Eat, Play, Loud!: Blogwalking for Soundrenaline Medan 2014

Menjelajahi Kota Medan dan berkeringat di festival musik rock terbesar di Indonesia dalam waktu 48 jam? Challenge accepted.

As a self-proclaimed avid concert goer dan jurnalis, saya beruntung memiliki kesempatan untuk mendatangi berbagai konser dan festival musik dari berbagai genre di Indonesia maupun di luar negeri. But, if I could confess one thing, ada satu festival musik terkenal yang belum pernah saya datangi sekalipun. Coachella? Summersonic? Glastonbury? They’re all in my checklist for sure, tapi yang akan saya bicarakan adalah festival dalam negeri sendiri dulu, which is Soundrenaline. Yup, Soundrenaline yang telah digelar sejak tahun 2003 silam merupakan festival musik rock yang bisa dibilang terbesar di Indonesia, khususnya berkat komitmen mereka untuk membawa band-band papan atas negeri sendiri untuk menghibur penggemar mereka di berbagai kota di luar Jakarta. Untuk pagelaran tahun ini, Soundrenaline diadakan di Surabaya (10 Mei) dan Medan (7 Juni). Dari dulu sebetulnya saya ingin sekali datang ke Soundrenaline di luar kota sekaligus berlibur dan mengeksplorasi kota lain di Indonesia. Lucky for me, kesempatan itu datang saat saya dihubungi oleh pihak Maverick Indonesia sebagai satu dari lima blogger yang diundang untuk merasakan pengalaman menonton Soundrenaline di Medan. Well, saya belum pernah datang ke Soundrenaline maupun pergi ke Medan, so without any thinking, of course its a big yes for me!

                Seminggu kemudian, tepatnya Jumat 6 Juni, jam lima pagi saya sudah menuju Bandara Soekarno-Hatta untuk berkumpul dengan tim Maverick dan empat blogger lainnya yang terdiri dari Dimas Ario (@dimasario), Intan Anggita (@badutromantis), Agung @Hartamurti, dan Kang @Motulz. Setelah perjalanan sekitar dua jam dengan maskapai Garuda Indonesia, kami tiba di Bandara Internasional Kualanamu Medan sekitar jam 9 pagi. Bandara Kualanamu sendiri termasuk bandara Indonesia yang tertata dengan sangat baik. Bandara ini juga bandara pertama di Indonesia yang terintegrasi dengan kereta Airport Railink Service. Maka dengan menaiki kereta bandara yang nyaman tersebut, kami pun sampai di pusat kota Medan hanya dengan memakan waktu sekitar 45 menit.

Bandara Kualanamu Medan
Bandara Kualanamu Medan
Airport Railink Service
Airport Railink Service

                Sebelumnya saya selalu membayangkan Medan adalah kota yang panas, bising, dan sesak. Well, memang selayaknya kota besar, pasti ada saja traffic di setiap titik jalan, namun ibukota Sumatera Utara ini ternyata jauh lebih menarik dari bayangan saya. Kota ini mengingatkan saya akan perpaduan Surabaya dan Bandung dengan bangunan-bangunan art deco zaman kolonial yang masih dipertahankan. Tujuan pertama kami tentu saja mengisi perut. Kami memutuskan sarapan soto di RM Sinar Pagi di Jalan Sei Deli. Saat sampai, rumah makan ini sudah lumayan padat, untungnya service di sini terbilang cepat. Begitu sampai kita tinggal pesan mau soto apa, duduk, dan tak berapa lama, soto hangat dan nasi putih pun tersaji di hadapan kita. Kuah rempah, perkedel kentang dan sambal kecap yang mantap, membuat soto Medan habis tersantap secepat kedatangannya. Sudah kenyang, kami pun siap mengeksplorasi Kota Medan dengan hashtag #GoAheadChoice dan Shri Mariamman Temple terpilih menjadi destinasi selanjutnya. Kuil ini merupakan kuil Hindu tertua di Medan dan terletak di Kampung Keling alias Little India. Dari luar pun, arsitektur kuil ini sudah terlihat menarik dengan pintu gerbang yang dihiasi gopuram yang merupakan semacam gapura yang biasa dilihat di kuil-kuil Hindu kaum Tamil di India Selatan. Untuk masuk ke kuil ini tidak dikenakan biaya, namun kami tidak memasuki ruang utama karena bagaimanapun, tempat ini merupakan tempat ibadah yang harus dihormati. Untuk sejenak, saya seperti berada di Bombay karena banyaknya warga keturunan India di sekeliling kuil ini, mulai dari ibu-ibu dengan kain sari sampai seorang pria India yang terlihat sangat chic dengan turban, jenggot panjang, kemeja putih, yang menaiki sepeda klasik. Tak jauh dari situ mata saya juga menangkap mesjid, gereja, dan kelenteng. Keragaman etnis dan agama di Medan cukup mengingatkan saya pada Kuala Lumpur.

