Feature on Whiteboard Journal
If you are into the Indonesian’s, specifically Bandung, music scene, Polyester Embassy is a band whose name is probably very familiar to you. The group released their debut in 2006. Titled Tragicomedy, it introduced Indonesia (and consequently neighboring countries) to the groups music exploration, creating a sound that you sometimes can’t put your finger on. After 5 years of an apparent record-vacuum (as we will find out soon enough, these fellas have not been slacking between releases) they have released their latest effort titled Fake/Faker. Released on FFWD Records, the group continues their musical experiments, proving the group has been quite active in developing and maturing their sound through out the years. After the release of Fake/Faker, the group was nice enough to stop by Whiteboard Journal office to give us an interview and here is the result. if you haven’t, be sure to check out their music (you can find links at the end of this interview) and if you enjoy it, be sure to purchase their albums!
Editor’s Note: Polyester Embassy’s interview was conducted in Indonesian, please bear in mind what you are reading is a translation. Cheers.
W: So your first record, Tragicomedy, was released in 2006 on FFWD Records, and your latest release, Fake/Faker, is 2011. Why did it take so long to release this record?
We had this idea of making 2 EPs after Tragicomedy. It’s the usual affair, we’re an independent band, we don’t have a big budget, we had an endorsement from Jansport so we had a bit of money. Then we talked to our label about it and they thought why not just make one album. In terms of cost, making 2 EPs with 5 songs on each is the same as making one full length. So we decided to make a full-length, and it was a long process because there was a lot of material.
W: The material dates back to 2006?
Yes, some of the material actually were written before Tragicomedy.
W: When did you start recording?
We actually had some songs recorded 2008, but recording became intense around 2009 to 2011. Pre production began around July 2009 to 2010, we recorded January through March 2010, then the mixing mastering process took a pretty long time because were a band with a lot of layers and effects such as reverb and delay, that’s why it took a bit of time to mix and master.
W: I noticed the album (FAKE/FAKER) is shaped like a 7 Inch record. How did you guys decide on this?
Actually, the idea was to enlarge the medium because what we’re trying to convey through the packaging is photography so a larger medium is just better for the images. If you measure the album, it’s actually 2 centimeter short of 7 inches.
W: Oh, I didn’t notice that! So it’s all about the photography.
W: and who designed the cover?
The front cover-picture is by Loredana Guinicelli, a German photographer whose images we found appropriate; it matches our theme. The rest is by Sandi [Jaya Saputra]. The album’s visual is very much focused on photography, again that is why we decided on the large sized packaging.
W: And what is your opinion on the relationship between music and visuals for the album?
I think it is very important because the visuals represent the music you listen to. Black is pretty dominant because our music is imaginative so with this color you can interpret our music however you like.
W: Does Polyester have a visual theme?
Yes. Well in our live shows we actually have a visual theme though we don’t use it in every performance. It really depends on the technical issues; if the venue is capable of handling the visuals then we will use them.
W: I read that your title, Fake/Faker is based on the theme of third world countries?
Oh, no. Not third world countries but third world in general. Because we live in a third world.
W: Why that theme?
We just want to be honest. What we do here is essentially stealing, stealing something. We steal what we hear or see so everything that you get in this album you have seen before. We all take elements from different sources and put them together.
Its not copying something exactly, but we take elements that we like and incorporate it into our music. We like a guitar tone from someone’s album so we use it in our songs. Sometimes it’s accidental, we listen to Pink Floyd and we noticed after recording some of the sounds we use seem similar to Pink Floyd.
W: So the title is you expressing this culture of taking elements from different sources and building something yourself?
Yes, pretty much.
W: Moving on to the next question, you guys are from Bandung. I honestly rarely go to Bandung, can you describe what the art and music scene is like over there? It seems very vibrant.
Bandung has this very apparent character, you can often hear a band and say something like ‘this is so Bandung’.
W: What is that character that makes it stand out?
I guess Bandung bands like to explore, they’re not limited to what is trendy. It’s actually pretty similar to Yogyakarta in terms of being experimental, but Yogyakarta is… I’m not really sure how to describe it… pure, their art is more pure.
Bandung is like a sponge, it absorbs everything and when you squeeze it out a mixture of different elements comes out.
W: Any artists from Bandung we should be looking out for?
Vincent Vega… there are a lot.
W: I read in your Facebook that you guys are an Electronic Rock Experimental Band. What is experimenting like for you guys? Is it a conscious effort?
It just sort of happens naturally. Everything on our albums didn’t begin with one or two of us coming in with songs already written, we always jam everything out in the studio. All five of us go in the studio and we experiment and create music.
W: Are there any music artists that you consistently notice influence Polyester Embassy since its inception?
That’s difficult to answer because our influences are very wide in scope, you can ask each one of us and you will get a very wide range of influences
W: Okay, those are all my questions. Is there anything else you want to add?
Our first single, Space Travel and Rock n Roll?
W: go for it
This song has evolved since we first wrote it in 2003. It took up many forms until we released it in 2011. After changing its arrangement numerous times we finally agreed on a final arrangement in 2009, and that’s what you hear in our album.
W: You guys kept performing Space Travel and Rock n Roll as it kept changing that whole time?
Yes we did. Actually, a lot of our songs sound different when we perform live, we create and change song arrangements pretty often. When you watch us live you shouldn’t really expect to hear our music exactly as you hear it in the album. We often reconstruct it, rearrange it when we perform live.
W: Alrite, I guess that’s it. Thank you, guys.
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