A pioneering band in Indonesia’s indie music scene, funk-pop quartet Tokyolite were among the first Indonesians to be featured on Japanese music platforms like Tokyo Acoustic Session, Kansai Music Conference, and Asia Versus Grand Prix. The funny thing? None of them are Japanese, and neither is their sound. Comprising Stevan Arianto on guitar and vocals, Alexander Bramono on bass, Rori Jiwa Putra on guitar, and Bintang Aditya Putra on drum, the group has gone independent since 2010. We think it’s just a matter of time before they get picked up by an international label of some kind — yes, you heard it here first.

Hey guys! Your name Tokyolite suggests that you’re from Japan, or your sound is Japanese-inspired. How did the name come about?

Well, this one is tricky because to be honest. We chose Tokyolite because it sounds catchy! There’s no particular meaning nor philosophy behind the name, but in terms of style, we love music from many countries and Japan is no exception.

Can you describe your style of music?

Pop music is the big idea, but we mix it up with funky grooves, rocking energy, and a bit of jazzy sounds.

Is funk gaining popularity in Indonesia?

Funk is quite popular now, especially since the 80s funky vibe sounds started gaining traction among young Indonesian scene-sters. We have many good funk-pop units and bands in Indonesia.

Tell us more about your latest song, Cycle.

Cycle is a new step forward for us. Although it was written back in 2015, we only released it last year in line with the new direction that we are trying to pursue. We combined a nice pop melody and funky beats inspired by John Mayer and Vulfpeck together with slightly-complicated math rock breakdown.

Your band is based in Bogor — what’s the music scene there like?

Bogor is a small town, and the underground movement is quite lively. But for the larger independent movement, they usually go to bigger cities like Jakarta or Bandung. Rock and punk has a special place in this town.

Where are some cool places in Bogor to hang out, anyway?

It depends on what are you looking for. There’s a place called Suryakencana, a Chinatown located near the heart of Bogor City where you can grab local delicacy. And don’t forget to try soto mie, talas, and tauge goreng. You can also visit the Bogor Botanical Garden, a small “jungle” popular among tourists. For hanging out, young people in Bogor are usually scattered across the city in the local coffee shops. Bogor is packed with coffee shops!

Your band has toured across five cities in Japan before. Which was the most memorable experience?

We guess it was Osaka, where we played in a venue called Chika Ikkai. We had no expectations before the gig, but when we showed up, the place was already packed full of people! And of course, it was really cool in Shimokitazawa, where we played our first Tokyo show.

Name some Indonesian musicians you look up to and want to collaborate with!

We each have our own influences, and there are so many of them. For Rory, it’s Dipha Barus, Barasuara, and Rich Brian, while for Bintang, there’s Padi, Kotak, and Didit Saad. Alex is inspired by Fariz RM and Ari Lasso, and for Stevan it’s Afgan and Judika.

Any new projects coming up?

We’re preparing for new singles and hopefully a new album or EP coming out this year. We also aim to play in some neighbourhood festivals and gigs, and will be applying to big events in Singapore and Bangkok this year. Hopefully, it’ll help us gain international attention and exposure in South East Asia’s music scene.

Keep up with Tokyolite’s new project on Facebook and Instagram

Photos courtesy of Satria Khindi.