#SOUNDCHECK: Indonesian indie bands that rock

Some of Indonesia’s hidden gems are its promising indie musicians, though it’s unfortunate that many them are unheard of in many parts of the world. One of the reasons is, of course, the songs are written in Bahasa Indonesia. So if you’re a foreigner wanting to check out the country’s sprawling independent music scene, good luck doing that.

In this post, I’m sharing you some of the musicians that deserve your attention.


SORE (which means afternoon in Bahasa Indonesia) is a Jakarta-based indie band formed in 2002. Their debut album “Centralismo” in 2005 was praised by Time Magazine Asia as “One of Five Asian Albums Worth Buying.” Three years later, their album “Ports of Lima” was named by Rolling Stone Indonesia as the best album of 2008. (SORE: Breaking Dusk)

My personal favourite from their repertoire is “Sssst…” Catchy riff.

Payung Teduh

Payung Teduh is a band formed in 2007 by Is (Mohammad Istiqamah Djamad) and Comi (Aziz Kariko), both musicians at the Pagupon Theatre of the prestigious Universitas Indonesia, in 2007. Back in the days, the two close friends would play their music “anywhere from the canteen of of FIB UI, hangout places inside the campus complex, to the lake side near UI’s Centre Administration Building.” Today, they are joined by Cito as a drummer and Ivan as a guitalele player.

Why listen to Payung Teduh? Poetic lyrics backed by lyrical melodies.

Harum mawar di taman (The scent of roses in the garden

Menusuk hingga ke dalam sukma (pierce deep into the soul)

Dan menjadi tumpuan rindu cinta bersama (and become the foundation of our yearning to love each other)

Di sore itu menuju senja (in that afternoon turning into dusk)


Float was formed in 2004 by Meng (Hotma Roni Simamora), Bontel (Windra Beynamin), and Raymond Agus Saputra. Their big break happened in 2005 after recording their independent debut EP “No-Dream Land.” It prompted movie producer Mira Lesmana to ask the band to create the music for her movie “3 Hari Untuk Selamanya,” which would later reap awards, including the Abhinaya Trophy for Best Soundtrack at the Jakarta Film Festival, and an award for Best Theme Song at the MTV Indonesian Movie Awards, both in 2007.

Banda Neira

Banda Neira is comprised of two college friends Ananada Badudu and Rara Sekar. The indie pop-folk duo of singer-songwriters were actively involved in the campus media group, Media Parahyangan. They first released a four song EP in 2012, followed by a full-length album the next year. Today, Ananda is based in Jakarta, filing reports for Tempo, while Rara is a social based in Bali. I do hope that they soon find a chance to record new material!

Did I miss something? Write down your recommendations below. 🙂

Credits: Danang Naufal Rahmat for Is’ photo. Original image can be found here.


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