Jakarta-based band Bedchamber embodies today’s hip urban music scene. Hyper-aware dreaminess engulfed in low fidelity; the band’s moniker perfectly encapsulates its sound and aesthetic.
By adopting the echoes of a 1980s post-punk musicians playing inside a cavernous venue and adding just a touch of ’90s slacker delivery, Bedchamber — made up of vocalist and guitarist Ratta Bill Abaggi, guitar player Abi Chalabi, bassist Smita Kirana and drummer Ariel Kaspar — sounds more like a band out of New York City than our own Batavia.
As such, it would be impossible not to compare their debut release, the five-track “Perennial E.P.,” to US indie crown-wearers DIIV, Wild Nothing, Beach Fossils and the like. There is no denying those acts built the foundations for “Perennial’s” sonic template; the trebly surf guitar, the bouncy tempos, and drifting vocals are just some of the characteristics the album borrowed.
And that’s not a particularly bad thing. For one, a young band can have far worse influences — think of all the 20-somethings still trying to “make it” through the dying major label system — and Bedchamber’s sense of attack on melodies is good enough that these songs are enjoyable however secondhand they sometimes feel. Like its members, who during the band’s conception in 2013 just entered their twenties, the record feels incredibly youthful and unabashed about its influences — there is no room for jadedness here. Call it youthful naivety or adolescent idealism; whatever it is, Bedchamber is believable as a passion project.
“We want to write songs that are honest, so most of the time we’re just trying to evoke our own angst and problems. It may sound self-centered, but we think that’s pretty much what adolescence is. Through the release of our songs, we hope to connect with people — it’s okay if there aren’t many — who can relate to our feelings,” Ratta explains.
Immeasurably urban cool, the band members first met at an art exhibition in September of last year. Though they had somewhat corresponded through the Internet prior to the event, Ratta says that meeting in person “really bonded us, that it made sense for us to start a band.”
They then found a rehearsal space and began jamming heavily, combining their influences together and quickly learning they had strong musical chemistry — writing songs together was a breeze.
“All the songs in ‘Perennial E.P.’ were composed together during our pseudo-jam sessions. Most of the time, Ratta and Abi brought up some guitar riffs and we started jamming to them, while all of the lyrics were written afterward by Ratta — whenever he wasn’t [suffering from] writer’s block,” Ariel explains.
Guitarist Abi adds: “Our inspiration on songwriting comes from within ourselves and things that affect the way we think. And of course [from] the bands we love!”
The band says the idea of releasing an EP came when they “realized that the [school] holiday was approaching, and it was surely going to stretch on if we didn’t attempt to create anything.”
Their obsession with “summer” music is also a US indie influence that sounds rather odd coming from a band that resides in a perpetually warm country. It mattered little, though, as the record was also a graduation from their teenage years of sort, a celebration of their initiation into adulthood.
“We were all about to turn 20, so we thought it would be cool to leave our teenage years with something that was going to resonate,” Ratta suggests.
The record was an adventure to create, with the band members saying they were firing on all cylinders when it came to writing songs. They also quickly learned about the process of recording together, which became a bonding process in itself.
“We spent our whole summer holiday trying to figure out how to properly make a record from scratch in Ratta’s bedroom. So yes, we recorded them [the songs] by ourselves. We had zero experience in recording so we learned by doing and cluelessly punching random buttons — it was pretty fun though.”
When describing what the result means to them, the band’s passion becomes clear: “Perennial E.P.” is an honest record about where they were — emotionally, creatively and musically — at that time of their young lives.
“The album is a constellation of emotions, especially as we were starting to leave our teenage years and everyone around us was changing — and we were, too. A new phase had arrived,” Ratta says.