Fariz Rustam Munaf, better known as Fariz RM (born Jakarta, 5 January 1959) is an Indonesian musician and audio-visual artist. Beginning his career in 1977, he has released 19 solo albums and three with other artists. He is best known for his songs “Barcelona” and “Sakura” (Cherry Blossom). Three of his solo songs were listed in Rolling Stone Indonesia‘s 2009 list “The 150 Best Indonesian Songs of All Time”, with another of his compositions also listed.
Fariz Rustam Munaf was born on 5 January 1959 in Jakarta.His mother, Anna Reijnenberg, was a piano teacher of Dutch-Betawi descent. He began studying music at age five, beginning with classical piano and later studying the blues.
In 1977, Fariz joined the Prambors FM Song Writing Contest for adolescents, finishing in the top ten. That same year, he played the drums on the album Badai Pasti Berlalu; it was during this time that Chrisye gave him the nickname Fariz RM, which Fariz continued to use as a stage name because “Chrisye thought it sounded nice.”
In 1979, Fariz released his first album Selangkah ke Seberang. The following year, Fariz released Sakura – Japanese word for Cherry blossom, which made him famous. During the 1980s, Fariz was a “poster boy” often featured in magazines for teenagers.
In 2001 Fariz was among prominent individuals summoned by the Jakarta Police and questioned for their alleged links to Aceh Referendum Information Center (SIRA) and questioned in relation to the bombing of an Acehnese dormitory in Setiabudi in May of that year. Based on documents seized, Police suspected that he had aided the perpetrators based on a letter he had sent to Tengku Abdullah Syafiie, leader of the Free Aceh Movement, expressing sympathy and support for the group’s separatist cause. After Fariz was released, he mentioned that he had received a large amount of support from reporters. Fariz also expressed concern for Acehnese refugees, to whom he was prepared to donate some proceeds of record sales.
Fariz was arrested for marijuana possession in 2007; he was sentenced to eight months in prison and rehab.
In 2009, Fariz wrote and published Living in Harmony, a book on his life and influences, with Budianto Shambazy and Salomo Simanungkalit as editors. It outlined 60 events in his life and how they influenced him.
During his career, Fariz has been a member of numerous bands, including WOW, Jakarta Rhythm Section, Symphony, Transs, Rollies, and Giant Steps. His influences include The Beatles, Pink Floyd, The Police, Marvin Gaye, and Claude Debussy. The Jakarta Post considers his music “… a spectrum of styles and sounds not immediately apparent, except to discriminating ears…”