Friday, October 24, 2014
Tags Posts tagged with "Interview"



jazzuality- interview-rishanda-singgih


A very interesting show is coming soon during Valentine’s Day celebration. This show will give you not just something audible but also visual. You like watching movie with all the dramas inside it, you like live stage performance where you enjoy the songs along with the action brought by the bands. Even if you dream of having a Broadway-like show, you don’t have trouble yourself, because it does exist here in Indonesia. Well, HEART RECORDS: A Theatrical Concert presented by the Jakarta Broadway Team (JBT) is the show you need if you want to have both your eyes and ears to be entertained at once. (Read the complete event info here:

As the time draws near, we got the chance to interview the music director of this interesting show: Rishanda Wicaksono Singgih. This talented young man currently serves as the music director for Afgan and Marcell. His latest work can be seen on Afgan’s Konser Duo, The Voice Indonesia and Raisa’s performance at the Java Jazz Festival 2013. If you think you have seen him playing on stage, you’re not wrong, because he’s also a bassist who plays for Drew and Magenta Orchestra, just to mention a few. Rishanda is best known as an influential pioneer who celebrates individuality amongst Indonesian bassists. Other than that, he’s also a critically acclaimed producer who has such directing style that emphasizes the emotional visualization of the song and its connection to the audience. Now he’s ready to expand his territory by entering the musical theatre for the first time.

All the music, dancing, singing, theatrical acts and storyline are important in building the whole concept to meet the audience’s expectation. But since we are a music e-mag which is focusing on Jazz, we should try to dig everything behind the making of this theatrical concert from the music’s perspective. We see some really familiar faces among the musicians that we’ve seen often on Jazz stages. That could be a clue that Jazz patterns and sounds would be found too here and there inside the show. Or wouldn’t it? Since they dare to ask “What song does your heart play”, we can’t help but guess that the songs chosen for this show will all be familiar to you guys. Will the musicians also deliver some action, having more role than just providing the music? What’s the story behind the process? Or even, what’s the most important thing to keep in mind for a theatrical concert like this? A modern Broadway-like show is not that familiar to the Indonesian audience, therefore we think it’s important to let you learn more about it beforehand.

Here’s our full lengh interview with Rishanda Wicaksono Singgih. Happy reading.

It’s usual for us to celebrate the Valentine’s Day with live music events, candlelight dinners or even exchanging gifts. But it’s rare to have a full package of show like Heart Records: A Theatrical Concert. Where the idea came from first of all?
We want to make something that can please both ears and eyes. People usually go to the cinema or have dinner in a romantic place with live music. So why don’t we give them both? A theatrical drama of love cycle with a story line that easily connects with people — especially young people, wrapped with good musics as a medium to tell the story.

In your own words, what this show is all about?
Firstly, It’s about love (laughs). The cycle of love. Starting from the time you see someone that attracts you, then you meet him/her, share contacts, begin a nice chat, and then you start having butterfly in your stomach, waiting for him to ask you out, starting to date, change your status into “in a relationship”, until conflict starts to intervene the relationship. The tension keeps getting bigger and bigger, until you can’t stand no more and want to end the relationship.
Secondly, of course it’s all about great musics that wraps the whole show. Songs that are familiar and relatable with the audience.

Compare to the previous shows of JBT, what’s new this time?
This is my first time working with JBT. I think this is the first time they hire an outsource as a Music Director too. So the treatment of the show would definitely be different.

Would you tell us who are the persons in charge?
The main team consists of me, Ali (Alicia Kasih) the director, Thya “Maknyes” Said the script writer, and Dhika (Adyuta Abandhika) the vocal director who’s also one of the singers). Four of us have agreed to match the story line with songs that people are familiar with, instead of making new ones. Therefore hopefully the upcoming show will be quite engaging and  more relatable to the audience.

The music in a show like this has to be able to bring more than an ordinary music concert.. it has to be integrated with the storyline, dancers and so on. Thus, the music will get much more roles than usual. As the music director, could you share us how you shape the concept?
Intergrating the  music with the storyline and the dance is actually the easy part. The hardest part was making sure that the songs we picked and the arrangement I have created can make the audience sing and dance during the show.


