“We’re like people who are late to a party,” Imam Wisaya Surataruna, singer/guitarist of melancholia/dream-pop/indie rock five-piece lightcraft, offered an analogy about his band. “Everybody else is already having fun, but we’ve just come, still sweating and everything.”
If you’re wondering what this analogy referred to, Imam was talking about how all-Indonesian lightcraft had to start from scratch when they returned to their home country, after one EP and one debut album in Malaysia. Imam, with guitarist Safarilhaj Febrian Kiaidemak (Fari for short) and keyboardist Enrico Prabowo, were studying in Kuala Lumpur, and decided to form a band in 2006. Bassist Rizky Pratama often provided the bass lines as an additional player for them. Their line-up was completed by a drummer – who was not their current drummer, Yopie Santosa Sasmita.
“I joined them when they’re already back in Jakarta,” Yopie explained, cradling his son Kevin who also came to our interview session with the band. Missing Rizky, lightcraft was sitting facing glasses of jamu, Indonesian traditional herbal drinks, in Suwe Ora Jamu. They looked relaxed, bantering and throwing jokes at each other like the old friends they are.
Where’s the current drummer now?
“Oh, he’s in the UK. What is he doing now there? Working?” Yopie looked at the other members for confirmation, and they nodded.
Returning to Indonesia was not a piece of cake. They’d already had a devoted fanbase in Malaysia, but in Indonesia they had to again try to win people’s hearts, a task not made easier by the so many bands currently active in Jakarta only. In Malaysia, to put it roughly, lightcraft never had to look for a gig to play in. But in Indonesia, they’re like a totally new band again. Well, it is indeed fair to say that they’re a new band to the ‘scene’.
This does not dishearten the band. In 2014, they released their sophomore album Colours of Joy on Jakarta-based demajors. The album of serene beauty showcases the band’s influences: for instance, both Imam and Enrico listed Snow Patrol and Olafur Arnalds as some of their favourites, while Fari mentioned Athlete and Yopie named Bloc Party. Then earlier this year, a mini-album, Love Songs & Lullabies were sent out to the market in the form of cassette tapes.
It’s not only about cassette format being ‘in’ again; the band had wanted to re-release some of the songs which had been included in their debut album. Not only the album had already been sold out, but “the master files are gone,” Fari laughed outloud, infecting his friends with his laughter. So when Jodi Setiawan from Nanaba Records approached them with an offer to release a cassette under his label, they took the chance gladly. They re-recorded three songs from their first album Losing Northern Lights and four songs from Colours of Joy, plus a stand-alone single, Lupa. It’s an old song but has never been officially released, and the band thought it’s apt that they released the song in an attempt to open ways in their home country.
Lupa was an exception in lightcraft’s song catalogue because it’s in Indonesian. Imam, the lyricist of the band, mostly write in English, citing Mark Haddon and his poem collection The Horse and the Sad Girl and the Village under the Sea as one of his influences.
“He wrote 99% of our lyrics,” Yopie helpfully explained.
“What 99%? 100%, you mean!” Imam was quick to refute.
“I said 99% because maybe the 1% is the others correcting your lyrics. Who knows!”
“Yeah, I corrected his writing mistakes and such,” Fari joined in. Again laughter roared around the table.
Not only working on their records and performing in Indonesia, lightcraft has also taken part in festivals in several foreign countries. Of course performing ‘aboard’ is not a new thing for them – they began in Malaysia after all, and for several years they never even took to any Indonesian stage. This year only, they’ve flown to India after being offered to partake in Saarang cultural festival in Chennai, gone half around the world to join Canadian Music Week (and proven that the Earth is round in the process), held a home-coming gig with their old friends in Kuala Lumpur, and represented Indonesia in Music Matters Live in Singapore, where they got the chance to watch Korean acts like Glen Check and Idiotape.
Enrico was delighted to talk about Idiotape. He’s a big fan. And he would get a chance to see them again, because lightcraft would take part in this year’s Zandari Festa along with that favourite act of his. The band was excited to perform in the largest showcase festival in South Korea, and was eager to ask questions about the country to members of RekON crew who’d been to Korea. They’re especially curious about the crowd. Would they warmly receive this band on their very first visit there? But then again, lightcraft trusted that the most important thing about performing aboard is to make new friends, be they organisers or bands from other countries. For instance, they were elated when they could meet and become friends with their old-time favourite In-Flight Safety during Canadian Music Week. (An In-Flight Safety vinyl getting bent on their journey home did not lessen the happiness.)
“It’s all about making friends,” Imam stated firmly.
And Enrico had already learnt useful Korean phrases, which he gladly showed off, from the usual, simple annyeong haseyo to ones that deal with more complicated matters.
Enrico cracked a proud wide smile and practiced, “Neo namja chingu isseo?”
Let’s be friends with lightcraft in Zandari Festa. They will perform on Oct 2 in Freebird, Hongdae, a venue also used for Zandari Festa. On Oct 3, they will perform in Music Performing Crack Hall for Zandari Festa.
Zandari Festa 2015 will be held on October 2nd-4th. Visit their official website for more information.