The electronic music industry has an abundance of talented artists hailing from the USA, Australia and European hotspots such as The Netherlands, the UK and Germany. Asia meanwhile has been notably slower to cultivate artists which have pierced the global arena on a major scale but over the past 12 months we’ve witnessed a surge from Asian artists in the international scene carving their own path. Now we’re putting the region under the microscope and shedding some light on its thriving scene, and top talents who are making waves globally.
We kick off first with the Republic of Indonesia. Located in the heart of South East Asia, the former Dutch colony makes home to more than 250 million people across thriving cities such as it’s capital Jakarta, the island tourist paradise of Bali and regional cities such as Yogyakarta, Bandung, Medan, Malang and Surabaya among countless others.
With the rise of electronic music’s popularity in the global mainstream and the coinciding explosion of social media, Indonesia’s music scene has a lot of similarities with everywhere else. For many years however, this wasn’t the case.
The hotspot of dance music in Indonesia was the infamous nightclub Stadium which was shut down in 2014 following the overdose death of an off-duty Indonesian police officer. In the past decade, the country developed a thriving and diverse music scene that boasts an endless list of premier nightlife destinations and music festivals which bring the worlds top talents into the country.
While Indonesian’s electronic music scene goes back decades, the first wave of homegrown DJ superstars included the likes of Riri Mestica, Osvaldo Nugroho who dominated the nation’s dancefloors. However, these artists and many who followed in their footsteps never gained awareness outside the borders of the republic or created a constant stream of original music.
Furthermore with many local clubs dominated by a locally popular sound that is a mixture of breakbeat and funkot, which is broadly described as a combination of dirty dutch house music and the traditional Indonesian sounds of dangdut, the entry point of clubs for new DJ’s didn’t typically inhibit a community of artists that was built for export.
The biggest music festival on offer in the region ‘Djakarta Warehouse Project’ calls Jakarta home, it’s more commonly known locally as “DWP”. Organized by Ismaya, an entertainment group which also runs world-renowned nightclubs such as Blowfish, Skye, Dragonfly and Bali beach club Manarai.
Meanwhile, other nightlife entertainment groups have since risen to popularity including All In which operates establishments such as Fable, Pallas and Mirror. SHVR, another event leader doesn’t have fixed venues and instead hosts club nights around the country and an annual festival ‘SHVR Ground’. Other notable clubs that service the Indonesian audiences include LXXY, Omnia, Hakkasan and Colleseum which are frequented by the biggest International and homegrown DJ’s.
In later years however global sounds began to penetrate the sound systems and radio waves with an influx of international talent, introducing European influenced trance, techno and traditional house. However, it wasn’t till the emergence of names such as Trance star LTN and Angger Dimas, who infused Indonesian influence dutch house with modern electro starting with “Are You Ready” that Indonesia truly landed on the map and into the consciousness of the dance music world.
Thanks to not only his world-class DJ skills but also the know-how to produce, Dimas penned record deals with international labels and went on to collaborate with the likes of Steve Aoki, Iggy Azalea, Diplo and Tiesto. He toured his unique blend of beats across all corners of the globe including multiple tours of Australia, Europe and the USA as well as festivals and nightclubs from across the region.
In recent years however the doors have well and truly opened and the local industry has begun to make major inroads across a broad spectrum of genres. We now take a look at some of the biggest names of today that’ve collected an International audience, featuring the likes of SIHK, Bleu Clair, Dipha Barus and Weird Genius.
After dabbling in production in high-school he then went on to attend university in Seattle, where he gained exposure to a broad spectrum of electronic music. Upon his return to Indonesia, he honed his production and eventually befriended a young talent who would later gain popularity as Rich Brian, together they produced worldwide reaching single “Who That Be” and SIHK has been credited with teaching the 88 Rising superstars how to produce. Together they co-produced Brian’s fellow 88 Rising star NIKI’s debut single ‘See You Never’.
SIHK then sought his own sound and eventually found a home with Dutch artist Yellow Claw’s Barong Family label on which he’s penned two EP’s. He’s collaborated with artist such as Aazar, Mike Cervello and landed official remixes for Yellow Claw. Meanwhile, in 2019 he’s performed at festivals around the globe including the biggest global dance festival, Tomorrowland, Jakarta’s DWP, and the mainstage of Thailand’s Siam Songkran.
This dance trio made up of YB, Eka Gustiwana and Gerald is on a path for dance domination, their blend of future pop, future bass and gamified dance sounds has made them the most in-demand electronic group in Indonesia. With a fan base that counts almost a million people overall, the trio has clocked up more than 145 shows in 2019 and collected tens of millions of streams. They were also recently crowned Best Dance Group in Indonesia, and have been consistently supported by Spotify in playlists across Asia on singles such as ‘Sweet Scar’, ‘Peanut Butter’ and ‘Big Bang’.
Furthermore, they played as support for The Chainsmokers during their Indonesian tour and headlined YouTube’s viral fest. With a collaboration with Dutch dance legend Dolf already under their belt and many more international collaborations in the works, it’s no doubt this trio will be heading further international in no time.
Widely considered as Indonesia’s electronic prince, Dipha Barus has a thriving fan base for his mellowed electronic indie sounds. Barus’ breakthrough hit “All Good” counts more than 16 million streams on Spotify and his singles such as ‘Mine (Night)’ with Raisa and ‘No One Can Stop Us’ have collectively clocked up tens of millions of streams.
Meanwhile, he’s also penned remixes for the likes of Charli XCX and Troye Sivan’s smash hit ‘1999’, Future-Pop star LAUV’s ‘Easy Love’ and dance icons Diplo & Dillon Francis’ ‘Que Que’. Marking the next chapter, Dipha Barus has recently penned a label partnership with US imprint Ultra Music, kicked off by the release of his latest single “You Move Me” with Monica Karina.
Indonesia’s Bass House hero, Bleu Clair has made a mark on the international landscape with his unique and high-quality twist on bassy house music. His heaving soundscapes have picked up acclaim from dance icons such as Malaa, Skrillex, QUIX, A-Trak, Ephwurd and AC Slater among others.
He’s so far collaborated with the UK’s Monxx, as well as penned EP’s through French House label noir sur blanc and Moksi Family ( A sub-imprint of Barong Family) run by globe-trotting house maestro’s Moksi. He’s meanwhile been recruited to remix Matroda on Dim Mak, Yellow Claw on Barong Family and Rave Radio for Vicious Recordings.