Domestic Groove: JANET DENEEFE

DOMESTIC GROOVE ~ Celeb’s Chosen Nine is my biweekly column in The Beat (Jakarta) mag. Basically it’s an interview via e-mail which focuses on small, intimate, domestic stuff; what Indonesia’s public figures are really into.

For the 25th edition I went upclose-and-personal with Janet DeNeefe.

Writer, Restaurateur, Festival Director

What music are you into at the moment?
I adore Brazilian Jazz and am perpetually into this sort of music at the moment. It makes me purr and dance, all at once! When I am answering a mountain of festival e-mails, I can easily listen to it and still get my work done happily.

What was the first record you bought—any interesting story behind it?
It was probably Cat Stevens’ Tea for the Tillerman. I was so totally in love with Cat Stevens and thought everything about him, from his face to his music, was sheer perfection. Well, I was a teenager after all! I remember spending entire weekends just listening over and over and over to his songs!
My brother used to buy me records too, but only because he wanted them himself! I think Cream was the first one he bought for me when I was young. I had no idea at the time who they were!

What are your all-time favorite albums? Why?
Where to start or rather, how to choose. I love so many. Dire Straits’ Making Movies because “Romeo and Juliet” is one of my all-time fav songs. Crowded House, Santana, Marvin Gaye, Al Green, Kate Bush’s Aerial, Maroon 5, Sérgio Mendes, Oscar Castro-Neves, Sade, Michael Jackson, Elton John’s Tumbleweed Connections, The Rolling Stones, The Black Eyed Peas, Paul Kelly. Sometimes I listen to old albums because it takes me back to another time, another space; good times and sad.

What was the worst record you ever purchased?
I’d have to think about that! I probably gave it away.

Who do you want to be, other than yourself, next time you reincarnate?
Probably my dog! He just eats and sleeps, plays in the garden, chases butterflies (and other cute dogs) and everyone loves him!
He is cuddled all day, every day. Lovely!
Otherwise, I want to return as someone fabulous in Paris in the late 1800′s when the Eiffel Tour had just been constructed and art, photography, food and fashion was blossoming and the world was opening up.

What book are you reading now and what’s the score (1-10)? Borrow or buy?
I am reading “Anna Karenina”. Richard Flanagan told me, “It’s probably my favorite love story,” and suggested I read it. I am only a few chapters in, but so far, so good!! It has that “real literature” grand sense about it, where the characters are solid and the language is not over-worked. And there’s that inevitable feeling of doom around the corner. I will tell you the score when I have finished!! My all-time fav book is Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “Love in the Time of Cholera”. Everything about it is extraordinary!

What new movie should people see? Why?
I have to confess, I hardly ever watch movies nowadays! So I am the last person to ask. The last one I saw was “Rabbit-Proof Fence” and the main character reminded me so much of my daughter, Dewi, that I cried for days and days after seeing it.

What album do you choose to start your weekend?
I love the fun and upbeat sounds of The Black Eyed Peas or Sérgio Mendes’ Encanto. All optimism and happy vibes!

And song/album you choose to end your weekend?
Oscar Castro-Neves’ Live at the Blue Note Tokyo. It has that gentle, mellow and sensual Brazilian beat that lulls me into and out of a lazy Sunday. First a brunch of Eggs Florentine, a breezy afternoon, a twilight sip of wine and then Castro-Neves! Mmmmm!

While taking care of her several restaurants, Janet has also managed to churn out two top cook books called “Fragrant Rice” and “Bali: The Food of My Island Home”. However, she is best known for being the founder of Ubud Writers and Readers Festival, which has been running for the last eight years and will be on again today, October 5, to 9.


*This interview was firstly published on The Beat (Jakarta) #48, October 2011
*Photo courtesy of Roberto Aria Putra (black & white) and Kerin Burford


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