Rani Jambak | Experimental Sumatra

Entrevue réalisée par Laurent Bellemare

renseignements supplémentaires

Rani Jambak is a composer, producer and vocalist based in Medan, North Sumatra (Indonesia). She began her performance career by working on the Goethe Institute’s Sound of X project and launching Medan Soundspectives, a festival celebrating the acoustic diversity of her home city. Jambak is a dedicated environmentalist who produces music to raise awareness on environmental issues through a music-ecological campaign entitled #FORMYNATURE. Her new project #FUTUREANCESTOR is inspired by her Minangkabau ethnic identity and uses sound to explore connections between traditional knowledge and nature. For her purposes, she built a unique invented instrument called the Kincia Aia, inspired by the traditional west sumatran water wheels. 

This October, Rani Jambak will be touring Canada alongside electronic duo Gabber Modus Operandi and DJ Wok the Rock, showcasing some of Indonesia’s best experimental music of the hour. All the artists have released music through Yogyakarta-based label YesNoWave, a force in the javanese underground. The artists’ October 15 stop in Montreal will be a rare occasion to hear new music from maritime Southeast Asia in this part of the world. We took the opportunity to ask a few questions to Jambak in preparation for the event. 

Pan M 360 : Can you describe your sound and artistic approach to Canadian audiences who may never have heard of your music?

Rani Jambak : My music is a mixture of nature and city soundscapes, including animals and traditional instruments of Sumatra, Indonesia. Those sounds are part of my personal journey on finding ancestral roots as Minangkabau (ethnicity in West Sumatra) living in Medan (North Sumatra). In 2019 I started a field recording journey and found a way to learn my history and culture through sounds. One of Minangkabau philosophy, “Alam takambang jadi guru” (nature is our teacher), is a big theme of my music. So I will talk about environmental problems and how nature, humans and ancestors are connected to each other. I call it #futureancestor , as how I see the connection of humans from the past and future.

Pan M 360 : What are the artforms or music traditions that influence you as an artist?

Rani Jambak : I got influenced by many traditions and musical culture from my own roots as Minangkabau and the place where I was born, Medan. Medan is a unique city as it has 8 original ethnicities and it makes Medan very rich in sound diversity. For the last 3 years, Minangkabau philosophy and ancestral knowledge has been my main focus to re-interpret in musical form. Starting from learning the culture and history through sounds, to creating instruments from water wheels named “Kincia Aia”, then understanding history through “Tambo Alam Minangkabau”, a manuscript about the origin of Minangkabau from the early 19th century.

Pan M 360 : Those who are not familiar with the Javanese music scene may not know, but there is a strong community around experimental music in Java and Indonesia in general. What role do you feel that you play in this community? 

Jani Jambak : Women in the electronic experimental scene in Indonesia are still very rare. So I hope my music could inspire other women artists to embrace their confidence to share their music and believe that women are also important in this music community and for the diversity of music itself. 

Pan M 360 : How much do you identify with collectives such as Jogja Noise Bombing or a band like Senyawa, which is now well-known in North America? Is there any connection or are these different networks from yours?

Rani Jambak : Because I live in Sumatra, I never experienced Jogja Noise Bombing. But I follow their activity online. However, I met Rully (vocalist of Senyawa) many times and we had a good chat. Since I also connected with Wok The Rock and YesNoWave, I feel the network between electronic experimental artists around Indonesia is so much easier. Also, the presence of Yes No Stage in the 2022 Pestapora Festival (in Jakarta) made the connection even stronger because we could meet in person.

Pan M 360 : What are your plans for the near future? Any notable releases or upcoming performances?

Rani Jambak :After this tour I will perform in Jakarta for Pekan Kebudayaan Nasional (October 22nd), playing new compositions with my instrument Kincia Aia.

Pan M 360 : Thank you!

Rani Jambak : Thank you so much for the questions.

The Montreal stop for the Indonesian YesNoWave Tour is Co-presented with Festival Phénomena, Festival Accès Asie, Québec Musiques Parallèles and Arts in the Margins. Catch it on October 15th at La Sala Rosa

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