Hello. This is an updated plan for The World Underground for the next few months. It's a rough, by the pant-seat type of deal, and could change due to death, dismemberment, exhaustion, or whatever lies in between. In a perfect world, the mighty Hot Snakes would agree to let me go with them on their Europe tour. We're bothering them about that now. If not, I'll trek alone and get mega wine-drunk and do what I can. That's a whole 'nother ball of wax in the future, though. I'll be editing in between all of this, on the road, in shitty hotel rooms, and as always, telling stories along the way. See you out there with Generacion Suicida, 드링킹소년소녀합창단 - DrinkingBoys&GirlsChoir, OH Dirty Fingers 脏手指!
Filtering by Tag: indonesia
Howdy folks. A few things for you:
My time in Northeast China has come to an end, and next Friday, I begin exiting China. I'm moving to Indonesia for a deep dive, and taking this project full time for as long as possible. This has me jumping in and out of tours with Hiperson, Dirty Fingers, and Hedgehog in June. Hiperson and Hedgehog both have new records out. Click their names to listen. I'll also return to Osaka, Japan, this time with my filming camera, so I'm hoping it's even half as eventful as that last trek with Blond New Half. I'm so excited to begin a new chapter that will bring this project to the next level. For those who threw down on the fundraiser to help make it happen, Thank You again. I will briefly return to the midwest in July to ship your donation perks! Some major boxes in my personal life have finally been checked. All of them, really, except that of the release of Episode 2 of this project.
Episode 2 has been all but finished for some time. My original plans to have it released have come and gone many times. This is frustrating, but due to the DIY nature of people doing things for low-to-no cost, I must sit tight and let the rest of the pieces be finished when they're able. I hope for a June release, but time will tell. For my move to Indonesia and the subsequent new shorter film series, I'm putting pieces into place to expedite these issues. I've learned a lot over the last few years, and I'm very excited to start having consistent high quality content for you that really makes The World Underground shine each month. That's what the move to China was working toward, and it begins now. In nine days. Holy shit!
The future is bright. I begin a move to Yogyakarta, Indonesia in 9 days. This will serve multiple purposes. The first, will be to begin editing Episode 3, which is a self-funded endeavor, trekking once again with Beijing's P.K.14. This film will be very different from my previous pieces.
Once this has finished, I hope to begin a longer piece on Indonesia, while I am living in country. I think this brings great opportunities to not only show-case past filming efforts done there in 2015, but bring some new light to what is currently happening. In the middle of all of this, I will begin a short film series, that I hope to release every single month. Bringing this project into more hyper time-sensitive output is something I have wanted to do for year, and it's about to become a reality. After this has all began taking shape, I will begin work on a film about Missoula, Montana. That will be a very interesting time capsule.
Summer and beyond is going to be very interesting. Aside from what I have lined up so far, I will be letting things fall into place naturally along the way. Freeing myself up to "just go" has long been something I've pined for. Fall will bring a 7 city S.E.A. tour by the South Los Angeles Spanish punk band Generacion Suicida. This is only the beginning, as everything in between will be an "as we go" endeavor. There should be shows by Mexico grind-core bands in Rumah Api, Kuala Lumpur, treks in Sumatra with Palmer Keen from Aural Archipelago, and everything else in between. That's not to mention the very vibrant scene of Yogyakarta, the city that will be my editing and resting base.
For all of this to become reality so soon, I am very, very excited. I'm doing my best not to freak out entirely right now. Thanks for your patience, and your support. It's about to get real.
As always, I'll update you every chance I get along the way. The tours should bring daily updates. Social media is doing its best to keep eyes on the fear, terror, and shittier aspects of life, but we can only do what we can to push forward in healthy ways. Let's keep rolling. We can make it. Stay safe out there.
Hey. Hope you are well.
The time has come to move this project to Indonesia. I will be starting a short film "dispatch" series. This was supposed to happen last year, and after many delays, it's once again time to take a giant, terrifying leap into the unknown.
The goal will be to release short films at least once per month, while I work on the feature length documentaries. Write more. Expand the scope from music, onward to arts and culture issues. Indonesia is a vast and ultra-compelling area.
In June, I will move to Yogyakarta, and use it as an editing and launching pad. Their art and music scene is an absolute gem itself, and I've wanted to move there since my first visit 4 years ago.
