… stands for I Know You Well Miss Clara (or Clara for short), a ‘progressive jazz’ group from Yogyakarta in Central Java who formed five years ago at the Yogyakarta Arts Institute.
I first met them just over three years ago at the Jakarta shrine to Homeland Security @America, “a cutting-edge 21st-century cultural center where you can explore and experience the United States, and express your thoughts and ideas about America.”
I did, by walking out, as I described here. Friend Simon P. didn’t walk out but vented here after exploring the high tech (Korean) furnishings on display in the Arctic air-conditioned surrounding of Jakarta’s Guantánamo style bastion of American culture.
A short while later Clara’s first album, Chapter 1, was released on the MoonJune label. I was stunned by what I was hearing; although I could hear echoes of the Canterbury Scene, it owed little to anything from America, let alone Indonesia.
Listen for yourselves …
I had to discover where they came from, and I’m referring to their music background rather than their birthplace. After offering my profuse apologies and regrets for missing their first gig outside Yogya, I interviewed Reza Ryan, the guitarist and main writer, and made a point of getting to all their subsequent gigs in Jakarta.
In the past three years I’ve got to know the lads and even bought the T-shirt, only the second band I’ve favoured with that kind of support. (In case you’re wondering, the first was in 1972 or 3 at a gig by Hatfield and The North)
Some time towards the end of 2013, Reza asked me if I would be Clara’s manager. I offered my regrets again … I said that I was just a groupie without the skills and experience. It was therefore good news when last year Arlo Hennings, my ‘partner’ in IndoJazzia, moved from Bali to Yogya with his Indonesian wife.
Arlo has over 40 years experience in the music business, as a musician, promoter, manager, and in corporate A & R, so although a relative newbie in Indonesia, he has taken Clara under his wing. Chapter 1 is now distributed throughout Indonesia via DeMajors, the group is gigging more, was nominated in the progressive rock category at the recent Indonesia Music Awards (AMI), and last October performed live on national TV, with singer Tanya Ditaputri.
On February 25 and 26, IKYWMC will be recording Chapter 2 at the Salihara Arts Centre in Pasar Minggu, Jakarta, and performing on the 27th with special guests Tanya Ditaputri (vocals), Royke B. Koapaha (Reza’s former teacher) on bass and guitarist Iwan Hasan (of the seminal prog-rock band Discus) and deserved winner of the AMI Award 2015.
Although one of the top bands in Indonesia, the core group of Reza, Adi Wijaya (keyboards) and Alfiah Akbar (drums) survive financially on teaching and occasional gigs with other groups.
In order to finance the production of Chapter 2, a ‘pledge fund’. has been set up with the target of raising $1,500. That might not sound a lot in western terms, but it’s just enough for Indonesia.
Read this and if you’ve liked what you’ve heard so far, please consider helping the group continue their unique creative path.