In this original series, Globetrotter discovers the rising musical prodigies of Southeast Asia who are more than ready to give you the Variations in Sound! For Part 4, we talk to the frontliners of classic disco enthusiasts Diskoria Selekta, from Jakarta, Indonesia.
VARIATIONS IN SOUND - PART 3: DISKORIA SELEKTA
It is not yet a common thing to hear Indonesian classic disco songs at mainstream clubs in Jakarta, as it's considered a segmented genre. But as soon as Diskoria Selekta boys go behind the turntables, no matter how old you are or where you come from, you will instantly become one with the crowd as you swing your body from side to side with your hands up in the air, thanks to their top-notch selection of classic disco tunes from decades past. Not only is he determined to make you dance, co-founder Merdi Simanjuntak also intends to educate the audience about the diversity in Indonesia's electronic music scene.
Merdi, who is now a part of Potato Head Family as the company's Event Manager, is quite adventurous when it comes to his music references; before he went disco, he used to be in a jangle pop band called Sweaters in the 2000s. His fellow co-founder Fadli Aat or Aat, on the other hand, was a drummer for a hardcore punk band called Step Forward. Yet, they share one thing in common: Collecting vinyls.
What began as a conversation about vinyls was then followed by further discussions about the local music scene, which motivated Merdi and Aat to bring Indonesian disco back to life again. United by the same vision, they started Suara Disko, a community of people who have the same interest in the country's classic disco songs. This community is living proof that the young generation is still down to jamming to the same songs their parents grew up with.
Globetrotter Magazine: What was the first Indonesian song that you listened to?
Merdi: As far as I can remember it was Pesta (Party) by Elfa's Singers. My parents would play it during our holiday road trips.
Aat: It was Lilin-Lilin Kecil (Little Candles) by Chrisye, written by James F. Sundah for the songwriting competition Lomba Cipta Lagu Remaja Prambors 1977 Vol. 1 (1977 Prambors Radio Teenage Songwriting Competition Vol. 1).
Globetrotter Magazine: What do you love most about Diskoria events?
Merdi: For me it has to be the diversity of the crowd. On several occasions I saw young kids dance and sing along with their parents!
Aat: We always love the surprise elements at our gigs. Whether good or bad, it has shaped us into what we are today. We also love the vibe where people can sing their hearts out because they know the meaning of the songs we play. We love it when people gather around on one dance floor, sweating together no matter who they are, where they come from. No social class gap; just music and good times!
Globetrotter Magazine: If each of you could have any Indonesian singer to sing live during your set, who would it be? And why?
Merdi: I would pick Fariz RM, because of his charisma and I believe he still got his groove even until now (almost 60 years of age)
Aat: Some names in my bucket list have been crossed off. Fariz RM sang in our gigs, also The Groove played with us twice. Still got some left in my bucket list. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to perform with Chrisye before he passed away.
Globetrotter Magazine: In an interview, you said that you also dig classic disco songs from other Asian countries. If I could have your honest opinion, which country has the most interesting classic disco songs?
Merdi: I would pick Malaysia. Besides the similar language, their production is actually good. Some disco albums are properly recorded and the quality is already good for "clubbing" purposes.
Aat: For me, the most interesting classic disco songs in Asia come from the Philippines; Tagalog Disco, they call it. I grew up with some of the songs, like Tayo'y Magsayawan and Disco Fever from a band called VST & Co. It's funny when I listened to them, because the language sounds familiar compared to Indonesian and yes, it is danceable!
Globetrotter Magazine: Best track for warm-up session?
Merdi: Marlina by Bamboo Girls.
Aat: The best track for a warm-up set is Nia Daniaty's Malam Pertama.
Globetrotter Magazine: Lastly, what are you guys working on and when can we get the chance to get our groove on to Diskoria's sound?
Merdi: We are currently working on some materials for our own production. Fingers crossed!
Aat: Yes we are working on some project, it should be a surprise!
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