What do you have in mind to create it?
To achieve that goal, you really need to highlight the key parts of the song, that will easily be remembered by the audience so that they can notice the song immidiately.

Bringing out the musical show involving drama, cabaret show and so on ala Broadway is not something we find often here in Indonesia. What’s the most important thing to keep in mind during the process?
I think knowing that these kind of show is not really popular in Indonesia, you really have to blend it with something really common here. For me, I think, that thing is drama. As in everyday drama. Daily love-related-stories. Since we deliver the story through music, of course we have to choose songs that are already very popular. So the songs you will hear during the entire show would be songs you have been listening to everyday.

Working out the musicians to be ready for a nonstop 90 minutes show must be quite a work! As the music director, what’s the most difficult challenge for you during the preparation?
Getting the band as tight as possible. AND.. the most important thing is, to keep their mood on fire, eventhough we’ve been reharsing the songs hundred oftimes.

Any interesting story during the preparation/rehearsal that you can share to us?
That would be the revisions (laughs). Even in less than a month before the show, Ali still sends me a revision.

There must be variety of genres to be found in the show. Will jazz be involved in it? Does it have an important role in the music concept?
Cross-genre is my approach for this event. I try to put one genre into other genres. Doing something that people would hold their breath to and can not wait untill the next part of the song. So yeah, of course jazz will be involved. Every kind of genre has a big role here. But I guess the main genre of the whole show is still pop.

From what we heard, the list of songs used in this event is carefully selected as well. We’re guessing some unique covers of today’s popular music will be there. What songs will the audience get, what inspired you to select the songs and how do you go selecting them?
Unique. Yes, but the song still has to be familiar to our audience’s ear. People MUST know the songs. So the audience will be able to feel each scene and each song will be all related.


Then there’s the word ‘badass’ in front of the musicians which caught our attention. How far or wild will the boys go?
Just wait and see! (smiles)

From your own experience, how’s the excitement of the audience or their response towards Broadway-like show like this?
Musical production wasn’t very popular in Indonesia. However 3 or 4 years ago, it has changed. In a blink of an eye, it become the new big thing. The number of musical production escalates. And people are loving it.

Today Jakarta Broadway Team has more than 40 singers, dancers musicians, actors and creative talents. We have helped to announce several auditions made by the JBT since 2010. Do you have any difficulties to recruit them?
Not really. We open an audition each year. From there; the singers, dancers, and other creative talents are being chosen to play the role that suits them.

If a musician interested to join, what criteria they should have?
There’s no specific criteria. We just want a REAL talent with a REAL dedication.

What can we expect to experience at this showcase, from the whole perspective in general and from the music side in particular?
An emotional journey through dance, acting and most importantly, music.

Thank you for the interview, good luck!
Thank you!


Jakarta Broadway Team Presents: Heart Rercords, A Theatrical Concert

– Friday, 14 February 2014, 8:00 pm
– Saturday, 15 February 2014, 8:00 pm
– Sunday, 16 February 2014, 7:00 pm

Location: Graha Bhakti Budaya, Taman Ismail Marzuki
Jl. Cikini Raya no 37, Jakarta

Ticket Prices:
Platinum : IDR 500.000
Gold     : IDR 350.000
Silver   : IDR 250.000
Bronze   : IDR 150.000

Ticket Box:, or call +62 8777 5678 195

Full info: http;//

Interviewed by : Riandy Kurniawan




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)



Danish group Habadekuk: Blending folk and jazz in an explosive 21st century mix!

Powerful wind instruments and contagious rhythms characterise Habadekuk – one of Denmark’s leading folk-jazz bands, playing this weekend at the Rainforest World Music Festival in Malaysia. With a vibrant mix of folk, salsa and big band jazz, the lively nine-man band catapults old folk melodies into the 21st century. Habadekuk was awarded ”Album of the Year” at Danish Music Award Folk 2011 for their debut album ”Hopsadaddy”.

The band has played extensively in the West and are coming to Asia for the first time this month. Kristian Bugge, fiddle player in Habadekuk, joins us in this exclusive interview on the band’s musical journey.