Shri Mariamman Temple
Shri Mariamman Temple

                Destinasi selanjutnya adalah Tjong A Fie Mansion, sebuah rumah mewah bekas kediaman Tjong A Fie yang merupakan seorang significant figure beretnis Tionghoa dalam sejarah kota Medan. Dengan perpaduan gaya Cina, Melayu, dan Victorian, mansion dengan pintu masuk berupa gerbang besar seperti yang biasa kita lihat di film Mandarin ini seperti relik masa lalu yang membeku di antara bangunan ruko modern di sekelilingnya. Its gallant, regal, and more likely, haunted. Dalam museum sekaligus cagar budaya yang terletak di Jalan Ahmad Yani ini, selain mengagumi harta benda dan kekayaan keluarga saudagar Tjong A Fie, kita pun bisa belajar tentang sejarah Kota Medan. Dengan koleksi benda bersejarah (including some very old vinyls!), harga tiket yang terjangkau dan sudah termasuk guide yang akan menjelaskan setiap sudut rumah (kecuali beberapa bagian yang belum direstorasi), tidak heran jika mansion ini menjadi salah satu tujuan wisata favorit di Medan.

Tjong A Fie Mansion
Tjong A Fie Mansion

Tidak terasa hari sudah menuju sore, dan keinginan untuk jajan-jajan sore pun muncul. Setelah menjemput Agung yang sempat ketinggalan di Tjong A Fie Mansion karena terlalu asik memotret, kami pergi ke Jalan Karo untuk  mengunjungi gerai kopi Macehat, yang kabarnya sedang hits di Medan. Melewati ruangan indoor yang tidak terlalu luas dan bangku yang terisi penuh, kami memutuskan untuk minum dan bersantai di outdoor area. Macehat terkenal dengan kopi Luwak dan Avocado Coffee, namun karena saya bukan peminum kopi saya memesan pancake cokelat dan affogato yang merupakan campuran es krim dan espresso. Puas mengobrol, sekitar jam lima sore kami menuju Grand Swiss-Belhotel tempat kami menginap untuk check in dan beristirahat. Kegiatan selanjutnya yang sudah ditunggu adalah makan malam. Medan punya banyak sekali tempat kuliner yang menarik, namun belum lengkap ke Medan kalau belum ke Restoran Tip Top. Bila Malang punya Toko Oen, maka Medan punya Tip Top yang menawarkan menu dan ambience klasik zaman kolonial. Letaknya di Jalan Ahmad Yani yang juga disebut Jalan Kesawan, tak jauh dari Tjong A Fie Mansion. Berdiri sejak tahun 1934, restoran ini menawarkan menu Western, Indonesia, juga Chinese dan semuanya enak luar biasa. Bahkan saat menulis artikel ini pun, saya sempat menelan ludah ketika mengingat lagi lezatnya berbagai menu yang saya nikmati di Tip Top, terutama Bistik Lidah yang sangat juara. Tak hanya menu besarnya, Tip Top juga dikenal dengan kue-kue pastry yang lezat dan es krim Moorkop khas Belanda. Pulang ke hotel. saya mencatat Tip Top sebagai tujuan wajib jika saya kembali ke Medan.

