Nowadays in Indonesia there is an interesting and active progressive set up, part of this is due to the person we are going to interview: Andy Julias. He is the boss of the Indonesian Progressive Society (IPS), producer of many bands (Discus, Makara, Vantasma, Imanissimo, Ballerina, Anane, In Memoriam), leader of Makara and a fan of Edwige Fenech.
Hi Andy, let's introduce you to our readers. We know you as the drummer and leader of Makara and as the chairman of the Indonesian Progressive Society (IPS). Did we miss anything?
I'm also a songwriter, both for Makara and other singers. Oh and I'm also a good looking guy, hahahaha, just kidding.
Which other artists did you write for?
Such artists as Niky Astria, Lilo (Kla Project), Gito (Rollies),etc...
Can you tell us how the IPS project started?
The IPS project started when I was a Music Director for a local radio station called M97fm, which mostly plays classic rock music. I also hosted a show on that radio, focusing on progressive rock called ProM97fm. The show's fanbase grew and a lot of the listeners started coming to the radio station just to hang out and talk about music. That's what sparked the idea to establish ourselves as a community. It was January 28th, 2000 when IPS was born... In 2000 and 2001, IPS held the first and second Progressive Festival, and they were very successful. And they were followed by several Prognites, which were a little bit smaller in scale compared to Prog Fest. Since 2001 we always have the Prognites every 3 months and the audience is good. Prog Fest have given birth to some prog band such as: In Memoriam, Imanissimo, Anane, Nerv, Ballerina, Vantasma, etc... IPS started to be a recording division and produced and released several albums (ten albums) including Makara and Discus. IPS works together with some radio stations, and have a special program every Saturday with RPK FM station named “Progressive Weekend” and Friday only once/month, and the name of the show is Prog The Nite with Pro 2 FM. Last but not least, the name of our label is IPS Record.
Before becoming a progressive producer you were a pop music producer, what pushed you to make that change?
Just got tired of the pop scene in Indonesia, and I was looking for what I really love to do.
In Italy progressive fans prefer to buy and listen to bands from the 70s, so I wonder what does it means to be a progressive rock producer in Indonesia nowadays?
The Indonesian Progressive Society started out as a group of people who appreciate progressive music. Basically the listeners here are also more familiar with the older bands, but in my radio show we also tried to introduce the newer and younger progressive bands, starting from the most famous ones such as Dream Theater, Flower Kings, Spock's Beard, etc. This then attracted young listeners who were more into the new progressive scene. We also started to look for young musicians who play progressive and try to support them by producing their music. So this started a little shift in the Indonesian progressive scene, from mainly older listeners and bands, to include a much younger audience and newer bands.
How popular is progressive rock in Indonesia?
Hehehehehe, it's the same old story anywhere. It's not very successful, but we have a pretty established niche market. An album usually sell less than 1000 copies. Discus sales were better... more than 1000 copies sold.
It seems that Indonesia is fond of progressive sounds, also many pop albums include prog arrangement. It's the only Asian country, except Japan, to have a such varied and long lasting progressive scene. What’s linking Indonesian people to Progressive Rock?
I think progressive arrangements in pop albums doesn't only happen in Indonesia. I guess a lot of people are just tired of the mainstream pop music, so they try to make some innovations.and, as far as I know, there's also songs from the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore that are getting more 'prog' in their arrangement. So perhaps it would also be interesting to look at, since they also have some prog bands there although not as much as in Indonesia.
Can you tell us some names?
There's Fuse Boxx (Philippines), that is very interesting. They have already released one album and the band is led by a Abby Clutario (singer, keyboardist and chapman stick player). Zero Sequence from Singapore plays Metal Progressive ŕla Dream Theater and there's a Gothic metal band from Malaysia called Metalasia.
IPS produced band so different one from each other from the ethno prog of Anane to the symphonic of Makara from avant prog of Discus to prog metal of Ballerina and Vantasma. Which criteria does IPS use to decide what to produce?
1st we listen to their music and their characteristics, there's not really a fixed criteria. What's important is that it doesn't fall into mainstream pop, and has some elements of Progressive rock, since what we are trying to do is to introduce a lot of alternatives for the Indonesian progressive music scene.
