Grrrl Gang Are the New Darlings of Southeast Asian Indie Rock

June 2023’s Best Punk: Finally Something to Live For
June 2023’s Finest Punk: Lastly One thing to Reside For

In case you stroll into the proper barbershop in Jakarta, Indonesia, you may count on to be transported again to the temper of a heaving, sweaty underground membership from any Western metropolis in the Nineteen Nineties. It’s one of the few common spots in the metropolis that performs host to Grrrl Gang, Indonesia’s most enjoyable new band, and crowds can attain into the a whole lot.

Anthems like “Blue Stained Lips” and “Cool Woman,” with their spiky, punk-ish guitars, slacker, disaffected vocals and hooky, insistent melodies, file them someplace between the twinkling pop of The Vaselines and the prickly perspective of Bikini Kill. There will not be an extended historical past of bands like Grrrl Gang in Jakarta, and the alternatives to play hometown gigs could also be restricted, however the band isn’t deterred.

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“It’s variety of laborious to get the allow for reside music right here in Jakarta,” explains Akbar Rumandung, Grrrl Gang’s bassist over Zoom. “So, we regularly play in our pals’ front room, or we play in a espresso store or at one of the native barbershops, the place there may be all the time an opportunity the police will come knocking on the door and shut down the present. However it’s what it’s as a result of there aren’t loads of venues to play right here.”

It’s a glimpse of the actuality of Grrrl Gang’s enterprising rise, which has taken the Jakarta-based trio to the level that they’re releasing their debut album Spunky! by means of Kill Rock Stars on Sept. 22. In opposition to an infrastructure that exhibits little curiosity in supporting them, Grrrl Gang have carved their very own area of interest of their residence nation, with their objective now to show that Indonesian different rock music can rub shoulders with the world’s elite.

The band, accomplished by vocalist Angeeta Sentana and guitarist Edo Alventa, met whereas finding out in Yogyakarta in 2016, relocating to the capital just a few years later. They bonded over a shared love of Sleater-Kinney, Alvvays and Charly Bliss, and began to play reside for pals.

Reveals in Jakarta may be restricted in scale, however the Southeast Asia reside music circuit is in depth. With the assist of merchandise gross sales, Grrrl Gang was quickly in a position to play exhibits internationally – Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines – and the enthusiasm of these crowds catalyzed their early dream pop tendencies into the extra compressed, high-energy zeal that’s heard on Spunky!

The heady enthusiasm of their sound, although, doesn’t conceal the very actual private writing model of Sentana. On “Higher Than Life,” she sings, “I really feel caged in my physique/I’ve been flirting with dying/Simply to see what it has to supply.”

“It feels actually nerve-wracking,” she admits, referring to how a lot of her personal life she has included into the album. “I believe uncovered is the phrase to explain it, these are themes that I’ve personally skilled with my psychological well being. Particularly in Indonesia, the subject of psychological well being remains to be stigmatized, so that’s scary.”

Whether or not it’s in difficult native taboos or supporting their very own group of friends, Grrrl Gang represents the Indonesia of the future that they want for. With little help out there from a authorities degree, the band has taken it upon themselves to arrange excursions for his or her friends, akin to the indie rock trio Sobs from Singapore and the Manila storage band Ourselves the Elves.

Grrrl Gang
Grrrl Gang (Left to proper) Akbar Rumandung, Edo Alventa & Angeeta Sentana. (Credit score: Tiny Studio)

The extra that folks hear Grrrl Gang’s addictive music, the extra prospects will proceed to open up for them. A significant slot at SXSW Sydney is booked for October, forward of their most in depth worldwide tour thus far, with the band setting their eyes on the main phases in Japan, the U.S. and past. If the current world domination of Okay-pop has proven us something about the present state of play, there needn’t be any ceiling to Grrrl Gang’s ambitions. 

“These previous three years, we’ve had this new wave of indie rock and indie pop in Southeast Asia,” says Rumandung. “We’re rising and the scene is far larger than earlier than. We’re all on the identical web page, with the identical pursuits. It’s fairly supportive, and it’s tremendous enjoyable.”

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