White Shoes & The Couples Company
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White Shoes & The Couples Company

Jakarta, Jakarta Raya, Indonesia | INDIE

Jakarta, Jakarta Raya, Indonesia | INDIE
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The odds were against me making it to the debut NYC show of Indonesian pop superstars White Shoes & Couples Company -- the rain was unrelenting, I had a full-blown cold and fever, my energy was near zero and the Phillies game was going to go on (what an amazing game. I figured if this band flew half way around the world to play in front of 100 people, I can suck up my illness and make it over to Brooklyn. The end result was my favorite band I saw during the week that was not part of my Joe's Pub show.
White Shoes and the Couples Company might have a hidden time machine somewhere because they might have travel from 1966. You can take those countless post-punk 80s revivalist techno bands and I'll have my one Asian pop band.
To say the show was crazy fun would be an understatement. You have a unique band full of positivity, a group of Indonesian natives going nuts and music that you just don't see often in these parts. Even Sondre Lerche was smiling throughout the set.
The setlist:
• Super Reuni
• Brother John
• Tentang Cita
• Sabda Alam (Ismail Marzuki cover)
• Topstar
• Today Is No Sunday
• Ye Good Ol' days
• Roman Ketiga
• Windu & Defrina
• Aksi Kucing
Somewhere among the Magic Numbers, Cibo Matto and the Archies lies White Shoes & The Couples Company. Entrenched in 60s bubble gum pop, the music leaps from the stage in bright colors and hip retro kitsch. Their self-title debut album is on the Minty Fresh label, who specialize in international pop bands.
While their album can come off as a little subdued and easy-going, their live show is high-energy, happy smiley good time. When lead singer Aprilla Apsari came out twirling an umbrella, you knew it was going to be different and special. Even though five of the six members could get U.S. work visas, the band's sound was full, spunky and had incredble bounce. They got a temp guitarist who dressed like Rudy from Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids.
Their popular song, and a good intro to the band, "Tentang Cita" feels like an anthem for Up With People, with it's sunny harmonies, sweet lead vocals and funky guitar line. They included a cover from Indonesian hero, Ismail Marzuki, which I'm sure his music is in all of your iPods. According to Wiki, Ismail Marzukiwas an Indonesian composer and musician who wrote a number of popular patriotic songs during the country's early post-independence period in the 1940s and 1950s. They saved their best song for last, "Aksi Kucing" from their new EP, which lends the audience into meowing on cue (see the video below). The song also features an extended drum solo that was dynamite.
As you can see with the pictures, the band dresses the part, meaning they all look like good will ambassadors for the Indonesian Tourist Bureau. It was rather cute how they all loved being on stage for the first time in New York (they'll also visit D.C. and L.A. on this trip). Numerous times, they pleaded the crowd to buy merch so that they could get home.
So let's hope you all get to see the White Shoes crew on their next visit to New York. They are too much fun to be ignored.
As for Spike Hill, it was my first time there. It's one of the various indiguishable bars on Bedford with a makeshift stage, minimal lighting and low-wattage when it comes to sound.


http://www.musicsnobbery.com/2008/10/white-shoes-the-couples-company-spike-hills-cmj-saturday.html

- musicsnobbery


THE JAKARTA POST.com
Features - March 12, 2006


Karel Matoa, Contributor, Jakarta

There's more than a lousy emcee and dull still-photo presentation at the February launch of the soundtrack to Berbagi Suami (Sharing husbands), a new film by director Nia Dinata.

During the last quarter of the event, one of the two bands featured on the soundtrack was called up by the emcee to perform at the event.

Five musicians -- a woman vocalist, two guitarists, a cellist/bassist and a drummer -- in their mid-20's, wearing vintage outfits from an era seemingly way beyond their generation, came up on stage.

Soon, they were stunning hundreds of guests who had gathered at the Jakarta Arts Center (GKJ) that night with a rendition of the Indonesian classic Sabda Alam (Nature's words) written by one of the country's finest composers: Ismail Marzuki.

They did not break into an over-the-top stage performance. In fact, the vocalist, dressed in a pink paisley retro dress, only flicked her fingers casually, hand on her hip, swaying here and there during the song.

While their performance might be minimalist, the music is well-structured and enjoyable.