Dari kiri: Soto RM Sinar Pagi, Affogato Macehat, Bistik Lidah Tip Top
Dari kiri: Soto RM Sinar Pagi, Affogato Macehat, Bistik Lidah Tip Top

Sabtu, 7 Juni menjadi hari kedua saya di Medan sekaligus menjadi hari Soundrenaline digelar. Rasanya sudah tidak sabar untuk menuju Bandara Polonia yang menjadi venue Soundrenaline Medan, namun sebelumnya, kami menyempatkan diri untuk mengeksplorasi Kota Medan lagi. Setelah breakfast di hotel, kami menuju Istana Maimoon yang juga menjadi ikon kota Medan. Dibangun oleh Sultan Deli dan berarsitektur khas Melayu, Istana Maimoon adalah titik sejarah Medan dari sudut Melayu. Namun, berbeda dari Tjong A Fie Mansion, Istana Maimoon tampak kurang dimaksimalkan. Dari 30 ruangan yang ada, pengunjung hanya bisa masuk ke ruang utama yang juga diisi oleh pedagang souvenir sehingga estetikanya jadi lumayan terganggu. Dan hanya sedikit sekali yang bisa kita lihat selain singgasana bernuansa emas, desain interior yang rumit memukau dari lantai, tembok hingga langit-langit, dan beberapa benda sejarah. Kami tak menghabiskan banyak waktu di istana ini dan memutuskan untuk membeli oleh-oleh khas Medan yang apalagi kalau bukan Bolu Gulung Meranti, pancake durian, dan bika Ambon di Jalan Sisingamangaraja. Belum puas belanja, kami juga pergi ke Durian Ucok untuk mencicipi durian Medan yang terkenal.

Istana Maimoon
Istana Maimoon

Puas makan dan belanja, agenda selanjutnya adalah agenda utama kami datang ke Medan, which is the Soundrenaline itself! Diadakan di Lapangan Bandar Udara Polonia, Soundrenaline Medan dibuka oleh trio punk rock Jogja, Endank Soekamti yang membawakan sekitar 11 lagu untuk memanaskan festival ini yang memang sudah panas, literally. Ini pertama kalinya saya datang ke festival yang diadakan di bekas bandara tanpa pepohonan untuk berlindung dari matahari yang menyengat. Penonton yang mayoritas memang anak muda Medan terlihat sudah terbiasa dengan panasnya Medan yang menyengat, but I need to step back dan akhirnya ngumpet ke Media Tent yang dilengkapi pendingin udara dan minuman dingin untuk menghindari heat stroke, haha! Di Media Tent pun diadakan semacam mini talkshow bagi para performer yang akan tampil. Shaggy Dog, The S.I.G.I.T, Kotak, J-Rocks, Burger Kill hadir di talkshow sebelum mereka menampilkan aksi mereka di Soundrenaline yang terbagi menjadi dua stage (A Stage dan Go Ahead Stage).

Endank Soekamti at the A Stage
Endank Soekamti at the A Stage
The S.I.G.I.T at mini talk show.
The S.I.G.I.T at mini talk show.

Makin sore, cuaca semakin nyaman dan penonton semakin ramai berdatangan. Setelah jeda Maghrib, Soundrenaline dilanjutkan oleh Judika, Andra & The Backbone dan Sheila On 7. Dengan berbekal Backstage ID khusus, saya dan blogger lain mendapat akses untuk menonton Sheila On 7 dari bibir panggung. Full disclosure: Sheila On 7 is one of my favorite Indonesian bands ever karena saya tumbuh remaja dengan mendengarkan lagu-lagu mereka, tapi saya belum pernah menonton live performance mereka. Menyaksikan Duta, Eross dan personel lainnya tampil atraktif membawakan lagu-lagu hits mereka, saya seperti terlempar ke masa SMP dan ikut menyanyikan lantang lirik lagu-lagu mereka. It was amazing! Ketika Sheila On 7 turun panggung dan menuju Media Tent untuk mini talkshow, saya mengikuti mereka seperti some giddy teenagers dan akhirnya minta foto bareng dengan Duta, haha! Jujur saja, dalam karier saya sebagai jurnalis saya sangat jarang meminta foto bareng dengan band-band atau musisi lokal. Namun, kali ini saya datang bukan sebagai jurnalis, saya datang sebagai fans Sheila On 7 sejak SMP and I just feel happy to finally saw them again.

