My Story

My roots

I was born in Indonesia, the largest island nation in the world, which boasts over 300 ethnic groups and 100s of languages and dialects. I am a proud 2nd generation Indonesian who embraces her Chinese roots and heritage. Raised in a country rich with cultural diversity, I was exposed early on to different styles of music, art and dance, and my musical language was shaped through these multi-cultural experiences throughout my childhood.

 

 

My introduction to the piano

Growing up, music was a part of my everyday life. Some of my earliest memories were of my sister practicing her Chopin piece ad nauseum, my father playing the electone or tinkering with the guitar, and both of my parents singing. Karaoke nights at our house were not uncommon even during times when my siblings and I had to study for exams. Thanks to my mother’s endless love for classical piano, all 3 of my sisters took lessons (my brother gave up piano early because of a very strict teacher), and I started my formal piano studies at the age of 4. By the time I was 12, I was regularly playing at our local church, and even wrote my first song a year later.

 

 

Something other than music

From age 6 to 18 I was quite an accomplished ballet and contemporary dancer. I performed and competed for many years, winning awards and performing at weddings and various events, but unfortunately a slipped disc put a premature end to my dance career, and from then on I put all my energy into music, which was ultimately the best long-term career I could have ever chosen.

Moving  to the United States

I started dreaming of the United States after seeing the movie “Air Bud,” about a basketball-playing circus dog. I absolutely loved the story and all the sceneries in the film, which made such a huge impression on me that from then on I romanticized about living in the US, and even told myself that when I grew up, I’d definitely move there. And eventually I did!

Years later, when the time came to look at colleges, my older sister who was studying in the US at the time, told me about Berklee College of Music, which was way outside my family’s budget.

However, a college in Malaysia offered the Berklee Transfer Program (BTP), and after studying there for a year and a half, I auditioned for the Asian World Tour Scholarship, and before I knew it, I was packing my bags to move to Boston to be a full-time Berklee student.

My Career Journey

I never even knew a career in film scoring existed until I was in college, but it wasn’t until I saw one of the Jason Bourne movies that I fell in love with the idea of writing music for the visual arts.  I was blown away by John Powell’s amazing electronic score; the way it complemented and accented the movie with its exotic percussion and mellifluous background string orchestra, and soon after that, I declared my major at Berklee in film scoring.

Upon graduating from Berklee College of Music, I moved to Los Angeles in 2014 with an opportunity to intern for two world renown film composers: Hans Zimmer’s Remote Control Productions (The Dark Knight Rises, Dunkirk) and Henry Jackman’s Sacred Tiger Music Publishing (Captain America, Big Hero 6). After my internship, I had the fortune to assist at Henry Jackman’s studio, and over the following couple of years, I learned enough from supporting film composers that in 2016 I was ready to start my own career as a freelance composer and music producer.

In November of 2018, I was beyond thrilled to win my first award at the HMMA (Hollywood Music in Media Awards) for Best Original Short Film Score for the foreign language short film, “Sigek Cokelat” (A Chocolate Bar).

I was fortunate enough to have been able to work with talented local musicians to depict the authenticity and traditional sounds of West Borneo. This award opened another door for me, and in 2019 I won my 2nd HMMA for Best Original Score in a Foreign Short.  (For full list of awards, click here).

On March 19, 2020, after several years of a hiatus, I premiered my very first song on Youtube! Since English is not my 1st language, the experience was a little daunting (especially that I’m singing in English), but as an artist I am always looking to grow and evolve and work outside my comfort zone so as to challenge myself.  I love writing and producing songs, and I feel immensely proud of and empowered by my songwriting journey. Producing these songs was definitely a confidence-booster!

 

In addition to being a composer and songwriter, somewhere in my 13 years of intermittent teaching, I found my calling as a piano instructor. Currently, I have about 60 students to whom I teach piano, theory and composition. The precision, poise and discipline I developed from years of performing at the church and in various bands, and from writing songs and composing music, have all helped me to become a better teacher. I am proud and amazed at the accomplishments of some of my students, such as performing to a sold-out crowd at world famous venues like Thayer Hall and Carnegie Hall, and winning 1st place at the “Golden Classical Music Awards.”

 

In between teaching and composing, I occasionally perform with different bands around the Los Angeles area such as playing keyboard/synth with the indie pop band, WALLA Band, well known for their song, “101”.  I’m also active with the Indonesian community in LA, and have performed on piano/keyboard with major artists like Krisdayanti and Regina Ivanova (Indonesian Idol’s 7th season winner).  In addition, I lend my piano skills (Session pianist) to other composers for their scoring sessions.  Performing live is an electrifying feeling unlike anything else, and as a composer, where I’m often working in isolation, it is a refreshing change of pace.

Dare to dream, 

dare to act.

Education

Berklee College of Music Berklee College of Music

Bachelor's degree Film Scoring

Asia World Tour Scholarship

Dean's List

2011 – 2013

 

International College of Music (ICOM)

Berklee Transfer Program (BTP)

Core subjects of Contemporary and Classical Music

2008 – 2010

Farabi Music School

Private Lesson Piano Jazz

2007 – 2007

 

ABRSM

Classical Piano & Theory

1996 – 2007

 

Yamaha Music School

1994 – 1999

© 2020 Jesica Yap

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