Grrrl Gang (clockwise: Edo Alventa, Akbar Rumandung, Angeeta Sentana) / photo by Grrrl Gang

Catching up with friends is always fun, especially when you are able to mess around and check up with each other to know that they’re doing great. Yesterday, we had the pleasure to have an online conversation with an indie rock/indie pop trio who is first and foremost our good friend; Grrrl Gang. 

As a band, they never cease to amaze us. Their single, “Honey, Baby”, which was released earlier this year, has made us fall in love over again. Might even say that this song has become one of our favorite songs this year. Their humbling fun persona and the work ethic that they have are also some of the things that make this 5 years old band one of the most talked-about bands that are adored by many people and appreciated in the Indonesian music scene.

Here, 3 amazing artists from Grrrl Gang; vocalist and guitarist Angee, bassist and vocalist Akbar, and last but not least guitarist and vocalist Edo, shares a couple of things that are interesting to watch. We covered everything from smelly feet, the fact that there are few people who believe that they actually go to Texas, USA after watching “Honey, Baby” music video, to how Yogyakarta’s music scene shaped them into who they are today. They also shared a few things for us to self-reflect and introspect in some ways.

I have to start with Grrrl Gang’s Instagram post a couple of days ago; a repost from your TikTok rating the bands you’ve been compared to. What’s up with 2 out of 10 for The Beatles, guys? 

Angee: (laugh) Yeah, because we figured it might be overrated. A lot of people said that our song “Bathroom” is very similar to a certain part in The Beatles’s “Here Comes the Sun” when in fact it’s really not.

Since when have you guys created TikTok and how has it been doing lately?

Angee: It’s been a year or so. I think it’s fun to have another platform to have fun and promote this band in some ways, like TikTok. And it’s been doing good so far, we’ve got a couple of followers here and there. We also noticed that our songs were featured in different types of content. Though mostly our old songs are the ones that have been used.

Yeah, I think that’s one of the platforms that is very suitable for your generation.

Angee: I think so too. There are a lot of interesting contents out there, so I think maybe we could be creating something here as well. 

Akbar: Currently Angee is in charge of taking care of anything social media-related for Grrrl Gang. So, in everything you see on our various social media channels, she’s the person in charge.

As a band, have you guys been working on anything lately?

Akbar: We’re planning to release an EP next year, though we can’t spill too much yet. It’s because we’re still in the workshop phase; sending various snippet songs online, in general still at the very beginning of the process.

After nonstop touring and shows in 2018 – 2019, and all of a sudden having to stop and to be able to do ‘only’ record the single “Honey, Baby” a few times ago. Not to mention the fact of not being able to perform live and having long-awaited events such as the SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas last year being cancelled. How do you cope and how have you been coping with the current situation?

Angee: I think it’s not coping but more towards doing anything we could be doing right now since a lot of activities are restricted. 

Akbar: It’s something that’s non-negotiable. When you think about it, if our previous plans actually happened; SXSW and our European tour, damnably, Edo and I could have not been a corporate worker like I am now. It crossed our minds that we wanted to take care of Grrrl Gang first; events, touring, recordings, then when it’s all according to our expectations, then we would be able to move on and take care of our daily lives. Cause when you think about it, we can really create a living out of this thing we enjoy doing.

Angee: Oh, I miss touring so much.

Do you remember what it feels like to be on tour? What do you miss the most about touring?

Angee: A lot of things. Sharing room and bed with these guys and having to smell unfavored scents from Akbar and Edo’s feet.  (laugh)

Damn, they have smelly feet?

Angee: (laugh) Yes, they do! 

Edo: Yeah, I think Angee and other individuals who help us in everything Grrrl Gang-related are familiar with it.

And what else do you guys miss about touring?

Edo: For me, it’s the excitement you feel the night before you leave. And on D-day, little things such as meeting at a certain time at the airport, organizing things about the trips, and other fun little memories that may not matter as much then. There was a time when we were out on our old tour, we spent a whole month together and we experienced so many memories that I look back on now and miss.