Eross SO7 mengomandoi koor penonton.
Eross SO7 mengomandoi koor penonton.
Me as happy fans with Duta SO7
Me as happy fans with Duta SO7

 Khusus tahun ini, Soundrenaline mengusung konsep baru berupa sistem pemilihan suara bernama “Voice of Choice” yang dilakukan melalui situs GoAheadPeople.com. Para pemilih diwajibkan untuk memilih salah satu dari tiga album milik lima band yang terdaftar, yaitu Slank, GIGI, J-Rocks, Andra and The Backbone dan /rif. Album mana yang menang itulah yang akan dinyanyikan secara penuh oleh band tersebut. /rif misalnya, membawakan utuh album pertama mereka Radja yang dirilis tahun 1997,dari track pertama sampai terakhir. Selesai star struck dengan Sheila On 7, saya menonton penampilan Seringai di Go Ahead Stage sementara A Stage sedang dimeriahkan oleh Jamrud. Arian dan kawan-kawannya di Seringai seperti biasa berhasil membakar semangat penonton dan menyulut moshing dengan lagu-lagu anthemic mereka sampai-sampai aparat yang berjaga di bibir panggung harus menahan pagar batas penonton yang hampir ambruk. PAS Band dan GIGI yang menjadi penampil selanjutnya juga mendapat respons antusias dari puluhan ribu penonton yang memadati Polonia. I can feel the adrenaline rush just by seeing the performers and the crowds! Soundrenaline Medan yang dimulai dari jam 12 siang akhirnya dituntaskan oleh Slank sebagai pamungkas acara dan ditutup oleh lagu “Kamu Harus Pulang” sebagai lagu penutup Soundrenaline Medan yang berhasil mendatangkan sekitar 60 ribu penonton. Jarum jam memang sudah menunjukkan pukul 12 lewat, namun saya belum mau pulang ke hotel. Saya lapar. Kami pun menyempatkan diri makan malam di daerah Elizabeth, sebuah tempat nongkrong mahasiswa Universitas Sumatera Utara dengan warung-warung tenda yang mengingatkan daerah Blok S di Jakarta, setelah itu baru pulang ke hotel.

Seringai before the show.
Seringai before the show.

Hari Minggu 8 Juni menjadi hari terakhir saya di Medan. Setelah breakfast dan check out dari hotel, saya dan para blogger lainnya menuju Kualanamu untuk pulang ke Jakarta. Thanks to Sampoerna dan Maverick Indonesia, kini saya sudah bisa mencoret Soundrenaline dari daftar festival musik yang harus saya datangi. Just have a chance to finally watching Soundrenaline is already a blast for me, terlebih berkesempatan menyaksikannya bersama teman-teman baru dan menjelajahi kota Medan. I’m planning to visit Medan again in near future, dan untuk Soundrenaline tahun depan? Well, just see and fingers crossed.

See you on next Soundrenaline.
See you on next Soundrenaline.

Influences: Deap Vally

The narrative fact of Lindsey Troy (vox & guitar) met Julie Edwards (drum) at a needlework class is pretty much could misleading you to false pretense. It’s might sounds like a perfect background story of some indie pop girl duo, but interestingly, they bonded over their mutual affection to blues, banging rock and roll, and pretty much anything from The Doors. Now, after two singles “Gonna Make My Own Money” and “End of The World”, which described by critic as “a scuzzy White Stripes meets Led Zeppelin”, the Los Angelese duo set their eyes for their upcoming debut album, while sharing stages with Thurston Moore,  Dinosaur Jr., The Vaccines, and Muse, among others.

What’s your first impression to each other?

Julie: I thought Lindsey seemed pretty high maintenance.

Lindsey: I thought Julie seemed annoyed. Turned out she was! I walked into a knitting shop that Julie was working at and was asking her loads of questions about the different balls of yarn. I guess I was a high-maintenance customer, but hey, I spent money! I also thought she had great hair. I went into the shop a few days later for a crochet class. There were only 3 of us there. Julie and I stayed at the shop late that night, chatting for hours about our musical histories while we crocheted. We really clicked — she was one of raddest people I’d met in years. After that I kept popping into her work all the time to visit her and the rest is history.

What made you want to start a band together?

Lindsey: Since I was a little girl I’ve wanted to play rock n roll. It’s always been my biggest hunger, what I dreamt about. It must be in my DNA. Life didn’t make sense before Deap Vally. Now it makes sense.

