By: Syahzanan H. F. (Nan) |

Anthemic indie rock band Lightcraft is back with their newest album, ‘Us Is All’. To mark the release of this album on June 27th, they also held a gig with various indie rock/indie pop artists such as Rebelsuns, Tanayu, Agrikulture, Neonomora, Aya Anjani, Muhammad Arief of Rumahsakit, Nanin Wardhani of Nonaria, Rai Putriansyah, Sakti, Estusk, and Provoke! Repro Alumni Choir. We had the chance to discuss about Lightcraft’s inspiration in making ‘Us Is All’ and their opinion on the current Indonesian indie rock scene.

Hello guys, we are from Speed of Sound; you have just released ‘Us Is All’, can you tell us the story behind this album?
Actually, as for the whole album’s concept—“us is all”—the creative process is inspired by the diversity of human civilization. Because, in our lives in this world, and also here in Indonesia, we all have different lives that unites as what our nation’s philosophy taught us: bhinneka tunggal ika (unity in diversity). Moreover, the issue of diversity is still a serious matter, both overseas and in our country. Also, we want to remind our listeners that we all are actually the same; we are all human, no matter how you look like. Other than that, we want our listeners to celebrate the experience of being human with us.

Talking about your creative process; is there any song or other musician that becomes an inspiration for you guys?
In the sense of inspirational musicians, of course we had a few of different musicians’ works that captivated us in making our own. From Coldplay, Snow Patrol, Doves, Mew, and Sigur Ros to Muse and even Nirvana as well as many other indie rock bands that we all know and enjoy. Other than that, in this album we also did a lot of collaboration with other musicians, so that our listeners can feel the sense of diversity that we’re trying to convey.

As for the album itself, what is the difference between ‘Us Is All’ and your other album, ‘Colours of Joy’?
This album for us is like getting into our next level as a band, since we put a lot of thought into the album’s concept and production—maybe also because we’re more mature now. A clear example of this is the production and concept for ‘Colours of Joy’ was purely from ourselves. Meanwhile, in this album we have a producer outside of our band that becomes a mediator between our idealism as a band and the music scene itself. So, this album might have a more subtle feeling on guitar sounds and its whole production, because each of our band’s member has different senses of self-idealism. So the producer’s really helping us a lot in giving out another clear perspective for the album.

We all know that, today, many small bands or musicians have collaborated with more established musicians. What do you guys think of these kinds of collaboration in Indonesia?
The standards of Indonesia’s music scene itself are still referencing standards of music scenes overseas, especially from America. And in America, cross-collaboration is a trend now; an example is Ed Sheeran with his new album that solely contains collaborative songs with other artists. Well, we’d say it’s a good thing if the collaboration that happens between musicians with less recognition and musicians who had bigger recognition aims to expose each other to their opposite’s music scenes. And we think that it makes you more open minded as a musician; you have to split your ego to work with other people, and that’s not easy.

But, you also know that many indie bands, who has more niche markets, tend to have big egos as idealists—something like “If we did a collaboration with a pop musician, my band’s idealism would fade off and I will just become a sell out.” What you guys think about that?
For instance, if a pop musician here in Indonesia like Wali or Armada asks us to collaborate, we are obviously open to that idea because that opens the door toward discussion and sharing each other’s knowledge in music. For us, we are very open to collaborate with bigger musicians and that’s a very good opportunity for both parties. We think that cross collaboration in our music scene is pretty extreme too, like indie music remixed into koplo (mix of Indonesian funk and dangdut).

From your experiences performing in China, what’s the difference between international festivals in China and in Indonesia?
Every place that allows us to perform has its own unique and similar characteristics. eventually. When other musicians are performing and the audience are not familiar with the songs they bring, they will still appreciate them. They’re not shy to enjoy it, as long as the music is good, which creates a great crowd for the performance.

We all notice that the music festivals overseas are also very breathtaking, in terms of technique and regulations. What do you think about that?
Yeah, we agree with that. We’ve been playing in Japan, and even though they were small gigs, but their sound is properly suited for high professional standards. The stage was very small and the crew that was helping us consisted of only two women; they were working very fast with their iPad, which was also very high-tech. And that’s because the music industry in Japan has already settled down to a strong standard, even in small details. It is very different in here; a music performance’s stage crew is still regarded as a kind of a side job, and we think that there’s also a different level of appreciation here.

