Friday, July 15, 2016

Devadata's XDanduX at Running His Independent Business: "Independent Doesn't Always Mean Poor."

I'm so thankful that I can get along with people who play in the bands, come to the concert, or listen to similar sounds like I do. Back in the day, it was hard for me to get rid off such worse judgment that I had on people who disliked my musical preference. But, presently, I believe it will be so shallow and selfish if I had to put on my perspective of my musical preference as the best idea upon other common cynical ideas about so called independent or underground music, bands, and stuffs. Talking about people’s perspective, most people who admire certain bands will think that the band’s life is somehow nice and desirable, especially if the band itself has been famously known for their good and marketable music.
Personally, I don’t think it is wrong for having such idea. You know, being a part of a band with a tight schedule of performance and tour doesn’t always mean having much money or nice cars. It’s easy for most of us to assume that being in a band means, living glamorously from royalty, wearing fancy clothes, and sometimes, having sexy female groupies. I mean, it’s a classic nature of most people to instantly speak out a certain opinion which tends to become a shallow judgment. Yes, some of them may live that kind of life, but not all of them. Instead, when it comes to daily survival, some of them must find another different way to pay the bills, sometimes, when it is also the way that they attempt to produce their music.
Some of you will probably think, “Serious?” Absolutely! Nowadays, it doesn’t matter even if your band’s song is being played in a famous local radio, your band’s video is being watched by more than five thousand people, but, esto es Indonesia, vato (this is Indonesia, dude). Here, you may be able to freely download tons of your favorite band’s songs without concerning their royalty meanwhile in Germany, you must stand before the judge for committing crime by your illegal download activity. My sister in law who lives there told me so, by the way. Therefore, don’t be so surprised when some players and members of the bands choose to attempt and have another potential business for their regular income. And they have proven that they can survive with it.
I befriend with many nice people in Surabaya hardcore scene, which makes me so grateful for that. One of them is Johonas Budhi Pamungkas a.k.a. xDandux, drummer of the old local Surabaya hardcore band, Devadata. Honestly, I can’t remember exactly of how long I’ve been knowing this man, probably, 2007 or 2008, I don’t know. But one thing that I know for sure, he is one of many musicians who doesn’t only count and rely his life on music. If many of my friends who play in bands usually attempt some clothing business, running music studios, or becoming a graphic designer, I can say that xDandux is one of several exceptions. He has been running his small cafĂ© business that serves traditional Balinese culinary named WaSik that stands for Warung Klasik located in Jalan Pakis Tirtosari III, Surabaya since four years ago.

 Presently, xDandux also runs his new business, an antique gallery named “WaSik Gallery” located in Jalan Padmosusastro 138, Surabaya. I visited his gallery couple weeks ago on a sunny Friday afternoon. At that time, this tall tattooed guy was sitting on his comfortable office chair, actually waiting for potential customers to come by and shop, but unfortunately, he had to welcome this fat sweaty ugly guy to ask him some these upcoming clichĂ© questions.
“Hi, Dandu, how are you?”
“Fine, man. Thanks.”
“Presently, how many businesses that you have been running so far?”
“Up to present day, there are two, Warung Klasik, and WaSik Gallery.”
“How long have you been running both of them?”
“You know, I started first with Warung Klasik on 2012. Three years later, by the end of 2015, I caught an opportunity to run this antiques gallery. But I’m not alone running this business, I work together with some friend of mine.”
“What makes you prefer to choose opening and running your own business?”
“I think it’s more about comfort. I believe that I’m more comfortable to decide what’s good for me. Frankly, I’m not into an office hour employee, with this daily fingerprint attendance, and sitting behind the desk, those stuffs are not me.”
“Hahahahaha, okay. But what’s with these food business and antiques? Why do you choose two different fields of business which don’t correlate to each other?”
“They actually do. It is like this, first, I chose to run this warung (street cafe) business because I believed  that it was new thing, especially for me, and I could still see the challenge. Second, I love classic stuffs, that’s  why I decorate Warung Klasik with many old merchandises, old toys. Apparently, I see another  opportunity for a business expansion. Yes, an antiques gallery. It should take time before I started the business. Both businesses have their own obstacles. If we run a food business, we need to make sure  that what we cook satisfies our customer’s taste and appetite. It’s absolutely different with running antiques gallery, which compels us to understand, not only the value, but also its authenticity, and it’s not an easy job. However, there is a same responsibility that we must attempt at running any kind of business, whether it’s big or small. It is our customer’s trust. It is also not an easy job for me at running these businesses especially when some people like us must stand against the common stigma within society which judges our personality based on our present appearance.”

“Are there any certain philosophical values from your business?”
“Yes, absolutely there are. Especially in my antique’s business. You know, history is an important part of people’s life. History teaches us how to appreciate what our ancestors had attempted, therefore, we can live a better life today. For some people, their old stuffs may only be worth as junks at their house. Putting aside the fact that their parents’ collection of old paintings could be worth thousands of dollars, more importantly, some antiques may have significant historical values accompanying important periods of people’s life. Each antique may function as a reminder to certain significant event of a person. Simply, history within antiques is what makes people realize who they were and who they are. You know, some antiques may represent and visualize your childhood, for example. They have esthetic values and can be used to creatively and artistically decorate your house, just like I did to Warung Klasik. But when I talk about ‘classic’ here, it doesn’t mean ancient, but it is more like Indonesian post-colonial period antiques.”

