It has been raining since 4PM in the afternoon and it was hard to move from our comfortable bed and it was Sunday, but we could not wait to see a techno act called Sunmantra in action with their set. Having had their first ever performance in town, these guys seemed relaxed and easily blended with the crowd. In conjunction with a routine gig held at Rumah Opa called Hortikultures, we saw Sunmantra hypnotized the audience with their music acid techno affair. The duo hailing from Jakarta consists of Jonathan Pardede and Bernaduz Fritz. Since 2015, they have been actively playing their sets from one crowd to another, setting the listeners in trance with their tunes. Below is our interview with Sunmantra in order to get familiar with the genre they play, check it out!
The Display (TDP) : Hello Sunmantra, what is actually the genre you are playing?
Sunmantra (S) : Dance, with techno in particular. So yeah, it can be said as techno.
TDP: Why did you choose techno then?
S: When we first began we heard a lot of techno musicians, not bands outside of techno. Wait, not really though, basically we started out as a rock band called Black Mustangs. We used to play a lot of psychedelic rock, so the most relevant genre to play in electronic is techno. If you pay attention to Sunmantra’s music you could tell a lot of psychedelic influence in it, there is this trippy vibe. It could be heard from the guitar part, those elements from our rock band days still exist.
TDP: So when did you guys start this band and how the name ‘Sunmantra’ came up?
S: The name came from Jonathan’s dream. I dreamed of standing on the stage, and when I looked behind on the drum set I saw the name ‘Sunmantra’ written on its kick drum. Then I called Fritz to make a band called Sunmantra. All three of us have shared session since 2011, even though we studied far apart. Sometimes we lived in different cities back then, but we keep exchanging sessions. We wanted to make a psychedelic band at first, but then it turned out to be electronic and techno in particular. So we actually was formed in 2012 but our first single came out in 2014 with the name Sunmantra.
TDP: Where do you get your inspiration from or is there any particular influence?
S: Actually there were a lot, from our band days there were Kasabian, there is also this modern day techno producer whose composition we look up to. We take a bit of everything we listen, for example in this band we fancy the bass part, so we take the bass part. In another band, we like the line drum, so we take that part out of the whole composition. It’s something like that. Not only from one particular song, especially seeing music development these days. It depends on how we develop those bits into a composition of our own.
TDP: One of your song “Silver Ray” is included on “Dentum Dansa Bawah Tanah” album compilation, what is special about it?
S: It is our debut song and because Jojo (Jonathan Pardede) is the one who always writes since our previous project, we just like that name. The lyrics encourage people to be free from any burden. In a relationship, we feel another part being abusive to other just like a part of the lyrics from the song. But they don’t feel it since they are too bounded with sex, since it’s an endorphin releasing activity, although the relationship itself is toxic. That’s what “Silver Ray” is all about, so actually it’s sad right?
TDP: Are you currently planning your next album or tour?
S: We’ve been touring for a while on “Exoteric” in order to promote Sunmantra and expose that now techno musicians can do live set as well. In Indonesia, there has been techno band who does live set since the 90’s but they don’t get recognition yet. Now the equipment for live set is affordable and not that difficult to purchase anymore, so why don’t you start doing live set. We hope to release single or album soon, an EP at least. “Exoteric” is one of the double single which will be released next year, and we’re currently discussing with some labels about this release. Another single is called “When You Bite My Lips”.
TDP: How about a showcase or solo concert?
S: We’ve been thinking about an intimate concert for a while. Because we don’t know until now who truly listen to our music and we want to collaborate with them. We think about jamming with the fans during our live set, like we suddenly throw the music instruments to the audience, and they play it with us. That’s our dream concert.
Interviewer: Hanif Ardhika/Editor: Novita Widia