Mondo Gascaro’s Take on The Shift in Music Industry, His Album and His National Music Heroes
It was during one of his busiest day, on the ninth of March of 2017, Mondo Gascaro was planned to perform on two occasions on two different places in one day. The man showed no sign of fatigue as he greeted us with warm welcome. He had just finished performing in an event on a shopping mall in which the audio’s quality was not up to par to showcase his beautiful music. The man of Japanese and Indonesian descent wore a laid-back attire consisting of a white T-shirt with his name printed upfront and a short khaki pants. Accompanied by his road manager, Mondo answered our questions about the current state of our national music industry. “Whether nationally or worldwide, our way to enjoy, produce, and distribute music are being transformed with this digital platforms. Automatically it affects everything,” uttered Mondo.
Compared to musicians who are backed by huge record label, independent musicians have to do double work to sustain themselves in this digital era. Mondo remarked that since the beginning, independent musicians could not rely on only one form to promote or distribute their music. Tracing back to the 90’s, indie musicians have done multiple ways like performing at gigs, selling merchandise or producing physical releases to let their music be heard. Now, their work is increased with the need to market the music digitally. “Physical release still persists, but now it has become something luxurious and collectibles, while merchandise becomes one of the source for musicians to gain an income,” added the musician whose album “RAJAKELANA” was released in 2016. Mondo himself does not differentiate the music from major label or independent ones as long as it is good and enjoyable. He also appreciated musicians who came with independent managements and record labels, but have the mainstream appeal and a wide audience. “It means that they could break out of their comfort zone,” said Mondo.
Later on, while talking about his latest album “RAJAKELANA”, Mondo gushed about his idealism in making music. The album took the spot as one of the best album in 2016 by a prestigious music media, Rolling Stone Indonesia. Taking such a long process before the album was put out, Mondo admitted that the ultimate measure for his own music is his own satisfaction. He put honesty as one of the most precious thing in making music, “If I set my target in making music besides my own satisfaction, like getting an award or anything, it (re: the music) becomes dishonest. So when my album was appreciated by media and listeners, I did not expect it at all and was really thankful by it.” The musician who used to be a part of the group Sore, also cited that he was thankful that there are fans who are still willing to support local music, by downloading it legally or purchasing the physical records.
To coincide with National Music Day celebration, this father of three precious children also wanted to shed a light on musicians across the country, and said that the celebration should not only be exclusive to musicians from the capital city. When being asked about his favorite local musicians, Mondo Gascaro seemed flustered and said it was a hard task to narrow down his idols into a small list. Ismail Marzuki became the first musician he mentioned and his name continuously popped up in his mind since the legendary musician’s work plays an important part of shaping up our music’s identity. No wonder that Mondo Gascaro was thrilled when he was involved to rearrange Ismail Marzuki’s piece on the soundtrack of “Tiga Dara”, a classic movie centered around three ladies which was launched in 1958. He also told us that since he was a child, the music of Ismail Marzuki were played in his house by his grandmother and he played it on piano to be exact, since he did not own the original copies. On a lighter note, his album’s title was inspired by Ismail Marzuki’s composition of “Nyiur Melambai” in which it contains the words “Raja Kelana”.
Moreover, Mondo mentioned other two names as his national music heroes which are Fariz RM and Yockie Suryoprayogo. “In the end of 70’s or early 80’s, the music was very commercialized and these musicians came along and set a new standard for pop music in Indonesia. Without Yockie, Fariz or Keenan Nasution, I think there would be no Vina Panduwinata and other pop generation in the 80’s and so on.” Mondo was very amazed at how Yockie in particular, infused the influence of progressive rock in a pop arrangement in his song for Chrisye. More or less, these big names in Indonesian music helped to shape up the music that Mondo has at the moment. His affection towards Indonesian pop especially during the era after independence or the 70’s-80’s could be heard in his composition on “RAJAKELANA” as well as his previous singles. Our generation should be able to preserve the spirit of making Indonesian music great again like Mondo Gascaro does. Long live national music!