Batavia Collective is a young and vibrant group of musicians based in Jakarta, combining a no-nonsense attitude with the sheer sophistication of jazz and soul. Featuring Doni Joesran on keyboards, Elfa Zulham on drums and Kenny Gabriel on synth bass, they deliver a refreshing and generous future jazz with punchy pulse and message.
“Affirmation” features the voice of Mohammed Kamga, who completes the trio’s free-spirited sound with smooth, dynamic melodies. Having been homegrown in the studio, Batavia Collective draws inspiration from the streets of Jakarta; Born and raised in the Indonesian capital, the trio’s gratitude for their roots is reflected in everything they do. Through this sincere approach, “Affirmation” breathes spontaneity and joy into the process of creation; That’s why their organic, upbeat mix packs such a joyous high, infecting the body with a drum ‘n’ bass-inspired pulse that will leave you eager to discover more. They are incredibly excited to release “Affirmation” on R&S Records, from where they hope to delight and thrill listeners around the world.
We have had the pleasure of speaking with them and this has been the result.
When and how did you get your interest in electronic music?
DONI: It was Joe Meek that really got me hook on sound design. Meek for me is considered one of the most influential sound engineers of all time, being one of the first to develop ideas such as the recording studio as an instrument, and becoming one of the first producers to be recognized for his individual identity as an artist. But right now, I’m really into Mehliana, its Brad Mehldau & Mark Guiliana group, as a jazz trained musician that project really change my mindset about the term jazz.
ZULHAM: Deantoni Parks. That’s the way I want to explore my drums sonically for Batavia Collective.
KENNY: The first time I really took interest on electronic music was when I joined the talent competition for an Indonesian TV show, it was 2016, I was more of a jazz/soul/r&b fan before that. I had to learn to produce electronic music from scratch, so that really opened up my ears to sound design.
KAMGA: Ellie Goulding’s first album, Lights, was the first pop electronic album that I’ve ever took time to really listen, and that was my getaway drug to electronic music. No matter how good the music is, I tend to lean into vocals first, and Sylvan Esso manages to merge them perfectly. no matter how hard the drums and basslines go, the vocals and harmonies always take center stage. Amelia’s way of creating melodies without chords in the background is simply mesmerizing. Sometimes in electronic music, the focus centers heavily on sound production that the song tends to blurs itself in the background, but that rarely happens here. Slack Jaw and Come Down are two fine examples that electronic production can become the best way to tell a story, because even though those songs are considered as ballads, I can’t imagine the songs will have the same weight if performed with piano or guitar, a statement that rarely said or hear for ballads.
What have you been doing with your time in lockdown in your city or country?
DONI: Not having any live gigs really hurts my bank accounts, but luckily, I have an audio post company that does jingle and soundtrack for digital advertising, so I won’t complain. Aside from that I’m writing new materials.
ZULHAM: Smoking cigar and drinking whisky. =)
KENNY: More studio time for sure. Make music and bank it.
KAMGA: I have been using this spare time to learn things that I haven’t had the time to really sink myself into before, like learning how to play a piano and video editing
What was your work when producing your last EP Affirmation feat Kamga on R&S Records?
DONI: I played the keys on Affirmation, it started with four chords, then Zulham and Kenny jumped in. That the same day Kamga laid down some hooks and the song was done on the next session.
ZULHAM: I play drums. We just jam together and create the song spontaneously. In the end its just about having a good time.
KENNY: I play synth bass. Actually, I was the last person to lay down the parts for Affirmation.
KAMGA: The singing and songwriting part.