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Voice of Baceprot on becoming Glastonbury’s first Indonesian band

June 4th, 2024

This month, Voice of Baceprot will play Glastonbury – making them the first Indonesian band to play the festival in its history. NME caught up with the metal band to talk about the career milestone, their decision to go independent, and more in the interview below.

On Glasto’s Friday morning (June 28) VOB will kick things off at Woodsies, the area Glastonbury inaugurated last year following a rebrand of its iconic John Peel stage. The band will warm Woodsies’ main stage for the likes of Jamie xx, Kim Gordon, James Blake, Kneecap and more.

This will make the trio of Firda ‘Marsya’ Kurnia (guitar/vocals), Euis Siti ‘Sitti’ Aisyah (drums) and Widi Rahmawati (bass) the first Indonesian act to perform at Glastonbury – a landmark event in their 10-year career.

2023 was already plenty busy for VOB: they released their debut album ‘Retas’ to acclaim, embarked on their first US tour and became Cover stars on NME. So it came as a surprise to some when the trio decided to leave their label and go independent. “Perhaps it’s time for us to learn to do things by ourselves,” guitarist and vocalist Marsya told NME. After a few years living in the country’s massive capital, Jakarta, the band also moved back to their hometown of Garut in West Java – where they’re currently building their own studio.

It seems that VOB are trying to get back to their roots, where everything started for them. The band say the new songs they’re writing are reminiscent of the material from their days in school, and readily admit to NME that they haven’t performed live enough in their own country. “We want to tour Indonesia and go to places we haven’t been,” Marsya said. And yet the big offers keep coming from abroad, and though it felt “a little too fast”, Glastonbury was one they couldn’t turn down.

A few weeks before their trip to the UK, NME caught up with Marsya and Sitti to talk about representing Indonesia at Glastonbury, writing “raw” new material, and why they still can’t please folks from their hometown.

Hello, Voice of Baceprot. You were on The Cover of NME last year. What was that experience like for you?

Firda ‘Marsya’ Kurnia: “It was fun. We were happy that we got a cool photographer [laughs]. Things just kinda flowed. We were asked just to be ourselves.”

Euis Siti ‘Sitti’ Aisyah: “We didn’t get asked to do anything strange.”

Marsya: “We knew that NME was big but when the article dropped, we didn’t expect such a huge reverberation. It was massive, many people shared it.”

When we talked last year, you were about to do a US tour. How was that?

Marsya: “When we finished the US tour, it was a relief because it felt like a burden. It was our first time there and we had no idea what it was going to be like. Before we went, many said ‘it’s hard for musicians to play in the US’, ‘it’s hard for the audience there to appreciate artists, especially foreign ones’, ‘especially since you all dress like you do’.

“So, we were worried about not getting anyone to see us, being ignored by the audience. But when we got there, from the very first stage until the last, no show was vacant. Everyone was excited and we really appreciated that.”

“I’m grateful that we’ve survived a decade with the same formation” – Sitti

As hijab-wearing women, were you scared of encountering people in the US who did not welcome what you represent?

Marsya: “Very much so. People there warned us not to go out by ourselves, to always go as a crowd. So, we would always be in the middle of a pack, surrounded by our team for fear of unwanted things happening. Before we played on stage, there would always someone shouting ‘Allahu akbar’ or ‘boom boom’.” [laughs]

That’s fucked up. On a different note – you are playing Glastonbury soon and the media has really hyped up the fact that you are the first Indonesian act to do so. How do you feel about it? Like the US tour, do you feel the pressure?

Marsya: “There’s a bit of a moral burden since we have been hyped as the first Indonesian act to play there and we will also play one of its biggest stages. So, people have their expectations. When the flyer went up, there were also [positive and negative responses], since we had just left our old management to go independent. People were saying, ‘You sure it’s gonna be as good as it was before?’”

As in: will VOB’s performance be as good without the help of their old label or management?

Marsya and Sitti: “Yes.”

Marsya: “They were saying since we’re indie now, there must be many limitations.”

Credit: Saska Paloma Gladina for NME

As musicians, how do you feel about playing a prestigious festival such as Glastonbury?

Marsya: “We’re so proud and happy, but to be honest, Glastonbury never made our list. We thought it was so out of reach that we should take things step by step. Don’t shoot for Glastonbury right away.”

Sitti: “But I guess God had different plans.”

Marsya: “It turns out we got a shortcut and that’s where we’re heading. So there’s a bit of: ‘Are we ready for this?’ ‘Do we deserve it?’”

Sitti: “Usually we get nervous a few days before the show, but now, it’s still like a month away and we’re already nervous.”

Back to the label thing. Why did you decide to go independent?

Marsya: “Firstly, our contract expired. Secondly, we decided not to renew it and thought perhaps it was time for us to go independent, to learn to do things by ourselves. To be honest, part of the agreement was that we had to live in Jakarta and we didn’t feel comfortable living there.”

What’s it like being independent now? What’s the good and the bad?

Marsya: “There’s a lot of bad [laughs]. We take care of everything ourselves now, from managing show offers, commercial deals…”

Sitti: “Merchandise, band practices, writing songs. Plus, we’re currently building a studio in Garut, so we’re definitely busier.” [laughs]

Will you entertain offers from labels if the terms match your requirements?

Marsya: “I think we’re not interested in being under a label, but working together as an equal partner.”

Your debut album ‘Retas’ had a lot of old songs. Have you written new stuff since then?

Marsya: “We have. We’re working on new songs.”

What’s the direction of these new songs?

Marsya: “It’s like we’re going back to our school days, musically. It’s more raw. And lyrically it’s not too to the point.”

“We’re not interested in being under a label, but working together as an equal partner” – Marsya

2024 marks ten years of VOB. How do you feel about the band’s journey so far?

Sitti: “I’m grateful that we’ve survived a decade with the same formation.”

Marsya: “There were moments when we thought things happened too fast. In our seventh or eighth year as a band, we already got to play Europe, Wacken [Open Air], and then the US.”

Sitti: “[We thought:] ‘Isn’t this too fast?’”

Marsya: “We haven’t even played a lot of Indonesia yet.” [laughs]

So is Glastonbury happening too quickly as well?

Marsya and Sitti: “Yes!” [laughs]

Sitti: “But it’s too good to pass up!”

You feel like you don’t play Indonesia enough?

Marsya: “Yes. In 2023, people were asking, ‘What’s in store for us in 2024?’ We said we wanted to tour Indonesia and visit places we haven’t been. Some responded, ‘Your popularity is going down, hey? No more offers from abroad?’ But we actually wanted to play Indonesia first. But for some reason our fortune comes from abroad.” [laughs]

I’m sure it’s not due to lack of offers that you haven’t played Indonesia much.

Marsya: “We’ve gotten some offers, but we haven’t received one that we feel is a good fit for us.”

Last year, we talked about how your friends and family reacted to your success. Now that you’ve been on NME’s Cover, toured the US and are about to play Glastonbury, has anything changed?

Marsya: “More and more people think we have more money than we actually do. ‘Now that you live in kampung [village], please buy a large vehicle, get a bus to travel to other cities. So when you’re performing, you don’t have to rent this and that. Now that you have a lot of money, why save?’”

Sitti: “It seems like people are upset that we’re living modestly. ‘Why would you live modestly when you have money?’” [laughs]

Voice of Baceprot play the Woodsies stage at Glastonbury Festival on June 28. Before that, they play The Dome in London on June 26. See full dates and details at their official site

This content was originally sourced and posted at NME »
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