“Tutupkanlah semua pintu, matikanlah semua lampu kamar kurungku. Hatiku tetap tenang karena ada sinar terang dari Tuhanku” (Koes Plus – Di Dalam Bui)
1965 was an important year for Indonesian music. The country itself was just infant in the eyes of the world. Nearly six decades ago, Indonesia founding father once forbid the incursion of so-called western oriented music into the country. His reason was considered and forcedly admitted as “a wise decision”; to prevent the invasion of bad influence from outside that could affect the mindset of Independence among Indonesian people.
Thanks to the Fab Four and their heyday, Koes Plus’ music was considered “ngik-ngok” and the despicable brothers were thrown to jail. Behind the iron bars, Koes Plus wrote Di Dalam Bui, which reflects the dark era they had. The song marked a phase for Indonesia popular music. That was the bad news.
Here’s the good news. The anti-liberalism perspective triggered Soekarno to allocate the musical and art direction more into a local point of view. A rustic place in Surakarta called Lokananta – built as a HQ for RRI (National Radio Network) – was amplified as a recording studio for stuff related to local music. The place was the den of Indonesian music, consists of remarkable diversity of sound, representing the multi-cultural approach of Indonesian culture.
Six decades after Lokananta days, local music is blatantly changed. What most people describe as Indonesian popular music often visually and audibly shabby, referring to the Industry Ogres, poor quality awareness, and the wearying taradiddle. Beside the major stream, we have this so-called cutting edge scene, which offers more color, variety and seems to be niftier. A different kind of diversity, compared with Lokananta era.
I’m not saying this as if the statement has bad intention, but more than 90% musicians nowadays is far from the sense of locality. Amidst the Internet (and piracy) invasion these past years, most of today’s musician have proudly “plagued” by NME, Pitchfork, Majestic Casual, XLR8R, MTHRFNKR and tons of other similar music sources. They are in a rat race of making modern sound, dressed as cool as Romy Madley Croft or those dudes from Facehunter, mentioning alien band names as their musical references in between Tweets and interviews. I’m not blaming anyone, but it is what it is.
When other bands trying hard to sound global, White Shoes & The Couples Company has already globalized by being plain Indonesia. The sextet has the perfect ingredients: marvelous personalities, appealing visual and original Indonesian-influenced music. Without being too overrated, they have dispensed the blueprint of the “Go International” phrase.
Their marvelous consistency resulted in great ways, emphasized their strong presence in the world map (In less than a decade they toured the USA, France, Finland, Germany, Netherlands, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, India. When this article is written, they just played Australia, and there will be another gig at South fucking Africa). For Indonesians, WSATCC is a band to be proud of.
Still essentially Indonesia, WSATCC latest release is a mini album consists of refurbished songs from various provinces in Indonesia. To absorb the precise vintage vibe – just like the 60s – they brought the whole production team to Lokananta Studio. This attempt was recognized positively, reviving the old music landmark and bringing back those nostalgic appreciations of Indonesia in the old days. With Lokananta involvement in this album, the idea of Indonesian local music is perfectly delivered. I couldn’t imagine better place than Lokananta when I heard these songs played for the first time. Not only playing the same material, they polished the songs into firm new compositions – for instance – while Lembe-Lembe gives major psychedelic hooks, Tjangkurileung has cool surf-rock nuance.
With all of these prominent reasons, the SFTC team decided to shoot the session in the middle of Taman Mini Indonesia Indah, the place that represents thirty-four provinces and more than seventeen hundred islands of Indonesia. We chose the Papua Pavilion, the band jammed in the middle of traditional houses, under the big bright sun and the classic TMII skylift cable car.
Well, it is almost impossible for us to bring back Lokananta days in the 60s, but White Shoes & The Couples Company showed the people – and the world obviously – how cool Indonesian music could be. Ladies and Gentlemen, Sounds From The Corner presents so far the sunniest session we produced, White Shoes & The Couples Company!
(written for Producer notes, visit http://www.soundsfromthecorner.com to watch the complete video)