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Jakarta Post
The Jakarta Post
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In Tune: Krakatau Reunion The Legend Lives On

  • Tertiani ZB Simanjuntak

    The Jakarta Post

| Sat, May 14 2016 | 11:11 am
In Tune: Krakatau Reunion The Legend Lives On (Courtesy of Benny Benke)" border="0" height="261" width="510">(Courtesy of Benny Benke)

Few surviving bands are comprised of accomplished musicians as personnel. Fusion jazz band Krakatau is one of the exceptions.

Since its establishment in 1985, the band has never disbanded despite lulls in activity.

Just like its name, a nod to the world’s most sensational volcano, the band has evolved through time and made its reputation in the international realm while awaiting the right time to “re-erupt”.

It has also gone through several name changes over the years; the most recent, Krakatau Reunion, is the name the personnel chose to describe the long history of camaraderie forged during its heyday from 1986 to 1990.

The living legends are Dwiki Dharmawan and Indra Lesmana on piano and keyboard, bassist Pra Budidharma, guitarist Donny Suhendra, drummer Gilang Ramadhan and vocalist Trie Utami.

As each of the personnel has also gone on to establish their own career in music and music education, getting together was a difficult task until the “Remembering Krakatau” music event in Bandung in January 2012, in which five of them, minus Indra Lesmana, shared the stage.

All six finally met in a cafe in Bintaro, South Jakarta, the following year. They decided to reunite with their former sound engineer Donny Hardono as producer under DSS Production.

“He knows us best and he contributed to the Krakatau soundscape,” said Trie of Donny, who brought them to perform at the Java Jazz Festival in 2014.

“The crowd was crazy,” said Dwiki of the fans, known as Keluarga Krakatau, who cheered them as soon as the curtains went up at the festival.

“None of us expected the high enthusiasm but it strengthened our determination to enrich their music experience.”

They have also toured Bandung, Bali, Batam, Surabaya, Yogyakarta, Palu and Medan — most recently they were scheduled to perform on May 13 at JazzPhoria — while preparing a new album of 11 new tracks to be released later this year to end the 25-year break.

“The spirit of Krakatau always lies in its collaborative work. We worked together in the studio, everyone contributed to the song arrangement,” said Dwiki.

“It was a tough task due to different schedules and domiciles. But as we played together, it was worth all the trouble.”
(Tribunnews/Jeprima)(Tribunnews/Jeprima)
Starting Out


Dwiki, the “engine” of the band who divides his time between Vienna, London and Jakarta, said that in 1993 Pra, Trie and he experimented with ethnic sound in collaboration with Sundanese traditional music artists during a vacuum in its activities.

The cross-culture concept led to the founding of Krakatau Ethno, the name it used to distinguish it from Finnish jazz-rock band Krakatau when it played at international festivals and concert venues that included the North Sea Jazz Festival and the Lincoln Center of Performing Arts.

“We had met the other band a few times and each time quarreled over the name. They asked us to change the name, but I said Krakatau belongs to Indonesia,” Dwiki recalled.

“In 2004, we were scheduled to perform at the Jazz at Lincoln Center and two personnel of that band approached us on stage and said: ‘Congratulations, now you can keep using the name because we decided to dismiss the band’.

“Krakatau Ethno still exists and every year we hold a world tour. We use Krakatau Reunion as the name as it refers to the full formation of Krakatau.”

The band, first called Messopotamia in 1984, was formed by Pra, who had just returned from studying in the US; Dwiki, the talented keyboardist who was known as part of the Bandung-based Elfa Secioria community; and Donny, who played in several bands that were famous in Bandung, including DKSB Harry Roesli and BOM.

Budhy Haryono, the drummer of rock group JAM, joined later.

It became Krakatau in early 1985, the year the quartet took part in the prestigious Yamaha Light Music Contest. It won first place and the Best Instrumentalist awards for guitar, bass and keyboard.

The band represented Indonesia during the international round in Japan. Dwiki was honored as the best keyboardist. It returned home famous and started to perform in various music events with additional vocalists that included Ruth Sahanaya, Harry Mukti, Kemala Ayu, Minel and Titi DJ.

In 1986, Budhy left the band and was replaced by Gilang Ramadhan, who had just returned from the US. Gilang’s best friend Indra Lesmana, a talented jazz pianist and the son of Indonesian jazz maestro Jack Lesmana, subsequently joined.

As the band began to record its first album, Dwiki recruited Trie, the younger sister of his composer friend Purwacaraka.

A high school student and a radio DJ in Bandung, she had just won Best Vocalist at Yamaha Light Music Contest in 1986.

In five years, Krakatau released four albums and a single, which all became hits. Krakatau First Album, with its most popular track “Gemilang”, sold 800,000 copies on its release in 1987.

The following year, the band achieved more success with Krakatau Second Album that contained the hit song “La Samba Primadonna”.

Mini album Top Hits Single was released in 1989, followed by fourth album Kembali Satu. Title track “Kembali Satu” and monumental hit “Kau Datang” jacked up sales to over 2 million copies.

LONGTIME COLLABORATORS: Donny Suhendra., Indra Lesmana, Trie Utama, Dwiki Dharmawan, Pra Budidharma and Gilang Ramadhan have taken up different musical activities over the years but never lost their long-held ties. (Courtesy of Benny Benke)

PREMIUM (Courtesy of Benny Benke)Few surviving bands are comprised of accomplished musicians as personnel. Fusion jazz band Krakatau is one of the exceptions.

Since its establishment in 1985, the band has never disbanded despite lulls in activity.

Just like its name, a nod to the world’s most sensational volcano, the band has evolved through time and made its reputation in the internation...

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