Cadillac, to having performed at the Byron Bay Blues Festival in Australia last April, Ade’s star never ceases to shine bright.

Their performance was a major milestone, both for the band and Ade himself, who described the experience as refreshing, especially after being unable to travel and perform with his band members in Indonesia due to the pandemic.

Synchronicity in making music, is a unique experience for Ade, especially when performing in a band because communication and performance cues need to be adapted to accommodate his disability.

“I have to establish an unspoken communication with whoever I am playing with. It would help me if they give me cues but I like to perform like any other regular musician so I try to pick up their cues musically but I try to communicate without words with my fellow musician friends,” he shared.

Aside from his skill as a pianist, Ade is also a gifted composer, and has wowed many an audience with his original songs.

“Sometimes songs just come to me,” he explained.

“I never really plan on writing songs but sometimes ideas just come to me and at random times. It could be in the middle of the night or in the morning or when I am actually not in front of the piano,” he added.

In this regard, he tries his best to have a finger on the pulse of jazz and blues, however he noted that regardless of what is new to the scene, there are still certain traditions within the genre that make life a little easier for people like Ade.

“Yes, I try to keep myself updated, but not too much. I try to just sit back, relax and learn to rely on my instincts more,” he continued.

“I like to think that I have some sort of a jazz mentality; I like to be spontaneous and off-script,” added Ade. One of his dreams is to be able to participate and perform at the 18th edition of the Borneo Jazz Festival that will be hosted by Miri City on October 27 and 28 at Coco Cabana in Marina Bay.

Ade, along with his father as his manager, hopes to link-up with talented local musicians and get to perform at the longest running jazz festival to represent the warm and strong ties between Brunei and Indonesia talents.

A legend in the Indonesian music industry, Jaya Suprana shared his comments on Ade to the Bulletin, describing him as a “pianoforte talent of a heavenly calibre”.

Jaya has even given him a nickname; Ade ‘Wonder’ Irawan, an obvious reference to music legend Stevie Wonder, whose experience may mirror Ade’s.

“I’m sure Ade ‘Wonder’ Irawan has talent equal to any jazz poet in the world! Ade is lucky to have a father and mother who are very supportive of Ade’s career development,” he said. – Lyna Mohammad