Underground Radio an Antidote to Indonesia’s Pop Barrage
For many Indonesian music fans, Internet radio is the latest form of rebellion. With songs of little-to-no commercial viability, these underground stations present themselves as mixtapes of personal taste and influence. Instead of giving the reins to disc jockeys and music directors, Internet radio is frequented by music fans who are sick of listening to commercial radio churning out the same old tired pop hits, over and over and over again.
Berisik Radio, or “Noisy Radio,” is one of these online radio stations that has been building a following through an eclectic collection of songs. Established in 2009 and founded by scenesters Rudy Pagge and Aldy Keith, the station’s founders saw fit to fill their airwaves with tunes that rejected what co-founder and music director Mahdesi Iskandar calls “bureaucratic barricades of frequency radios.”
Since they grew up in the Internet era, the founders understand that today’s Indonesian youth gather all their information online rather than by reading magazines or listening to commercial radio stations. For the guys and girls behind Berisik, it was an opportunity to influence their peers to listen to more challenging songs that were not to be missed.
Mahdesi also wanted to provide local musicians with a way to gain quality exposure, something that can be hard to come by.
“We wanted to become a vessel for musicians with potential to introduce their music. Just because they don’t have the ‘link’ with people in conventional media, they should not be left out,” Mahdesi said.
Being a station without any ties also meant Berisik had the freedom to do anything it wanted, starting with taking on an unorthodox name. Mahdesi explained that the network’s early broadcasts were plagued with hisses and static, prompting their listeners to comment on its noisy quality — hence the moniker.
According to Mahdesi, the “noisy” tag also came through the station’s preference for harsh-sounding experimental acts whose music is often tied to the genre “noise music.”
“So really, the name refers to both our broadcast quality and the character of many of the bands we play,” he said.
Being an online radio also benefits the station’s runners and DJs, most of whom are students and office workers. Using a simple software program that creates a network among Berisik Radio’s crew, the station is able to broadcast from anywhere, with most of its DJs hosting their show from their bedrooms.
As the radio’s name becomes increasingly known within the underground community, the numbers of demos that arrive at their desk are starting to pile up, much to their delight. Making things better are that most of these recordings stem from bands outside of the major cities, including Pekanbaru, Jayapura, Padang, and Makassar.
“This year alone, up until July, we’ve received more than 3000 submissions from all over the world. Sometimes we even get demos from Australia, the Middle East and America,” Mahdesi said.
Berisik has also focused its interest in becoming a webzine for unknown artists. They have employed an additional reporting crew to focus exclusively on gathering the latest happenings around the scene.
For now, Berisik Radio aims to focus even more on the most underground-of-the-underground, mostly by reducing airtime for bigger independent acts to make room for complete unknowns.
Mahdesi makes it clear. “We’re more likely to play a song by Flag of Hate rather than Efek Rumah Kaca.”
To listen, visit berisikradio.com