Fusion Stuff was formed in May 2012 by keyboard player Krishna Siregar.
The band is based in Jakarta, Indonesia and consists of a combination of musicians who have been in the music business for quite some time. Krishna Siregar (Keyboards) and his long time friend Kadek Rihardika (Guitar) as well as the very talented young guns Damez Nababan (Alto Sax), Franky Sadikin (Bass), and the youngest and only female Jeane Phialsa (Drums) make up this talented and creative group of musicians and songwriters.
In this interview spotlight, we speak with members of Fusion Stuff about influences, their newest project, the music scene in Indonesia and much more.
Full Q&A along with links and videos below.
What inspired the idea to form Fusion Stuff? How long have you been playing together?
The idea came at the beginning of 2012 where we realized that one thing is missing from the world of Indonesian Jazz, which is “non-ethnic and no vocal instrumental fusion influenced by instrumental fusion groups from the 80s. Why? Because at that time (and until now), Indonesian (fusion) jazz music scene has already been full filled by some of Indonesian “ethnic” fusion groups (which music mixed between fusion and Indonesian traditional ethnic music and so are the instruments they used), as well as Indonesian pop bands that sounds jazzy, which we may call it jazzy pop, and these groups always feature vocalists as their front liners. So, we thought “Ok we wanna make something that’s no longer exist in Indonesia… “a real (non-ethnical) fusion jazz and “pure instrumental (with no vocal)”.
Finally, in May 11th, 2012 Fusion Stuff for the first time performed with some of its own original compositions in one program of jazz communities in Jakarta. In 2013 we released our first album entitled “The Battle”, contains 9 instrumental songs under label called DeMajors. Until today Fusion Stuff has been playing together for more than 5 years with 5 members who have always been there and never been replaced not even once.
How does each member’s distinct style and influences contribute to the cohesive sound of the group? What influences your style?
Actually we’ve known each other for a quite long time. Each of member in this band also has a traditional jazz basic such as bebop, swing, etc. But our style of playing is more fusion than traditional. So when we came up as a group, we didn’t have difficulties to combine our style of playing. Everyone supports each other as we always do some kinda lil’ workshop every time we’re about to work out for a new composition. And when we do that, everyone in here has equal position that allows each member to state their ideas to get the best result. Beside that, for us the differences that we have will create such a unique style, and color. Nevertheless, this still can not be separated from the influence of some fusion groups from the 80s in a new package and a new sound.
What makes your newest project stand out? Were you all setting out to accomplish anything specific creatively?
Our newest project would be our brand new second album that will be released soon. What makes this stand out? Because in this project everything is different. It’s all much-much better rather than everything in the first album. First, we recorded it in our own studio with very much better acoustic, bigger rooms, much better tools, equipment, and instruments. Second, now everyone in this group wrote songs where in the first album only three of us who have written songs. Third, we have better mixing (mixing by Eko Sulistyo in Jakarta) and mastering (the mastering was in Nashville by Steve Corao at sage studio) for this, that helps us to get much better sound. And last but not least, in this project we did quite a lot preparation on the rehearsal where we spent more time for doing that. So, the answer is yes we were all setting out to accomplish many things.
What challenges do you face as independent musicians in Indonesia?
The biggest challenge for us is to sell our product of course. We live in a country where jazz music is not very popular and it can be categorized as minority. This pushes us to think hard a lot. Questions that always come up to our mind is “what do we do next?”. So, we think of how to compose new songs that more ear catchy for the audience without get rid offing our color and our music identity. We also built a strong management, and create some tactics to promote our band and to sell our product.
Can you briefly describe the music scene in your region of the world?
Region do you mean country? Ok, we live in Indonesia where we have many ethnic music, national music, and also many western music. Just like in many other places, pop music of course is the most popular music in here, no matter if it’s Indonesian or western pop. And apart from pop music, dangdut is also the most popular music in this country. Rock is Ok though it is not as popular as pop and dangdut. But when we talk about jazz, this is the less popular genre of music in here. The people’s knowledge and interpretation about jazz is still very low. This is the most minority kind of music in here. Many people still don’t understand what it is suppose to be. Some of them still think that some pop music that only have a bit of jazz nuance as the real jazz it self. There are many jazz festivals held in almost all areas of this country, but still they miss interpret for this.
How has technology helped you? Are there any challenges you face despite all the good things technology allows us to do?
Technology helps us a lot of course. Now we can do everything faster, get better sound, better quality, and better in many other sectors. Yet, because we play fusion jazz that has a lot of improvisation parts in it, we have to do the recording in live to get the same mood. That means that we’re not allowed to make mistakes while we’re doing the recording. So that’s why, as we said before that we had to do quite a lot of rehearsal before we did the recording. Every time we made mistake, we repeat again just like in the era of analog. We did a bit of editing, but not much. We really want it as natural as possible.
Where is the best place to fin you online and listen to Fusion Stuff’s latest music?
First in our label’s website which is www.demajors.com. In here you can hear teasers of our songs and order the CD if you like the songs. After that, yes you can find us in i-tunes, etc. And if you want to watch some of our performances then you can search in our YouTube channel which is FusionStuffIndonesia.
Anything else you want to add before we sign off?
Now we’re about to release our second album entitled “Playground“. We really hope that our next album can give contribution to the music world especially in the jazz world. And also we hope that what we do is more acceptable by more and more people not only in Indonesia, but worldwide rather than before. Last but not least, we hope that one day we can really go international.