Merdeka Berekspresi: Indonesia’s Groovy Subculture
By: Shari Semesta
The first duo that popped into my mind when bringing the word 'nostalgia' and 'travel' together would be Shannaz & Daiva. The couple is known trendsetters of Jakarta's colorful underground party scene Suara Disko which brings back a wave of nostalgic Indonesian dance anthems from the 70s and 80s played on vinyl onto the dance floor full of millennials and old-timers alike. So it's only right that our muse for our collaboration with Mote-Mote for 'Window Seat' is this awesome duo that pushes their love for local brands to the absolute limit!
Whenever entering a Suara Disko party or soiree, you can't help to feel elated not to only dance but also to sing along Indonesia's most famous songs from our own electronic music legend such as Fariz RM. Suara Disko, a collaboration of young musicians, artists, and vinyl enthusiasts, has created not only a movement that paved the way for flourishing local musicians, artists, and DJs but also a music ecosystem in the nation.
Daiva initiated Suara Disko's first event in 2015 along with many of his other friends from various creative industries from design, photography, to music simply because of their shared love of the party and Indonesian music. Back then, there were no party scenes that would play Indonesian songs, and his love for them (and parties) wouldn't let that slide.
With countless rejections from bars and clubs telling them that it would be 'cheesy' they eventually succeeded to have their first event at H Gourmet and the results were beyond expectation."It wasn't until our fourth event when we invited Fariz RM that the event itself was actually a hype, up until this particular event it was still very much community-based.”
All of the sudden the dynamic Jakarta party subculture was filled with singalongs and old school Indonesian dance rhythms. “Bars and clubs that used to reject us were suddenly sending us proposals.” Daiva recollected. Along the way the original team got busy and it gets harder to match each other’s hectic schedules so there are nine people today left running Suara Disko parties.
Literally meeting each other on Suara Disko's dancefloor, Shannaz recalled her first experience attending the party where Diskoria (the DJ duo) played and was pleasantly surprised with how many people were there. Fast forward into the future, who would have thought they are able to bring their sweetheart Hiu (their one-year-old baby boy) to an outdoor party they hosted in Melbourne. Although tiring, it was an experience like no other. "I think we lost like 3 kilos in our travels but it was unforgettable, we couldn't have that experience in Jakarta." Daiva uttered.
The most recent project from Suara Disko to date is a collaboration with Indonesia’s sweetheart Dian Sastro for a new single to be sold in vinyl press. The vinyl press started out as fun memorabilia when they were in Melbourne but grows into a much bigger project to help Irama Nusantara, an organization that archived Indonesia’s music from vinyls, cassettes, and CDs from local radio stations. Irama Nusantara was almost forced to shut down because of the severe economic impact of the pandemic.
“We as a community just couldn’t stay still when we hear that they are suffering from the pandemic. What they have done for Indonesia is noble, without them where would future generations look to find Indonesian songs?” - Daiva on Irama Nusantara
The collaboration and vinyl press auction helped tremendously with exposure as Irama Nusantara set up a crowdfunding page to help them survive the pandemic. People outside the community became aware of the issue and that was priceless for organization.
Although the pandemic has cancelled a lot of Suara Disko’s scheduled events this year, Shannaz and Daiva agreed that there are many positive sides to this pandemic. The first thing was that nature was allowed to flourish again, pollution has gone down in the big city, and somehow we are forced to spend quality time with our loved ones at home. Although little Hiu still doesn’t understand what’s going on in the world, both of the new parents get to spend more time with him and that is a blessing in disguise.
The (Nostalgia) of Travelling
“I love everything about travel, even the tiredness you feel when you just landed at Jakarta” - Daiva on travelling
With that in mind, Shannaz and Daiva always travel in style. Their cohesive energy had us at envy when scrolling their Instagram feeds wondering what another adventure awaits this couple. Daiva prepares the itineraries AND gets the window seat while Shannaz is a pro in packing.
Their first trip together was to Osaka where they both watched Radiohead live in concert. They were just in Tokyo in the start of this pandemic and they were going to watch New Order when the concert was delayed because of the pandemic. However, they are still very grateful to safely be back just in time. So, you can say Japan will always have a place in their hearts.
“We travel to create memories because memories are priceless.” - Shannaz on travelling
It’s like a dream come true to bring Suara Disko to Tokyo with their crew in 2018. “When have you ever saw Japanese people, or western people dancing along Indonesian disco music. They don't even understand the language but they danced along!” The event really succeeded their expectations, bringing different communities from students, expats, to fashionistas to dance along Indonesian disco music.
One thing they have always noticed in a Suara Disko event is that the audience is always so diverse. You can’t really pinpoint to a single community. It brought together older generations, younger people, vinyl-heads, fashionistas, and even hijabers. “There are even people that came to our parties with their parents. But we do remember all the people who came.” Daiva remembering the most unique audiences in Suara Disko's parties.
Shannaz & Daiva’s Next Destination:
"New York! To watch The Strokes live in New York, oh how glorious it would be. Especially together with Hiu.”
Suara Disko’s influence on Indonesia’s music scene is tremendous and whether you are a fan of old Indonesian songs or not there will always be undeniable energy that made you belong in Suara Disko’s event. As diverse the people maybe, they are united by a common language, Indonesian, and a more universal language of music and dance. The subculture and its growth is a reflection of Indonesia’s Pancasila norms that highlights the beauty of our differences bound by the same love of our country.
Reflecting back to our relationship (Leo and I), we can’t help to find more similarities than differences to this groovy couple. As Leo put it,
“We are just different species of plants that came from the same genus. Both growing towards the sun at their own terms.”
A quote well said describing how I feel of Indonesian people or humans of the earth in general. What a world it would be if we can actually focus on similarities instead of differences. Until then, I sincerely wish them health and above all and I look forward to a cold beer with these two once all this is over. See you on the dance floor, we promise we’ll be there!