The Djakarta Warehouse Project

The Djakarta Warehouse Project

Djakarta Warehouse Project is Ismaya Live's annual dance music festival. They accomplished to be the biggest dance music festival in Indonesia, and also one of the biggest in Asia. The festival has featured the best International acts and Indonesia's best electronic artists/djs. With the highest production quality of sound and music, it is a dance festival that you will not want to miss.

Djakarta Warehouse Project has presented special performances by International DJs and performers with different music genres, ranging from: electronic, house, progressive, techno, trance, drum and bass, to dubstep. They have featured the biggest EDM stars like Avicii, Calvin Harris, Paul Van Dyk, Markus Schulz, Martin Garrix, Bob Sinclair, Roger Sanchez, Kaskade, Ferry Corsten, Nervo, Matthew Koma and many more.

Located in Jakarta, Indonesia's capital city, is Indonesia's largest electronic dance music festival and one of the largest in all of Asia. It is now a two day event (after running for five years as a single day event) that turns the city's international exposition centre in Kemayoran into a huge music techno arena where the global superstars of dance and electronic music grace the stages and entertain a huge crowd of international spectators with bass pumping music, impressive pyrotechnics and lighting that makes it feel like the whole festival is from an entirely new dimension. The festival takes part towards the end of the year in December, and this is one party that you don't want to miss.

The majority of the artists pump EDM, house and techno music through the speakers, although there is a huge variety of electronic and dance music on show. Previous superstars have included the likes of Martin Garrix, Nicky Romero, Skrillex, David Guetta, Calvin Harris, Bob Sinclair and Avicii performing over multiple stages, both sheltered and open air. The main stage is an open air place called Garudha Land with world class technics, impressive visuals, and huge aesthetic structures featuring a massive sculpture of the mythical bird Garudha, hence the name of the arena. The stage times for all the performances becomes available in early December on the official website, in the days leading up to the opening of the event.

It has become a favourite amongst performing artists due to the vibes and atmosphere, and also the energy from the crowd. What is often seen in Indonesia and not in other festivals heavy countries like Australia, is that the crowd, while enjoying a big party, will also sit down, relax and chill out between sets, and that the people are very polite and friendly, and often don't drink themselves into oblivion as is more customary at other international festivals.

The huge venue is packed full of spectators who sing and dance long into the night, dressed in neon paint, flashing lights and glowsticks. The event also prides itself on being visually spectacular, with massive firework displays, impressive lighting shows and lasers, professional dancers (sometimes suspended from the top of the stage) and pyrotechnics. The event annually attracts over 75,000 people, and although this is mostly a local audience, there is also a large attendance of international guests accounting for around 20% of the total figures.

Music tends to start around 4pm in the afternoon and continue until as late as 4am in the morning. For those who are not satisfied with ending the party so soon, there are usually a number of after parties happening all over town in venues such as the Colosseum night club where they tend to start at around 5am and continue until as late as 10am, often featuring DJs from the festival to continue the party vibes. The Colosseum can accomodate over 3000 people, and to see such a huge crowd enjoying a massive party at the usual time when people are commuting to work is completely surreal.

Travelling to Indonesia in December is quite interesting as it is the peak of the wet season, and being a tropical country, Indonesia can have a lot of rain. The festival features several outside stages, and when asked about this, the Djakarta Warehouse Project's “media guy” referred to only as Kevin in an interview, stated that they pay a black magic wizard to hold off the tropical storms, and that he only gets paid if it doesn't rain. Previous events have miraculously encountered relatively good weather, although the Jury is still out as to whether this is due to the efforts of a black magic wizard or just a coincidence.

The festival market in Asia is really just beginning to boom, whereas in other continents some of the larger, more established events have been traded in for smaller, more local, more boutique standings. More people are travelling to Southeast Asia for mega festivals and so they are attracting a lot of big names and more money is being spent on making them even more amazing, and compared to the prices of many international festivals, you get a lot of value for your money. DWP is quickly becoming a standout name for electronic music and a permanent standing in the lineup of mega festivals supporting this music, and we can expect many big names and changes in the future.