Which one of the albums you published are you more fond of? Why?
My band of course, hahahaha. No, I'd have to say my favourite is Discus' “Tot Licht”, vecause it was actually my first progressive production.
Discus is surely the most known Indonesian progressive rock band: what about them and their relation with IPS? Is the band still alive?
Let me say that the release of the first album of Discus gave me something to think over...“We can do it....with prog music!” At the times, Iwan Hasan asked my opinion about their album... I told him: "This album will not sell here, so it’s better if you think to sell it to International market". I gave him several names of labels, and finally Mellow Records showed interest in the band… the rest is history.
I’ve been the producer of “Tot Licht”, that was released by IPS and then by Musea for the international market; the album has been another success… They're currently still on hiatus, and we have no further news about future plans.
What will be the next releases for IPS? Is there any upcoming bands?
Yup, there are plans for the release of some new bands (Reversible Circle and Votelroffs) and old bands (Imanissimo).
What kind of prog do they play?
It's hard to say... RC is something influenced by Porcupine Tree, and Votelroffs is a progressive metal band.
There will be some other re-releases of any of the 70's albums as it was for Christmas Camel? I hope there is still some hidden band unknown to western listeners. Are my hopes reasonable?
So far, no. It's a miracle that we found that hidden jewel, so don't get your hopes up. By the way IPS mainly focuses on new artists.
I heard the sad news that one of the leader of Anane passed away, was it? I really love that album, one of my favourites. Is there any hopes for a second album?
Yes it's true, he passed away. Since then, I haven't heard any further news from the rest of the band.
Now let's talk about Andy Julias as musician and leader of Makara. “Laron Laron” was one of the milestones of Indonesian progressive music in the ‘80s. Can you describe us how the Indonesian musical environment was like when the Makara project started?
During that time, the rock scene in Indonesia was actually in a dormant state. The big named bands such as God Bless, SAS, was non active. Giant Step just released a very pop oriented recording. The music scene was dominated by pop music with hints of light jazz such as Fariz RM, Karimata, etc…
Why did Makara wait more than 20 years to release a second album? Do we need to wait that long again for the third one?
It's mostly because the members are busy with their personal priorities; their jobs, raising a family, etc. As for the third one hehehehehe we'll see.... just cross your fingers.
I found some PFM hints in “Laron Laron” album. Is it just a coincidence or was it one of your inspirations?
Yes, PFM was one of the bands that influenced Makara musically, and we realize that there were a lot of PFM elements incorporated in our music, as well as Saga (Canada).
Which other Italian bands are known in Indonesia?
There's a lot of Italian artists known here, such as Banco, The Watch, Acqua Fragile and even Zucchero.
I am very curious about the Lomba Cipta Lagu Remaja, a contest of young songwriters, with the participation of all the best Indonesian musicians like Yockie (God Bless), Chrisye, Nasution (Guruh Gipsy) and Soebardja (Shark Move/Giant Step). I know that you with Makara were excluded by the contest. Is it true that it was "fault" of Keenan Nasution because he thought your piece (“Laron Laron”) didn't have enough climax? What can you tell us about that experience?
“Laron-Laron” was written before the era of Makara, so it was actually mine and Yanuar's (Makara's first bassist). At the time we were really young, and the demo we submitted to that contest was still a really rough one. As far as I remember, in the demo I sang and played the keyboard as well. So maybe at the time Keenan was right, the song was still underdeveloped.
Would you like to suggest 10 Indonesian progressive rock albums to our readers?
Guruh-Gipsy, Barongs Band “Kawin Lari”, Giant Step “Kukuh nan teguh”, Shark Move, Abbhama, Discus “Tot licht”, Imanissimo “Z's Diary”, Christmas Camel, Anane and Makara “Maureen”.
I know that beside music you are also a movies lover and especially you like a lot Italian ones, is it true?
Oh yes, I love very much Italian movies, I like Tornatore most, but I also like Pasolini, Fellini, Leone, etc... During the 70's Italian movies were very popular here. I liked horror movies (Argento), Spaghetti Western with Giuliano Gemma, Mafia movies, Thomas Milian but especially Edwige Fenech and Gloria Guida movies.
Now the last question: do you think of yourself more as a music producer or as a musician?