What was the vision behind founding of your music group, and the name of your group?
We wanted to form a group that could really move some energy and share the happiness we find in this music – the tunes, the wildness and playing style! It’s very joyful music, that’s our focus.

Our name comes from an old dance tune with a short singing text. All it says is Habadekuk. We took the name because it sounds fun and musical, but it doesn’t have a meaning in Danish nowadays. Maybe it did once… ?

Who would you say are the leading influences in your musical career?
There are a lot of them! Traditional dance musicians from Denmark, names like Karl Skaarup, Peter Uhrbrand, Evald Thomsen and Viggo Post are some of our heros. Internationally I have to mention La Bottine Souriante from Canada, JPP from Finland, Vasen from Sweden, Jerry Holland from Canada, but also legends like Jimy Hendrix, Bob Marley and Led Zeppelin have brought a lot of inspiration.

What music influences did your family have?
Some Danish folk music, but also great stuff like Simon and Garfunkel, the Doors, Buffy Saint-Marie. I was never forbidden to play something, I used to play electric bass in a heavy band when I was a teenager, Metallica and AC/DC, I still enjoy that music a lot too!


How do you blend different musical influences and genres in your music?
We haven’t decided any restrictions beforehand, we try stuff out and see what works. We like music in many forms. We all listen to a lot of very traditional stuff but also find it very exciting to blend it in new and different ways.

What is the profile of some of the artistes in your band?
Some of us come from a jazz background, some from traditional folk and dance music. Some have played a lot of classical music before. We all met around the joyfulness in this music, and we all try to share our ideas and dreams in this.

How would you describe your musical journey?
We started out being only focused on the instrumental work. But we’ve been experimenting more and more with our vocals, even though none of us are singers by profession! But it is somehow too tempting to sing along to music, and it is not always about the beauty or control of the voice.

What kinds of messages have been conveyed in your recent albums?
I hope that people feel a vibe of togetherness in our music. It is supposed to invite people along, not depending on national or cultural or belongings. I think music is one of the best and most important ways to communicate. And if you have your own musical standpoint or musical home, that helps a lot to adopt and meet other styles, personalities, traditions and ideas.

How does your composition process work?
There is no one way for us to do it. Some pieces we jam between us, other times one of us brings a new melody along and the others will take it home to try it out.

We’re currently working on a new studio album as well as a vocal single. We have some wild ideas for music videos, if you keep in touch we hope to surprise you sometime soon!


What have been your previous highlights in playing across Asia and other parts of the world?
This is our first time to visit Asia with the band, and we’re very excited! In fact, the farthest east we’ve played before is Helsinki, the Capitol of Finland! Some of our earlier highlights abroad has been the Womad Festival in the UK (how that audience could dance and sing along!) and The Mission Folk Festival in Canada last summer, where we were lucky to play the main stage right after Buffy Saint-Marie as the final act Saturday night, what a celebration!




A short yet valuable conversation it was. After they had about an hour authority on Kampoeng Jazz stage, the legendary Fariz Rustam Munaf, better known as Fariz RM and the enormous Indra Lesmana back to backstage and provided several minutes for interview session. The first thing we saw two of them was their appearance, they looked trendy with their casual style. Mr. Fariz RM with his black jacket and Indra Lesmana on his blue shirt welcomed our reporter in front of Grha Sanusi (Padjadjaran University, Dipatiukur-Bandung). “Well, hello guys..” said Indra Lesmana to start the interview. We asked about his collaboration with fariz RM on the stage, since it’s been so long we have not seen Fariz RM whether on live performance or music programs on television.

Since last year we saw more frequent appearance of Fariz RM on stage, either in his own solo concert or a couple of appearances for example at the Red White Lounge which is hosted by Indra Lesmana. It’s like fate, both of them got together again after being separated for about 2 decades. “Due to our own busy activities,” said Indra Lesmana in between performance.