What did you listen to as a teenager and how did that affect you now?

Julie: Nine Inch Nails, The Doors, Soundgarden.  I like heavy music with a good beat, and that is the music I make.

Lindsey: The Beatles, The Doors, Hole, Nirvana, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The White Stripes. I’ve always loved rock’n’roll — the grittiness of it, the attitude, the inherent sexiness of it.

Do you still knitting right now? What’s your favorite pattern or things to knit?

Julie: scarves and handwarmers

noro

Lindsey: I’ve been knitting a lot of infinity-scarves recently. There’s a yarn I’m currently obsessed made by a Japanese company called Noro. It’s multi-colored hand-painted wool. It’s the most beautiful yarn I’ve ever seen. I bought every ball they had at the store, then made loads of Christmas presents with it! I think I’m ready to move into sweater territory though. I have a half-finished sweater that I started ages ago. It’s been neglected in my closet for a year and a half. I’ve decided I’m going to unravel the whole thing and start over. It’s been so long that I’m bored with the original design. Check back in a couple months and I’ll send you a picture…

What was the first concert you ever went to?

paula-abdul-undated-young.grid-6x2

Julie: Paula Abdul!

anthony-kiedis-red-hot-chili-peppers-young-and-cute--Favim.com-211827

Lindsey: Legend has it I rocked pretty hard in mother’s womb at a Bob Dylan concert she went to while pregnant with me. The first concert I ever went to without my parents was The Red Hot Chili Peppers. I was madly in love with both Flea and Anthony Kiedis. That was also my first time crowd surfing, and I lost my shoe in the process. I was 12.

Can you name any particularly influential albums for you?

nineinchnailsdownwardspiral8az

Julie: Led Zeppelin’s Physical, Nine Inch Nails’s The Downward Spiral.

hole

Lindsey: Hole’s Live Through This, Led Zeppelin’s Led Zeppelin I, The Beatles’ Abbey Road, The Doors’ Self-Titled, Elliott Smith’s Either/Or, Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Fever to Tell.

Did you have any musical background?

Lindsey: I started playing piano when I was four. All throughout my childhood I was in a family band. It was real folky stuff, very family-friendly. We did mostly covers. The first time I plugged my electric guitar into an amp my life changed…for the better.

What was the first instrument you picked up? Did you teach yourself?

Lindsey: Piano. I started taking lessons when I was 4. My teacher was amazing. Super 80’s. She had died black hair with bangs and long red finger-nails. A total gem. I wonder what she’s doing these days…I think I should get back in touch with her…

Who are your style icons?

Keith+Richards+img031

Julie: Tina Turner, Madonna, Keith Richards.

thelma-and-louise01

Lindsey: Thelma & Louise, Kelly Bundy, The Ramones, Madonna.

Do you have any favorite music video or movie or documentary?

somekindofmonster

Julie: Some Kind of Monster!!!

Madonna

Lindsey: Madonna’s “Truth or Dare”

What’s on your iPod right now?

Julie: Chelsea Wolfe, Goat, Here We Go Magic.

Lindsey: The Black Angels, Queens of the Stone Age, Fiona Apple.

What records always cheers you up?

the-meters

Julie: Anything by The Meters (the original Meters from back in the day).

stooges
Lindsey: Anything by The Stooges

Who’s in charge for the lyric and what’s the main inspiration?

Lindsey: We write everything together. Our inspiration comes from our lives and how we view the world–what we’ve experienced, what we see our friends experience, the things that go through our brains.

What does it feel like to be onstage?

Lindsey: The best thing ever.

What advice do you have for people wanting to start bands?

Lindsey: Just do it. Sit down and learn how to play an instrument. Don’t be afraid to make noise. Put the time in. Lose yourself in it. You won’t regret it.

Next project?

