Several years may have passed since Indonesia’s favourite eclectic collective, White Shoes & The Couples Company, recorded any new material but boy has it been worth the wait.
This time around, the band who confesses to be heavily under the influence of Indonesian movie soundtracks from the 1970’s, inspired by the acoustic spirit of jazz musicians from the thirties, self-updated by the addition of classic string arrangements, retro disco beats, easy listening ballads, and some tunes from vintage keyboard toys, have selected themselves five Indonesian folk songs and improvised accordingly.
Produced and distributed under demajors record, White Shoes & The Couples Company Menyanyikan Lagu2 Daerah, is a retro-modern EP recorded live at Indonesia’s oldest recording studio, the legendary Lokananta, in Solo, Central Java. According to WSATCC, reinterpreting classic folk tunes was their way of paying tribute to the heyday of Indonesian pop music and also to Lokananta, which was, at the time, the backbone of the Indonesian music scene. “This collection of recorded songs is like a journal that chronicles our experiences in reviving the sparkle of the golden era in the Indonesian pop music yesteryear,” the Jakartan sextet explain.
The chosen few include a classic Malay nursery rhyme, “Tam Tam Buku”, reinterpreted in Jakarta’s Betawi dialect, the traditional Balinese “Jangi Janger”, a Sundanese tune called “Tjangkurileung” which was once sung by the fabulous Mang Koko Koswara, plus “Lembe-Lembe” and “Te O Rendang O” which hail from the Maluku Islands, the first was once made popular by Broery & The Pros and the latter having previously been refined by Mr Max Lesiangi.
Only 1000 copies have been made, each piece having been stamped with a number from 0001 to 1000, making this album a limited production collectable. Oh, and if that wasn’t enough to make you go out and grab a copy all for yourself you might also like to know that both David Tarigan and Aradea Barandana have had a hand in the album’s production, Anggun Priambodo and Poppie Airil did the artwork, Keke Tumbuan did the photography, and Aprilia Apsari, the band’s singer, did all the illustration.
WSATCC were born in 2002 out of a romance between Aprilia Apsari (vocal) and Yusmario Farabi (acoustic guitar) when they were in attendance at Jakarta Art Institute (IKJ) together. Then, of course, the pair set about recruiting their school mates, Saleh Husein (electric guitar), Ricky Surya Virgana (contra bass, cello), Aprimela Prawidyanti (piano, keyboard, viola) and John Navid (drums). In 2005 their self-titled debut album was released, attracting the attention of a swagger of indie new-traditionalists thanks to their next-to-genuine vintage music and profile. The following year the group were honoured by Allmusic as one of the 25 Most Crushworthy Bands of 2006. The same year Rolling Stone awarded them for being one of the 25 Best Bands on Myspace, and Yahoo! Music hailed them as “the most blog worthy band on the planet”. In 2007 the band was signed by Minty Fresh, a label known for launching the careers of Veruca Salt. Are you out of breath yet? No? Well, in 2008 they started gigging overseas and went to Austin, Texas, to perform at SXSW, and then they jetted off to New York for CMJ Music Festival, continued on to MIDEM in Cannes, Clockenflap in Hongkong, and then earlier this year, they found themselves performing at Saarang, in Chennai.
By the time this article goes to print, there may not be any albums left for you, but here’s hoping. Quick, check their website www.whiteshoesandthecouplescompany.org
• This article was firstly published on The Beat (Jakarta) #86, June 2013
• Co-editor: Lauren Shipman
• Photography: Keke Tumbuan
• Have a listen to their exotic first single: https://soundcloud.com/wsatcc/tam-tam-buku-1st-single
• Watch also their tv concert, performing “Tjangkurileung” and “Te O Rendang O”