You can imagine what’d happen when two legends collide in the same frame. When we saw this collaboration in Kampoeng Jazz 2013, we could feel the magic brought by the reunion of two best friends. If feeling isn’t enough, you can see the fruit of their partnership through a song titled “Sleeping Beauty,” which also played at this festival. Sleeping Beauty is Indra Lesmana’s song which is a track packed inside his 1984 album, “No Standing” (with his then-group Nebula, featuring Steve Hunter, Andy Evans, Ken James, Vince Genova and Carlinhos Gonzalves). The song was originally an instrumental composition, but now Fariz added lyrics on it .”At first he was only suggesting the idea so Mira (Mira Lesmana, Indra’s sister) would write it.” said Indra. “But since he kept writing the lines, I said to him, “why don’t you just make it yourself?” So then, finally he was the one who made it.” Indra continued.


On stage they served a deadly keyboards match, setting up dialogues, complimenting each other, shouting and trading conversations through their instruments. It was madness. Especially for “Sleeping Beauty”, since we’ve heard the original before, it now appeared like a new song from them. Something magical like this could only happen when two wizards join forces.

More about Fariz’s comeback, other than making more and more appearances on the surface, he has released his new album entitled “Fenomena.” As a hit maker who wrote many evergreens such as “Sakura” and “Barcelona”, time will tell whether he will produce new hits or not from the album. But one thing for sure, the album was made with all his heart and contains a lot of good stuffs in it. Meanwhile, Indra Lesmana just released his limited 2nd album of LLW, “Loose Loud Whiz.” If in the first album he sent the message of “growing wisely with love and knowledge”, the 2nd album holds the next message: “growing wisely with freedom and courage.” Other than the current personnels including Indra Lesmana, Barry Likumahuwa, Muhammad Rafi and Kyriz Boogiemen, the album also features Indra’s daughter Eva Celia and trumpeter Maurice Brown.

Let’s get back to the back-stage meeting. Right after their performance at Kampoeng Jazz 2013, we approached Fariz RM and asked about the collaboration with Indra. “Actually, I have known Indra for very long time. We’ve been established music school several years ago. And my sensibility in Jazz also influenced by Indra’s father, Jack Lesmana. Some of my knowledge came from him. More than ten years we did not play the tunes together, until one day he called me and asked me to do a duet on Red White Lounge in Jakarta.” said Fariz while also stating that he is close with Indra’s family.

“So this is not the first time we had collaboration, but after a long term of ‘rest’ this could be our first come-back collaboration. Fortunately, Kampoeng Jazz invited both of us to take a part on their event, and there was our performance” added uncle of young talented singer Sherina Munaf.

Then we asked them about the development of Jazz in Indonesia which becomes a popular issue recently. Especially for the movement that mostly arranged by college students or let say young people of the nation. “Of course we want to. In my opinion, music is available for every category. There’s no special genre for the youth neither for the elderly. Music is a blessing for everyone. Age does not matter. In future days when I invited to the event like yours, I would like to come. Surely, I support the movement of your generation on developing Indoesia’s music specially Jazz,” answered Indra Lesmana clearly. In addition he revealed the excitement of the audience since it was rain not heavily but still unstoppable until their session finished. “I appreciate it.” closed Indra Lesmana followed by a couple of friendly smile from him and Fariz RM.


In conclusion, the atmosphere of Jazz and positive energy from the youth that night returns into nutritious meal and affection for Fariz RM to boost his creativity in music. Though he’s already through a half century of his life, we still waiting for more of his classy artworks to color up the industry at present time. We wish you for a long and healthy life, Sir! Keep absorbing the energy from the stage and use it as the power to keep going. Finally, we gave another great greeting to Indra Lesmana who never stops creating the new acceleration for Indonesia music industry. Let us be the witness of Jazz development!

Interviewed and written by: Shely Napitupulu
Photographer: Nuri Arunbiarti


One of the European bands playing at the Penang World Music Festival 2013 ( this weekend is the fusion group Oratnitza ( from Bulgaria. The group plays a fusion of folk, dubstep, aboriginal and drums’n’bass. The lineup includes Buny (cajon, tupan), Horhe (didgeridoos, bagpipes), Popa (vocals) and Hristiyan (kaval, double flute).

They join us in this exclusive interview on their unique musical blend, culture in the post-communist age, and their upcoming first performance in Asia!