Deap Vally. 2013. World Domination.

http://deapvally.com/

On The Records: Pairs

Pairs1

“Just hate the idea of anyone googling my real name and getting any interviews I’ve done. Especially as I’m looking for a job at the moment,” said Xiao Zhong, vocalist/drummer and one half of Pairs, Shanghai based noise-rock duo, about his refusal to use his real name for any press interview from now on. Talk about anonymity, the fact that he’s actually Australian is feels as obscure as his female guitarist that goes with only a single alphabet (“F”) for her name. Formed around two years ago, this duo are known for their louder than bomb music, raw castatrophe and nonchalant attitude. After three albums (Pairs, Summer Sweat, Grandparent), last year they releasing their latest album called If This Cockroach Doesn’t Die, I Will, which recorded in some bomb shelter, and playing for gigs around Asia, including Indonesia few weeks ago. Unfortunately, I didn’t saw their gigs due some holiday sickness, so I catching up with them via email. Here it is!

Hello, how are you? Would you mind to introduce yourself?
Hey hey. I’m doing pretty well actually. Today wasn’t as cold as yesterday and my body is getting used to Winter again. I’m Xiao Zhong and I play drums in Pairs. F is the guitar player but last I heard, she was in a brewery somewhere in America.

So F isn’t on Shanghai right now? Is it her decision to goes with
such anonymous name?

Not right now. We landed and she spent two days in Shanghai and then flew out to America for a bit or work and a bit of pleasure. The story bedhing her name, as I’m led to believe is that she had an English teacher at her primary school and he asked people their English names and she just said F. Whether that’s because it was the only letter she knew at that point or she wanted to remain anonymous when she was 8 years old, I’m not sure. But she stuck with it.

Where are you right now and how’s your day going?
I’m at home now, sitting on the couch watching the special features on the Dogs In Space DVD. My day was ok. Had a bit of a shit meeting at work that went for too long and was full of too much bullshit, but that’s done now so I’m pretty good.

How did you guys meet each other? What sparked you to form a band together?
We met at the X Games watching these Japanese brothers rollerblade up and down a half pipe. I was looking at the skaters and F came and said hello because she liked my shirt. I was looking to start a band and she said she was interested. Pretty boring story actually. Sorry.

Prior to Pairs, did you already play with some bands before?
I played in a few bands in Bendigo and Melbourne. Some were ok. Some were shit. Some were ok and played shit and some were shit but played ok.

Tell us a bit about the music scene in Shanghai, what they sounds like and is it any difference with other cities?
It’s weird. On tour everyone asked us this question and when I asked people they always said their scene was shit. Everyone said it was always the same faces at the same venues watching the same bands play the same songs. But I saw people who bought records, made zines, got involved, wrote reviews and were friendly as fuck. So I guess people always think the grass is greener and forget to distance themselves from the scene every now and again.
But on Shanghai, I’ll say that for it’s size – it really should be bigger, better and more active.

Do you have some other Shanghai band/musician recommendation for
us to checking out?
Stalin Gardens, Hua Jiao, Battle Cattle, Guo Shen, Fei Ma, Top Floor Circus, Airwalker.

How was the songwriting going? Is it usually the lyric or the noise popped up first?
It’s generally a basic guitar chord and the lyrics come much, much later. Although, with the newer songs I’m finding lyrics are coming much earlier and I’ll jot them down and them try and force them to whatever is being played on guitar. Kind of what people do when they get frustrated with a jigsaw. Just start smashing pieces together.

What things usually inspire you to wrote some lyric?
Usually they are written about some of the leaders at my work. I got a promotion over a year ago and it allowed me to see the inner workings of lying fuckrags, so a lot of the songs are things I would love to say in a meeting or pointing out how horrible these people are but I can’t say too obviously at work due to needing cash and a VISA. Shit has taken it’s toll though and I am looking for new work now.

Is there any band out there that really influences your sounds in particular?
Not particularly. There are a few bands whose attitudes and actions have influenced us. Tom from The Nation Blue is a big one. Ash from The Secret Knives, Shaun from the Tenzenmen label, Adam from Reykjavictim, Benjii, Martin and the Muzai team and Scowlin Wolf from Threat.Meet.Protocol. Hobbs from East Brunswick All Girls Choir is always good for dredging out the idiotic tales that become ideas for songs.

How would you describe your own sound?
Used to be faster.

