Tika and the Dissidents: The Beauty of No Expectations

She’s not just a singer. She’s an excellent singer—a diva, to be precise.
With that kind of quality, it should’ve been pretty easy for her to get signed by any huge record label (meaning: better exposure, better promotions, better—and bigger—financial backup), but she prefers to go the Do-It-Yourself way a.k.a. minimum wage, maximum work, more headache, less sleep.

Is she happy with what she’s doing?

Q: Tika, as you know, Aksara Records just closed a couple of weeks ago. That’s one of the strongest indie labels to have ever existed in Indonesia and it failed. And you still have this certain faith with D.I.Y.?
A: Yeah, it was quite a sad news, them closing down. I consider Aksara to be the home I was born and raised in, as far as music goes. But one thing for sure, Aksara’s failure has nothing to do with the bands. The bands keep thriving and that’s what matters most to me. If your question is about my faith in the D.I.Y. system, frankly faith is a too strong word. I do what I do because that’s what made sense at the moment. I didn’t wanna wait around for some big label to discover me and slap on an artificial image on my ass. But on the other hand, I am not the type of musician who boasts proudly about being indie, or D.I.Y. either. We had a choice to go ahead and release this album ourselves, start our own label, we’ll see what happen. And that’s what we did.

Q: Any special strategies to survive in the music industry?
A: You know what, none of us knew what we were doing when we started our own label. What we knew is what we wanted. We want to get through to this market. We want to play in these types of gigs. And then we worked hard to make it happen. Some things work and some don’t. But to our surprise, most of them actually worked, and we got unexpected responses. So as far as strategy goes, I think we survived (this time) because we made the call ourselves. We’re the one who knows our music better then anyone else.

Q: What about TV, have you ever considered performing on TV—early in the morning, and doing lip-sync? You agree with this not-really-singing concept?
A: TV… oh boy… I could talk on and on about TV… hahaha… but let’s just answer your question specifically. Lip-syncing is like playing air guitar. It is a joke, is what it is. It shouldn’t be a high rating show, unless people who are watching it knew it’s a joke. But I don’t see anyone in the audience laughing.
Will we lip-sync on morning shows? Yeah, we’ll do it for laughs. We’ll probably switch positions. Me on the drums, my bass player on the mic, my drummer on the bass, and my guitar player would probably look cool playing the harp. Hahaha.

Q:  Now about your albums. February 2006 you released Defrosted Love Songs. And the next one, The Headless Songstress, was in July 2009. Three years between albums, isn’t it a bit too far apart? I bet you’ll lose some fans since they can’t wait that long. Reason? Opinion?
A: You’re right. It’s like starting from scratch again, actually. Add to that the transformation from TIKA to Tika & the Dissidents. But some fans are really loyal and patient. Their constant demand for us to get the album done was our main motivation. We had the song materials since late 2006, but problems after problems kept stalling us. But we finally made it.

Q: Let’s talk general. How do you find the music scene in Indonesia? Progressing? Or, the other way round: regressing?

A: It’s a paradox. On one side you see the lip-syncing, same-hair-cut-it-might-as-well-be-wigs bands with template songs. On the other side, musicians are sick and tired of this monotony, and as a result, it makes them write better. I can’t recall just how many time in this past year I was amazed to hear the stuff people are making. I think we’re climbing up a peak in music creativity in this country, better and stronger then ever before. And we gotta thank those morning music shows for being a great booster.

Q: How’s the response from the local audiences—or/and abroad? How do you see the future with Tika and the Dissidents?
A: It’s amazing. It’s far more then we expected. Before we released this album we were skeptical. Is anyone going to listen to these music? It’s not trendy. It’s not now. It doesn’t even have a genre. But that’s the beauty of no expectations. We are still jumping up and down like little girls everytime we get a great review, make the top chart, or get an award… Of course by we I mean me. The boys don’t jump up and down…hehehe. I do see a future with the Dissidents, I wanna keep making music with Susan, Okky, Iga, Iman. But what that future holds, it’s up to the future.

Q: The simple one but always interesting to find out, who’s your fave music artists?
A: Nina Simone.

Q: Is there any dream that you really wanted, say, doing a collaboration with a Punk Rock band or making a full-orchestra album?
A: My dream collaboration prayers have been answered when I collaborated with Vina Panduwinata last year. It was surreal. It’s hard to top that. But lately I have been daydreaming of a perfect concert. We’ll have an adult choir, a children’s choir, a marching band, a theatrical set, it would be just like Mardi Gras with an Indonesian flair. Of course finding anyone who will fund that kinda concert is the hardest part. But who knows. It could happen.

Q: Anything left unsaid?
A: Too many to mention here. Hahahaha….

Tika and the Dissidents will be the main act—and share stage with Navicula, Amazing in Bed + The Authentics—for the first ever Rock Fest presented by The Beat Jakarta at Hard Rock Cafe Jakarta on February 18, 2010.

*Wawancara antara saya dengan Tika ini pertama kali tayang di majalah The Beat Jakarta, awal Februari 2010

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