14 October 2010

Scene Feature: Garuda Hypnagogia, Tropical Indonesian Style

I was catching up with my friend recently and being music fans we brought up the current underground movement of Hypnagogic Pop. He suddenly recalled from his perpetual incessant search for exciting nusical vibes and scenes (especially those of the Singaporean and Southeast Asian types) that in our neighbouring behemoth, Indonesia, there is a group of guys who are creating Hypnagogic Pop-like kind of tracks and uploading them onto MySpace. He subsequently sent me the links and I was blown away: the oppressive heat, deep-seated humidity and overall sickly ooze of the tropical atmosphere of Indonesia and Southeast Asia can be felt through listening to the tracks of these guys. Just imagine 1 part DJ Screw, 1 part Sublime Frequencies, 2 parts Olde English Singing Bee, 2 parts tropical Southeast Asia, you will get a fairly close approximation of their sounds. Duckdive, Sawi Lieu and Sangkakala are the three key guys but closely associated to them is the online record label Stone Well Sound Records and affiliated musicians. From event organising to gigging to collaborating musically and releasing tracks on the internet, they are thriving on vibing off one another and creating a temporary autonomous zone of musical independence, creativity and community-building. In fact, Ruralfaune, a record label specialising in experimental music from France is planning a vinyl release of Duckdive soon this year. One of them also maintains a Hypnagogic Pop image/visual site in the vein of their American counterparts on Vimeo, it is called Cincang (The visual at the top of this blog entry is taken from this site). Below is an interview with one of the key guys from this Indonesian Hypnagogic Pop scene.

An Interview with Sawi Lieu

1. How did you start making the music which you have currently uploaded on MySpace? Is there any particular musical influences? Or the geography of your location plays a part? If not then what is it which shape your music creation?

Hello! To begin with i started making my own music in 2008, music used to be my obsession. To be honest I can’t play any music instrument very well, I play and learned them by myself. I met a lot of people in the music scene, we shared thoughts about many things: from what they listen, and how they see music in them, and it was also them who gave me thoughts to make my own music. My form of music is from a belief in occult things.

2. Your music reminds me of psychedelia, elements of World music, minimalism and dare I say Hypnagogic Pop which is all the rave in the US Underground now. So how do you see yourself in all this and do you see any connection in anyway?

Yes, pretty much my music were inspired and influenced by the genre you said up there, my friend Gonzo (real name Muhammad Fahri) who introduced me to this kind of music. From Terry Riley to the Skaters, and I also got interest in free improvisation and free jazz at that time. Gonzo made a project called Duck Dive, I think he started the all drone scene in here,  his first gear was space echo (I think), he told me he just bought it from Yogyakarta with good deal price.  And then he gave me his track called Kava-Kava, the track is some kind of tropical folk, well he is all about Freak Folk and New Weird America, and then I start to remix his song Kava-Kava, The remix didn’t publish in everywhere its just for fun. In that time I was studied in Malaysia, i learned many things and I try acid, my first journey through the mind of the world was there, in mid 2008 I have to go back to Jakarta, I got problems with my mindset, and all things. After I spent my days in hospital, I made a group with Wing Narada Putra and Al Imran Karim, our first jam was totally out of control. this group was inspired by free improvisation/noise local act like Sungsang Lebam Telak, Aneka Digital Safari, Kalimayat/Khuruksetra, Mereka.., Duck Dive and many more. Sangkakala starts their debut on internet net label called Stone Well Sound Records, a project made by gonzo and his art student friend Anry Dhanniary. It turns out another musical project called Schadefreude made his debut there! Schadenfreude is Obon, he is an art student from bandung to USA, he made a lot of installation you can check his arts here http://unlogical.multiply.com/.

3. Southeast Asia has always been seen as places where people from Europe, the USA and Japan come for World music and traditional art forms. What do you think of your music in this whole scheme of things?

I do love world music, I think all this love of Indonesian folk music came in my blood, my improvisation sometimes reminding me of folk songs from Sundanese music, my mother used to listen to a lot of Sundanese music, my father came from Padang, he also a lot of Padang folk music, my influence of music came from what my family listen to in the past, also my favourite figure in my big family is harry Roesli, he’s my aunty husband, we didn’t talk anything, but I do like some of his music from the past.

4. Who are your current favourite musicians, artistes and groups? Why them?
Its hard to put the artist, albums and songs, cuz daily I always download many stuff from internet, so I just make you a mix-tape to listen, enjoy!
The mix-tape can be found at:

Play-list -
1.Bob Freedman - Polyphemus
2.Kit Ream - Dont Be So Holy Poly To My Souly
3.The 5th Dimension - Its A Great Life
4.The Alan Lorber Orchestra - Up Up Away
5.Piero Umiliani - Allucinazioni
6.Sovetsyaka Gone - Untitled
7.Social Climbers - Palm Springs
8.Jagaraga - Collie Science
9.Far East Family Band - Timeless
10.This Heat - Horizontal Hold
11.Aku - Pengutil Dan Kasir
12.Acid Mothers Temple - In
13.The Flying Luttenbachers - Entropic Field Total
14.Tony Conrad With Faust - From The Side Of The Machine
15.Seek Six Sick - Antara
16.Laraaji - Universe
17.Bob Freedman - Erebos
18.Harry Roesli - Keringat

The music and contact of the key members of these exciting group of musicians can be found at:


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