Interview: Agrikulture

In the past 5 years, Agrikulture has grown from a trio of Producer-DJs to a full-fledged elektronik band (complete with deranged vocalist). They’ve played at festivals around the region with the biggest visiting international acts, released an album and are currently working on their second. With a strong grassroots following and musical far-sight, Agrikulture have come to represent all that is cool about Jakarta. JUICE speaks to core member, DJ Aditya, and finds out what it means to be in a band on one island amongst 17,479 others.

How did you come up with your band name?
The idea for the name came about while listening to ‘(Nothing But) Flowers’ by Talking Heads. There is a part that talks about how “the highways and cars were sacrificed for agriculture”. I suggested the name Agriculture to Anton and he agreed, with the added suggestion of changing the letter “c” to a “k”-this would allow Indonesians to pronounce our name as “Agrikultur” and also allow English speakers to pronounce it as “Agriculture”. Indonesia is, or at least used to be, heavily reliant on farming and agriculture. We feel that this name represents the place from where we came and also a musical character that is natural, organic and down to earth. We also hope that we will continue to evolve and grow as a seed does into a tree.

That’s an interesting story. How long has your band been around?
Since 2003, which is 5 years to the day. We have only been a band for 3 years. At first there were 3 of us (Anton, Aditya, Hogi), Anton and Hogi had to leave the band because of their busy schedule. From the end of 2009 until now, the band members are Irfandy (vocal), Aditya (drums), Dipha (bass, synth bass), Emil (guitar) and one additional member, Ade, on percussions and saxophone.

How did Irfandy come to join the band?
At that time, we did not have a  permanent vocalist; Edo Wallad of The Safari would often perform vocals for us. We often met Fandy at events hosted by Future 10 (our party organiser/record label) and were always interested in doing project  together. Fandy seemed to be involved in many different projects and was tied to 2 bands (Kripik Peudeus and United by Haircuts) and was also a drum n bass MC for Javabass. After partying together a few times and exchanging idea, we decided to make Fandy the official vocalist of our band.

During your performance at last year’s Sunburst KL International Music Festival, Fandy said, “Kami band elektronik terbahaya di dunia!” Is that statement still true?
It’s a fact! Beware… Prepare yourself!

We will! What are some of your influences?
We are inspired by the wide range of music that we collect, whether it be “head music” or “body music”. Other than that, we are often inspired by festivals and gigs that we go. The difference in music tastes of each member of Agrikulture also gives a unique flavour to our music.

What’s the best thing about being in an Indonesian band?
In Indonesia, there are plenty of challenges that spark inspiration, from the wonder of nature to politic disasters that seem to be occurring to no end. These things give character to many Indonesian musicians and their music. Sometimes we feel that the Indonesian crowd is harder to please, so to please them becomes one of the most rewarding things in our work as musicians.

Jakarta is easily the biggest city in South East Asia in terms of population. Do you consider it to be a tastemaker city for the SEA like New York is for America?
Like any other city in South East Asia, Jakarta has its own unique quality. The city never absorbs 100% of any trend, rather there is a kind of mixing, combining certain features with local attitudes resulting in a new form that does not exist anywhere else.

How would you compare Bandung to Jakarta?
Jakarta is hot and Bandung is chilly. Many great bands have come from both places and end up being one of the best bands in Indonesia or even Asia. I cannot say which is better.

You guys have opened for many international acts-The Prodigy, Steve Aoki, etc. Who would you like to open for in the future?
Hmm…LCD Soundsystem can open for our band! Haha!

You’ve been touring around Asia for a while now. Which country has the most vibrant music scene?
So far, we have only played in the cities in South East Asia and we feel that (apart from Indonesia) Thailand and Malaysia have one of the more dynamic music scenes.

How’s the new album going?
The album contains 10 songs, which are very different. It will be released mid-year. This album is a departure from our last album; we have been trying many new things and there should be a few surprises in store! We have collaborated with AraByrd from Malaysia on one song.

Cool! How long did it take you to record it?
We have a home studio that we use to make sketches of songs. For one and a half years we have been working in our home studio, but the actual process involves using a real recording studio, which should be finished in about a month.

What are your favourite Asian bands?
Naif, Sore, The Safari, The SIGIT, Space System and Dub Youth.

Indonesia is a diverse country with so many provinces. What does being Indonesian mean to you?
A human being that has to live on one island amongst 17, 479 others. We are one big family.

If someone comes to Indonesia for the 1st time, what is the 1st spot they should visit?
Adit
Ujung Kulon.
Dipha Ubud.
Emil Bali.
Fandy Monas.

What would you guys be doing now if you weren’t in a band?
Adit
Farmer.
Dipha I would be in a jazz band.
Emil Programmer.
Fandy I’d make a band.

Keep up with your crops at www.myspace.com/agrikulture.