#14: Yudhistira Agato (Vague, Jirapah, journalist and translator for VICE Indonesia)
Today on the show I'm speaking to Yudhistira Agato, vocalist and guitarist for the band Vague, guitarist for the band Jirapah, music journalist and translator for Vice Indonesia, and one of my oldest friends. I first met Yudhis back in 2007 at a Converge show in Brisbane when he was in Australia studying and we used to hang out at shows all the time. In 2010, he moved back to Jakarta where he started to get involved in the underground music scene, playing in bands and organising shows. In 2016, Yudhis started working as a translator and writer for VICE Indonesia when they opened their Jakarta office. He's since written a lot about experimental and underground music in Indonesia, and he's interviewed Rich Brian, Kamasi Washington, Khruangbin, My Disco, and many others. You can find links to Yudhis's writing in the show notes; not all of it is translated into English, but a good chunk of it is.
Yudhis's main project is a Revolution Summer-inspired post-hardcore band called Vague. He plays guitar and sings in that project and they're quite active in the Jakarta underground scene; they play shows pretty regularly and in the last few years they've been releasing a lot of splits with other underground bands from Southeast Asia. Their newest release is a split with the band Wreck, which is out on HEMA records as a digital release and a 7". They also have splits out with Killeur Calculateur (Kuala Lumpur) and The Kuda (Bogor). All of them are amazing bands and well worth your time. Besides those split releases, Vague has one full-length called Footsteps, which you can find on all the streaming platforms.
Yudhis also plays guitar in the band Jirapah, which is a Jakarta-based project that has played in all kinds of different formats. Their most recent release is an LP called Planetarium, and it's available a pay- what-you-want download from Bandcamp, and it's on all the streaming services as well.
This interview covers quite a lot of ground. We start by talking about Yudhis's projects and move into talking about the differences between VICE Indonesia and VICE in Western countries like Australia or the United States, the politics around choosing what language to use when writing lyrics, the unique relationship Indonesia's underground scene has with corporate sponsorship, and what's new in Jakarta's experimental music scene.
NOTE: A bit of background noise in this one - sorry!
Tracks played: "Menapak" by Jirapah, "Sajak Pucat Pasi" by Vague.
Vague bandcamp: https://vaguejkt.bandcamp.com/
Jirapah bandcamp: https://jirapahmusic.bandcamp.com/
Sajak Pucat Pasi video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4YepfXCpTEI
VICE's Top 20 Indonesian albums of the 2010s (in Bahasa Indonesia): https://www.vice.com/id_id/article/v74mva/lagu-lagu-indonesia-terbaik-satu-dekade-terakhir
Yudhis' VICE Indonesia contributor page (in English): https://www.vice.com/en_asia/contributor/yudhistira-agato
Sonic Vortex Vol. 1 (compilation of South-East Asian noise and experimental music): https://mindblasting.wordpress.com/2020/01/25/sonic-vortex-volume-1/
Pancawala split (Coffee Faith, Dissonant, BRRR., DJ Miko, Anquan): https://mindblasting.wordpress.com/2020/01/01/pancawala-split/
Concrescence Records YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqKkFOv5-FOVTTbl0oojrfw