Naif: The Interview

Naif equal retro equal good equal entertaining. They’ve been around since mid 90’s and still going strong today with their new traditionalist’s imagery, heavy on the 70’s side. 2009 saw the release of their last album, The Night at Schouwburg (2009), and this year plan is the underway to get Planet Cinta onto the shelves.

I talked with Jarwo and Emil about their upcoming album, Indonesia’s music today, and their thoughts on lipsyncing.

1. Ok, let’s start with your upcoming album: Planet Cinta. We’ve seen “coming soon 2010” on your website for quite a while now. Do you already have an exact date when it’s going to be released? What took you so long?
Jarwo: No exact date yet.. The album has needed longer to be prepared than we arranged, the music master is done, but things are more complicated than just the master itself, because we decided to do everything ourselves. We need to prepare other things, too; album cover, video clip, marketing schedule etc.
Emil: We’re pretty sure that the album will be released some time this year, haha… We have to finish the artwork, then duplicating, printing and then, since we’re managing ourselves and we’re building our own record label, we have to find a distributor to become our partner. so, its a lot of homework to do…

2. The album is going to be titled “Planet Cinta”, does it mean you are going to focus on love, nothing but love?
Jarwo: It’s all about love, but not all of the songs are “ordinary love songs”. Love is the strongest theme written into the songs and we think it’s ok for us to write a whole album as a love song. In fact, there is a little compromising between our pure idealism with what people like to listen… Just one question, are we prepared for NAIF love songs? Hehe…

3. Will you release the album online or on CD? What are your reasons behind the decision?
Jarwo: First in CD only, next, we never know, could be anything. I’m wondering about it myself… hahaha…
Emil: We will release the album physically and digitally (of course). It’s a common way, we’re thinking of other ways to sell the album, maybe in some other package, but actually we don’t put high expectation on selling the album nowadays. This album is just a ‘statement’ that we’re still producing. It’s a fun thing to do in our lives.

4. And, jumping to another topic, tell us what you think about Indonesian music today. Is it going in a better direction, worse direction, or ahem, no direction at all? Why?
Jarwo: In my opinion, there is no direction in Indonesian music at all. In fact, there shouldn’t be any. Music development should not be directed, let things going wherever it runs. Today’s music (large and commercial) is like 80% directed by listener and by people who want big money from it… For people other than them, there’s still no direction..
Emil: Music is just music. I dont really care about direction. People listen to different kinds of music depending on how they got their education/appreciation, environment/habit, emotional equation, spiritual equation, so, it really is different one from the other. It’s all mixed up beautifully. For example, you’ll get some brainiac who works as a high level executives for an international company who likes to listen to dangdut music or some poor homeless murderer who listens to jazz music. There will be music with a strong character, and then mainstream music (which is very common in all countries in the world).

5. The music industry, local, national, and global, is having a very difficult time right now. Most people believe the biggest problems are piracy and illegal downloads. Of course this will affect your income. Does playing many concerts and selling merchandise help?
Jarwo: We’ve been looking for an income source outside of selling physical music for a  long time. The big useful part of releasing an album is to maintain our existence so people keep coming to our shows, which is where we get our income mostly. I think the music industry will keep on going, but in different new ways, not like before..
Emil: Performing is the best. We already released our live recording album, The Night at Schouwburg, limited edition. That’s a fun thing to do too.

6. Last question, there’s a big debate about lipsyncing. Lots—if not all—of TV music programs in Indonesia are in this format. Are Naif ok doing lipsyncs?
Jarwo: I don’t know about lipsyncing, we’re just doing minus-one. Doing it is having fun… haha… TV is not all about live performance, it’s more about appearance. There are no laws. Being a performer means you have to make the effect to people who watch you however you do it, including ‘act it if it’s real’. If you don’t like it, don’t do it.
Emil: Well, it’s just a technical thing with TV production, It’s ok for me.

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*This interview was originally published on The Beat Bali magazine, May 2010

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