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From The West to The East of Java and Bali, Living in Between Two Lives

by Nova Ruth

Most of the people think that music has nothing to do with a ‘job’. Because once you pick your hobby as a ‘job’, then you won’t have anymore hobby. In some reason, I know that it is correct. But my music somehow has a strong relationship with my ‘job’. Because both job and music care about the same thing. Environmental and social justice issue.

I just got back from my two weeks of travelling across Java and Bali. On 29th of October, 2010 Green Radio and Asia Calling invited me to come and play a gig with the title “Music and Democracy”. We had two friends from Burma that has been living in a run from the anti-government protest in 2007, came to visit Indonesia and held a panel discussion. They are from a group called Generation Wave. No media can mention their name. So we make them a good Indonesian name. Dimas and Joko. For them, we were together celebrating and hoping for democracy in every nation. Hoping more for the freedom to speak up.

Nova laptop afraid of rain
Nova laptop afraid of rain

Before I end my set with singing ‘Gendjer-Gendjer’, a traditional song from Banyuwangi that has been banned by government cos it was well-known as a communist party’s song, I said to people that I am working for an organization that focused on environmental and social justice issues. Then I dedicated this song to my colleague that sat down at the corner who just got out from lock up for questioning a justice about his friends who was missing on 1998 protest. This song is for those who always stand up for justice. Everyone cheered up and gave me big applause. Yerry started to give people a warm smile and I said, “He has good videos for you to watch. It is important for you who care about environmental issues”.

Yes.. then we end up running out our compilation Time For Reel Action DVD on that gig. It was a great feeling to get people’s enthusiasm.

The next day I was moving east a little bit. 45 minutes from Semarang, there is a place called Kampung Seni Lerep in a small city called Ungaran. Festival Mata Air 4.5 was held there. We called it 4.5 because it was basically set up to do a nice preparation next year at Festival Mata Air 5. I was involved as a performer on Festival Mata Air 3 in 2008. For you, Festival Mata Air newbie, this festival was made to gain the awareness of the mineral water spring that started to be privatized by big mineral water companies.

Last year was the blast one. Imagine you are touring in between twenty thousand people and more than one thousand performers within three days of the festival.

This year was smaller, but also had great performers and artists open space. I was there as EngageMedia, screening three videos from Time For Reel Action; When it Floods it Never Like This Before (Philippines), Green Gone Wrong (Indonesia) and Wake Up Freak Out (Australia). The screening held on Saturday, 2nd of October 2010, attended by all artists that involved in the festival and also the local citizens. More than one hundred people turned up because we were opening the performance that day. The biggest applause was for Green Gone Wrong!

after the rain, audiences still want to watch EngageMedia layar tancap
after the rain, audiences still want to watch EngageMedia layar tancap

Bali is a Bali with all of the touristic elements. I found everyone busy with themself so I found out my self sat down in organic food place with fast internet waiting for the feedback of few environmental and video groups there in between my involvement in Ubud Writers and Readers Festival, performing for two gigs with the title ‘Hip Hop IS Harmony in Diversity’. But good to know that they were actually busy. So I guess there must be another day to meet up with those people and make something someday.

These are some serious videos!
These are some serious videos!

BUT I met The Brotherhood from Melbourne, all five Moslems, talking about “what do you see when you look into MY EYES”. Their lyrics talk a lot about being a Moslem in the western world. I was culturally experiencing something quite new from my hanging out moment with them. Also Omar Musa from Australia, Mighty Joe and Pitch Black Gold from the USA, they are all speaking up to people that poetically describe their feeling through hip hop. Then you will end up seeing at least one of them put EngageMedia on their blog roll cos they love to see the truth and write up a lyric based on those videos. Check this out and scroll down a little bit, look on your right side of your screen.

Now, move your map a little bit from Bali, the well-known “Indonesia” for most world tourist, to the west. Here I am sitting in front of my laptop, sipping my local homemade café con Leche and still doing my two lives remotely from a small city called Malang, in the east part of Java.