What was the vision behind founding of your music group, and the name of your group?
The group was founded in 2009 after we met each other and after we had some jam sessions. The mixture of didgeridoo sounds with Bulgarian kaval and voices is magical, intriguing. After some time we came up with the name – Oratnitza – this is a famous Bulgarian ritual on Shrovetide on which people perform fire dances because the fire has a cleansing power.

Who would you say are the leading influences in your musical career?
Bulgarian folklore is the biggest inspiration for us. Another thing is the city, the urban life, the modern musical genres, the nature with its tranquility.

How do you blend different musical influences and genres in your compositions?
Actually it’s quite easy. Our instruments are non conventional. Our sound is odd – whatever we play with them sounds fusion because a didgeridoo doesn’t play dubstep for example. We blend the styles we like, the genres we listen to.




One of the regional bands playing at the Penang World Music Festival 2013 ( in Malaysia this weekend is Kalayo ( The Filipino group plays experimental, folk, fusion, contemporary and roots music. Louie Talan, the band’s bass player, co-produced and engineered the group’s debut album “Kalayo-Malaya” alongside Sammy Asuncion, who is the musical director, vocalist and guitarist.

Louie joins us in this exclusive interview on the group’s unique blend of tribal and contemporary sound, improvisational styles, and Asian connections!

What was the vision behind founding of your music group, and the name of your group?
Kalayo (in certain Philippine dialects) translated to English means “fire” or “heat.” Words which suit a certain kind of aggression that we like to put into our music. This is definitely not a passive outfit!

Our vision, which we carry over from our group’s past incarnation as Pinikpikan, is to create music that has its roots in the music of the indigenous tribes of our country, but openly acknowledges and embraces musical influences from all parts of the world. All of us are broad, open-minded listeners, and we live to absorb all the beautiful music this planet has to offer. Hopefully, our compositions reflect this.

How do you blend different musical influences and genres in your compositions?
We don’t really think about it. It’s just a very natural process where the music just comes out a certain way. A result of varied listening I suppose. We can go through the whole process of writing and recording a song, then only upon playback realise “hey that’s got a bit of salsa in it eh?”

What is your vision of what music can do in this age of political/economical turmoil?
I believe a sincere, unselfish and courageous act by an individual can move mountains. The world has witnessed this many times. If a song can inspire that individual, then music can do so much.

kalayo, jazzuality


What are your thoughts on fusion and blending of music of different genres, though some purists frown on it?
If no one decided to try blend blue and red, there would be no purple! It is necessary in order for music to evolve.

Tell us about the more unusual instruments you have in your ensemble.
We use a lot of bamboo instruments (tungatong, bungkaka), juice harps (kubing), brass gongs (gansa) and two string lutes (hegalong/faglong) from the mountain provinces. We also use djembe-inspired drums homemade by one of our percussionists, Boy Garrovillo.

What new album or video are you working on now?
We released an album mid 2011, and along with it, a video for our song “Lumaban Ka” which can be seen on YouTube. We are due to start recording again mid-2013.


One of the highlights at the Penang World Music Festival 2013 ( in Malaysia this weekend is Dendê (, a Brasilian percussionist, singer, composer, bandleader, teacher and multi-instrumentalist. He has been a professional musician since the age of 14, when he appeared in the frontline of Timbalada, Carlinhos Brown’s superstar percussion ensemble. Dendê was born and raised in Salvador, a city in Bahia, Brasil’s most African state, and now shuttles between New York and Brasil.

His flagship band has been packing clubs and festivals in the US and Asia. Dendê joins us in this exclusive interview on his music, the advantages of shuttling between New York and Brasil, and the artistic giants he has played with!

Tell us about your new album Back to Bahia.
The album combines Brasil’s rhythm heavy music with the grooves of afrobeat, reggae, merengue, and others from around the world. The album includes special appearances by Ilê Aiyê, Melvin Gibbs, Graham Haynes, Vinicius Cantuária, Magary Lord, Luizinho do Gege (Daniela Mercury) and Gerson Silva & Mikael Mutti (Carlinhos Brown) among many others

I recently finished a U.S. tour for the release of the album – we played in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and San Diego. And I look forward to playing in Penang this weekend as well!