Essentially, the new leg of this project will begin the second I leave Northeast China, when I will follow a short tour with a Chengdu, Sichuan based band Hiperson, who you should know by now. After I get settled in Yogyakarta, I will go back to America for the first time in 3 years, mail the perks for this fundraiser, kiss my parents, and then begin editing the first short film. Bringing this project into the full-time realm, and visiting places like Borneo, Sabah, Taiwan, and fringe scenes along the way is going to expand the way I run this project, and should be endlessly exciting.
I am raising funds to do this the right way. You can grab art from Tony Cheung, record packs with music across Asia, and more. Your money will spread across everything touched, paying for translators, gig covers, supporting local scenes through fundraiser perks and beyond.
Please consider donating: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-world-underground-dispatch-series/x/101516#/
Thanks so much.
I hate to say it, but life is fairly easy for me up in N.E. China. It feels stupid and shitty to be so comfortable during such tumultuous times. However, that's just the way it has rolled out for me. Working my ass off on a lot of fronts feels really good. I have begun to understand that some things are just going to take a little more time than I'd like, and that's okay. That's life. I get paid decently well, am throwing large chunks of money at debt for the first time in a decade. I have free time to finish a Bachelor's Degree and continue to work on this project. I like my job. Sure, Dongbei can be a bit grating sometimes, but for now, it's home. Having the privilege to travel is another large benefit to taking up this lifestyle. Though we have lined up some gigs in Heilongjiang, there is largely, nothing happening up here on a regular basis. We have an upcoming rager with Changchun noise heads. See the previous blog post for more information, if you're so inclined. That said, I really miss a consistent noisier end of things. I decided to take an extended Spring Festival holiday and head back to some of my favorite places. Check out a few new spots. Do everything I could to drench myself in as much art and music as possible. This is how it went.
First up : food. Night one in Kuala Lumpur. No hassles getting everything started at the airport. Data SIM, money, train into town. Easy, and all done with a smile. It's hot out. I laugh, as I haven't been this warm in a long time. Midnight by now. If you look at a few dozen lists of where to eat in KL, there are a few places that stick on every one, and that's the chicken wings at Wong Ah Wah, on Jalan Alor, a popular street food spot. I love a good Char Kway Teow, but these people, they're not wrong. After fifteen hours of travel, I limp to the end of the food street. Surprisingly, it's half empty. These wings are spectacular. Impossibly crispy. Try to go during non-peak hours. So good to be south again. My body is already happy. Today, all the food.
Now we're talking. Nasi Lemak with Rendang and chicken. Fragrant rice. Peanuts. Sambal. Truly an outstanding thing. On a tip from the ever-helpful Brad M. Seippel, I headed to what he suggested was the best in town, Village Park. Thank You, Brad. Couldn't ask for a better lunch. Afterwards, I met up with an old friend, Matthew Cronin, and his partner Lana Mckinnon. On the outskirts of Jalan Alor, we took a deep breath of Isaan thai food. Bar hopped with Kilkenny on tap. Ended with a second round of Wong Ah Wah. Tumultuous times call for a dive for warmth, and we've cosmically found it here, this week, in Southeast Asia. I hope you can, as well. Take care out there. Be well, and keep pushing on, friends.
I didn't expect to see anything like this in Malaysia. Happy to be wrong. The wonderful Shaze, who is away from the city, contacted me about a gig at Rumah Api, which I had still never been to. Think of all your favorite dirty DIY spaces around the world, and that's it. Perfect. It's been well over a year since last seeing the members of Shh...Diam!, who are very vocal on LGBTQ, women's rights, and issues we should all care about. Much of the venue is covered in such. This night, as I take a quick glance and see America massing by the millions, a small handful launched each other into the air again and again. It felt like home to us. Thank You, Malaysia. This was the warmest, kindest 72 hours I can remember. Today : Jakarta, MDC, screaming with Dave Dictor . Perfect.
