With all the music tech on the market, it’s rare to stumble upon electronic music that still feels raw and home-made.
Bottlesmoker is a duo from Bandung, Indonesia, who make music from things lying around at home.
They cut and autotune these sounds, splicing them with melodies from classroom instruments like melodicas and glockenspiels, or new agey equipment like theremins, for their tracks.
On their Facebook page, the two say openly that their unusual tunes have been “rejected many times” by Indonesian record labels.
But the internet has been far kinder: After releasing their first album for free on MySpace, they got noticed by Spanish online label Neovinyl Records, who picked them up for a re-release.
Later, their second album was released on now-defunct U.S. online label Probablyworse Records.
Today, they have five albums and counting on Bandcamp.
From the internet to the festival stage
This virtual recognition has led the duo to getting noticed by large indie festivals such as the St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival. The two are headed to Singapore to play live this weekend.
But how do you replicate such heavily sequenced and edited music live on stage?
Bottlesmoker’s Anggung Suherman or “Angkuy” and Ryan Nobie Adzani told Mashable it comes down to careful planning.
Each song needs sounds to fill the low, middle and high frequencies, they explained. So they categorise their various instruments into the three buckets, and make sure they have enough to make the track sound full.
They’ll typically play with each item and try to coax as many different sounds as they can from them, to plan out the sounds they’ll use.
In this track called “X Toasts” made for Mashable, they used toy keyboards for the melody line and bass, filling up the middle and lower frequencies on the soundscape.
“Then we found a wine glass, and suddenly the idea to make a (high frequency) clink for a ‘toast’ came into my head. We tried it and we loved it,” they said.
A live performance adds the challenge of spontaneity, because they’ll have to loop all the sounds on stage while creating a dynamic song that crescendos and falls. “That’s hard,” they said.
“X Toasts” and the track at the top, “Main Perkusi” took roughly 15 minutes each to loop and record, but took hours later in editing.
Bottlesmoker plays at the Laneway Festival in Singapore on Jan. 21.
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