At a Glimpse: Ambassador Dethu from Bali

by: Felix Dass

This music veteran from the land of gods has some simple inspiration for everyone.

Rudolf Dethu comes from Bali, a place where local music is in the minority from time to time.

Although the island is often noted as the melting pot of cultures, the local music scene is way behind that of other parts of Indonesia, and not many local acts have made their way to national recognition.

Acting as manager and propagandist, in 2003 Dethu led his revolutionary legion, Superman is Dead. With words, he simultaneously promoted the band via the Internet. Slowly but surely, the band’s music was heard and started to gain new fans nationwide.

They earned national success and remain one of the most successful punk rock bands in Indonesia. But Dethu left the band a few years ago.

“The reason I left was because of time constraints,” Dethu said.

Back in those days, Dethu and the band were fighting intensely with physical limitations, something that made them realize they had to work harder to promote their music.

“The distance between Bali and Jakarta was one of the problems, but the main problem is the quality of human resources in Bali,” he giggles.

“We were only guessing about the dos and don’ts in promoting music. There’s no guidelines if you live in Bali. That’s what we did,” Dethu said, recalling the early days of Superman is Dead’s going national.

According to Dethu, Superman is Dead was the first Balinese act that had made its way to national stardom.

Dethu now lays low in his music career. Besides running his rockabilly-glam clothing line, Suicide Glam, he also runs a radio show called “The Block Rockin” Beats.

The radio program is not his first. Since 1998, Dethu has been running various shows at several stations throughout Bali. “The Block Rockin’ Beats” is a bit different to the others in that it only plays music curated by music activists from all over Indonesia. No announcers are involved.

“It’s like a rock-n-roll exhibition. Anyone can make a playlist, but I share info on these playlists on the internet, so people can still learn a little about the music on other people’s playlists,” he said.

Dethu also contributes to the newly formed OneDollarForMusic foundation, aimed to bring music knowledge to a wider community. “We want to bring education about to music to schools, organize music seminars and train hidden talent among young people,” Dethu said.

“I haven’t walked through that side of music. I want to help educate people and empower them,” closes Dethu.

*This article was originally published in Jakarta Post, Sunday issue, March 14, 2010

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