The Jakarta Post
A full set of gamelans. A floor with colorful vintage tiles. A bookshelf filled with hardcover books.
Songstress Leilani Hermiasih, widely known by her stage name Frau, took the audience at the first episode of Plainsong Live Sessions on a tour of her two-story house using a cellphone camera. Before long, she climbed the stairs to the house’s second floor where her keyboard, named Oskar, faithfully sat.
After putting the cellphone on a stand, she started to play three songs she had prepared for the session, “Berdiri Aku” (I'm Standing), “Berita Perjalanan” (News of the Journey), and “Ujian” (Test). These are lesser known songs compared with the other singles from her two albums, Starlit Carousel and Happy Coda.
“The three songs I played for the Plainsong gig had one thing in common: I did not write the words to any of them. The first two were based on poems," she told The Jakarta Post via text message.
"'Berdiri Aku' was written by Teuku Amir Hamzah and was performed for the first time at the opening of the 2011 Bienal Sastra literature event at Salihara. 'Berita Perjalanan' by Sitor Situmorang was commissioned for the poet's 100-day memorial at Teater Kecil in Taman Ismail Marzuki arts and cultural center [in Jakarta]. The third was a song that I rearranged to accompany the Dialita Choir on its album, Dunia Milik Kita [The World is Ours]. I knew Plainsong's 'venue' would be on YouTube so I wanted to broaden Frau's repertoire on this platform,” she said.
To satisfy the thirst for live music amid the pandemic, promoter Plainsong Live created a series of recorded live performances titled Plainsong Live Sessions, available on its YouTube channel. With the first episode on Aug. 8, the last of the series will be broadcast on Sept. 19. Every episode is 45 minutes long and showcases three artists, all directed and shot by filmmaker Anggun Priambodo.
The series expects to present live sessions that are more relevant, intimate and warm rather than conventionally formal.
“We hope the musicians can express their special characters more comfortably and freely,” program director Ferry Dermawan said in a press release.
Lani indeed looked very much at home during the session. In between songs, she showed a full view of an old mango tree growing in her front yard.
“We grew up with this mango tree and the taste of its fruit taste grew on our tongues […] A close friend of our family said that this mango tree is pre-GMO [genetically modified organism],” she told the Post.
However, Lani admitted she was still adapting to performing in a pre-recorded concert.
“Virtual concerts still feel strange to me. Before the pandemic broke, Frau always preferred to perform in smaller venues, where I could see the audience members' eyes while I sang the lyrics,” she said. “Online gigs [put a] distance [between] performer and audience, although physically we might seem 'closer' on smartphones in their clutches.”
Ican Harem from electronic duo Gabber Modus Operandi also said that playing music for a virtual concert made him feel “excited but confused”.
“Finally, I felt what it's like to be the ‘dancing guy’ at televised music events,” he told the Post via text message.
Gabber Modus Operandi filmed its performance at a do-it-yourself printing studio, named Studio Realino Taikebo, in Bali. He said they chose the place as piles of printing frames and materials in the studio made a great background for the performance.
“It displays a strong punk culture, which fits perfectly with Gabber’s music: raw, noisy and fast,” he said.
Alongside Frau and Gabber Modus Operandi, popular Indonesian acts such as Efek Rumah Kaca, White Shoes and the Couples Company, Dialog Dini Hari and Grrrl Gang joined the project in the first and second episodes.
The third episode of the series will premiere on Sept. 5 at 8 p.m. with performances by Jamie Aditya, Scaller and Mocca. The fourth episode will present Hindia, Diskoria and Mooner. (wng)