It’s hard not to at least be aware of the local noise scene if you live in Yogyakarta. That’s because, most of the time, the scene comes to you, whether you want it or not. Recently, we were on a Jogja city bus when a small crowd got on board with their arms full of speakers, cables, and DIY electronic noisemakers, and proceeded to blast out the bus, exposing the riders to a new soundtrack of discordant noise.
It was another performance by Jogja Noise Bombing, a collective that believes in staging secret, but very public, happenings throughout the city. They do this often enough, taking over parks, streets, and other public spaces. But there was something special about this performance because this time, they weren’t alone.
The entire city was full of experimental artists, 57 in total, for an international music festival called Nusasonic. It was the biggest noise and experimental festival of its kind to be held in Jogja and, true to the scene’s outsider status, it pulled of eleven days of music, discussions, and workshops without the kinds of corporate sponsorship (read: tobacco money) that usually seep into arts and music festivals in Southeast Asia.