After delivering three songs, the band bowed, intending to exit the stage -- only to hear the audience yell for an encore. The demand was met, and this time the soothing alto of the vocalist was accompanied by the audience, clapping loudly in rhythm. Some guests couldn't help but move their bodies to the catchy tune of Windu & Defrina, a song about teenagers in love.

For White Shoes and the Couples Company, this was probably their first time to appear at the most prestigious concert hall in Jakarta, but surely the thunderous applause and positive reception are no strangers to them.

Named after a short-lived university trend of wearing white shoes and the fact that two band members are married and two others dating each other, White Shoes is considered one of the hottest indie band in Indonesia, offering songs reminiscent of nostalgic Indonesian pop tunes the likes of Tetty Kadi, Dara Puspita and Koes Plus.

The band's debut single Senandung Maaf (Ballad of apology) appeared on the best-selling soundtrack of Janji Joni (Joni's Promise) in 2005, and while other indie bands consider it lucky if they manage to reach sales of over 10,000, White Shoes' self-titled album, launched in September 2005 under the Aksara Records label, has sold more than 15,000 albums to date.

Performance-wise, it's no different. Some music lovers may have caught their performance at the recent Java Jazz Festival, but if you missed it, you can still catch them performing eight new arrangements as the opening act -- along with indie band Mocca -- at the March 18 concert of Norwegian guitar duo Kings of Convenience in Jakarta.

Not bad for a band that was formed in 2002 to provide an hour's entertainment at a music event at the Jakarta Arts Institute (IKJ), of which its members are all graduates.

"We really didn't mind if we didn't get a chance to perform after the gathering. But it turned out that people liked our music and here we are," said bassist Ricky Surya Virgana, 25, during a lunch break with the other band members at Arci music studio in Menteng, Central Jakarta.

In the beginning, it was piles of homework and tight side-job deadlines that brought the six students of the fine arts department together. They often had to stay on campus until the wee hours completing projects, finding time in between to compose and sing songs about whatever funny and interesting things they observed around them.

"I saw friends who were so in love I couldn't help creating lyrics about their being lovey-dovey, and I sang it to guitars played by Ale and Rio," said vocalist Aprilia "Sari" Apsari, 25, about Windu & Defrina, the first track on their debut album.

The band said they did not intend their music to hark back to those of the 1970s, '60s or even '50s.

"Our first musical reference was our parents' LPs and cassette collections, and that included Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones and The Beatles, as well as local artists like Sam Saimun, Koes Plus and Dara Puspita," said Aprimela Prawidiyanti, or Mela, 25, Ricky's wife who plays piano, keyboards, viola and violin.

"And when we decided to form a band, we made a commitment to create only songs with the kind of music that we like. So it's not surprising that the output was this so-called retro music, something influenced by old musicians, but also something that we enjoyed listening," she said.

Although White Shoes might appear to be benefiting from the current industry trend that considers everything from the past to be hip and cool, the band is aware that the retro music they're playing will someday lose its popularity as, like in any kind of art, trends change rapidly.

"We don't play music for money, so, when someday nobody listens to us anymore, that's fine," said Ricky.

But bassist Yusmario Farabi, or Rio, 25, s - Karel Matoa - THE JAKARTA POST.com


"The best indie pop band from Indonesia ever, their light and frothy sound will banish the dark clouds and leave you feeling quite warm inside. " - Tim Sendra
- Tim Sedra - www.allmusic.com


