They’ve played at SXSW, been acknowledged by western publications from Rolling Stones to Pitchfork, and share the same label as names like The Cardigans, Veruca Salt, and Liz Phair – JUICE thinks it’s safe to say that White Shoes & the Couples Company has the indie credibility that’d surpass other Asian bands from this part of the world. Consisting of power couples Rio & Sari, Ricky & Mela, and Saleh & John (we kid, we kid), the band is informed by all things retro as indie bands are wont to). JUICE caught up with the band and discovered their disregard for modern pop culture, the importance of sticking together regardless of genre, and some recommendations of classic Indonesian music from the ‘60s…
White Shoes is informed by 70s Indonesian flicks and 30s jazz. Why are you guys fixated towards archaic pop culture?
Sari Anything vintage and old, the good ones especially, automatically becomes a classic – they’re long lasting. We like ‘em for their aesthetics and the spirit of it.
What’s so bad about current pop culture though?
Sari Hard to say this, but pop culture today isn’t so good. The golden era is the ’60s and ’70s, which is why we took references from that era. Current Indonesian mainstream music can’t really be differentiated from one another, they sound the same. You can’t tell which song is from which band.
Would you guys say you are not like the typical cookie cutter Indonesian band then?
Sari Well… we’re not the only ones. There are many Indonesian bands that have variety of styles but they can’t come out on the surface of the mainstream. The industry doesn’t want the independent scene to develop, so we stick to our own scene.
You guys received a lot of exposure from Western media. What’s that like? Do you feel pressured to do even better?
Ricky Naw. We do music just for the fun of it, but the way we do our stuff is very serious. We never thought that “oh, we’re exposed to the Western media now, we have to do better!” We do what we like – what we think is good. Which is why it took us almost a year to finish our second album.
The first album was the first to get hyped by Western publications, has Vakansi gotten the same amount of love from them too?
Ricky Actually the album was just released quite recently, the label the album is under is in Taiwan and Japan but in America we’d only release it in maybe December, so we don’t know yet.
Is it intimidating to be on the same label (Minty Fresh) as internationally known acts like Liz Phair, The Cardigans, and Veruca Salt?
Ricky Nah. We never cared about that kind of thing, we’re just happy that White Shoes & The Couples Company are among those other bands under Minty Fresh. They have their own style and uniqueness. Plus The Cardigans sing in English, we sing in Indonesian, Sébastien Schuller sings in French, so you know, each caters to different fanbases.
You guys write in English and Indonesian….
Sari Actually I write mostly in Indonesian, the English parts were aided by my friends. We got additional musicians from the same label to collaborate with us sometimes. Then other times, few songs were written totally without our contribution, these musicians have the songs and we just play ‘em.
Rio The people who help us write the songs are Ade Firza Paloh from Sore and Oomleo from Goodnight Electric.