Hijabi ‘indie mothers’ embraced by young Indonesian music fans

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Jakarta (AFP) – At a sold-out festival in central Jakarta, hijab-wearing sexagenarian singer Rien Djamain performed an upbeat song about nuclear destruction to an audience of thousands, mostly young Indonesians.

Behind the frontwoman of the all-female Nasida Ria band are fellow musicians in silver and black sequined dresses, performing velvety vocals on bongos, violins, mandolins, bamboo flutes and tambourines. Backing up.

“Cursed creator of nuclear bombs, why invite Judgment Day?” she sang on the track “Bom Nuklir.”

A young concert-goer swayed from side to side during eerie nagging, shouting “Mother!” with your favorite band member.

Originally formed 47 years ago as a Quranic recital group, the band now has a dozen performers and fuses Arabic with traditional Indonesian dangdut music.

Their humorous Islamic pop tunes on serious themes like justice and human rights are popular with social media-obsessed youth looking for some lightness in their playlists.

Riding the wave of Indonesia’s increasingly vibrant music scene, the band’s droll lyrics earned them a certain notoriety.

Their songs compare womanizers to “incited bats”, explain that “monkeys like to carry rifles and humans like to show their nipples”, and use similes and metaphors. It’s full.

Nasida Ria’s combination of Arabic and traditional Indonesian Dandug music is winning over young audiences © AGNES ANYA / AFP

Fathul Amin, 23, believes the band is “more than just cool.”

“Why? Because all the members are women who can play more than three instruments,” he said.

Nasida Ria’s expressive verbal screen grabs have been widely shared as memes, creating a connection between the band and younger generations.

“That’s how young people communicate these days, and that’s fine. More importantly, it shows that our message through songs is widely accepted,” Jermaine told AFP.

“We are grateful that despite being mostly older members, Nasida Ria is still loved by young people. That our music is still fun for them.”

“Guilty Pleasure”

Music consumption in Indonesia is evolving, with listeners adding genre mixes that include more traditional sounds, experts say. For example, dangdut with Javanese lyrics and reggae pop sung in the East Indonesian dialect have been added to Western favourites.

Hijab-wearing Nasida Ria band member Maki performs at a festival in Jakarta.
Hijab-wearing Nasida Ria band member Maki performs at a festival in Jakarta. © AGNES ANYA / AFP

According to music journalist Sindhu Arpit, the growing trend has made Nasida Ria more relevant than ever.

“The younger generation tends to celebrate music with a sense of humor. They are attracted not only to the aesthetics of music, but also to musical comedy,” he told AFP.

Dangdut music is becoming more and more popular, with acts performing at festivals across Indonesia, playing alongside rock bands for younger audiences, and adding to gigs for regular crowds in small villages. increase.

“Many young people in Jakarta are embracing local music again. Now these types of music are called guilt,” Arpito said.

“Islamic songs are often serious, with lyrics that politely quote Islamic teachings.

YouTube surge

The group capitalized on the demand for entertainment during the Covid-19 pandemic, when the world was stuck indoors and concert venues were closed.

Audience watching Nasida Ria's performance on the big screen at a festival in Jakarta
Audience watching Nasida Ria’s performance on the big screen at a festival in Jakarta © AGNES ANYA / AFP

The youngest member of Nasida Ria, 27-year-old Nazla Zain, attributes their success to modern technology that makes their music accessible to people of all backgrounds.

“We use YouTube and other music applications to keep up with trends,” she said.

“Now young people with mobile phones can listen to our songs. Maybe that’s why they like us.”

Since March 2020, YouTube subscribers have surged 6x, reaching nearly 500,000.

He also boasts nearly 50,000 monthly listeners on streaming platform Spotify and 38,000 followers on Instagram.

32-year-old metal and punk fan Ricky Placecho said, “They’re still performing at a not-so-young age, so it’s pretty cool.

“No wonder so many call them indie mothers.”

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