March 16, 2008, 3:02 pm
SXSW: Love Boat Pop from Indonesia
By Ben Sisario

Tags: pop, South by Southwest Music Festival

Sometimes it takes a band that is literally from the other side of the world to escape the web of irony that makes watching some shows here an exercise in double-guessing. For example, is Chromeo really in love with Journey, or was it just getting cheap yuks when it ended its set on Saturday afternoon at Stubb’s with a medley of “Don’t Stop Believin’,� “Any Way You Want It� and other standards of FM radio from circa 1981?
Late on Saturday night I caught White Shoes and the Couples Company, a group from Indonesia that dresses in crisp white suits and skirts, sounds like a house band on “The Love Boat� and was about the more adorable thing I saw all week. Its songs draw from 1960s and ’70s bubblegum and easy-listening, with big nods to Neil Diamond, the Carpenters and disco.
But what made its set at La Habana Annex so refreshing was a straightforwardness that had no obscure reference points and caused no skeptical head-scratching. A friend reported that the band had been spotted outside the bar beforehand “looking scared,� but when they came on they were all smiles and “ba-ba-ba-ba� harmony choruses, with the lead singer, Aprilia Apsari, doing dainty dance steps and snapping her fingers (a role specifically attributed to her on the band’s MySpace Page. There was even a long, Ringoesque drum solo.
The band has released a self-titled in the United States through Minty Fresh, and as with every other show here there was a merchandise table to the side. The bassist, Ricky Surya Virgana, pointed it out with a pitch I definitely heard nowhere else at SXSW: “If they don’t sell out,� he said, “we can’t go back to Indonesia.� And then they went back to smiles and “ba-ba-ba-ba.�
- New York Times


White Shoes & the Couples Company [Habana Annex; 11 p.m.]
By; Matthew Solarski

And now for something complete different...indie pop! From Indonesia! Jakarta sextet White Shoes & the Couples Company (minus a guitarist here) came from halfway around the world to entertain, and entertain they did. Between the slick matching wedding band getup, the highly danceable retro pop stylings, and the picture-perfect poise of charismatic vocalist Aprilia Apsari, there was much to love about this Minty Fresh-signed act. Separated from this adorable performance, the music may have come across a bit hokey, but give these kids credit for their willingness to put on a show, complete with sing- and clap-alongs, much moving of feet, and even a cute drum solo bit.

So long, SXSW 2008! It's been real.
- Pitchforkmedia.com


THE MOD SQUAD
by Jason Tedjasukmana

You wouldn't have put money on it, but one of the sweetest sounds in
underground music today pays homage to Indonesian film scores and pop
acts of the 1960s. White Shoes & the Couples Company, a Jakarta-based
six-piece, have parlayed not only a musical but sartorial fascination with
their nation's pop culture into a sound and look that have seen them hailed
as one of the most "crush worthy" bands of 2006 by influential music site
allmusic.com, and "the most blog worthy band on the planet" by Ken
Micallef, music critic at Yahoo! Music. Last year rollingstone.com named
them one of the best bands on MySpace — now established as a crucial forum for breaking acts.
"They have all the makings of a cult act that could have a decent following in Asia," says Hasief
Ardiasyah, associate editor of Rolling Stone Indonesia.
It was the band's MySpace profile that attracted the attention
of Minty Fresh, a Chicago-based record label that is home to
college-friendly bands like the Cardigans, Liz Phair, Veruca
Salt and Tahiti 80. "The band's music possesses a charm,
melodicism and style that we fell in love with immediately,"
says label head Jim Powers, who signed White Shoes and rereleased
their self-titled 2005 debut album in the U.S. in
September. What American listeners will make of White Shoes'
fey and shimmering songs — mostly recorded in Indonesian,
with one or two in English — remains to be seen however.
Indonesia's biggest stars — platinum-selling bands such as
Dewa and Gigi — have never had any impact on the U.S.
market. When they tour the States, it's to play to the small
handfuls of Indonesian students on American campuses.
It is just possible, though, that White Shoes will be able to
leverage its Internet buzz and get noticed by college
trendsetters on the lookout for musical exotica. The debut
album treads a daring line between cool and camp, filtering
Paris of the 1960s, or swinging London, through an Asian
prism. The tunes call to mind not only film soundtracks but
also TV themes and tacky advertising jingles from
consumerism's golden age. It's a deliciously anachronistic
sound, underscored by the lack of digital instrumentation (the
band's lineup includes three classically-trained musicians).
"We call it Indonesian pop," says 26-year-old vocalist Aprilia Apsari. That's not because it bears
any resemblance to the Top 40 fodder on sale in the country's malls and markets, but because it
is steeped in the spirit of vintage Indonesian acts like Ismail Marzuki, Jack Lesmana, Noor
Bersaudara and Guruh Gipsy. White Shoes is "unafraid to embrace the kitsch aspect of the past
and have fun with it in their music and image," explains Ardiasyah. "Hipster kids can relate to
their image, which is pop but not cheesy mainstream."
The band's style has been carefully crafted since its formation at the Jakarta Institute for the Arts
in the summer of 2002, when Apsari, her guitarist boyfriend Yusmario Farabi and guitarist Saleh
came together. They later recruited cellist Ricky Surya Virgana and pianist Aprimela Prawidyanti
Virgana, a married couple playing in local orchestras and teaching music. Percussionist and
vibraphone player John Navid completed the lineup in 2004.
After developing a strong following on the local bar and college circuit, they signed to Jakarta's
premier indie label, Aksara Records, in 2005 and quickly became its top-selling act, shifting
15,000 copies of the White Shoes album. "These guys had a lot of fans before they signed with
us," says Hanin Sidharta, Aksara's co-founder. "And they have used their art-school background
to create a look and sound that is unique."
That look includes a special line of (what else?) White Shoes sneakers designed by Bandungbased
clothing retailer 347, as well as their own model of Vespa scooter — the ultimate Mod
accessory. Artwork for the band's latest release, the five-song EP Skenario Masa Muda, reveals
an abiding passion for Mod style. In a photograph mocked-up to resemble a 1960s postcard,
band members are shown posing in a tailor's shop, like a clutch of Carnaby Street dandies.
White Shoes will travel to the U.S. in March to play the SXSW Music Conference and Festival, an
industry showcase held annually in Austin, Texas. For now, though, there are more songs to
write, and more film soundtracks, vinyl LPs and magazines from the 1960s to scour. How
charming that the biggest leap forward in Indonesian pop music should actually be a giant step
back in time.

