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 its 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 enchant and thrill listeners around the world.
We have had the pleasure of speaking with them and this has been the result.
Hey, where can we find you right now? How did you start your day?
At home bunkering. Jakarta went to another lockdown recently. We’re trying to stay productive and positive sending each other new materials and swapping funny videos. Haha
Can you tell us a little about your experience? Where are you from / how did you get into music? Was it all internet based?
All of us grew up around music basically, Doni studied Improvisation Stream at Victorian College of The Arts in Melbourne-Australia, Zulham at Prins Claus Conservatorium in the Netherlands, and Kenny at SMM Jakarta. We are known as jazz musician in the Indonesian music community, Zulham is the music director for Java Jazz, the biggest jazz festival in South East Asia. We are all based in Jakarta, Indonesia, hence the name Batavia, it’s the name given by the Dutch when they occupied the city back in the days. BTVC started in late 2018 when we were in the studio working on another project, it was one of those jamming session that really hits the spot, Kamga was there and the song Affirmation was done on the next session. Afterward we were asked to play in a small festival and was amazed with the crowd reaction. We’re actually surprised this project got this far, at first this was just a side project but then the universe reveled something else. It’s quite a trip!
Who have been your main inspirations (both musical and in 'life')? And how have they affected your sound?
Each of us has different influence but we think Mehliana, it’s Brad Mehldau and Mark Guilana’s project, as avid jazz listeners that album really changed our mindset about the term jazz. Aside from that we listen to Deantoni Parks, Floating Points, Dorian Concept, JD Beck, Breathing Effect, and of course JD Beck.
How would you define your sound?
Mind-altering synths, snazzy chord progressions, deep sub-bass, energetic grooves and neck-breaking tempos.
What can you tell us about your collaboration with Kamga?
Kamga has always been a friend of us, He and Doni shared the same stage a couple of times with their last project. We really like his tone and vocal direction, a great pair to our instrument. Also he’s quite a household name in the scene here, so that’s a bonus. Hahaha.
Why did you decide to work on this last job? What led you to that?
It’s just being in the right moment and the right time. Each of us has been in the music industry more than half our age and already tasted commercial success in the mainstream lane in Indonesia, we think it’s nice to have a change of pace sometimes.
Experimenting within the modern composition is a tool that you handle very well. What leads you to take an idea and develop it to carry out a project?
We don’t think too much when making a track, if it feels good then we go for it. In the end we’re just having fun, but for Affirmation, the drum part specifically is inspired by JD Beck and Marcus Gilmore
Speaking within the creative process, I feel the improvisation in your works. Are you more in favor of improvisation than having everything programmed or having everything programmed and leaving some parts to improvisation?
Each way works fine, but with improvisation sometimes we can get that extra “lift”. Our music is best experienced live so will always try to add that flair in our recording.
And finally, how do you see the future in such uncertain times?
To tell you the truth it’s looking pretty grim in Jakarta right now with the second wave but we won’t complain though, everyone has to make sacrifice in order to get through this. What we can do right now is go back to the studio and make music.