Do you still remember your first ever gig? How was it? And where’s the your most intense gig so far?
First gig I think was in Brendan Ryan’s backyard near a monster truck dog who had legs way too long for it’s body. We played three or four songs and we did our first song twice because Steve Mac made up a funny dance to it. Then we watched a hoody burn.
Most intense gig physically was one in Cirebon. I’m a weak prick and think I was a tiny bit sick before the show, but the lack of energy and heat really got to me and I had to run off after four or five songs to vomit my guts up. That was embarrassing.
I used to have a really bad hernia and doing shows, yelling with a hernia was pretty intense as I’d have to stand up and push it back in during songs.

So how was your gig in Jakarta?
Jakarta was awesome! We had a great time and it’s a total shame that we didn’t stay longer. We met some really friendly people and the we.hum collective did an awesome job organising everything and making cool as fuck shirt. We met some real hot girls and handsome men and got to play laser tag. Good vibes.

Wait, I don’t even know you guys also playing in Cirebon, how long
exactly your tour in Indonesian goes? What’s the story behind it?
We were in Indonesia for 9 days. Started in Surabaya, then to Batu, then Solo, then Cirebon and finished in Jakarta. Was a good time and we would have died if it wasn’t for Anca and Asep who travelled everywhere without and organised our accommodation and made sure we were at the venues at the right times.

Did you try some Indonesian food? Where else did you go during that time?
Yeah, we ate very local. A lot of tempei and ice tea. I loved the breakfasts there! Some awesome sweet stuff which I love as I have a huge sweet tooth.
We went to a water park to go down some slides and then went in a haunted house. We also saw the mud slide area in Surabaya. A lot of the time was spent driving and crashing at punk squats and friends’ houses.

Beside Indonesia, where else you have played outside China?

We did New Zealand in early 2013 thanks to the Muzai Records gang and we’ve done Hong Kong a few times and just before Indonesia we played in Singapore and Malaysia . We’re looking at Vietnam sometime in the next few months. Just tee-ing it up now.

Do you have some kind of preshow ritual?
Not at all. I’ve just started drinking water before shows. That’s about it. I don’t get bands who do group hugs or headbuts or key a beer before playing. Just fucking play.

What are you guys doing beside music?
We both have fulltime jobs and loved ones and email accounts and clothes to wash and sleep to do. All in all, Pairs is just a small part of our time. We go out in bursts and then have a break for a few weeks.

How long have you live in Shanghai? What prompted you to move to China?
I have lived here since 2009. Fucking hated it when I first got to Shanghai as I lived in Tianjin in 2008 and loved it and Shanghai is a different kind of China so it took some time to get used to and for awhile, it was rough. Grown to dig the place now.
Everyone in my university course wanted to go to London and I think the UK and Europe is kind of Asia for old people and a pretty boring choice. You can have the same time there whether you’re 23 or 63 but Asia take a bit of a young man’s mentality or sense of adventure so I applied for jobs in China and Japan and China got back to me first so I jumped on the plane with fuck all research and landed in Tianjin.

You’re known as Xiao Zhong but that’s not your real name, who came up with your Chinese name?
I came up with it, which is why it’s a stupid fucking name and not a name at all. But I used it with Pairs incase any future employees Google my name and read the moronic fucking shit that I say in interviews such as these and chose not to give me a job.

Do you still want to release your records on cassette?
Yeah, absolutely! Early last year, Bomb Shop in the UK released Summer Sweat on cassette. They released it in hand wrapped Chinese newpaper and it had a hot pink case. Looked awesome. We’ll release on any format but probably not CD for a long while. Touring with records was pretty hard. We paid a small fortune in excess baggage to get our records in to Indonesia.

What’s your plan next?
Work tomorrow. Going to a show this weekend. Chinese New Year will slow the mainland down and I’m going to my wife’s parents house in Tianjin to celebrate then I’m going back to Australia for a week to say hello to my friends and family then we have a show with Thee Oh Sees in Shanghai. We’ll have a new record out in March but it will be a very different record than people will expect or want. That’s about it really.

http://pairs.bandcamp.com/

 

On The Records: Karina Utomo

The first time I heard about Karina Utomo on 2007, she was the frontwoman of Australian post-hardcore band, Young & Restless. Thanks to her powerful vocal and stage charm, the band was hyped as one of the Aussie’s most potential band after releasing their debut album. Unfortunately, this Canberra-based band announced their breakup on their Myspace page on 17 August 2009 a few weeks after the release of their new single, which left the fans with the same vague feeling when you heard that your favorite tv shows are cancelled for the next season. I always know, it’s not gonna be the end for Karina’s talent, and she prove it right when she post a video of her new band called High Tension on her Facebook page. After listen and watch the video, I know, it’s gonna be something great.