- TIME Asia



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Digital edition

March 16, 2008
SXSW 2008 - Saturday night fever
Filed under: SXSW — Jim Carroll @ 10:31 pm
Band Of The Day

They are called White Shoes & The Couples Company. I think I was in love with them the first time I even heard the name. They’re from Jakarta, Indonesia - like, how many indie bands making their own back-to-the-future sounds do you know from downtown Jakarta? I mean, c’mon. A breath of fresh air on the last night of SXSW 2008, White Shoes (lots of bands with ‘white’ in their name this year - hey, it’s a trend) came onstage and we all start swooning with delight. At this stage of the game - they’re band number 80something for me - it’s becoming a blur and the bands are starting to sound the same. Or, like, that awful, terrible, ridiculous, pointless band who played just before White Shoes, sounding like The Blizzards fronted by Paddy Casey playing the greatest hit of The Coronas. Yeah, that bad.

Then, White Shoes appear and, you know what, they deserve a new paragraph of their own. On a new page

A bunch of happy-as-you like kids playing sunnysideup pop with lots of glammy straight-no-chaser oohs and aahs, the band exude charm and gumption and sass. You know right away - and oh boy, she knows it too - that their lead singer is a star. Aprilia Apsari pouts and smiles and points her fingers a lot like all stars do. She also does a spot of singing. Then, the drummer gets in on the act, playing a wicked drum solo and ending by juggling his drumsticks. You have to smile. The music too is quite wonderful - all retro-facing, darling, old-fashioned songs to learn and sing. Put on your White Shoes today.
- Irish Times.com



Entering The Habana Annex on 6th, I could have as well been traveling back to a cruise ship in the 70s thanks to White Shoes and The Couples Company. Clad in matching attire, the Indonesian outfit looked like it stepped straight out of a scene from The Love Boat and the music followed suit. White Shoes’ blend of retro pop and jazz makes for one of coolest takes on lounge since Esquivel.

The tunes are as polished as the band members’ style and it’s not surprising, seeing as the sextet (who were only five strong last night because of work visa woes – damn you, government!) met and formed at an Indonesian art school. A majority of the audience couldn’t sing along (the band sings in its native tongue), but lucky for us you don’t need to know the words to dance along.


I was honestly expecting a bigger crowd, but thanks to the gazillion plus band playing a gazillion plus times this year at South By it was only mildly attended. I guess that’s the trade off for the growing popularity of this festival: With so many opportunities to see every band, waits were rarely longer than 15 or so minutes – with the obvious few exceptions.

