The start of summer in Bali this month will be graced by some fine jazzy tunes. We talk to one of the founders of the new music festival and its lead performer of Sanur Mostly Jazz Festival
Music runs in the veins of almost every Indonesian. Even the most sceptical of Indonesians are in agreement that when it comes to singing, writing songs and music arrangements, we can confidently be boastful that our artists are not pale in comparison to those of our neighbouring countries. As a matter of fact, it is normal to find popular radio stations in Malaysia, Singapore, or Thailand, playing songs by Indonesian bands and singers in frequent manner. In the south-east Asian region at least, Indonesian songs are way more popular than Indonesian films. Thousands of music lovers from these countries also flock Jakarta International Java Jazz every year to witness Indonesian musicians sharing the stage with international artists. Indra Lesmana is not just a well-known face in the archipelago’s pantheon music greats, but also in the world. The jazz singer song-writer has not only performed all over the world, but he has also recorded songs with some of the best musicians on the globe.
Sanur Mostly Jazz started in 2015 as a biweekly music event which came to fruition from a collaboration between Ida Bagus Sidharta Putra of Santrian Group and Sanggar Musik Indra Lesmana. After 52 episodes, they felt that it was time to grow it into a full-blown music festival. We talk to Indra Lesmana about moving to Bali and Jazz music.
What made you move to Bali?
My first love to Bali was back in 1982. I fell in love with the vibe, the art, the culture and everything about it, I said to myself since then that one day I will move to Bali. Ever since I came back from my jazz studies in Australia, my late father and I always have great interest in jazz education. In 2014, I met Gusde Sidharta and together we are now building a community learning centre for art and music here in Sanur, Bali called Sanggar Musik Indra Lesmana, along with Griya Santrian we create activities like Sunday Mostly Jazz and now Sanur Mostly Jazz Festival.
What do you think of its music scene?
Bali has a unique and eclectic music scene and the beauty of this island give so much inspiration to musicians of any genre who live in Bali or come to Bali.
What about the jazz scene?
Jazz is growing really well in Bali. There are more jazz clubs in Bali than in any other parts of Indonesia.
Which Bali or Bali-based jazz artists have caught your attention?
There are many great ones like Balawan, Gus Tedja, and many others. I like their uniqueness and consistency.
So far, how have people in Bali or the tourists respond to jazz music?
We have made more than 52 shows in more than two years in Sunday Mostly Jazz at Griya Santrian. The crowds are growing bigger and the tourists appreciate the performers very well.
How is this compared to Jakarta and other places in Indonesia?
Maybe because is less traffic here in Sanur, it feels less of an effort to go and spend your night for some good art.
Do you think Bali jazz scene can be bigger and more lively?
When we talk about jazz, we are not talking just about the music. There are so many things which are related: the performer, the sound engineer, the promotor, the organizer, the media, etc. Everything needs the same attention so we can grow strong together.
Describe your creative process.
First off course I need some inspiration, which can come from a book that I read, a conversation, a place that I go to or anything actually. Then I will start to write some story in my notebook then make them into music in my studio.
Top 5 on your daily playlist.
I listen to music randomly.
What music you would NEVER listen to?
When listening to music I don’t discriminate. If it sounds good to me then I will enjoy it.
Which songs do you listen to on the beach?
Depends where I am. If it’s in Sanur, gamelan Bali sounds beautiful. So I guess bossa nova will sound awesome in Brazil’s beaches!
What do you think will become the next big thing in the music industry?
I think music industry is about fashion. I see that fashion are now back to the ’80s, so I guess new wave, synth wave and retro wave music will be the next big thing.