Do you guys think that Indonesia’s music industry can achieve that level of professionalism?
Of course. Nowadays, Indonesian bands have been competing with fellow Asian bands too. For our capacity as musicians, we are not losing out. If we talk about the music that’s produced and written by Indonesian musicians themselves, we have achieved these standards; however, if we talk about our music industry, we are still developing. It’s all fine; we are still going to make it happen, because today’s ecosystem is good enough for future improvements.

Moving on to your music’s genre: do you have any specific terms to define your band’s genre? Also, since we’ve talked about Indonesia’s music ecosystem before, what do you think about the rock music scene in Indonesia?
We would describe our genre as anthemic indie rock, however, we are not really limiting ourselves in terms of making music. As for our music scene, we think that the development is pretty good. For instance, Kolibri Records—they started as a DIY label, but they have a strong community supporting each other’s artists, so whenever they hold a gig, their tickets must be sold out. They became an example for other indie rock/indie pop collectives. There are also a few small collectives that brings a large crowd whenever they perform.

By the way, about appreciation from our people for the Indonesian music scene, what do you guys think of that in connection with our creative economy?
This problem is an individual problem; we can’t control our people to like our music, it’s kind of subjective. It’s also related to our mentality—wanting everything to be easy and free, always searching for shortcuts—and that’s normal in our society. Maybe the key is to support each other.

As for Indonesian people, what do you guys think of the Indonesian netizen who easily bashes musicians through the internet?
We are actually very open about that; if there are netizens who doesn’t like our songs, it’s okay, we’ll make that a form of feedback. We can see what’s in the music that they don’t like, either it’s from our technique or the music itself. But other than that, we think we’ll just let them go to say anything they want. Another thing is to appreciate and keep reminding each other, maybe with this ‘Us Is All’ album, we can remind people about our nation’s philosophy which is bhinneka tunggal ika.

In Asia, we know that the music scene varies wildly. For instance: South Korea is famous with their idol groups, meanwhile Japan has their rock bands. We also know that Indonesia has a lot of bands with different genres; do you guys think our music scene can go international and be heard by a wider audience?
As long as there is a desire from the government to fully support our music industry, of course we can. Starting with building the appropriate infrastructure for our music industry, then the ecosystem. For instance, Rich Brian who got into 88rising and became known worldwide, that’s because the ecosystem is already established in the label.

As we can see, 88rising is promoting Asian musicians, but if we look closely, they’re only promoting musicians in Hip Hop/R&B. Is there any possibility that there will be a label like 88rising, yet focused on rock music? Additionally, there’s a lot of talk that rock is not as innovative and ‘hip hop is the new rock’, what do you guys think about that?
If we talk about 88rising’s latest collaboration with BEKRAF (Indonesian Creative Industry Council), the rising musicians recruited by the program come from different genres than 88rising’s original roster of musicians. That’s proof that they’re also trying out new markets. Then again, it increases cross-collaboration between genres.

Nowadays, we’ve seen collaborations between rock, synth, and even EDM musicians, do you guys think that ‘pure rock’ music still exists?
It’s not a problem for us; maybe there’s no really ‘pure’ rock anymore. Our album even includes EDM elements.

Last but not least—there is a presumption that rock music today is becoming too pop and even there are statements like ‘everything will be pop at the end.’ What do you think about that?
Again, it’s about the very subjective notion of taste. And about market-driven music, possibly these musicians need to live a life. Maybe they’ve tried to be idealistic for 2-3 albums, but unfortunately, those albums didn’t bring money to them, so they must try another way to mix both the music the major market wants to hear and the music from their own idealism. We also have to adapt to this kind of reality by accepting some new trends yet still retaining our own color. Well, everybody has their own preferences; we can’t satisfy each one of them.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity and partially translated from Indonesian. Claudia Siregar and Riefan Novalde H contributed to some of the questions.

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