Jogjakarta’s Senyawa embodies the aural elements of traditional Indonesian music while exploring the framework of experimental music practice, pushing the boundaries of both traditions. Their music strikes a perfect balance between their avant-garde influences and cultural heritage to create truly contemporary Indonesian music.
Their sound is comprised of Rully Shabara’s deft, extended vocal techniques, punctuating the frenetic sounds of instrument builder Wukir Suryadi’s modern-primitive instrumentation. Suryadi’s inventions include the handcrafted ‘Bamboo Spear’, a thick stem of bamboo strung up with percussive strips of the animal skin alongside steel strings; when amplified, it fuses elements of traditional Indonesian instrumentation with garage guitar distortion. The sonically dynamic instrument can be at times rhythmically percussive and at other times melodically bowed and plucked.
In 2011, Senyawa were invited to perform internationally for the first time at the Melbourne International Jazz Festival, sharing the stage with many great musicians such as Faust, Tony Conrad, and Charlemagne Palestine. Since then, they have performed at MONA FOMA Festival in Tasmania, the Adelaide Festival with Korean singer Bae Il Dong, the Malmo Sommarscen Festival in Sweden, the Salihara Literature Festival in Jakarta, Art Basel Switzerland, Café Oto in London, Cyptic Festival Glasgow, Copenhagen Jazz House Denmark, Resonate Festival Belgrade Serbia, the CTM Festival in Berlin, Copenhagen Jazz Festival, UNSOUND Festival Poland, the Clandestino Festival in Norway, and the Oct Loft Jazz Festival in China. They have also toured as special guests of Australian supergroup Regurgitator.
Senyawa have collaborated and performed with many notable musicians including Yoshida Tatsuya, Otomo Yoshide, Lucas Abela, KK Null, Keiji Haino, Rabih Beiani, Melt Banana, Jon Sass, Damo Suzuki, Jerome Cooper, Oren Ambarchi, David Shea, and Kazu Ushihashi. In 2012, they completed a film in collaboration with French filmmaker Vincent Moon.