M.D.C. Indonesia, day one. Flew in, ate Satay Padang. My friend Jay took me around to ten shops on his bike until we finally found a SIM. Met up with the wonderful Dea Karina, who brought me to "Ponti Fest". Yesterday, the collective's house was raided by police. Tonight, the M.D.C. crew played alongside two dozen other bands including The Elected Officials and The Restarts. Bonkers gig. So many kids. So many bands. Classic Indonesia. Insane heat in the main room. Anca Manimau was there! Spectacular night. Thanks for the killer first day, Indonesia. Tomorrow, a breather.
You can listen to a live recording here, or by clicking below while you read.
So nice to be street level in Indonesia again. First real taste of Jakarta traffic today. Truly bonkers. A short trip turned two hours, but that's the reality here. There are a few apps here like Uber, but for motor-bikes. Exact same concept. It's a ubiquitous set of food, available everywhere here. Chicken Satay with an intensely good peanut sauce. Two types of soup. Chicken + Goat. Tea. Rice. It's great, and I've missed these flavors.
Morning, Bandung. A three hour train ride in yesterday, and I immediately met up with Palmer Keen. He runs the spectacular "Aural Archipelago", documenting lesser known traditional music around Indonesia. Also in tow was James Russell Fritsch, who just began a new label, "100,000". Our meeting point, the Sudirman street market, a Chinese / Indonesian area. I immediately ate two plates of Guangdong style pork. We then headed to a seedy Jaipong club, which I can't even begin to explain to you right now. This is Palmer's porch. The green house, James'. I didn't know this upon separately planning to meet both of them. They've both left the country this morning, and allowed me to stay. Thank You for the hospitality. A few days of wandering, until Jogja band Seahoarse, who I met on my first run here, play a gig! Excited!
Last night, Palmer + Sinta said we'd go to a "seedy Jaipong club". I'm still learning what I witnessed. In 1961, Sukarno prohibited Rock and Roll, Western genres, so Jaipong was born. It's a Sundanese dance performance with traditional instruments, but players + dancers feed off each other. This place... indeed very seedy. There'd be a pop session, then Jaipong would start. Men would go up and dance with the women. However, respect was paramount. It's about sensuality. How close can you get without touching? You'd do a jig up to tip the band. People cheered. Wild atmosphere. A wasted police officer kept sitting by us, telling us he was a cop, grabbing us, and pulling Palmer up to dance. Definitely the wildest place I've been that few foreigners ever trek to. If you're ever in Bandung, go dive in.
Seahoarse. Well over one year ago, I caught their second show as a band, in Yogyakarta. Of course, now, they're tighter, faster, louder. An amazing warehouse spot, "Spasial" that supposedly used to be an old military area. Shops, cafes littered inside. Really something, and I'd assume, a perfect newer addition to Bandung's scene. Five other bands. A showcase for Jakarta based Kolibri Records. Really great to see this type of thing in Indonesia, such a massive space. Feeling pretty raw, with stomach sickness turning into body flu by night. My most anticipated gig is tomorrow, back in Jakarta, so I'm going to responsibly power through, and then rest when I get to the chill vibes of Yogyakarta. I'll be safe. Time to rest. Cheers.
Panca Dwinandhika Zen . He's working in Bandung, where we met, documenting tattoo culture. Not only has he worked in a prison, befriending the in-mates, he aims to capture the disappearing traditional world of the "hand-tap" style art-form. There are under a dozen remaining in the world that know this style, and he believes in keeping it alive. He's done another film about Bali. We talked about his current research, trying to find the Jugun Ianfu, or what were "comfort women" for Japanese colonialists. Near the borders of Indonesia and Timor Leste, at 14 to 16 years old, they'd get large tattoos to be spared being chosen for this. They're now around 90, and he's trying to wade the difficult waters of finding them. Very nice to meet you, Panca. Until next time. You can read a bit about Panca's journey, in a VICE Indonesia article by Dea Karina. Click here to do that.
To Jogja! One of my favorite cities on the planet. This is BBDKK. Opening reception for "A Quiet Universe", which was nice. One of their members played a metal rod with bike parts as strings. I don't know the specifics, but I asked him about it and he said it was inspired by the group Senyawa. Good job Rully and Wukir! Chill night. It was Indra's birthday, and I asked him what his favorite spot to eat in Jogja was. He told me, an italian pizza joint. It was still open. Off we went, just in time for last order. We then decided it was a good idea to go get tacos down the street. These were good decisions, really, considering the lack of this type of stuff in N.E. China. We bode farewell to Indra. A few beers with the J's, and left the night as true gluttons. Another Happy Birthday to you, Uncle Indra. Thanks for the nice night. Today : Prambanan round 2.
