This project brought No Bounds Festival and Yes No Wave Music into a wonderfully close working relationship over many months over lockdown. We both learned a great deal about each others methodology, cultural backgrounds and structure. It was a huge success for us all.
I really learned such a lot about the Indonesian take on the west in particular. The project itself actually became an exploration of the central themes emergent in our initial webinars and chats over zoom.
These themes were decolonisation, decentralisation of music, the global south, and non western approaches to art and how this creates culture. For me a major revelation was the importance of the 1955 Bandung Conference, something I really never heard about but something clearly very important for Asian-African often newly independent nations.
There were many issues we faced due to COVID-19. We couldn't travel so we held our meetings over zoom and also created work remotely which was shared and edited offline. We had regular meetings and kept in touch through the project period to keep it moving with a final double output of an online talk and an AV 'mixtape" showcasing work created.These were both really well attended and have gone on to gather more international audience views daily. We all had lots going on, I had a new child, Ican had his first child during the project, Nkisi had to move country a couple of times, it was a serious challenge at times but we maintained focus and created a brilliant piece of work that reflects the incredible dedication and skill from the practice of Gabber Modus Operandi and Nkisi in particular.
We had a lot of fun doing this, many laughs as well as many intense moments, as is the best way with creative projects. Through it all the sense of humour mixed with intellectual rigour gave the project it's unique character. A playfulness with the conceptual framework that to me made it extremely enticing and accessible to people of all ages, children to adults. One of the greatest moments for me was when we were first exploring the possibilities and we constructed the story we built the project around. It was so much fun but made many very valid points.
The natural Afro-Asian exploration between Nkisi and Gabber Modus Operandi was the launching point that led us to Totemon! The way the Bandung conference led us into talking about decolonisation, then Nkisi's and how they were captured and held in the British Museum and other colonial museums, and how these Totems had Indonesian parallels was such a great ride.
It led us ultimately to thinking of Totemon, and combining these ideas with Pokemon so that the work that could be explored and uncovered in a fun way. With no central authority, consumed for free and accessed by all ages.
Wok The Rock's favourite moment, which illustrates this perfectly was when, in the Online Public Talk we spoke of the trance tradition in Indonesia where people can transform into a tiger or other mamalian animals. One of the audience asks if it is possible for Europeans to transform into a plant as there are no tigers in Europe at which point Ican from Gabber Modus Operandi said he "might become a dancing plant".
We are all looking forward to releasing this music as a free download on Yes No Wave Music and showcasing it fully at No Bounds Festival 2021 as an AR piece and as a performance on the 3D Soundsystem, Huddersfield University's HISS. Gabber Modus Operandi are about to collaborate with a major international artist and follow with a UK tour in 2022 involving meeting new creatives and No Bounds is looking towards new collaborations with Asian collectives which are currently in the making.
Finding a collaborator happened organically as Derek from Nyege Nyege introduced No Bounds to Yes No Wave. We work with Nyege Nyege and it was a simple introduction.Very easy, very natural and aligned.
Running a digital project like this required a lot of meeting planning and managing time zones. It was challenging at times due to everyone's commitments but we overcame all the hurdles and arrived at an amazing result. It also required people to trust in each others work as they continued to develop ideas offline. This process was again quite natural. Myself and Wok brought together artists ( Gabber Modus Operandi and Nkisi) who we felt would synergistically work and this was indeed the case. They shared many artistic viewpoints and where their ideas differed they were complimentary in their difference so it all went well.
Get to know the collaborators!
Liam is a multi disciplinary artist who began life in rock bands in the 90's and is now a dj, producer, creative director of Sheffield warehouse venue 'Hope Works' plus festival director for South Yorkshire's award winning 'No Bounds Festival'-experimental music, art, technology. The last 10 years have seen him performing from Club Air Tokyo to Berghain/Panoramabar as an artist. In his capacity as a curator/director he is increasingly working on international projects which seek to make links with northern experimental artists and those from different cultures. A firm believer in community and creating opportunity for local talent.
Wok The Rock is an artist active across the fields of contemporary art, design and music. He is a member of artist collective Ruang MES 56 in Yogyakarta, runs the music label Yes No Wave Music and initiated the Indonesian Netlabel Union. He was the curator of Biennale Jogja XIII in 2015 and currently co-curate Nusasonic -- a multi-year Europe-Southeast Asia experimental music festival.
Meshing hard techno and gabber beats with pan-African drum rhythms and pairing IDM electronics with juke house, Nkisi is a truly unique talent defying genre classification. We catch up with the London-based, Congolese-Belgian DJ, producer and activist to discuss her forthcoming album on Lee Gamble's UIQ, her collective, NON Worldwide, and the influence of African cosmology on her work...
Gabber Modus Operandi is an Indonesian project expanding the sound of gabber music with elements taken from both the local pop music genre of dangdut koplo and traditional jathilan trance rituals. Gabber Modus Operandi combines fenetic music with equally intense performance, with DJ Kasimyn keeping the tempo around 200 bpm and Ican Harem screaming and thrashing, part rapper, part grindcore vocalist. All with a healthy dose of dark humour.