“Dandu it is nice for me to know that, as a person who contributes to the scene for years, you realize the fact that running your own business is the way you live your life realistically. But certainly, being a musician in an underground scene is a part of your life that I’m certain is a part that you can’t put aside. My question is, does your business interrupt your work with Devadata?”
“No, not really, since each of us is presently busy with other jobs or activities. You know, my older brother and Devadata’s guitar player, Bodas is also running his ‘Das’ rock shop.”
“But it doesn’t mean that you guys are not productive at making new songs, right?”
“Absolutely no, as a matter of fact, Devadata will have a ‘Disrespect’ tour in Malaysia  and Singapore, hopefully on this September. Also, in this end of July, I’ll go to Malaysia to help a Malaysian band, Wynken Delirium. You can also check out our live session with Jozz Studio, playing our song ‘Die For Nothing’, taken from our latest album, ‘Supremacy’ on Youtube.”
“That’s wicked, hahahaha. You guys certainly can’t leave your true passion. Okay, two last questions, Dandu. First, does your business just ‘help’ you financially, or instead, is it apparently profitable? Second, how expensive can antiques be sold? ”
“Alright, for the first question, I can tell you that it’s pretty helpful. You know, when life comes to paying the bills and basic needs, I’m so grateful that by running this business, I can apparently afford those things. Furthermore, just because we don’t depend on monthly salary jobs, but we independently run our, even though, small business instead, it doesn’t mean that we could be or should be poor, right? But again, it all returns to the way you live your life. Understanding both what you need and what you want. Man, when it comes to lifestyles, there is never enough money on your pocket, for real. For the second question, I had some of my antiques sold for IDR 4,000,000. For my case, considering that I’m a rookie in this business, I can say it’s the most expensive one. But there are many antiques big shots who can make more shitload of money, man, trust me.”
“Okay, Dandu, thank you so much for having this conversation. Stay true, buddy!”
“Absolutely, my friend.”
After this interview, I ran my motorbike and kept thinking about some of Dandu’s words about understanding both of what you need and what you want. Honestly, I’m pretty sure, it’s not as easy as it sounds, not just for me but for most of people I believe. As a person with “Monthly Salary Job” I find it is still so difficult for me to manage my income and my expenses. I occasionally think and hope that I’m not so automatically called “sold out” by doing certain jobs which involves my capability, since I believe that many friends in the scene and other people out there, just want to be realistic at living their life. And taking care their family, off course. Do you guys think it’s a defensive statement? Well, be my guess then.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Young and Dark, Abraham

             It is hard to believe how fast time has passed, when we thought that we had just dropped by at some familiar place and apparently, we realize that we have been ten or fifteen years far separated from that period. Such strange thing also happens to me. People will think that it’s funny if they found out how scared I was at the first time I recognized this sophistically dark and artistic part of ‘black metal’. Starting my teenage period at 11 until late 16, I was frequently haunted with the wicked appearance of those Satanist-lookalike bands such as, Cradle of Filth, or, Dimmu Borgir. Even Marilyn Manson (I stupidly thought that Brian Warner aka Marilyn Manson was a black metal musician as well). I don’t know, the idea of their ‘bloody’ satanic ritual at the backstage was stuck in my head like a parasite.
Apparently, my present perspective about black metal must change a little bit. From the Scandinavian-base culture appearance, complete with scary make up (it remains that way so far I know), blasphemy-content lyrics, and off course, satanic ritual, into casual men in leather jacket without make up, singing about human’s suffocation. Thanks to these folks of Abraham.
This local Surabayan band was formed in the end of 2014, when Yudha and Rudi (guitar player of Surabayan melodic punk band, The Flinstone), desired to form this sludge and dark oriented hardcore band. At that time, both of them were influenced by Code Orange, All Pig Must Die, and Converge (Whoa, I love Jake Bannon and Kurt Balou). Honestly, if they could’ve formed a band that sounds like Converge, they may be the first chaotic hardcore band in Surabaya. For completing their lineup, Yudha took Bintang to fill the bass and Eno on drums. At the same time, Eno also played for other hardcore punk band. After intensive practices, Abraham had opportunities to perform in local gigs conducted by their good friends. Unfortunately, Rudi decided to step out of the lineup to stay focused on The Flinstone. This move was also followed by Bintang for being uncertain of his part in the band. Abraham took three months of silence.

Eventually, Yudha met Alfian aka Toyo to fill the guitar. Alfian also took his friend, Tuwek to play bass. After another practices, Abraham decided to change their musical preferences. Playing what they call oldschool black metal combined with crust/punk drums’ beat and raw distortion, Abraham was finally influenced by Young And In The Way, Mayhem (Deathcrush album era), and The Secret (Solve Et Coagula album era). Soon, Abraham will release their split album with grindcore/punk veteran, Depo Sampah on this April 2016. And it’s limited.
However, to be honest, when I listen to their track such as Rebellion x Babylon and Redemption x Deliverance, they sound more like purely oldschool metal hardcore for me. Especially with the vocal, Yudha really reminds me to Undying and other similar Swedish metalcore bands. Their various chords, slow tempo to close the song are somehow familiar. The only difference is preachy story telling style that he attempts on Redemption x Deliverance. Wicked. Anyway, Yudha had told me that their recent sound would be different.
 Overall, I'm glad that Abraham doesn't hesitate to define their own musical style. I hate to say that they will go to the right direction for their consistency of their musical preference, but still, I hope that they would play that Converge or Dillinger Escape Plan in the future. What can I say? I'm just a whiner.