(Superman Is Dead Official's Instagram)

Indonesian Music's Green Warriors


MARCH 26, 2018

Jakarta. Moby, Bono, Sheryl Crow, KT Tunstall, Barenaked Ladies – what do they have in common? No, they weren't just big in the '90s but are also some of the more environmentally conscious musicians on the planet, ready to do anything to reduce their carbon footprint while keeping a tight agenda of world tours.

What about Indonesia? The country is no stranger to environmental disasters, from forest fires that sent choking haze to neighboring countries to the infamous Lapindo mudflow that has buried dozens of villages in Sidoarjo, East Java, under hot mud.

What have Indonesian musicians done to speak up against the destruction to their environment?

The answer is plenty. Musicians and bands in Indonesia often at the forefront when it comes to speaking out against companies destroying the environment, protecting the earth and promoting eco-friendly actions.

So here they are, five bands and musicians who are Indonesian music's green warriors.

1. Superman Is Dead

Bali's pop-punk gods Superman Is Dead have always made their commitment to nature preservation very clear.

Bali's Superman Is Dead leads the fight against Benoa Bay reclamation. (Photo from Superman Is Dead's Instagram)

SID have let their music and activism do the talking in the dragged out fight against the controversial Benoa Bay reclamation project in Bali, still Indonesia's number one tourist destination.

The reclamation project will create 700 hectares of artificial islands in and around Benoa Bay which will be used as the sites for several megaprojects. Experts say the reclamation will cause erosion, flooding and destruction of mangroves in the area.

An artist’s rendition of proposed development in Bali’s Benoa Bay. (Photo courtesy of ForBali)

The band are also known for instructing their fans – nicknamed "Outsiders" – to clean up after themselves at SID concerts.

2. Iwan Fals

Iwan Fals ("Out-of-tune Iwan") is often dubbed Indonesia's Bob Dylan. Armed with only an acoustic guitar in his early years in the 1980s, the singer songwriter has always sung against social injustice.

In the last ten years, Iwan has combined his sharp political lyrics with ecological activism – starting a tree-planting project after finding out that massive deforestation is ruining large parts of the country.

Iwan Fals in concert. (Investor Daily Photo/Emral)

The 56-year-old artist, whose real name is Virgiawan Listanto, was a TIME Asian Hero in 2002 and a member of the Bali Rejects Reclamation Forum (ForBali) that has been campaigning to stop the Benoa Bay reclamation project in the popular tourist island.

3. Navicula

Navicula — a hard rock band from Bali — are Indonesian music's Greenpeace. In fact the band has worked closely with the environmental organization to campaign against the palm oil industry in Indonesia.

Environmental groups like Greenpeace hold palm oil companies responsible for the widespread destruction of the country's rainforests.

Navicula during their dirtbike tour across Kalimantan in 2014. (Photo from Navicula's Instagram)

The band have also campaigned for the protection of indigenous communities in Indonesia, especially the Dayaks in Kalimantan.

They have also released songs about orangutan and Sumatran tiger — both categorized as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Navicula's 2013 album "Love Bomb" included the songs "Orangutan" and "Harimau! Harimau!" (Tiger! Tiger!) and "Bubur Kayu" (Pulp), a lament about deforestation.

The album's packaging was made of 100 percent recycled materials and contained no plastic.

4. Marjinal

Jakarta's underground street punk legends Marjinal have constantly criticized injustices in society through its unique mix of punk music, art and activism.

The band also runs a street punk artist community called Taring Babi (Pig's Tusk) that has stuck to its DIY (do-it-yourself) ethos since its formation in the late '90s.

Marjinal in rehearsal. (Photo from Marjinal's Instagram/Ayumi Nakanishi)

Mike (Mikail Israfil) and Bobby (Bobby Firman Adam), the two constant members of the band, have helped many homeless children in and around Jakarta, taking them busking and teaching them how to make DIY t-shirts and accessories to sell.

If you see street punk buskers playing in an angkot (public minivans) or Metromini (public bus) around Jakarta, it's more than likely that you'll hear them playing Marjinal's anthemic, fist-in-your-face protest songs.

One of the band's biggest underground hits is "Negeri Ngeri" (Monstrous Country), whose lyrics exposed social and ecological injustices in the country.

Marjinal have also been helping other artists to protest against the Benoa Bay reclamation project in Bali.

5. Oppie Andaresta

Singer songwriter Oppie Andaresta is best known for songs that touch on social and environmental issues.

Oppie started her career in the mid-1990s and has for a long time been the country's unofficial ambassador of the environment.

Oppie Andaresta is Indonesia's unofficial ambassador of the environment. (Photo from Oppie Andaresta's Instagram)

She has performed at the Indonesian Pavilion for three years in a row – from 2015 to 2017 – during the UN Climate Change Summit in Bonn, Marrakech and Paris.

In April last year, the 45-year-old released a children's album called "From the River Side." Oppie donated the proceeds from the sales of the album to the Center for Orangutan Protection.