Afgan’s journey in music almost happened by accident

1 August 2018

You'd be hard-pressed to find an Indonesia music fan who hasn't heard of Afgan.

In his ten-year career, the soulful singer has won over 50 awards, collaborated with the likes of SonaOne, Isyana Sarasvati, and Rendy Pandugo, starred in films and TV shows, and even discovered new talent as a judge on X Factor Indonesia.

The Asia Spotlight artist is everywhere – but if it wasn't for a friend back in high school, you might not even have heard him sing.

"I was always a shy kid growing up, so I never ever sang in front of the public, not even my family," Afgan shares.

"So nobody really knew I could sing until I was in high school. My friend overheard me sing, and forced me to go to this studio where you can record a private album. When I finally went there and recorded, the owner of the place liked my voice and offered me a record deal right away. So it came as a shock to a high school boy like me, 'cause I was only 17 years old at that time."

It might come as a surprise that Afgan wasn't naturally drawn to performing. He did, after all, grow up in a music-loving family. For as long as he can remember, his parents always filled their home with music, playing the songs that would later shape his songwriting.

Every week, they'd buy him a new cassette tape, and that only made his love for music grow even more.

That first surprising taste of success at the recording studio, however, was the thing that fully brought him out of his shell, and he's been working in the music industry ever since.

Over the years, he's blossomed not just as a performer, but as a songwriter as well. And like his singing, crafting songs was something he just did off the bat.

"I guess there are no guides to me when it comes to writing music," he says when asked about his process. "It always comes naturally to me."

He adds: "I guess the most important thing is to allow yourself to be completely honest and vulnerable. To show sides that people don't really know about you. And to make people feel something every time they hear your song."

It's no wonder, then, that the songs in his latest album, Dekade, feel so personal, so meaningful. Tracks like "Sudah" represent where he currently is on his journey not just as a singer, but as a human being as well. The raw honesty, brought to life by his powerful vocals, tells you exactly how his life in music has shaped him.

And despite a decade of success, and all that growth as an artist, Afgan still remains surprised at all of it.

"I never thought I would last this long. 10 years is quite a long time. I grew a lot in the last 10 years, and I can say that I have a better perspective in life and in my music. I have my fans to thank for that."

His fans can catch him next at Hyperplay at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on August 4 and 5, 2018. Afgan will not only be performing on the same level as some of the region's best talents, but he'll be sharing the same stage as international superstars Nick Jonas and Alessia Cara, too.

Pretty good for a career that started basically by accident. But then again, with passion and talent like Afgan's, it probably would've happened no matter what. 

— Marco Sumayao

Catch Afgan live at MTV Spotlight @ Hyperplay, August 4–5 at Singapore Indoor Stadium.

Tune in to MTV Asia at 4pm (SGT), or livestream the entire esports + music festival at


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