What were the musical influences in your life?
I grew up in a poor neighbourhood, surrounded by traditional music. When I was a kid I would play rhythms on the kitchen table and tell my mom I was going to be famous someday. I used to hold the drums for the older timbal players at the sambas de roda and after they’d finished playing, they’d let me play and show me the different rhythms. I also soaked up the rhythms I heard at the candomblé ceremonies in the neighbourhood.

How did you get started off in your professional music career?
At 14, I auditioned for Timbalada, the two hundred-piece percussion troupe founded by superstar Carlinhos Brown. I started in the last line and worked my way up to the front. Over a period of eight years in the band, I toured internationally with Timbalada and recorded many of their albums.

I was also given the opportunity to perform and record with some of the superstars in Brasilian music like Carlinhos Brown, Marisa Monte, Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil among many others!

dende, jazzuality


What has it been like to play in New York as well as Brasil?
Since 2001, I have been splitting my time between New York and Bahia, and have played with Mongo Santamaria, Giovanni Hidalgo, Zakir Hussain, David Byrne, Melvin Gibbs and Vinicius Cantuária.

My own bands include the folkloric music and dance troupe Ologundê, the acoustic Samba de Três, and Arrastão do Dendê, a traditional Afro bloco (samba party band).

How did the move to New York come about, and how has it worked out for you?
I began to teach classes when I was in Brasil, and then moved to New York with one of my students. We even played in the subway in New York!

Being exposed to musicians from all over the world has taught me rhythms that I never could have dreamed of in Brasil. New York has given me opportunities that I would never have at home, but I’m glad that I can always go Back to Bahia!

Written by Madanmohan Rao
Editor & DJ, World Music and Jazz; Bangalore
Global Correspondent for




The Penang World Music Festival 2013 ( will draw music fans to Malaysia again for a terrific lineup of artistes and performers from around the world: including Mu ( from Portugal. This Portuguese fusion band began its musical route in 2003, blending traditional sounds from many musical styles.

Its members play various instruments from all over the world: India, Switzerland, Egypt, Brazil, Morocco, Australia, among others. This allows the group to travel between a lost world and actuality, rescuing and interpreting beautiful sounds from these ancient worlds. Mu has been honoured with Portugal’s Arribas Folk Award and Carlos Paredes Award, among others.

The lineup  includes Helena Madeira (vocals), Andreia Barão (accordion), Sandra Martins (cello, clarinet), Ruben Monteiro (guitar, bouzouki), Hugo Osga (hurdy-gurdy, tarang, Jewish harp) and Nuno Encarnação (percussion). Their albums to date include “Folhas que Ardem” (2011), “Casanostra” (2008) and “Mundanças” (2005).

Mu joins us in this exclusive interview on their musical heritage, diversity of instruments, and their first upcoming performance in Asia!

mu, portugal, jazzuality

How was your group formed?
Our group started with only two musicians playing in a jam session. The instruments were only tabla and didgeridoo. The idea was to mingle different sound from different parts of the world! Later two musicians joined us with accordion and violin, the project did grow up, and now we are six musicians. MU means a symbolic passage, a place where you are neither in or out, it’s a limbo place, like when you are crossing a door (Japanese character).

What have been the musical influences and blends in your group?
We are six different persons, each one brings their own influences. And there are so many influences that we just can tell you that it’s music from the whole world! We keep playing, experimenting and jamming together with our creativity and taste. The purpose of our music is not political or social, our purpose is spiritual.

We are not against blending different music genres since we use the same method. Although it’s very important to preserve all the traditional roots music in all parts of the world, because they are the fountain where we go to drink for our compositions, and like this we can create our own musical personality. We also teach European traditional dances and we can teach how to play any instruments that we use in the band.

Tell us about the more unusual instruments you have in your ensemble.
For us we have some “special” instruments, one it’s Bulbul Tarang (from India), Hurdy Gurdy (Eeuropean medieval instrument), Didgeridoo, Jewish Harp and many many more!

What new album or video are you working on now?
We just released our thid album. Our idea is to record next year a live CD. For the moment we are promoting our latest work “Folhas que ardem.”