Prambanan Temple. My second visit here. Really, just as good as the first. This, and the other main one around Jogja, you cannot go wrong with. Everyone seems to have to so much joy to be there. You'll get a boatload of selfie requests, first in a group, then they want to go one by one. I honestly do not mind, as everyone is so giddy about it, and not in a shitty way. You leave smiling. I think if anyone is really down and out in their life, they should just go here. We hit the grounds, and then went back to the city center, shopped Batik, and intense downpours began. Four hours of planning to hit a Sate Klathak joint, with no cars available, and around midnight, we ended up in the outskirts with Gisa, sipping on deep flavors. Indonesia is wonderful. Thanks to everyone who makes it so.
Spectacular show at Ruang Gulma Collective. Amazing space, great people. Ihsanul Fikri : "ARTMOSF, this time, is ecology. I use ecological elements. Sensor sensitive sound painting with pencil. Every scratch is the tone that represents composition of the plant. Fire reaction. I burned palm kernel as an icon for deforestation in Sumatra and Kalimantan, and they burn the forest. Minimal effect, only one, modulating pitch and shift."
Ikbal Lubys is from Malang, but this gig was at Ruang Gulma, in Yogyakarta, where he now lives. That bonkers instrument, handmade. "The guitar was made with really old railway wood. Built in 2013, it has a 4 piece knockdown system, for easier travel. The tuning is special, crossed strings, making two different areas of sound. Like percussion. Active and piezo pickups, but I never use piezo. It's better when played without guitar picks. I can get more than one sound if I turn between tuning system." This was a really great night. Off to KL for one night. This was an intensely wonderful trip, with a lot of layers, old and new. Indonesia, once again, you've left me grinning with a full heart.
Back in Harbin. Visions of Masakan Padang joints swimming in my head. This is Sumatran food. Eat it with your hands. Go in, and most of the time, you either choose, or they'll pile up all the dishes they have, in front of you. You're only charged for what you eat. Dangerous territory when you're hungry. It feels better than I thought it would, to be back in China. Familiar territory. Back to work on all fronts. Refreshed. Started a brutal new semester of school. Still working on the new film. Spinning plates. Plans I deemed set in stone, I'm already thinking of delaying. Strange calm with this decision. Not much else to do than keep rolling, do the best I can on it all, and let it play out how it may.
Lots happening this year. Thanks for following along.
MDC - Live at Ponti Fest, Jakarta, Indonesia.
My recorder was cradled on my backpack, on a rickety piece of wood that Dea Karina and I were standing on. Even though there was a waist high concrete barrier dividing us, I still had to cross my leg over the area, barely moving the whole time, in order for no punk kids to fly back into the thing. Definitely the most nervous I've been for a piece of equipment in some time. This was a really perfect thing to see, right after this stupid asshole got put into office. Mastered by Dereck Blackburn of Quiethouse Recording. Thanks, Jakarta punks. Enjoy. Cheers.
No Trump. No KKK. No Fascist U.S.A.
Here's some cool final news of 2016. Depok, Indonesia ARC YELLOW have released a cassette on one of the greatest labels in Chicago, IL, U.S.A. You can support this at Bandcamp by clicking here, or on the widget below!
I'll be heading down south in three weeks, to hit some shows in Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Bandung, and Jogja. It's really about getting the hell away from Dongbei's crazy winter, and reconnecting to the scenes we fell in love with, in 2015. I'll be storytelling whenever possible, and report when I get home.
For now, enjoy this slice of 90's grunge, right here in 2016.
Take care out there,
Hey. There's a new interview from U.K. based Overblown Magazine. Really kind words. This is the current state of things. I discuss people, places, and process. A few tracks that have been sticking with me lately.
If you're reading this...thanks so much, again, for following along. It means a lot, to inspire anyone, and it means the world to me.
You can read the full pieces right here.
Still kicking. 24 hours to Chengdu.
