How would you describe the Indonesian jazz audience?
Surprisingly the audience is a lot younger compared to Europe. In Europe the average age of the people who go to jazz festivals is something between 35 to 55. In Indonesia we see a lot of young people starting from 20 to 45 at our festival. Of course we have older people as well but not as much as we see in the US or in Europe. I think that the excitement of a festival has brought up a lot of curiosity in Jakarta. Festivals in general were very rare to be organized there.
Are Indonesian jazz artists interested in studying jazz abroad?
There are many Indonesian musicians that go abroad, especially to Europe to study jazz music. I know that there are people going to Netherlands because of their close relationship. They also go to the US, some go to Berkeley in Boston and other cities. So there is a lot of interest in young people to study jazz and I see it as a very exciting thing.
What are the biggest challenges when organizing a festival in Indonesia?
For instance you need to understand that the culture in Indonesia is very different than in Europe. Indonesians don’t really drink alcohol. In European festivals, well not maybe jazz festivals but pop festivals, there is a lot of consumption of beer. This is not the case in Indonesia. Because of the religion, people are not keen on drinking a lot of beer. So in terms of sponsorships this makes us to be creative. In my experience the sponsors in Europe are always beer or insurance companies or something like that. Until last year we could use tobacco companies, they sponsored festivals a lot and the sponsorships were big. But from the beginning of this year it has been forbidden in Indonesia to have a tobacco company as a sponsor of an event. This means no tobacco and no beer so we have to go to other areas – that’s a challenge.
Another challenge is that Indonesia is far away. Logistically this means that artists from Europe need to travel from 14 to 16 hours and if you live in the US the time is from 22 to 24 hours of travelling just to play in Indonesia. This is a lot of time to consume for the artist so you really need to persuade and convince them to come. The logistics make it really complicated.
How do you see the cooperation between Europe and Asia at your festival?
Luckily enough we have very good relationships with the embassies in Indonesia. For two or three years we have for example been working with the Finnish embassy and have been presenting some Finnish musicians at our festival. Last year Felix Zenger, the human beat boxer, was at our festival performing. We’ve also had a group called Scandinavian All Stars where we had jazz musicians from Finland, Norway, Denmark and Sweden combined with an Indonesian rhythm section. It was a fantastic project and we are doing it again next year!