Akbar: I miss moving from one city to another. Today we might be playing in this city, and the very next day we’re off to someplace new; man, that’s fun. Being able to perform in so many different places, meeting new people, and even feeling the tiredness that seems very much worth it for the rush that we got. Experiencing unexpected moments such as witnessing a fight between Angee and our soundman to fight over a lighter. Just random memories like that. (laugh)

Which one of you is the most on-time and the least on-time?

Edo: It’s clear that it’s Akbar who is always on time. 

Akbar: If not on time then what else…

Angee: (laugh) Sorry, guys.

I think it’s also fun knowing the fact that you guys created a band and is able to successfully do so at an age that for me is very suitable and ‘right’. It’s in between your final years in university and is not yet fully occupied by work. 

Akbar: Yeah, that’s why we decided to postpone our graduation in order to tick off more wishlists for our band. (laugh)

So now are you guys working 9 to 5 jobs? 

Akbar: Me and Edo work a 9 to 5 job. I’ve recently joined the office working life and I feel like I suck at work and still need to learn a lot of stuff. I’m a quite competitive person myself, so when I see my coworkers doing pretty well, I have to do better, which I haven’t been doing yet.

Edo: I’ve been working 9 to 5 jobs in the past 2 years.

Angee: While now I’m one step closer to finishing college.

Talking about Damnably, How are your relations this far with them?

Akbar: It’s very interesting to be able to work and be a part of an independent label who could be considered as an internationally scaled label. We were able to learn so many new things, especially as a band since they’re very much supportive of us. Their workflow and work ethics are very clear, professional, and open enough for us to know the things that we should know. Whether it’s about royalty, marketing, and other things that we should be involved in, they take us along every part of the way. That kind of work ethic is very interesting for us, therefore we are more than excited to be able to work with them.

Grrrl Gang discography released by Damnably Records.

“Honey, Baby” sounds really sick. It’s been my favorite song this year, I guess. Do you guys think that this song is the best one yet? 

Angee: Thank you! I think it’s a good song but I personally think that this isn’t our best song since we will still come up with new and upcoming songs that are just as interesting to us.

Akbar: It could be said that this song is considered our benchmark, maybe? This could be a transition for us to explore different music that compared to the previous ones is considered as more simple and straight. 

I think sonically, musical canvas could be wider and many colors can be inserted there. 

Edo: I agree.

Akbar: Could be, since this is the first time we have recorded with the help of a music producer.

How does it feel to record with Pandu Fuzztoni as a producer?

Akbar: He’s been helping a lot, in fact, a lot of his touch was inserted into the songs. I think this is because this is the first time we’ve ever used a producer. It has really been helped by having a producer, though for me I think it really depends on each band’s necessities.

Can I ask what you guys like most about the song? For me personally is the Angee’s vocal part where her voice raises one octave and creates a seamless transition to the outro. The instrumental part in the outro makes the end hit super hard.

Angee: Thank you! I think our songwriting has grown quite a lot, including my personal approach in writing lyrics.

Edo: When you think about it, it’s kinda like everyone’s tends to show it off.. .(laugh)

The mockumentary-style music video is great too! 

Angee: It was mostly Akbar’s idea.

Akbar: (laugh) Actually the joke came from our disappointment that we couldn’t go to SXSW. Instead of being resentful, why not just make fun of it? Incidentally, I like watching mockumentaries, like Trailer Park Boys and so on, and I thought about making a similar concept for the video clip Grrrl Gang. Our friend who is the director, Kome, has also made a mockumentary film before, so that’s about it. When else can you “transform” such an area in Kulonprogo, Yogyakarta Special Region, to be like in Austin, Texas? (laugh)

Plus inviting foreigners to join so that it looks more original

Akbar: (laugh) Yes, at least we tried to be as similar as possible. In fact,  there are still people who watch the video and think that it’s really in America. If you don’t believe me, just try scrolling in the comments column on the Youtube video. It was fun!

