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Interview with Riar Rizaldi & Adythia Utama / BISING

Published by Alessandro Violante on March 19, 2017

bising-indonesia-noiseNot only Japanoise. The book written by Cedrik Fermont (known as C-Drik and Axiome) and Dimitri Della Faille, recently published and entitled Not your world music: Noise in South East Asia, plus the release of its album, it’s been very important in order to raise the attention on a documentary movie, directed in 2014, entitled BISING, focused on the yet recent Indonesian noise scene, directed by three of these artists. The book, the album and the movie have made it possible, for Western noise music followers, to discover a scene (and, with Fermont’s and Della Faille’s book, more scenes) that many, until now, didn’t know about, and that’s the reason why we’ve considered this movie very important, together with Fermont and Della Faille work. So, we of FLUX have thought to make an interview with the men behind this interesting project.

Hi guys. It’s a pleasure to talk with you about your movie, BISING, directed in 2015. How this project was born? Could you talk us about its genesis?

Adythia Utama (Adyth) is the director of BISING, Riar Rizaldi is the co-director.

Adyth: At first it was Danif Pradana (our film producer, he plays under the moniker Kalimayat) idea to make a documentary about people who do noise in Indonesia because at that time (this was in 2010) there’s no proper documentation in Indonesian extreme noise and experimental music, most people didn’t even realize that we have this kind of scene in Indonesia. He interviewed and asked me to join him in this documentary project. But then Danif got busy with work and family stuffs, so he decided to change his role from director to producer. I became a single fighter in the film production until Riar Rizaldi came along as a co-director in mid 2011. And finally, after being busy with work for almost 3 years, the film finished its post-production process in 2014.

Riar: Hi! The project was born around 2010, at that time, Danif – the producer, thinks that it might be interesting to make a small or short documentary about noise scene in Indonesia. At that time the noise scene is not pretty big, there are probably less than 15 bands/performers from three different cities (Bandung, Jakarta, Jogjakarta). However small the scene is, Danif started to make a mock trailer for this documentary with Adyth. A year later, Adyth contacted me: ‘let’s make the real documentary!’ and then we started to work on BISING in early 2011.

You guys are musicians too. How could you describe your scene?

Adyth: The scene remains underground although the quantity (people who do noise) is getting bigger nowadays.

Riar: I am not a musician per se, since I’m more active as an artist. I’m involve in a contemporary art scene, but sometimes my work is intertwined with improvisation, avant-garde, and electroacoustic scene in Indonesia. Anyway, I grew up in noise scene in Indonesia. I think the scene is pretty big right now, and most of it are centralised in Jogjakarta. You should check Jogja Noise Bombing, it’s a collective that promoting noise music endlessly.

We’ve discovered this movie after having read the book written by Cedrik Fermont and Dimitri Della Faille. Have you ever made a collaboration with them?

Adyth: I never made a collaboration with Cedrik, but he does a good job at archiving noise in South East Asia. I play shows with him twice though.

Riar: Cedrik and Dimitri came to Indonesia several times to perform and doing research. As for us, no, we never had any opportunity to do an artistic collaboration with them. If it’s for research, yes we are exchanging a lot of information with them. But I think, If I’m not mistaken, Cedrik under his lable Syrphe will release the anthology of Indonesian noise music.

Does an “Indonesian noise sound” exist?

Adyth: I dunno, maybe. Because when I go to local noise shows, most people are still influenced by Japanese or western harsh noise. I think noise musician in Indonesia are still searching for their own sound, I saw some people in Yogyakarta, Samarinda, and Palu are trying to combine Indonesian traditional/handmade instrument with noise (Danif did that before with gamelan in Kalimayat though).

Riar: I’m not sure, perhaps it does exist. We have our own techno culture and approach. For example, the gear that we got might be different than any musician in Japan or Europe, thus it produces a unique sound that might different than any other artist. Currently quite a lot of instrument builder emerge in Indonesia as well. This perhaps gives an “Indonesian sound” to their music. But I think, regardless the gear or equipment or even their nationality, everyone has their own unique expressions.

Let’s now talk about some concepts faced in the movie. Some musicians have talked about noise music as of “pure emotion”. What do you think about this?

Adyth: I think it’s understandable because most noise musician performs improvise and some of them are triggered by their emotion. So yeah, noise is a good form to unleash your emotion. Hahaha

Riar: I think what they are talking about is about the ‘trance.’ Quite often when I saw their performance, some performers are really in the stage where they can’t control themselves and become trance. I thought that many Indonesian noise artist, are more focus on the volume and aggressiveness of their sound, and might not really interested in composing. I think this aggressiveness is what they meant by ‘pure emotion.’ When the volume is loud, and you being surround by just a pure sonic assault, then your emotion started to burst.

Someone else says “We were coming from our own will, our own expression, not from any influence”. This is interesting, as it seems that Indonesian artists have spontaneously created their noise music, without having any influence in their early days.

Adyth: Probably because the guy who said that formed the band before the internet/myspace era. I think Blackribbon was formed in early 2000. It was so hard to find information about noise music back then.

