It’s official! On 9 & 10th August, the first Ubud Village Jazz Festival will be held at ARMA. 22 international and Indonesian jazz bands are already confirmed. We talked to Yuri Mahatma, the jazz guitarist who founded the festival [with AA.Anom Darsana of Antida Productions], and Astrid Sulaiman, jazz pianist and assistant director, to find out more.
UN&T: Why did you choose Ubud as the host-town for your festival? Is it a better location than Antida in Denpasar, where you’ve held events before?
Yuri: Antida was for the local population. We’ve got that segment already. Now we have to move on and expand.
I’m a musician and I know that whenever I play my music in Ubud, it’s a great success. It’s a much more mature audience, regarding appreciation levels, compared to other parts of the island and even Jakarta.
UN&T: Do you expect people will also fly into Bali to attend the festival?
Astrid: Yes, because we’ve received many emails already from people in the UK, Philippines, Japan, America. Mostly they are planning to have holidays here. That’s the reason we’ll have the festival in the peak season.
UN&T: What kind of numbers do you anticipate?
Astrid: An audience of maybe 2-3000 over 2 days. We have 3 stages.
Yuri: 2 small stages playing at more or less the same time, and a main stage.
UN&T: Why simultaneous concerts?
Yuri: Because we’ve got so many musicians, so many bands!
Astrid: We’ve been working on this since August last year. The lineup is from Germany, the Netherlands, Japan, Malaysia, Brazil and of course Indonesia.
Yuri: We’re going to start around 4pm each day, until 11.30pm, to have enough time for all.
Astrid: And we already arranged a jam session in after-party hours at the hotel, from 12am until very late. The public can come. We do that at the Java Jazz Festival, we always jam at the Borobudur Hotel until like 4am, 5am…
UN&T: How have you selected the musicians who are coming?
Yuri: Most of them I know personally already, and we chat by email.
UN&T: How many different jazz styles will be represented?
Yuri: Classic jazz from the 30s and 40s – we have a very famous line-up from Holland playing in that style: Peter Beets . And some modern stuff from Jakarta and Holland, young musicians who have just graduated from music academy. The band from Germany is with a singer, from Dortmund.
Astrid: We receive emails from other musicians all around the world asking to play, but we don’t have enough space any more. Maybe next year we’ll get bigger- like Java Jazz Festival is 3 nights in March.
UN&T: You didn’t want to hold your festival just before or after them?
Astrid: No. We don’t want to be the same like Java Jazz, because we live in Bali and want to have the Balinese thing in it.
UN&T: What gave you the idea for this festival?
Astrid: This idea mainly comes from the musicians who live in Bali. We’ve had festivals here before, but the organizer always come from Jakarta or outside Bali, doesn’t have really connection with Bali.
Yuri: We know better about the audience in Bali because we live here.
UN&T: Being a musician and being a festival organizer are two very different things!
Yuri: We’re lucky enough because Ibu Janet [Ubud Writers & Readers Festival] and Amir Rabik have become our advisors.
UN&T: How has the response been from the rest of the Ubud community?
Astrid: It’s good!
Yuri: At first we worked really hard to get sponsorship, but now we are starting to receive many phone calls offering sponsorship. The community supports us with big discount. And we’ll have altogether about 120 volunteers.
UN&T: Who is sponsoring the festival?
Astrid: The main sponsor is Plaga Wines from Indowines. They are going to have free flow wine from 7pm up until 10pm. Dekor Indonesia is the official vendor partner, and Thai Airways has also come on board as our airline sponsor.
UN&T: Will you have any extra concerts before or after the festival?
Astrid: Yes. It’s a 2-day festival based in Ubud but we’re also going to go around. The first confirmed concert is on 1st August in Candi Dasa. Afterwards we’ll have post events in Seminyak.
UN&T: Will the program include an educational element?
Astrid: We’re going to hold 2 kinds of workshops: the international musicians sharing their experience with the national musicians, and the local musicians sharing their experience about the culture of Indonesian music – about gamelan, Sundanese and Timor music, for example.
UN&T: Tell us about your sustainability ethos for the festival.
Yuri: We are going to plant trees during the daytime, if the musicians wake up in time!
We’ll also provide bicycles for the artists so they can go to the venue by bike. It’s good also for the photographer: there will be a musician on a bike with a double bass!
Especially for the youngsters we want to encourage green practices – also as little plastic as possible in the festival.
UN&T: Do you see the leafy-green outdoor setting as being important to the festival? It’s so different from going into a concert hall, for example.
Yuri: Of course. Bali is too good to resist, for everyone all around the world.
Astrid: The atmosphere is more calm, more artistic, in Ubud. It gives us inspiration to perform – with a nice audience who respects us and appreciates what we do. It’s different when we have concerts in Seminyak or Kuta area – they listen, but they chat very loud…
Yuri: The audiences are more focused on the music here. I cannot ask the musicians to play only party music.
Astrid: Of course people are allowed to talk, but maybe not screaming!
UN&T: Given that you’re called the “Ubud Village Jazz Festival”, what happens if in a few years Ubud is not a village any more?
Yuri: Well at least they’ll have a village in our festival.
UN&T: A village of jazz aficionados!
This year’s line-up includes Peter Beets (Netherlands), Uwe Plath, Dian Pratiwi (Germany), Yokohama Association of Artists (Japan), David Ades (Australia), and Balawan, Dwiki Dharmawan, Simak Dialog, The Jongens, Koko Harsoe, Underground Jazz Movement and Ito Kurdhi (Indonesia).
Tickets will go on sale towards the end of April: 500,000Rp for 2 days, or 325,000Rp for 1 day, with wine included. Concessions are for school students only.
Food stalls and refreshments will be available on site.
Keep your eye on www.ubudvillagejazzfestival.com for full program and details of workshops and gala events.