8 January 2018
Welcome! My name is Anthony Utama. I’m a 29 year old marketing professional, currently working a 9-5 job, in my hometown of Auckland, New Zealand. That’s more or less what life has been for the past decade. Asides from a brief 9 month backpacking stint, it’s been High School, followed by University, followed by a string of corporate jobs – to the delight of my parents. Starting off as a Market Analyst in the magazine industry, moving into Brand Management roles responsible for household names such as Bacardi, Bombay Sapphire and Grey Goose, and now currently OPI and Max Factor. My career has progressed quite nicely, however I’ve never really felt… satisfied.
As a child, I did the typical “Asian extra-curricular activities”. The violin and piano were the big ones that took up most of my evenings and weekends, largely driven by my parents who encouraged me to practice, a lot. It wasn’t until I was 15 when I considered auditioning for my High School production of Les Miserables. Other than in the shower, I hadn’t done much singing, however thought I’d give it a shot. I did pretty well and was lucky to land one of the lead roles of Marius. The rest is history, and ever since then I’ve been singing as a hobby, and part time job.
Singing became my passion in High School and has been ever since. People (not just my mum) have always said I have the talent and the potential to ‘make it’. I’ve participated in local musical theatre productions, sung at big local events, and hired myself out for all sorts of events; weddings, birthday parties, cruise ships, casinos, corporate functions… even funerals. These have all taken place supplementary to my ‘proper’ marketing job.
Since High School I’ve always been ‘that guy that sings’, and it’s probably the thing that most defines me to other people. Whether at school or at work, people may not have remembered my name, but they knew I sang! (Mainly because I took every opportunity to sing in public to the point of annoying… did someone say Talent Quest?? Where do I sign up!?)
Now at age 29, though I’ve made some pocket money, I still haven’t ‘made it’ as so many people told me I would. Although there have been a number of dodgy promises made by people (it is the music industry after all) as well as a number of failed Idol, NZ’s Got Talent and X Factor attempts, I can only really blame myself. I blame myself for not doing myself justice to unleash what I believe to be my real potential. I’ve done a poor job of marketing myself and I’m a full time marketer for God’s sake! For the past decade, singing has taken the backseat in focus. I’ve treated it more as a good secondary income more than anything else. When you treat it like that, it’s hard to stay passionate, sometimes it even feels like work. After High School, all I wanted to do was sing, but I followed the responsible advice of my parents to go to University as a back up – which I do thank them for. God knows where I’d be if I went the tortured musician route. However, I recently read a quote:
“If you have a back up plan, you haven’t made a decision”.
This spoke volumes to me. It reminded me of an old friend from Auckland, a fellow singer, who literally dropped everything and moved to Berlin because some random guy approached him at a pub gig and told him he’d make him a star if he made the move. He’s doing pretty damn well for himself today – even featuring in a song that went #1 in Germany. Then there’s me. The guy who still hasn’t made a decision.
I am writing today as in 4 weeks I leave home. My resignation has been handed in (from a great job at an amazing company might I add) and come the 12 February, my girlfriend and I are heading to South America, travelling north to end up in Germany. (Side story, my girlfriend is German, having moved to NZ for me… that’s a story for another day). The real reason for leaving is that she really misses her family and friends.
Whilst it’s sad to leave home, there comes an exciting opportunity to give my passion a real crack and have a blast doing it! After playing it safe my whole life, I have the chance to back myself and prove that I can be successful as an artist. Growing up in a conservative family, instinctively I cower away from risk so this is going to be a challenge for me. Heck, the reason I’m even writing this is so it’s ‘on proverbial paper’ in a public realm to keep me accountable and not give up on myself before I’ve even started. The easy and safe option would be to just start applying and enquiring for corporate work from now and send my CV to some agencies. That’s the option I’m trying to avoid.
I can’t say I have any regrets, as I’ve met the most amazing people in my life, many of whom I consider great friends. However, I’m so looking forward to journeying into the unknown, starting from scratch, working hard and having heaps of fun along the way!
Until I have given it my 100% I won’t be able to be satisfied. If I fail, I fail, but at least I can say I’ve given it a legit go! The corporate career will always be there. I have my qualifications and a strong resume – that won’t disappear. In the meantime this is my chance to show the world (or anyone who wants to listen) what I’ve got to offer. How will I do all this you ask? I don’t know quite yet…
I’ll have to get back to you on that.
PS. Enough of this serious talk, it makes me uncomfortable! Let’s lighten up the mood with one of those Talent Quest entries I was talking about – a duo act with one of those great friends!