I met Junichi Usui in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. He's from Tokyo. He smiled a lot, told wonderful stories, and was an extremely nice fellow. He seemed endlessly interested in Indonesia, and soaked in all the knowledge he could. We became fast friends, and that has continued since I moved to Harbin, China in October.
Since then, I've been following everything the man has said. He constantly messages me on Facebook about things he's found, things he's currently listening to. He once messaged me about the atrocities of "Unit 731", and told me he wanted to come to Harbin because of it. If you don't know what this is, look it up. The point is that the man has a lust for knowledge that is really inspiring. He's began making lists of things, music, and good things to check out, and posting them on his website.
His current undertaking is a random playlist of music around the world. His lists are always exhaustive, and worth checking out. This particular one includes music from Lebanon, Palestine, the U.K., Italy, France, all around Europe...the U.S.A., Indonesia, Nepal. I don't even know where he finds half of this shit. I'll probably ask him about his methods after I hit the publish button. You should go here and dive into this. Knowing Junichi, you'll find something new that you like.
Be well out there.
While we were in Jogja, Indonesia, I came across something to sooth my rattled nerves caused by all those motorbike rides, harsh noise, and brutal punk rock. They're called Seahoarse. The band brings in chilled out, poppy songs that'll stick in your head for days. Particularly the slow-burning "Submarine", which we'll likely use to the footage of for Episode 4 of the film project. Seahoarse is a relatively new band, and this recording is only their 2nd show ever, so I'm interested to see where they go from here. They're also ridiculously nice people, who came out to almost every gig I saw while spending a month in Java. Perfect stuff to soak up all that coffee and sun if you're ever in Central Java.
Two days ago was Indonesia's 70th independence day. I was running on zero sleep, because we're trying to finally get back on a "normal" schedule. There was a parade right outside of our place, and the sounds went in one ear and out the other. It totally eluded me until I looked outside. Shit!
I ran downstairs in my pajamas and tried to get some good video. Wrong shutter speed. It's crap. I was pissed. So when Indra told me there was a parade today to kick off Festival Kesenian Yogyakarta, I beamed. I spent half the day mailing our Chinese VISA forms to Chicago via the only FedEx in Jogja. That was fun. Got home, grabbed my gear, and headed out early. Redeemed! Video should look amazing. Great day. Tomorrow : Jogja Noise Bombinghit the festival with Junichi.
Back into the woods. Behind Wangi Artroom // Kedai Koppi Bell, Kombo 8 began.
Junichi Usui from Tokyo joined in this time. He played a Shō, which if my research is correct, is derived from the Chinese 笙 (Sheng). Each musician played a set of their own, and then they melded together to form an improvised collaboration.
The final performer was a bit late, but got there, then taking the concrete space near the cafe. The sun was down then, so only the lanterns lit the electronics as Junichi came in with improv claps, metal clanks, his violin, the call to prayer over the loudspeaker and the crickets adding even more layers to it all. Another wildly imaginative day organized byJimi, Satya, and crew. Excellent.
Death to wussy hardcore. These kids get it, and they're not messing around. Last night's show was a nice mix, and they took over a dusty concrete parking garage near the university to do it. Skate punk. Psyche. I raised a few eyebrows at Energy Nuclear, who refreshingly went from tapping to doom in a few seconds. It was Cloudburst who started the circle pit. Gnarly, vicious, and even though there were just a few dozen kids, they got spinning quickly. A serious breath of fresh air to have Indra and Made grab the mic, scream along like they need it to keep breathing.
Focused mostly on video, though dual wielding long enough to snap this. The fear though, man. Flailing limbs and concrete. Always careful. A great night. Hell of a few weeks coming. Good to be back.
It didn't seem crazy, to go clear across Java for one show. We needed a good spot to fly to Malaysia anyways. Arc Yellow, the only band I knew of the 27 or so playing, picked me up. It was a birthday party for a baby named Nirvana. The venue, a gigantic event hall. Huge. Sound bounced everywhere as 50 kids sat on the side of the stage. It wasn't until these ladies got on stage that the crowd got more involved. Members of Fleur / Sugar Kane. "Paranoid Android" and Silverchair covers.
