New generation of Indonesian rock bands release compilation

Eight of 1,200 bands became finalists of the Rockin' Battle competition.

Each of the finalists, collectively referred as The Mighty Eight, contributed one song to a compilation album produced by Musikimia guitarist Stephan Santoso.

The album, already available on digital platforms like Apple Music and Spotify, was officially launched at Brewerkz Bar in Senayan City mall, Jakarta, on Wednesday.

"The album is a tribute to all rock fans in Indonesia. Each band has different characteristics and different origins too," said Gege Dhirgantara, SuperMusic.ID's general manager, in a press release.

SuperMusic.ID is the organizer of the competition.

The album is a clear-cut attempt at sparking a kind of rebirth in the Indonesian rock music, the scene that, according to Gege, observes a clear distinction between the old and the young.

"In hindsight, there is a disparity between the elders and the newer seeds of rock music. In addition, there is a belief that in this country, there is plenty of new talent. Well, the proof is the audition process [for this competition], which featured [more than] 1,200 bands," Gege said.

In ascending order, the top-three bands were: The metalcore band from Aceh, Killa The Phia; the electronic rock band from Palembang, Meet After the Storm (MA.t.S); and the indie pop/hip-hop band from Jakarta, GHO$$.

The five other bands included in the compilation album are: Yogyakarta's Kasino Brothers; Bekasi's THE GRGTZ; Medan's Equaliz; Bandung's Radioaktif; and Jakarta's Jakarta Blues Factory. As for the "different characteristics," the album features several variations of music, from psychedelic to blues, from pop to hip-hop.

"There are a lot of bands in Indonesia that fly under the radar, familiar only to members of their communities," Stephan said.

Earlier this year, all of the bands except for GHO$$, recorded one song in Aquarius Studio, in Jakarta.

GHO$$, as the winner of the competition's top prize, recorded their song, "CARE.LE$$," in studios such as Studios 301 and Hercules Street Studios, both located in Sydney, Australia.

Stephan explained that the judges picked only eight bands because they prioritized quality over quantity. Different disciplines of rock were taken into consideration by the judges.

"That we chose eight bands comes from the fact that the judges also hail from different musical backgrounds," Stephan said.

The winners will go on tour across cities in Indonesia sometime in the future. Whether they'll always tour together as The Mighty Eight remains to be seen.

"The process comes naturally," Gege said. "Whether the bands will focus on their own music is their own decision."

Aside from chats with Gege, Stephan and members of the bands, the launch featured portions of testimonies from musical figures such as Rekti Yoewono from The S.I.G.I.T., Hermawan "Che" Johan from Cupumanik, Gugun Blues Shelter and more.

Giring Ganesha from the band Nidji also appeared, co-signing GHO$$ as the band with the kind of music that Indonesia has "seldom heard."

To close out the proceedings, GHO$$ - comprised of Diegoshefa Dilanegara (vocals), Fadhi Perdana (guitar), Diego Aditya (guitar) and Dito Adhikari (bass), with the additional Otin Sinambela (drums) - performed four songs, including "CARE.LE$$," "Insane" and "Sad Boys Club."

The performance was ecstatic and the weight of the theatrics was on the shoulders of the blond-haired Diegoshefa, who enthusiastically danced on stage to the roar of their music, with its low-high dynamics, screechy guitars and Diegoshefa's subdued singing and rapping.

"Our genre could be considered new in Indonesia," Diegoshefa said. "After all, one genre is just the expansion of other existing genres."