What have been your previous highlights in playing across the world?
We already played in several countries in Europe, but not so far away. We’ve never played in Asia and we are very excited to play our music in Malaysia!

How do you choose what to play in just a short 45-minute session in the festival, given your repertoire?
This is the most difficult question. We will decide that on stage, yeahhhhh! For the moment we are prepared for a two hours concert, let nature decide! In our Penang concert we will perform a powerful set list to our Malaysian friends to dance and have fun. It will be an unforgettable 45 minutes, yeahhhhh! We will present two new tracks and a short retrospective of our Muuuuusic!

Written by Madanmohan Rao
Editor & DJ, World Music and Jazz; Bangalore
Global Correspondent for

Photos are taken from Mu’s official facebook page




I will be covering the Penang World Music Festival for the third time, this weekend in Malaysia ( This is also the third  time I will be hearing the fusion band AkashA ( Based in Kuala Lumpur, the group blends Indian classical, jazz, African, Latin and rock music. The group’s lineup includes seven musicians: Sivabalan Sundram (mridangam), Kumar Karthigesu (sitar), Vick Ramakrishnan (tabla), Jamie Wilson bin Abdullah (guitars), Greg Henderson, (bass) Mohd Shah Nizam Bin Azis (percussion) and Eric Li (piano).

AkashA represents the multi-ethnic society of 21st century Malaysia bringing the Malay, Chinese, Indian and Caucasian all within a musical frame. Sivabalan Sundram joins us in this exclusive interview on the vision of the band, their performing style and what we can expect to hear from them this weekend!

What was the vision behind founding of your music group, and the name of your group?
In the beginning it was a project, one that was formed totally to represent Malaysian music towards the Rainforest World Music Festival 2008. The reception was amazing with continued musical possibilities and ideas. The very foundation of representing Malaysian music, its people and culture took towards a more real and strong direction. The name of the group AkashA meaning bountiful space in Sanskrit meaning was chosen by the ex festival director of the 2008 RWMF. Basically, we were christened with it after him hearing our music and its border-less pursuit.

Who would you say are the leading influences in your musical career?
Personally being a Carnatic musician, of course most of my early music years have been Indian classical. My iPod however would have the current top 40s with a specific trend towards R&B and hip hop. Being now in the fusion stream, the forefather of fusion mainly Shakti, Mahavishnu and the likes comes into strong play. For the songwriter of the band, he tends to quote Eric Clapton, Santana and also brings his own as his music influence towards songwriting for AkashA.

How do you blend different musical influences and genres in your compositions?
Very often! If you hear our 2 albums, Into AkashA in 2009 and Karakoram Highway in 2011, you will notice everything from local Malaysian musical styles to African highlife, Qawali inspired tunes to 12 bar blues and even Latin influences. The guitarist with a strong blues back ground and the pianist with a strong jazz and Latin experience often culminates into the South/North Indian musical backbone of AkashA lending a myriad of musical influence and genres.

What is your vision of what music can do in this age of political and economical turmoil?
AkashA being Malaysian immediate represents and in a sense advocates unity. The band in itself is a multitude of race and religion coming together. We have Chinese, Indian, Malay, Caucasian representing faiths of Christianity, Hindu, Muslim and other. So we promote unity and discourage any kind of social/ racial divide. Being an indie band that self supports and sustains, we also promote, support and put forth all indie pursuits of music.

akasha, malaysia, jazzuality

Tell us about the more unusual instruments you have in your ensemble.
The Internet has changed most of unusual instruments into your everyday ones! You have the famous Sitar and Tabla and its perhaps lesser known cousins Mridangam and Kanjira. You also will come across the didgeridoo and the cajon. You will also see the Malay percussion rebana amgst the dharbouka, djembe and even the harmonium. You will get to witness the Kunnakol, (vocal syllablisation of the Indian traditional percussion) to name a few.




Though Bojan Z‘s music and name might still sound unfamiliar in Indonesia, but actually this jazz artiste has established his name very well in the European jazz scene. His delightful and artistic sense of jazz which often has the nuance of Balkan folk music never fail to captivate his audience’s hearts. We attended his concert in Bandung and has reported it to you (read it here: It completely gave us something new since we don’t hear this style of music often, especially in live performance.

