Empat Lima: What’s Left from their Indonesian Tour


It’s been over a couple of months since their (so-called) the-rise-of-Dara-Puspita tour in Indonesia. These three quirky Australian girls totally bring us back to the 60’s by their cover version of “A Go Go” and “Surabaya”, and in the same time bring us the joy of fascinating garage-rock by their performance and other songs such as “Night Rider”, “Epic Mountain Song” and else. I think that time is enough for them to unpack their luggage and take a breath for a while, but unfortunately they are not. “Here is no time to rest as we have many shows and projects on in Melbourne. This city never sleeps!” they said.

Not only did performances in six cities here, Rachael “Sooji” Kim, Stephanie Brett & Carla Ori were also doing a collaboration with local female artist for a project called WANITA (Woman’s Art Network Indonesia to Australia). Since they seemed to had a busy schedule and an after-show-interview was not enough for me, I did this interview in order to get a deeper description of their influences, their style, their projects, their interest, and else.

Oh, they also tell us about their favorite Indonesian band and their upcoming album. Enjoy!

[Interview by Titah Asmaning]

 empatlimaHi there, how are you after doing the tour in Indonesia last month?

Hello! We are all in recovery since doing the tour. It was really exciting but exhausting, thought here is no time to rest as we have many shows and projects on in Melbourne. This city never sleeps!

What did you get from the tour in Indonesia?

The tour in Indonesia was a wealth of incredibly diverse and interesting experiences. We made real connections with communities and artists that we hope to work with or visit again and again. We played in cities and small villages, and it was all so much fun.

Were there any significant differences from Indonesian audience and Australian audience you got there?

Yes! The audience at the Jaya pub was the most exciting audience we have ever played for. They were wild and sang along with our songs. It was incredible! Audiences in Melbourne are very much more reserved in comparison. Sometimes its hard to know what they are thinking.

In Jatiwangi it felt like a very communal experience. It was more like everyone in the room was performing together and there was no big distinction between performer and audience.

Now, we’ll talk about your music, your lyrics are often infused with the name of cities in Asia (Epic Mountain Song), and also using another languages (there’s Bahasa Indonesia in A Go Go and Japanese in Night Rider). As far as we’re concerned your music got so much influences from Asia, why? Why Asia?

Why not Asia? Music in Australia is typically influenced by the larger Western nations which creates a standardised format and expectation within the scene. I think its interesting to present something different. . Australia needs to embrace the richness of culture that its multiculturalism embodies today and in order for this to happen, we need to put it out there!

Asian music has such a richness of materials to draw from. (Sooji) Having a Korean background but being born in Australia, I have been interested to explore Asian cultures more and more. Both Carla and I lived in Indonesia for some time and the ways in which arts are embedded within the culture is truly inspiring

Which country in Asia that offers the most appealing music scene?

We have only been to Indonesia as a band. The contemporary music and arts scene here was really happening. I love the way people make things happen. With limited materials, funds, or venues there was an amazing number of people we met who were creating incredible projects all the time. In Australia there is this mentality that you have to have the right gear, and the right venue, and a license, and months of organisation, etc. Etc. It becomes so bogged down in administration there is no spontenaity left anymore.

Besides your enthusiasm for Dara Puspita, are there any other reasons to feature Indonesian retro music?

The reason we like this music is because the spirit of revolution and challenge to the status quo is embodied within it. We feel this as we sing it. The overall feeling is one of celebration, not of violence. This is powerful.

Do you follow Indonesia’s music today? We’ll be glad to hear about it from you!

Yes, we are big fans of Boys Are Toys, CUTS, Seek Six sick, Suddenly Sunday and many more indonesian bands we met while over there. There is such good music around!

Along with your tour in Indonesia, you also initiate WANITA (Woman’s Art Network Indonesia to Australia) project. How is it going?

We had such a great series of workshops with Wanita whilst on tour. The next project will be a launch of the zine and mixtape of the artists we collaborated with in Indonesia. We are hoping to invite some female Indonesian artists to Australia for this event and for the launch of the website. We are hoping this will inspire more Australians and Indonesians to explore each others work and branch out across the seas to collaborate into the future.

Do you do any arts apart from music?

We all do other arts. We paint, draw, collage and do our own t shirts and posters for events.

I’m fairly certain that you have that special concern for women in particular, during the tour in Indonesia you engaged collaborations with local women artists, do you refer to yourselves as feminists or something like that?

We would say that we’re reluctant to engage with terminology that carries all kinds of diverse and subjective implications from the past. What we can say is that we think women are awesome and hold the key to the future! The time of men is over! Women of the world, take over!

empatlima 2Have you prepared for the upcoming album?

Yes, we are writing new songs and hope to put our heads down in our magic cave for the month of September just to write. Hopefully we will have a new album to record in December this year. Just in time to play down by the beach for the holidays!

The last few years back there came some sort of trend of re-releasing Indonesia’s old songs, like the popular one: Those Shocking, Shaking Days. Have you ever heard it? How do you say about it?

Yes, my friend from Jogja showed me this. I was blown away by the pyschedelic sounds I had never realised came from Indonesia. There is a really unique thing that happened in these old times when Western music was filtered through Asian cultures. Each Asian country has its own way of digesting and regurgitating this with its own expression. Its so fantastic to hear the different ways in which this happens.

Besides how you treat your music with the 60s concept in Asia, to what extent you bring that 60’s image?

We don’t think about our image, but we like to create photos and artwork that is fresh and inspiring for us. Also, it usually has a sense of humour behind it which is important. We don’t take ourselves too seriously!




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