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This Is What Happened When Marriott Produced a Song With One of Indonesia’s Biggest DJs

It’s hard not to want to make music when you work with Dipha Barus. The popular Indonesian DJ was already set to star in Marriott’s “You Are Here” campaign, filmed in and around the W Bali resort in Seminyak. But then producers of the spot had an idea: Why not have Barus create an original track and film a music video?

The result is “Room Key,” a true audible and visual representation of Barus’ talents that have made him a big star in the dance music world.

For “Room Key,” it was important for Barus to capture the essence of Bali and Indonesian culture: the sound of the country’s musical instruments, crashing ocean waves, and the sizzling of cooking street food.

Dipha “wanted a song that reflected the feelings of a person from the city traveling and letting loose and getting out of their comfort zone,” Lala Karmela told Marriott TRAVELER on set in Bali.

Karmela is an Indonesian star in her own right, working as an actress, singer and songwriter. She co-wrote “Room Key” with Barus.

For Room Key, it was important for Barus to capture the essence of Bali and Indonesian culture: the sound of the country's musical instruments, crashing ocean waves, and the sizzling of cooking street food.

“When I wrote the lyrics, I imagined someone coming from Jakarta, where everything is so hectic, and going to Bali, where you can have a holiday and also enjoy the solitude,” she says.

Karmela is prominently featured in the video for the track, with vocals covered by Vince Staples.

Scenes feature Barus, Karmela and friends enjoying Bali and performing poolside at a party in one of the W hotels’ villas, and mixing the track in W’s Sound Suite in Bali.

“We’re just being as natural as possible,” Karmela says.

Barus’ music typically mixes sounds using traditional instruments found in Indonesian culture with modern pop beats, borrowing from dubstep, trap, and old school hip-hop.

For the “You Are Here” campaign, members of Marriott Rewards, SPG and The Ritz-Carlton loyalty programs reveal how travel has impacted their lives and how membership with the world’s largest hotel company enables them to experience the world.

Bali, a quick 90-minute flight from Jakarta, is one of Barus’ favorite places to visit in Indonesia. The island is popular for its beautiful beaches, lush forests, and rolling hills.

READ ALSO: Exploring Bali with Indonesian DJ Dipha Barus

“I really love Bali,” he told Marriott TRAVELER. “If there’s one place I would recommend visiting, it’s Bali. There are so many beautiful places to go and it has such a rich culture.” He’s partial to Ubud because it’s “really quiet and chill,” far from the tourists and clubs he’s used to playing in the more urban Seminyak. “I really love the quiet places.”

Dipha Barus and Lala Karmela

Dipha Barus and Lala Karmela
DJ Dipha Barus and Lala Karmela at the W Bali – Seminyak filming the music video “Room Key.” (Photos: Amanda Marsalis)

It’s the quiet elements of Bali that also attract Karmela.

“I’m the kind of girl who likes a nice view and just having a chill vibe around me,” she says. “I come from Jakarta, and in Jakarta it’s really hectic there.”

To unwind, Karmela especially recommends visiting the seaside town of Sanur and the inland jungles of Ubud.

My country is rich with culture, the food, and a lot of great places to go. When you come to Indonesia, you'll find a lot of new experiences.

Lala Karmela

“When I do get a long holiday, I travel to places that I find unique, and don’t really like to go to places where a lot of people would go,” she says, noting she’s recently wanted to explore Vietnam and Nepal.

“Travel is important because it’s good to get out of our comfort zone and get inspired again,” Karmela says. “When you’re feeling bored with your own city, when you travel you can come back feeling like a new person. You need to be able to miss what you have back home. That’s what I feel every time I travel.”

But she’s pretty partial to Indonesia.

“My country is rich,” Karmela says. “It’s rich with culture, the food, and a lot of great places to go. When you come to Indonesia, you’ll find a lot of new experiences. It’s an awesome country to explore. It’s all beautiful. For me, the best country to travel is here.”

Karmela especially prefers the diversity the country offers.

“You often feel like you’re in another country, but you’re still in Indonesia,” she says.

And of course there’s the food. Karmela considers herself a culinary adventurer, “but I always come back to Indonesian food,” she says. “You’ll definitely gain a lot of weigh by eating Indonesian food.”

For first timers, she recommends dishes like Nasi goreng (fried rice), gado-gado (a salad with vegetables and a peanut sauce dressing); and Satay Ayam (a grilled chicken skewer).

“Here, the food is a little more spicy and gives a kick to the tongue when you eat it,” she says.

Karmela was only happy to team up with Barus.

“What I love about Dipha is that he’s not just a DJ but a very musical person,” she says. “Partnering with him has been such a great experience. He’s a really cool guy.”

She never took pause creating a song for a hotel company since there were very few restrictions placed on the final track.

“I was happy to do it since it’s something new for me; I was happy to learn from it,” she says. “I just love making music. It’s a big part of my life.”

Karmela also understands the kind of exposure she may get from partnering with Barus.

“It’s going to make my fanbase bigger,” Karmela says. “So far the feedback from the music has been great.”