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yude andiko

Yude Andiko

I love watching him play guitar, and hearing him sing.  His hands move gracefully up and down the fretboard like spiders, while his beautiful voice vibrates people’s heart strings.  Yude is a magical being, with a wise soul, and a wicked sense of humor.   It would be hard not to love him.  He just walks straight into your heart, smiles, and settles in.  A bit of a nomad, originally from Java in Indonesia, he could probably be happy anywhere, as long as he can keep moving.  He was 19 year-old when he left his native island to work on a cruise ship and see the world.  He eventually settled in New Jersey and spent five happy years playing music in New York City until September 11 put an untimely end to his North American adventures…and his marriage.  Post 9/11 America was not a particular friendly country to be for anyone from a Muslim country.   Yude was deported overnight back to Indonesia.  That was a traumatic episode, but he is a resilient soul, and got back on his feet quickly.  He now lives between Java and Bali, patiently awaiting for the stars to align and give him the green light to take off again.  Enchanting the world through song and music.  That’s his life long dream.

He speaks fluent English and Indonesian, but loves to hum and sing wordless sounds.  I like that about him.  If you just tune in and listen with your heart, you will sense what he’s really saying.  I feel his dreams dancing between the sounds and the strings, his soul’s longing for belonging.   Yude reminds me of St Exupery’s Little Prince.  He loves to ask questions, wants to see everything, does not get flustered easily, smiles and laughs often, and opens your heart without even trying.

My regular guitar next to a Yudelele

He also makes small traveling guitars, which he manufactures in Java.  The Yudelele, as he named it, is as small as a Yukulele, but has six strings, like a regular guitar.  He designed it with a few Javanese Lute makers whose help he enlisted because he was tired of carrying his big guitar everywhere.  That was  back in the days when he was working as a tour guide in Bali and Java, spending most of his time in planes and buses.  And it is that little guitar which first brought us together.  Being a nomad myself, I loved the idea of traveling lighter.  A friend had told me about Yude, and so I called him out of the blue one day, in August of 2011.  He was getting ready to fly to Java to make a new batch of guitars, and ended up stopping by my house in Ubud to let me try his, and see if I wanted to have one of his “babies”!  Meeting him was enchanting.  He first played his Yudelele for a while, but noticed my native american flute, and invited me to play along.   I had only played solo before, so I felt a bit intimidated, but Yude has this way of making everything feel like no big deal, and so I relaxed into this new duo thing quickly.  Half an hour after he walked in, he and I had become good friends, and were having the best time making music together.   The yudelele and the flute, as it turns out, sound really great together.   I also love reciting poetry.  So Yude sometimes picks up his guitar and just says: “speak, Tesa, just say something!” and, of course, he’s so charming, you cannot say no to him.  So I just let words come out and dance with his strings.

We enjoy combining singing and poetry.   It all began one sunny afternoon that we were sitting in the shade on a hill in Kintamani, enjoying the breeze and the view of volcano Batur towering over the black lava sea.  He played for a bit, while I spoke a few words in English, then he sung them in Indonesian, and we went back and forth, like that.  Last winter, he asked me to come along to Northern Bali with him.  He was going to visit a friend of his who was serving time in a Balinese jail in Singa Raja.  Yude somehow managed to charm the guards into letting us visit after hours.  As it turned out, his friend Agus is a fantastic drummer, and Yude, wouldn’t you know, had brought a drum along for him!  I had my flute and he had his guitar, and so we all started playing.  No need to say, we drew quite a bit of attention in that prison.   There was something really moving about creating improvised music together and watching the guards begin to move their bodies to the beat we were keeping.  Serious faces started melting into spontaneous smiles.  At some point, I invited one of the guards to give my flute a try.  And we all enjoyed watching him light up like a Christmas tree as he started playing!  For a moment, it seemed that the visible and invisible walls between us cracked, and the light came in. We were just sharing the present moment. We had gone to jail to cheer up his friend but we left there feeling like he had given us a huge gift.   On the way back to Ubud, I could not help wondering what the world would be like with a little bit more poetry, music and heart.   And then it struck me that it would feel a little bit like hanging out with Yude!

Chapter 83

Elizabeth Gilbert said of him that “he’s got a complicated life story for someone so young.”  And if you take a few minutes to read that story, you will immediately understand why she felt inspired to write it.  Chapter 83 of Eat, Pray, Love is all about him.  She calls him “Yudhi, pronounced ‘You-Day'”, and paints a wonderfully endearing picture of him.  I especially loved the way she nailed his musical gift and style:

The guy has a musical ear like maybe nobody I’ve ever met.  He’s beautiful with the guitar, never had lessons but understands melody and harmony like they were the kid sisters he grew up with.  He makes these East-West blends of music that combine classical Indonesian lullabies with reggae grove and early-days Stevie Wonder funk-it’s hard to explain but he should be famous.   I never knew anybody who heard Yudhi’s music who didn’t think he should be famous.

I agree, and I have no doubt he will be.  I had a few conversations with him about what he’s needing to come out of hiding, and it’s really not much.  He needs a bit of financial support to build a website where he can sell his music and guitars online, and he needs the financial freedom to devote the next six months of his life to recording two albums which are ready to be born.  He already found a great producer who offered to cover all production costs, and so he now just needs to find a way to fund his own living expenses while he is recording.  We figured that $10,000 would take care of everything.   So, he’s contemplating starting a kickstarter fundraiser to invite his fans and friends to chip in, to help him realize his dreams.  If you too feel inspired to help him, anything you want to give would be a beautiful thing.  You can hear Yude on Soundcloud, and watch a short youtube video of his singing below.

yude andiko

I love watching him play guitar, and hearing him sing.  His hands move gracefully up and...
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