Wukir Suryadi creates his own musical instruments with several methods that are conceptually inventive and sonically fascinating. For example, there is his handcrafted Bamboo Spear, a thick stem of bamboo strung up with percussive strips of animal skin alongside steel strings. Amplified, it fuses elements of traditional Indonesian instrumentation with garage guitar distortion. Sonically dynamic, the instrument can, on the one hand, be rhythmically percussive, and on the other, it can be melodically bowed and plucked. For this exhibition, the artist has chosen to present Garu, a modified existing agricultural tool that he has transformed into a musical instrument — transforming it into a string, sound, metal, bass guitar, while still respecting its original shape. Wukir Suryadi’s fusion of technologies old and new, indigenous and foreign finds a perfect match with his collaborator, the vocalist Rully Shabara Herman, as they come together as the band Senyawa. With Senyawa, Indonesian myths and rituals are layered with the musical genres of drone, experimental rock and metal, to create new rituals for our time. Senyawa will perform at the opening of this exhibition.
About the Artist
Jogjakarta’s Senyawa embodies the aural elements of traditional Indonesian music whilst 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 new 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.
Senyawa have performed at many notable festivals and underground clubs such as MONA FOMA Festival in Tasmania, the Adelaide Festival with Korean singer Bae Il Dong, Malmo Sommarscen Festival in Sweden, Salihara Literature Festival in Jakarta, Art Basel Switzerland, Café Oto in London, Cryptic Festival Glasgow, Copenhagen Jazz House Denmark, Resonate Festival Belgrade Serbia, CTM Festival in Berlin, RBMA Brazil, Copenhagen Jazz Festival, UNSOUND Festival Poland, Clandestino Festival in Norway, The Lab San Francisco, Eaux Claires Festival WA, Bridget Donoghue Gallery NYC, Victoriaville Festival, Pioneer Works NYC and Oct-Loft Jazz Festival in China. In 2018, Senyawa won the Green Room Award for Best Music Composition and Sound Design and the 2017 Ars Electronica Award for Digital Music and Sound.