Dilla Sugar Sun brought some guitar abuse with their own tunes that reminded me of Alex White or Marissa from Screaming Females. So fun. Local booze flowed, and a clear local favorite were up. With that, finally kids launched themselves off the stage, into themselves, and the hard tiled floor. Nirvana covers aplenty. Dave Grohl should bring Foo Fighters for a few DIY shows in Indonesia. These kids seriously deserve it. What a great night. Thanks, Bogor folks. You're all too kind.
A full day in Jakarta proper, and we head to Malaysia for some hard noise.
"TO DIE." Jogja. Indra Menus' collaborative noise project. Supposedly constantly changing form, members, and sound. It's all an experiment. A show with Made Dharma 's hardcore / grind jam Warmouth, who played last because they're "too loud" and were cut short near the end due to neighborhood complaints. Happens everywhere.
We trekked clear across Java, south of Jakarta, to a city called Bogor. Saturday, there's a 12 band bill. A birthday party, for a baby...named Nirvana.
Nobody thinks this is as funny as we do.
Halo, Bogor. I like you already
Jogja. Indra Menus and Hendra pick me up, and it's a short motorbike ride south to Kasongan Village. Our first stop, the Kenalirangkai Pakai headquarters, where Lintang Radittya crafts "Javanese Modulars".
We chat about Javanese culture and Islam as his little girl curiously runs around. The synth building crew in Java has strong bonds, and seriously unique, intense, inspiring creations. Afterwards, we zip to Andreas and Budi's lab called lifepatch. They screw around with 8-bit synths built out of Nintendo cartridges, tin containers. Indra adds the names of collaborators on these machines, right next to the dials.
Java's crafting of these is a lot more clean lines, less of the insane mutant meat-grinder stuff in Surabaya. They all watch each other, though. Thanks for a rad day, all! Tomorrow : Noise bombing the street.
Belkastrelka. Jogja. Indra Menus pick us up and brings us to the Malioboro area by motorbike. Tonight was a meet-up for Yogyakarta's chapter of Soundcloud users. Oxen Bar. A beautiful out-door patio stage. After a few low-key acoustic acts, Asa Rahmanabrings some heavy Bjork / CocoRosie vibes while her husband Yennu busts on a guitar plugged into a spread of pedals.
A fitting soundtrack to this city. Noise is a concern in this area, like many. You could tell they were turned way, way down. Perhaps we can organize a louder round two upon our return in September. Tomorrow : Electronics labs and synthesizer discussions.
Yogyakarta. Jogja. Whatever you choose to call it, I already like it here. It's the only region in Indonesia headed by a monarchy. Indra Menus meets up with me. He's an archival nerd after my own heart, compiling a backlog of recordings I know all too well.
This is another important hub of noise kids, building synths out of Nintendo's, found and made objects, whatever they can make work. We walk around the central market area, and end at a coffee shop ran by his friend. The amount of dark spaces here that house expertly crafted products amazes me. You just have to know where to look. I finally meet Lintang Radittya, who makes something he calls the "Javanese Modular". Great conversations. Heavy week coming.
Anca Hcs Manimau. In a tour diary last year, 大担 said it best : "This is his life. He has no home, no job, nothing besides his bands, an iPhone and backpack full of tees. When he’s not on tour he stays with friends and screens shirts, but mostly he’s on tour. While hardcore has begun to be more commercialized in Indonesia with big companies looking to sponsor events and booking agents carving out profit margins, Anca stays in the underground, DIY to the end, shows in practice rooms and skateparks, living off merch sales and appreciation for his hard work. Think of a really nice version of GG Allin, that’s Anca."
A few days left in Surabaya, and we head to Yogyakarta to see Indra Menus and crew. After that, Anca will take us around, tour style, on our way to Jakarta.
Batu. East Java. Finally met the infamous Anca Hcs Manimau! He lives on the road. The endless tour. D.I.Y warrior. 2 hours on an intense bus, and a short motorbike ride, leaves you here. Beautiful as hell.
We head to a small cafe. In the back, a small recording, practice, and gig room. You can cram about 10 people in there, and the rest watch from the entrance. Every show here has like a dozen bands on the bill. Hardcore, grindcore, punk. 3 song sets. By the time you get your bearings, it's over. That's insane to me, but it makes sense. Cram in as much as you can, and make for a very communal experience. 3 sets with female vocalists, a nice surprise considering I was told there wouldn't be much of that here.