That video is interesting because the director is your friend who was your first model in your first-ever music video. And it got me thinking, that in “Honey Baby” you asked a lot of people to collaborate with you. From recording producer, your mini album where you asked other musicians to cover your song, to having an artwork created by Tiny Studio, to Lepas Kendali Lab to create the visuals in your lyric video. Does it come naturally to ask people to collaborate? What’s the process to finally decide who to ask on what project? Do you have a specific standard or do you just go with your guts and think that it’s gonna turn out great? 

Akbar: Wow, this is a great question. Hmmm, I can say that the people we ask to work with are people who are initially already our friends. At the least, we have already crossed paths before. Not just that, but we are up-to-date to the things that they do, and are genuinely interested in their work.

Edo: It’s also an instinct, I guess. (laugh)

Grrrl Gang ‘Honey, Baby’ EP designed by Tiny Studio.

You guys have been together in Grrrl Gang for 5 years. What do you think about that and how is your relationship after 5 years of being in this band?

Akbar: I think it’s nice to have made it this far. Somehow.

Angee: I always think it’s more like a brother-sister relationship here. Me and two older brothers are the ones taking care of me.

Who has more older-brother energy, Akbar or Edo?

Angee: Akbar, definitely. Maybe because he has younger sisters. 

What is Grrrl Gang Nation, actually? And how are they now? How is your relationship with them?

Angee: We haven’t got in contact with them for quite some time. Gerry, we miss you! 

Akbar: Yea, you could say it’s a fanbase made by our friend, his name is Gerry. Grrrl Gang Nation was organized by him until in several cities there were some people who managed it. Before doing this, he deliberately took us to Yogyakarta, to ask permission if he could initiate Grrrl Gang Nation. Some other times, he was also really diligent in watching us, following the cities we visited. He’s a cool dude.

Does that mean that now the three of you have moved from Yogyakarta and are staying in Jakarta? 

Akbar: That’s right, in Jabodetabek. I live in Bintaro. South Tangerang.

As a band formed in Jogja, spent 5 years as a band there, and finally moved to Jakarta, how do you think Jogja’s music scene and its subculture shaped you as a person and as the band itself?

Angee: The Yogya scene helped me to keep my ego in check, honestly. This humbling process spilled over to how I view and approach Grrrl Gang, as well.

Edo: We always have to be humble because when we were in Yogya we were surrounded by great people. What does it mean to be proud if we are really nothing?

What is the common cliche people said about Grrrl Gang?

Angee: There are plenty but I can mention 2 things. It’s  “Grrrl Gang is the Alvvays of Indonesia” and “The name of the band is Grrrl Gang but how come there is only 1 female personnel?”. (laughs)

Recommend us three things to do when we don’t know what else to do.

Edo: Since I’m in my own place now (re: kost), I think I’d recommend diligently cleaning the room. For me, if you don’t know what to do anymore, just clean up the room.

Angee: Meditate and masturbate.

Meditation and masturbation are like 2 different methods to get the similar zen feeling.

Angee: Exactly.

Would you like to recommend us essential songs to listen to?

Angee: “Landslide” from Fleetwood Mac, for sure.

Akbar: I can’t recall, cause there are a lot. But I’d like to tell you that lately, I have been listening to hardcore artists like Zulu and Sunami. I kinda like Sunami because they’re insanely cool and half-silly. 

If you could choose 1 local musician to be another member of Grrrl Gang, who would it be and why?

Angee: Guess there’ll be none. I can’t see anyone else but us being in this band. And I’m happy with it.

Are you ever gonna let your drummer be in the band as the 4th member, not as an additional anymore?

Akbar: I don’t think so. (laugh) But, I mean, it’s for his own good.

Do you guys drink honey every day?

Angee: I don’t.

Edo: Yea I drink honey now and then but not every day. 

Anything to say or advice you’d like to give to people, especially during these times? 

Angee: My advice would be to take it one day at a time and appreciate the little things you have now. It’s easier said than done, but don’t take life for granted. 

Edo: I guess this is the time to contemplate and focus on taking care of yourself. Maybe if everything finally goes back to normal, you might have a lesser time and chance to do it.