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Jakarta Post

Swing band misses old times of good music

  • Hans David Tampubolon

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, October 31, 2014   /  09:39 am
Swing band misses old times of good music

(Photos courtesy of SRM)

Jakarta-based swing band Leonardo and His Impeccable Six has finally released the CD version of their second album, Built To Race.

There are, however, differences between the CD version and the digital version, which was released in October last year.

'€œWe remastered and remixed all of the songs for the CD version. The hidden song in the digital version is also included on the CD, so the album has 11 songs instead of 10,'€ said Dharmo, the band'€™s piano player and also the album'€™s producer.

Dharmo said Built to Race was more focused on swing than its predecessor.

'€œThe first album was like a supermarket. Everything that Leonardo [Ringo, the vocalist and leader of the band] liked was in there. In the second album, the music is fully focused on swing,'€ Dharmo said.

The second album was independently produced by the band and recorded at Tokove Studio by Risto Rangga. Re-mastering and remixing was done by Aktivano Cristian.

On Built to Race, the band features plenty of guest vocalists, such as Bonita, Tika and Charita Utami from The Trees and The Wild, as well as Bhismo from Kunokini.

The album'€™s title is taken from the name of the album'€™s first song, which was also the digital release'€™s first single. For the CD version, the band chose a track entitled '€œEverybody'€™s Blues'€ as the single.

Leonardo said that '€œEverybody'€™s Blues'€ was inspired by disappointments in current music industry trends.

'€œNowadays, when you like a song, you will find 10 million other people liking and listening to the same song. The same song is played over and over again until it does not become exclusive to you anymore,'€ Leonardo said.

He said that back in his day, when he heard a song that he loved, he would do his best to keep it for himself '€” the song was supposed to be his blues.

'€œBut now, a song can be everybody'€™s blues. So yeah, songs are losing their exclusivity. There are no more songs that stand out like John Lennon'€™s '€˜Imagine'€™, Pearl Jam'€™s '€˜Jeremy'€™ or Nirvana'€™s '€˜Smells Like Teen Spirit'€™,'€ he said.

'€œNow anyone can become a musician and it is very easy to be on television because you can just take part in idol show auditions. Because songs have lost their exclusivity, we no longer see songs that become anthems of a generation. I just do not see any pride in music from today'€™s generation.'€

Leonardo said his band'€™s perspective toward contemporary music was likely shaped by the fact that most of its members, including drummer Christo '€œUta'€ Putra; bassist Susan Agiwinanto; Dharmo; baritone saxophonist Daniel Sukoco; trumpet player Andreas Pardeden; trombonist Wahyu Maliki; and backing vocalist Priscilla Jamail, were in their mid-30s and 40s.

'€œI still remember when I was in junior high school. It was such a struggle just to listen to the tapes of my favorite artists because we had no money and had no internet connection to download songs freely back then,'€ said Dharmo, one of the band'€™s older members, who insists in his heart he remains a 15-year old music enthusiast.

'€œI used to sit around in a cassette store and ask the staff to play just one track and I was very, very happy when I heard the music played. I do not think today'€™s kids experience the same feelings when they hear their favorite song, because there is no struggle attached to it.'€

Uta said that unlike today'€™s kids, the '€˜80s and '€˜90s generations also showed more appreciation toward other artists.

'€œBack then, we really needed to work hard just to get in touch with our favorite artists. We used fan mail and wrote letters to them by hand. When they replied, it was like the best thing in the world. Now, you can just easily mention your favorite artists on Twitter. There is really no effort in it and it makes artists lose their exclusivity,'€ Uta said.

Not all of the band'€™s members grew up in the 1980s and 1990s, however. Priscilla, the band'€™s latest addition, is only 20 years old, but she echoes the sentiments of her fellow band mates.

Growing up under the watchful eye of her tap-dance teaching grandmother and listening to swing, Priscilla said that she may be the youngest band member in terms of age, but was the oldest in terms of soul.

'€œShe listens to the likes of Dean Martin. She starting collecting vinyl even before I did,'€ Dharmo said about Priscilla.

The same longing for old-time music is the thing that keeps the band together and has become their strongest source of chemistry.

'€œI found these guys when I was working on the first album and we instantly gelled. After the first album came out, I decided to make this band formation permanent,'€ Leonardo said.

'€œThese guys are really a blessing for me. With the recent addition of Priscilla, our members have grown to eight and logically a name change was needed. But then again, what is a name, right?'€

Leonardo, who still works as a radio broadcaster, said the band had no plans to become a major player on the Indonesian music scene and would continue to do the thing they did best '€” play swing.

'€œLet'€™s face it, swing music fans in Indonesia are mostly grandpas and grandmas. We cannot penetrate a large market here. What we want is for people to remember our name when they want to hire a swing music band to play in Jakarta.'€

To find out more about the latest album, email [email protected] or follow them at

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