“I Love You 3000” singer and songwriter Stephanie Poetri wasn’t trying to create a viral hit. It was an exercise of sorts: as a budding influencer with a sizable following, Stephanie asked her followers for prompts to inspire an original song. They came through with an Avengers: Endgame reference, a quote first spoken by Tony Stark’s daughter Morgan, reassuring him as he goes to sleep.
She responded with just a chorus sung over Instagram Stories, “Baby take my hand, I want you to be my husband. Cause you’re my Iron Man and I love you, 3000.” The response was immediate, and thanks to some guidance from her mom (the popular Indonesian singer Titi Dj), she recorded it as a full single. Soon, “I Love You 3000” (which has versions in English and in Indonesian) was a massive hit that took over Spotify’s Global Viral 50 for weeks and has so far racked up more than 50 million views on YouTube. At the end of 2019, the song earned the singer her first award: Best New Asian Artist Indonesia at the major South Korean ceremony, the Mnet Asian Music Awards.
“It was definitely very, very [much] for fun,” Stephanie tells Teen Vogue of writing “I Love You 3000.” “I wasn't really trying to create anything that would blow up.”
Now, 19-year-old Stephanie has moved from where she grew up in Jakarta, Indonesia, to Los Angeles, pursuing music as a full-time job. It’s her first time living away from home, though her parents’ influence on her is undeniable. While her mother has helped her navigate the music industry, her father (a music teacher) taught her more about “the art of music.” She’s channeling them as she embarks on this next phase of her career, her own form of higher education.
“All my friends kind of went to college,” Stephanie says. “I felt like I was really missing out on this kind of independence of finding who you are by living alone. I also really like my work and am finding little things that'll take my mind off of the homesickness.”
One of those things is the release of new music, which she’s creating with a little more intention than a song spontaneously published to Instagram, albeit with the same “genuine, random, honest” approach to songwriting. On February 14, she dropped a perfect couplet of new, love-worn songs: “Do You Love Me” and “Touch,” which she says show two different analyses of unrequited love.
The bouncy pop on “Do You Love Me” is more of a “childish interpretation, where you’re going crazy and you're like, ‘Do they love me? What's going on?’” Meanwhile, the acoustic guitar-driven “Touch” is a deeper reflection; “It's much more emotional, [it’s] what is happening in your head when you realize someone doesn't love you back,” she says. And yes — the Valentine’s Day release is meant to be a little tongue-in-cheek. “They're both kind of anti-romance. I'm a huge fan of irony.”
The way Stephanie’s life has changed over the course of her teen years in relation to her burgeoning fame isn’t necessarily ironic, but her trajectory has become a sort of meta-commentary on teenage life. Stephanie is a documented K-pop fan, talking openly in the past about her love for groups like GOT7. In 2019, Stephanie teamed up with GOT7 member Jackson Wang to release a sweet duet version of “I Love You 3000,” complete with a music video.
“It was really weird, [because] I watched this man on my computer for so long,” she says about meeting Jackson. “All my friends are confused. They're like, ‘What is going on? The simulation is breaking.’” But she easily bridged the gap between fan and contemporary to make the duet. “It's really great to have the people that you look up to growing up kind of recognize and appreciate your work. You kind of have to draw a line for yourself, like, ‘Okay, I'm a fan, but we're also working so we’ve got to be professional and cool and stuff.’”
Working with the musician, she says, was a dream come true: “One of the greatest things about working with Jackson, you learn about how important it is to be humble in the industry because he's a very humble and kind person.”
GOT7 isn’t the only K-pop Stephanie enjoys; she’s pumped for Red Velvet’s recent comeback, “Psycho,” for example. “I got into K-pop with TWICE and BLACKPINK,” she says, “so I can't wait for them to come back and see what they have in store.”
The success of K-pop over the past couple decades, and especially in the 2010s, has proved again and again that art transcends location and language. Good music can come from anywhere and fans can live all across the globe – Stephanie sees her own success as an Indonesian singer as part of a continued wave of western audiences opening their minds. “I mean there's still a long ways to go, but I'm glad that I can be a part of kind of diversifying the industry,” she says. “My favorite thing is to inspire and also just help out, because there's so many talented people… that don't have the kind of opportunities that I have. I want to try my best to make sure everyone gets a chance to achieve their dreams.”
Looking forward, Stephanie’s own dreams are well-documented. She has a habit of writing random predictions in her Notes app; prior to the Mnet honor, she literally wrote, “get an award.” (A wish that’s already been granted twice — she’s nominated for a 2020 iHeartRadio Music Award for Social Star.) Her next goal is less easily quantified, but hints at more new music coming soon.
“I want to be able to show all my fans what my style is and who I am as a musician, because I don't have that many songs out,” she says. “I want to show who I am as a person as well. I love getting to know everyone and letting everyone know who I am.”
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Originally Appeared on Teen Vogue