As the night came to a close and I headed over to the Vice after party, I had to admit that this was one of the better South Bys I’d been to in the past few years. Then I got rejected at the Vice party. But lucky for me, a disgruntled security guard at the other door was letting people walk right through his entrance. (Take that, rude RSVP girl!) So yeah, once again, pretty good year. – Dusti Rhodes


- Houston Press.com


Discography

DISCOGRAPHY

2005 - OST “Janji Joni” (Aksara Records)
single “Senandung Maaf”
- White Shoes & The Couples Company (Aksara Records/Universal
Music Indonesia)

2006 - Kompilasi “Thursday Riot” (Parc Suddenly Records / Kenanga
Records)
single “Kapiten & Gadis Desa”
- OST “Berbagi Suami’ (Aksara Records)
single “Sabda Alam”(cipt. Ismail Marzuki)
“Bersandar”

2007 - "MESIN WAKTU" Compilation (2007/Aksara Records)
single "Mesin Waktu"(written by NAIF)
- White Shoes & The Couples Company ( September 2007/
Minty Fresh Records)
- “Skenario Masa Muda” EP (September 2007/Aksara Records)

- "Skenario Masa Muda" EP (Oktober 2008/ Minty Fresh)

2009 - “Senja Menggila” single (Juli 2009 / Aksara Records / YesNoWave)
- White Shoes & The Couples Company s/t (November 2009 / Avant Garden Records – Taiwan)

Photos

Bio

White Shoes & The Couples Company - a pop sextet from Jakarta, Indonesia – formed in 2002 by Jakarta Art Institute of Cikini colleagues-turned-lovers Rio Farabi (Rio) and Aprilia Apsari (Sari).  The original line-up of the band included Sari on vocals and violins, Rio on rhythm guitar and a third Art Institute colleague Saleh Husein (Saleh) on melody guitar. Always conceptualizing the band as more than a trio, after their Indonesian debut, Sari and Rio asked another couple from the music department at the school to join the band. Though they initially turned down the offer to focus on plays in an orchestra and lecturing, Ricky Surya Virgana (Ricky) and Aprimela Prawidiyanti (Mela) eventually accepted Sari and Rio’s invitation to bring their keyboard, bass, and orchestral talents to the group, the line-up for White Shoes & The Couples Company was almost there. All that was missing from the band’s already rich indie-pop sound was the percussive crash of drums, a void filled by John Navid in 2004.  The sextet was complete.

 

Influenced by 1970s Indonesian movie soundtracks, retro disco beats, as well as classic ‘30s jazz and everything in between, White Shoes have created a gentle, hypnotizing and gorgeous sound that has made them stand-out among the global musical masses. The band, first released their self titled album in 2005 by Jakarta based label, Aksara Records, and distributed by Universal Music Indonesia in Indonesia. The album has sold over 15,000 copies, and it’s a major step for an indie band.

In the same year, White Shoes & The Couples Company has contributed one song in Original Movie Soundtrack “Janji Joni” produced by Kalyana Shira Films. The movie was a big hit in Indonesian Cinemas, and also the single from the band, titled “Senandung Maaf”, becoming a high rotation in every radio in Indonesia. Following this success, in 2006, White Shoes & The Couples Company join another production from Kalyana Shira Films in a movie “Berbagi Suami”. The band recorded two songs for this movie soundtrack.

 

In 2007, the band is also signed up with Minty Fresh (USA), an indie records label that based in Chicago, USA. Minty Fresh has released White Shoes & The Couples Company’s first album on October 2007 and distributed the album to the US, Mexico, Canada, Australia and Japan. Following that, the band continued to sign up with many record labels in Asian continent, such as: Bosmoon-Beatball Records (South Korea), Avant Garden Records (Taiwan), and Desinee (Japan) for distribution across the world.

 

The band has performed at many prestigious festivals such as Melody of Life Music Festival 2006 in Bangkok, SXSW Music Conference 2008 in Austin, CMJ Music Festival 2008 in New York, Up To The Sky Music festival 2011 in Singapore, Clockenflap 2011 in Hong Kong, MIDEM 2012 in Cannes, Urbanscapes 2012 in Kuala Lumpur, Saarang 2013 in Chennai, India, and Mosaic Music Festival 2013 in Singapore .

 

They’ve been named “One of the Top 25 Bands on MySpace” by Rolling Stone, featured in Time magazine, named as “The Most Blog-worthy Band on The Planet” by Yahoo!, praised by Pitchfork and named “One of the Most Crush-worthy Bands” by All Music Guide.

 

Their new EP will be available in April 2013, which will be a follow up to their second album, titled “Album Vakansi”.