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Cokelat still going strong after icons' departures

Adrio Faresi

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Fri, October 26, 2018  /  09:24 am
Cokelat still going strong after icons' departures

Old and new: The latest Cokelat line up consists of (from left to right) bassist Ronny Febry Nugroho, vocalist Jackline Rossy, drummer Axel Rachmansyah Andaviar and guitarist Edwin Marshal Sjarif. (Courtesy of Bionde)

In 2010, Cokelat lost its iconic vocalist, Kikan Namara, and drummer Ervin Syam Ilyas also resigned not long after. Both members resigned because they could not cope with the band’s busy schedule and artistic differences.

Kikan had been with Cokelat since its inception in 1996 and her banshee-like voice has been the trademark of the band’s singles such as “Karma” and “Bendera” (The Flag) while Ervin joined the band in 1998. Therefore, it is no wonder that many thought the band would find it difficult to go on after the departure of these two long-time members.

Yet recently, two other original members of the band —bassist Ronny Febry Nugroho and guitarist Edwin Marshal Sjarif — showed that they have managed to weather the storm of their former colleague’s departures by recruiting Jackline Rossy to replace Kikan and Axel Rachmansyah Andaviar to take the role of Ervin in Cokelat’s new lineup.

Under the new formation, Cokelat has released a new single titled “Peralihan Hati” (Shifting of the Heart). This is their fourth single release this year and the band plans to continue releasing new singles until the end of 2018 or early 2019. Eventually, the band will compile these new singles for its ninth album release.

The latest single is now available for download on various digital platforms and is a result of the band’s collaboration with music producer Irwan Simanjuntak, which is also a new thing for Cokelat.

Ronny said that before finally working with a producer, Cokelat had always tried to go full indie but after years of doing this, he realized that being an independent musician was a tough thing to do in the long run.

Working with a producer, Ronny added, had also opened his eyes about his own limitations as a musician.

“Around 20 years ago, when we recorded our song, I thought I was good enough with the bass. When I finally worked with a real producer, I realized that I still have a lot to learn. Everything that I’ve just learned is presented in ‘Peralihan Hati’. The lyrics, the instrumentation, the arrangement are mostly new,” Ronny said.

“Peralihan Hati” also features the addition of synthesizer while sticking to Cokelat’s pop rock foundations.

A new voice: Cokelat’s vocalist Jackline performs during the band’s latest single release.A new voice: Cokelat’s vocalist Jackline performs during the band’s latest single release. (Courtesy of Bionde)

Edwin said that Cokelat would still maintain its pop rock vibe but he would not deny that the new formation of the band was also following today’s music trends to accommodate the demands of the current generation as the band seeks to expand its fan base.

The recruitment of 33-year old Jackline and 25-year old Axel, who are a lot younger than Cokelat’s original members, might also help the band’s purpose to remain relevant, although some adjustment may be needed by the old fan base to get used to the new vocals and sound.

Edwin said that he and Ronny decided to continue without Kikan and Ervin because they felt they had a responsibility as musicians to continue to produce music as their form of expression for as long as they could.

“It was not easy but we have to enjoy this journey […] We have a responsibility to our fans, the music industry and ourselves,” Edwin said.

Edwin added that the band would continue to go strong because it still wanted to explore new ideas after 22 years because each of its members believed that making music was a blessing.

“This [making music] is one of the best jobs in the world” Edwin said. 

Meanwhile, Ronny attributed the band’s ability to establish itself as a brand and build networks with other musicians as the main reason for its survival for more than 20 years so far.

Axel, for example, is the son of rock band /Rif guitarist Noviar “Ovy” Rachmansyah and has previously played for Cokelat in the past as an additional drummer.

Axel said that he was glad to finally be able to join Cokelat as an official drummer because by doing this, he believed he had managed to step out of the shadow of his father.

“Finally, I can put my effort into the works of my own band that I love. Not everyone can experience playing your song with a band you idolized since you were young. With this I hope that people start noticing me as Axel Cokelat, not Axel the son of Ovy /Rif or Titi DJ [Indonesian pop diva and Ovy’s ex-wife],” Axel said.

 The writer is an intern at The Jakarta Post.

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