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Rully Shabara & Wukir Suryadi | INDONESIAN EXPERIMENTAL FOLK | Songs 2010-2013

Release date: 28.11.13
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Wukir Suryadi, born in Malang, East Java December 1977, joined art community since 12 years old, and since then actively learned and worked as music illustrator for theater, poetry, and short stories. In order to do the job, I kept experimenting, from seeking the source of sounds to create that source of sounds. Now, I am involved in experimental music scene, perform in concerts or represent my music and my instruments anywhere I could. I learned about art and life from Bengel Teater Rendra, and I learned a lot from the late composer I Wayan Sadra.

Rully Shabara, I am responsible for all texts and I do all the singing and any exploration of human voice in Senyawa. I am also the singer in Zoo. But here, vocal portion is huge and I have to treat it not just as an instrument but also an instrument that should be able to match Wukir’s versatile instruments.


I read somewhere about a performance where Vincent Moon (creator of "Les Concerts à Emporter" at La Blogothèque) was in the audience - after the concert he invited both of you to make a documentary film about SENYAWA ("CALLING THE NEW GODS" published in 2012)... In that article they mentioned that the audience was --- kind of violent --- and affected with your music...

Working with Vincent was absolutely amazing. We did the shootings of the whole film in one day with no proper crew, so we really had to push ourselves. We really love playing in front of general public. At times we had to restrain some of the energy in order not to be too frightening, but most of the time we just let it all out and the reaction could sometimes be surprising.


Wukir, you work has an unique mixture between the ancient Javanese tradition and contemporay music in addition your extended techinques while playing your self-constructed instruments...

In my mind and soul, old memories and new memories are created by nature and environment unconsciously, because I always true to myself and follow my instinct and intuition when making music. This experience blends traditional and contemporary ideas, so in Senyawa there is no partition that divides traditional and contemporary ideas, pretty much like a human body.


We read in "the instrument builders project that you co-curates also, that your instruments are done mainly with bambu and strings: "Percussive strings carved from the babboo's skin, and melodic steel strings bringing together element of traditional Indonesian instruments... with guitar disortion" + amplification"

Wukir: The instrument is called Bambuwukir, it constitutes string and percussive characters, all in one instrument. The percussive organology resembles traditional instruments like Celempung or Lakado, and with the right amplification it can produce drum like sounds, and the strings could sound like siter, rebab, or kecapi. The head of this instrument resembles a bamboo spear, a symbol of our struggle against the Dutch during colonization.




Musical traditions from Indonesia as influences:

Wukir’s playing is very much influenced by Kuda Lumping and Banyuwangi’s Kuntulan music.


Rully, how did indonesian tradition and javanese culture influenced your way of singing, and in contrast with all what we know from Occidental Culture, how did you start working on the mixture between aesthetics?

Most of the songs are written in Bahasa Indonesia but there are few songs where I sing in Javanese language. And many times I don't even sing in any language, just random voice sounds when I feel that language could actually be limiting.

I did not come from any traditional music background and I was from Central Sulawesi instead of Java. But spending most of my life in Java certainly brought me perspective. Actually, my main influences when I first start singing were all western and contemporary but I ended up mixing them with traditional singing. I wouldn't say I apply only specific traditional singing because then it would be boring and predictable.


How did you meet before working together as Senyawa?

When Wukir first moved to Jogjakarta, he was looking for ways to be involved in experimental scene. Wok the Rock from Yes No Wave Music told him that he should meet me. He also said the same thing to me. So I came to this gig that he organized where Wukir was playing, and he announced to the audience that I would be improvising with Wukir at the end of his set. I was really amazed by Wukir's performance that night so I wouldn't miss the opportunity to jam with him. Later that night we decided that we should record an album together. We made it happen four days later. So we practically played together on stage even before we were properly introduced to each other. I guess what makes it interesting is that Senyawa has this perfect combination. Wukir with his traditional background was anxious to experiment, and me with my background in experimental music was trying to be more traditional. So we kinda meet in the middle.


Recently you were touring with Kazuhasi Uchihashi in Europe (the legendary Japanese guitarrist involved also as member of Otomo Yoshihide's Ground Zero) and you released a CD at Bomba Records. What are your impressions about improvised music and how is connected to your compositions?

We always view improvisation is the way to extend our abilities and to find new approaches that we would not be able to find otherwise. Of course we like to compose songs and fix the structures for most of our recordings, but we're more of a live band as opposed to studio band. So, the structures that we build are more often get deconstructed when we perform them live. We also love to improvise with other musicians. Our favorites so far other that Kazuhisa would be Rod Cooper, Lucas Abela, and Arrington de Dionyso.

We love to compose a tight structure when we make compositions for recording purposes as I said before, but we also love to do total improvisation or just improvise around the structure. We prefer to say that our songs are 90% composed and 90% improvisations.




I love ritual music and it's not a topic that a lot of experimental musicians work with, at least, related again to all the influences propagated from Occident around the world... Tell us more about the importance of ritualistic states in Senyawa music:

Before making new songs for our new album, we're planning to spend few days in an area near Borobudur temple, just to perform rituals like they do in the old days in order to be more synced with nature around the area. This is just an example of how we view rituals and its importance to our music.


Javanese periods of music you would recommend?

That era would probably around the end of Singosari and the start of Majapahit


Festivals in Indonesia related to folk and traditional music:

Panen Raya is a festival in almost every village in Indonesia as a ceremony to celebrate harvest.


Inspirational artists and major influences:

Wukir: Uchihashi Kazuhisa; and Authis by I Wayan Sadra, Dalbo by Sawung Jabo and Kelompok kampungan
Rully: Rod Cooper, Uchihashi Kazuhisa, and of course Wukir Suryadi.


Special thanks: "Senyawa is supported greatly by Yes No Wave Music and Volcanic Winds Project. We’re really grateful for their support all these years".



Conversations between Senyawa and Julian Bonequi. Rully Shabara & Wukir Suryadi, Yogyakarta 15.11.2013





01. Pada Siang Hari (Demo). Previously unreleased, recorded by Andrew McLellan
Pada Siang Hari was recorded in Pengerat, 2011. Mixed, engineered and produced by Andrew McLellan

04.Senyawa with Kazuhisa Uchihashi
Recorded in Pengerat, 2012 by Oki Gembus, mixed by Kazuhisa Uchihashi.

Tanah, Hujan, Geni, Warna, Angin & Abu, were part of the first release of Senyawa at YES NO WAVE in 2010.





[ar089] SENYAWA
Rully Shabara & Wukir Suryadi




Compositions by Senyawa. Promotional compilation curated by Julian Bonequi.

Rully Shabara / voice
Wukir Suryadi / bambuwukir

Special thanks to Rully Shabara, Wukir Suryadi, Kazuhisa Uchihashi, Wok the Rock & Yes No Wave Music Indonesia.

Picture by Tony Yang. Design by Audition Records.