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Rebel With Cause

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hellobali talks to Cokorda Bagus Pemayun, the percussionist of Bali’s folk band Nosstress and asks him hard question about his identity as a modern man living on an island of the Seen and the Unseen


Tell us what we need to know about you.

I come from the village of Madangan, Gianyar but grew up in Denpasar. I think I am lucky because I have a real village, not the touristy one, to go home to. I’m a percussionist in Nosstress, owner of Lemari Bapa – a vintage menswear boutique, home chef at my fish lawar warung, traditional dancer, and the only son of my father and mother.


How does your upbringing influence you to become who you are now?

I grew up listening to stories about the bygone era from my father. I think that created my love for antiques and vintage stuff. From my mother’s side, I inherited the affinity to make art. Her side of the family are sculptors and dancers. Unfortunately, my wish to studied art was opposed by my parents who did not wish for their only son to become a destitute artist. I went to the Law school and after graduating fought hard with my Mother who wanted me to follow her footstep in being a civil servant. But I know being an uniformed civil servant would never make me happy or allow me to create stuff that make me happy. So I persevered. Eventually, I managed to open Lemari Bapa, became a freelance interior designer, making albums and performing with my band, and made them realize that I wouldn’t be a destitute artist after all.


You seem to be the embodiment of what a modern Balinese man ought to be. How hard is it to juggle modernity with tradition?

It is not easy and I have to choice between the two sometimes. But, it can be done. I learned about the importance of my Balinese root when I went to Germany on 2014. Nosstress was invited to perform there and they asked me to dance. I put on my mask and danced the Jauk. Their huge appreciation to an art form that I abandoned since high school slapped me and made me realize that it is important to continue the tradition. Since then, I learned to dance seriously. I can perform three dances now. I found peace when dancing with the gamelan, an opposite from the clamor when I perform with the band. I dance for my village’s ceremonies as a way to give back, using the way that I know how. We call it ngayah in Balinese. I think dancing is the meeting point between my sekala and niskala, the Seen and the Unseen. It is my way to keep the balance.


Their huge appreciation to an art form that I abandoned since high school slapped me and made me realize that it is important to continue the tradition


Music, design, cooking, dancing… is there anything else that you still want to try your hands on?

I’d like to try my hands in marriage. I am still looking. Do you know anyone?


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