Power Slaves – Up The Tempo

Power Slaves – Up The Tempo

The statement on the Power Slaves website, that the band indulge in '100% rock n roll' is certainly no empty boast. Check out the clip of their track 'Indonesia'.

This bears all the hallmarks of a classic rock video, with close-ups of the various instruments are they are introduced to the track. There are jump cuts to a sea of youthful hands brandishing the national red and white halved flag, and at 0:30 this is expanded to silhouettes defiantly punching the air along with the rousing music. As enemy airplanes cruise past threateningly, the hands grasp larger flags to wave in defiance.

The intimacy of the video transforms at 0:49, as the cameras introduce a clip of Power Slaves performing before a crowd of adoring fans, hands (and Indonesian flags) thrust into the air. The song progresses, gaining in power, and the silhouettes seem to grow ever more prepared to defend their country, producing weapons which are waved menacingly.

While all this makes for an effective backdrop, it is the live clips that really bring home the band's latent power. The vocalist continually gestures to the adoring audience, imploring them to hang on to his words, with the band producing suitably strident chords. At one point there is an effective shot of a guitar, with the camera clipped to the head, focussing on the fretboard. The keyboard player, face masked by ubiquitous cool shades, layers the track with melodies, while the guitarist thrashes out his licks beneath a white stetson (managing to look far cooler than when U2's The Edge used to wear one!)

The vocals alternate dramatically between atmospheric crooning, rising to a powerful crescendo at 2:12. Heydie Ibrahim certainly has a full range, conveying all the atmosphere that is required. Guitarist Kolem kicks into a soaring solo, while the rhythm section of drummer Vidi, second guitarist Randy and bassist Anwar Fatahillah, together with keyboard player Mandy, ensure that each aspect of the song gathers momentum.

By 2:45 the thunderous crescendo has died down to a gentle verse, allowing the crowds to join in. Heydie is seen amongst the fans at the front, bravely continuing with the song as the adulating spectators clamour for the microphone.

The climax of the song occurs with the musicians taking theirfoot off the throttle for a moment, allowing the baying crowds to take the lead (which prompts Mandy to cup a palm to his left ear, goading them that they are not singing nearly loud enough). As the music faded, only the drums remain, tapping out a military tattoo.

This is a terrific example of how Power Slaves are able to whip up their fans by employing a mixture of melody and amplification. Unlike a lot of rock music, where volume seems to be the be all and end all, this Indonesian band can certainly rock, but they can also carry their fans along by producing excellent songs that are also atmospheric.

Shorthand Phonetics – Music and Film

Shorthand Phonetics – Music and Film

Most rock bands are content to live up to a certain set of expectations. This often follows a well-worn pattern: the first album is packed full of punchy material designed to gain maximum attention. By the second album, the emphasis might be on taking things down a gear, with many outfits displaying tendencies of getting introspective and moody. Indonesian band Shorthand Phonetics don't follow any of those rules. They simply focus on producing great, original rock music, whether that's for release through the usual channels, or as the atmospheric backdrop to a film.

Although Shorthand Phonetics are most known for their lo-fi indie guitar sound, they are no strangers to mainstream success. In fact, their film score album 'Score No. 1 (Dream Chase) in A major, Op. 17 for Three Electric Guitars, One Bass Guitar and One Drum Kit', made the number one spot in the 'Top Indonesian Albums of 09', produced by the influential Jakarta Globe newspaper. Never a band to scrimp on the somewhat poetic (indeed outlandish) album titles, this was followed two years later with 'Cantata No. 6 (Assistants of Assistants) in Varying Keys, Op. 25 for Three Electric Guitars, One Bass Guitar, One Drum Kit, One Tenor and Additional Voices Where Appropriate.

In fact, these highly literal descriptions of their album contents is one of Shorthand Phonetics' most instantly recognisable attributes. It conveys a quirky mix of serious intent coupled with a zany sense of humour. But when it comes to actually delivering the goods, the Bandung group is focussed on creating original music that will live on in their listeners' memories (long after most other indie bands have been superseded by the latest hyped-up indie bands).

