International trade negotiations between Indonesia and Australia are looking pretty freaking sweet right now, at least in the music department, thanks to Sacred Blue Records. The new label is the brainchild of Melbourne’s Tom Hulse and Rektivianto Yoewono, lead singer of Indonesian rock band The SIGIT. Together they’re bridging the gap in underground Indonesian rock n’ roll and kicking things off with a knees-up at Baha in Rye Victoria, hosting a bill of Indo and local acts. We encourage all within a 1000k radius to get there. In the meantime we tugged on the collar of Tom Hulse to get the inside word…
What’s your background and what was your first intro to Indonesian rock music?I’m Melbourne born and bred, although have always had a curiosity for alternative music and different scenes around the world. I’ve done a lot of travel and continue to explore and find more music scenes along the way. I studied graphic design at RMIT university which is where I met a new friend Chrissy Lafian who was from Sulawesi in Indonesia. We both had a passion for rock n’ roll and psychedelic music so we shared a lot of our collection which was ace. Chrissy exposed me to a fair bit of Indonesian rock n’ roll that I had never heard of before, in particular a band called The SIGIT. From then on I’ve always kept an open mind to music from all over the world and continued to explore the mass of rock n’ roll music coming from Indonesia.
How did the label first come about?
I work at Cherry Bar as the graphic designer and share an office with James Young (owner/booker). James and I often bounce ideas off one another for shows to run at Cherry and naturally share music in the office as we work. In 2016 I was listening back to some older tracks from The SIGIT, a regular rotation on my personal playlists. They're one of those bands I really loved and was amazed that barely anyone I spoke to had heard of them before… CherryRock Festival was just around the bend and James had already booked the majority of the lineup when I suggested The SIGIT to play also. He was hesitant at first as there was a lot of other great options on offer, but after I’d been caning their record ‘Detourn’ in the Cherry office he simply couldn’t resist. I had a mutual friend with the lead singer Rektivianto Yoewono, so I took a punt and emailed his label to get the ball rolling. Rekti wrote back and was very enthusiastic to come to Australia. I then knuckled down and booked a tour for The SIGIT up the east coast of Australia, with CherryRock as the main anchor for the tour. My band Devil Electric joined The SIGIT on tour and we had a great time playing and getting to know each other. Rekti and I kept in touch after the guys went home, with the prospect of working together on another project. This is when the idea of the record label came to mind. I wanted to use the hard work we'd put in building this relationship and connection between two neighbouring countries and music scenes for something more than just one tour. The record label would be an ongoing connection for people in Australia and Indonesia to discover high quality underground music they may not have been exposed to before. Sacred Blue Records in Melbourne is now working in alliance with Rekti’s label - Bhang Records in Bandung Indonesia. Working together to bridge the gap between Indonesian and Australian underground music scenes is the main aim.
How does “the scene” there compare to here?
The rock n’ roll and 70s music revival scene in Indonesia is hugely popular, although different in that their population density is bigger. A smaller area with a lot more music fans going to shows basically. It’s also different in that Australia has a lot of small bars and clubs where bands can play, although the bar scene is not as popular in Indonesia. This is perhaps to do with the drinking culture here, but many more factors influence this too. The way people listen to music in Indonesia is also a bit different. Here we see CDs taking a dive and vinyl returning in force alongside digital downloads. Indonesian audience still buy a lot of CDs and cassette tapes as they’re more affordable and still a respected platform. The main similarity is both scenes love the live show and get out to see bands perform.
Have there been any major hurdles to getting this off the ground?
A few language barriers with international customers to the online store, but it’s all part of it. I’m committed to make the label and the relationship with Bhang Records work so it’s basically just been constant communication between Rekti and I on organising artwork, bands and production of the releases we’re working on.
The best thing about starting a record label in 2017 is ……?
Vinyl and live music has made a massive comeback so there is a lot of enthusiasm about what we’re doing.
The worst thing about starting a record label in 2017 is ……?
Trying to find an affordable commercial property in Melbourne to open the physical store.
Sacred Blue Records officially launches May 6 at Baha in Rye, Vic with a mini-festival of 6 bands featuring Kelompok Penerbang Roket and Mooner out from Indo along with Zombitches, The Slugg, The Grogans, Grunden Family Band and DJs Tom Watson (From Sheriff) & local DJ Shanza. More details here.