The Sunday Profile: DJ and Entrepreneur Anton Wirjono
DJ Anton Wirjono is a man on a mission, curating the best music, art, fashion and grub for Jakarta’s hipsters.
Just this month, the seasoned disc jockey added the Goods Diner to his list of Goods-themed business ventures. It is the extension of the already established fashion retail shop, the Goods Dept. and its on-site eatery, the Goods Cafe.
Situated in the prime Sudirman Central Business District in South Jakarta, the new diner offers American comfort food and a quirky ambiance for a cozy rendezvous.
“The concept of the restaurant is a modern diner,” said Anton. “We serve breakfast, lunch, dinner and a late night menu, but the atmosphere of the place is designed to cater to the hip and modern crowd. We are open until midnight on weekdays and a little later on weekends, but if everything goes well, I hope we can stay open 24 hours.”
More Than Food
Brick walls washed in all-white paint, and cement floors, an industrial ceiling and modern wood and leather furniture give the place an artsy quality. In fact, the Goods Diner is not your typical restaurant — it is furnished with a working space where guests can have meetin g s or small events. It is also equipped with a fast internet connection.
For example, Future Shorts, one of the world’s biggest “pop up” film festivals, recently held a film screening at the Goods Diner, where movie buffs and regulars enjoyed a free showing of some excellent short films.
Future Shorts will be back in February at the Love Garage event, another full-entertainment affair by Anton in collaboration with Ismaya Live. A combination of music, art, fashion and food, Love Garage will be held around Valentine’s day.
“There will be some mini ‘pop-up’ retail film screenings by Future Shorts, food and beverages by Ismaya and The Goods Diner, as well as local and international DJs and indie bands,” Anton said. “It’s basically a fusion of everything we like to do. Everything I do revolves around things I like and things that I think people will like. There are so many musicians, fashion designers, food vendors and artists, but our job is to curate only the best ones, and to choose with our intuition which ones are good enough to be promoted and which ones will last in this very competitive industry.”
Anton is not working alone. His company Future10, an event organizer, employs several creative, young minds. “I’m getting older, so right now I’m trying to diversify what I do, and it’s great that I get to work with younger talents, because they always come up with fresh ideas,” Anton said.
“When my ideas turn out to be too safe, someone from the team would come up with crazier ones, which is what I like from them. They have the ‘nothing-to-lose’ attitude. I like it — it keeps me being the young, adventurous person that I was.”
After finishing his studies at Menlo College in California, Anton founded Future10 in 1994. Some of the company’s clients now include Nike, Phillip Morris and Sony. “When I was still in college, a bunch of friends and I successfully created our own rave,” Anton said.
“It was called Escape. We rented a plane hangar, asked our DJ friends to play, provided drinks for the guests and ended up having 5,000 people at the party. From that experience, I decided to basically create the same thing in Indonesia, while introducing DJ culture to Jakarta.
“So under Future10, we started a weekly party, Future Nights, at this space called Parkit in Wahid Hasyim. It was pretty big at the time. Through those events, clubs started inviting me to play.”
With his team, Anton has pioneered a whole new music culture in the capital. They founded the Jakarta Movement, a pioneering and massive outdoor music festival. Anton has also played at one of Bali’s biggest music events, the Junction Bali Festival.
“By studying abroad, I had a chance to experience music differently,” Anton said. “I learned that our responsibility as DJs is to be curators of music. We go to secondhand record shops, find the best music we can find, then mix it and let people know about the songs. We have to know how to make the music flow, and make people, even those who have never heard the songs before, enjoy them.
“Being a DJ really sharpens my intuition, we have to be able to read the atmosphere, and kind of feel what people want,” Anton continued. “It’s never the same situation when I play. You always to try to please everyone in the room. When it works, the reward is great, which is why I stay up late and keep playing.”
Anton is also an executive producer of the indie-pop group Agrikulture, which has just released a second album, “Terang Benderang.” The record is heavily influenced by post-punk as well as 80s and rock sounds.
Up From the Underground
“Unfortunately, being too idealistic as a musician hinders you from being successful financially, but you can find a position in the middle, taking something underground to a bigger audience without being too mainstream,” Anton said. He also believes one of his purposes in life is to support aspiring indie talents though the many ventures he manages.
At The Goods Dept. for instance, Anton supports local fashion designers and musicians through the sale of clothes, accessories and recordings. The store has also been a venue for independent events. Anton invented a pop-up retail concept called Brightspot Market, where selected vendors sell their products for just four days at a given location. “Fashion is a way of expressing ourselves,” Anton said.
“Just like music, there are fashion brands that are more rare and unique than others — and the designers, they just want to sell to people who understand. One of my visions is to promote them and make sure people can enjoy what these talents make,” he said.
“The Goods Dept. and Brightspot Market are about changing people’s lives as well by creating ways for these people to succeed,” he said. “By changing the way people dress, and by buying local products, shoppers can buy things that are as cool, but cheaper. We also want to create a healthy competition among these talents so they’ll never stop perfecting their craft,” Anton said.
“We talked about the whole indie scene, I’m a product of that subculture. I’m always gonna be about that. The message of what I do is giving hope for the underdogs. We are living in a great time, with the Internet and everyone getting smarter. It’s the right time to go with your passion and to not be afraid,” he said.