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Bottlesmoker: an Indonesian Electronic Duo that lives by the Internet

Open Culture

Bottlesmoker, Photo by M. Akbar

Indonesian electronic duo Bottlesmoker has been making DIY, “open source” music since 2005. Founding members Angkuy and Nobie are the brains behind this rebellious, alternative project, blending and bending genre and expectation through their uncompromising approach. Their music is fun, danceable, and truly a product of the internet – a “let’s do it together” collaborative approach to music making that has won them international acclaim.

This year has been particularly successful for the group: in addition to being the first Indonesian group to break through at Singapore’s St. Jerome Laneway festival, they released several new tracks and videos and have been featured in diverse publications including Bandwagon, Vice, and Yes/No music. 

How did you first learn about Creative Commons? What made you want to use CC for your music?

The first time we learned about CC was in 2006, when we released our first album via the Netlabel Neovinyl Records. Baldo, director of Neovinyl, explained how Netlabel worked and suggested we learn about CC. CC makes easier for us to thank the label in our work, and for the label to use and to share. And we think CC is a good way to license our works – which have the principle of free music sharing, so CC is the light for our music to be shared widely and used wisely.

What is “open source music?” Why is open source music important for you?

For us, open source music is a method of music writing that allows people to contribute to creative production and to be free to express their idea in music. Open source music is important in how people collaborate in creative ways to express their ideas and imaginations – through open source there’s a lot of knowledge transformation, the participants will transfer their culture. And that’s important to transfer all the things to the one good thing, which is music. Music in open source music has a million codes of knowledge.

You’ve experienced global success with your unique sound – how does openness play into this? Why is openness an important value for you as musicians?

We’ve learned so many things through the internet from people who share anything important globally. We transfer information and knowledge on internet, we learn from people who open their skill and knowledge, we learn from new culture in internet, the free culture. So, openness is the most important value and we want to be musicians who participate through the sharing of music. So far, we mostly seek unity in our music, so when our music shared freely and widely, and people use and enjoy it, that’s the biggest appreciation for us. We can’t live without openness, so being open to share is really important for our creativity and society, maintains innovation in all parts of creative works, and the openness is the door to that.

Bottlesmoker, Photo by M. Akbar

Bottlesmoker, Photo by M. Akbar

On your website, you write that you choose to “live by the internet.” What does that mean for you? What does that mean for fans of your music?

From 2006 until 2008, our life was only on the internet. We were rejected by all sides in Indonesia, from the record label to mass media. They can’t accept the openness of our music, the way we distribute music. But the internet really helped our music to be shared. Through the internet, finally our music can reach any country in this world, can be played by people in any city in the world. Without the internet, our music is only a ghost, frozen in a folder and buried in the computer. For fans, of course, they can access our music with the holy internet, and we can interact and share about cultures, ideas, and knowledge.

What’s next for you? What kinds of projects do you most look forward to? How are you looking to collaborate with other musicians in Indonesia and beyond?

We still make music and share it for free, so we’ll be releasing a new album in April for free. And we look forward to make a project about audio library of Indonesian traditional music instruments that people can access for free. Indonesia has so many musical instruments and we need to archive the sounds for historical education and culture. Soon we will also collaborate with an American musicologist who has been traveled around Indonesia for years doing field recording of traditional music, and we will make something together for our new album.

Posted 01 February 2017