Hi Karina, how are you? what are you doing before answering this email?

Hi Alex, I am really well thanks, hope you too! I just finished band practice as we have our first show with High Tension in a couple of weeks. So far we almost have enough songs to play an entire set… haha!

 I’m not quite aware about the disbandment of Young & Restless, would you mind to share a tidbits?

It was sad that we had to end the band when we did. Lots of reasons accumulated and pushed it to end…. I won’t go into specific details as that’s not important. The important thing was that we had an amazing time and didn’t expect to have all the opportunities that we did with the band.

 What are you doing during that time?

It was definitely a good opportunity to breathe and spend more time doing the things I wish I had time to do. I also got to focus a little bit more on my work for a few years, I always worked throughout Y&R, so suddenly just having to focus on one thing was refreshing and felt like a bit of a holiday! I also explored collaborating with friends on different kinds of music; I pursued dark industrial EBM type music with a good friend who is very talented but only went as far as demos. I think during this time I discovered that (as cliché as this may sound) my heart lay in (very) heavy music.

 What it feels like to start it all over again with your new band?

It’s like having a new crush! Also, lots of scheming and planning to how we want to do things, which is part of the fun.

 So, what sparked you to form High Tension?

Ash (the guitarist) and I had been writing music since we were in SMP, we have grown up together pursuing different bands (Y&R and now High Tension). The beauty with Ash is he knows exactly what I like in terms of riffs, and can easily translate my ideas for guitar riffs and make it better. It makes the process of songwriting more organic, we are not over-thinking what we are doing, it’s more direct. We stayed close friends when he left Y&R and kept writing music. The hardest part was finding like minded members who wanted to be in a heavy band, had the time and a degree of commitment. It is kind of a big ask when you think about it, you sink in your energy, time and money for the love of it. You have to really, really love it.

We pretty much found that with Matt Weston (our bass player who is also in one of my favourite bands The Nation Blue). Matt is pretty much a dream person to have in your band! It helps that we like the same kind of bands, have a similar aesthetic to what we wanted to create.

Damian Coward, our drummer, is a bit of a hero to me as well. He used to run a record label called Building Records and pretty much played in my favourite bands, or toured my favourite bands or put out records of my favourite bands. He was an important aspect to this kind of music in Australia and an amazing curator. He has lots of stories up his sleeve so we have to make sure he’s not telling them when he’s setting up his drum kit haha. For me, it’s the perfect line up and we’re a good team!

Do you ask Nugie (her younger brother, who was the drummer of Young & Restless)  again to join this band too?

I would have loved for Nugie to be in the band. He was an important part of Y&R, especially being my brother, it meant that he could be very honest and open with his opinion; and this was invaluable to me. I couldn’t ask Nugie to be in High Tension as he lives in a different city to us, and would defeat the purpose of pursuing a band at our leisure (Matt, Ash and I are pretty much neighbours, and Damian lives 15 minutes away), we need ease to practice, come together etc, and having a drummer in a different city is logistically impossible at this stage.

What’s the story behind the band’s name?

Matt came up with the name and we all spent quite a long time coming up with something that was not already taken. We wanted a name that translated well with the music.

What’s the main differences between High Tension and your earlier bands? Do you have specific aim/influences for this band?

High Tension is a lot more direct. We don’t have specific influences in terms of bands so much… it’s more about creating a feeling for the audience. It’s sleazy and pushes you right up against a wall, we want to get into people’s personal space and create a good kind of discomfort.

 How is the recording process for your upcoming release?

The songwriting was really organic. We wrote everything in the rehearsal room, or started with riffs that we played around with over pizza. We asked Tom Larkin who recorded the Young & Restless album as he is just the perfect person to work with and he brings out the best in you, so it was a no-brainer to work with him again.

What’s the next plan for High Tension?

Keeping it brutal and fun.

 http://oscl.bandcamp.com/album/high-tension-s-t