KOKO Gig Watch


Eddie Mohammad, the guitarist and tunesmith with KOKO approved Indo indie anglophiles The Aftermiles gives us the lowdown on how indie is fast becoming the hottest scene in Jakarta

Greetings! I am presenting this article as a tribute to Jakarta, to the never-ending expansion of independent music scene, home to the exquisitely designed gigs and festivals, an attraction to those seeking fresh talents; a meeting point to various themes and cultures of our global music development, and a place of birth to the good definition of idealism as the gifted acts try to fight the dreadfully monotonous mainstream music industry.

My name is Eddie Mohammad, the main song-writer and guitarist of the Aftermiles and a part of the local independent scene. I thank Johnny and John [KOKO Asia] for the opportunity to lead their readers into Jakarta’s living independent scene. It is nevertheless precious for me to share such story, and I shall treat this chance as a task to lift the local scene a level higher to be noticed.

The local pop culture seems to have killed the integrity to express in honesty; the riches are attracting certain types of individuals, those acting as amateur producers trying to lay their hands on anything that returns money, while numerous bands see these producers as their chance to succeed in the industry. This results in many indistinct acts, claiming breakthroughs while they are simply selling out to the market. It is amusing to have these mainstream types appearing on TV shows every morning. Shame on the hosting local channels, for they surely share the same laugh the critics do. Shame on the improperly behaving money-oriented producers, for their feat on slaughtering creativity!

But as major labels strengthen their force by rendering poorly qualified artists (onto the scene) and the trendy, upcoming pop-bands send their demos to secure their market, this has left the rest to remain in freedom, to present themselves in distinguished actions, confirming their solid state to stay the battle.

Indonesian pop music culture is over-saturated. Producers and labels might be able to sustain good income from their cheesy-looking packaged products, but only for so long, until the upcoming generations decide to abandon the market, and hand their full attention to the fresh independent talents. The spirit of such local movement is attractive, sharp and driven on by charismatic attitude. Slowly but surely, this movement is taking over the centre stage. The appearance of indie bands on majors-created high school fests involving financial aid from internationally scaled sponsorship is always fascinating. In the end, the buzz they created convinced a few large cigarette companies to uphold an annual fest to filter these talents, thus opening chances for the cutting edge to play to a bigger audience.

Fresh talents keep on appearing onto the surface; and ever before they get to hit the fests, nature selects them on the floor of small clubs and community gigs. Collective showcases are the most common form of community gigs, normally being hosted by local event organisers. These organisers often involve members from many different bands looking for gigs, and as organising is easier than finding, they collect money to book clubs and offer their friends to fill the line up. Inviting already well-known indie bands to perform is an additional kick to the gig, and the seniors never reject, they accept and gain tremendous support to the effort. Beautiful, is it not? Club owners see these bands not only as a good source of income, but aesthetically and artistically speaking, as a good source of variety and entertainment to keep their establishments hip and happening.


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