by: Kiva Johns-Adkins
(originally posted on Carol's Butterflies Blog on February 13, 2011)
“I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.”
LEXINGTON, Kentucky - It’s midnight on a Friday night in Kentucky, USA, and it is cold outside; one of the harshest winters in years. At that same moment, it’s also noon on Saturday in Jakarta, Indonesia, and the guys who make up TheFirmIndonesia have gathered together on a lovely summer day to enjoy coffee and comradery while they talk with me about their music. Thanks to MySpace and the Internet, 10,127 miles and a 12- hour time distance don’t matter. Summer and winter, English and Indonesian don’t matter because, at this moment, music has allowed us to co-exist.
According to their MySpace page: “THE FIRM tries to give hopeless and dark feel in their music. Broken hearted is something bad, but THE FIRM presents that bad things to be beautiful. In their songs, romantics and reality lyrics about failing in love are being one of their characters.” (sic)
The Firm Indonesia is an Alternative Pop Band from Indonesia made up of six friends who joined forces four years ago. Members Odie, Aji, Ariel and Anay Ndut performed together in a band called The Bends before personnel changes led them to form a new band, adding Ipang and Ian Gorgom to complete the six-man band who have since played at venues all over Jakarta, Indonesia and Bandung, West Java – Indonesia.
“At first the band was named ‘The Bends’ - taken from Radiohead’s album, which has stood since the 90’s. Personnel changes almost reached 80 percent, so we decided to change the name of our band,” The Firm Indonesia said. “In the early formation of this band (2007), our members (were) still college students and unemployed; so we gave the name ‘The Firm’ for at that time we did have a real firm. In addition, we plan to make our self-company with the employees of our friends who have not worked. (There is) lots of unemployment in our country.”
Influenced by the likes of The Cure, Radiohead, Sonic Youth and Morrisey, The Firm Indonesia considers itself a Do-It-Yourself band that is proud of its Indie status. There are no record companies, no labels, no higher-ups. Like many Indie artists, the members of the Firm hold down regular jobs as teachers, students and employees of private companies. They film their own videos and promote themselves around the world thanks to modern day social networking.
“We join many music blogs, webzine, streaming radio or terrestrial radio (stations). In addition to promoting our band, we can also do promotions for music blogs who help us, as well as cooperate with them,” they said. They practice the ideals that are at the heart of the Indie music scene – a community that believes in helping one another.
“Equality and freedom (are the greatest things about the Indie music community). Whatever we do is the joint agreement. We can understand what is happening with our friends in the band. It’s different if we look at what is happening in major labels and their management,” The Firm Indonesia says. “When I make some connection with the community of indie from Denmark, New Zealand, Canada and even UK and America, they are very welcoming to fellow indie musicians.”
After hearing about The Firm Indonesia on Twitter I went to their MySpace page to check them out. As I watched their video for “Hopeless Acoustic” I felt like I was taken to a very exotic locale and I found myself relating emotionally to the music. Lyrics aside, their melody, instruments and rhythm capture the human .
“In every acoustic version (we) perform, we are influenced by Electric President and our guitarist is influenced by Sigur Ros and Radiohead. But we try to combine it with our own way,” the band says.
True to their D.I.Y. approach to music they film their own videos. They own their sound from the conception of the lyrics to the birth of the performance.
“With the Do It Your Self, we are free to do anything, free to allocate our funds, time and song, our inspiration what we want, not what the market wants,” the band mates say. “We prefer freedom. We do not like attachments and any form of restriction that occurred on a major label in our country. They prefer the market but neglect the development of musician’s creativities.”
In five years the group still plans to have complete ownership of their music. For now, they take each performance as it comes and value the time they get to share with each other, like getting together over coffee to do this interview with me for Butterflies Radio.
“We are currently seeking funding to attend several festivals in other countries, such as (an) invitation from friends in Singapore or the Laneway Festival in Australia and Singapore,” the band members say.
The Firm Indonesia will go where the music takes them, and thanks to the internet and social networking, the six friends from Indonesia can be heard in coffee shops, living rooms, schools and bedrooms all over the world.
This band, this “brotherhood” of musicians who have been playing instruments since they were in middle school, offer these words of wisdom and advice for new artists trying to break into the indie music scene:
“Don’t think about where you will distribute your music. Simply create music that you like. Play with heart. Love your community. Eliminate differences, all human are the same, someday we would die and only our music will live forever,” The Firm Indonesia said.
Thanks to @babiesbrown for the editing