Homegrown & Well Known: ANOM DARSANA

When a stranger gives you a difficult 2-in-1 task: “I need a local guy who understands about international-standard sound recording and is also able to organize sophisticated music concerts,” no need to be panic, just say this name: Anom Darsana.

I guess it’s the result of your never-say-die consistency in the local art and music scene that has made you a household name. Kudos for that. Have you always been into sound engineering?
Music is my life. Since I was a kid I’ve always been surrounded by family who loves music. I was introduced to Pink Floyd, ELP, Supertramp, Bob Dylan, Queen, and lots of other brilliant musicians, when I was still in elementary school. My best friend in high school, Marlowe Bandem, influenced me a lot in shaping my music taste as well. Right after I finished high school I went to Lausanne, Switzerland, to study French. My taste in music became even broader. I started listening to more European-oriented groove and experiencing “real” and “serious” music concerts. After graduated from studying French, turned out it was so difficult to apply my knowledge in Switzerland—I should’ve thought about it before hehe… Why would they need a foreigner to teach them French, anyway? At the time, I wasn’t really interested in going back to Bali. I was in a rock band with friends in Lausanne. I’d built my connections there. So then I studied sound engineering while also working casually in a rental sound system company, television production, and recording studio, getting involved with bands who were doing tours, etc. I finally realized that music, especially sound engineering, is my destiny rather than teaching French.

Why did you decide to move back to Bali? Isn’t living in a first world country more comfortable?
During 13 years living in Switzerland I regularly came to Bali for holidays. Even though I had already built a certain reputation in music recording and live concerts in Switzerland, the more I visited Bali the more I wanted to go back home. I felt an urge to contribute something to my own island with all the knowledge I had. To build a proper recording studio, to initiate a kind of music centre, to share, and eventually I moved back to Bali. My wife came with me, too.

Seemed like moving back to Bali was a right decision. Antida recording studio did well—considered as one of the best on the island—while Serambi Arts Antida became Denpasar’s music mecca, a local artists hangout place. Too bad that Serambi Arts Antida had to close down. Too young to die.
Back when I was still in Switzerland I already had my own recording studio with the same name: Antida. I mostly worked with hiphop artists, including for my own compilation project, Tout un Monde (a collaboration with a well-known Geneve-based rapper, Pouney). So when I opened my first little studio in the front of my house in Kesiman, it didn’t take me long to expand. People showed great appreciation. I kind of already expected this to happen. You can say that I know what I’m doing. I then built a much bigger studio with international-standard equipment. Other than making me almost broke, it took me an 8 exhausting months to create a room with excellent acoustic quality. But it was worth it. Antida reached its fame only a few months after opening the door. Local and international musicians started coming to record their material. As time went by, I started producing talented local artists like Dialog Dini Hari and Nosstress. Serambi Arts Antida, the live concert venue and cafe, followed a bit later after one of my clients invited me to join him building a public music centre. One year on, Serambi Arts Antida had become the centre of (mostly) Denpasar’s artistic scene, as a hangout spot. At least once a month we organized a show which attracted art enthusiasts from all over the place: Kuta, Seminyak, Ubud, and especially Denpasar. We also had an advantage that in Denpasar there was no other proper small-to-medium sized concert venue. Serambi Arts Antida was the only place to go. But all those beautiful stories had to end right when Serambi Arts Antida reach its peak. My partner and I, we could not work together any longer. Our vision regarding what to do with the venue went completely different ways. We both tried our best to keep the joint venture running but were unsuccessful. Serambi Arts Antida had to be closed. I was, and am, totally broken hearted. But separation was the only option left. So there you go.

Whew, R.I.P. Serambi Arts Antida. Will there be a new Serambi Arts Antida?
There will be, oh yes. But not too sure when it can be realized. I’m still working on finding partners or sponsors. But in spirit, Serambi Arts Antida never dies. I still organize shows. Rock oriented, jazz oriented, folk oriented gigs. Everything represents talent and quality. The most recent one was Ubud Jazz Village Festival. The concept, the vision and mission for new Serambi Arts Antida is already very clear in my mind. Just need to find partners with mutual understanding. So it’s just a matter of time. Stick around, people!
One fine evening at Serambi Arts Antida

Speaking of the government, Denpasar does not really have a proper youth and/or community centre. Serambi Arts Antida could have been the perfect alternative. Did the government ever shows support, or do you ever contact them at all?
Well, we did try once to get in touch with them when we did an Earth Day concert back then but there was zero response from them. I guess they have too many enquiries to accommodate. No problem. You know, I am more interested in working together with people who are enthusiastic about our programs. Our supporters have always been our good friends, young entrepreneurs, small enterprises with same/similar visions.

Let’s get personal, name 3 of your all-time favourite albums and why.
The Wall by Pink Floyd. Interesting, imaginative, theatrical, and historical.
Moffou by Salif Keita. Founder of Afro-pop genre.
2001 by Dr. Dre. I’m very inspired by this album. The album that I released in Switzerland was pretty much interpreting Dre’s signature dancey beats in 2001.

Any last nagging words?
Widen your horizon, dig deeper into music, any kind of music. And then create your own music. No need to be proud performing other people’s creations, does not matter how perfect, how precise, it is. You, your own music, your own identity, that’s what it’s all about.

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*Homegrown & Well Known is my biweekly column in The Beat (Bali) mag. Basically it’s an interview via e-mail with Bali’s local big shots. This is the fourteenth edition and was firstly published on The Beat (Bali) #320, Sep 14 – 27, 2012

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