Bojan Zulfikarpašic, the real name of Bojan Z, was born in Belgrade from a musical family. The precious Balkan music has been living inside him since his early ages. Later on when in his teenage years he got hooked by variety of great artists, ranging from The Beatles, Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel. Starting with classical and folks, he became attached with jazz, something that stays within him strongly until today.

Not long ago the Institut francais d’Indonesie (IFI) brought this outstanding pianist from France to Jakarta, Bandung and Yogyakarta. We grabbed the chance to dig more of him in Bandung in an exclusive interview session right after he did the sound check, a couple of hours before he delivered his piano recital.

It was the great pleasure for us to meet him off stage. It turned out to be more like friendly conversation rather just a brief Q-A session. He felt happy to come in Bandung because he loved the good atmosphere, “I wish I could live in here for a long time”, he said. Keep on reading to find out what’s in Bojan Z’s mind through this interview.


We know that you were born in Belgrade from family who were in love with music. We have heard so many stories about great musicians which started by being a member of musical families. Would you tell us your story?
Very simple! In my house there was a piano, there was guitar. And my parents, there were, you know, simply people who loves music. Both of them were play little bit, you know amateur piano and guitar. My father was playing guitar and the piano. My mother mostly piano. And my father he turned into playing folk songs.

In my country, music is a very widespread activity, and since working days finish quite early, family and friends would gather at my parent’s house as early as 3 o’clock in the afternoon to socialize and play music until late at night. I used to go to sleep listening to these Yugoslavian folksongs.


Is that you play jazz when your first?
It turns and came very logically because on one hand, you know before I wanted to learn piano the only way was a school boy. But on the other hand, later I got my first recorded album from my friend, the album of The Beatles.  So that music got entered my life.

Then you caught up with jazz. Having crossed Yugoslavian music, classical, jazz and everything else in between makes me wonder about this wide source of influences. Other than inspired by music geniuses, do you get it from other things too?
I’ve got a lot of influence. Meeting a new people like you can be my influence too. The new place, the smells or things that I’ve never heard before. All the things, the foods too. That’s why I’d love to meet new people and go to the new place.

Your solo album was released in 2011 called “Solosession” which received great response from critics and fans. Tell me about the album, for example, what did you highlighted on this album?
On that album I give my life on it. It doesn’t matter how it could be, but I make my own album as something like a moment to remember. Solobsession was another solo album and I gave my life on it.

That album bagged you many achievements, like “Chevalier de L’ordre des Art et des Lettres”, so how do you feel about that? Is that a story about that?
(Laughs) That’s another funny story that came for that award. Actually that’s the appreciation that gave by the French Government. By receiving it means I have contributed to the enrichment of the French cultural inheritance. That “Chevalier de L’ordre des Art et des Lettres” means the Knight of the Art. So, that’s mean that I’m the knight. So that letter came by at the same time I was waiting for my driving license. So I was surprised knowing that it wasn’t my driving license but the letters from French government about that award.


That’s funny. Do awards and appreciations give you pressure or give you something to work better? What does it give you?
Gift. All of that award doesn’t give me a pressure or like I really want that award. You know, it just make something good. I don’t wish for that award but, you know, it’s like it just came to me. So I make this as a gift for whatever I’ve been done in my music, not as a pressure. But yeah, that give me something to give better work.

Now let’s talk about your moving to France. Did it give you better chance than kept on staying in Serbia?
About my move to France, the reason was about my academic. But I brought the Balkan music to France. France is the great country of art, the music in there is great too. Since I always love going anywhere, France became a good place for my music. I deserve the life of not sitting in the office. That’s the one I don’t like, and I avoid that kind of working that force me to stay in the office.

Usually we get different shapes of jazz with the different place, that’s the unique jazz right? Since, I never been to to Serbia, what kind of music you guys play there?
Ah, you have to come in there to get closer to the Serbian music. Music in Serbia is like, you know, every people seem like playing music for pleasure. They play music everywhere, in the street, café, lots of place. They are also playing music to express their holy feeling to God. That’s great.