Exclusive Interview with Adrian Bramantyo Musyanif, Director of Indonesian Jass Festival




The jazz fans in Indonesia should feel lucky that there are plenty of jazz events to choose in their land. From small scaled to big sized, jazz has been invading and penetrating more and more regions with a going-up trend. We now have the biggest one in the world, we have regional ones which often placed in unique enviroments, from up above the mountains, countrysides, jungles all the way to the shores. Speaking of the resources, we have enormous number of players spread throughout the country. While many of us tend to think that jazz is currently not the main music trend, the appreciation and acceptance have been massive. If before the jazz musicians have to ‘smoothen’ their play by embracing more pop in order to gain audience, nowadays they can just go freely in pouring out their mind, taste and idealism without having to be afraid of losing listeners. You don’t see that much jazz on television, it only plays on limited radio stations, it’s not that easy to find in big cd stores, yet jazz shows its power elsewhere, like in cafes, festivals and in independent stores like online for example.

Since the hype is big, naturally new jazz bands (or pop/rock bands with slight jazz smells) appear everywhere. These young bands need time and space to perform, to gain experience and to feel the spirit of playing live in front of the crowds. Have the existed festivals give enough room for them? Have we appeciate them enough and care about their growth? Do we need more festivals to provide them chance to explore? These are the questions that sometimes we need to think.

Right after we entered the year of 2013, we heard the news that a new festival which is planned to be an annual one is coming. Indonesian Jass Festival is the name, a brainchild of ALBA Productions. From the name we can get a hint that it’s about rising up the nationalism, and yes, they do focus on presenting our national resources instead of mixing it with international artists. The Indonesian Jass Festival is going to start its first year on August 30-31, 2013, taking place at Istora Senayan Jakarta. This event is set to bring about 120 musicians (legends, today’s stars, newcomers/indie), placing them on 6 stages (one indoor stage and five outdoor stages) with the duration of approximately 8 to 10 hours a day, from noon until midnight. It’s going to be a new, different jazz fest for everyone.

Since the concept is interesting (even the decision of using ‘Jass’ instead of ‘Jazz’ is surprising), we need to find out more about it. We believe it will help you to understand the main concept, the background, the vision and goal of ALBA Productions and its Indonesian Jass Festival. We established a contact with Adrian Bramantyo Musyanif, the director of ALBA Production who happily answered us in an exclusive interview. We do hope this interview can answer your curiousity too, as well as giving more in-depth information that a new festival made in different concept is marching in.


Where did the idea start?
Well, nowadays we have a lot of international stars come to Indonesia, probably every month or even every week. So we think of something new, to appreciate our local talents, giving them chance to show their existence as well as proofing that our talents can play just as good, either in skill, quality and performance. Therefore in this Indonesian Jass Festival, we strictly let only Indonesian bands or artists to join in.

From ALBA Production’s point of view, how far is the development of jazz in Indonesia today?
It’s delightful to see where our jazz stands at today. More people start appreciating good quality of music and in specific, jazz has been gaining more and more fans lately. We can see the evidence from the number of audience in jazz clubs or cafes in Indonesia, also from the fact that there are so many jazz events in Indonesia from small- to large scale, where in each event we can clearly see how much they enjoy the music from each performer. From youngsters to seniors, they all love it. The variation is also great. There are plenty to choose, since we do have all kind of jazz, especially the creativity of young talents who are able to blend jazz with other music genres such as hiphop, ethnic, rock and so on.

So we can conclude that the jazz development in Indonesia is going up, and it would be better if it gets support from people who appreciate good quality of music in Indonesia. This becomes important since there are many piracy issues and also there are a lot of musics that don’t care about the quality anymore but only made for commercial purposes. So let’s work together in establishing high quality of music in our country.

There are many jazz festivals in Indonesia already. How urgent it is to make a new festival?
Just like I’ve said before, we wish to give appreciation to our local talents. Most of the already running festivals placed international artists in their lineups. We realize that we are not in that class. By making up this festival we have only one goal, that is to give a good ground and appreciation for Indonesian talents to bring out the best in them, also to provide a home for Indonesian jazz musicians to gather, inside a festival especially made from Indonesian musician, for Indonesian musicians.
Now let’s talk about the word Jass you use as the name. I consider this as something unique and interesting. Jass as the origin of the word Jazz hasn’t been used anymore at least since the early 30’s, so not many people from today’s generation know about it. What does this decision base on?
One of the reason why we use “Jass” instead of “Jazz” is because according to the history, the first jazz recordings came from a band named “Original Dixieland Jass Band”. People would think it was mistyped, but as you said, it was originally written as “Jass” and not “Jazz”.

Other than this reason, we want to grab more attention from the society, so they will be curious to know more about this festival.

There are so many independent jazz bands in Indonesia which offer wide varieties. They do need more chance to perform at big events. On the other hand, most of the organizers usually are afraid to bring new bands since they don’t create enough hype and aren’t commercial enough for a festival. what does ALBA Production think about this?
We give opportunity to independent jazz bands by opening more slots for them in the rundowns, so they will have more chance to perform. But of course we need to make proper selection beforehand.


Speaking of quality, how’s these independent jazz bands doing according to you guys?
They make us all proud! Many young musicians already know how to play jazz sophisticatedly, they are good in feel, arrangement, performance also individual skill.

The breakthrough taken by Indonesian Jass Festival by presenting only local talents could turn out to be a risky decision for many organizers. What do you think of it?
Risky? On what matter? Our vision in creating this festival is never profit oriented. For us, profit is only taken as bonus, as a result of the hard work of everyone inside the team. Our objective is for the Indonesian musicians to get well appreciation from the audience, and for the audience to be satisfied after buying the ticket. Good quality of music and performance will cover this objective.

Education also plays an important role in jazz development. Is it also an important factor in making up the Indonesian Jass Festival?
Of course. Throughout the festival, there will be wide variety of jazz being served. This contains the education factor, letting the audience to get deep with jazz, its variety and the magic created by blending jazz with so many other genres. It will be very interesting!

Other than presenting our own resources, will there be anything different for us to enjoy at the Indonesian Jass Festival?
There will be a spot called Jazz Garden Concept that you all can enjoy. You can have a nice relaxing moment while being entertained with live jazz performances.

How far is the comfort factor of the audience playing part in your priority?
It’s one of our main focuses.We do think about it a lot. We are arranging the rundown in such way so that the audience will have easier access to choose what they want to see. We also limit the number of tickets so it won’t go over the capacity of the venue.

We believe a big jazz fest like Indonesian Jass Festival has a long time vision. We know that you’re only just begun, but we’d like to know your target for next years to come.
We hope this festival could stand as an annual event, running in good planning. We also hope our festival become one of the high quality festivals, from the production point of view, the selection of performers and also from the good concept. May the Indonesian jazz musicians give their support and blessings, and be proud of this festival. Because by making up this event, we have vision to push Indonesian music industry forward by presenting good quality bands as well as giving up apprecation to the local artists.

Last question, if we ask ALBA Production to describe Indonesian Jass Festival in one sentence, what would that be?
Jazz in Unity!!

Interviewed by Riandy Kurniawan
Photos are provided by Hendrawan Revianto (Cak Hend)