Riar: This might be true, but not 100% true. I think subconsciously they might be influenced by some musical aspect. The 90’s is filled with Nirvana and Sonic Youth, and in early 2000 there were noise rock bands emerged in Indonesia that explore the possibilities of feedback and noisy guitar texture. If we are talking about harsh noise, power electronics, industrial, etc it might be true that they don’t have any information about Merzbow, Whitehouse, let alone SPK before the internet came. But I think the noise rock scene in early 2000 open the possibilities for ‘noise’ to be independent without being rock. However, cities in Indonesia itself is already noisy, so it might have influenced them as well.

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Some others talk about noise music as “freedom to express individuality”. What do you think about this?

Adyth: It’s basically the same with my answer in question number 5. I agree that noise is a good medium/form to express your emotion/individuality.

Riar: I agree with this statement. I think what they are doing is pure expression. It also linked to the statement that noise music for them is ‘pure emotion.’ Noise might give them the ability to explore and express.

Some musicians see, in this music, the chance to play music having no rules, a sort of pure music, and this is certainly true, but I also think that any music style, in time, develops a vocabulary made of “rules”, and that it’s a natural process, unless you force this mechanism. What’s your point of view?

Adyth:  I think that’s the reason why people should keep experimenting to find something new in music. Because Indonesia is late with this kind of music.

Riar: They are coming from a traditional music norm, music for them is made from common musical instrument and such, and when they are find noise, they see it as mode of expression without any ‘musical instrument’ and rules. Of course in the end any artistic output when it gets established it will also produce some rule, how to play, how to enjoy, and how to present. But what I like from Indonesian noise is, they don’t spend much time to think how they will present their art. It reminds me a lot to punk, when you just make something loud and couldn’t care for any else.

It’s interesting to note how some musicians consider noise as music, some others not, some others as anti-music (a response to something else). What’s your point of view?

Adyth: Personally, I think noise is music. I agree with what Paul Agusta, Ali (Sangsaka Worship), and Muhammad Akbar (A stone A) said in the film. Noise is music because music is a set of sound that is arranged and composed. And if noise is presented in any form like, gigs, audio recording, or physical releases, then it’s music. Basically it’s the same with abstract drawing in fine art.

Riar: That question, whether noise is music or not, is our initial premise for the film. We are really curious to hear their (Indonesian noise musician) opinion and statement on what is noise really meant to them and how to define it, is it music or not. In the end, whether it’s music or not, people could appreciate the outcome. As for my personal opinion, noise is sound, but the output of how human treat this sound determined its condition, whether it would be music or just pure sound.

In the end of the movie, it’s told that “the next year, noise music won’t be anymore something interesting”, and the artist suggests to disband these projects, because when something becomes more known, this is already dead. It seems a strongly punk-influenced declaration, isn’t it?

Adyth: Haha, yeah.I think the statement were meant to mock that punk-influenced declaration because the guy who said that were kind of joking. We both think it’s funny to close the film with that statement.

Riar: It is! But ironically noise became bigger in Indonesia. So many publication and media that put an attention to noise scene in Indonesia. Maybe it’s our fault as well? Haha. But yeah noise is getting bigger and bigger in Indonesia. Indonesian people has this tradition of collectiveness. I think that’s also take a big part on the development of noise music in here.

Who his Zbigniew Karkowski? What had been his role in the history of Indonesian noise music? The movie is dedicated to him.

Adyth: Zbigniew Karkowski was a noise musician and composer from Poland, he passed away in 2013. Me and Zbigniew exchange emails and met several times in Tokyo. He was a nice person and he was really excited about noise in Indonesia. We interviewed him for the documentary back in 2011 when he was performing in Jakarta. Unfortunately, our producer accidently deleted his interview footage from the hard drive, we feel bad about it. So we dedicate this film to him.

Riar: Zbigniew is a composer from Poland. He is our friend. He came to Indonesia in 2010, we had a great time hanging out with him. He is very passionate about noise in Indonesia. Sadly, he passed away 3 years ago in Peru. We dedicated this film to his passion and music.

Do Indonesian artists prefer to create music, play live, or both these things? Why your albums often aren’t known here (in Italy and in Europe)?

Adyth: Both I think, some noise musicians are making new releases every month, making a long list of discography, and some of them didn’t even have any physical releases, they just enjoy performing live. I think the reason why Indonesian noise releases aren’t really known in Europe is because Indonesian noise is still new and most of them are doing things independently (D.I.Y labels, shows, etc). Or maybe we still haven’t found our “Indonesian noise sound”.

Riar: Both, but releasing a music on record is not an easy task in here, unless you doing it super DIY (CD-R and tape). Also distribution is something that we never had, so maybe that’s the reason why our music isn’t known and reach Europe. However, the situation might be different now since quite a lot of label based on Europe start to seeing Indonesian artist.

Recently your movie has been screened in Berlin. Which feedback you’re gaining?

Riar: Unfortunately, we haven’t heard any feedback from Berlin. So we don’t know yet.

Adyth: Noise feedback perhaps?! Haha

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Thank you!