The defining feature of Shorthand Phonetics is their instantly recognisable guitar sound – or should that be 'three guitars' sound? These are often played in a choppy or 'staccato' style that allows the guitar line to dictate a certain amount of rhythm for any song. This is frequently counterbalanced with a more gentle but insistent strumming, allowing layers of melody to be injected into the piece. As for the rhythm section, very often anything goes, with madcap drumming competing with nihilistic bass lines.

On top of all this, the vocal performances are often dead-pan, or deliberately understated. Shorthand Phonetics are not known for huge, anthemic choruses sung in cod-operatic style. Instead they paint little vignettes that describe the nuances and irritations of everyday life. The equipment used captures this lo-fi technique to perfection, with webcam microphones or a laptop taking the place of the arsenal of marshall stacks that have been the rock band staple for decades.

The band itself was formery a five-piece, consisting of bassist Alfonsus Tanoto, guitarists Kevin Yapsir and Daniel Sastro, drummer Alvin Lasmana and guitarist, vocalist and programmer Ababi Ashari. Established in 2003 or 2004 (the exact date has been open to debate for a while), they were eventually signed to Yes No Wave Music in 2007. Their debut album was another ditty that didn't exactly roll off the tongue – Fanfiction: From the Seriously Absurd to the Absurdly Serious.

Following the album's release, the bulk of the Shorthand Phonetics departed to pursue academic careers, leaving driving force Ababail Ashari to continue writing material under the band's name.

The colourful world of Indo rock

The colourful world of Indo rock

The Indonesia music scene is incredibly rich and varied, benefiting from a range of influences, historic and cultural. Its location on the Pacific rim is ideal for soaking up many of the musical styles which are prevalent amongst other Far Eastern nations.

But one form of music that seems to have been embraced by enthusiastic young Indonesians is rock. Known locally as 'rock indo', there are many aspects of the genre that are fairly unique to Indonesia. One thing that is typical to Indonesian rock is a sense of passion and individuality. All those clichés that can infest western rock, such as singing about drugs, fast cars or faster women, are completely redundant in Indonesia. Instead the songs are far more likely to concentrate on subjects such as modernism, environmental awareness, or sensitive personal politics.

The music itself varies considerably, covering all the different strand of rock n roll. There is a place for the darker side of the genre, with gothic bands and death metal exponents. But the most successful groups manage to blend the edge of loud guitar-driven rock with the popular, radio and download-friendly sensibilities of pop. This is reflected in YouTube videos, which reveal the sensitive side of Indonesian bands.

While the music might display the traditional attributes of rock – strident guitars, pulsating bass rhythms, driving drumbeats, heartfelt vocals – there are invariably strong narratives in the accompanying videos. Stories can vary, but they will tend to mirror the dramatic undercurrents in the music. Subtle verses might be reflected in introspective footage, with the video protagonists gazing wistfully into the distance, perhaps contemplating relationships that are under stress. Then a crashing chorus or soaring guitar solo will elevate the song to new heights.

That there is a huge audience for Indo rock is reflected in the many annual festivals which are organised. These events draw thousands of enthusiastic punters to events such as the three-day Jakarta Rock Parade. The most recent example of this get-together saw over 100 bands being hosted in the Indonesian capital city. A fantastic range of talent was on display, treating rock fans to music covering the full spectrum of rock n roll, from loud to atmospheric, jazz-tinged to out and out metal.

Bands such as J-Rocks are famed well beyond their Indonesian locale. The very fact that they are clearly influenced by Japanese rock n roll and street styles is reflected in their dress sense, and their raucous, almost cartoon-like enthusiasm for presentation. They have a wide fan base, and have played in Japan, where they have garnered a lot of followers.

Another colourful young Indo band is Superman Is Dead. Adopting punk rock thrash and strong pop melodies, they are clearly influenced by American exponents such as Green Day. In fact, they have toured extensively in the USA.

Pop-rock outfits such as Gigi have commanded a lot of local success. Their debut album 'Angan' shifted 150,000 copies, while their follow-up, 'Dunia', sold almost half a million.

Old hands, such as God Bless, who have been churning out rock n roll since 1973, are still flying the flag for no-nonsense, original, passionate, rock indo!